He all but dashed out of the apartment. Standing in the hallway he waited impatiently for Sara to grab her purse. He glanced up as the door down the hall opened and a couple of guys looked out.
Sara couldn't help but grin at Josh's insatiable appetite for her. It's a good thing I feel the same way about him. She held the shirt she was wearing to her nose. She could still faintly smell the aftershave he sometimes wore. I'm going to have to ask him what that is, so I can buy him a case of it. Sara gathered up her purse, checked to make sure her wallet and keys hadn't fallen out, then headed towards the front door.
They were both tall and athletic, obvious bodybuilders. The neighbors. Josh gave a weak smile. "Sorry about the noise."
The one in the 'Big Bell Gym' shirt stuck out a hand. "No problem. Martin Wells, this is my buddy Phil Gates. That's quite a girl you got in there."
Phil grinned, "That was what–3 orgasms? Maybe 4? How'd you luck into that?"
Josh grinned. "I am very lucky. She chose me. Here she is now." He slipped an arm around Sara, pride seeping into his voice. "Sara, meet the neighbors, Martin Wells and Phil Gates."
Phil raised an eyebrow, Martin's jaw dropped.
Sara's face colored. Oh God. They're the neighbours? "Um, hi Marty, Phil. I haven't seen you since the grad party. How have things been?" She looked at Josh uncomfortably. "Marty, Phil and I were in some of the same classes in first year, and I'd always seen them around campus. I told you about them and their buddies, remember?" The ones that made my life hell because I wouldn't sleep with them. Oh no. Please don't get angry, Josh. I don't need a confrontation. I just want to get out of here.
"Yes," Josh said softly, "I seem to remember something about that."
Sara put a calming hand on Josh's arm. "We've got to get going. It was nice seeing you two again. Sorry about the noise earlier. He just brings out the wildcat in me."
The two men looked at each and then back at Josh. Josh gave them an arrogant smile and gave in to Sara's urgings. Slipping an arm around her, he kissed her neck. "We'll try not to keep you up when we get back."
As they walked down the stairs, bits of conversation reached them.
"Leave it alone, Marty, it's obvious she doesn't go for the body builder type."
"…Ice Bitch didn't go for anybody."
Sara felt Josh tense. He stopped.
"Maybe its the accent…"
The door shut on whatever Marty was answering.
"Josh," Sara said. "Josh!" She squeezed his forearm to get his attention. "Listen to me. They aren't worth it. Marty's always been an arrogant S.O.B. who thinks he's God's gift to women and believes that any woman that won't sleep with him must be crazy. Phil asked me out a couple of times too, but was one of the polite ones when I turned him down." A small, satisfied smile covered Sara's lips. "Marty ended up missing a track meet because of a… groin muscle injury, after I showed him that no means no."
"Let's go, sweetheart," Sara said, trying to propel Josh down the stairs. "I'm thinking of getting some ice cream to help finish off our feast tonight. Come on. I'll scream extra loud tonight. Let them eat their hearts out."
Slowly he nodded and followed her down the stairs. Josh was silent all the way to the restaurant, he waited near the door as she ordered, leaning against the wall, hands in his pockets. He seemed very calm. Two couples entered the restaurant, their laughter died away and after a quick glance at Josh, steered wide of him. Sara looked over at him. His eyes seemed to have a sleepy quality to them, lids half closed.
Oh shit, Sara thought to herself. What am I going to do? I think he's really angry. How am I going to deal with this?
Sara collected the order and Josh pushed off the wall and fell in beside her, his hands still in his pockets. Half way home he finally spoke.
"What else aren't you telling me?" His voice was soft, mild, in the same vein as he might have asked 'How was your day?'
"What are you talking about?" Sara looked at Josh in confusion. What does he want to know? A blow by blow description of my high school and college career? About Diamond? "Do you mean about Marty and his buddies? There's nothing really else to tell. They all tried to get me into the sack with varying degrees of failure. Some of them learned the hard way that I didn't want them touching me. Is that what you wanted to know? Or that except for Twila I had no friends and was a social outcast during university because I didn't drink and go to the clubs and the various frat and sorority parties?"
A thought struck Sara. "None of those bone head jocks did anything more than grab my ass or try to kiss me before they ended up flat in their faces eating dirt." She looked at Josh earnestly. "But none of that matters now. It's in the past and we can't change it. Just let it go."
He remained quiet as he unlocked the door. He took the food from her and carefully set it out on the coffee table. He began eating, all without a word to Sara.
Sara sat on the floor across from Josh and ate in silence. Her unease grew, the clicking of chopsticks and the rustling of paper and cartons the only noise. I wish I knew what you were thinking. What's wrong?
They were almost through the meal when Josh spoke. "Why me?"
