Vampires, the New Endangered Species

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Chapter 7 Normalcy

Emily stretched and groaned and yawned, Saturday, she had to go to work. At least she didn’t have any classes and her shift didn’t start until ten, so she could have a nice slow start to her day. As Emily laid there waking up, she noticed a sound coming from the other room, it sounded like a mouse in the kitchen. She cocked her ear and held her breath to listen better, she could hear a slight popping and crackling sound. Damn it she thought, that’s the last thing she needed was a mouse in her kitchen. Carefully and quietly getting up, she put her robe on and grabbed the broom that was in her closet. When she tip-toed out into the living room she stopped in her tracks, Emily looked over and there was a fire going in her stove, “What the hell?” She said out loud, then looked over to the kitchen and there sat Marcus at her little table reading the paper; and a doll and flower sitting atop a wrapped present were on top of her little table in front of him.

“Do you normally sweep as soon as you wake up?” Marcus grinned up at her over the paper.

Instantly Emily dropped the broom and rushed over to him. He was up on his feet and grabbed her around the waist and picked her up off of her feet so he could kiss her without bending over. After removing his lips he purred, “Good morning, surprise.” He gave her a cute little smile and raised his eyebrows.

Wrapping her legs around his waist she exclaimed, “What a great surprise! When did you get in? Were you even in Rome when I spoke to you last night?” She was ecstatic that he was there, and that it was the fire and not a mouse in the house.

Not letting go of her at all he answered, “Yes I was, I actually left to hop on the plane as soon as we hung up the phone. I got in pretty early, so I checked to make sure Mort was fine then I came over here. I couldn’t have you wake up to a cold house again. You look so good, two days was too long.”

“It was really only a day and a half… but yes, too long.” She hugged and kissed him again and he set her down on her feet, “Your tea’s ready also for you.”

She turned and looked, and sure enough, there was her mug on the table already full and sitting next to the doll. Emily sat and sipped then asked, “What’s all that?” Emily picked up the little doll holding a real Sweet Pea flower in its hand. “This is so beautiful, I’ve never seen anything like it!” Emily looked at the dolls features, not only was she made entirely out of silk; the body, dress and hair, but she had the most precious face Emily had ever seen. The hair was a lovely brown and the eyes were some sort of black stone. Her dress was a charming deep purple and had roses and butterflies sewn into the bottom half of it. But what amazed her was how soft she felt to the touch, “She is wonderful Marcus, thank you so very much.”

“Well I saw her and she caught my eye, but then as soon as I felt her, well, I had to get her because she reminded me how you feel,” he looked at her and raised a brow and gave her that sexy grin.

Emily squinted her eyes at him trying to understand what he meant. She had no idea how she could feel like silk; then slowly it dawned on her, “What? Oh. OH! Oh Marcus that is, so, wow, sort of kinky.” She felt the doll again and remembered what he told her when they first made love and how she felt to him. Her cheeks turned bright red, and she tried to change the topic, “So, um, what’s the wrapped one?” She knew it was a book of course

Marcus rolled his eyes, “Baseball bat. Open it.”

She put down the doll and tore open the pretty silver paper. The book was an oversized one and very thick, it must have weighed four pounds. She gasped when she saw the cover. It was a book of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Immediately she opened the cover and there was an inscription written there for her; Emily, I hope you become the Librarian in the Palace of your dreams. I love you. M

After blowing him a silent kiss she returned her attention to the book in her hands, “Oh Marcus, this is amazing,” she was spellbound by the pictures, some of them folded out to show entire galleries, two story rooms with ancient texts protected under glass cases.

He watched her for a moment then told her, “You have to promise me only one thing though before you accept that gift.” Marcus looked at her seriously, that made her wonder.

Looking up to him she said skeptically, “Uh, sure?” then took another sip of tea.

Seriously he went on, “You need to pick at least five of them that you want to see, and let me take you there for your graduation present. Oh, and no isn’t an option either.” He leaned back and smiled and acted as though he was going to start reading the paper again.

She put the book and her mug down then went over and kissed him, “Thank you so, so very much. I didn’t need a gift, just waking up to you was all that was considered necessary.” She sat in his lap and he pulled her mug over to her so she wouldn’t have to get up, he liked her right where she was.

Emily kissed his lips then asked, “So, I have two more hours before I have to go to work, what do you want to do?” Emily sipped her tea and looked at him while she lightly swung her legs, her feet missed the floor by a few inches yet.

“Just this,” he put his arms around her and kissed her head. He took in a deep breath of her scent and exhaled with a lovely moan. “I love the smell of you, and I missed it last night. The villa was so stuffy smelling. But you, I want to always have you with me, you make everything just right.”

“So do you really come up with this stuff or are you reading those romance novels at the shop?” She poked him in the ribs with her elbow and rolled her eyes.

“What? I thought you women loved that stuff?” He shrugged, “Sorry, I can get sappy I know, just tell me to stop when it gets to be too much!”

“Not too sappy, I like it,” she said and sipped her tea then rested her forehead on his cheek, she was a little higher up on his lap and enjoyed being this close to his face.

He leaned into her and just enjoyed being there. The aura this time was so much better in here than last time he paid her a visit. He took a deep breath again and enjoyed all of it.

Emily leaned back up, “I better get some breakfast before I get dressed.” She got up and he grabbed her by the hips and pushed her up while he stood, then thrust his hips into her butt from behind, “No darling, sit; I’ll make you breakfast.” He then moved out of the way and sat her down onto the chair he was sitting in.

Emily had to bite her lip, that one movement made her so hot she had to take a couple of breaths and sip her tea again to cool off and think about not straddling him in the little chair. She heard him giggle to himself, bastard, she knew he could smell her excitement; it sort of made her even more wound up. She grabbed her new book and started to flip through it while he went through her kitchen like he had been cooking there with her the entire time; he seemed to know where everything was already.

Emily “Ooh’d and ahh’d” as she looked at pictures and read about some of the places and talked to him about this place or that. He would tell her to see if a certain library in a certain country was listed and if so then he would tell her all about being there. She pushed the book forward so they could both look at it while she ate the omelet and rye bread he set down in front of her. Finally she had to get dressed, and it was raining outside, “Guess I better wear my slickers.”

Marcus scoffed at her silly remark, “I’ll drive you to work, I wouldn’t hear of you walking in this.”

Appreciating his thoughtfulness she said, “Thanks love, come in my room and talk to me while I get dressed,” Emily didn’t have to ask twice, he was up instantly as she started towards her room.

They both knew there was no time to make love, she had to get to work on time today, but he hopped on the bed and stretched out on his side and propped one hand under his head as he let his shoes dangle off the edge; which were in fact to the end of the bed. He looked so damn sexy, she could picture him as an underwear model. Emily decided to be coy and gave him a little strip tease as she got out of her flannel bottoms and oversized tee-shirt. Of course he was a good audience and gasped and hooted at the right moments. She finally embarrassed herself and stopped as she started riffling through her closet to find something different to wear. Sadly and stupidly she didn’t bring as many clothes as she wanted to and was getting very bored of the selection she had brought.

Finally needing to get into something, she threw on a long, burgundy wool skirt with knee high brown boots and a brown turtle neck sweater. She brushed her hair out and left it loose; it was past her shoulders now, which was long for her. Not liking to wear make-up, but always putting on mascara and lipstick when she went to work to accentuate what Emily thought to be her only two good features, Emily was ready to head out the door.

She turned around from her dressing table, “Okay, ready to go,” she looked at her watch and she had fifteen minutes until she had to be there, with Marcus driving they would be there in three. So she went over to the bed and pushed him onto his back and sat on top of him, “Too bad we only have about ten minutes,” she said as she lightly kissed his lips.

“Oh there’s a lot we can do in ten minutes!” He kissed her back and let his fingers travel under her skirt, and that’s how they preoccupied the time until she had to leave. He loved the taste of her and she loved the feel of him; and neither could get enough of each other.

The jaunt to work was in about the time she expected, and he was at her car door with an umbrella and walked her into the large front door. Not a drop of water hit her. There looked to be no one in sight once they were inside so she gave him a quick peck kiss on the lips before he retreated back out into the nasty weather. Emily was half way to the break room when she heard two women giggle. Stopping to chide them she said into the void, “Mary and Harri, you don’t have to eavesdrop on me.” Emily shook her head and grinned as she pushed the door open to the break room.

The two other women were in through the door right behind her, obviously there weren’t any people out in the hall. “So, how is Marcus doing this lovely day?” Harri was being all proud since she had formally met him and Mary hadn’t.

Emily was putting her stuff into her locker, “He’s just fine, he got me a great book on libraries around the world from his trip. I want to see if we have it here.”

Mary, the ultimate gossiper, piped in, “Trip? Where’d he go and not take you to?” She turned and looked at Harri with a smirk.

Emily turned to look at the women as she pinned on her nametag, “He was at a book convention in Rome, he actually has to travel a lot in regards to the shop. Now do you ladies have any more questions for me about my personal life before I punch the clock?” Emily laughed as she pushed past them to shove the stupid card into the machine, four minutes early, awesome. At least the good thing about the clock, you did get the money for those few minutes that you worked over, the city was always to the penny when it came to this stuff.

Of course the women instantly started spewing off all sorts of questions, ideas suggestions and innuendos as Emily started her “rounds”, as she liked to call them. She had to get the books from the checked in cart and put them away. Thanks goodness they were already in numerical order to make her life easier. Then she had to help Mary fix any books that needed to be repaired. That hour of the day went by quickly for Emily, she liked Mary and she liked fixing the old and worn out books.

Mary was about 65 or so and had the best sense of humor and was about as tall as she was round. Her baking was well known around town and she very obviously loved her own cooking. Mary had been married to the same man for over forty years and their four children were all grown with families of their own. Mary lived for the library and for the news and talk she could share with the other ladies of her notoriously unique book clubs. Being from Scotland she still had an accent even though she had lived here for the last thirty years with her husband and kids. She only worked here because she loved books and wanted something to do; her husband was in politics and made tons of money, so she really didn’t have to work. He traveled to London a lot so she was very social and was always doing this or that and had the best stories to tell.

Emily’s day ended at six, and when that time finally arrived she got her stuff, punched out and bid the ladies a good day off and headed to the front door of the main hall. To her surprise Marcus was already there with an umbrella in one hand and a grin on his face.

Mary was instantly on her heels, “You better introduce me to your sweetheart lass!” She hissed playfully into her ear.

Emily didn’t acknowledge the instantaneous presence of the brash woman, but instead smiled and picked up her pace to Marcus, “Hey there, still raining I take it?”

“Naturally,” he then looked past her and over her shoulder and smiled, “Hi there.”

Emily piped up quickly without turning around at first, “Marcus, this is Mary; she’s the expert book mender here. I’m sure the two of you could talk each other’s ears off!” Emily gave Mary a wink and turned back to Marcus and smiled.

They shook hands quickly, Marcus’ naturally courteous style, and said their to-do’s. Emily didn’t want to linger so she ushered Marcus out and said good-night again to Mary and Harri.

Once in the car Emily let out a breath of air in a rush, “Whew! Sorry, she can be a little forward. She’s the sweetest woman but loves to gossip and talk. Everyone will know of you by tomorrow afternoon.”

“By the end of tonight in all reality! I know Mary and her family; they’ve been here for a while. No worries babe, I really don’t care one way or the other.” He leaned over now that they were alone and kissed her like he wanted to. “So, to your house or mine?”

Emily knew if they went back to her house they would only do one thing, repeatedly, and nothing else would get accomplished so she asked, “Well has Mort eaten dinner yet?”

Pulling out onto the street and turning for his house he answered, “Nope, he’s still at the shop, we don’t close for another hour, why?” Marcus looked from the road to her.

“Then your house and I’ll cook dinner for Mort. I almost said ‘us’, but made my minor correction,” Emily looked at him sideways and smirked.

They got to the store and drove past it and onto the side street and right into a garage that Emily didn’t even know existed. The store was actually situated in an odd spot, hence the “Nook” part of the name. It was on the corner of two main streets, but then there were alleyways on the other two sides of it. When Emily walked there, she crossed in front of one alley then went into the front door; she never turned the corner onto 5th to go down the side of the shop where all of the big windows were. Now she noticed that just past the row of windows there was a single garage door, then past that there was a lovely wooden door with stained glass in the center of the door which must have been the front door that lead up to their home above.

Once the garage door opened up and Marcus pulled right in, Emily got out and noticed that the huge door looked newer, “When was this added on?”

Marcus answered her as he got out of the car, “I put it in when cars became popular, then had the automatic door put in a few years ago to replace the pull up one. The garage leads right up into the flat.” Emily followed him through a door up a narrow staircase that opened up into the kitchen.

Emily laughed when they came out of the door and were in the kitchen, “I thought this was a pantry door! Huh!”

Marcus snuffed, “Nope, that is the pantry door,” and he pointed to a skinny little door to the left of her. “Morty, I’m home,” Marcus pushed an intercom that obviously went down into the shop at the front counter.

Emily heard it crackle. “Hey there. What’s for dinner?” Came the voice from below

Marcus laughed, “That’s always on his mind, that man never misses a meal. He pushed the button again, “Em actually came over, and she’s cooking for you. I’ll come and get you when it’s ready; I think she has a nice surprise for you.” Marcus gave her a wink and released the button. “I’m sure you can find something in here, I’ll help out.” He led her over to the fridge and cupboard and they scrounged around for a few minutes.

Emily decided they had the right stuff to make some chili, and it was a great day for chili to boot. Marcus got out all of the equipment they would need; chopping boards, knives and ingredients as she washed her hands. She was opening cans as he was chopping the onions, peppers and tomatoes; it was a quick delegation of tasks since Marcus could chop everything in record time. They were in the middle of debating whether or not garlic went into the pot when Mort walked into the kitchen

“Hi there! Smells great, what is it?” Mort had his nose in the air and was inhaling as he shuffled over to the stove. He opened the lid and took a big nose full in, “I haven’t had chili in forever, now that’s an American dish! Well unless of course you use more peppers than meat, then it would be Spanish…mmm… now chile con carne is delicious!” Mort licked his lips as he remembered something from long ago.

Emily smiled as she started slicing a couple of garlic cloves, “Thanks Mort, and I’m glad to hear that you know a thing or two on the subject…”

“Oh boy, here we go…” Marcus started in mockingly.

