I wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans. This was it - once we unloaded the truck and put everything inside, Ezra was officially moved into my place. It wouldn't be *my* place anymore, it would be *ours*. I had the feeling I had a silly grin on my face, a really silly grin but I couldn't wipe it off. After six weeks of roller-coaster emotions, wrenching farewells and truly bizarre rumors about what Team 7 was really doing, we'd finally left that old life behind and were ready to start anew.
Beeping brought me out of my daydream; the movers were backing up to get the rear of the truck near the front steps. Ezra joined me then with a smile and a list of where everything was going. I'd suggested we do the move ourselves but he'd chuckled and told me he had plans for me that did not involve waiting for wrenched muscles to heal. He said he'd rather pay young bucks to risk their backs rather than watch me risk mine.
Since he was balls deep at the time, I'd agreed hastily and gone back to pleading with him to go harder, faster and deeper. He did. Now, the moment had come when part of my furniture was leaving while part of his was taking their place. Actually, we'd compromised on a couple of items. He hated my current sofa; I disliked his fussy antique so we were going shopping this weekend for something we both liked.
"Chris, if you'll direct these good gentlemen to the living room and dining room, I shall make sure the bedrooms are taken care of." Ezra's voice brought me back from thoughts of the perils and delights of shopping with my lover.
"Sure, Ez'," I took the map he handed me and we split up.
Two hours later, each piece of his furniture was in place and half of mine was on the truck headed for the good Sisters of Mercy in Purgatorio. To my chagrin, nobody had wanted any of it for their own places. Suddenly everybody had 'plans' that didn't include sort of . . . battered . . . furniture. I swear the entire team had been watching HGTV and the decorating shows.
I'd overheard more than one conversation about stained glass, fabrics and faux-finishes. It was a frightening thought but we all sounded amazingly . . . domesticated.
"Beloved, I think we've done quite well." Arms slid around me and I clasped his hands, bringing each one to my lips to nip and kiss.
"You're . . . right . . . we . . . did . . . good." I had a sudden urge to take him to bed and if his nuzzling between my shoulders was any indication he had the same idea.
"Excellent idea," he chuckled. "We shall repair to our bedroom so you can see what I've done with it."
I froze. "What you did with it?"
His hands slipped from mine and he came up beside me with his neutral face on. "I believe I mentioned a change in the bedding among a couple of other items."
Think fast, Larabee or you're going to be sleeping Ezra-less. "I forgot, Ez'. Let's go see it. We need to test-drive it . . . um, them."
He nodded and walked down the long hall to the master suite. I caught up with him in two giant steps and slipped my hand in his. A sideways glance from bright green eyes told me I needed to remember he hadn't ever, in any way shape or form, ever moved in with another soul before. He had to be more nervous than I was since I at least had some history of family.
Suddenly I remembered Vin telling me how weird it had felt to share his living space with someone after ten years of cherishing his privacy. He'd had a dozen foster families before he was 18 and turned loose by state welfare. From the little pieces of Ezra's past he'd let drop, he'd been moved from pillar to post until he went to college. I had my own opinions about Maude's upbringing of my lover but that was for another time.
Now was for stopping in the doorway of a room I barely recognized. The black oak four-poster was the same but it was pushed out from the wall so a towering . . . something was pushed behind it. It was black oak with shelves, little drawers and mirrors that gleamed silver. It should have loomed over us but it kind of fit in somehow. A Japanese six-panel shoji screen canted across the far corner and I wondered if the dresser was hidden behind it because I couldn't see it anywhere.
"Wow, where did this come from, Ezra?" I went up to the tower and measured its depth at about 14 inches. It extended past the edges of the headboard about a foot on both sides. "It looks really old."
"It is all I have of my father's side of the family." He perched on the edge of the mattress. "When I saw your bed, I thought of this immediately. I've had it in storage for almost 15 years. Luckily, you built the ceilings here at ten feet rather than the normal eight and a half. Do you like it?"
My fingers were tracing the carvings of acorns and squirrels that danced up and down the paneled sides. "I love it, Ezra. How old is it and are we going to have to increase our insurance?"
He finally smiled at me and that cute little dimple flashed out. "It's almost three hundred years old and was one of the first cupboards crafted in what is now Staten Island. The first American Standish held one of the original land grants and appreciated good woodwork. And I've already increased the policy in keeping with some of the other pieces I brought with me."
I decided not to ask how much more it was now because I'd finally focused on what he was sitting on. Reaching out my hand, I stroked across the cream colored duvet cover and said distractedly, "that's good. What material is this, Ez'? It feels like suede."
"Very good guess, Chris," he smiled and pulled me down beside him. "It's dry clean only, I'm afraid but it feels like a little bit of heaven when you roll naked across it."
"Oh yeah, let's test it out now, lover." I leered at him and watched him relax even more. "Ezra, I like everything I see and feel. Don't ever be afraid of surprising me with something new. I can be a little stuck in the past sometimes." He smiled up at me and I kissed him gently.
"Naked," he murmured, "I want you naked now."
I agreed with that sentiment and we helped each other out of our clothes. He was right, the cover felt positively sinful to every bit of skin that rolled over it. We took our time, stroking and sliding and rubbing until we'd got into position for an old fashioned sixty-nine. He tasted damn good and I drank him down like my favorite Irish mocha crème. But once he teased me into releasing, I lay on my back, arms outstretched with a silly grin back on my face.
And that's when I noticed another change. "Hey, we've got railings now between the four posters. What goes on them?"
He chuckled and rolled up by my side. "Various curtains to fit our moods or our fantasies. I have several different sets but I thought I'd let you choose our first décor. We have white sheers to evoke the jungle, heavy crimson velvets for a medieval feel, multi-colored silks for an Arabian ambience."
I thought about it for a long moment, running through the scenarios we'd used in the past. "What kind of medieval world would they be evoking?"
He curled up into my side and I slid both arms around him, putting our heads together on the pillow. His face was contemplative and one of those graceful hands of his started stroking my chest. "I believe something around the time of the Crusades. One of the knights has brought home an exotic slave to live in his castle. It would be the opposite of our version of the Saracen and the captured knight."
I loved that one, 'cause I always got to be the knight who had to be tamed by his new 'master'. But it might be fun to play it just the opposite. "That sounds good but wasn't that the same time as Robin Hood?"
He chuckled and raised up to look down into my face. "You're thinking of tights, aren't you? You've been trying to get me into them for months now."
I tried for innocent but couldn't resist another leer. "Yeah, I'm thinking green tights the color of your eyes and a little brown leather tunic that doesn't quite cover your . . . assets."
Laughing out loud, he slid back down and tucked his head under my chin. "I'll see what Jacques can come up with, 'Robin'. Of course, we could also play the Lord and the Peasant. The droit du seigneur aspect would be delicious if I chose to bed the groom instead of the bride."
Cold then hot, I thought about that scenario. "I like that one, Ezra. I like it when you take my virginity in a new way."
He hugged me close and licked my skin lazily. "We'll be a hundred before we run out of ways to take each other's virginity."
I hugged him even tighter. "We'll be celebrating our 62nd anniversary when I hit the century mark. You'll have to go easy on me by then."
"My dearest Chris, we'll go easy on each other."
I heard a hitch in his voice and I smiled into his hair. "We'll be the envy of all our friends. Rain and Nathan's kids will have grandkids of their own by then. Family get-togethers will have a whole new meaning."
"Family," he agreed and I felt him slide into a little nap.
This moving in together was going to be all right, I thought with a little sigh and closed my own eyes. We had more to do but taking our time would be okay by me. We were safer now and we had all the time in the world.
The end of part six