Feisty Francesca

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#67 Keeping secrets from your girl isn’t cool

James and I are meeting at the coffee place across from my apartment, and I just spent the past two hours with Thomas and the General, watching cartoons and catching up. A few weeks back, I decided to just cut the crap and accept what has been true for a long time now: General Fluffington isn’t my cat anymore. He should be with Thomas. I miss that little furball, but he didn’t like living at Josh’s apartment. He liked Joshua just fine, that wasn’t not the problem, but you could tell he missed Thomas. And Thomas missed the hell out of the General, so I moved the litter box and some other cat stuff into Thomas’ place a month ago, giving him full custody of our baby.

It sucks. I miss him. It’s only fair though, with how much time Thomas has spent taking care of the General over the years. Joshua told me we can get another cat if I want to, but I’m not ready for that. It would feel like cheating on the General.

James is already waiting for me at the table in the corner, and there’s a piping hot cappuccino waiting for me. I hug him in greeting, a little surprised at how good he looks. Was he always this buff, or has he been working out even more than he used to? He’s wearing a white shirt with a deep V-neck, showing off the red and black tattoos on his chest, making me remember all his other tats, and that piercing further down…

A shiver goes through me, and I grit my teeth as I sit down. I don’t want James like that anymore, and there’s not a single cell in my body that would ever so much as consider cheating on Joshua, but there’s no denying that James and I had a hot, steamy relationship and that I get a little flustered remembering the way he used to fuck me, unleashing the beast inside of him.

“You look great,” James says with a smile. “I love the pink hair. It suits you. Oh wow, you got another tattoo?” He takes my wrist in his hand, running his fingers over the small music note. “Beautiful. I like the eyebrow piercing too. You look even more beautiful than you did when we were together.”

“Thanks,” I say, squeezing his hand. “You look good too. Have you been working out more?”

James shrugs. “Yeah. Have to do something with my spare time now that I’m no longer dating, right?”

Okay, wow, that’s sounds kinda sad. I just smile and take back my hand so I can sip my coffee. “How have you been?” I ask tentatively. I hope he’s doing good. He deserves a happy life.

“Great!” His smile is bright and lights up the entire coffee shop. “I’m still in therapy, and I’m finally working through losing my sister and everything that happened after. I went on two dates a while back, but I realized I don’t need a girl to fill a hole inside my heart anymore, so I took down my dating profile and I’m now just living my life, hoping I’ll find someone without looking for them. I think it’s healthier that way, you know.”

I nod. I get what he means. “I’m happy for you.”

“I know it’s been a while since we last spoke, and you’re probably already in another relationship, but…” James’ blue eyes search my face. “Is there any chance you’re willing to give us another shot? I may not need someone to complete me anymore, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and you were so good to me, and you were so patient with me through all my crap… I still care about you, and I’d love to see if new and improved James is a better fit for you than old me was.”

Oh crap. I was afraid this was going to happen. “I’m sorry, I’m indeed seeing someone.”

“Let me guess,” James says, sipping his coffee. “Joshua, right?” When I nod, he sighs. “Yeah, I figured. Good for him, I guess. How long have you guys been dating?”

“Five months.”

His eyes widen. “Oh wow, that long, huh? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The way you talked about him back when we were dating, and how you always confided in him… I was scared that you were going to fall for him, and I suppose I was right to worry.”

“Nothing ever happened while you and I were together,” I tell him. “And I didn’t go straight to his place when you broke up with me or anything. It took me a while to get over you.” I don’t want him to think I cheated on him or that I didn’t hurt after losing him. James is doing so well, working through his issues, and if he thinks another girl cheated on him… I don’t want to be the cause of him reverting to old patterns.

“I know,” James assures me. “You’re a great girl, Franny. You were an amazing girlfriend. I was lucky to have you while it lasted.”

“I was lucky to have you too.”

We’re silent for a long time, looking away from each other. This is awkward. With Thomas, I fell back into my old friendly pattern with him without even meaning to do so, but with James it feels different. We weren’t friends before we started dating, so maybe that’s it. I don’t think we’ll be hanging out again after this, and I’m okay with that. Our relationship thought me a lot about myself, and I will always be grateful to him for that, but we’re nothing more than exes to each other now.

After thirty more minutes of small talk, we part ways and I walk all the way to Josh’s place, since my car is there. The weather is nice, so I don’t mind the walk. I use the time to think about everything that James said, and I have to admit it’s nice that he wasn’t surprised that I’m with Joshua now. In a weird way, it’s comforting to know that other people can see how well Joshua and I mash, how suited we are for each other.

