Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chapter 15

Frannie woke alone the next day, finding a note on Jon’s pillow.

You were sleeping so peacefully I didn’t want to wake you. I had a meeting but will be back later. Make yourself at home.


Frannie stretched and lay back against the pillows. She thought back to what Jon had said to her in the wee hours of the morning stay here with me until you find something. Should she? When she thought about it, other than going to a hotel, she really didn’t have any other option except to stay in her own house and that wasn’t an option. She loved her independence, but at 39, she was tired of being alone. Even if it was only for the time being, she decided to stay.

After showering and getting Sophie fed, Frannie wandered through the house, finding herself in the solarium or sun room. She set Sophie in the baby seat she had retrieved from Romeo’s room and settled on the chaise to sip her tea. As she took in the view Frannie realized this would be a great place to draw. She set her tea down and picked up her sketch book.


Jon’s meeting this morning had been with Dot and their lawyers. It had all been very amicable yet surreal. It was hard for him to believe that with a “sign here, initial here” from his lawyer and a swipe of his pen, eighteen years of marriage was over and done with. He and Dot had walked out together, riding the elevator to the garage in silence. As they were about to go their separate ways Jon turned to her “Dot I…” she stopped him. “Don’t Jon, just … don’t.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and squeezed his hand, “this is for the best; it just wasn’t working anymore. I’ll always love you, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.” He didn’t say anything. He just looked at her, wondering how his life had come to this. He kissed her one last time, “Good-bye Dot.” They parted and headed for their respective cars.

As Jon drove through the gate and up the drive he thought about who was waiting for him on the other side of the door. It was nice to know that there was someone waiting for him and he wasn’t going to walk into an empty house today. He didn’t think he could handle being alone right now. He sat in the car for a minute, just looking at the house. It wouldn’t ever be like it was, but maybe with the woman inside, it could be a home again.

Jon walked up the front steps and opened the door, wondering where Frannie was. He hung up his coat and walked through the house looking for her. He stopped in the doorway of the solarium, the scene in front of him bringing a tear to his eye.

Frannie had stopped sketching and had picked up Sophie. She fed and her and was standing in the middle of the room gently swaying back and forth, singing quietly to the nearly sleeping baby.

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about
It's hangin' on when your heart has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

As she sang the last of the song she caught sight of Jon standing in the doorway. She gave him a smile and a shrug as she set the now sleeping baby down on the chaise and placed a pillow across, just in case. “Hey” she said as she turned back to Jon. He crossed the room to her and hugged her tightly. Frannie wrapped her arms around him, returning the hug. She pulled back so she could see his face and immediately knew something wasn’t right. “What’s wrong?” He shook his head, afraid to speak at the moment and just held her. She rubbed his back lightly and spoke quietly, “whatever it is Jon, you can talk to me. I don’t know that I can give you any advice or answers, but I can listen.”

He drew in a shaky breath and stepped away from her, taking her hand and leading them to the couch. Frannie watched him and waited for him to say something. Jon leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, raking his hands through his hair. “You saw my note this morning right?” He looked over at her, she nodded “yes.” He took her hand in his and turned his gaze to the window, “my meeting this morning was with Dot and our attorneys. I just signed and initialed the last eighteen years of my life away. Except for the papers being filed, I am now officially divorced.” He told her about the conversation with Dot in the parking garage and his thoughts as he pulled up to the house. “Have you decided what you’re going to do yet Frannie?”

With her hand still in his, she took her free one and turned his face to hers, “I’d like to stay, if that’s still all right with you.” Jon smiled for the first time that day, “it’s more than all right baby.” She kissed him lightly, “I’m going to need to get some of my and Sophie’s things though and I am going to have to call Geena.” He shook his head and smiled, “we will take care of everything baby, don’t worry.” She shivered at the thought of going back into her house. Jon felt her tremble, “are you okay?” She frowned, “just thinking about going back into my house, into my studio.” He pulled her close, “I’ll go with you baby, you don’t have to go alone.”

They sat wrapped up together for a while; each garnering strength from the other. After a bit Frannie looked up to find Jon gazing down at her, “thank you for being here Frannie.” She raised her head and captured his mouth with hers. It had been a tough day for him and she wanted to ease the sadness she saw in his eyes, ease the pain she was sure he was feeling around his heart. She eased her mouth from his, glancing over to make sure Sophie was still asleep.

Bringing her mouth back to his, she kissed a trail from his mouth down his neck to the top button of his shirt. She nipped at his adam’s apple as her hands opened the buttons and spread his shirt open. She ran her hands over the silky hair she found there, her mouth following the path her hands were making. She ran the tip of her tongue around his rapidly hardening nipples. His hand threaded into her hair, pressing her against him. He gasped as she moved from one to the other, goose bumps breaking out on his flesh.

Sliding to the floor in front of him, Frannie kissed her way across his hard abs, circling and dipping into his navel, stopping at his belt. She glanced up at him; his face was a portrait of ecstasy. His eyes were closed, his mouth was slightly open, his breath was coming in pants. He didn’t move as she opened his pants other than to lift his hips so she could slide them down. She ran her hands lightly up and down his thighs, spreading them for better access.

Frannie nipped lightly up the inside of his thighs, pausing when she heard his breathing become more labored. She looked up at him, “are you okay hon?” He just nodded his head. Frannie ran her tongue up and down the crease of his thigh, not touching where he wanted her to the most. “Baby…” he trailed off as he felt her tongue circling his balls before taking each one, in turn, into her mouth. She gently released him and then ran her tongue up the underside of his hard length, licking at the tip where a drop of fluid had escaped.

