I love watching Ezra sleep and it sure did seem like I'd been doing that a lot lately. But he was getting better and that was all that mattered. The scar above his heart was still ugly and sore but Caine had sent him some herbal salve that I was to rub gently onto it. He wrote that it would help the healing process and I thought that maybe I could see a little improvement already.
He still tired so easily that I was a little afraid of letting him make love to me. But he seemed to need my touch and the good Lord knows that I needed his. My right hand had been busy while he was in the hospital and I knew that he hadn't even had that relief. It would have placed a strain on his heart that neither of us wanted. And truth to tell, I was still scared of hurting him.
He'd just kept getting thinner and paler every day he was there. Until Caine came. I'd known that something was wrong with the physical therapist but when Ezra fired him and he sneered at us, I like to lost my temper in a big way. But Nathan had heard too and he laid into him with a vengeance. I was still angry with the man but J.D. had shown me a better way to make sure he didn't hurt anyone else.
We sicced the IRS onto him via an anonymous email about under the table cash payments that he'd taken during the last two years.
I let go of my anger when I noticed that Ezra was waking up. There would never be anything but pleasure in our bed. It was about six o'clock and I was hungry again. I hoped that he was too. He stretched a little and wiggled a bit before those beautiful green eyes opened to see me. I love the way he lights up then, like I'm an ice cream sundae with chocolate sprinkles on top.
"I'm hungry." He said with a real surprised look on his face.
"Good. We got more Miss Daisy treats just waitin' to be heated up." I sat up and he did too. "How do you feel?"
"Lazy, sated but hungry for food and you." He leaned against my shoulder, nuzzling my neck with a lick. "And maybe another bath."
"Our water bill is going to go right through the roof." I chuckled and kissed his cheek, which was all I could reach of him. Pouting, he looked at me and I caved immediately. "But I'm looking forward to washing your hair."
"Yes, please!" Ezra lit up and kissed me sweetly. "I missed that more than almost anything else."
"Good, after we eat then I'll wash you." I promised him and rolled out of bed. "You want to help or nap some more?"
"Help." He came out of bed on his own while I watched him without seeming to. I held out his robe and he slipped it on.
"She made you sweet potatoes and ham so I know that you're going to love it." I slid my arm around him in case he needed it but left it loose if he didn't.
He leaned into me and threaded his arm around me. "I will enjoy it if only because of where we are eating it. Perhaps on the sofa?"
"Ezra P. Standish!" I pretended to be shocked. "Eating on the sofa is one of those things that I never thought you'd do."
"Don't care, I want to put my feet on the coffee table, too." He smiled sweetly at me and I had to laugh.
"Then that's what we'll do, Ez'. We can even watch the hockey game from last night because I taped it just for you." I hugged him close and only let go when we reached the kitchen. "Now, I'll get out the food, while you read Miss Daisy's directions to me."
We got dinner ready and went in to the living room to eat it. The hockey game was real exciting and I kept an unobtrusive eye on him. Ezra ate real hearty for a few moments then his appetite failed him like it had for the last few weeks. That had me a little worried but Caine had said that it would be a while before he remembered the urge to eat.
He dozed off during the first intermission and I fast forwarded it to the next period but left it frozen there until he woke up. I watched him slide towards me and slid an arm around him so he'd land safely against my shoulder. He murmured my name and I felt tears well. I'd come so close to losing him when we'd had so little time together. Part of me wanted to wrap him up and never let him go outside again.
But most of me just wanted to love him senseless and keep him close.
"Vin?" His sleepy murmur brought me back from my thoughts.
"Ready for the next period?" When he nodded, I clicked the video back on.
He snuggled real close and watched the game while teasing me with one hand between the folds of my robe. I rested my head on his hair and just thanked God for him. His team won and he was grinnin' like to bust at that, telling me real sassy like that they were going to win it all this year. But I could see his eyes drooping again so I agreed with him and got him up on his feet.
Swaying a bit, he let me hold him up all the way back into our bedroom. I promised him another bath in the morning if he'd go to sleep now and he agreed sleepily, letting me tuck him in before I left him for a few moments to take care of lights and such. When I got back, he was sound asleep and I slipped between the sheets only to have him move into my arms with a murmur of my name that made my eyes tear up again.
Too close. I'd almost lost him and I vowed silently that he'd never be in danger. Not if I could prevent it. I fell asleep with that thought firmly implanted in my mind.
But I awoke to my Ezra pleasuring my morning erection right into a gentle climax. I was shaking when he shared my taste with me. "Good morning, Vin. You are much nicer to wake up to than a nurse come to check my temperature."
