Elise yawned and stretched, then rolled over, expecting to curl into Brodi's hard chest. She instead found a cold, empty mattress.
"Brodi?" she called out sleepily.
"Relax, my absahna. I'm here."
She sat up in bed and looked over the foot of the bed to see the delicious sight of a shirtless Brodi in full back bend.
"Yum." She said teasingly as she laid down on her stomach and rested her chin on her folded arms. Brodi chuckled as he lowered himself back to the floor. Then he stood and toweled off the glistening sweat before sitting down beside her.
"You're up early, babe. I was trying to be quiet; I thought I'd let you sleep in. "
Elise yawned and stretched again, then sat up and draped herself over his back, nuzzling his neck as she settled into a comfortable spot. God she was tired. They had gotten in late last night, and she certainly wasn't expecting to be awake so soon.
"I could say the same thing about you, sweetie. You had a rough night sleeping."
Brodi reached up and clasped her hand, kissing it softly before resting his cheek against it. "Which means you did, too. I am sorry, babe."
Elise squeezed his shoulders then moved so sit facing him.
"Nothing to apologize for," she said as she rested her hand once more against the side of his face. "I told you I'm in this for the long haul. Besides, it wasn't as bad as it has been in the past. You were talking in your sleep, that's all." She hesitated a moment before looking into his eyes. "Is being here bothering you already?"
"Here" was his old college town, where he had started his undergraduate work. It was also where he had been kidnapped and tortured for three days, barely escaping with this life. It was those memories he had come to confront, albeit against the advice of his therapist, who felt he was moving too quickly. Elise herself had her doubts, but she knew Brodi was strong enough and well grounded enough to know what he needed to do to heal. She also wasn't about to let him handle the situation alone. So, she had told Rahzel she was taking two weeks off, and the next day boarded a plane with Brodi headed for California; and now, here they were, in a hotel room with no set plans yet for how they were going to approach this. Brodi wasn't aware of it, but she had his therapist and his mother on speed dial, although she didn't know if that would be helpful or harmful in the long run.
Brodi turned his head slightly and kissed the palm of her hand, then leaned in and kissed her softly. "I'm fine, babe." He said after lingering on her lower lip for a torturous moment. "You know I need to do this."
Elise nodded sadly. "I know. I just keep thinking about what Andrea said."
Brodi flinched slightly at the mention of this therapist's name. Elise had come to a couple of sessions with him because she was closest to him and had seen him in the worst stages of the memory trauma. And, well, who were they kidding, the two of them had a sexual relationship together.
"Andrea?" he said, almost in disbelief. "Andrea's not happy with the way I'm dealing with this; I know that. She's a therapist. She'll cope."
"She's worried that it's too soon."
"Too soon?" Brodi stood and started pacing the room. "It was 10 years ago. How long should I wait?"
Elise stood and stepped in his way to get him to look at her. "She means since the stalking incident at the lodge." She stepped closer and rested her hands on his shoulders, sliding them down his arms before stopping at his elbows. "Honey, you've had a lot to deal with in the past year. You had a catastrophic injury; you've been very sick. You've been under extreme emotional stress…"
"I. Need. To do. This."
Elise drew him to her and wrapped her arms around him. "I know," she said simply, looking him directly in the eyes and holding his gaze. "I know you do. And that's why I'm here with you. You aren't going to deal with this alone."
She rested her head on his shoulder and just let herself breathe into him. They stayed like that for a moment, just holding each other and breathing together, content to be with one another with no other thoughts but of the person they were holding.
"Well," she said softly, punctuated with a soft kiss on the side of his neck as she released him. "what do you want to do first?"
His only response was to kiss her with an intensity that caused a shiver deep in her belly. She fell into it briefly, then pulled back and looked up at him.
"I meant," she said, grinning as he moved in for another kiss, "outside this room."
"Who says we have to leave the room?" he asked, kissing her too quickly for her to answer.
"Brodi," she managed the next time she let herself come up for air, but the thought was cut off as he picked her up and eased her back on the bed. Then, leaning over her, propped up on his forearms, Brodi leaned in for another kiss. She dodged it, but he seemed just as happy nibbling at her neck.
"Sweetie," she said between gasps of surprise and pleasure, "I don't want you to think I'm against this in any…in any way, but…oh god…but shouldn't we…shouldn't we…"
"Should we?" he asked teasingly.
She rested a hand alongside his neck. "Brodi, honey…"
Brodi stretched out on the bed beside her, head propped up on one arm, his other hand resting on her abdomen. He gazed at her lovingly for a moment, hand moving in slow, small circles.
"Elise," he finally began, "I don't know what's going to happen this week. But I do know that I will handle it better because you're here. And because of that, I really feel that we need to take a day just to ourselves first. We'll feel more rested and better able to handle whatever comes at us. So come on. Just one day to be together. I'm not putting anything off. I just want one day before I let them into my head again."
He hesitated briefly before continuing. "I want one day where I can be with you without you feeling like you need to take care of me."
"Brodi, I've told you before, honey. I don't HAVE to do anything."
"I also told you the day that bitch showed up at the lodge, that I was going to see you safely through this."
"Elise, nothing matters but right now."
"I just want to make sure you understand…"
"I do," he whispered before he kissed her again. "I do perfectly."
This time he kissed, starting gently but not backing off so soon. He broke off only long enough to change position on the bed, and she finally gave up trying to talk and gave in to the flutter that started below her navel and moved quickly into and up her spine. She melted into him, held to him, pulled him to her as if she could breathe him in.
And this was how they spent the rest of their day. She let him take her to a place she seldom let herself go, a place where she had no control, where she completely surrendered herself. She gave herself totally, and she let the minutes turn into hours until she felt herself finally drifting off to sleep in his arms.