“Now, do you think,” Emily said ignoring Marcus’ remark, “that chili should have garlic in it or not?”

Mort thought for a second as he went to the fridge and got out a container of tomato juice. “Well I think it depends on which part of Texas where you come from really. Some Spaniards put garlic in theirs also, so I really think it depends upon taste and what your mama did. I take it your mum used garlic?”

“Yes she did, she came from the south east part of Texas, close to the Gulf, called Groves, tiny little place near the Louisiana border. So she grew up with a great mix of Southern, Cajun and Texan.” Emily loved her mother tremendously and bragged about her diversity whenever she got the chance; she was so diverse in her knowledge of various things like food, crafts, wine, gardening, art, and books of course.

Mort raised his eyebrows, “Well I cannot wait to taste it then, will it be ready soon?”

Emily grinned as she answered, “About 30 minutes; it’s a quick recipe, but you can’t rush it too much.”

“No, no; don’t want to rush that at all. Well I’m going to go and bathe then,” Mort turned and walked out of the kitchen towards his bedroom.

Emily looked over at Marcus and saw his odd look and crinkled eyebrows and asked him, “What was that all about? And does he need help at all?”

Marcus blinked to clear his thought and looked over at her, “Um, I’m not too sure, he had a bath yesterday, and I make him take one every other day. Maybe Mary is rubbing off on him a little.” Marcus then smiled, “And no, he’ll be fine. A couple of years ago I had one of those walk-in bathtubs installed in his bathroom. That’s a pretty private thing, no one wants to have to have someone else help bathe them, do you know what I’m trying to say?”

“Totally,” Emily returned his smile, “Mary really has been the best thing in the world for him, he seems like he’s ten years younger.”

Marcus agreed, “Yes she has. It’s amazing what you women do to us! You bring us back to life when we think we’re past all hope,” Marcus reached his arm out and took her by the waist and pulled them together, then planted a hard closed lipped kiss on her then let her go. She still had the knife in one hand so he placed her right back in front of the cutting board.

She just shook her head then started cutting again, “See, garlic, ha!”

Marcus just laughed again then snapped her in the ass with the kitchen towel, “Whatever!” He knew there were a million ways to cook every dish, he just loved to debate with her, and she was good at it. She stayed calm, and because she read every dammed thing she could get her hands on she was pretty well versed in many areas.

Emily tossed the garlic into a pan of olive oil and sautéed it with the peppers and onion then threw that into the pot of beans and tomatoes. She added the spices from the huge selection that was there and tried to get it as close to her moms as she could without the old worn-out card she had at her flat.

Marcus just sat at the bistro set that was near a window with his legs crossed and his chin resting on his hand watching her. She was good in a kitchen, it panged him that she couldn’t cook for him; she loved it like he did. There was something about taking a bunch of stuff, and making people feel good from it, amazing. Plus he loved using a knife, it made him feel very in control and lethal in a good way. “I wish I could have your cooking, it smells wonderful.”

She turned from stirring the pot to look at him, “Thanks, I wish you could as well. But at least you can enjoy the scent, that’s something.” Emily smiled at him then returned to the pot adding some salt, stirring a few more times, then covered it. “That should do it for about twenty minutes or so,” Emily washed her hands then after drying them on the neatly hung towel on the oven door she went and joined Marcus at the table.

“I love to watch you do things, you know your way around a kitchen that’s for sure,” Marcus took her hand into his then leaned forward and kissed the top of it.

“Thanks, I love it so I think it just comes naturally.”

“Come, let’s be more comfortable,” Marcus took her by the hand and led her to the living room. He placed her on the loveseat that was closest to the fireplace. As he lit the fire Emily looked around the room more, “You really do need to redecorate in here, no offense, but it’s pretty dark.”

“None taken, it would be great to move that bookshelf over there to expose the window behind it. Morty wanted more shelves and since the sun is so bad for the books, that was his logical decorating decision.” Marcus just shrugged his shoulders and got the fire blazing.

Emily was surprised, “Why don’t you move it where you want it to liven up the place?”

Marcus sat next to her and pulled her legs to go over his lap so she could face him and have her feet closer to the fire. “It’s not my house Doll, it’s his. Well technically it’s in my name, but it’s his house. He can do what he wants, if he asked my opinion on the matter then I would tell him, but it’s not my place to tell him where to put his furniture in his own living room,” he put his arm around her shoulder’s and she snuggled into the pit of his arm.

Emily thought about his reply then let her mind wander. She loved how he was warm for the first few minutes after his body was that close to the fire. Once his clothes and skin cooled back to room temperature, then his skin went back to its usual cool lack of temperature and she didn’t snuggle in as close. So now was her favorite moment, one of pure warmth from him. That got her mind to thinking. “Marcus, so do you feel cold to other vampires or just like room-temperature-normal all the time?”

“We feel normal all the time. Never hot nor cold. We feel the coolness and heat of things of course, but we ourselves never radiate any. Why do you ask?” He looked down into her eyes with curiosity, he wondered what she was thinking of.

“Oh I don’t know, it just popped into my head I guess. I’m glad you feel my heat though, so that should give you some pleasure,” She smirked at him and looked away towards the flames.

He put his hand in her armpit and tickled her gently, “Like the warmth in here?”

She laughed and squirmed, “Don’t you dare!” She hated being tickled. Well not really, but sort of. Her brother would torture her forever until she couldn’t breathe, but of course a little tickling was always fun.

“No? You don’t want to be tickled there? Or there?” Marcus moved from her pit to her ribs. She squirmed even more but he held her in place with his other hand, obviously holding her was like keeping a child in place for him and his strength. “Oh I know how much you love this spot though!” And he moved his hand to the inside of her thigh, she hated being tickled there, he knew it was her weakness.

Emily shrieked, “Okay, okay, stop! She tried to pull his hand away, but had no luck what-so-ever. Then she thought of a way to get him to stop, she leaned into his ear and with her sexy voice purred, “I know of another warm spot that you’re very close to that you can tickle any time you want.” Then she gave his lobe a slow, short lick and leaned back. Yep, that did the trick, he stopped tickling her instantly.

“You’re a little tramp!” He looked at her with mock surprise. Then he moved his hand up, cupped the patch of her hair and kissed her quickly. She moaned into his mouth, then in the next second she was suddenly sitting on the couch and Marcus was up stirring the fire.

Emily looked at him in surprise as she sat upright, “What the heck was that all about?” Emily straightened out her skirt and was finishing her blouse when Mort’s bedroom door opened. “Oh,” she said and winked at Marcus when he met her gaze.

The old but clear voice rang out before his old and loving form appeared, “Is that chili almost done? Sure smells wonderful Emily dear.” Mort shuffled to his armchair and sat down, “The fire feels great Marcus, thank you son.”

“You’re quite welcome. And I think you still have about seven minutes until dinner is ready. So are you seeing Mary tonight?” Marcus looked at him then at Em and smiled.

“Oh I don’t know, we didn’t talk about it, but you never know. She said that she might call or something.” Mort sat way back in his chair and crossed his arms over his tummy, “So what are you two kids up to this evening?”

Emily chimed in right away as natural as can be, “We hadn’t really planned on anything. I have the entire day off tomorrow so I have nowhere to be any time soon.” She then looked at Marcus, “What do you want to do?”

Marcus chuckled then looked into the fire. He couldn’t say what he really wanted to do; sex, all night long… “Um, I don’t know. Is there a movie that you want to see?”

Emily’s eyes lit up, she looked over at Mort and he caught it, then they both said at the same time, “Chocolate”.

Marcus eyes rolled, “Sure. I’ve never seen it, and both of you seemed to enjoy the heck out of it. But just for the record, I’m not really into “Chick-flicks”. I might be a ‘Romantic’, but I draw the line there.” Marcus tried to look stern as he pointed at them with his long index finger; but when they started to laugh he knew he didn’t make the point that he was intending to.

With a smirk on her face still she exclaimed, “Excellent, “and jumped up to the phone on the end table that held the phone book under it, “I’ll call and see what the times are.”

As Emily was listening on the phone to the automated schedule, Mort closed his eyes and Marcus went to check on the chili. He got out their bowls and some bread and butter, then set the table and put a bunch of chili in a glass serving bowl and finally got them both glasses of water as well as a small cup of milk for Mort. Chili could give him indigestion, and Marcus wanted to make sure that he could help alleviate it any way if at all possible.

When he went back into the living room Emily hung up the phone, “One hour, plenty of time.”

“Great. Dinner’s ready.” Marcus helped Mort up even though he acted like he didn’t need it, and they went to the dining room. Dinner went quickly as they all chatted about books and movies and which horrid movies came from great books. They all seemed to have the same taste and agreed on pretty much everything. Marcus wasn’t into movies too much, but Mort dragged him all the time when there was something that he wanted to see, and Mort also had a great DVD collection in his room. Marcus then told stories of how Morty would drag him to the cinema all the time when he was a child, and also told stories of when Morty would torment his grandfather, Mort Sr., with his pranks and such. It was funny for Emily to hear their family stories and listen to them laugh and remember this or that. But what struck her as odd was that the story teller looked in the prime of his young adult life, and the child in all of these stories was an old, grey-haired fragile man. Life was strange, very strange sometimes.

After completing their dinner, Marcus had the dishes done before Emily and Mort were finishing up their discussion on the value of oversized books. Interrupting them he said, “If you want to see the movie we need to get going babe,” Marcus stuck his head into the door.

Just then the phone rang and Marcus picked it up in the kitchen instantly, “Hello? Hi Mary, how are you this evening? He’s well, we just finished eating, Emily made us a wonderful Southern dish from America so Mort is fat and happy.” He smiled into the phone and Mort gave him a smile as he patted his belly, which was far from fat. Rounded, but not fat by any means. He was a thin man everywhere else, you can tell that his frame was tall and lean like Marcus’, when he was younger. Mort went and sat on the end of the couch that was near the phone and waited for Marcus to give him the receiver.

Marcus walked over to the kitchen door again to replace the cordless receiver; his uncle still couldn’t grasp the entire cordless concept. He continued trying to get off the phone with Mary though, “Well we’re going to see a movie… yes that one… yes he said it was very good… uh-huh… Okay Mary, well he’s right here waiting for the phone so I better give you to him… Okay thank you, you as well, bye,” and Marcus hung up so Mort could pick up the phone next to him.

Instantly out of the kitchen again and by her side, Marcus took Emily’s hand and led her to his room, “Wow that woman can go!”

They giggled up the flight of stairs, as he went into his closet to change his shirt, Emily plopped down onto the couch and thumbed through a magazine that was on the table, she looked at her watch, they had fifteen minutes still, “Hey do you want to walk, it’s not raining anymore?” She looked out of the window in his room that over looked the side street.

He came out of the closet with a white T-shirt on and was just zipping up his Levi’s, “Sure, it’s real quick from here, I know a short cut.” Walking over to his bureau he got out a black sweater and pulled it over his head, it rumpled his hair perfectly.

Now Emily got the “messy-look” concept! Damn them having to go somewhere, but Mort was here also, so attacking him and ripping those jeans right back off of him wasn’t an option. Getting her mind out of the gutter again she quipped, “Of course you do, you know a short cut everywhere in this town!” It did amaze her how he could get anywhere in a matter of five minutes on foot.

Looking at her matter-of-factly, “Remember that I lived here when there was only one main street and about fifteen businesses. I even saw your place being built. Do you have a good jacket just in case the rain starts up again?”

Nodding she answered, “Yep, in my bag.” Emily got up and they both went back out into the living room as Mort was getting up, “Well Mary is going to come on over for a bit, she said that she wanted to see my movie collection, so we might be watching something here. Do we have popcorn?” He started to head towards the kitchen.

Starting to head him off, Marcus replied, “Yes, I’ll get it down for you, now you put it in there and hit the “Popcorn” button, and that’s all you have to do. Ask Mary for help if you need to,” Marcus was getting down two bags to un-wrap them and leave them on the counter for his old nephew.

“I think I can handle microwave popcorn for bloody sake Marcus, I’m not that feeble!” Mort grumbled as he went to the refrigerator and got a bottle of water out. He twisted the cap off and gave Marcus a triumphant look, “Humph, can still open a lid too!” Confidently he strutted back out to the living room and took his place in his chair and turned the TV on.

Marcus shook his head, “If he only knew that I opened all of the bottles when I put them away so he can always open them…” He took Emily by the hand and led to her to the back door and shouted out so Mort could hear, “We’ll be home in a couple of hours, call me if you need anything!” After they heard a grunt as a reply from the other room they closed the door and headed out.

When Marcus and Emily were down the stairs and back in the garage he turned her around, “Finally!” then proceeded to kiss her hard and long. He was so ferocious and firm that Emily wanted to throw him on the hood of his car but held her place and just let her tongue let him know how much she wanted him. He finally let her go, “I’ve wanted to do that for the last hour or so. Sorry, had to get it out of my system,” He straightened out his sweater, “Ready to go now?” He gave her a grin and laughed at the look on her astonished face. He loved messing with her, it was so much fun seeing her expressions!

She just laughed and smoothed out her hair, “Yeah, ready to go there Hot Dog!” Emily slapped his ass as she walked past him through the side door that he was holding open for her. He took her hand and led her up and down alleys and streets and sure enough, they were at the theater in less than five minutes.

There was still plenty of time for Emily to get a kids size popcorn and drink; it was always the best at the theatre! There really weren’t that many people there for being a Saturday so they had a good choice of seats, Marcus liked to sit in the very back row with his back against the wall, and Emily didn’t mind, she thought it looked better from that height anyway.

As they walked home after the movie Marcus admitted that it was in fact a good show, not too bad of a “Chick-Flick”. “Let’s go back to your place, Mary and Mort will be watching a movie and I really don’t want to stay confined to my room. Is that cool with you?” Marcus looked down at her and saw her smile.

Answering instantly she said, “Of course we can, nothing like feeling like we have to whisper and not laugh too loud. I’m all over it.” Emily squeezed his hand and they kept straight instead of turning left, and took the usual way to her flat. Once they were inside Marcus did what now seemed to be his usual routine, he started her a fire. Emily put her jacket away and curled up onto the couch and waited for him. As she watched him do a normal thing, she thought how normal things seemed to be now.

While he was at his task she asked, “Marcus, do you feel like things are the way they should be now? Like we’re in a life that is just that, a life? Nothing special or odd, just normal?”