He could feel her warm breath on him and the anticipation was killing him. “Baby, please” he all but begged. She took him then, in one slow glide she took him deep. He let out a guttural groan as she moved her mouth on him, wanting the feeling to last forever, yet wanting the sweet release he knew was coming. With long slow glides and short shallow thrusts she brought him ever closer to release. He fisted his hand in her hair, urging her on. She sucked harder and as she teased his balls he came with a grunt and a groan.

She took everything he gave her, releasing him and resting her head on his thigh when he had gone soft again. The hand that had been wrapped in her hair loosened its grip and the fingers stroked her head, “come here baby” he whispered. Frannie rose to sit next to him and he pulled her close, kissing her gently. Easing back he looked at her. Her face was flush and he could see her nipples pressing against her shirt. She had enjoyed that too. He ran his hand over the front of her shirt, teasing the hardened tips that were so evident. As he slid one hand up inside her shirt, Sophie started fussing. Frannie grabbed his hand, “hold that thought.” He smiled at her, “you can count on that baby.”

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chapter 14

Long after Jon had fallen asleep, Frannie lay awake, her body exhausted but her brain whirling a mile a minute. So much had been happening lately; she needed to sort it all out. Rolling onto her back she looked over at Jon. Even in slumber he was beautiful. She reached over and stroked his cheek; he’s been so good to me.

Not wanting to disturb him she slipped from the bed and wrapped herself in the blanket that was on the back of a nearby chair.

Gazing out the window into the darkness she gave thought to what Jon had said earlier about him helping her. She liked the thought of not being alone. She turned to look at him; I could fall in love with him. With a sigh she turned back to the window.

She hadn’t had much luck in the romance department of her life. She was 39 with an infant daughter and, until a few short days ago, had no man in her life. That alone should have been enough to scare Jon off. If that hadn’t been bad enough, she had dragged him into the nightmare that called itself her life. She looked over at him again, would he still be there when it was all over, when there was nothing left for him to fix? Turning back to the window she dashed away a tear that had slid down her cheek. He has his own very busy, high profile life, his own set of problems to deal with. He shouldn’t have to deal with my crap, I should be helping him.

Jon watched her, wondered what she was thinking. Soundlessly he slipped from the bed and moved up behind her, wrapping his arms around her, “what’s wrong?” Frannie leaned back against him, “nothing.” He pulled her closer, speaking softly in her ear, “don’t tell me nothing baby. You’re standing in front of the window at”, he glanced at the clock “3 in the morning wiping tears off your cheeks. Something’s wrong. Talk to me.” Frannie turned to face him, his blue eyes full of concern, “I’m sorry I dragged you into the mess that is my life right now Jon. You don’t need the hassle.”

He pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her forehead, “you don’t have to apologize. I’m glad I was there. You are a special woman Frannie. If I hadn’t wanted to be there, I wouldn’t have been.” She freed her arms from the blanket and wrapped them around him, resting her head against his shoulder, “still, you didn’t have to be and you could have been seriously hurt. I would never have forgiven myself if something had happened to you.” He stroked her back through the blanket, “aside from some bruised knuckles, I didn’t get hurt and that asshole is back in jail where he belongs. Can we move on to the next subject please?”

He felt Frannie chuckle against him. Lifting her head she looked up at him, “I’m going to sell my house.” This surprised him. “When did you decide that?” “While I was standing here looking out the window. I won’t feel safe there anymore and, besides, I need to find another studio anyway,” she shrugged her shoulders, “may as well start all over again.” Jon moved his hands to her shoulders, pushing the blanket off so it pooled at her feet. He ran light kisses across her shoulder, his tongue tracing circles in the hollow at her neck, “you can stay here with me until you find a place, if you want to.” He continued kissing up her neck, making it harder for her to think straight. Her hands moved up from his waist, exploring the muscles of his back, “I do…” was all she managed to get out before his mouth was on hers, his tongue gliding over hers.

Without taking his mouth from hers, Jon urged Frannie back to the bed. Laying her across the bed, he crawled up next to her, letting his hands skim over her, leaving a trail of goose bumps in his wake. She watched as he touched her, fascinated by his hands. They weren’t all that large, but they were clever and they played over her like none other, they knew exactly how to please her. She grasped one in her own and Jon looked at her, surprised by the gesture. He watched as she brought his hand to her mouth, kissing the palm and then lightly sucking on each fingertip. He groaned at the sensation of her mouth on his fingers, recalling what it felt like on his dick earlier.

Pulling his hand from her grasp, he slid it down to caress her breast, his mouth finding hers once again. They shared slow passionate kisses as they caressed and stroked each other. When Jon felt her hand slide down his chest and across his stomach, he stopped her, wanting to maintain his control as long as he could. He laced her fingers with his as he moved over her, parting her legs with his. He slid into her slowly; she could feel ever hard inch of him filling her completely. Jon closed his eyes against the sensation of her fisting around him, trying to hold on. When he felt her hips start undulating against him, he moved, slowly at first, only increasing his pace when he felt her start to tighten around him. “Jon… I’m, oh God” she cried out as the waves of her orgasm washed over. He moved with her through it and, when she started to go over again, he let himself go, following her into oblivion.

When they were breathing somewhat normally again, Jon moved off of her and pulled her close. Tucking herself against him, she could hear his heartbeat in her ear as she finally drifted off to sleep.