I held him real close and kissed him back. "Well, that all depends on how I ... check your temp, doesn't it?"
He chuckled and wiggled just a little on top of me and damned if my cock didn't try to come back to life. Only with Ezra was I so insatiable. Tipping him onto his back, I took in that big cock of his and sucked him right into release. Watching him relax, I thanked God that he was getting better everyday.
Those bright green eyes of his were sparkling when they finally opened. "Breakfast then the warehouse?"
I smiled at the thought of all the surprises the guys and I had for him. "Yep, breakfast, a bath and then we'll head over to the warehouse."
"Good." He smiled at me and got slowly up from the bed.
I kept an eye on him but let him putter around at his own speed. We had no schedule and the guys would be at the warehouse from 10 o'clock on. We'd be eating lunch at Miss Daisy's and then I'd bring him home so he could take a nap. That would be enough for his first day out.
He asked me no questions, seemingly content to just be with me and let things happen as they would. I was pretty sure that he hadn't quite rejoined the real world yet but I didn't want him to feel like he had to any time soon. I'd be home with him for a week before I had to go back to work and I figured it was the best vacation of my whole life. Spring was in the air and Ezra was out of that damn hospital.
It just didn't get any better than this.
He finished his bowl of oatmeal and an entire cup of tea while I mopped up my eggs with the toast. I tried not to keep looking at him but I just couldn't help myself. He had a little trouble with his socks because he got dizzy when he leaned down. I held back with all my willpower not to jump in and do it for him. Caine had said that he needed to slowly start doing normal things again.
But it was hard to watch him turn white and rest his head on his knees for a long moment before finishing with his socks. I was dressed long before he was so I went down to bring the truck around and check on the weather. The sun was out and the breeze was fresh instead of cold. I could hardly wait to show Ezra what we'd done in the warehouse.
He met me at the front door and I bit my tongue hard to keep from nagging at him. His scarf was around his neck but he'd put on the leather jacket that made him look so sexy. It was all I could do not to pull him into my arms and kiss him right there on the front step with all the neighbors watching. He looked so proud of himself.
But I noticed that his hands were shaking a little when he pulled the seatbelt around him and clicked it tight. His eyes were gentle when he caught me sneaking a peek at him. "I'm fine, Vin. A little unsteady perhaps but so long as I have your strong arm there to hang onto when I need it, I'll be just fine."
"You've got my arm and anything else you want of mine, Ezra. I love you." It wasn't very flowery but it made his eyes tear up for a moment.
"I love you, too, Vin. Now, let's go see all your hard work." He rested his head back against the headrest and I put her in gear. "And how did your truck come to be named, Isabella?"
So I told him about Inez taking one look at her and saying how 'bella' she was. Isabella just came naturally after that. He laughed and I smiled to myself. But the closer we came to the warehouse, the more anxious I suddenly felt. What if he hated what we'd done to her? His plans had just been little sketches that I'd found in his desk after he went undercover. What if they were doodles and not what he really wanted?
"Vin, I will love whatever you've done with the warehouse." His hand rested on my arm and his eyes were warm with the same affection he always had for me.
"We used some of your sketches. Jase and Lee liked them and kind of worked out what it would take to make them possible." We were still two blocks from Adams Street and my palms were sweating.
"My sketches?" He sounded real puzzled and I risked a look to see his eyebrows wrinkle up. Then it cleared and he grinned. "In the bottom desk drawer?"
"Un-uh." Oh, that was real professional, Vin.
"I've had those for years, Vin. Back when I was taking some courses at UCLA, I fooled around with energy efficient plans. I've always wanted to make them come to life. I can hardly wait to see how they turned out." He sounded real excited and I felt myself relax.
Pulling up to the alley garage door, I pressed the door opener and waited for it to go all the way up before driving Isabella inside. The guys were waiting by the workbenches and I saw Jase and Lee with them before Ezra did. Saying a quick prayer, I parked Bella and watched J.D. rush over to open Ezra's door. I wasn't the only one who was glad that my Ezra was out of that damn hospital.
I stayed out of the way while they all greeted him. He had that beaming smile on that I loved to see and I could see his eyes busy taking in all the changes on the ground level. We'd made it the basis of our operations and who ever got the other floors would have off the street parking too. We'd fixed up six parking stalls along one side and the opposite side had storage partitions that could lock. The third side had workbenches with pegboards above holding all the tools that we were using on this project and below the toolboxes we checked out each day.