He looked over at her after he set the poker back into the holder, “Yes I do. I was thinking of that on our walk home; that we were just an average couple doing average things on a Saturday night. As we passed other people no one looked or said anything, we just blended in. It felt great, I haven’t felt so comfortable in a long time, and I think that’s why. I guess I haven’t felt normal for a long time.”

He sat next to her and they snuggled in and looked at the fire. “Oh, hold on one second,” Marcus took his arm out from behind Emily and got his cell phone from his pocket. After a second or two with the device at his ear, he said into it, “Hey Mort, I’m at Emily’s house. Yeah I’ll be here for a bit. Ha, no, you don’t have to wait up, I’ll see you in the morning. Will Mary be alright? Her granddaughter will, great. Good night.” Marcus tossed the phone on the table, “Whew, now I can relax. Mary will stay there and when she’s ready to leave she will call her granddaughter to come and get her.” He put his arm back behind her and they were just as they were moments before.

The rest of the night went like an average, ordinary night for most young couples. They sat and talked as the fire went down, then they started to kiss on the couch and Marcus carried Emily to her room and made the slowest, sweetest love to her. She thought that she should take him to see Romances more often, they always had this effect on people, it stirred her up, she knew that much at least! Then they took a shower together in Emily’s little bathtub and made love in there again, even with the height difference it was an exciting challenge for them both, but quite successful in the end.

They did something new this time, after Emily climaxed Marcus was able to as well, but not inside of her so she wouldn’t get hurt but instead into the drain as Emily kept her coaxing hand a safe distance from the tip. It felt so good for him to finally be able share that experience with her; even when she expertly made the transition from her vagina to her hand so he didn’t miss a beat.

Since she was tired and he was satisfied, they were in bed before midnight. After Emily was asleep, Marcus slipped out from under her and put the covers between their bodies. She had insisted they lay together nude so she could feel his body against hers, but he knew that she would be getting cold soon, so he wrapped her up in the blankets. Marcus hated that about himself, he loved holding her that way also, something about skin on skin was wonderful.

In the morning he was there when she awoke and they started their day with tea, the newspaper and breakfast, for her at least. Emily said that she needed to clean and go shopping, the boring human stuff that needed to be done and they decided that they would spend the day together and he would help her out. He wasn’t needed at the shop since it was a Sunday; Mary stayed the night and was going to be there most of the day anyway. Marcus and Emily enjoyed that little story and shared a laugh about what they probably did and had planned for the rest of the day.

The rest of the day was great for Emily, she had someone to hang out with who made her mundane chores more interesting; and Marcus just loved being out and about doing as Emily said, ‘normal things’. They had dinner at Marcus’ house again, but he cooked again this time and when the night came on, Marcus walked Emily home, then he stayed for a while and eventually went back to his own home. They agreed that they had to have boundaries so Emily wouldn’t have another overwhelming episode, and to keep things as basic as possible.

The next couple of weeks flew by. Emily had school and work as always, and like she had been doing for the last few months, she went to the bookstore after her day; but instead of sitting curled up by herself in a window seat, she was either in the back room with Marcus or the two of them were up front with Mort and Mary just hanging out. The shop seemed to have more customers lately, so Emily helped Marcus inventory in and tag books. Mary was there more and more as the days went by and she walked the customers around to what they were looking for. Since she was only 80, she was able to get around better than Mort did, so she gave herself that task so he could stay in his chair. She would always return to the seat that was now officially hers behind the counter, and right by Mort’s stool, and resume her conversation right where she had left it off.

Emily and Marcus’ relationship blossomed and bloomed more and more with every passing day. They were always telling each other about their lives, small details of silly things that they’ve done, or the big things they still wanted to do. Of course they tried to make love as much as possible. Well they could have done it every second they were together, but they both kept themselves in check and they kept their sex to times when they were alone and when they had time. Except for the one instance when Marcus was in one of his frisky moods and convinced Emily to have sex in the back room in the middle of the day. He locked the door and put her up on his workbench while they were both still fully clothed. It was a ten minute quickie, which Emily had never experienced and now knew why people talked about them so much. For the rest of that day every time she looked at him from across the room or caught his eye in the store, she would blush and he would smirk and go about his way. Her love for him grew more and more and his passion, and anguish, grew everyday for him as well as his love. Emily did keep her mother abreast with bi-weekly writings of what was going on and also continued to promise pictures but never seemed to send them.

It was a cold but sunny Monday when Emily realized that Thanksgiving was that upcoming Thursday. She had to make sure she got a card out for her mom today so it would hopefully get there at least by Friday. She went to the national grocery store chain and was able to find a two card selection in the bottom corner of the card isle. She picked the sentimental one over the poor attempt at being humorous one, and got it into the morning mail before her third class. That was the last she thought of the holiday until Thursday early evening when Marcus was there waiting for her outside of her last class.

“What are you doing here,” Emily was pleasantly surprised as she kissed him hello.

Acting nonchalant he stated, “I just thought we could have dinner at my place tonight and I wanted to see you before you got to the shop.” Marcus took her bag from her and put it on his own shoulder and put his other arm around her.

Keeping in stride she shrugged, “Okay, sounds good.” Emily ignored the stares from the other girls on campus when Marcus was with her. At first it drove her crazy, then when Marcus laughed and called her a ‘Jealous Jan’, she stopped. Realizing that in fact it was a compliment, he was very easy on the eyes!

They went in through the alley door to the office, then up the stairwell that went to the flat and popped out into the hallway by the living room. It smelled great in the house to Emily as soon as Marcus opened the door, “What did you make for dinner, it smells great in here!” Emily shrugged off her jacket and handed it to Marcus to put into the closet along with her bag.

He smiled, “Nothing much, are you hungry now?” He started to lead her to the dining room.

“I guess so,” Emily was starting to get a little suspicious, then she realized what he had done as soon as she rounded the corner into the dining room. There was Mary and Mort all dressed up and the most beautiful turkey on the middle of a splendidly set table.

Mort and Mary shouted, “Happy Thanksgiving!” when she entered the room.

Wonderfully surprised she gasped, “You guys are amazing!! You didn’t have to do all this for me!” Emily was overjoyed she actually almost started to cry.

Mary came rushing over to her side, “Darling we know how much you miss your family, and well, there’s no reason why you still shouldn’t celebrate tradition just because you aren’t on your own land!” Mary patted her hand and brought her to her place at the table, right next to Marcus who was at the head of the table. Emily thought that was interesting that Mary had arranged them this way but said nothing of it.

When they were all seated Mary jumped up just before her plum bum touched the old fabric seat, “Oh hold on, I almost forgot!” She went over to the buffet table and got her digital camera, “we need to have pictures!” She snapped a few of the entire table, then some of Emily and Marcus leaning in towards each other, then one of Mort, and Marcus insisted on taking one of her and Mort together so she went and stood behind his chair. After Marcus snapped the camera she leaned down and kissed Mort on the top of his head. He smiled and patted her hand as she went to her own seat to his right.

The food was phenomenal of course, Mary said that she made dessert, she wouldn’t hear of it that Marcus make the entire dinner himself. They all, almost all, ate and drank until they were sick. Marcus started to clear the table and Emily jumped up to help, they both insisted that Mary and Mort sit and talk and not to lift a finger. Neither elder got up to resist and Mort poured more wine for Mary and himself and then dove right back into their own little world.

When Emily and Marcus were in the kitchen and emptied their arms she spun him around, “Thank you so much!” And she gave him a very heartfelt kiss. “That was the sweetest thing in the world, I am speechless with gratitude.”

“Speechless is good,” Marcus said and kissed her again and pulled her up to him. They finally undid their embrace and started in on the dishes. Marcus was done in seconds and they were back at a clean table with the other couple drinking wine.

“Marcus, be a dear and download those pictures and e-mail them to me would you?” Mary leaned over and pointed to the camera, “I want to print some of those out tomorrow.”

“But of course madam,” Marcus stood and grabbed the camera off the buffet. He looked over at Emily and jerked his head to the left for her to follow him. Neither Mary nor Mort noticed since they were locked eye to eye. Emily got up and took her wine glass with her. They went to his room and he closed the door. He laughed and did a mock puke noise, “Watching them was getting to me, I know you think it’s cute but it just creeps me out, sorry.” He sat at his desk and pulled the laptop to the center of the large polished cherry oak to sit in front of him. Pulling the correct cord from a drawer of many, he downloaded all of the pictures in a matter of seconds. Emily came over and looked over his shoulder as they flashed across the screen. When the one of her and him went by she made a gasping sound.

Catching it instantly he inquired, “What’s wrong with that one?” Marcus then stated, “I think you look great in it!”

Once the pictures were done and he was able to pull up that specific one, he made it to be the full size of the screen. Emily leaned in closer to look at them both. He was amazingly photogenic, he looked like a model; and the photo looked like an advertisement, you could see most of the turkey centered perfectly under the two of their faces. The lighting in the room was such that his skin looked wonderfully pale, not freakishly so at all, because to Emily’s surprise, her skin was only a few shades darker than his. She looked very pale to herself. But what made her heart jump the first time she saw it was that they looked so good together. And as she looked at the screen again she narrowed her eyes and tilted her head and looked at it again, from a different point of view. She thought that she had seen something like this before, like in one of her dreams. She shook her head then looked down at Marcus who was looking up at her with a curious look on his face.

“What’s going through your mind babe?” He asked her then looked at the screen again, then back up to her.

“Oh, nothing, it’s just that I can’t believe how pale I look, I didn’t think there was that much more sun in Alaska than here.” Emily smiled down at him and kissed him on the lips, she didn’t know what to tell him so she rambled on, “Send these to my house too huh? That way I can get my mom off my back.” She stood back upright and went over to the couch and sat down.

“Will do,” he followed her with his eyes and when she was settled he spun back around and sent the file to both Mary and Emily. He only wrote “Happy Thanksgiving” with the date on the ‘Subject’ line and he didn’t write anything in the body of the e-mail. He hit ‘Send’ and when he closed out of his e-mail he went back to his pictures and looked at all of them again. He loved the one of Mort and Mary; he printed a couple out after he plugged in the cord for the printer. His desk was completely set up for anything and everything he may need. He printed a set of every picture, then he printed out the one of he and Emily, just for himself.

As all of the pictures were printing out he looked at the one for himself. He instantly looked at her face, like every other time he had seen it, then he looked over at himself. It was amazing how he looked the exact same, never changing. Sighing he looked away, at nothing really, just off into the distance; then after looking back at the image he suddenly had to suppress a gasp. He quickly spun around in the chair to look at Emily and since she was looking at his architecture magazine, he spun back around to look at the now blank screen of his computer. Taking in a breath he then looked at the photograph in his hand again. Marcus had seen a picture almost identical to this one, many, many years ago.

Marcus’ mind drifted back to that night, he was over at Amelia’s home, her father’s house, and it was his birthday. He was turning 50 and the house was full of all the prominent men and women of the time in their town, as well as some from London. One of the guests was an artist, an old friend of Amelia’s, and he sketched Marcus and Amelia as they sat at the table after the dinner was well over. Reece, the artist, sat across from the lovely, young couple and the three of them were laughing and drinking and having a grand time into the night. As they spoke Reece was scribbling on the back of his place-card, which was four inches by three inches small. After about an hour’s time he finally stood up, well full of drink, and tossed the card in front of Amelia. He made a grand bow to bid them farewell, for they knew they would be seeing him the next evening, and then stumbled out into the night.

Marcus remembered how he and Amelia looked down at the card and saw that it was the two of them, looking almost exactly as this picture did, this new modern photo in his present day hand, on the back of that card from so long ago. Recalling that Amelia laughed and praised Reese’s amazing talent as an artist, she showed everyone at the other end of the table. She was always promoting her artist friend’s to her father’s well off ones. Reece was a talented young man, well beyond his years. Marcus was very jealous of him at first meeting him, for Reece was strikingly handsome. He was almost as tall as himself and lean as well, and had a very calming and relaxed demeanor. But Amelia convinced him that he was no threat to her heart and he soon found out they were in fact steadfast friends that Marcus, huh, Craig at that time, couldn’t break, nor could Reece break the love Amelia had for himself. He wondered whatever happened to that card now as he looked at the picture. He bent the ends of the paper over about half an inch to form anchors, then placed the picture on the bookshelf in front of him so the tabs stuck in between two sets of books. Now he could look at her beautiful face every day and night that he wasn’t with her.

Once he heard the printer stop he took the small stack pictures off of it. He took the ones of Mary and Morty out then handed the rest to Emily, “Here, and happy Thanksgiving.” As she took the pictures he sat down next to her.

“Thanks so much again, you’re just too much,” she flipped through the pictures again and placed the one of her and him on top when the rotation was complete. “I know you’re going to think of me as odd, but I just have this funny feeling of de ja’vu when I see this picture. Isn’t that strange?” Emily looked over at him and looked twice when she saw the awestruck look in his eyes, “What? It’s not that strange.”

Changing his expression quickly he back peddled, “Oh no, it’s not, I just thought the same thing when I saw it. Funny, isn’t it?” He laughed it off and kissed her. “I printed these out for Mort and Mary,” He showed her the other pictures he had in his hand then got up and picked up her empty wine glass and went out the door, Emily grabbed her stack and followed him out. She moved the picture of all of them to the top, she was so glad that Marcus thought of the auto feature; it made a perfect shot sitting on the buffet’s corner.

Marcus put her glass in the kitchen and Emily went and showed Mort and Mary all of the pictures. Emily had to sit on the end of the couch, Mort moved over closer to Mary to prevent Emily from sitting in the middle.

Once Marcus came back he handed over the two single shots he had printed, “I thought the two of you would want these. I also sent all of them to your house Mary so you can print as many as you want.”

They both thanked him and Mort looked as embarrassed as a schoolboy. Mary patted his knee, “This was so nice of you Marcus dear, you are such a sweet young man! Emily you are so lucky, men like him are so hard to find these days, their kind seemed to die out decades ago. My Mort here is the last of our generation.” She kissed his cheek, “Thank you for raising more like you dear.” Mort’s cheeks turned bright red and Marcus suppressed a laugh as he went and sat in Mort’s chair.

Mary handed Emily back her stack of photos and placed hers on the side table. Emily got up and put hers right into her backpack, she didn’t want to forget them; putting them in her history book so they wouldn’t crumple, she then went back to the couch. Glancing at the clock on her way, it was already past nine, she noted silently that she had to get going soon.

