Ten months later
"Pal, get down from there!"
El stood with her hands on her hips frustrated. This was the third time this week. They had rented a nice house with a backyard on the outskirts of the city. It was a nice location at first but however Paladin had taken to climbing the tree in the backyard but couldn't get himself back down.
The cat drew back from the branch until it reached the trunk of the tree and meowed down at El. Each time he did this Mike insisted that El be the one to go and fetch him down. It was a part of the trust building exercise that was needed for them to bond. Mike got that gibberish from the pet therapist whose website he had consulted on before they had left New York. Mike had said that he was tired of El and Paladin not getting along and that he had wanted them to resolve their issues. At first El had thought that Mike had been joking when he mentioned the therapist. It wasn't until Mike had pulled out this guy's card, El realized that he had been serious. She had been adament about not following the advice because she found it silly, well that was until Mike told her that it would mean a lot to him if she and Paladin got along. And well, El wasn't one to deny Mike anything especially when it was followed by puppy dog eyes and a sweet kiss.
El sighed and kicked off her shoes. She grabbed the first branch and hauled herself up until she reached the cat. She was just thankful that the tree wasn't that tall. She picked up Paladin who latched on to her vest. His tiny claws ripping through the material and pricking his skin.
"Hey, not so tight."
Paladin meowed in response as El held him in one arm and began her descent.
"I have a feeling that you do this on purpose."
Paladin meowed again and El took it as confirmation. As soon as her bare feet touched the grass, the cat scampered down and ran inside the house.
El carefully lit the candles that she had arranged around the sunken jacuzzi. It was on the deck outside of their bedroom overlooking the now twilight infused backyard. She wasn't really good at the romantic thing. That was more of Mike's forte. However, somehow to her, tonight felt good for some romance.
The week that they had come down to check out Las Vegas, Mike had made some enquiries and immediately found there was plenty of work, so much so that he was able to start his own consultancy practice. From top hotels to companies that were based in LA, apparently Mike had the experience and credentials they were looking for and other than a little tired when he was travelling he seemed to be happy with how things were working out. His success made her chest feel warm.
She lit the last candle and admired the pretty, soft flickering flames glowing against the dark wood of the floor. The temperature had dipped significantly as it tended to in a desert and El could feel the coolness circulating in the air.
"There you are."
El stood up, smiling bashfully as Mike joined her on the deck.
"What's all of this?" Mike folded his arms and cocked his head to a side smirking at El.
"I...uh..." El found herself being surprisingly shy and tousling her hair. "I just wanted to do something nice...for you." She sheepishly glanced up at Mike and then back down to the ground.
She heard Mike stepping closer to her and then his arms pulling her in close. Her own arms locking around Mike's waist. Her head resting on her boyfriend's chest. Fingers gently raked through her unruly hair and a kiss being pressed to her crown.
It was then that El realized that this was what she needed the most. Mike's approval. The comfort in knowing that what she did, as little as it was, didn't go unappreciated. It had taken some long talks and leaps of faith on both of their parts to bring them to where they are now. She could feel the constant rise and fall of Mike's chest against her own and it brought with it a serenity that she hadn't know in her life before and she wanted to keep it as long as possible.
"So Dustin, Lucas and Max are flying in next week." Mike said as he placed his wine glass down on the decking.
The shadows from the flames were flickering across El's face as she sat at the opposite end of the jacuzzi. That messy hair almost obscuring one golden eye. A warm glow on healthy tanned skin. Lips tinted a rosier colour from the wine. El was everything that he had ever wanted. The darkness of the night was their backdrop.
He watched as she flicked the water with her slender fingers. "So you think Dustin has fully forgiven me yet?"
Mike laughed softly. "I think so." He stretched his fingers through the water to meet El's. He gave her a slight tug and instinctively his girlfriend moved closer until she was straddling Mike's lap.
He admired the way how the soapy water slid over El's chest and flat stomach. El had taken to running in the surrounding desert and it was doing amazing things to her body. Mike leaned in, inhaling the fresh scent of the bubbles as he planted a kiss on El's collarbone. He let his lips linger there as he spoke to El. "Or is there something else on your mind?"
Trust Mike to know that there was something else. Her fingers twisted through a strand of his dark hair as she contemplated her answer. "I'm sorry that I haven't been able to find a permanent job. It's kinda hard out there when there is literally nothing that you can put on your resume."
Mike's arm circled El's back. " Hey, it's okay. I make more than enough to support both of us. You'll figure something out."
"I just feel like such a mooch." El sighed and Mike kissed her softly.
"Hey none of that talk. You used all what you had saved in supporting us when we first moved out here and towards the down payment on this place. Now it's my turn. I don't want you to do anything that you're not comfortable with just to make some money." Mike moved one hand underneath the water to cup El's ass. "I love you too much for that."
It had never ceased to amaze Mike how a simple kiss from El could send tingles straight down his spine. How the natural symphony of their lips and tongues moving to an ingrained rhythm turned him on beyond belief. The press of El's thumb against his collar bone and her naked self sat across his lap helped as well.
His tongue flicked over El's nipple as his first finger entered her. The honey haired girl moaned so loudly that Paladin scampered out on to the deck to see what was the matter. When he saw what the two were up to, he curled up in a corner of the deck and watched with rapt attention. That cat was always too nosy for its own good Mike thought as he continued to work his fingers into El.
She was marking his neck with her lips and teeth as Mike continued to work her. He could feel his cock pulsing underwater as he removed his fingers. He needed to be inside of her at this very moment. Instinctively El positioned herself without stopping her assault on Mike's neck and shoulder. Mike pressed the head of his cock against El's entrance and pushed it in slowly.
El's moan of pleasure as Mike entered her sent a jolt down Mike's spine. Her eyes closed. She panted hotly against Mike's neck as her fingers fought for purchase on the slippery skin.
"Fuck!" The way how El said it as Mike started to pump his hips into her turned him on even more. But El was giving it as good as she got as she rotated her hips on Mike's cock and kept their lips locked together.
This was the very essence of them. Mike and El. The push and the pull. The heavy and the light. The tension and chemistry. They were okay apart but together they were everything. They were friends, lovers and some would even say soulmates. They drew on each other's strengths and covered the other's weaknesses. Their lips tore apart as they came together, unable to keep the momentum bottled up inside. They panted into each other's mouths as they tried to steady their racing hearts.
El was looking at him through half opened hazy eyes and Mike grabbed the back of her head to keep it steady.
"Through sickness and health, for richer or poorer." His eyes locked with El's. "Remember, we're going to saying that for real next week." El nodded her head in understanding. "I mean every single word of that."
The haze left the golden eyes and they became clear and bright once more. She loved the man whose lap that she was still sitting on more than life itself and it no longer scared her like it used to. Instead she embraced it and looked forward to having the family she had always wanted. She rubbed her thumb over Mike's bottom lip. "Me too, always."