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Taylor's Time!

It's Saturday!

That means we have more writing from Taylor today - huzzah!

Now, if you've been following this for a while, the title is going to look familiar. "Safe Now" is Taylor's biggest and most ambitious project to date, and she's been working hard to get it out as a book.

Until she does, you can have these little pieces to enjoy...


Safe Now 

Chapter Seven

His lips were cold, mouth tempting. He lingered close enough I could feel the warmth of his breath on my lips, close enough that I could feel him waiting for me to kiss him back. I did, taking his face in both of my hands, pressing my lips firmly against his, my mouth hungry for more. It felt like forever since we'd kissed like this, full of passion and depth. 

It didn't last long. 

Avan pulled back and placed a hand to his side. I looked down and realized I'd dropped the pack of ice. He sighed angrily, frustrated with his injuries. I ignored the ice and touched his cheek with the barest brush of my fingertips. Tears wedged themselves into the corners of my eyes. I couldn't even kiss him without hurting him. It wasn't fair. He was too gentle to be hurt like this. He lifted his gaze to meet mine. He placed his hands on either side of my neck, his green eyes catching and holding me.

"I can do this," he whispered. 

I felt the urge to pull back, startled by this random change of topic, but then Avan pressed his lips against my forehead, grounding me, steadying me, preventing my total collapse. I never wanted to lose this sense of safety, this sense of peace that he always seemed to bring me whenever he was near. I couldn't live without this. Without him. I had to get him out of this death trap. I had to fight for him before these fights took him from me forever. 

A memory:

I could still feel Avan's mouth on my body, his hands searching for worlds unknown, fingers discovering buried treasures, green eyes seeking parts of me that he had yet to touch. I shivered as we lay in our bed, our bare legs tangled in blankets and bedsheets, our naked bodies so close that I felt as though we were zipped in the same skin. As always, it was Avan who broke the silence. 

"Can I ask you something?"

His thumb brushed my shoulder. His skin tightened as my fingers whispered circles along his flat stomach. 

"Always." I replied.

He let out a soft sound of pleasure, then continued. 

"Do you remember when I told you that I was a professional fighter? I asked if it bothered you and you just looked at me. You never said anything, but…. While we were having sex, you seemed sort of cautious. Like you were afraid that you were going to hurt me or something." 

He was right. I hadn't touched him like I usually did when we made love. My hands hadn't gripped his elbows or pressed down on his chest or pulled on his shoulders. My fingers hadn't even tugged lightly at his hair. I swallowed. Hurt colored my cheeks. I'd acted like I didn't want him, like I hadn't felt the same ecstasy that I always felt when he centered himself on top of me. I swallowed again. 

"You said you were sore, didn't you?" 

His shoulders lifted. 

"I can handle a bit of soreness. It's part of the job description you know." 

I didn't say anything. I didn't want to say anything. What could I tell him that he hadn't heard millions of times before? And, why was he still asking about it?

"You don't have to hold anything back from me." Avan said, as if reading my thoughts. "Ever." 

He paused. 

"I just wonder… Why you stay with me when it bothers you so much?" 

I touched my fingers to his collarbone. 

"Because of what you did. In your last fight."

Avan's eyebrows drew closer to each other as he looked into my face. 

"What did I do?"

My hand slid back down to his chest. I closed my eyes, remembering one of the rare times I actually felt good about watching the fights. 

"You didn't go for the kick." 

I felt him staring at me, waiting for me to continue. So, I did. 

"You didn't kick him as he went down. You helped him wake up, regain consciousness, I mean,  you helped him stand up. You even kissed him on the cheek when he gave you a hug. You respected him and he respected you." 

I opened my eyes, looking up at him. He was smiling now. I laughed as I admitted, "Honestly, I always thought MMA fighters were complete assholes." 

Avan laughed. 

"Some of us are." 

I pressed a finger into his chest. 

"You're not." 

He stayed silent, his smile fading. I ran my fingernails slowly up and down the length of his arm. He shivered. 

"You're kind, thoughtful, compassionate. You care about people, like really care about them." 

His chest rose and fell. 

"I could be better."

He was always doing that, discounting my praise, never seeming to believe my compliments. 

"You have a good heart, Avan. Why is that so hard to believe?"

His body tensed. His eyes turned away from me. That's when it happened again. He was in another world. I saw pain on his face and I suddenly wanted to make up for not touching him the way he craved. He was quiet for a long moment. Then, his voice broke. 

"Y-you don't know everything about me. There's awful stuff you don't know about me, stuff I- I wish I could take back."

"You're not that person anymore." I said quickly. "I know you're not." 

Avan gulped down his sadness. He inhaled a slow trembling breath. 

"I don't know about that."

I didn't want to hear anymore. I sat up and pressed my mouth to his. I heard him choke back a sob, felt his brow furrow, his lips frown, as his arms encircled me, his strong hands pressing against my shoulder blades. Something wet hit my cheek -- a tear. But I wasn't the one crying. I kissed him harder, my breath huffing into his mouth, my arms trapping him into an embrace. And, I had him. He rolled over, taking me with him and pushed me down into the mattress. I gripped his elbows. His sudden intake of breath told me everything I needed to know. I ran my fingers down his arms and made him think only of me. 

"Can I confess something?"

I opened my eyes. Avan was looking down at me, waiting for an answer. I shook my head. I pulled the blanket up over us. 

"Sleep." I told him. 

But I knew he wouldn't. Avan pushed himself hard. He didn't, or couldn’t, sleep unless he was utterly exhausted. When he did sleep, it was for no more than three or four hours a night. He hadn't slept at all last night. What was keeping him awake, I wondered. 

He leaned in and whispered in my ear. 

"I'm soooo mind numbingly bored." 

I smirked, reaching out to touch his cheek. Late morning light spilled onto the end of the bed through the tiny basement window. I thought for a moment what we could do, but what was there to do in a small room with nothing but a bed and a bathroom? Then, it hit me: the perfect distraction. 

"Do you remember," I began, holding the ends of his hair between my fingertips. "That game we used to play when I'd come to visit you in the hospital?" 

He smiled and answered with the game. 

"What if we get out of here? What if I win every fight that's thrown at me? What if we were laying in our bed right now?"

My heart raced. I don't know how I dared to add my next words, but I did. 

"What if… What if, one day, we woke up to the patter of little feet on the floor?"

Avan's eyes grew soft, their green forests damp with the possibility. He played his next words slowly. 

"What if I got down on one knee," 

He took me by the hand. He laced his fingers in with mine.

"And, promised you the world?" 

I blinked very, very slowly. Did he mean it? When I looked into his eyes, into his growing smile, I knew he did. 

"Yes," I breathed, smiling wildly. "Yes, Avan. Yes!" 

He chuckled, sporting the same stupid grin, and he wrapped his arms around me. For the briefest of moments, our wounds didn't touch us. We weren't in the basement anymore. And, we weren't being held captive by a sadistic monster. We were two souls in one body, zipped up in the same skin.

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