Upon her entrance they were all laughing and Marcus started to stand, “Well on that note folks, I better get this lassie off home; she has a busy day tomorrow.” Emily was on his queue, she went over to Mary, “Thank you so much for the pies and helping for the surprise, this truly was wonderful! I also need to get home and call my family, my mom will be in the middle of cooking right now I’m sure.” She hugged Mort also and they all said their final good-byes and Marcus already had her bag and jacket in hand.

When they were on the street Emily took his hand, “What’s the big rush to get out of there?”

Marcus just shrugged his shoulders, “They like to be alone, Mort feels more proud I think that that’s his home and he should feel like he can do what he wants when he wants to. Plus I never mind having time alone with you.” He kissed her head as they walked along the lane.

After they got inside and were settled she grabbed her phone off the wall and plopped on the couch closest to the fire and called her home. Steve answered right away and they wished each other the usual merriment then he handed the phone to their mother. She sounded exasperated from cooking but so happy to be interrupted. Emily told her about her surprise from Marcus then after listening to her mother for a moment she got all bug-eyed and looked at Marcus, who was naturally at her side. “Uh, sure mom, hold on.” Emily put the phone in her hand to cover the mouthpiece, then took in a deep breath, “So my mom wants to talk to you. I have to send her the pictures right now while you’re talking. Just be prepared, she’s up front and to the point, and very quick and smart…” Emily looked at him worriedly.

He half pried the phone from her and whispered, “I think I’ll be okay, get on your computer,” then he spoke into the phone, “Hello?” He paused for a little while and smiled into the receiver. Emily was booting up her computer and getting her e-mail opened as he listened intently. As she was forwarding the pictures she heard Marcus’ end of the conversation.

“Yes ma’am… thank you ma’am… no, never Mrs. Cook. Yes Naomi… yes I will…she is right now, you should have them any moment. Yes ma’am, thank you. And I also thank you for creating and raising such a wonderful woman. Emily is a great treasure and she brings us much joy.” He looked over to Emily who was embarrassed that he said that to her mom and had her mouth agape, he just winked at her. “Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, here’s Emily again, thank you… you too.” He handed Emily the phone then laid down upon her couch his full length and let his feet dangle over the edge by the fire.

Emily started listening to her mother go on about how polite, sweet and great Marcus sounded, then proceeded to tell her that she was walking into her office to see the pictures right at that very moment. As Naomi’s e-mail opened up, the women chatted about what was being cooked and what was cooked at their Thanksgiving feasts. Emily had to ask Marcus a few times where he got this recipe or idea to pass along to her mother. Finally after a few minutes she heard her mother gasp into the phone and this made Emily suddenly sit upright, “What? What’s wrong mom, are you okay?”

“Am I okay? Of course I’m okay. My daughter’s only scrumpin’ the sexiest damn man I’ve ever seen.” Obviously Naomi whispered this into the phone so her husband wouldn’t hear. George detested the idea of his little girl being a normal woman with normal needs and desires.

Sounding embarrassed she hissed, “Mom! How can you say that?” But Emily just laughed into the phone, “I take it you got the pictures alright?” Emily was blushing, but that was her mom, she was up front and said it like it is.

“Well he is honey, shit! Anyway, his grandfather looks so sweet an’ so does his girlfriend. I’m so happy that you’ve made a little family there darlin’! But you’re so pale! Do ya ever see the sun at all?”

“A little, but everyone here looks like we do,” Emily looked over to Marcus laid out, like a platter needing to be devoured, he opened his eyes and looked over at her and grinned. She smiled back and started to end the phone call with her mom. She knew her mother needed to get back to cooking, and Emily wanted to get to something else.

Once she spoke to her dad then said all of her good-byes and finally hung up, she suddenly felt very melancholy. She missed her family and after talking to them on the phone, that confirmed that feeling even more so. Emily got up and walked over to Marcus and he felt her mood shift then moved on the couch so she could lay down beside him. She did so and curled up so he could wrap himself around her with his back against the cushions of the couch. She cried softly into his arm that was under her head as a pillow and he pulled her into a tighter spoon position so she was into him more and he held her tighter. He knew more than anyone how hard it was to be without your family on holidays. And this was her first one so it was the hardest. He let her cry like that until she had no more tears, he didn’t move a muscle for about an hour.

Finally after she let out a big sigh to break the silence, he quietly asked her if she wanted a bath. Of course she did, so he slid out from behind her and went over the back of the couch to start the water. She didn’t move while he got the hot water and bubbles going. He also went and started the kettle for some tea then put on some meditation music that ended up being tranquil sounds, better than he originally planned on. After Marcus checked the water level and gauged the temp as best as he could, he tended to the tea, also looking over to the couch to check on Emily, he saw that she was the same as a minute before. He lit the candles in her room and bathroom, then the couple that he found in the living area when he heard a little whisper from behind him, “Thanks baby, you’re the best.”

Marcus turned around and pocketed the lighter as he went to her side, “I was wondering if you fell asleep or not? How are you feeling?” Marcus sat on the couch after she scooted her butt back to the cushions to make room for him.

“Oh, much better than before.” She sighed heavily again, one that shook her lungs as she exhaled out, “I didn’t think it would be so hard. Does it get better as the years go on?”

Not wanting to lie he answered, “Sometimes,” he shrugged his shoulders and started to rub hers. “It’s good some holidays, and others you sit and think and get yourself going. Oh, the water, hold on.” Marcus jumped over her and the couch and dashed into the bathroom to shut the water off.

Emily laughed as he made it look so easy to hop those long, lean legs over an entire couch. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, the next thing she knew she was cradled in his arms against his chest, “I can walk still you know.”

“I know. Any excuse to have you this close to me, I take.” He gave her that smile that made her heart melt. She started to undo the buttons of her blouse and by the time he set her down she was to per pants. He watched her undress and climb into the hot tub.

She paused when she got both feet in, “Oh, it’s hot.” She leaned forward and turned the cold on for a second and splashed some down to the other end of the tub.

“I’m so sorry, it’s hard for me to judge the temperature accurately for you yet.” Marcus frowned as he looked at her swirling the water with her hand.

Sloughing it off she snorted, “No worries love, I get it wrong most of the time myself, I appreciate you even making it for me to begin with,” Emily turned the water off and sunk down into the now perfect water, “Ahh.”

Marcus moved over to sit on the lid of the toilet and he grabbed her loofah sponge and some soap that she had there. He looked at the scent, it was of sweet pea, he didn’t even need to look at the label to confirm that notion. The soap smelled better than the lotion that she first had him smell, this had the scent more like the actual flower. He made the mesh material all soapy and started to rub her shoulders with it. He went down her arms, torso and legs all gently and considerately, like taking care of a patient; not at all like seducing a lover. That was another moment where her ‘love-level’ went up a notch in her mind.

He let the loofah float in the tub while he went to get her tea. Emily just stayed right where she was, reclined back with her head resting against a pillow that he had folded from a towel.

Marcus set the tea on the toilet where she could get to it; her bathroom was small enough that she could reach the toilet from the tub, and the sink from the toilet. To Marcus it seemed like they took an old closet when they were chopping up the original home to make the bathroom. The tub was half of the space, just big enough for Emily to lie in. Granted her knees were slightly bent still in this tub; he had to get her into his tub where they could both stretch out. He left the door open as he crept out and made the fire bigger to keep the little flat nice and toasty warm.

Emily stayed in the tub until the water was lukewarm, then decided to get up. Marcus was there in a second with a towel to wrap her up in. He had another one sitting on the sink for her as well. She dried herself off and went out to her bedroom and found some new pajama’s laying on her bed.

Tilting her head to the side she asked, “What’s that?” She went and picked up the top, it was like the men’s style; exactly her style and was a magnificent color of jade green in what felt like worn silk; her eyes lit up as she felt it between her fingers and cheek, “Oh, wow, it’s amazing, thank you so much baby!” She flung the towel off and started to pull the shirt over her head, which was warm. After the pants were up over her bottom she ran her hands over them and smirked at him.

Catching what she was marveling at, he piped up, “I put them in front of the fire to warm them for you. My mom used to do that for us when we were kids, it was great on those really cold nights. But I noticed that you didn’t pack very much for your stay here, so I added these, and some other items, to your collection. I hope you like them?” Marcus looked at her bright eyed as she tied the drawstring a little tighter so she could roll them up to fit to her petite legs.

Purring as she looked into his lovely eyes, “I love them, they’re perfect! Thank you yet again for spoiling me rotten when you don’t need to,” she bent slightly and kissed him on the lips then rested her forehead against his.

Marcus got up and pulled the covers back for her to climb in, “Come, it’s late, let’s get you into bed, you have a long day tomorrow,” they both assumed their usual positions and spooned together. He curled up perfectly behind her, she fit into him perfectly, just like a little peanut.

Somewhat mumbling into the pillow, Emily thanked him again for the dinner, the pictures and being a shoulder for her cry on. And she repeatedly thanked him for being so cool on the phone with her mom. As Emily started a tangent about the cranberry dish her speech started to slip and she faded off into sleep. Marcus stayed there and held her for a while longer.

Just when he started to get up she stirred and giggled then reached out for him; when she caught him on the forearm he froze. She mumbled something incoherent then her grip released and her hand fell from his sleeve to the bed. Once free Marcus got the rest of the way out of bed and started blowing out the candles. He heard her dreaming again but then stopped mid blow when she called out “Reece” in her sleep. Standing erect as he watched her for a moment, Marcus then slumped down into the rocking chair that she had in the corner of her room. Marcus sat and stared at her for a long, long time. When nothing more came from her he deduced that he imagined what she had really said. There was no way in the world Emily would know of him. Maybe she happens to know someone of that same name though. He finally decided to ask her in the morning at breakfast then got up to go home. He pulled the covers over her more, kissed her head, made the fire larger then left.

Mort was already in bed by the time he walked into his own home, so Marcus tidied up the glasses and such left by Mary and Morty, Marcus went to his room with a clean house in his wake. He closed his door and put on some classical harpsichord that he found on the bottom shelf then flung himself on his couch and looked at the picture that he put in front of his books earlier. Marcus sat in that same position until the sun rose when he heard Mort get up and go into his bathroom.

Marcus shook the cobwebs from his head then took a quick shower in his own bath and got dressed into comfortable khaki’s and a green cotton pullover. By the time Mort emerged Marcus had the tea already on and Mort’s little morning biscuit ready on a plate with a small dab of butter.

Patting his tummy Mort exclaimed, “Good morning lad, thanks again for a superb dinner last night, that was a great bird!” Mort shuffled over and got his food and sat down at the table with Marcus. “How was your evening last night at Emily’s?” Mort gave him a wink and nod then bit into his biscuit.

Marcus just rolled his eyes, “Like I’d tell you anyway? But I talked to her mom on the phone, very nice woman. Emily sent her the pictures and I take it she thinks I’m handsome and approves so far,” Marcus rolled his eyes then continued, “but Emily took it pretty hard after she hung up, the first holiday missed is always so difficult.” Marcus played with a crumb that fell off the plate and onto the bistro table.

The old man nodded his head that held a full mouth, in agreement; he knew as well how hard it was to be away from family during a special occasion. He missed many Christmases and birthdays while he was in college and abroad. After he swallowed he said, “She’ll get used to it in time, gets easier.” Marcus just nodded his head then looked at his watch then stood up, “I told her that I would have breakfast with her, I’ll be at the shop after I take her to class. Take it easy getting dressed.” Marcus pated Mort on the shoulder, who was nodding in accordance again, and waived his hand good-bye since his mouth was full yet again.

Marcus was sitting on the couch when Emily got up, and was reading the newspaper as usual that he grabbed from the kid on the corner on his way here. The little chap got out when Mort got up, so by the time Emily woke the youngster was already up and chipper in the cold morning air.

Emily came up from behind Marcus on the couch and kissed him on the neck, “Good morning darling.”

He grabbed the back of her head before she could retreat and he turned his head, “Good morning,” and kissed her on the lips. He let her go and she went off to pour her tea. After she was settled on the couch Marcus put his arm around her, “So do you know a Reece by chance?”

Emily sipped her tea and thought, “Nope, never did. Why do you ask?”

Marcus thought how to proceed with the conversation throughout the long night, “Well you said that name last night in your sleep, so I was just wondering, that’s all.” He kissed her head and she sipped again.

“Humph, weird. I don’t even remember my dreams from last night really. Oh well I do recall you being there with me and we were just standing there in a room hugging.” Emily shrugged, “but that’s it.”

“No biggie. So, a usual day for you today?”

“Yep, boring ol’ Friday. Oh I forgot to tell you, I got my paper back the other day, I got a ‘97%’ on it; thanks for the books to do the research!”

Appalled he quibbled, “Why didn’t he give you a hundred percent, it deserved it and you worked very hard on it. “ Marcus thought Emily deserved the best grade for everything.

Patting him mockingly to soothe his ruffled feathers she calmly replied, “I got what I deserved, the couple of mistakes I made were legit and I learned from them. I’m proud of it, still an A.”

Beaming at her he remarked, “I’m proud of you as well; you’re a great student. This is the half way point coming up at your break isn’t it? The time sure is flying.” Marcus was dreading her graduation day, he didn’t know what she wanted to do but he decided that if she had to go back to Alaska then he would go with her and find a way to make things work.

“Thanks babe, you’re great support so that helps. And Julia does take good notes in class so it helped both of us to work together, she got a 98%.” She looked up at Marcus and before he could say anything in protest she piped up, “She bopped the professor at the beginning of term, so he’s pretty easy on her.”

Marcus closed his mouth and nodded, “Got it, no bopping needed for your sake, the 1% difference is livable then I suppose.” He squeezed her shoulders and kissed her head again as she laughed and drank more tea.

As Emily warmed up by the fire Marcus made her an omelet with cheese and mushrooms, fresh toast and banana’s. When she walked in to her plate she looked startled, “Now I didn’t have half of those ingredients last night when I went to bed.” She looked at Marcus suspiciously as she sat down and he took his place opposite her.

Trying pitifully to look innocent he said simply, “I grabbed some stuff to make you a good breakfast, shoot me.” He stretched his legs out fully and put his hands behind his head. He grinned and she smiled back with a mouth full of eggs.