We all crowded on the freight elevator and Ezra exclaimed at how quiet it was when it began to rise. The second floor was still a big echoing room but at the touch of a switch, the lights bloomed over the polished oak floors. I knew that Nathan had started taking an interest in this space and even brought Rain to come and see it. I thought that Ezra would enjoy having team members as tenants because he'd spoken of Buck and J.D. taking the floor beneath ours.
Leaving those lights on, we went on up to the floor that I'd started to think of as Buck's. Rooms had been created on this level with studs and drywall. The kitchen was in and semi-working along with the bathroom. All the plumbing had been roughed in along with the electric service but most of the counters and appliances were missing. Ezra listened closely to Jase and Buck while they explained in tandem some of the things that differed from his drawings.
I was practically dancing with impatience by the time we'd toured the whole space and got all the questions answered. I'd of hyperventilated but Chris was doing his best to keep me from passing out and I appreciated his efforts. What if Ezra hated what we'd done on our floor? I found myself by his side when we got back on the elevator. He was leaning on my arm a little and I could see the little tired lines between his eyes.
Jase and Lee came too and the elevator had never seemed so big with just the four of us. Then the door opened and I saw Ezra's eyes get real big. The other two were watching him too and we exchanged questioning looks when he didn't say anything. He walked into the living room and slowly approached the dark-green granite counter. Running his hands over it, he moved around one end and into the kitchen proper. The refrigerator was the most energy efficient one made by a company out in California.
The under-the-counter washer and dryer at one end were also energy efficient and supposedly would only cost $26 a year to run. The sink was stainless steel with an arching faucet that reminded me of a dolphin. The cupboards were light oak that matched the floors I'd sanded. I finally remembered to flip the light switch on and the twelve bulbs scattered all over the space made everything shine.
"It's magnificent." He leaned against the counter and looked at us. "I love it."
I thought for a moment that I'd pass out from relief. He liked it. The colors and everything were okay. He had questions but Jase and Lee took turns explaining why we'd used the materials we had. Then he wanted to see the rest of it and I leant him my arm again. He was shaking just a little but then he'd been on his feet for almost an hour and I knew he'd need to sit soon.
But first we had to show him the second bedroom with its three-quarter bath. It was painted in soft yellow and the south clerestory windows gave it kind of a glowing look. I had already bought a double bed with a bookcase headboard and the Sisters had found me a beautiful star quilt that really dressed it up. He smiled when he saw it and touched it gently. The fixtures in the bathroom were white with a green tile floor and splashboard. He nodded his approval and then asked to see the master bedroom. Jase and Lee waited in the kitchen while I guided him to the door.
He just stood there while I watched his eyes move around the room that was almost twice the size of the other bedroom. It was cooler here but the east windows flooded the room with morning light, splashing up onto the cream colored walls. By the walk-in closet, a green leather chair with footstool sat, looking real inviting. He sighed a little and I felt him lean hard into my side.
"Vin, I love you. Will you like living here?" He urged me towards the bathroom door.
"As long as you're here, it's home, Ez'." I felt better about what we'd picked out and now I could hardly wait for him to see our new bathroom.
"So very true, my love. Oh," he stopped dead in the doorway and looked from one side to the other. We'd put in two cream colored Corian sinks on the east wall with storage underneath. The south wall had the big tub on it with steps up the side. It looked bigger than the one in our apartment but it wasn't. You couldn't see the whirlpool jets from here but they were installed and ready to go.
The west wall had the shower unit walled in by the toilet in its own alcove. Then the linen closet filled up the rest of the space. The tiles were green and cream with little gold diamonds set in the middle of each four tiles. It looked real clean and welcoming, I thought. The clerestory windows here let in the morning light but kept it real private. With the great big closet on the north wall, both rooms were as energy efficient as we could make them.
"Vin, it's beautiful. You must have worked day and night to get so much done." He leaned in and kissed me gently. "I couldn't have done better myself. I love the way you read my mind. Are we ready to move in?"
I blushed at the compliments but got worried at his paleness. "Why don't you try out our new chair while I get Jase and Lee in to bring you up to speed?"
He nodded and let me help him over to the new furniture. Sinking into it with a sigh, he repositioned the pillow and I pulled his feet up and onto the oversized footstool. "Oh, that feels wonderful, Vin. I love the way you take care of me."
"Taking care of you is my favorite thing to do." I leaned in and kissed him tenderly, thanking God again that he liked what we'd done.