Joshua is in the kitchen making us dinner, cursing when he cuts his finger. I smile to myself, take off my shoes and coat, and get him a band aid. He’s such a clutch that we keep them in the kitchen drawer. He runs his dumb under the faucet and smiles at me when I dry him with a kitchen towel, making sure that the small cut is clean before I put the band aid over it.

“Thanks, nurse Berger,” he says with a little smile.

I wrap my arms around him. “Hey, baby.”

He grunts when I kiss his neck, and he picks me up to lift me onto the kitchen counter, stepping between my parted legs. “How was coffee with James?” he asks between kisses.

“Good,” I say honestly. “A little awkward, but it was good to see him.”

“Did he try to get you to take him back?” Joshua asks knowingly, his eyes meeting mine. He’s not jealous or worried, but he’s been telling me that James wants to get me back from the moment I told him I was going to grab a cup of coffee with him.

“Maybe,” I admit with a little smile. “Obviously, I told him I’m with you now.”

“Sucks to be him,” Joshua says with a hint of a smirk that makes him look so fucking sexy. “Wanna help me with dinner?”

“No,” I say, kissing him again.

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“Yeah, I am, but not for food.”

Joshua chuckles when I grab his ass. “Subtle, Franny.”

“Are you complaining about me being turned on by you?” I ask, moving a hand between us so I can cup his cock through his pants.

“Fuck no,” he grunts, picking me up from the counter and walking us through the living room. Before we’re even halfway to the bedroom, his arms are shaking from holding me up.

I laugh and slide down his body, kissing him softly. He’s not nearly as strong as Aston and James, but it’s cute that he tries. I don’t need a man who can carry me through his house, I just need a man who loves me and treats me right. And Josh does. He really does.

“I need to hit the gym,” Joshua grumbles, annoyed with himself.

“Sure,” I say, pulling him into the bedroom with me. “Because you if you don’t have building muscles, I will fall out of love with you in a heartbeat. It’s not like you have other good qualities or anything. Besides, maybe it’s not you. I might just have gotten too heavy to be thrown around the way I used to. I did gain a couple of pounds since we first met.” That’s not even a lie. I had to get some new pants and bras because I did gain some weight. I just love lounging around with Joshua too much, pigging out on pizzas and beers. I never work out anymore, and it’s not like I went to the gym often before getting together with him anyway.

“You look amazing,” Joshua assures me, pushing me down onto the matrass. “I like having a little more booty to hold at night.”

I laugh and push him off, climbing on top so I’m straddling him. “Are you quoting a goddamn Meghan Trainor song to me, Joshie boy?”

He grabs my ass and grinds against me, groaning as he grows harder against me. “I love you,” he says, looking up into my eyes. “Can we please fuck now? I’m so fucking hard for you.”

I pull off my shirt and bra, moaning when he pinches my nipples. We get each other naked in under a minute, and Joshua goes down on me, making me scream out his name when I come, shuddering and panting. He moves on top to enter me, but I roll us over and move down his body so I can wrap my lips around his quivering cock, moaning around him when I taste his sweet precum.

“Fuck fuck fuck,” he groans when he comes after just a few minutes, filling up my mouth. “Oh, fuck, sorry, I wanted to hold out.”

I swallow and wipe my mouth, snuggling up to him. “There’s always round two after dinner, right?”

He grunts and squeezes my ass. “Hell yeah. Let’s get to cooking. The sooner we eat, the sooner I can get you back here, screaming my name.”

We get out of bed and put on some comfortable clothes, since we won’t be going anywhere tonight. During dinner, we talk about me meeting his parents, and Joshua tries to ease my nerves as best as he can, but I’m still antsy.

They have to like me. They just have to.

***

Joshua’s arm around me is all that’s keeping me from turning around and running away. I’ve never met the parents of a guy I’m dating, and I hardly ever eat at a restaurant this fancy, so I’m doubly nervous. He squeezes my hip and kisses my cheek, feeling me tremble.

“They’ll love you,” he tells me for the millionth time. “They’re just normal people, Fran, and I’ve been telling nothing but wonderful things about you, since there are only good things to say anyway, so they have no reason to hate you. Stop worrying. It’ll be fine.”

“Yeah,” I breathe. “Just don’t stop loving me, okay?”

He laughs and shakes his head. “Don’t be ridiculous, Franny. Come on, we’re going in.”

The restaurant is fancier than anywhere I’ve even been. I felt overdressed in my purple gown back at Josh’s apartment, but now I’m happy I went to get the dress from my apartment earlier this week. Last time I wore it was during a date with James, and I’m happy it still fits even though I gained some weight. Thank God for stretchy material and spanks, huh?

“Joshua!” a woman in her fifties with dyed brown hair and pearls around her neck is waving at us from a table on the other side of the restaurant. People are looking at her because she’s so loud, but she doesn’t seem to care. “Over here!”