Looking down at the woman in his arms, Jon sighed contentedly. He hadn’t felt this satisfied in a long time. By the end of his marriage, he and Dot had been sleeping in separate rooms. Even with the woman he had dated up until he had found Frannie again, he hadn’t felt this fulfilled, this complete. Kissing her head he had a final thought before dropping off into sleep. I hope she stays.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chapter 13

Frannie stood as if rooted to the spot. The calm with which she spoke belied the fear that was coiling in her belly. He was here, in her home, her worst nightmare had just come true. She reached behind her, her hand wrapping around the neck of the guitar. “What do you want from me?” She was tired of being the victim. She had given in to her fear that morning and she wasn’t going to do it again. She wasn’t going to let him win this time.

He looked at her, his back to the door. “I wanted you to notice me. You never noticed me. Every time you came into the store, you never noticed me.” Frannie had no idea what he was talking about. “Store, what store?”

He stepped closer, “the art supply store. I always made sure we had your favorite brushes and pencils, paints, but you never gave me the time of day!” He lunged for her and she side-stepped his advance, leaving him to fall against the wall. “Bitch, you’re gonna be sorry you did that.” He turned, knife in hand and he advanced on Frannie.

“Hey!” came from the direction of the door. He turned to find Jon standing in the doorway. He had come looking for Frannie, wanting to find out what was taking so long. “Think you’re gonna be able to save your girlfriend, rock star?” He sneered at Jon.

Grasping the guitar in both hands, Frannie took the opportunity of his momentary distraction and swung it at him, hitting him across the back of the head. He fell to his knees and Jon punched him in the face, breaking his nose and, using a trick he learned from Dorothea, kicked him square in the chest, leaving him to fall to the floor. Jon rushed to Frannie, taking the now broken guitar from her and gathering her close, “are you okay baby?” She was shaking, “I think so. Are you okay?” He held her tighter, “I’m fine. I called the police when I heard the voices in here, they should be here any minute.” Just as he finished speaking they heard the sirens.

Frannie looked down at the man lying on her floor; he was moaning but not moving. She felt some satisfaction knowing that she had had a hand in his present condition. She hadn’t let her fear get the best of her. Her gaze moved to the now broken guitar. She looked at Jon, “oh Jon, your guitar” she put her hand up over her mouth, “I’m sorry.” He just chuckled, “I’m not worried about the guitar. I have others. I’m just glad you’re okay.” She pressed a kiss to his lips, “where’s Sophie?”

As they walked past the man to leave the room, his hand came out and grasped Frannie’s ankle, tripping her, causing her to fall to the floor. Jon turned and stomped on his forearm, the sickening crunch indicating a broken bone. Jon helped Frannie up as the man writhed in pain. “Come on Frannie, let’s get out of here.” The police were banging on the door as they walked back into the living room. Frannie unbuckled Sophie from the car seat and held her close as Jon let the officers in and led them to the studio. She watched as they walked him by her and out the door.

Officer Simmons stayed back, “we’re sorry this happened Ms. Daniels. He won’t be getting away again. I can promise you that.” Frannie just nodded at the officer. Jon came back and sat next to Frannie, ice on his hand. The officer spoke again, “we’re going to need to get your statements.” She noticed the overnight bag, “going somewhere?” Frannie nodded and pointed at Jon, “to his house.” Officer Simmons nodded, “I think that’s a good idea. We’ll try not to keep you any longer than necessary.”

Officer Simmons was true to her word. An hour later they were in the car heading to Jon’s. Frannie laid her head back against the seat with a sigh. Jon glanced at her, “are you okay?” She turned and looked at him, “I’m not going to be able to use my studio again. I’ll always see him there. It would just be too hard.” When she closed her eyes now she saw him in her space. She knew she wouldn’t be able to work there again. Jon took her hand, “I know baby. Is there any where you can work until we can figure this out?” She gave a slight nod, “I can work at the gallery or at the university I suppose.” Her eyes flew to his face, “you said ‘we’. What do you mean until ‘we figure this out’?”

He turned the car into the drive and as they pulled up to the door he shut the car off and turned to her. “I want to help you Frannie. You don’t have to do this or anything else by yourself. I’m here and want to help. Will you let me?” Frannie leaned in and kissed him, “you are way too good for me. Yes, I would like the help. Thank you.” He kissed her back. “Come on let’s get the little princess inside.” Frannie got out and opened the back door and unbuckled Sophie, “come on baby girl, let’s go in and get you fed and then to bed. It’s been a long night.”

Once Frannie got Sophie settled she found Jon in the den. He had lit the fire and was sitting on the sofa, wine glass in hand. She walked up behind him and massaged his shoulders. “How are ya doing?” He pulled her around to sit next to him. “I’m all right, my hand is sore though.” She picked up his hand and noticed the bruises at the knuckles. She kissed each one before looking at him, “thank you for being there tonight Jon. I don’t want to think what would have happened if you hadn’t been.” He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him, “you don’t have to thank me, but you could answer a question.” She plucked the wine glass from his other hand and took a sip, “what’s that?” He took the glass back, “why didn’t you scream or yell when you saw him there?”

Frannie thought for a minute, “I didn’t want you to come running in with Sophie. I didn’t want either of you to get hurt because of me. And, I guess, I wanted to face my fear and not let it get the better of me again. I was tired of being the victim and I wanted it to be over.” He kissed her “you are a brave woman Frannie. Remind me not to piss you off though; you are lethal with a guitar.” She had to laugh, “rest assured, I won’t be hitting anyone with a guitar again anytime soon. I was just going on instinct there.” He leaned in to her, “well, I’m going on instinct here” his mouth came down on hers, lightly kissing her lips, tracing them with his tongue. She parted her lips and he pulled her to him as his tongue invaded her mouth, dancing with hers. Frannie wrapped her arms around him, letting his kiss take her over.