Marcus wanted to talk about her dreams more, but couldn’t find the right words nor the right timing; and since she kept quiet as she ate and it wasn’t awkward, he decided to leave it be. After she was ready for her day they walked to the building where her first class was, he kissed her bye and they both went about their usual days.

On Saturday Emily woke up alone and went out to a fire and tea. She was so used to it now she didn’t know what she would do if he ever decided that he got bored of doing it and stopped. She had some time before work, but was looking forward to tonight, Saturday were their traditional ‘date nights’. They always went out and did something fun like the movies, or dinner out. Sometimes they just went and got tea and window shopped. They didn’t have any plans for tonight, but she still looked forward to whatever it was they did together. Mort also made it a night for Mary, they seemed to always get together as well and do things on their own.

Before she realized it Emily was staring aimlessly out of the library window thinking of what they should do that night when it dawned on her that it was this morning when she last thought of that. The day was zipping on by thankfully; she looked at the clock on the wall and saw that she only had two more hours left of work. She went back to reading her book about 20th Century authors and tried to let the rest of time go by as quickly as it had all day.

Later that night as she was putting away her dinner dishes the phone rang and the door bell chimed simultaneously. She shouted, “Come in!” then answered the phone. She knew it would be Marcus walking through the door and she was right, then speaking into the receiver, “Hello?” After hearing her mother she replied, “Oh hi mom, how was dinner the other night?” she went over to Marcus and kissed him hello then went back to putting the rest of her dishes away.

Emily chatted to her mom as Marcus put a bag down on the floor and stoked her dying fire. He laughed, she never had a good fire going all day in here in his opinion. He was thankful for the central heating and air he had put in last year in his house, he lights a fire more for the ambiance of it than the warmth for Mort. He listened to the conversation between mother and daughter; he could even hear Naomi’s side of the discussion. With her accent and decibel level he had no problems hearing her with his ears. Their dinner went well and her father was pleased with everything and of course her brother ate enough for the entire family alone. Emily was greatly missed and her little cousin Suzie really missed seeing her also.

Then, when Marcus heard the next sentence and turned to look at Emily he knew he heard right. Naomi wanted him to go to Alaska with Emily for Christmas.

Emily’s look of shock was apparent enough, but then she spoke with a lump in her throat, “Wh-what? Are you serious mom? What does dad think? I don’t know, he has Mort here and all…” Stopping her stammering and looking over at Marcus who looked just as shocked as she was; she stared at him, shook her head and shrugged her shoulder’s and mouthed, “I don’t know,” to him. She spoke back into the phone, “Mom…mom… okay! Can I at least ask him first and see what his plans are? Of course I want you guys to meet him. Of course I want to be with him also. Mom? Yes, alright, I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know, he just walked in so I’ll talk to him. No you cannot. Bye mom, love you. Yes, I do, talk to you tomorrow, bye.”

Emily tossed the phone onto the counter instead of walking across the tiny kitchen to replace it on the cradle, “Man that woman can be so adamant sometimes!”

Marcus sat on the couch, “Really? I find that hard to believe?” He put his arm along the back of the couch and Emily sat down and he laid his hand upon her shoulder, “What has you so flustered dear?”

She started ticking the items off on her fingers, “Well for one, you’re meeting my family. My brother will scrutinize every atom of you, my dad will be like a hawk and my mother will be doting all over you like a newborn puppy. Oh, AND, can you be in the same room with my dog and cat and not want them for lunch? And what about Mort, you can’t just leave him here, I know you guys don’t do much, but still… humph. I don’t know.” Emily crossed her arms across her chest and leaned back further into the couch.

Marcus laughed, “Well that sounds like plenty to me to be flustered about! Look, I won’t eat your dog, cross my heart. And I was thinking, Mort can stay with Mary and actually have a Christmas with a family, which he hasn’t had in a long time. He deserves to have a good Holiday, I don’t know how many more he will have anyway so…” Marcus paused as he looked far away, then snapped back and continued, “… and as to me meeting your family,” he lifted his shoulders, “No sweat.” He hugged her close, “You worry too much. Have you forgotten that I can be around people with no issues, and it would only be for a few days and I don’t think we’ll be cooped up in a tiny little cabin for the entire time will we?”

Sighing and thinking about it a moment she said, “It would be for six days, and they have a good size house, but I’m sure my dad and brother will want to take you hunting, and my mother will stuff so much food into your mouth it would be atrocious for you! But one good thing and I think it would be the only good thing, is that I would have my family and you with me. I wouldn’t be missing anyone.” Emily was excited about the latter part and rested her head on his chest and looked over into the fire to think about all sides of the situation.

Looking over to the bag on the floor that she obviously had missed for a bit she piped up, “What’s that?” Then raised her head up and started to lean over to bring it towards her.

“Oh I just thought you would like it. I thought of you as soon as I saw it so I had to get it. Plus I saw your long decision the other day so I figured I would help out some. Open it.” He smiled, he loved buying her things.

Emily opened the bag and moved the tissue paper out of the way and pulled out a wonderful scarf, she then noticed matching gloves in the bag as well. They were of the royalist purple and were so soft, she looked at the tag; they were made of cashmere and silk, no wonder they were incredibly soft! “Oh Marcus, you shouldn’t have! These are so amazing!” She leaned over and hugged him very hard and gave him a big kiss. He didn’t stop the kiss of course so she held him for as long as he wanted, she was in no rush to go anywhere when this was on the agenda.

He pulled away from her, “Very glad you like your gift. So now that you have succeeded in changing the subject…” he looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“I wasn’t changing the subject; I just noticed the bag, that’s all.”

Taking in a big inhale Marcus moved back to the previous conversation, “Well it’s your decision, whatever you want to do Doll, say it and you can have it. If you want to bring Mort with us we can, we can stay in a hotel and of course all expenses would be on me…”

Emily interrupted him and sat upright, “No, no, no… I think you’re right, Mort would love to be with Mary and her family, and then you wouldn’t have to worry about leaving him alone and tending to him all the time. That settles it, you’re coming to Alaska with me!” Emily suddenly beamed at the thought of him going with her and not having to do that flight by herself, “Have you ever been to The States?”

“I went once to meet with a book buyer in New England, beautiful area! It was in October so the leaves were all changing, it was so beautiful, very colorful and bright, it was a great experience. I was only there for two days so I didn’t get to see much; and I went only that one time. I’ve heard it’s great to drive across, how the scenery changes so often in such a short span of land.”

Excited talking about her home now she was excited and sat lotus style sideways on the couch so she could face him and talk, “It IS amazing, we drove from Texas to Alaska, the long route. We saw Hoover Dam, the Rocky Mountains up into Colorado, we hit all sorts of places. We’ll do that one summer after I graduate, drive across the good ol’ USA!” Emily was smiling again from ear to ear.

Marcus loved to see her so happy, “You got it babe, all of my time is yours from hence forth,” he waived his hand forward in a grand motion.

“Good, so where are we going tonight?” Emily loved their Saturdays, he liked to surprise her if she didn’t already have anything in mind. Marcus took the cue that it was a night for surprises. He rested back into the couch and put his hand to his chin in a dramatic thinking gesture. Finally he suggested, “Well… there is this one little place I don’t think you’ve ever been to, we’ll go there. We just need to walk to my house to get my car first if you don’t mind?”

“Nope don’t mind at all, what do I need to wear for the occasion?” Emily stood up and twirled to show off her jeans and red sweater. She was being silly since she thought she looked very drab.

Marcus smiled because her jeans weren’t too tight, but enough so to show off her great ass, and the sweater was taut fitting and ended right above her jeans button so when she moved a certain way you could see her navel. “I think you look perfect, we will be dancing if that makes any decision upon your shoe choice,” he looked down at her bare fee, “You surely cannot wear those shoes tonight!”

She laughed, “Dancing? Are you serious?”

“Yes of course.”

“I love to dance, I didn’t think there was anywhere around here like that.” When he grinned that mischievous little grin of his Emily shook her head, “Oh boy, let me guess, it’s not around here?”

“Not at all. Go get your shoes on so we can get going then.” He stood up and slapped her hard on the ass when she turned to round the couch corner. She jumped and made a little yip sound that got him giggling.

“Jerk,” she laughed and went to her closet. When she opened the closet door her mouth dropped open, “Marcus!?” She heard him laugh from the other room then he was suddenly walking into her room.

“What?” he said then leaned against the door frame, “You needed them, and don’t complain about it, I know you’re thrilled”

Emily flipped through the dozen or so new clothes that were in there. Man he had great taste, and knew her size exactly; there were new sweaters, blouses, pants, jeans and a black wool jacket. She bent down to get her shoes, she had one pair of cute clogs that would stay on her feet to dance in but when she got down there she saw new shoes also. She turned around and looked at him, he laughed again and walked back out into the living room. Emily turned back to the four new shoes there; there was a pair of cute little walking style Mary Jane’s in black, a brown pair of low heels, a black pair of two inch heels that she didn’t know where she would ever wear those to, then hated to think where he might have had in mind. She ended up grabbing a red pair of low heels that he bought that were too adorable. The red matched her sweater perfectly, and it had a strap and low enough heel to dance in. She couldn’t believe that they were going dancing, she hadn’t been out dancing in forever.

As she grabbed the new coat she thought of her best friend, Carey, in Alaska. They would go to the one club in town on the one night a week, Friday, when they had good music to dance to. Most nights they had country, then hip-hop on two nights a week but on Friday they played the best dance music from the 60’s to 80’s. Most kids their age went on Saturday when the hip-hop DJ was there, but she and Carey hated the new music. Plus it was nice to have mostly older guys there, they left you alone and the really old ones just wanted to dance and tell you about the war over their beer.

Emily put on her warm and perfectly snug coat, then the new gloves and scarf and kissed Marcus again to thank him. They went out of her flat and on the way to his they chatted about how to tell, or ask, Mort about their trip. When they got there he turned and asked her, “Do you want to just head on out, or do you want to talk to him now?”

“Let’s just head on out, we can tell him tomorrow. You got me all excited about going dancin’!”

“Sounds like a plan to me, “ Marcus opened the man door to the garage then held her car door open for her, as he was dashing to his side Emily hit the remote for the large garage door that was always on his visor.

Marcus hopped in, “Boy you are ready to get going! I love it!” A flash of that golden smile and they were on their way.

When they were out on the highway Marcus took Emily’s hand in his then asked, “So, give me the low-down on your family, what can I expect?”

“Oh boy, well you’ve already spoken to my wonderful mother, Naomi. She is a neurotic, freak; but I mean that in the best way of course!” Emily laughed, her mother was her best friend and they had always been very close. “She likes to clean, read, loves art, cooking and she is very smart. She never finished getting her college degree, but she reads, and retains, pretty much everything. Let’s see, what else about mom? She’s 49 years old and loves to be with family really. She’s also a total home body, but she knows everyone in our town, she’s the gossip queen with three of her other cronies.

”My dad, George, is 51 and such a wonderful man. He likes to do the typical guy stuff, sports, hunting… stuff like that. He and my mom met in Texas. He works for an oil company so he was shipped down there years ago. I guess he and my mom got set up by some people at work, and they fell in love right away. Got married and had my brother Steve, who’s two years older than me. Well he and my dad are just alike. They love to go hunting, to the local burger joint, watching sports, anything they can. They hunt mostly birds, but they also fish and gab with the local guys about all their ‘man-gossip’.”

Emily paused to look out of the window to see where they were, then looked back at her man and continued, “Now Steve, what can I tell you about my brother? Well he loves himself to start with. He’s a good looking guy, a real ladies man actually, and he’s very funny – great sense of humor; but he knows how great he is. We get along pretty well I suppose, as much as any other brother and sister I guess. He actually lives above the garage in his own apartment, but he’s in the house with us most of the time. But it would kill his ego to tell people that he lives with his parents, he just tells everyone that he has his own apartment, which technically he does; but it’s just funny to hear him talk about it. He works at the oil company with my dad, rookie stuff I’m sure since he just started. He was with the Forest Service for a bit but then something happened and now he’s working with my dad. I really don’t pay too much attention to it all actually. Then there’s my dog Scruff and my kitty, Mitz, but they are boring ol’ house pets. We don’t have any other family that lives up there, my dad’s family is mostly in Georgia but he has some family in Wyoming, and my mom’s parents are in Wyoming also, but the rest of her family is in Texas still. My grandparents moved up to Wyoming about two years or so ago so they could be closer. They’ll be up for Christmas too, it’s not a bad drive for them I guess. But I’m not too sure who will be there as well so I’ll fill you in as we go along. I think that covers it. Anything else you want to know?” Giving him her flashy smile and squeezed his hand.

Giving her a curt nod he summed it up, “Nope, that’s good, Naomi and George and Steve, got it.”

After snapping her mouth shut Emily quipped, “After all that you really just wanted their names?” Emily made a scoffing noise and looked over at him, he never took his eyes off the road but she saw that little grin of his. She just laughed and squeezed his hand harder.

They drove on for a bit then Emily started to talk about the book and ask some questions. Mostly about the experiments that were done to try and further their breed. Marcus was a little apprehensive to speak about it, so after a while Emily let it rest. She was so fascinated about a dying breed that was afraid of becoming extinct, but still wouldn’t just make a bunch more of them to get the easy fix to their problem.

Breaking the silence she asked, “So how much longer do we have to drive? Where are we going anyway?” Emily couldn’t see much of anything out of her window anymore, it was dark and he was screaming down some back roads.

“Almost there, it’s about an hour drive from home. Granted, if we went the usual way it would take us a couple of hours to get to the outskirts of London.”

In a near squeak, “London? How the hell can you get to London so fast? Where pray-tell are you taking me this time?” Emily was squirming with excitement, she loved surprises and he loved to give them, they truly did make the perfect couple!

“You’ll see when we get there,” he gave her another one of his famous ‘shit-eating-grins’ and looked back at the road.

Emily turned in her seat to face him, “So where do you hear of all of these places if you’re always in the shop hiding out in the back room?

“Ha! If I told you I’d have to kill you.” He looked over at her and she was grinning.

It was a devious grin of course, “Well I can tell you a few ways to start…”

Marcus snorted, “Whatever! Anyway, I actually just hear people talking about this place or that and if I hear good things about a place a few times, then we go and check it out. But I’m not as much of a recluse as you seem to think I am. I do go outside every now and then, geesh!” He mockingly rolled his eyes as he sped along.

