No Matter What
"I'm hungry," she announced, stretching as she opened her eyes, and wondered why he was holding her on his lap, having forgotten how she got there.
"I'll fix you something. What do you want to eat?" His thumb automatically skimmed her silky skin, his palm cupping her cheek.
"Anything," she yawned, closing her eyes again.
"Anything it is," he smiled as he watched her drift back into slumber, counting off the seconds in his head.
Burrowing the side of her face into his chest...
One fist tucked under her chin...
Her other hand settling against his shirt.
A soft sighing sound...
"Bambina," he murmured, bending his head to kiss her brow. "Ti amo. I love you."
It took a few minutes for the medicine she swallowed to completely take effect. Getting her to swallow the medicine was a whole other story. She had fought him every step of the way...
As was his custom, he called her from work at least once during the day. They discussed plans for the coming weekend - should they join friends at their weekend house on Lopez Island for an overnight visit or just drop by for an afternoon and evening and head back home? In the middle of their discussion, Spencer started coughing.
"Are you okay?" he asked when she finally caught her breath.
"Okay, just a tickle in my throat."
"Uh huh. Where are you, Spence?"
"In the bedroom."
"Are the windows open?"
"Is it raining?"
"Umm... a little."
"Put the phone down, Spencer, and close the windows."
"It's not chilly in the house, JC."
"Close the windows, now," he said softly but firmly.
"Aye aye, sir," she tsked.
He sighed heavily when he heard her cough again as she closed the windows. "When I get home..." he began.
"I'm okay, JC, honest I am."
"You better be," he retorted and said he had an appointment waiting and they'd finish their conversation when he got home.
She was napping when he entered the house hours later and because she was high energy and rarely sat idle, he was happy to see her resting for a change. And then he saw what she was wearing - flannel pajamas and socks - something she usually only wore when the windows were open, the temperature was chilly and there was a light rain - cuddle clothes she called them.
"You better hope you're not coughing when you wake up," he muttered as he closed the windows he could have sworn he told her to close hours ago.
She was coughing when she woke up.
And when she stopped coughing, it dawned on her that the warmth she was feeling wasn't from the quilt she had slept under...
"You're home early," she smiled, faking bravado.
"Nice to wake up in your arms," - testing the waters.
"Always good to hold you in my arms, bambina," his voice neutral.
"Do I get kisses?" - forging ahead.
"Always," he said, bending his head to kiss her brow... gauge her temperature... stack the deck.
"Didn't I tell you to close the windows a few hours ago?" he asked as his lips roamed over her face, a face flushed with fever.
"I did close them but... ummm... it got a little warm and so I thought a little fresh air would feel good... would make me feel better... uh... not that I felt bad but..." plunging into the abyss.
"You woke up coughing, bambina," he reminded her. "And you have a fever."
"Yes, you do and you're not going to like what happens next."
"You'd spank me when I'm not feeling well? That is so-o-o rude! And uncouth! And... and..." she struggled to find more words while she wiggled and squirmed until he let her go... giving her enough rope...
"So you admit you're not feeling well?"
"I didn't say that!" she yelled, putting some distance between them, her indignation rearing its silly head along with a touch of stupidity.
"If you feel okay, then I can justifiably spank you for opening the windows when I told you to shut them."
Male logic stinks!
"I closed them!" she shouted as she made a dash for the bathroom.
"And you opened them again when you knew damn well I would object," he rebutted as he intercepted her, and easily upended her, her smaller body neatly tucked under his arm. Her pajamas bottoms were yanked off, his heavy hand landed once... twice...
She yelped, cursed, struggled to get free and threatened bodily harm the moment he closed his eyes in slumber.
He wished her luck with that but told her he was going to give her a harsh reminder that he was not to be defied when it concerned her health. Leaning against the wall, he delivered a heated reprimand to her bottom cheeks, quickly turning the ivory globes to a deep shade of pink bordering on red. When she started coughing, he righted her, holding her against his chest, one hand on her back, the other on her upper thighs while she caught her breath.
"Better?" he asked gently when she seemed to calm.
"Beast!" she hissed between hiccups. "You made me cough!" - her words accompanied by a fist in his chest.
He grabbed that fist, lifted it to his mouth and kissed it. "I love you, bambina, but I won't let you get away with being careless with your health."
"Well, who died and made *you* king of the universe, you big bully and for the record, I'm not one of your subordinates so when you're through playing commanding officer, you can just kiss my grits!"
