Bailey was once again sprawled in what appeared to be his favorite chair, the overstuffed one by the sofa. The lawyer was reading a book he’d taken from the full shelves that lined one wall of the living room, his face intent. In the kitchen, Jeremiah could just catch sight of him through the archway as he finished making dinner for them both.
There was something extremely comfortable about all of this, Jeremiah reflected to himself as he pulled the roast beef pan out of the oven. Something domestic. Here he was, making dinner, while Bailey read in the living room. It was as though they were like any normal couple after a long day’s work, spending their evening at home rather than going out on the town.
Before, this thought would have made him extremely uncomfortable and ill-at-ease. But now, he found that he didn’t mind it very much at all. Honestly, except for children’s books he’d sort of assumed that Bailey wasn’t much of a reader. Being very much a reader himself, and have a deep love of books, he’d thought that that was one of the many ways in which the two of were wholly incompatible. There went another of his arguments for why he and Bailey just wouldn’t suit each other.
He sighed, beginning to scoop roasted potatoes out of the pan and into a bowl. While he was accepting the fact that he wanted and desired Bailey, the deeper feelings he was beginning to have concerning the lawyer still irritated and worried him. He supposed that was partly because he’d never felt like this about anyone else before this. He’d been happy and self-sufficient…well, self-sufficient anyway…before this. He hadn’t wanted or needed anyone else. But now Bailey had come along and had turned his whole life upside down in only a few weeks, and he felt baffled and bemused about the whole thing.
He finished cutting the roast into thin slices, and spooning broccoli in a butter sauce into another bowl. Then he walked to the archway carrying a serving platter, which he set on the small dining table near the far wall of the living room. “Dinner is served,” he told Bailey as he set the platter of roast beef onto the crisp white linen tablecloth.
The lawyer set the book aside on an end table and jumped to his feet, beaming. “Wonderful!” he cried happily. “I’m starving,” he sniffed appreciatively. “And it smells great.”
“Thank you,” Jeremiah went back into the kitchen to bring out the potatoes and the vegetables, as well as a pan of homemade dinner rolls. Bailey had taken a seat at the table, and was rubbing his hands together as he looked the loaded table over greedily.
Jeremiah put serving spoons in every bowl, and a fork on the platter. Then he came and sat down at the table across from Bailey.
He held out a hand. “Please give me your plate,” he said.
Bailey did so eagerly. Jeremiah began to load it with food, while the lawyer practically licked his lips. He handed it back to Bailey when it was full, and he sat it down in front of himself and picked up a fork. He took a bite of the roast beef as Jeremiah began to put food on his own plate. “Yummm,”
Bailey hummed, a look of bliss spreading over his face. “God, this is good!”
Jeremiah’s lips lifted at the corners very slightly as Bailey dug in to the food like a man who’d been starving for a week. The lawyer wasn’t a messy or crude eater, but he was an enthusiastic one. Clearly his food was greatly appreciated. It made him feel good to see that Bailey enjoyed what he’d made so much. He was used to making food only for himself. It was nice to have another person eating it, and one who obviously loved it.
He ate more slowly and sedately, as Bailey cleaned his plate in record time. He sipped up the last bit of beef juice with a roll, then leaned back in his chair contentedly. His face was blissful. “That was amazing,” he moaned. “I’m so full.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t eaten so much so quickly…” Jeremiah began.
Bailey stared at him across the table with half-lidded eyes. “Hey, how could I control myself? This food is fantastic, and I really was hungry. I didn’t have much lunch.”
He lifted his shoulders slightly in acknowledgement of these words. Bailey laughed. “Just accept the fact that you’re a fabulous cook, Jeremiah, and take it as a compliment to your prowess,” he said, patting his stomach.
Bailey seemed content to watch him eat, not saying anything, still leaning back in his chair with a smile like a cat’s spread across his face. Jeremiah finished his own dinner in a more leisurely fashion, and the silence that fell between them was surprisingly comfortable. When he was done eating, he set down his fork. “Do you want help cleaning up?” Bailey asked him.
“That’s not necessary,” he began, but the lawyer shook his head.
“I want to,” he told Jeremiah. “We can rinse the dishes together. It’ll be fun.”
Jeremiah lifted an eyebrow at this, but he let Bailey help him collect the dishes and bowls and platter off the table and carry them into the kitchen. Bailey chatted away at him as they washed the dishes in the sink(Bailey dried), not seeming to need Jeremiah to say much in return. Leftovers went into the fridge, to make roast beef sandwiches tomorrow.
After they were done, Jeremiah opened a bottle of wine and they took it into the living room with glasses. He sat on the couch and Bailey plumped down in his favorite chair. Jeremiah glanced at the book sitting at the end table. “What were you reading?” he asked curiously.