They sat like that on the sofa, making out like teenagers, until Jon finally had to pull away. He stood and held out his hand to Frannie, “let’s go to bed.” She looked up at him, the fire in his made them almost midnight blue. She took his hand and let him lead the way.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chapter 12

While Jon went into the living room to do his interview, Frannie cleaned up the lunch dishes and went out into her studio. I need this she thought. I need to move beyond what happened this morning. I need to take control. Looking around, she did a little rearranging and tried to picture how she wanted him.

When Jon walked in she had a blank canvas on the easel and the small couch near the window. The sunlight filtering in would ease the harshness and soften the edges. After fluffing the pillow in the corner of the couch she turned to him. “Any chance you have your guitar in your car?” He nodded, “actually, I do.” A smile lit her face, “could you get it?” “Sure.” He came back, guitar in hand, “where do you want me?” This was new for him. He had posed for photographs, but holding a pose so someone could paint him, well, this would be a challenge. He didn’t do sitting still well, but for her, he would do his best.

Frannie had him take his shirt off and tuck into the corner of the couch, one leg stretched out the length of it, the other bent at the knee, foot resting on the floor. The guitar was in his lap, one hand on the neck, the other laying across the body. Standing at the easel she took in the sight in front of her. It made her mouth water. Shaking her head to try and focus, she had him sink down a little further, so he could lay his head against the back of the couch and still look at her. “Okay” she smiled, “don’t move.” She picked up her paintbrush and worked in silence for the first little while, wanting to capture the mood.

As time moved on she started talking to him. They learned about each other that afternoon. Finding out the little things that make each other who they are. They found they had more in common than just mob movies and football. They loved warm summer days and vacationing at the beach. They shared a love of a nice crisp white wine and cookies were the one food neither could avoid.

They had passion for their respective lines of work, and while neither craved the accolades for what they did, they craved the outlet it provided, and at the end of the day that was all that was really important to them, creating something they believed in and wanting to share it with anyone and everyone.

When Frannie finally put down her brush she looked around the canvas at Jon. His head was still resting against the back of the couch and his eyes were closed. It seemed he was asleep as he hadn’t said a word in the last five minutes. Picking up the feather she had placed on her work table earlier, she walked over to him.

She picked the guitar up and set it aside, only then noticing the bulge in his jeans. This is going to be fun. Kneeling on the floor in front of him she lightly drew the feather up one arm and down across his chest, pausing to tease a nipple, then down across his abdomen, stopping to swirl in his navel. As she dragged it back up he started to move. She was tracing the tattoo on his left arm when he flinched again.

What the hell is tickling me? Jon cracked one eye open just enough to find out what was going on. He watched as she moved the feather on him. He tried not to move, but when the feather passed low on his abdomen a second time he put his hand over hers. Frannie looked up at him, “I found my feather.” He grasped her wrist and pulled her up on top of him, “I see, come here.” He pulled her down and his mouth claimed hers. The kiss took her breath and left her wanting more. Jon pulled away, “watching you this afternoon, it was making me nuts not being able to touch you.” Frannie brought her mouth within a whisper of his, “touch me now” she told him as she fastened her mouth to his. His hands worked their way under her shirt, stroking the smooth skin of her lower back. He brought his hands to her front, unbuttoning her shirt and dragging it down her arms. She pulled her mouth from his to sit up and pull the shirt from her wrists, dropping the feather to the floor with it. Jon’s hands came up and cupped her lace covered breasts, thumbs rubbing across the tips, hardening them instantly.

As he continued to tease her through her bra she moved her hips against him, making him harder, his jeans more uncomfortable. His hands moved from her breasts to the button on her jeans. She stilled his hands and climbed off of him. Standing beside the couch and looking down at him, she could see exactly what she had done to him. With a smile she knelt next to the sofa and undid his jeans, sliding them down and off. She looked up at him, “I should have painted you nude, you are magnificent.” He flushed at her compliment and sat up, reaching for her.

She dodged his hand and knelt in front of him, running her tongue up and down the hard length of him. When she took him in her mouth his head fell against the back of the couch, “God Frannie.” The closer he got to release, the harder he tried to hold back. He fisted his hands in her hair and gave a gentle tug, “Frannie, stop.” She looked up at him, “what’s wrong?” His breathing was labored as he tried to talk. “I want to, need to be inside you.” He tugged her up and unfastened her jeans, sliding them and her panties down her legs and off. He ran his tongue across her slit before shifting on the couch so she was laying on it. He bent over her, letting his tongue trace a path from her shoulder to her mouth, from her mouth to her breasts.

He kissed his way down across her stomach, pausing to look up at her. She was watching him, her amber eyes dilated and dark. She watched as he reached down and picked the feather up off the floor. He dragged it across her skin, leaving goose bumps in its wake. He circled her nipples and they seemed to stiffen even more. As she had done to him, he dragged it down over her stomach, swirled it around her navel and took it lower, circling her clit and brushing it against her thigh. “Jon” she moaned out. He circled her clit again, watching her face as he did. He slid a finger into her as she teased her with the feather, “cum for me baby.” He moved his fingers and she came with his name on her lips, never taking her eyes from his.

Dropping the feather and slipping his fingers from her, Jon pulled her up and onto his lap, filling her in one long slow stroke. “God baby you feel so good” he told her as she moved on him. He could feel her tightening on him and he urged her to move faster, his hands on her hips guiding her. She came with a scream and he with a groan as he emptied himself into her.