Raising her hands in defense she replied, “Just curious!” then smiled, “so will you tell me at least what kind of dancing we’ll be doing?”

He let a few seconds pass for the effect then sighed, “Fine… you’ll just spoil the surprise! It’s a place called “The Salsa Bar”. They’re known for their dancing and food. Do you Salsa?” Marcus was hoping that she knew some of it at least.

“I do. Well did. A friend’s husband taught me how to Salsa, Meringue, stuff like that, but it was years ago, I’ll need a refresher course if you don’t mind though.”

Loving his dirty thoughts, “No sweat, I love to dance and haven’t been in decades, and that’s no exaggeration! It’ll be nice to have someone to boogie with again!”

Curious now, Emily asked, “So who did you used to hang out with, in your um, new state?”

Knowing what she meant he answered, “Morty and I used to go out all the time. Before that there was a woman in Egypt that I would pop in to see every now and then.”

“A woman huh?” Emily gave him a sideways glance, “Human?”

“Nope. Total vamp. Gabriella was her name. I went looking for others like me to be with after a while. Just to be able to talk to people and be able to move around freely without freaking anyone out, you know what I mean? Well I found her one day while I was wandering about at an outside market in Egypt and there she was, sitting in the shade watching me. She must have seen me a while before I saw her because as soon as our eyes met she came over to me and told me to come with her. Of course I knew she was like me the second I saw her. We hit it off right away and kept in contact for many years. Then she said one day, after about twenty or so years I guess, that she was leaving and will write when she can. That was when Morty was little, I’ve never heard from her since. Interesting the people you meet in life then, poof, they’re gone never to be seen nor heard of again.” Marcus got that far away look as he remembered a long ago moment.

“Huh,” was all that Emily had to say.

Marcus looked at her once her tone registered, “You’re not being jealous are you?”

Shaking her head instantly, “No, of course not. How can I be jealous over a woman that you haven’t seen since before I was born? It’s just odd hearing some stories of yours. I forget so much that you’re not… not human, sorry. It’s just that you’re so normal, not anything at all as your kind have been portrayed to be.”

Marcus just nodded his head in agreement and Emily sat back forward and crossed her ankles, she had plenty of room to stretch out her legs, granted she would probably have enough room in a Yugo as well.

They stayed in silence for the last ten minutes of the trip then as they got closer to the club Emily sat more upright. The parking lot was already crowded and it was only a quarter to nine. “Wow, this place must be good.”

Once they found a parking spot, Marcus held her door open for her before she even had her seatbelt off, then he took her hand as she got out of the car. They could hear the blaring music a hundred yards from the door, she wondered if it would be too loud for Marcus’ sensitive ears. As soon as he opened the door the screaming music became astounding. Marcus just pointed to a table and didn’t bother saying a word. Emily nodded and they wove their way through the dancing and gyrating crowd and tiny tables that were scattered about. They settled in at their table and within seconds a waitress dressed in a skimpy top and a rubber looking mini-skirt, all in black, took their order from Marcus. She hustled off and Marcus scooted closer to Emily so they could talk, “I ordered you a margarita, they’re the best here, at least so I hear. Do you like them?”

Nodding enthusiastically, “Thanks, I do like them, my friend Carey and I would have little margarita parties when there was nothing else to do.”

They looked around the room and people watched for a bit. The waitress brought two drinks and Emily laughed, she knew she was going to end up drinking both of them. They sipped their drinks, well when no one was looking Marcus slowly poured his drink into her glass. Once Emily was about half way done with her glass she was ready to dance. They got up and wound around to the dance floor which was actually hard to find since everyone was dancing everywhere. A couple was in mid-meal when the woman got up and started dancing right next to their table as a new song started.

Marcus and Emily were both pleased with each other’s dancing skills, Marcus had to remind Emily of a few moves to specific dances, but mostly they just danced. When Emily was breathless they went back to their table to find two fresh drinks there and some water, their waitress was good!

As soon as they sat Emily took huge swallows of her water, she looked at Marcus and he just smiled; no panting, no sweat, just perfect as always. Once she drank more water, then more of hers and Marcus’ margarita’s, she was ready for more dancing. They went back and forth from their table to the dance floor for a while and finally she had to rest for longer than a five minute period.

Marcus leaned into her ear, “Are you hungry at all? If so you need to order their chips and salsa, they would have it hot like you like it here.”

Emily shook her head and took another sip, “I’m good thanks. After the what, third drink now that you have slipped me, my tummy is pretty full.” She laughed at the look on his face, “Oh yeah, I know… I’m on to you Mr. Fitzgerald!”

He just shrugged his shoulders as if he was innocent then laughed with her, “I’m busted, what can I say?” Then he leaned over and kissed her. No biggie here in this place either, a few couples looked as though they were using booths for beds, and half the people dancing looked like they were doing it while clothed and standing.

Marcus loved to people watch and listen in to their conversations, that’s how he found out most everything, eavesdropping. He chuckled to himself as he saw the men and women that were single trying to find a partner for the night. He thought that every single man should bring a date to a place like this if he was wishing to get laid. Women and Spanish dancing will do it every time! Then he looked over at Emily and saw her watching people as well then smiled at him as she caught his eyes. He was hoping that he would have the same luck with his lady tonight. It had been several days since they were able to make love and that was too long for him. Now that he had her, he wanted her every time he saw her. But as in almost everything when you’re a vampire, you need to control yourself to no ends at every second of the day.

Emily finished her drink then looked at her watch, she was shocked to see that it was almost midnight already. She looked over at Marcus and stared at his profile for a moment. Yep, she thought, time to get that man to bed! She leaned over and tugged the sleeve of his shirt, “Want to get going?”

Controlling his eagerness he easily replied, “Sure Doll, anything you want.” Marcus found the waitress and handed her a few bills folded together and they got up to leave. The waitress mumbled thanks and moved the bills to make sure that she got enough to cover the bill. She turned in shock when she saw the extra two twenty’s in there for her as a tip. She turned to give Marcus his money back thinking he overpaid her, but they were gone already. She happily shoved the money in her pocket and merrily went to her other tables.

Emily was very energetic when they got back into the car. Marcus looked over at her as they were pulling out of the still full lot, “You sure you want to leave, and you look like you still have another few hours of dancing energy left in you?”

Biting her tongue about having more energy for something but it wasn’t dancing Emily answered, “I’m fine, that was so much fun, thank you so much! We’ll have to do this again soon. Next time we’ll come earlier so I can try the food. The drinks were awesome! So next time you see the person that you “heard” of that place from, give them my thanks.”

Marcus just chuckled, “Sure dear, I think it was some kids at the train station, I’ll keep my eye out for them.”

Emily was feeling very frisky, “So what can I ever do for you? What can I do to make you happy?”

Marcus gave her a double take, “What? You existing makes me happy. All I need is you.” He paused for a quick second then continued, “… And maybe this lamp, and this ashtray…” he looked over at her to see if she caught the joke and when she started cracking up he knew that she knew and loved the movie, “The Jerk” as well.

“Oh that’s such a great movie!! But seriously, there should be some way for me to express my gratitude and be able to give you something in return to show my appreciation for everything that you’ve done.” Emily sat back then it hit her, duh! “Oh shoot, I forgot that I got you something a while ago!”

He was surprised, “You did? For me? You don’t have to do anything for me. Seriously, I just love hanging out with you.”

Emily was more excited now knowing that she had that sexy little nightgown and ties in her room, “How quickly can you get back to my place?” she purred and squeezed his thigh.

Marcus looked at her and made a chocking sound, “Uh, well, um… I don’t know.” He looked back from her to the road then back at her eager grin, “I’ll make it as quickly as possible!” He liked the look that she had and was crazy with excitement that she had a surprise for him. He figured it would be her wrapped in some way by the look on her face, but he wasn’t 100% sure of her intentions just yet. But either way, he pushed the car a little faster, knowing that the road they were on was less populated than the main one and he could make good time this way.

They made it to her flat in 45 minutes. Once inside she told him to make himself comfortable and that she would be right out. She closed her bedroom door and flew to her dresser. She had to move a few PJ’s out of the way to get to the blue silk that was hidden at the bottom. Going to her bathroom she cleaned up a little, she didn’t want to smell all sweaty from dancing. When she was about to emerge from the room she noticed that her closet door was still open, she went to close it then had a thought; now she had an occasion to wear those heels…

She opened her bedroom door to find Marcus in one of his typical postures, he was stretched out fully on her couch with his feet hanging off the end, he was a good six or seven inches longer than her couch. She went over to where his head was resting on the armrest and bent over to kiss his lips. He opened his eyes and smiled up at her.

As she walked around to the front of the couch he sat upright, “Wow, holy shit, you look amazing!!” His eyes almost popped out of his head as soon as he saw her in the blue nightgown. The top was an intricate lace that let her nipples show through ever-so-slightly, it hugged her slim body perfectly and there was a slit in the shimmery silk that went from her ankle up to mid-thigh. He noticed that she had on the heels he bought her, “I had another time in mind for those shoes, but I like this outfit WAY better!” He took her hand and gently pulled her to him, Emily pulled up the skirt and straddled his lap.

“Oh man, if my heart beat you would give me a heart attack right now. We’ll go dancing again tomorrow night if this is the after effect!!” As he kissed her he knew that his earlier prediction at the bar was correct, sexy dancing was insta-lay for any guy!

Emily just moaned into his mouth then pulled away slightly, “and this,” tugging lightly at her gown, “is only one part of your present too.” She kissed him again, but harder this time. He stood and lifted her with him. She wrapped her legs around his waist as he carried her to her bed.

Marcus set her down and started to crawl on top of her when she gently put her hand on his chest, “Stop.”

She wriggled from under him and he looked totally perplexed, “What?”

He had the funniest look of confusion on his face she just had to giggle, “Off with them, all of it, come on big boy!” She started tugging at the leg of his pants since he was still on all fours on the bed.

Instantly, he sat down on his butt and kicked off his shoes, “Whatever you say ma’am!” He stripped his clothes off at his speed, so to Emily he was naked in a matter of a blink and a half.

“That’s better, now lie down and back up,” she tried to use a stern tone with him but they both knew it wasn’t in her and they giggled as she tried to play her part. He scooted his naked butt up so his head was on the pillow. As she went to her dresser she told him to close his eyes.

“Oh boy,” was all that he could muster; he was getting very excited and aroused. That was the only bad thing about not getting an erection normally, he had to make it do what he wanted, it didn’t just announce his pleasure on its own anymore. He closed his eyes and waited. He could hear her moving about and knew that she was coming closer to him again just by her scent, the next thing he knew she was tying a silk band around his eyes, a slight raspy moan escaped his lips. This made Emily smile even wider.

When she tied up his hands she thought he was going to explode, “And I haven’t even started yet!” she purred into his ear. He wriggled even more and started to breathe a little harder. She knew by now that he was not short of breath but in fact wanted her eagerly.

She had to make this last as long as she could, not for her sake but for his. He needed this she thought, and it was also very good for her to explore the kinkier side to things. Deciding to start at his feet then work her way up; she knew that as long as he was this should take a nice, long while.

When she started to kiss his feet and lightly lick the tops he just moaned, then when she got to his muscular calves he sighed, “What are you doing to me woman?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, do you want me to stop?” and she sat upright, knowing full well that he didn’t.

Almost panicky he quipped up, “No! I mean, um, no dear, please continue, I really like my present, so far.”

Emily covered her mouth to suppress her laugh, “Good,” she said firmly then started in again. It must have taken her a full thirty minutes for her to kiss, lick and stroke him up to his belly button, she touched every part of his body with various parts of hers. When she reached his member, he made it fully erect for her and she spent fifteen minutes there alone. By the time she reached his nipples he was begging for her to at least let one hand free. She loved this power over him, granted it was a false power; he could have ripped the headboard off with ease to get his hands free, but it still made her feel great.

“Maybe in a minute I will…” then she licked his nipple. She finally reached his face and kissed him deeply as he lifted his head to meet hers and take in as much as he could finally get. She put her breast into his mouth, with the gown still on, and he was gently biting her through the silky lace. She took off the gown then placed the same, but now bare breast, to his lips and he suckled her with vigor.

Emily decided that she couldn’t wait any longer herself, she straddled him again and this time put him into her. She leaned forward and undid one hand, then the next. Before she could get to the tie over his eyes he had ripped it off already and was firmly clutching each of her ass cheeks in either hand. “Thank you” he said repeatedly as he vigorously thrust himself into her. The sex that night was the most amazing they had ever had. They made love for hours, then they screwed for several more, all night long it altered, it was soft and gentle one minute, then rough and ferocious the next.

Finally when the sun started to rise on another Sunday, Emily slept. Marcus took a shower then went to the kitchen and called Mort from his cell phone. There was no answer and that alarmed Marcus, but he thought maybe he was in the bathroom and decided to try him again in a few more minutes. He started Emily’s fire, made her tea then zipped out and got the newspaper. When he got back into her flat he heard her in the shower and smiled then tried Mort again and there still was no answer, now he was worried. He went into the bathroom as Emily was emerging from the shower.

She looked up at him as she grabbed her towel, “Good morning. What’s wrong?” She knew that look on his face that something was amiss.

“I tried calling Mort twice at home and he hasn’t answered.”

He needn’t say more, “Oh shit, I’ll go with you!” Emily flew out of her bathroom and pulled jeans and a sweater out of her dresser drawer. Marcus was behind her with her shoes and coat and the look was worse on his face. “I’m sure he’s fine babe, but we’ll make sure,” Emily was worried as well, especially now that she knew that Mort was almost 95 with terminal cancer.

With his keys in hand, “I’ll get the car and meet you out front,” Marcus rushed out the door to get the car that he parked a few stoops down from hers. By the time Emily got down there he was already there waiting. He drove the two blocks to his house in about what seemed like half a second. After the car pulled into the garage and when Emily was still getting out of the car, Marcus was already out of sight and in the house.

She rushed up there to find him frantically going from one room to the next calling out Mort’s name. No one was there apparently. Emily took a deep breath then looked around the kitchen, there was a note on the stove, “Marcus, she yelled into the air.”

He ran to her, “What? What is it?”

Calmly sticking her hand out holding the small white parchment, “A note dear, he’s with Mary, guess he stayed there last night,” she handed him the note and he took a huge sigh of relief.

