“Lead on, modern woman,” he conceded, gesturing for her to go first. “It’s your paycheck.”
“Shut up.” She scoffed, bumping him with her hip. “I’ll buy lunch, you buy dessert later. I may want ice cream instead.”
“First pancakes, now tamales and ice cream,” he teased. “What happened to making up the spin classes, featherweight?”
“I burned plenty of calories last night, thanks to you,” she retorted, surprising a delighted bark of laughter out of him. “And see? You’re already a bad influence on me, Matt Casey. Not even an hour into an official relationship with you and I’m making sex jokes.”
“Oh, I’m definitely claiming full responsibility for that,” he smirked, leaning in to kiss her, reveling in the fact that he could do so freely now. “Although, I’m willing to share credit with Otis. He would be so proud right now.”
She smiled wistfully as they got their food and started back towards the parking lot. “Yeah he would.”
Otis had made it a personal mission to teach her at least one vice, claiming that no one who worked in a firehouse could possibly stay that sweet and innocent for long, and it would be for her own good. He had come up with the idea as a distraction after Antonio broke things off the first time around, so she hadn’t had the heart to dissuade such a sweet gesture.
“He still mostly failed on teaching me how to tell dirty jokes in general, but I may or may not have discovered the therapeutic outlet of cussing,” she confided with a sideways grin. “Only under extreme stress and circumstances though.”
The teasingly heated leer he shot her was rife with memories of the night before and her viscerally explicit responses. “I think that it’s only fair that if I cause you extreme stress, I should help to relieve it too.”
She smirked. “Nicely done. Way to innuendo.”
“You inspired me.”
They snickered at each other, enjoying the unexpected freedom and ease of their banter and blunt conversation. It was a new experience for them both, and it probably would not have worked with anyone else, including – or maybe especially – any of their past relationships. But somehow, for them, it worked. More importantly, the familiar ease of their banter and conversation was a subtle sign that the major shift in their relationship hadn’t changed them.
Maybe they were actually going to be okay, she mused, cheered by the thought.
After all, this was still Matt Casey; steady, reliable, solid, honest, and true. She could trust in him enough to let her guard down a bit, and just go with the flow, not try to plan ahead or worry about the future. Well, no more than she currently did, anyway.
The return trip took less time than the one out, aided by a subtle undercurrent of anticipation, now that they had gotten most of the main negotiations out of the way. Casey wasn’t sure if Sylvie had picked up on it, but he had some definite plans for when they returned back to the apartment, and all of them featured her.
“You want to go impose on Severride and Stella for dinner, or pick something up on the way home and relax for a while before we go to Molly’s?”
She considered for a moment. “I’m not really hungry again, are you? Let’s just go home and maybe pick something up on the way to Molly’s if we change our minds.”
He nodded, driving one handed as she absently took his hand to play with his fingers, tracing each digit and entwining them with her slender, paler hand, admiring the contrasts of light and tan. They spent the trip in content silence, each lost in their own thoughts, and once back at the apartment took care of some mundane activities before settling onto the couch with a sigh.
Sylvie found the remote and switched on the television, finally settling on a movie before tucking her feet under him and leaning into his side.
Casey watched her out of the corner of his eye, waiting with resigned inward amusement. Today had been a revelation in a multitude of ways, but the one that stood out the most to him was the reinforcement of the fact that Sylvie Brett hated change and chaos. Rules, parameters, laying everything on the line and talking it all out until things fit into the neat boxes of her life, that’s what made her world go ‘round. And while they had done a lot of talking earlier – more than he had likely done with any woman in his life – he had a feeling that they were far from done.
He was both amused and bemused that he had somehow managed to go from Gabby Dawson, Queen of loud (accusing) silences, to Sylvie Brett the open book, but he honestly wouldn’t have it any other way right now.
Not that he planned on doing much talking, when it came down to it. Some things were more fun to experience in the moment…
“Still not a mind reader,” he said, keeping his attention on the television, even as his lips twitched. “You get two more questions, so make ‘em good.”
