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It’s late when Rio comes over to go through the books. They do this every so often to make sure they have their shit together—she does not want another nightmare that involves wrong information and taking it to a business deal. Or worse, not organizing their work in multiple places and having things explode when someone comes snooping around. She’s already caught Dean trying to rifle through her things because he can’t stand the fact that he’s so far out of control.

She now keeps fake records in ‘easy’ places for situations like that. But she had to learn that the hard way. Beth had threatened to shoot him and at least the look on her ex’s face that she just might follow through was worth it. 

Taking a sip of coffee that’s not doing well with keeping her alert, she labels another section of their binder with a bright pink tab that makes Rio’s nose scrunch every time. She rolls her eyes in response—she likes to categorize, okay?

You can take the mom out of everyday crafting but you can’t take the crafting out of the mom. She bites her tongue on telling him that though, he seems rather irritable tonight; regardless that he’s barely said ten words to her since he arrived.

While Rio’s always been good at peeling back layers and reading true words under her skin, Beth’s just getting the hang of being able to see him. She’s not always right and he puts a lot of walls up that she has to jump over but if she tries for just long enough, she sees glimpses of the real Rio buried underneath all the distractions he’s giving her instead. He likes keeping her out, enjoys deflecting her and holding her at an arm’s length—because it’s easier than letting her in.

Beth’s persistent, to say the least, and she doesn’t tell him that while he won’t tell her things in so many words, his body language gives a lot up. Rio’s a tactile person as it is, so taking the time to sift through his demeanor gives her an entire roadmap of possibilities.

He was late tonight, later than usual and he doesn’t give her an explanation why. She doesn’t ask. She pours them both coffee and tops it with a finger of bourbon and they get to work, quietly going through numbers and categorizing different levels of their business agenda.

His shoulders are tight, there’s a knot behind his neck and he keeps squinting at papers every so often, which tells her he has a headache. Whatever his day has included, it’s been a long one and thick tension is wrapped around his body like a snake.

His words are sharp, to the point, even though there’s no ire behind what he says. He’s frustrated, but not with her, his language just a byproduct of whatever bullshit he’s had to put up with prior to coming over. Once again, she doesn’t ask—they’re still working on sharing real parts of themselves with one another. It’ll come and she doesn’t want to push it, not with the mood he’s currently in.

Rio stands after he closes the book on Beth’s lap, taking his mug to the sink to rinse out. She watches, follows the long lines of his back as he picks up his coat from the island table.

“I’m out, I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?”

Beth licks her lips and stands, crossing to meet him with quiet steps. She matches his expression with his movements, with the sounds of his voice and it finally dawns on her: he’s tired. Not just tired but worn, bone-deep exhaustion; something she rarely associates with him because he doesn’t display it often. At least not in front of her.

The job, or something, is catching up with him and grabbing him by the heels; holding on tight.

She reaches out and touches his arm, the one not in his jacket yet, “You could…stay here tonight?”

Rio pauses mid-action, considers her for a moment as he traces the contour of her face. He chews on a thought not yet on his tongue and he really must be tired because she can see him connect unspoken dots. In this weary state the walls are falling, making him easier to read.

“Dean has the kids tomorrow, giving me a personal day.” She smiles a little, fingers curling around his long sleeved maroon Henley. “We won’t be bothered. Unless you have something to take care of.” She gives him a way out—just in case he wants one.

He lets out a long sigh, taking his coat off again and placing it back on the island. “Nah, I can stay. Long as you’re not tryin’ to make omelettes again tomorrow mornin’.”

Beth goes to pinch a spot along his side that she knows is ticklish but he deflects by gently grabbing her wrist, using this opportunity to draw her closer. His lips brush against the tip of her nose as she huffs,

“I burnt eggs once, just once! And if I remember correctly you were to blame for that distraction.”

He shakes his head, leaning down to kiss her lips gently. “That doesn’t sound like me.”

“Oh no,” She chuckles, turning on her heel to grab onto his hand and begin their walk upstairs. “No, not at all.”

They take the stairs two at a time, the hallway dark leading to her bedroom. She feels him squeeze her fingers, just because, as they end up in her bathroom. She flips the light on, wandering towards the shower and turning the water on, steam beginning to kiss her skin. When she turns, Rio is leaning against the counter, raising at eyebrow at her.

Beth says nothing, instead slipping towards him, hands on the collar of his shirt before she drags her hands down and lifts the fabric up and over his head. His skin is warm underneath, tattoos enticing her to lean closer, to kiss if she wants to.

“What’re you doin’?” He asks, amusement wrapping around his syllables.

“Taking care of you.” She leans back and presses her fingers to his lips before he can say anything. “And before you say ‘I’m fine, Elizabeth’ or ‘Don’t worry, ma’—,” She adopts his tone of voice, throwing an accent around some of her words, which makes him roll his eyes.

“I don’t sound like that.”

“—I’m doing it because I know you won’t ask for it.”

Rio holds her gaze for a moment and her hands fall to her hips, waiting, a small flicker of defiance sparkling in her eyes that says prove me wrong. He sighs gently and leans forward to press a soft kiss to her forehead, his one hand cupping her cheekbone before he allows her to continue her administrations.

She gets them both undressed, pulling him into the shower.

The water hits their skin and Beth feels like it begins melting into her bones, a relaxing shiver traveling down her spine as she begins to wash her own hair. She offers to massage Rio’s shoulders with body wash but he seems keen on watching her through her shower routine instead. Whatever helps.

“It wouldn’t kill you to say things you want, for once,” Beth says after a few moments, suds traveling down her shoulders and waist down to the drain.

She turns to look at him, reaching up to touch his face, thumb running over his lower lip. He so often tells her things without saying them, so she knows when he does speak, his words have weight.

“You know, ‘make French toast’ or ‘give me more bourbon in my coffee’,” She’s mostly teasing, leaning against his chest. He looks down at her through his eyelashes, wrapping his arms around her waist. “’Come cuddle’.”

He snorts out a sound that tells her that’s the last thing he’d ever say to her; so much easier to just pull her body to his own than waste time speaking the words. But she thinks he gets her point, in vocalizing when he wants something personal, intimate, something outside of the business. She knows he can make demands there, has done so in the past with perfected ease.

Business is easy. This, between them, whatever it is? Is a little more difficult to navigate sometimes.

“So let me make sure I’m hearin’ you,” He pauses for dramatic effect. “You want me to ‘use my words’?” Beth rolls her eyes, attempting to pull away from him but he won’t let her. He chuckles softly, something low in his chest that vibrates against her own. “Aight,” Rio waits until her eyes meet his own. “Then kiss me.”

She chews on her lower lip so she doesn’t outright smile and presses herself up on her toes to join their lips in a slow kiss.

Even though she’s pretty sure he’s making fun of her; it’s a start.