Bailey grinned and sipped at his wine. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” he told Jeremiah. “It’s about a lawyer, after all. A really cool lawyer,” he added cheerfully.
This was true. They started discussing the book, which Bailey had apparently read before this. This segued into a conversation about the various books that they’d read, some of which they had in common. Time flew by, and it startled Jeremiah to glance at the clock and see that it was almost ten o’clock! He gaped at it, while Bailey turned to look at what he was staring at. “Wow, it’s getting kind of late, eh?” he remarked. “For you, I mean,” he went on with a light-hearted grin. “I guess I should get going.”
Jeremiah found himself reluctant to let Bailey go. He’d been enjoying himself, far more than he’d ever imagined that he would. “I…” he began, as Bailey rose lightly to his feet.
“Yeah, I know. I don’t want to go either. But it’s not quite the right time for us to jump into the sack together. Not just yet, eh, Jeremiah?”
He considered this. “Yes, I’m not quite ready,” he agreed quietly. “Is that all right?”
“It’s perfectly fine, baby,” Bailey assured him honestly. “I’m enjoying just being with you right now. So tomorrow, what shall we do? Dinner, dancing? A movie?”
He found his lip curling a little at these suggestions. “I don’t really enjoy doing those kind of things,” he admitted stiffly.
Bailey nodded. “I could tell that you didn’t. And I don’t enjoy myself if you’re not enjoying yourself, so…” he paused. “So how about this? If you don’t mind, we could keep doing this kind of stuff. Stay in, and the nights you don’t want to cook, we could get take-out. And those will be our version of dates. What do you say?”
This suggestion made something suspiciously like a lump rise in his throat. “I would very much enjoy that,” he said rather hoarsely.
Bailey nodded. “Great. Come on, walk me to your front door now. Like a good host should.”
He rose to his feet and escorted Bailey to his front door. He opened it, and Bailey turned to him. “Now for the goodnight kiss,” he remarked, coming easily into Jeremiah’s arms.
He lifted his face, and the librarian bent his head and kissed Bailey’s pink lips. They tasted sweet under his, as Bailey moaned softly and opened his mouth. The kiss deepened, and they both felt the intensity of it. When their lips finally parted, Bailey blinked up at him and said hoarsely: “Damn, you’re a fine kisser, Jeremiah. I’m really looking forward to when we finally jump into bed together. Something tells me kissing isn’t the only thing that you’re good at.”
He didn’t know what to say to this, but Bailey forestalled him by lifting up on his toes a bit and bussing Jeremiah’s mouth lightly. “Goodnight, Jeremiah. I’ll see you tomorrow,” then he walked out the door, pausing to look over his shoulder and wave before he proceeded to his car and got inside.
Jeremiah stood n the doorway and watched him drive off. This evening had been one of the best he’d ever had, he realized. He really had enjoyed himself very much. Not something he would ever have thought possible when he’d first seen Bailey in his library, looking so cheerful but frankly sounding like a complete airhead as he’d leaned against Jeremiah’s counter.
He reluctantly stepped back inside and closed the door. He supposed he should seek the solace of his empty bed, though he suspected that it wouldn’t be much of a comfort to him. Not when he could clearly imagine Bailey there beside him, sprawled out in what he suspected would be a glorious state of nudity, taking up more than his fair share of room and grinning like an idiot. This image made his body stir to life with a vengeance, and he wished fervently that he hadn’t thought of it as he tidied up the living room and took himself off to bed.
The rest of the week proceeded much as that first night had. Bailey would pick Jeremiah up after work, and would drive him either to the store or to a restaurant depending on whether he wanted to cook or not. Then they’d go to his house, and Jeremiah would either cook or heat up the take-out food. Once they’d eaten, they would spend hours talking. Bailey never seemed bored by this routine, which he appreciated. He worried sometimes that the lawyer might wish to do other, more exciting, things, and that he found just sitting around and talking boring. But if he did he never showed it. On Thursday night, Jeremiah put on some classical music and they discussed composers at length.
Every night Bailey would leave by ten o’clock, always kissing him at the door. Those kisses were becoming longer and more involved each time, and Jeremiah was starting to realize that they definitely weren’t enough for him. He needed to invite Bailey to his bed, and soon. He knew that the lawyer was eager to be invited there, and that he was restraining himself for Jeremiah’s sake only with difficulty. Well, since tomorrow was Friday night, and neither of them worked weekends, Jeremiah decided to ask Bailey to stay over for the night. That way, even if they didn’t get much sleep most of the night, it wouldn’t make much difference in the morning…
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