"Angel-Vin." He sighed against my lips and stroked my cheek until I wanted to purr for him. He chuckled and leaned back against the chair. "Before we christen this chair, I think we'd better have Jase and Lee in."
I pouted a little but called for them to come in. Ezra praised them and they pulled out their notebooks to fill him in on what still needed to be done. The punch list for our floor still had fifteen things on it but most of them were backordered items that should come within the next month. I sat on the footstool and watched Jase think while pacing from one side of the room to the other while Lee sat cross-legged on the floor taking notes.
It took almost half an hour to go over everything about our floor and I called a halt when I saw how tired Ezra looked. But the important decisions were made and I was excited about moving into our new place. Jace used his cell phone to call a friend of his who ran a small moving company and we were soon set to be packed up on Monday and moved on Tuesday. The guys had already volunteered to take enough of our stuff over on Sunday so Ezra would have a place to nap when he needed to.
I was hoping that the whole bedroom and bathroom could be set up so we'd both have a place to retreat. Then again, we could always christen the guest bed, I grinned to myself. We took a quick look around the rest of the big open area where the bookcases edged the length of the whole north wall and a home office would be set up. We started down in the elevator and on third floor, my smile must have given us away because Buck whooped when he saw us and hugged Ezra real gentle like. We got sorted out and left in a group for Miss Daisy's.
Ezra closed his eyes and rested while holding my hand. I drove slow and steady to give him a little time to recoup his energy before we had to eat. If I could have given him a jolt of my own, I would have but not even Caine had told me how to do that. The food would help and the friend vibes would go a long way to making him feel part of the team again.
Miss Daisy had a big table all set up for us and Ezra was no more sat down before she had a glass of sweet tea in his hand and a basket of her cornbread in front of him. He took a long drink and sighed happily while the rest of us got seated and our server quickly distributed more cornbread. Josiah was the only one who'd been here before so Ezra and I were kept busy explaining the menu. Not that we had choices today since she'd already informed us what we'd be having.
Nathan was practically moaning over the cornbread and when his mouth was empty, he made a fervent promise to bring Rain here within the week. I liked the idea that Miss Daisy's might become a place where we could meet outside of work and I caught Ezra's wink at me, which told me that he'd probably read my mind again. With anyone else that might have been scary but I'd bound my heart to his and he to me so it just seemed right.
Her pickled okra and coleslaw came out first then tender roast beef with new potatoes in a butter dill sauce that made Ezra sigh real contented like and eat almost all of them on his plate. I could see that he was making an effort but all too soon he was just playing rather than eating. I helped him out by making sure that it all disappeared and he rubbed my knee beneath the table in thanks.
But he made room for her apple-rhubarb tart with cinnamon ice cream melting slowly over the crispy crust. The whole table went silent in appreciation and she just smiled and nodded her head in approval. There wasn't anything left on the table and we'd pretty much polished our plates when we sat back, replete at last.
Ezra wasn't the only one who looked like he needed a nap. Josiah had been watching him closely and he sent me a worried look when Ezra sighed again. I nodded and asked everybody if they'd be willing to help on Sunday afternoon so we could get some stuff over to the place ahead of the movers. They all agreed that they thought it would be fun and I promised that we'd provide dinner.
We left for home and I quick put Ezra to bed, lying down with him until he fell asleep. His pulse was a little fast but he was breathing easily and I didn't think that he'd done harm to himself. He'd just tired himself out with all the walking. Slowly, I eased out of the bed and shut the door behind me so my noise wouldn't bother him. I'd already picked up some boxes from a rental place and I put them together so I had something to put the linens from the hall closet in.
Another box took care of all the stuff in the drawers of the bathroom sink. I left out our soap, shampoo and oil. Ezra would want another bath tonight and so would I. I kept filling boxes until I ran out of them. But I labeled each one so we'd be able to find things later. I hadn't done that the last time I moved and I regretted it with every box I opened trying to find my coffee mugs.
"Vin." Ezra had gotten up and come to find me.
I stopped what I was doing and went to give him a hug. He rested his head on my shoulder while I rubbed his back. "Another bath, Ezra? I don't expect you want to eat anymore."
He shuddered. "Tomorrow will be soon enough for that, Vin. I feel stuffed to the gills. Some tea would be nice though."
"Tea it is. Why don't you chose something to play on the stereo while I get it ready?" I suggested and he kissed me softly in agreement. He went off to pick out one of his classics and I went smiling into the kitchen to brew some tea. Tomorrow would be a good day and for the first time, we would be sleeping in our own home.
I could hardly wait.
End of part 22