(Listening to: “I’ll Be–Edwin McCain)
Venice Beach, California
He was finally where he wanted to be. Curled around her, he listened to the waves out the window of the crappy little apartment he’d rented in Venice. It was only one room and the carpet smelled like shit, but after last night, Alex decided that one room wasn’t so bad. After they’d tumbled through the door of the apartment the night before, lips never parting, devouring each other as they ripped off clothing, the bed had only been a few steps away. A few steps to put him exactly where he’d wanted to be.
Next to her, for the rest of his life.
He curled his body around her as she slept, arm around her waist, his large hand held her breast as he felt the slow steady beat of her heart against his thumb. They were nice breasts. He’d wanted to get his hands on them since he first noticed in junior high. It was like they’d appeared out of nowhere one day. A present for the hormonal thirteen year old boys of Cambio Springs.
Alex realized even then he’d probably just been a thirteen year old idiot who sometimes forgot the tomboy who lived down the street was a girl. The breasts had improved with age, and now they felt perfect against his palms. They tasted just as good. His head bent and he touched his tongue to the curve of her neck, brushing the tangled black hair away until his lips were against her skin.
Alex heard her sigh in her sleep, and she murmured something unintelligible. He saw the corner of her lip curl up, as if she was getting ready to rip into him again, and he smiled as he kissed her neck.
Arguing over margaritas and socialized medicine the night before. She’d taken the night off from studying when he insisted on dragging her away from her dorm. It was a call from Allie that did it.
Ted didn’t get out enough. Her friends were worried. She was stressed about the MCAT. He was the closest to her. She needed a familiar voice. A friend.
He and Ted had never been friends.
Since the moment she’d curled her lip at him in freshman biology, when she’d been forced to be his lab partner, they hadn’t been friends.
“You’re such a slacker, Alex.”
She would say they were friends, like she didn’t catch his eyes watching her. Like she didn’t know his teasing had another layer. For seven years they’d danced around it, and he’d waited. Alex McCann didn’t wait for much, but he’d make an exception for Teodora Vasquez. Because from that moment in biology class he’d known.
She was his. And he was hers.
It only took seven years, countless arguments, and a few margaritas to break through.
She stretched in his arms and turned to her back, opening her body to him. He took the advantage, holding her loosely as he let his mouth trail from her neck down to her collar bone, the warm tan skin starting to glow from the light coming through the window. In a few moments, the sun would break through the thin curtains and light her up. He waited, still holding her as she slowly woke.
The light crossed the closed lids of her eyes and they fluttered open, blinking in confusion for a second before they warmed with recognition. He lifted his mouth from her skin and smiled.
“Call me a slacker,” he whispered.
She grinned, a sleepy smile that turned into a yawn as she stretched her arms over her head, grabbing on to the metal bars of his cheap bed before they came down again and rested on his shoulders.
“After last night, I may have to reconsider your slacker status,” she mumbled.
Her voice was low and hoarse in the mornings and Alex loved that he knew that now. Loved that he knew how her back arched when he went down on her. Loved the hitching breath she took right before she came. He’d learn them, every cue. Every sign. Like he’d studied exactly how much he could tease her before she blew up at him. Exactly how far she’d take an argument before she retreated into sullen silence. She may have been the star student, the brains behind their little cadre of friends, but Alex had been a student of Ted for years.
“Tea…” he whispered before he kissed her. He didn’t give a shit about morning breath, his or hers. He just had to kiss her again. She might try to pull away from the night before, try to walk away like she’d walked away from all the other guys before him. Not too close. Never too close. A little fun, a little company, and then Ted walked away before the secrets came out.
But he knew her secrets. Every single one. And he also knew that neither of them would walk away from this, not without scars that scored deep.
His kiss grew and held, until finally, he felt her hands dig into his shoulders, her little cat claws coming out to grip his skin.
Dig in, baby. That’s just where I want you.
He shifted her under him, moving until his hips were between her thighs, then he felt her legs come up and press in.
Yep. She was exactly where she wanted to be, too.
He was a gentleman, so he tried not to crow in triumph. Besides, he had better things to do.
She was panting when he pulled his mouth away.
