Slow and Steady
“Dad, that doesn’t go there!” I groan at my father when he puts a box on the kitchen counter. “It’s labeled ‘bathroom’ for a reason!”
Dad huffs and glares at me as he grabs the box and heads through the bedroom into the en-suite bathroom. I turn my glare on Beau, who has been watching my little episode with Dad, and I grab his waist and push him out the door in front of me so he can grab more boxes. Gemma’s car got a flat tire on her way up here, so we’re stuck unloading this trailer all by ourselves, even though most of it is mine.
“You’re getting bossy and it’s kinda hot.” Beau teases when I hand him a kitchen box and tell him to wait so I can stack another one on top.
“Not the time, Beau.” I grumble, annoyed because I woke up with a crick in my back from sleeping on an uncomfortable dock, and for some god forsaken reason, I decided to ruin my favorite matching bra and panty set last night. I hadn’t even been drinking, either, when I decided I wanted to skinny dip.
“That side isn’t hot.” He mutters, carrying my two piled boxes into the house as Dad emerges.
“Honey, you have too much shit. And I mean that in the most loving way.” Dad sighs as he takes in the ¾ of the trailer that we still have to unpack. Most of the stuff at the front is all of Gemma’s stuff though, and the middle part is our couch and dining room table that we managed to scrounge up enough money to buy, along with a washer and dryer that should be delivered to the house tomorrow.
“I only have too many clothes. Other than that, I only have a few pairs of shoes, and the rest of the stuff in the kitchen and bathroom stuff that I need.” I shrug, grabbing the last box of kitchen stuff that I couldn’t stack onto Beau’s pile.
“I’m pretty sure you don’t need 4 different types of hairspray.” Beau chuckles, coming back out the door. “Or 2 different brands of shampoo and conditioner in your shower at all times.”
“Shut up. I didn’t ask to have to share a bathroom with you, so you’re not allowed to judge what I have in there and what I don’t. It was my bathroom first.” I stick my tongue out at my boyfriend, who returns the gesture while grabbing another box from me.
“You two are so childish.” Dad chuckles, taking in our interaction. “It’s a wonder you haven’t killed each other already.”
“Hey, if I had to share with Bryndle for all those years, I’m pretty sure I can deal with Beau’s Old Spice shampoo in my shower. At least he doesn’t hog the sink with the tons of makeup that Mom used to buy Bryn.” I wink at Beau, who rolls his eyes and disappears into the house.
“Your mom did used to buy her a lot of makeup. But then again, she was the more girly of the two of you – still is actually.” Dad smiles, and I hand him a box loaded down with my shorts before grabbing a box of t-shirts and tank tops.
“When’s Gemma supposed to be here?” Beau asks, appearing in my closet where Dad and I are dropping our boxes.
“Soon. She said the guy who came and fixed her tire left about fifteen minutes ago, and she was about an hour out when she called.” I shrug, sure she’ll get her when she gets here. It’s not like it’s a huge deal to unpack her boxes.
“Okay, well, I’m going to go grab pizza for lunch since we haven’t eaten since 7. I’ll unhook the trailer and be back before you know it. Beau, what kind of pizza do you want?” Dad asks, heading towards the door.
“I’ll eat whatever you bring. I’m not picky about my pizza.” He answers, following him out the door to grab more boxes while I start hanging shirts up so they don’t wrinkle too badly.
“Is he gone?” I ask as soon as Beau drops my last box of clothes on the floor beside me and wraps his arm around my waist, pulling me from my clothes.
“Mhm. All alone for twenty minutes at least. I wonder what we can do with that time?” He asks seductively, kissing me deeply as he tugs my waist to his. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than kiss the man I love, and so my fingers run through his short hair and I raise up on my tip-toes to be closer to his lips.
“God, I could get drunk on your lips.” He mutters after breaking away from me and moving his lips to my neck.
“Just think about you spending weekends here with me. We won’t have to worry about Dad walking in on us anymore, and we can be free to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Won’t that be so nice?” I sigh, feeling myself melting into him when his tongue traces over the extra sensitive spot below my ear.