Sara started and choked on a noodle. "What do you mean, why you?" She looked at him, puzzled. What's gotten into you, Josh? "Do you mean why am I with you as opposed to someone like Marty or Phil, or any of the other guys from university?"
"You scared the hell out of me when you first talked to me at the gallery. I've never wanted to touch any man that much before." Sara put her plate down on the table and leaned back against the chair, drawing her knees up under her chin. "When I stopped being so freaked out about the way I was felt, it was like some voice in my head said "That's it. Give him a chance. He could be the one." So I did. I worked with Twila on overcoming my shyness and tried very hard to erase my fears about physical contact with men. God knows how often I prayed that you'd hold my hand, or kiss me, or touch me in any way."
"You were so kind and friendly, and I knew it was because of me, not because you had heard from a friend of a friend that something had happened to me when I was younger. And you were attracted to me and wanted to sleep with me because of me, not because you wanted to be able to say you thawed the Ice Bitch."
"And now, when we're together, I feel so happy. So wanted. And such a feeling of belonging it makes me want to weep with joy late at night. After that night in New York, I wanted to die because I thought I'd lost you."
Sara took a deep breath. "I think I've loved you since that first moment, but was carrying too much baggage to realize it."
He looked at her in silence for a long moment. He looked down at the container he was holding, moving the contents around with his chopsticks.
"You are the most important thing in the world to me," he spoke looking into the container, "I was angry that night. At myself. I remember walking into a bar. And then I was working in my brother's field in Madrid. That was a month later. It scared the hell out of me, Sara. I have never been in the fog that long. My family was frightened that I would never come out it. Apparently an ancestor of mine went into one and never came out."
He stabbed at the contents, "I didn't find out what happened till I got back to New York and talked to Ted. He told me that Twila was looking for me. I missed you. I couldn't sleep. I needed you. I need you. If this is love, I am not sure its such a good thing."
"I think about you all the time, when we're apart I ache for you. Not sexually, though there is that. I think we can hurt each other horribly, Sara. I am angry for what they called you. I am angry that they touched you. I am not sure I like the idea that you are more capable of protecting yourself then I am. I want to protect you Sara. I want…"
Sara picked up his hand and put it to her breast. "Do you feel that? The racing of my heart? Only you do that to me." She brought his hand to her mouth and gently kissed it. "You are the only man I have ever loved, and you will be the only one. Let's protect each other, my love, the other half of my soul. From the cruelty in the world outside, and from our own inner demons. Let's both do what we can do, with the gifts that we've been given."
"Shall we cast our lots to the fates? I'm willing to take the risks. What choice do I have? I love you, and that's more important than any problems we might face. We can work through them, as long as we're together." Sara caressed Josh's cheek with the backs of her fingers. "As I have said before, with the greatest of risks come the greatest of rewards. And what greater reward is that which we gain through love?"
He smiled softly and reached for the phone. Quickly hitting a code, he settled back, stealing a quick kiss.
"Hi Mom. What?" he laughed softly, "No, she's fine. What? Okay. She wants to talk to you."
Josh passed her the phone and took off his shirt, as she put the phone to her ear, he stood them both up and stepped out of his sweats. He then grabbed the noodle container and sat back down.
A panicked look crossed Sara's face as she held the receiver. What am I going to say? "Hello? Mrs. Blackburn? This is Sara Mclintock." No fair, Sara mouthed at Josh, lifting his sweatpants with her toes and lofting them into his lap. She could hear him giggling. She turned her back to him, knowing it probably wouldn't be a good idea, but he was just too distracting.
"If you tell me he just proposed I'll fall out of my wheelchair," Carla's voice spoke over the line, "or is there another reason why he's decided to call me mom? Movie wasn't any good? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. We came to his place because there was something he wanted to show me and we never made it to the movie. In fact, we're just finishing off some take out Chinese. Oh yeah, we ran into Marty and Phil. Remember them? Well, they aren't going to be calling me the Ice Bitch anymore." Sara smiled. "As for why he called you mom, Josh is just being rather silly. We just had a long serious talk about things, and he's decided to keep me, I think." Sara glanced back at Josh, praying he wasn't doing anything obscene with the noodles. "There's been no proposal, so tell Father O'Mallory not to book the church or write the banns."
"Keep you? Serious talk? Honey, is there anything wrong?"
"There's nothing wrong, Mom. I believe our relationship has reached the point where we'll be discussing anniversaries. I'll explain when I see you later. Hang on a sec. Josh wants to talk to you again."
He held his hand out for the phone. "I just thought we had better tell you that Sara will be staying the night." There was a long pause as he listened to her mother. He held out a noodle to Sara, pulling it back as she reached for it. "Yes, Mom. Goodnight."
"She told me to be gentle." He chuckled and a noodle dropped of his chopsticks onto his chest.
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