They sat on the couch, Frannie’s head resting on Jon’s shoulder, his resting against the back of the couch, trying to catch their breath. Jon hands moved on her, caressing her back, soothing and settling. She kissed his shoulder and up his neck to his mouth, kissing him lightly. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close, “do I get to see the painting?” Frannie picked her head up and looked at him, “sure.” They rose from the couch and pulled their clothes back on before she showed Jon what she had done. He turned to look at it and she told him, “I’m going to call it ‘Rock Star at Rest’. What do you think?” He didn’t know what to say. It was amazing. “It’s fantastic baby.” Frannie beamed, “I’d like to put it in the show at the end of the month. Would that be all right?” He nodded his head, “just let me know when the show is so I can be there. I don’t think I want anyone else having this particular painting.” Just then Sophie’s cries came through the monitor. “Come on, I have to go get her.” Frannie tugged Jon away from the easel and into the house.

The afternoon had waned to early evening and dusk was starting to settle as Frannie walked through the house to get Sophie. She turned on lights as she went, her fears starting to creep up again. She tried to tamp them down, but Jon noticed as soon as she walked back into the living room. He had watched her turn all the lights on and he could see it in her face when she came back. “Why don’t you come home with me tonight? I’d feel better if you weren’t here alone.” Frannie sat down to fee Sophie, considering Jon’s offer. She looked down at Sophie and then back up at Jon, “okay” she said softly. He took Sophie from her after she was finished and Frannie went to pack a bag for overnight.

She came back into the living room and stopped at the sight Jon and her daughter made. He was looking down at her in his arms and her little hand was resting on his cheek. Frannie could see Jon’s lips moving, but couldn’t make out what he was saying. She inched further into the room and caught the last verse of the song he was singing to her.

cause I've seen rainbows that could take your breath away
the beauty of the setting sun on any given day
and when it comes to shooting stars I have seen a few
but I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as you

He looked up; sensing he wasn’t alone anymore and his cheeks were pink. “You weren’t supposed to hear that.” Frannie walked over to him and kissed him, “that was the sweetest thing I have ever seen.” She looked down at her baby girl and stroked her cheek. “You are a lucky little girl sweetie.” She looked back up at Jon, “I’m a lucky girl too.” With his free hand Jon reached out and pulled Frannie closer, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “I think you got that wrong Frannie. I am most definitely the lucky one here.” He kissed her once more and then turned to strap Sophie into her car seat.

“I’m just going to run out to the studio, I’ll be right back” Frannie told Jon as he struggled with the car seat. Walking into her studio she grabbed the monitor off the table and walked toward Jon’s guitar. She felt a cool breeze and looked up, the window was broken. “What the…” her voice trailed off as she realized she wasn’t alone in the room. Turning she saw him. “What are you doing in here?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Chapter 11

Jon wasted no time in getting over to Frannie’s the next morning. He dropped the boys back to Dorothea as early as he could and headed straight to Frannie’s. He pulled in the driveway, not recognizing the other car that was there. He practically ran up to the door and rang the bell. He was just about to start pounding on the door when it opened. “Can I help you?”

The face Jon saw was not Frannie’s. “Who are you?” She looked him up and down, “I’m Geena. Can I help you?” “Hi Geena, I’m Jon. Is Frannie here?” She nodded her head, “yes, just a minute.” She closed the door and Jon heard the locks open. She let him in and, looking around, didn’t see any sign of Frannie. “Where is she?” Geena indicated toward the hallway, “in her room. She hasn’t come out since I got here.” Before she could finish her sentence, Jon was down the hall and knocking on Frannie’s door. “Frannie?” He talked to her through the door, “can I come in?” Getting no response he cracked the door open.

Glancing around her room he didn’t see her right away. She was curled up in the fetal position on the far side of the bed, the blankets pulled up around her. Closing the door behind him, he crossed the room to her and crawled up behind her on the bed. “Frannie” he said softly as he stroked her back, “look at me baby.” She didn’t move at first. He pulled her hair back from her face and continued to stroke her back. “It’s going to be all right Frannie.” She rolled over then, an incredulous look on her face. “How can you say that?” She sat up, “did they find him during the night? Can you tell me he’s not going to try to hurt me again or hurt someone else?” She started crying, “I’m scared Jon. I’m so scared.” He gathered her close, “I’m not going to let anything happen to you Frannie. I promise you that.” He reached over to the night table and grabbed a tissue for her. She wiped her face and looked up at him, “is this ever going to be over?” Not knowing what else to do he held her close, kissing her head. “It will baby, I don’t know when, but it will.”

They sat like that for a while and, gradually, he felt her relax against him. When he looked down at her, she had fallen asleep. He eased her down to the bed and covered her up. Judging from the shadows he had seen under her eyes, he assumed she hadn’t slept much the night before. He hadn’t either. He had been so worried about her after the phone call. He had wanted to come over right then, but he couldn’t. Resting his head against the headboard, he closed his eyes. Just for a minute he thought. Soon, he was asleep too.

Sophie was crying. Frannie needed to go to her. She dragged herself from the bed and went down the hall. Looking down into the crib she found it empty. “Sophie?” She ran out of the room and down the hall to the living room, the baby’s cries were getting louder. “Sophie!” She stopped in her tracks; there was a tall man in the living room, holding her baby. “What are you doing? Give me my baby!” He looked over at Frannie, his gray eyes boring into her. “Don’t you mean my baby, bitch?!” She shook her head, “she not yours!” She started toward him, intent on getting Sophie away from him when he stuck his arm out and caught her around the throat. “Don’t even think about it!” His grip tightened and she started thrashing about.