“I’m excited just thinking about it.” He murmurs against my skin before moving his lips back to mine and softly gripping the back of my neck as he runs his fingers through the hair at the base of my neck that has fallen out of the bun on top of my head. “We’ll be able to actually sleep in the same bed without one of us leaving or sleeping on the floor.”
“I can’t wait.” I answer, pulling away from him and just wrapping my arms around his waist in a hug. “We’re going to make this distance thing work.”
“I know we are.” Beau smiles, softly kissing the back of my head before deciding that we probably better drag a few more boxes in, along with the bed frame I bought in a consignment store for about 10% of what the heavy red oak would normally cost. Dad couldn’t believe his eyes when I brought the thing home on the back of the feed truck one day, and he was even more impressed that I got it so cheap.
Almost four hours later, our entire house is fairly put together. Dad and Beau headed back about an hour ago, but Beau promised he’d come back up here this weekend since Gemma is going to New York with Fernando to help him settle in to his dorm. I can’t wait to spend some actual alone time with him.
“So how long do you think it’ll take for us to unpack the rest of these boxes?” Gemma asks, sprawling across my lap.
“Probably the rest of our lives at the rate we’re going.” I chuckle, taking in the living room full of boxes. I’m currently using one labeled “kitchen shit” as a foot stool, and I start laughing at Beau’s way of labeling the boxes, trying to find another one he wrote. Box-O-Junk is another one and I give up.
“How are you and Beau doing? I mean, y’all have only been together, what, a month? Do you think the distance thing is going to work?” Gemma asks, looking at the TV that unfortunately won’t be set up until tomorrow.
“I hope so. I mean, it’s not like he’s going to be 6 states away, like Fernando is.” I tease, messing with her hair that has been fanned out over my leg. “Come on, we should finish unpacking.”
I stand up and grab the ‘kitchen shit’ box and heave it into the kitchen so I can find homes for the pots and pans and silverware while Gemma complains about putting together our coffee table. After about 20 minutes, she decided we needed music, so she plugged her phone into the portable speaker and we turned our unpacking party into a dance party. When I see Beau’s Skype call coming through, I force Gemma to turn the music down while I disappear into my bedroom to talk to him.
“Hey babe, getting settled in okay?” He asks as soon as I see his face pop up on my laptop screen.
“Gem and I have been unpacking and having a dance party at the same time.” I smile, catching my breath from doing the dance to Copperhead Road. I tied my hair up in a knot on top of my head hours ago pieces are beginning to fall out.
“That sounds like a blast. At least you’re not sweating bullets in the loft like I am. Stel, I think it’s the hottest night of summer tonight.” He groans, and I can’t deny that I’ve been looking at his chest, which is about all that’s visible besides his gorgeous face. “It’s probably a good thing you’re not here actually, because then I’d want to be touching you all the time. But it’s way too hot out here for that.”
“If I were there, we’d be in my room, Beau.” I chuckle, crawling with my laptop into my bed. “You could go inside and sleep in my room though. It’s not like anybody’s going to be staying there anymore.”
“You will be! You’re coming home every now and then, remember?” He laughs, and stands up. “By the way, I think someone misses you already.”
The next image that pops up on the screen is a half-asleep Zeus with a mouthful of hay. “Hi boy!” I grin when I see him, and his eyes open and he stares at the screen, apparently trying to figure out why I’m in a box and not in front of him. “Beau, will you give him an apple for me?”
“Of course.” He laughs, and puts the computer on a hay bale so I can see Zeus.
“I miss you already, boy, but Beau’s going to take real good care of you and I’ll be home as soon as I can. I promise.” I blow him a kiss when I see Beau enter the frame and give Zeus the apple and an ear scratch.
“Are you going to make that same promise to me?” Beau asks with a grin, grabbing the computer back.
“Yeah, but you’re coming here again before I come home. Hey, I want to see Tank before you go back upstairs.”