We make our way over to his parents, Joshua’s hand on the small of my back. He’s in a black suit and he looks absolutely gorgeous. It’s clear that he takes after his dad. His father is taller than he is, but he’s got the same curls, although his are almost completely gray. His blue-grayish eyes are the same as well, and they take me in with a smile.

“You must be Francesca,” he says in a deep voice that resembles Joshua’s vaguely. “Nice to finally meet you.”

“Likewise,” I say, trying to keep my voice from trembling. “Happy birthday.”

“Oh my God, you look even prettier than you do in all those pictures Joshie has been sending us!” His mother pulls me in for a hug, smiling brightly. Her posh British accent sounds the same as it did over the phone, but now that I can match a face to the voice, it sounds warmer. I made her out to be a posh, privileged, snobby woman in my mind, but she doesn’t look like that at all, even with the pearls and the designer clothes.

We sit down and a waiter brings over four champagne flutes. We toast to Mr. Chambers’ birthday, and then we get our menus. There aren’t even prices on here, which means that I’d probably only be able to afford a glass of water in this place. Jesus, Joshua comes from a very different family than I do. Dad had a job that paid well, but we didn’t have more than one house, no one in my family ever owned a pearl necklace, and we never ate at places like this. And then when he died and Mom struggled to make ends meet, we lived in the small apartment she’s still living at now. Our idea of a fancy meal was ordering sushi.

“Tell us all about you, Francesca,” Mrs. Chambers says with a kind smile. “Although I think we must already know everything there is to know by now. Joshie never talks about anything or anyone else since he met you.”

I smile at that and I feel Joshua’s hand squeezing mine under the table. “I’m a nurse,” I say, taking a sip of champagne. “I used to work in the ER, but now I’m a pediatric nurse.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful,” Mrs. Chambers says with a sigh. “Such a meaningful job. Quite different from me selling handbags online.”

Joshua laughs. “Mom, you love your job.”

She smiles fondly at her son. “Such a shame you’re not interested in going into fashion. Although I get that working at your dad’s firm is more your style than joining me at my company.” She looks at me with curiosity. “Maybe I can convince my future daughter in law to get out of her scrubs and work in fashion. You sure look the part, dear.” She gestured at my hair and piercings. “I think you’d have an eye for it.”

I almost choke on my champagne when she calls me her future daughter in law. And to think I was worried about her not liking me. “I think I’ll stick to nursing,” I manage to croak out.

Joshua talks to his mother for a while, mostly about classes and family members, and they both make sure that I feel included, explaining things to me and asking me questions. Joshua has his mother’s sweet nature for sure, although I do see what he means about her being overbearing. She keeps calling him Joshie like he’s 5 years old and when our appetizers arrive, she actually wipes his mouth when he spills some sauce. Yeah, I get that he wanted to move out the second he turned 18. Still, they’re a lovely family.

Josh’s father is silent, but not in an awkward way. He just listens to his wife talk and he grunts in response a few times. He listens carefully to every word all three of us say and asks a few questions, but he seems like the strong and silent type. Josh may look like him, but they couldn’t be more different in demeanor. The only time Joshua shuts up for that long is when he’s asleep.

“So,” Mr. Chambers says in his deep voice, his eyes on Joshua. “You and Francesca are serious?”

Oh wow. Okay. Time for the heavy talk, I guess.

“Yes,” Joshua says without blinking. “We’ve been together for five months now, I love her, and she’s basically living with me.”

Mr. Chamber’s nods. “Very well. And how old were you again, Francesca?”

“26,” I answer, happy to see nothing but interest in his eyes. No disapproval as far as I can see.

“I always figured Joshua would end up with someone older than him,” his mother says, beaming. “He’s so mature. Even back in high school he was never a rude teenager or anything.”

“Should I add her name to the lease?” Mr. Chambers asks Joshua.

“The lease?” he asks, sounding dumbfounded. “Oh, to my apartment, you mean? She’s still got her own place, Dad, so that’s not necessary yet.”

“No, your new place in London,” his father goes on. “Since graduation is only two months away, I started looking for places for you to move to, and I found two great apartments, so I’ll send you the details so you can pick one. Like I said, I’d be happy to add Francesca’s name to the lease, if that’s what you want. Or are you going to try long-distance?”

What. The. Fuck.

I turn to Joshua for answers, but he looks just as shocked as I feel.

“Long-distance?” he repeats, his eyes still on his father. “W-what?”

“Yeah, when you move to London after graduation, to work at our office there,” he says with a frown. “Surely you’ve told Francesca that you’ll be leaving the States in two months?”

“No,” I say, my voice tight. “No, he didn’t.”

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