With his face morphing from fright to embarrassed relief, he breathed out, “Damn it that man, he could have called me!” Marcus was so happy though that his worst fears didn’t come true, but now he was pissed that Mort didn’t let him know and he was so scared for nothing.

Emily could read the emotional change on his face and touched his arm, “You’re not going to ground him are you?” She looked at him and tried not to laugh, she knew how upset he was, but Mort was fine and she needed to ease his tension a little.

Marcus looked at her with spit and vinegar in his eyes. When Emily raised her eyebrows and her eyes got a little rounder, did he realize the face he must have had on, then it registered what she said. He exhaled then sighed and said sarcastically, “No, I guess I won’t ground him. Damn it that scared the hell of out of me though,” Marcus took Emily up into a hug, “thanks for coming with me so quickly, and for finding the note.”

“You were on the way to calling Scotland Yard Marcus, you need to relax a little. Mort isn’t a child, nor should he be treated like one. Just call over to Mary’s and let him know that you’re home now and see what his plans are.”

Snuggling into her neck that was level with his mouth now, “You’re right, yet again,” Marcus then let her go and picked up the phone on the kitchen wall to dial Mary’s number that was written on a sticky note next to it. He spoke with Carolyn, her granddaughter, when she picked up the phone instantly like a teenager these days does. Carolyn told him that Mort came over for dinner and was too tired to go home so he slept in their spare room. And that he was also still there and eating breakfast with them. She asked if he wanted to talk to his ‘grandpa’ and when Marcus said no, Carolyn ended the call pretty quickly. She was a typical seventeen year-old, hated to talk to adults, rambunctious and independent, but she was a good kid, she took great care of her grandmother when she needed to.

Hanging up he turned to report and update, “Well he’s still there, and by the way he and Mary were talking it sounds like he might be for the day.” After telling about his conversation and what he could hear from the other side he changed the subject, “Well now that the tea I made at your flat is cold by now, let me put some on for you,” Marcus went over to his stove and put the kettle on.

Emily sat down at the table, “So did you have any plans for today?”

“Not a one, I’ll be busy tomorrow, a guy came in yesterday and ordered a ton of hard to find books. Nowhere is really open today so there’s nothing I can do with that until the morning. Did you want to do anything in particular?” He put the tea into the kettle and while it was steeping he joined her at the table.

Emily looked at him and smiled and thought of last night. He looked back at her and returned her smile, “What is it?” he asked.

“Nothing. Just thinking of last night, that’s all.” She stroked his hand as it lay there idly on the table.

He smiled broadly then, “Oh yes. That was spectacular, thank you again. I think that’s the best gift I have ever been given! But next time, you need to let me unwrap it!” He kissed her hand then let it go so he could pour her tea.

Emily thought that she must be looney-toons to be so madly in love with this man so quickly. She didn’t want to let her mind wander though, when she did it always looped back to their future and what it could hold. She shook her head to clear it then asked, “So it looks like another nasty day, is there anything that you want to do inside?” As soon as the question was out of her mouth she chuckled, “Oh yeah, duh!”

Marcus laughed as well, “I don’t care, good day for a movie. We can go and see one or rent a few. Mort also has a huge collection in his room that we can choose from. We can even hang out here if you want since we have the place to ourselves. And no offense, but I’m sure it is much warmer in here than in your flat.”

Exuberantly she said, “It sure is, must be nice to not have to have a fire going all day?” Emily was envious of their central heat, they had it at her parents’ home also, so she wasn’t used to having to have a fire going all the time. “Yeah, let’s hang out here today then, sounds like an excellent plan my man!” She thanked him as he gave her a mug of tea then took his seat again.

Marcus eventually made Emily some breakfast when he knew she needed to eat once he broke their conversation to look at the clock on the wall; then they went to Mort’s room and grabbed several movies. Being impressed by his huge collection, she noted that he had to have at least 100 movies of all types. Emily snatched some she knew, some she didn’t and one that she thought Marcus would like but surprisingly had never seen. As they went out into the living room Marcus opened up the cabinet that had the electronic equipment in it.

Once again Emily was impressed by all of the modern conveniences they had, now here was a fifty-two inch plasma television housed in the huge oak wall unit along with a DVD, VCR and other equipment that looked expensive. Emily thought that her brother and father would be drooling!

Emily and Marcus snuggled up on the couch, Marcus threw a blanket over her so she could get in real close to him without shivering and he hit the remote. They watched “The Stand” by Stephen King first since Marcus had never seen it. It was a very long movie, and Emily didn’t realize the heavy religious theme to it, but she loved the plot of the story, and also that a movie could actually follow a book. But she knew that was only because King did both book and movie. Marcus liked the plot as well, he agreed that it made you look at life a little differently and also made you realize that none of our futures are set in stone; no matter how long they may be.

Before they started the second movie Marcus made love to Emily right there on the couch under her blanket. He figured he better take every chance he got, he told her that a huge plague could come tomorrow and the thought of not having her again just made him shiver. She thought his excuse was pretty pitiful but of course didn’t object one bit.

They had already started in on an old western when Marcus heard Mort coming in, he stopped toying with her bare nipple and flipped the covers over a tousled Emily, “Wow, good timing on my part,” and he winked at Emily. She had no clue what he was talking about until she heard Mort and Mary on the back stairs; that would have been embarrassing getting caught on the couch! She immediately straightened herself out so all looked innocent when they came into the room.

When the couple entered it apparently surprised Mort, “Oh hi there, I wasn’t expecting you here.”

Marcus hit pause on the DVD player, “Well after I ran home in a crazed panic and found you weren’t home, we decided to stay in and watch some movies. Do you guys want to join us, or do you want us to leave so you can have the house to yourselves?” Marcus wasn’t sure what to do or what Mort’s plans were already.

Mary went over and said hello to both Marcus and Emily with a kiss on the cheek and a hug, “Oh goodness no, you kids stay here. Mort and I were actually just popping in to get him a clean set of clothes since his sleep over wasn’t planned last night.” The look between the two of them made Emily bite her tongue and she could feel Marcus lightly jab her in the ribs under the blanket. Mary continued, “We are actually going to go see my daughter this afternoon, she’s making lunch for us.”

Instantly being the ever gracious man, “Do you need me to drive you?”

Mary made a shooing gesture with her hands and scoffed, “Marcus, stop your fussing, we’re fine; Carolyn is waiting outside for us with her car, she’ll take us to her house and back home when we’re done. Now you guys stay put and enjoy yourselves,” Mary went back to Mort’s room and the door closed after she disappeared through it.

Emily and Marcus looked at each other then started into a fit of the giggles. They both covered their mouths and Emily threw the blanket over their heads like little children. Marcus put the blanket back down when he heard them opening the door.

By the time Mary and Mort emerged again the TV was back on and all looked as normal as could be. Mort was wearing a nice Polo shirt and blazer with his slacks. Marcus was so glad that he went shopping last weekend for Mort; his clothes were in dire need of replacing, and Mary was the perfect excuse to finally do it. Of course Mort didn’t complain at all, he just said a quick thanks to Marcus one morning when he woke up as he wore a new sweater. Mort was used to it, Marcus was always buying things on a whim.

As Mort now looked over at the young couple he stated simply, “Well good day youngsters, see you later!” He waived a hand good-bye and opened the door to the stairwell. Mary waived bye as well, “Bye darlings, have a good time!” Marcus and Emily both said farewell to them as the door closed.

Emily started giggling again, “I’m sorry, but that’s just so damned cute! She dotes on him like they’ve been married forever, and he looks at her like a little boy in love with his school mistress!”

Marcus chuckled once more now that his giggles were over, “She does dote on him, but she’s also been a widow for about twenty years. And Mort hasn’t had a woman that infatuated with him since he lived in Spain I think.”

Amazed she asked, “Mort lived in Spain? For how long? When?” Emily really didn’t know too much about Mort’s life, Marcus wasn’t one to tell that tale and Emily never asked Mort about his life apparently.

But Marcus felt comfortable to tell it, “After his college life was complete, we went to Spain to visit, and then he stayed for another five years or so after I left. I thought he was going to marry this one gal, but he didn’t, he came home instead. Where do you think I learned how to dance?”

Her shock was apparent, “Mort taught you how to dance like we did last night? Wow!”

“Yes he did. Mort was a bit of a hellcat when he was younger actually. So to see him with Mary makes me happy, he never married because of me and that has always broken my heart. He is too good of a man to be without a woman to share his heart.”

“For you? I don’t understand,” Emily looked perplexed, she wondered why would a man give up marriage and a family?

Marcus told her about the talk that he and Mort had several weeks ago. Emily understood Mort’s point of view and thought that was so thoughtful and showed his love for his uncle. But she also understood why that would bother Marcus, he was so unselfish that it bugged him for anyone to go out of their way for him; he could do it, but no one could do it in return for him. Emily couldn’t say anything else so she just held him tightly and they finished the movie in silence.

The day was dreary outside, but Marcus and Emily were very happy holding up inside. They watched more movies, had more sex, this time in Marcus’ room, just in case, and just enjoyed the day together. Emily was not looking forward to another week starting, but the days were flying now lately so it wasn’t so bad. Mort came home alone so Marcus made him and Emily some dinner of Cornish game hens and wild rice. Marcus took Emily home and stayed with her until she fell asleep; as usual.

One Thursday Emily woke up to her usual fire and tea but there was also an envelope on the table, it was their plane tickets for Alaska. She was so excited, she started to pick up the phone to call her mom with the dates then remembered that it was still in the middle of the night over there, her call would have to wait until evening.

Later that day when she got to the shop, she jumped Marcus in his room as he was on the couch going through some catalogs, hopping onto his lap and straddling him she proclaimed, “I cannot believe you got the tickets already!” She then proceeded to kiss him enthusiastically before he could get one syllable past his lips.

After he was able to get the use of his mouth again Marcus said, “You’re welcome. Mary’s so excited to have Mort stay there with her; he’ll just stay over at her house the entire time so she can “keep an eye on him”. Marcus lifted his hands and used his fingers to make the quotation gesture. After he dropped his hands he continued, “And Mort is happy that I’m going with you, he said that I would probably drive him crazy for the five days without you anyway so he’d rather have me gone.” Marcus shrugged, “He’s probably right.”

Emily got off of his lap, “I’ll call my mom in a bit, it’s still early there, I almost called her this morning, eleven at night her time!” She went to the comfy chair across from the couch and took out her text books. This was her usual time to get some homework done until the shop closed.

Marcus and Emily kept their noses in their books and catalogs until Mort strolled on back, “Hey what’s on the menu tonight?”

Marcus looked at the clock, it was already past seven, “Do you ever think of anything except food?”

Mort got a faraway look in his eye and said hazily, “Sure do my boy, sure do.” Then his look came back to earth, “Do you want me to just order in then for Em and myself?”

“Sounds good, have them deliver it here now though before the shop closes would you?” Marcus never even took his eyes from the order form he was filling out on his computer, he was incredibly busy this week and Mort knew not to push his limits.

Mort looked over to Emily who just shrugged her shoulders, “Whatever you want to eat, I don’t care Mort,” and she gave him a smile that he returned.

“Chinese it is then, no pork right kiddo?” Mort remembered that was the only thing that Emily didn’t eat, she was a pretty good eater for being such a little thing.

“You got it, thanks!” When Emily went right back to her own work Mort shuffled out of the room and left the door open since there was no one in the shop right now.

Emily had to look twice when she realized that there was no one there; the shop had been so busy the last few months some days she had to knock on Marcus’ door so she could get in, the front door was so crowded with people it was hard to get in.

Mort gave Emily her food after it arrived shortly thereafter and went upstairs after he locked up the shop and turned off the lights. Emily ate at the coffee table over her books and Marcus was still glued to his computer screen.

At about ten o’clock Marcus finally looked up and around him, he noticed the time and turned to see Emily sound asleep in the chair with a book open on her lap. “Damn,” he whispered, he didn’t mean to let the entire night escape him with this stupid order, but it did and here she was, sound asleep like a little angel.

After staring at her for a bit he picked up her books and papers and put them into her backpack. He then cleaned up the cartons and went upstairs to check on Mort. He was asleep in his bed with the TV on; so Marcus turned off the telly and went back down to Emily. Marcus finished shutting everything down in his office then put Emily’s backpack on his back and scooped her up into his arms, then went out his side door and started on the short trek to her home. Emily had too long of a day on Friday’s, so he wanted her to wake up in her own bed in the morning.

Marcus turned the corner from the alley onto the street when he saw a tall, dark figure walking towards them from down the lane. Marcus wasn’t sure who it was so he kept his pace. After about a minute he realized that it was a police officer, “Shit” he said to himself, he didn’t want any trouble at all. He slowed his pace a bit, not enough for the cop to notice, but enough for Marcus to be walking at a normal human pace carrying a hundred pound woman.

Finally they were about four yards apart when the officer spoke up, “Hullo laddie, any troubles there?” The officer was polite but moved his hand towards his club just in case, he never knew what to expect from these college kids.

Marcus made his accent a little thicker and spoke in a whisper, “No sir, just needing to carry my lady here home.”

The officer got closer and looked at Emily then up at Marcus, “Home huh?”

Trying to look innocent and thoughtful of the sleeper he continued his whisper, “Yes Sir. She’s my fiancée and fell asleep at my shop. My Papa owns the book store there sir, and me mum taught me right, so I’m carrying her home to sleep in her own bed, then I was comin’ back on home.”

The Bobbi looked hard at Marcus, “Is your Papa Mortimer Fitzgerald by chance?”

Marcus gave him a huge smile, now he knew he was good, “Yes Sir, I’m Marcus Fitzgerald Sir, this is Emily. Her ID is in her knapsack here if you need it.” Marcus turned his back towards the officer a little for emphasis.

The official looked Marcus up and down again and thought that he looked like a nice, clean boy, and a Fitzgerald, he can’t be of any trouble, “No, no boy, you’re fine. Just don’t drop her, she looks like a fragile little thing. An’ stay out of trouble there; some of the college crowd can be a nuisance. I don’t want to see any of our local boys getting mixed up in any of it. Good evening.” The Bobbi walked on past Marcus, but did stop and turn to watch him walk away after a few seconds. Marcus was still on the same path with his bundle; holding her as though he was carrying a light sack of potatoes. Constable Grey walked to the book shop and looked in, all looked normal there; this was his usual beat so he always stopped to see what was new in the shop, nothing since he looked last week.