He takes the computer down the stable to the stall Tank is still sharing with Lucy, and he lets me peek in on the sleeping colt before dragging me back upstairs. “It’s going to be so weird without you here again. I’m going to have to get used to actually packing my lunch instead of waiting for you to bring it to me.”
“I’ll text you every morning to remind you.” I grin, and stand up to change out of my t-shirt and jeans I wore today into a pair of spandex and sports bra.
“Mm, I’m going to miss that view.” Beau sighs, and I glance over my bare shoulder at him leaning back on his pillows with an arm behind his head watching me.
“You still get to see that view, obviously.” I answer, pulling the bra over my head and heading back to bed.
“Stel, I want to say hi to Beau.” Gemma whines, barging into my room as I’m getting ready to pull the covers back.
“Hi Gemma.” Beau rolls his eyes and waves at my best friend.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did I interrupt something?” She laughs, plopping on my bed beside me.
“No, but I’m getting jealous of you being in bed with my girlfriend.” He winks, and I wrap my arms around my best friend’s shoulders and kiss her cheek. “Now I’m really jealous.”
“Shut up, lover boy.” Gemma laughs, and rests her head on my shoulder while I tell Beau about the rest of our day, even though there’s not much to tell. Then, I listen while he talks about his conversation with my dad on the way home, and by the time I’m yawning and saying goodnight, Gemma has completely passed out in my bed.
“What are we doing tonight, Beau?” I ask when his truck pulls into our driveway and I meet him outside, climbing into the passenger’s seat before diving into his arms and hugging him.
“It’s a surprise, but I hope you brought that incredible brain with you.” He grins before I plant an I-missed-you-so-much kiss on his lips. “You’re going to love it though.”
“I won’t love anything that has to do with thinking, Beau. I still have three days before I have to use my brain.” I smirk, settling into the middle seat and resting my temple on his shoulder while he backs out of the driveway and heads towards downtown Savannah.
“Was that your college?” He asks as we pass the College of the Arts and I nod and point to the ceramics building that I’ve already spent a little time in yesterday.
“Yup. Kristen e-mailed me and asked if I’d come in yesterday so she could meet me and the only other freshman ceramics major. She got us all set up then because she’s being featured in a gallery up in Maine next week and wouldn’t be here when our classes actually start.” I blabber about Kristen while Beau continues driving and holding my hand the entire time. “Hey, is this what I think it is?”
Beau pulls into the parking lot of a place I’ve always wanted to go, but never had the friends to go with. “Sure is. I heard you telling Bryndle about the escape room when she was here over the 4th, and I’ve kinda been planning this date for a while now.” Beau chuckles, tugging me out of the truck and through the doors of the building.
As soon as we enter, there’s a check-in desk where we have to sign in and pay $20 a person, but Beau covers mine despite my protests, with an offhanded, “You can buy dinner.” I glare at him as he writes in our team name ‘Beau&Stel’ because there was a maximum of 10 letters, and then drag him to the wait area so we can wait for the team in front of us to come out. The running clock on the outside says they only have 15 minutes remaining to make it out.
“Hey look. The record time is 28 minutes.” Beau chuckles, reading the leaderboard.
“And they had 5 people. Nobody even on the leaderboard only had 2.” I mention, still not letting go of him. It was only four days, and we talked every night, but I still missed him like crazy. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when I’m so busy on the weekends that I won’t be able to go home.
“Hey, we can do it. We’ll put our names up top on that board.” He grins, squeezing my shoulder. “You look nice, by the way.”
I glance down at my white frilly top and dark wash ripped skinny jeans and raise my eyebrow at him. “You must have done something really bad if you’re sucking up this much.” I tease, and he rolls his eyes.
“Nah, I just missed looking at you. Honestly, you could be wearing a trash bag and I’d still find you beautiful.” He murmurs, pressing his forehead into mine before pulling back and kissing it.
“Aw. You’re seriously the best person I’ve ever met, Beau. This is why I love you.” I smile, tipping my head back onto his shoulder as I watch the time tick off their clock.