Jon woke to Frannie’s moans and her thrashing on the bed. He watched as she clawed at her own throat and he tried to wake her up. “Frannie.” He shook her gently, trying not to panic. She didn’t respond. “Frannie come on baby, wake up!” He shook her a bit harder this time and she opened her eyes. He watched as she almost recoiled from him, but then she stopped. “Jon?” He stroked her hair back from her face. “I’m right here.” She curled into him as the sobs wracked her body. He let her cry it out before trying to get her to tell him what the dream was about. He stroked her back, “its all right baby. I’m here.” She didn’t look at him, she just started to talk, “he was here. He was in my house looking for Sophie.” She sucked in a shaky breath, “he had her and I tried to get her” her voice broke before she could continue. “He tried to kill me Jon.” She started crying again. He held her and offered quiet words of comfort and she finally started to settle down. “Where is she Jon, where’s Sophie?” He grabbed a tissue and handed it to Frannie, “she’s with Geena baby. She’s safe.” Frannie wiped her face, “I need to see for myself.”

Entering the living room Frannie breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Sophie in her baby seat, Geena capping the bottle she had just finished. Geena looked up, “ah Frannie, feeling better now?” Frannie nodded, “I am, thank you. Thank you for taking such good care of Sophie.” Geena nodded as she stood, “its my pleasure.” She took the bottle into the kitchen and Frannie turned to Jon, “I’m sorry Jon. I’m not usually such a basket case.” He thought about how she had been the last few days and her actions this morning. “I know you’re not. You don’t need to apologize. You have every reason to be afraid.” Frannie sighed and turned to lift Sophie out of her seat. She nuzzled and kissed the soft downy head before turning back to Jon. “I know I have every reason to be afraid, doesn’t mean I have to like it.” Jon smiled, she hadn’t totally reverted. He crossed the room to her, taking Sophie from her. “Why don’t you go take a shower? That might help you feel even better.” Frannie told Geena that she could go home and then went to shower.

Jon lay down on the couch with Sophie on his chest. She laid her head down and he stroked her back. This was how Frannie found them a short while later, both of them asleep. She pulled a blanket up over them and just watched for a minute. Seeing Sophie safe and sound, sleeping on Jon made her feel that much better. The dream had scared her more than the thought of being attacked again. She didn’t know if she would be able to handle anything happening to Sophie. She reached over and brushed the hair off Jon’s forehead with a smile. He said he wouldn’t let anything happen to her, she hoped that meant Sophie too.

Frannie went into the kitchen to fix herself something to eat. She hadn’t eaten since the night before and she was hungry. She put the water on for tea and turned to find Jon standing there. “Oh, you startled me.” He looked good all sleep mussed. Sophie was still asleep against him. “Should I put her down?” Frannie nodded, “yeah, just bring the monitor out with you.” When he came back carrying the monitor Frannie was mixing up some tuna. She looked up at him, “care for a sandwich?” He hadn’t eaten either and his stomach was letting him know. “That’s sounds good. I’m starved.” Not five minutes later they were sitting down to tuna melts and chips, Frannie with tea and Jon with coffee.

After finishing half of her sandwich Frannie looked over at Jon, “you don’t have to stay here today. I’m sure you have better things to do with your day.” He reached over and covered her hand with his, “I want to stay. I have one interview and I can do that over the phone. I’m not going anywhere, unless you don’t want me here.” She was relieved to hear that. She really didn’t want to be alone. “Thank you. I’d like it if you would stay.” She raked her eyes over him. “Maybe you’ll let me paint you?” He quirked an eyebrow at her, “where’s your feather?”

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chapter 10

Jon and Frannie had an enjoyable afternoon. The boys were polite enough when Jon introduced Frannie to them, they oohed and ahhed over Sophie, and they actually got along quite well, much to Jon’s surprise.

Frannie had her sketchbook out when Romeo came running over. “Whatchya drawin’? He climbed up on the bench and sat next to her. She smiled down at him, “want to see?” He shook his head. She turned the book so he could see. “It’s me!” he said excitedly. “Yes it is. It’s you and your brother and your dad.”

She had drawn the three of them as she had come upon them, while they were sitting on the bench she now occupied. Jon was in the middle, one boy on either side. Romeo clambered off the bench and ran to Jon, “she drawed us dad, she drawed us!” Jon laughed and walked over by Frannie. “Romeo says you ‘drawed’ us, can I have a look?” She smiled at him and showed him the picture. She had captured a moment when the boys were actually sitting still and he was touched. “This is wonderful Frannie.” She smiled at him as she put her initials in the corner. He waited, but she didn’t tear it out of her book. She looked at him and he was pouting, “I don’t get that one?” She looked down at the sketch, “nope. I think I’m going to keep this one for myself.”

Jon sat down on the bench and looked over at his boys. They were taking turns on the slide. He watched them for a minute and then turned his attention to the stroller. Sophie had been contentedly laying in the stroller until Jon peeked in on her. Her face lit up with a toothless baby grin and she started blowing spit bubbles at him. He reached to unbuckle her, “come here princess.” He lifted her out of the stroller, straightening her little lavender hat before settling her in his arms. He looked over at Frannie. She had flipped to a clean sheet in her book and was drawing again. He was fascinated at how she captured every little nuance of her surroundings. Her pencil moved almost effortlessly. The area of the park they were in was slowly coming to life on the paper. He watched her face, the look of concentration, her lower lip was caught between her teeth, her eyes flitted back and forth between the paper and her surroundings, her fingers softening the pencil strokes. Jon found it to be quite sexy.