Marcus released a heavy sigh after he rounded the block and could see Emily’s flat now. He picked up his pace since no one was around to see him.

Emily lifted her head up a little, “Your fiancée?”

Marcus obviously thought she was still sleeping and she startled him, “Oh bloody hell, I thought you were sleeping,” He looked down at her startled, but still with a smirk.

Resting her head against his chest, “I was until I heard you talking. Nice accent by the way, what was that for?”

“The cops love it when they know you’ve been here for a bit. I knew his family’s been here since… well since I knew his family when I was a boy. I figured once my name was clear then there would be no trouble, but you never know, I didn’t want to take any chances. And that was the first thing that came to my head to call you, does it bother you?” Marcus never even moved to let her walk on her own, he kept his arms firmly on her.

“No not at all, it just took me by surprise that’s all. Well you handled him very well I must say, thank you for being such a gentleman.” She kept her snicker quiet but her mouth was a dead giveaway, she couldn’t keep the grin from her lips.

When they got to the stairs to her flat he set her down and followed her up the steps. She was wide awake now so she grabbed the phone as Marcus was putting her bag on her desk.

“Just let me call my mom real quick with dates,” Emily said to him then went into her room.

As she was talking and laughing with her mother, Marcus lit her fire, it was cold in here since there wasn’t a fire all day long so he got a huge one blazing in minutes. Emily must not have noticed that he refilled her wood cache yesterday because she didn’t say anything.

Just when he was done she came up behind him and put her arms around him, “Thanks, you take good care of me!” She kissed his back and let him go. “Come talk to me while I bathe,” she took his hand and led him to her room. She got into the tub and he knelt on the floor next to her and started to wash her back.

While Marcus soaped up her back he asked, “So I take it your mom is happy you have the tickets?”

Emily rolled her eyes towards the ceiling, “My gosh is she happy! I didn’t tell her that you were here or you would’ve never have gotten off the phone. She sends her thanks, and I’m sure my dad will as well since you saved him about $900 for the ticket.”

Marcus just nodded, the tickets weren’t that cheap, he had to pay almost twice as much since he got them on such short notice; and of course they have to fly first class, Marcus couldn’t get his legs into the Coach seats comfortably. Hazily he said, “My pleasure babe.”

Hearing his tone she asked, “You alright today honey, you’re awfully quiet and I don’t think Mort or I got more than three words from you this evening,” Emily looked over at him as he was staring at her back and cleaning it again for the fourth time. She turned around to take the scrubby from his hand, “Talk to me.”

He relinquished the scrubby to her and as she put more soap on it he got up and sat on the toilet lid, “I don’t know. I’m feeling a little melancholy I guess. I’ve been so busy this last week with the Holiday coming up, and since Mary’s been seeing Mort I swear business has tripled. Then a ton of new orders came in, and I want to re-do the shop; we need more modern books in there, there are more young people living here, and I’ve been asking Mort to start carrying text books for the college but he doesn’t want to, he likes it just the way it is. And honestly babe, I miss Alex really bad this week for some reason,” Marcus sighed so heavily and his chin sunk to his chest.

The look on his face made Emily want to cry, he looked so sad! She dropped the soapy cloth and splashed her hands in the water to get the foam off then scooted towards the end of the tub and put her hands on his knees, “Oh Marcus, I’m sorry. Do you think of him a lot still and get sad?”

“Not so much really. I haven’t been sad when I’ve thought of him in the past at times; it’s just this week for some reason and I don’t know why.”

Emily got up to let the water out and dried off. When she was dry she grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him up, “Come on.” She took him to the bed and he sat down, still staring at his shoes. Emily put on her nightgown, another new purchase from Marcus, but this was one that wouldn’t end up in a silky mess on the floor, it was a nice fleece one that was incredibly soft.

She went over, took his shoes off and put his legs on the bed. Emily then pulled the comforter over both of them and she just held him. After a few minutes he looked as though he was confused how he got to the bed then looked over at Emily. He just curled up into the fetal position and she put her arm over him and held him like that until she fell asleep, which wasn’t very long

When morning came Marcus was still there but this time he was behind her with his arm over her. She realized that it was her that rolled over, he looked as though he hadn’t moved one muscle since last night, and he probably didn’t. She got up and he got up with her. They chatted while she got ready for her long day of classes then he walked her to her first building. He was talking but she knew that he was still saddened by missing his long lost brother.

Emily’s mind was not on her classes all day, she kept thinking what could make Marcus so sad. She decided to skip her last class and went straight to the shop. There were a few people in there but not too many, so Marcus had his door closed and Mort was up front by himself.

They said their hellos to each other, talked about the weather and Mary and then Emily asked, “Mort, why is Marcus so sad lately? He was fine last week, then it seemed like yesterday something happened. Do you know what?”

Mort looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was around, “I started thinking about that last night after the dinner conversation, or lack thereof. So I went and looked some stuff up; it would be the anniversary of Alex’s death this week. I think Marcus has lost track of when it happened, but his psyche still knows. Does that make sense?”

Emily sat back into Mary’s little chair and exhaled, “Whoa, that’s heavy. He said that he cannot stop thinking of Alex but he didn’t know why, said that he’s missing him so much this week.”

Mort looked a little perplexed, then got a mischievous little smirk, “Well then, only one way to fix that I think,” his face brightened up a bit, “we’ll go to the cemetery tomorrow and say hello. Good ol’ Fitzgerald tradition!” He slapped Emily on the knee, “Now get back there and put a smile on that boy’s face, he’s killing me today!”

“Err, sure. Fitzgerald tradition?” Emily was confused but said no more, she had the answer that she was looking for. She went back to the room and it was locked, she tapped lightly and said, “Marcus it’s me.” After waiting a minute and when he didn’t respond she went back up front, “He didn’t answer it and the door’s locked.”

“Bloody hell,” Mort said as he took a key from under the counter and handed it over to her. She took the key and went back to the locked door by herself.

When she opened the door she was startled to see the lights off, she flipped them on and no one was in there, Marcus was nowhere to be seen. She decided to check upstairs and took the ones that led from this room up to their house. When she emerged into the living room she heard music ever so faintly. “Marcus?” she called out quietly. She went to his room and knocked lightly on the closed door then twisted the handle. The door was unlocked and she opened it slowly.

There was Marcus on the floor of his room with pictures all around him. His face looked as though he had been crying, but she knew that he couldn’t have been, “Honey?” was all that she said and Marcus looked up at her with a twisted face.

“Yesterday. Yesterday it happened,” he let a tiny painting slip from his hands and fall back to the pile scattered all around him.

Emily dropped her bag by the door and went over to him, she noticed that the pictures were either small paintings, drawings or daguerreotypes, which looked as though they would fall apart if you breathed on them. She knelt down next to him and took a breath in.

Before she exhaled Marcus quickly leaned over and took her in his arms and he started to cry again. Not with the intensity of the time with the memory of his mother, but he cried the same way, his way. She just held on to him and rocked him gently back and forth. She kissed his head and rubbed his back, all of the things her mother would do for her when she was very upset. After a long time she finally had to move because she could no longer feel her legs below the knees, and shifted her position. When she did he held her tighter, “Please don’t go!”

Soothing him she answered, “I’m not going anywhere baby, I just need to move my legs.”

Marcus seemed to snap out of his daze, “Oh of course, why are we on the floor? Let’s sit on the couch” Marcus got up and took her by both hands and lifted her to her feet.

Shaking the blood back into her legs she asked, “Marcus, how long have you been sitting like this?” Emily was genuinely concerned for him now.

“What?” He looked around him like he had no clue what was going on. Then he looked down at the circle of pictures with the empty space in the middle, “Bloody hell…I guess for a while. These are pictures that Alex and Margaret had in their home when I first came back,” he bent down and picked up one to show Emily, “this is of Alex and her with Mort Sr. Of course I had as many pictures taken of the family once I came back out of reclusion.”

Emily gently handled the corner of the thick paper that the exquisitely detailed oil painting was on, “Very handsome family, cute baby!” She handed the picture back to Marcus and he gingerly placed it on his bookshelf leaning it against some books so he could see it. She then noticed the picture of the two of them that he put there as well on Thanksgiving night.

Emily went and sat down on the couch as Marcus bent over and picked up all of the pictures that he had scattered on the floor, “This was so careless of me, these need to be in glass, not on my bloody floor!” Saying nothing she just let him clean up and put the pictures back into the box where they usually lived. He put the box in his closet then sat down next to her.

Gently taking his hand Emily asked, “Mort says that we need to do a ‘Fitzgerald Tradition’? What’s that?”

Marcus lightly stroked the top of her hand but kept his face stoic, “He said that? When?”

“Right before I came up here, I left my last class to come and check on you and he told me why you must be so upset. What is the tradition?”

Not answering he almost snapped, “Why did you skip a class for me? Don’t be ridiculous, please don’t ever do that again.”

Emily looked at him and furrowed her brow together, “You just shut it Craig Marcus Fitzgerald! I will skip any and every damn class that I want to when it comes to you. You’ve had me beside myself with worry all day for you!”

Marcus looked shocked to be spoken to that way then looked down at her hand that he was still absently rubbing, “Sorry Doll.”

“Oh come now babe,” she took his chin in her hand and pulled up so she could look into his eyes, “I love you, and I will always make sure you are doing well in any way that I can. Do you understand that? You are the world to me and I hate seeing you like this! So whatever this tradition is, we’re doing it tomorrow to help you through this!”

Marcus chuckled, “The tradition… funny that he said that.”

“So… are you going to tell me what it is now?”

Marcus paused for a second to collect his thought, he then began, “After Mort Sr. passed Morty and I started a tradition when he was still pretty young. Whenever someone dies, or we miss the one that has passed then we go to their grave with a token, something that they loved, or something that reminds us of them; we place it on the grave, say what we need to, then have a little party to celebrate them.” Marcus then started to laugh. Emily looked at him puzzled and smiled in confusion and that made him laugh even more.

“Emily, you’re the best, you and Morty are just the absolute best!” He hugged her then took her by the hand and went downstairs via the back stairwell to his office.

He turned on the light with a grumble and went out the door to the shop. There were two young gals by the door and it startled them when he opened it in a rush, “Sorry ladies, didn’t mean the scare!” He said with a flash of smile then drug Emily behind him to the front counter. Emily heard one of the girls make a quip about his ass and she turned to look at the girl. The boisterous announcer was giggling with her buddy and when they caught Emily’s nasty stare they both turned around back to the shelf they were browsing through.

Once at the counter Marcus let go of Emily’s hand and bent down to hug Mort, he whispered in his ear, “Nephew, you are too good to me sometimes, thank you!”

Mort turned to look at Emily and she had the same confused expression on her face and she shrugged her shoulders, “I just told him what your suggestion was, then he started to laugh and drug me down here.”

Marcus turned from her to Mort, “Remember what started the tradition?”

Emily looked at Mort and when he started to laugh she slapped Marcus on the shoulder, “Are the two of you going to fill me in here?”

A few of the customer’s looked over at the joyful trio and smiled, they just all figured the family was having a good joke and enjoyed the merriment and kept browsing.

Marcus took her by the hand again, “I’ll tell you back here.” They left Mort still chuckling up at the counter as he rung up a man with a handful of paperbacks.

When the couple passed the girls again and they started to giggle and quickly darted their gazes from Marcus’ face back to the books, Emily knew that Marcus must have given them his beaming grin… that would melt any girl. Emily decided not to look at them again but looked at his ass, her ass, and followed it into his office. He closed the door behind her then took her in his arms and kissed her, “Sorry, that was the greeting I should have given you earlier. Please sit, tea?”

Emily sat down once he released her, “No, I’m fine thanks.”

Marcus sat across from her in the chair, “Okay, the tradition. Well like I said we started it when Mort Sr. passed. Let’s see, Morty must have been fifteen or so I guess, you know how I am with that stuff. Anyway, we went to his grave because Morty was missing him pretty badly, maybe a year or so after he died… well he gave his Papa his little token, I think it was a toy car, can’t remember that either. But then it came to the point where we were to have a party and celebrate; well Morty wasn’t able to get into a bar, and I didn’t drink, so Morty led me to a park that used to be by the cemetery and he brought out a bottle of root beer for himself and some cakes. He gave me the slyest grin, looked around him then took out a canteen and handed it to me. I asked him what it was and he told me to just drink it, I opened it and smelled the contents, it was, well, blood. I was aghast and looked at him then he got into a fit of giggles. When he was finally able to catch his breath he told me that he took one of his father’s chickens and killed it, drained the blood from it just for me.”

Marcus then started to chuckle himself, “Now I know that doesn’t sound funny at all, but if you knew Mort Jr., well it would be hysterical. I told you already that Jr. didn’t like me, well Sr. and Morty always held a grudge against him for that. Jr. had these chickens that he loved. I mean loved! He tended to them like they were his children. He used them for their eggs, and he had a cock that he was always trying to breed with his best hens, it was his little project. So Morty took his prize hen and took her blood for me.” Marcus smiled again, “Morbid I know. But to see the look of triumph on little Morty’s face, that he did that to his father for me. Good blood too.”

Emily was sort of grossed out by the story, it wasn’t hysterical either, but she could see their humor in it. And she really didn’t care about what she thought of the story, Marcus was smiling again and that’s all that mattered. “Did Jr. ever find out what happened?”

“Don’t know, I never heard of it so I’m sure Morty told him some crazy story, we’ll have to ask him.” Marcus leaned back and had the look of going down memory lane in his eye.

Emily didn’t want him to go too far back so she brought him back to the present, “So hey, now that I’m here, let’s keep that smile on your face!”’ She was going to suggest getting dinner started for Mort since that always kept her and Marcus in good spirits when they were in a kitchen together, but he took it another way.

“Okay!” He dashed for the door and locked it then took her by the hand again and pulled her to her feet.

“I was thinking the kitchen Marcus…” Emily shook her head and guffawed.

Beaming even more he yipped, “Oh, sure,” then he led her up the stairs and into his kitchen. Once there he put her on top of the counter and started to undo her blouse.

Startled that she was now sitting on marble and was no longer downstairs, Emily hissed, “Marcus! I meant cooking in the kitchen; you’re amazing!”

Purring as he slipped one hand under her blouse, “I know. On both accounts, I’ll be cookin’ in just a sec.” He started to kiss her and she gave in, maybe too easily she thought, but that thought lasted only a split second.

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