“No, you love me for plenty of other reasons. Gemma is gone tonight, right?” He asks, a hint of mischief in his voice.
“Mhm. And I can’t wait to spend all night with you. We can sleep in in the morning, not have any responsibilities or parents waking us up early. It’s going to be perfect.” I sigh, and Beau’s fingers tuck into the waistband of my jeans, and I let him leave it there as long he doesn’t start diving deeper. I mean, come on. We’re in public, and the least he can do is wait until we’re home later.
“You sure know how to turn a guy on.” He whispers into my hair, before I turn my head and let him kiss me. God, I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of the way his lips make me feel – warm and loved like no guy will ever love me as much as he does.
“Stop it.” I gasp and smack at his fingers as the door to the escape room bursts open and a group of teenagers about 15 years old comes tumbling out, laughing and yelling at each other. The girl who checked us in comes and resets the room before allowing us to enter.
“So what are we supposed to do now?” Beau asks after the door has been locked behind us. I turn around and glance at the number combination lock that we have to figure out.
“Okay, so we need to start looking around. There’s another door over there that we have to find a key for. Try to find something that looks like it could hold a key.” I tell him, starting to pick up things on the bookshelf. “Pick up anything you think could be used later like a magnifying glass or screw driver.”
When I move a vase, a tiny key appears on the the shelf, apparently hidden beneath. I grab the key, but it looks too small to open the other door, so I start looking around again.
“Hey, I found a safe!” Beau exclaims, pulling out a desk drawer.
“Sweet! I think I have the key to it!” I exclaim, hurrying over and quickly become frustrated when not only does the safe require a key, but it requires a colored number sequence. “Ugh. Will you look around the room for something blue, yellow, and red? They’re probably all in a group.”
“What about the books on the shelves? They’re all red, blue, and yellow.” Beau says thoughtfully, and I softly slap his forearm until he goes and counts them. “4 reds, 7 blues, and 2 yellows.”
I quickly put in the color combination and then insert the key, successfully opening the safe! “Good job, Beau!” I exclaim, quickly grabbing the key out of the safe and opening the next door.
In the next room, instead of an office like we were just in, we’re faced with a living room. I glance around the room, trying to figure out what can possibly be hidden in here, and then I glance at the TV.
“This is just a hunch, but I think we should find a remote first. If we can turn the TV on, there might be a clue.” I frown and glance at my boyfriend who is feverishly searching through couch cushions looking for the remote I just mentioned. Then, I think about any boy I’ve dated in the past, and realize that none of them paid attention to me enough to know I’ve always wanted to do one of these rooms, and most of them had known me for years. Beau’s known me for a month and a half and he’s already taking me on dates I’ve wanted to go on for years. Interrupting his search, I walk right over to him and hug his waist tightly, pressing my cheek into his chest until he hugs me back.
“What is this for?”
“For being the best. You have no idea how much this date means to me.” I sigh, knowing I’m wasting time, but not caring either way.
“Come on, Stel. You can hug me all you want tonight. Let’s finish this!” He chuckles, softly grabbing my shoulders and pushes me off his chest.
“You’re right.” I smile, and glance at the coffee table that is one of those hidden compartments, so I open the top and grab the remote. “Found it!” I exclaim, and hurry to turn the TV on. A sequence pops up on the screen that confuses me, but Beau keeps opening drawers in the TV stand, each one containing a block letter from those old children toys, along with a colored shape block.
“What could these possibly be for?” He asks, sitting back and looking at each letter that’s facing out.
“Maybe they’re somehow for another lock?” I suggest, but don’t see another safe. “Wait, there was a filing cabinet in the other room!”
I hurry back into the office and find the filing cabinet that has a lock on each of the four drawers, and each one has a color assigned to it, along with a spot for a number and shape. Beau reads off each of them until I have all four drawers opened and pull out a lock box from one of them, another key, a pair of scissors, and a Sudoku book. Assuming we don’t need the book, I toss it on the desk and carry the other three items back to the living room where Beau is staring at the TV, which now shows a different picture.