Frannie could feel him watching her as she drew. It was a little disconcerting, if not a little arousing. She glanced over at him, “what?” Jon looked over at his boys and then back at her, he dropped a kiss on her lips “you’re sexy when you’re working.” Frannie felt herself blush. “You think this is sexy? You don’t get out much do you?” He laughed. It felt good to have a little flirtatious banter with her. “What can I say? I know what I like.” He touched her chin and turned her head toward him, “and I like you.” She smiled. “I like you too.” He slid closer to her on the bench and she posed a question to him, “would you let me draw you?” He glanced over at his boys, making sure they were still playing nice and then looked back at her. “You have drawn me.” He didn’t understand. “No, I mean would you pose for me and let me draw or paint you?” He chuckled, “what exactly would you be painting me with?” The lecherous look in his eye told her where his train of thought had gone and she answered in kind. “A feather, with long slow strokes over your skin, up and down your …” she was interrupted when the boys came running over. “Dad!”

Jon sighed and shifted in his seat, his jeans had become slightly uncomfortable. “What guys?” Romeo climbed up next to him, “we’re hungry!” Jon laughed, “of course you are.” He looked over at Frannie, “want to come back to my house for an early dinner?” She checked her watch, she was going to have to feed Sophie soon anyway. “I’d like that.” She tucked her sketch book away, wiped her hands and took Sophie from Jon. He looked at the boys, “is it all right if Frannie joins us?” The two little heads nodded in unison.

When they got to Jon’s Frannie closed herself in the den to feed Sophie and the boys were watching a movie in the family room. When Frannie went looking for Jon, she found him in the kitchen. He was perusing the contest of his refrigerator. His housekeeper had the day off, so he was on his own in fixing them something to eat. Frannie moved silently up behind him, peering into the refrigerator over his shoulder “so, what looks good?” He jumped, bobbling the carton of eggs he was holding. “Jesus Frannie” he started as he turned to face her, “I didn’t hear you come in.” She laughed, “that was the idea.” She stepped out of his way and let him move back and forth from the fridge to the counter. Taking stock of the items he laid out, she concluded that they were having scrambled eggs with cheese and toast. She just smiled and shook her head. He noticed, “what?” She shifted Sophie to her shoulder, “would you like some help?” A look of relief crossed his features, “absolutely. I hate cooking.” Frannie laughed, “I kinda got that impression.”

Jon went and got Romeo’s old baby seat and after getting Sophie settled, he and Frannie made scrambled eggs for the boys. Once the boys were eating Frannie turned to Jon, “how about an omelette?” She liked stuff with her eggs and was pleased when Jon pulled out peppers and mushrooms from the fridge, along with some leftover ham. The boys finished just as she was plating theirs so she and Jon were able to eat in relative peace and quiet.

Frannie helped him clean up and decided that she should probably head for home. Glancing outside it was getting dark and Frannie wanted to be safely inside her own home. Jon was watching her, noticing that she was starting to get a bit antsy. “You want to go, don’t you?” Frannie ducked her head, “am I that obvious?” He crossed to her, taking her in his arms, “only because I know you baby. I’m not going to force you to stay if you don’t want to.” She looked up at him, “it’s not that I don’t want to Jon because I do, but I need some time. This is a big step for me.” She averted her gaze, slightly embarrassed by what she was about to say, “I’m 39 years old and the dark still bothers me.” His hand ran up her back to the end of her ponytail. With a gentle tug her head tilted back and he laid a kiss on her lips. “You don’t need to be embarrassed by that Frannie. I understand. If I could, I would go with you.” She smiled, “you have your own little monsters to deal with” she motioned toward the other room, “you don’t need to deal with mine too.” She reached up and kissed him, “but thank you just the same.” Jon released his hold on her. “Go get your things, I’ll get Sophie.”

Jon got Sophie situated in her car seat as Frannie said good bye to Romeo and Jake. He walked her to her car, helping her get Sophie buckled in. Standing by her door Frannie looked at Jon, “I had a good time today.” His fingers stroked her cheek lightly, tucking a stray curl behind her ear, curling his fingers around the back of her head. “I did too.” He leaned in and kissed her, his lips soft and warm on hers. His tongue teased her lower lip and when she opened her mouth, his tongue slid inside, dancing over hers. Frannie let her hands roam over his back, finally settling at his waist. He continued his assault on her mouth, savoring the taste of her. When he eased back, he nipped at her lips, neither breathing quite evenly. “You sure you have to go?” Frannie nodded her head, “yeah.” Jon kissed her forehead, “call me when you get home.” Her arms were still around his waist and she hugged him tight. “I will.” He released her, watching as she got in the car and drove away.

Frannie let herself into her house, glad she had thought to leave a light on when she had left earlier. Closing the door behind her, she engaged the deadbolt and took Sophie to her room. After getting her fed and settled for the night Frannie changed into her pajamas and sat down on the couch to call Jon. She flipped the TV on while waiting for the call to connect when a news flash came on. The man who raped her, the one she knew as #4 from the line up, Vincent Andrews, had escaped from prison earlier that night.

Jon had just gotten his boys to bed and was in the den when his phone buzzed at his hip. Glancing at the window he smiled as he answered, “hi there.” Frannie smiled “hi J..” her voice trailed off as she caught the new flash. “oh my God.” He heard the panic in her voice, “Frannie, what is it?” She didn’t answer. “Frannie!” He was a bit louder. “Frannie, what’s going on?!” She still didn’t answer and Jon was worried, “Frannie, talk to me. What’s wrong?!” She shut the TV off and finally found her voice, “Jon.” She didn’t sound like herself at all. She sounded terrified. “Frannie, what is it?” He heard the tears in her voice, “Jon, he escaped.” Now he was confused, “who are you talking about?” She swallowed and wiped her face. “Him.”