He didn’t see Sylvie hide her own grin. She had been wondering how long it would take him to break…
“Only two questions? That hardly seems fair,” she mused. “I know this is a bit of a foreign concept for you, Mister Stoic and Always In Control, but communication is a big part of any solid relationship.” She shrugged innocently, raising her brows when he shot her a look. “Hey, you opened the floodgates by being such a good sounding board over the past few months, Casey. You have no one to blame but yourself.”
His lips curled into a slow grin, making her heart skip a beat. Uh-oh. She had forgotten the dangers in challenging this potent man, especially when he was deliberately turning on the charm. She was in so much trouble…
“Copy that. I promise that I will tell you every single thought that goes through my head when it comes to you,” he said solemnly.
“I have a pretty good idea of what you’re thinking right now,” she replied, a bit breathlessly, as his warm palms curled around her thighs, urging her to straddle him as he leaned back into the couch, slouching a bit lower. She went willingly, bracing her hands on his shoulders and staying slightly on her knees above him.
“Are you sure? Because I agree, communication is essential. Verbal,” he cupped her cheek, running his thumb over her lips and smirking when she playfully nipped. “Nonverbal.” He leaned up to press his mouth against the base of her throat, breathing in the scent of cherry blossoms and flicking his tongue out against the pulse fluttering underneath her skin. “And of course, body language.” She gasped as he gripped her ass, squeezing lightly before urging her down to grind against him. “I told you – I’m not a mind reader, you know.”
No, but he was an absolute tease.
“Hey Matt?” She breathed against his mouth, nipping at his lower lip and holding it briefly with sharp white teeth before letting go. “Sometimes you say it best when you say nothing at all.”
She kissed him before he could reply, feeling the low rumble of his laughter as she sank into the embrace, his scent and taste filling her senses as he threaded his fingers through her hair. He tasted like blueberry pancakes and whiskey, mixed with the ever present faint tang of smoke and outdoors.
She could tell by the way he touched her, savoring but without the intense focus of the night before, that they weren’t going to do anything much more than make out. Which was fine, since they really did need to get ready to go soon, and there was already going to be enough teasing from their friends without his renewing the stubble burn on her neck as evidence of what they had been up to.
Still, there was no reason to just meekly go along with what was very obviously a silent command, especially when he was holding back again for some reason. What was the fun in that?
She deliberately deepened the kiss, enticing and teasing until he responded with a bit more aggression. While he was distracted she moved fast, her hands trailing down his chest to find the hem of his t-shirt and the metal button underneath.
He instantly grabbed her hands, pulling her arms behind her and trapping her wrists at the small of her back with one hand. She twisted in his grip, rubbing hard nipples against his chest as she arched towards him. Taking instant advantage, he fastened his mouth at the base of her throat and suckled hard, drawing a moan, before licking a hot stripe up her neck to her earlobe.
“Slow burn, not a flare and flashover,” he rumbled in her ear, feeling the shiver that coursed through her body at his voice. “And we definitely don’t have the time for everything I have in mind right now.”
They stared at each other, breathing hard, Casey with a hint of challenge, Sylvie with an unreadable expression as she absorbed and considered his words. After a moment she slowly relaxed in his grip, silently conceding. He released his hold on her wrists and she moved off of his lap to curl up at his side, her hands now resting innocently on his stomach, on top of his t-shirt.
It took a moment for her words to sink in. Casey’s eyes widened, then narrowed at her. “That was not a challenge, Sylvie,” he warned, his voice hard.
The slow smile and glint in her eyes made his heart beat faster and his cock harden again. Oh, he was in so much trouble.
“Your definition of slow and my version obviously differ significantly,” she pointed out logically. “So I’m just going to have to persuade you to my way of thinking.” She patted his stomach, the move and her tone patronizing. “That’s okay. I was the captain of my debate team in high school, so I like a challenge.”