"Kiss your...?" His arms automatically tightened around her wiggling form as he roared with laughter. "Kiss your...? Bambina!" he continued to laugh. "Where did you learn that expression? Do you know what it means?" He didn't wait for her to answer; his entire body shook with laughter.
"And just what is so funny about that?"
"Kiss your..." His continuous peals of laughter irritated her and she squirmed, trying to get out of his embrace but JC wasn't about to let her go.
When he finally regained control of his mirth, there were tears of laughter in his eyes. Holding her with one arm and wiping his face with the other, he sat in the big leather chair by the side of the bed, Spencer on his lap. "I *am* king of *your* universe, zucca pumpkin," he murmured as he positioned her so that she had her back to his chest, her thighs straddling one of his own. "And you're my queen, dolcezza. It's true, you're not subordinate to me, not in any way, but I *will* lay down the law when you are reckless with your health. As for kissing your grits," he chuckled. "I'm gonna do that any second now, but first you're going to take a little cough medicine."
"No, I'm not!"
"Yes, you are and the more you fight me..." the words dangled between them just long enough for Spencer to turn in his arms and deliver a hard punch to his midsection.
His large hand immediately retaliated, one swift hard spank to her already sore posterior. That same hand pulled her tightly to his chest catching her fist between them. "The easy way, bambina, or the hard way? Tell me."
"I'm not taking that medicine," she whispered into his neck, her eyes filling and threatening to overflow.
"Yes, you are," he said with quiet determination, his hand rubbing her back. "I'm not happy that it knocks you out but so far, it's the only thing that cures that cough. The easy way, zucca, or the hard way?" he asked again.
When she didn't answer him, he pulled a small bottle of the cough medicine out of his pocket where he had stashed it when he arrived home earlier. As he turned her in his arms so she could drink from the bottle, Spencer knocked it out of his hands and tried to jump from his lap. He caught the bottle before all of it spilled and in nanoseconds, had his reluctant wife immobile against his chest, one arm holding her against him, the other also around her and his hand holding the bottle against her mouth. His legs held hers in place.
"Don't make me force you, bambina."
"You can go to hell and so can the horse that brought you here!"
"The horse that brought me here? The horse I rode in on?"
Soft laughter followed his words and he loosened his grip on her. Just as she thought she could slip out of his hold, he locked his arms around her with a suddenness that made her gasp, the bottle of medicine upended between her lips. He pinched her nose closed so her mouth would open further and when he decided she'd had enough, he kept his hand over it until she swallowed.
"Don't hurl, bambina."
"I'm leaving you," she told him when she could take an even breath.
"I'm going to empty the bank accounts and take your SUV when I go."
"I'll make sure the tank is full."
"You can eat takeout for the rest of your life."
"I'm going to tell everybody I know that an admiral in the U.S. Navy wears pink boxer shorts. They'll think you're gay."
"The Navy, bambina. Don't ask. Don't tell."
"From now on, you'll have to sleep alone and use a bath brush to wash your back."
"Oh no, zucca. I need you to wash my back and I could never sleep without my arms around you. You'll have to stay."
"If you insist."
His lips found her throat, his hands gentle now as he rubbed her stinging bottom cheeks, his embrace of her lulling her into submission. The loving was slow, sweet and satisfying, her eyes closing again in slumber, that slumber induced by the cough medicine and their bodies renewing vows.
His hands lingered as she fell asleep, his fingers mapping a gentle path from the side of a rounded breast over the rails of her rib cage. His palm caressed the indentation of her waist then paused over the rise of her naked hip. His heart swelled with his love for her and for the briefest moment, his eyes filled. Turning her, he held her close to his chest for a few minutes and then placed her on her stomach so he could anoint her fiery bottom cheeks with his lips.
"Ti amo, bambina," he whispered and covered her sleeping form.
Later, when he was showered and changed, he carried his sleeping wife downstairs. She was cradled in his arms while he watched the evening news, woke once, declared her hunger and fell asleep again.
"You spanked me," she announced when she was fully awake again.
"You're a Neanderthal."
"You have to break that habit. You can't just spank me every time I cough."
"Yes, I can."
"You want me to kiss your grits?"
"Kiss my... Oh! Can I trust you to kiss and not spank?"
"For tonight, you can."
"We loved, didn't we? I'm woozy on what took place when and did I miss supper?"
"We loved," he smiled, bending his head to kiss her. "And we haven't eaten dinner yet. I need to kiss your grits first."
"You're a heathen."
"It's my latest addiction."
"Kissing your grits."
"Che cosa, bambina? What, baby?"
"Will you always love me, no matter what I do?"
"Always... no matter what."