Jon suddenly he knew who she was talking about. Shit.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chapter 9

Are you all right?” Jon’s voice was a whisper in the dark. Frannie hadn’t said anything and he wanted to make sure she was okay. She reached over and turned the low light on her night table on. She wanted to see his face. Jon took her hand as she looked at him, “I’m fine.” She looked down at their joined hands, suddenly feeling shy, wishing she had left the light off. “Thank you.”

He stroked the back of her hand, waiting for her to look at him. When she didn’t he sighed. “Frannie, would you look at me please?” She dragged her eyes back to his. “What?” He rolled to his side and propped his head on his hand, “what’s going on in that head of yours?” She gave him a small smile, “you made me forget.” A smile tugged at his lips, “that’s a good thing, right?” Her smile widened, “it’s a very good thing. It feels good to not be afraid.” He pulled her close and kissed her softly. “Let’s see if we can’t keep that feeling going.”

He kissed down her neck and down the valley between her breasts, working his way to first one breast and then the other. He slid lower, kissing and nipping across her stomach. He looked up at her, “it’s hard to believe you had a baby.” Her stomach muscles tightened involuntarily. “I work out once in a while” she whispered. His warm breath on her skin had her shifting restlessly, yearning for more. He moved lower, shifting her legs apart with his knee. He drew one leg up and kissed from knee up her inner thigh, tracing lazy circles on the sensitive skin with the tip of his tongue. He moved to the other leg, giving it the same treatment.

She could feel his breath as he got closer to her core. He stroked his tongue over her lightly, teasingly. She arched her hips up, silently begging for more, but he dragged his mouth back up, circling one nipple with his tongue before sucking it in and then making his way to the other. He smiled to himself when he heard his name roll off her lips on a ragged breath. As his mouth claimed hers, he slid into her at the same time, swallowing her groan. They moved together slowly and he watched her, fighting back his own orgasm as he felt her tighten around him. He wanted to savor the feeling, but his need was almost too great. He moved faster, bringing them both the release they were reaching for.

Jon moved off of her, dragging her close. With her head on his chest Frannie could hear the rapid beat of his heart. “God Jon” she whispered, “you were amazing.” He rubbed her back and kissed her head, “I didn’t do it alone babe, we were amazing.” He felt her chuckle against him before they drifted off to sleep.

With the sunlight falling across him, Jon woke alone in the bed the next morning. He ran his hand over the spot where Frannie had been, it was cooling rapidly. She had been up for a bit. He got up, pulled on his jeans and, after a stop in the bathroom, went in search of her. Following the scent of coffee and the music that was playing, he found Frannie in the kitchen. She was standing at the sink, looking out over her backyard; Sophie was in her swing, happily swaying back and forth.

Frannie had woken later than normal and she could hear Sophie was fussing. She got out of bed without disturbing Jon and as she slipped her robe over her shoulders she turned to look at him. She couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across her face as she thought of the previous night. Before she could stop herself, she reached over and brushed the hair off his forehead. He shifted but didn’t wake and she left the room to take care of Sophie.

With Sophie on one arm, Frannie made it to the living room and shut the movie off that they had left running and turned the stereo on. She sat down and fed Sophie before her screaming woke Jon. Once she had Sophie fed, Frannie settled her in her swing in the kitchen and made some coffee, she didn’t usually drink it but she knew that Jon did. She was looking out the window when the song that was playing got her attention.

I found a reason for me
to change who I used to be
a reason to start over new
and the reason is you

She smiled; he really is helping me she thought. This was how Jon found her. A small smile was playing on her face as he came up behind her and he sang the last words to her. “Good morning” he told her as the song ended. She turned her head and kissed his cheek, “good morning yourself. Would you like some coffee?” He moved her hair and nuzzled her neck before stepping back from her. “I would love some coffee.” She handed him a cup, “it’s over there” she pointed to the coffee pot.

After breakfast Jon found the rest of his clothes and told Frannie he had to go. “What are you doing later?” He was taking his two youngest to the park. “I don’t have anything planned Jon.” He sat to put his sneakers on, “why don’t you and Sophie come to the park with me and my boys?” Frannie thought about it; it seemed nice enough out. “Okay, what time?” They made arrangements and Frannie was going to meet him later that afternoon. As she went to open the door for him, she realized then that she hadn’t locked all the locks the night before. “Hmm.” Jon looked at her, “what’s wrong?” She smiled at him, “nothing. You really did make me forget. I didn’t even lock my door last night.” He pulled her into a hug, trying not to squish Sophie in the process. “I’m glad you were able to forget for a while Frannie.” He dropped a kiss on her lips, placed a kiss on Sophie’s head and headed out to his car.

Frannie got Sophie to take her morning nap a little early and she got herself ready to go out. She showered and pulled on jeans, a long-sleeve t-shirt and her favorite Giants hoodie. She pulled her hair into a low loose ponytail and as she turned to sit on the bed, she stretched across it instead, inhaling Jon’s scent that still lingered on his pillow. I still can’t believe it. I was able to enjoy being with a man again because of him. Frannie smiled as she sat up, she was starting to feel more like her old self. And Jon is the reason.

She put her sneakers on and went to get Sophie ready. They headed out half an hour later. Arriving at the park she spotted Jon and his boys over near the swings. Buckling Sophie into the stroller and grabbing the diaper bag she set off to join him.

Jon spotted her and smiled. He was feeling a little more like his old self today. He thought back to that morning and the song that had been playing when he found Frannie in the kitchen. He waved as she got closer, maybe she's the reason.