“Is that that picture on the wall?” I ask, glancing at a picture frame on the opposite wall.
“Sure is. Maybe there’s something behind it?” Beau suggests, and walks over to the picture, removing it from the wall. “Hey! There’s a key tied to a string on the back of the frame, and there’s another safe!”
I frown at all of the keys and safes we’re finding, but hand Beau the scissors anyway. Unfortunately, the key that was hanging with the safe doesn’t open it, but I remember the key I found in the filing cabinet, which does open it. “What’s that?”
“Uh, it’s a USB flash drive? Was there a computer anywhere?”
“I think there was one in the office.” I frown, and glance at the time on my phone. “Beau, we’ve been in here for 25 minutes.”
“Sweet! I’m going to plug it in.” He says, disappearing into the office while I sit back down on the couch and stare at the sequence that came back on the TV and then at the lock box, until it makes sense how it’s supposed to open. I turn the blocks on the front of the lock box to the direction it’s supposed to be, and then open the box with the key Beau found. “It says to enter a password, Stel. We don’t have a password!”
I pick the piece of paper up that was inside the lockbox, and hurry into the room so I can read it to him. Low and behold, the password unlocks the combination that will get us out of the room in a record time. I race to the door and Beau reads me the numbers while I put the combination in, and when the door opens, I turn around and jump into his arms in celebration.
“Congratulations. You escaped in only 27 minutes, 18 seconds. Your names will be added to our leaderboard immediately.” The girl who was there when we went in smiles at us, and we get to watch while our names replace the group of 5 sitting at the top.
“Good job, babe. We couldn’t have done that without your incredible brain.” Beau smiles as he kisses my temple and hugs me as he’s tugging me out the door. “Now, I’m hungry and I heard the brew house has new brews this month that I’m dying to try.”
I roll my eyes and allow myself to be dragged to his truck. He drives the short distance to the Savannah Brewery, where he proceeds to order the sampler of 15, shows the waitress his ID, and then doesn’t let me have a single sip of them all night.
“Beau, give me the keys.” I laugh as we walk out of the brewery.
“Why? I’m perfectly fine to drive. I’ve been driving for ten years.” He answers, before pulling the keys out of his pocket and handing them to me. “I’m just kidding. I’d never put your life in danger, babe.”
I know he’s nowhere near drunk, but he’s talking a little looser now than what he usually does, so I know all 15 samplers which were more of a full pint than samplers are getting to him. “Hey, just think about my empty house and we’ll be there soon.” I laugh when he tries to wiggle his fingers into the waistband of my jeans again.
“But I want you now.” He halfway growls, and honestly it kinda makes my blood run hot.
“Well you’re going to have to wait.” I answer, slapping at his fingers that succeeded in unbuttoning the top button. “Beau, I’m driving. Do you want me to have a wreck?” I gasp when his fingers don’t leave my pants alone.
“No. I want to be in your bedroom.” He murmurs in my ear, and I grab his hand and hold it to stop him.
“Well stop it, and we’ll be there sooner.” I argue, finally seeing my house come into view. I park in the driveway and quickly re button my pants when I slide out of the truck, followed closely by Beau. Laughing, I follow him inside before being pressed against the wall with his lips on mine forcefully.
“Beau.” I sigh into his mouth as he strips the t-shirt he was wearing, discarding it on my living room floor. “Bedroom.”
He obeys and stumbles through my house until he finds the hallway and eventually the door to my bedroom, where he dumps me on the bed and strips his jeans, crawling on top of me in just his black briefs. Somehow he works my frilly top off, and my bra quickly follows before his lips do some exploring. After I’ve had enough of running my fingers through his hair, I push him off of me and onto his back before straddling his hips and running my fingers across the ripples on his stomach and the hard muscles on his chest. Beau seems to be basking in the look I’m giving him because he’s staring back at me with a happy, lazy smile on his face. “God, I could look at you all night.”
“Mhm. Now shut up and kiss me.” I grin, leaning forward and kissing him.