“Do you have another—”
“Yes.” He reached for the bedside table.
“Always in such a rush, Tea.” He grinned as he rolled the condom on and then paused, waiting for her eyes to come back to his. They locked with his as he slowly edged inside. “Slow down, baby,” he murmured against her lips. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Alex…” She wasn’t quite so chatty when he was making love to her. Ted could argue about anything. The economy. The price of gas. The best tequila. The proper way to drink that tequila. But when he was inside her, when they were moving together, she’d been quiet.
Best way to shut her up, ever.
“Tea,” he groaned, sinking into her body again and again, he felt it. The same feeling he’d had the night before. The first time. The only time that meant anything, really.
Because it had always been Tea. She was home.
The only sound in the room was the tide coming in and their breathing. He said nothing to her. She said nothing to him. There was nothing to say. This had been building for years. Every step he’d taken had circled around her. Every move he’d made had been unconsciously coming closer. Until she was there. Right where he’d always wanted her.
“Baby, I’m gonna—”
It was the only word she’d said.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
She could say it a thousand times and he’d never tire of it.
Yes, we’re here.
This is right. This has always been.
When she came, she arched her back, and he buried his face in her neck as her body gripped his. Holding on.
Please, hold on.
He pushed up, bracing his arms at her sides as he pushed toward his own release. She reached down, short nails digging into his hips as he drove her.
“Tea,” he groaned out as he felt it rising. He was there. Her eyes grew soft and warm. Her fingers dug in deeper as she said it again.
He came in a rush, the lightening pulse of release throwing him over the edge as he pushed into her over and over. And she held on. Through the hard crush of his body when he collapsed onto her. Through the fierce kisses he pressed against her neck. Her face. Her mouth. His hands were tangled in her hair. He didn’t want to let go, so he didn’t. He just rolled to the side and she came with him, locking her legs around his hips even as he slid out of her. Parted, but still together.
Alex was breathing heavy when he finally broke away. He gathered her into his arms and she came to him easily, pressing her cheek to his heart so her breath tickled the hair on his chest and he could feel the flush of her skin. He held her like that as the sun rose. The room smelled like salt air and sex and her. He didn’t notice the musty smell of the old carpet his landlord refused to replace. He just smelled them.
Best scent ever.
After a few minutes, she cleared her throat and Alex smiled, knowing that Quiet Ted was history.
For a while.
“So, I’ll revise my judgement of slacker. At least in one area.”
His hand slid down to her ass and cupped it, and his tongue licked under her chin. “Only one?”
“One area with several disciplines.”
He laughed and hugged her tighter. “There’s my Ted.”
“You didn’t call me Ted last night. Or this morning.” Her eyes met his and he saw them spark. “When did I become Tea?”
“I’m not going to shout out ‘Ted, oh Ted!’ when I come. Forget it.”
She lifted an eyebrow and considered him.
“Besides,” he said, brushing a kiss over her pursed lips. “Ted is a hard-ass, sharp as a whip, take no prisoners, almost-med student who’s going to be a kickass doctor someday. But Tea…” He kissed her again and trailed his fingers up and down her back. “Is soft and silk when she purrs. She’s quiet and giving.” The corner of his lip curled up. “Very giving.”
She rolled her eyes and tried to pull away, but he didn’t let her.
“You can be both,” he whispered into her hair. She stilled immediately. “With me, you can be both. Always my Ted. And my Tea. You can be both, baby. With me.”
She pulled her head away so she could look into his eyes. “Your Tea?”
“This is it, Ted. You know it is. This was always going to be. So yeah. My Tea. And my Ted. I wouldn’t have one without the other, baby.”
“Don’t call me ‘baby.’”
“I’m gonna call you ‘baby’ until the day I die. And you’re gonna hate it. And I’m not going to care because the make up sex will be hot as shit.”
He saw her trying not to laugh, so he kissed her again, and when he pulled away she was smiling.
“This changes everything, doesn’t it, Alex McCann?”
“Absolutely.” He rolled over and pulled her to rest on his chest. She was stiff for a moment, like she didn’t know whether he could take her weight. Then she relaxed into him and he let out the breath he’d been holding.