Welcome to another day of the A-Z Challenge! This year I'm bringing you my new-adult, contemporary-romance ALL IT TAKES!
Each day I'll post a new chapter of the story - but please be aware, this is a mature story, with swearing and scenes of a sexual nature. If that's not your thing, please skip this blog on your A-Z Challenge travellings!
For those of your visiting my blog for the first time, you might want to start with A is for All It Takes.
Thanks to everyone who commented on U is for Understanding. I'm glad people are continuing to enjoy the story, and look forward to hearing your thoughts on V is for Vulnerability...
When I woke in the morning, it took me a few moments to realise where I was. Then the memories of rushing over to Megan’s and her confession of falling in love with me flooded my mind. Warmth spread through me, and I pulled her closer, inhaling the scent of her hair.
The clock on the bedside table told me it was just after seven, and as it was the weekend, I planned on taking advantage of the extra spare time to just enjoy being where I was … here, at peace.
The crazy chatter that often filled my head had ceased, and all I felt was contentment.
I didn’t know where Meg and I went from here, but after taking the huge step of admitting I was scared, and then allowing myself to let go, and be with her, nothing felt impossible.
That was until I needed to pee.
Not even waking up with my arms around the beautiful mother of my daughter could stop the call of nature.
Careful not to wake Meg, I untangled myself from her and crept to the bathroom.
Once I was done, I was fully awake and figured I might as well make myself useful, so I headed to the kitchen to make breakfast. I wasn’t sure what Meg’s plans for the day were, but as I didn’t have to meet Davi and our solicitors to sign the contract for the gym until Monday, I wanted to make up for the time we’d been apart.
Opening the fridge, I pulled out eggs, ham and cheese, and cooked us omelettes. After finding a plastic tray in one of the cupboards, I made us some tea and carried everything through to the bedroom.
Meg was just waking up as I entered.
“Breakfast in bed?” she said, pulling herself into a sitting position. “I could get used to this.”
“Don’t go getting any ideas. This is a one-time only deal.”
“Well in that case, this is the last time I ask you to stop over.”
I threw her a fake hurt look, then laughed. “And I was going to ask if you wanted to spend the day together. I think I’ll just go home, instead.”
Meg snuggled up to me and asked, “What did you have in mind?”
“Well, I’ll need to go home and change. But after that, we could have a movie day, if you want? You did promise to watch the new Terminator film with me.”
“Okay, but only if you buy popcorn and ice cream on the way back.”
“I’ll even throw in some lunch. How does that sound?”
We continued eating our breakfast, and were just finishing up, when Meg’s phone rang. She swiped the screen, put it to her ear and a second later I heard screeching.
“Oh.My.God! Josh asked me to move in with him!”
A second later, my phone beeped with a message from Brownie, confirming I was right.
As Meg chatted to Stacey, a devious idea entered my mind. I wasn’t going to let them hog the limelight.
I wrapped my arms around Megan then tickled her in the ribs. She squirmed in my grasp and squealed, “Kian, get off.”
On the other end of the line, I head Stacey shriek, and I knew my work was done!
With a smug grin, I laid back and listened to Meg fill Stacey in on what had happened between me and her.
Meg and Stacey chatted for about ten minutes, during which time Brownie texted me:
>>Finally! Good on ya mate!<<
When Meg got off the phone, she turned to me with a smirk on her face. “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?”
I laughed. “Maybe.”
She wriggled closer and pressed her lips to mine, then asked, “No regrets, then?”
“None.” I kissed her back, but pulled away before I got too caught up in it. I needed to be serious. “I meant everything I said last night. I want to give this a go. I know it’s early days, and we’ve still got a lot to work through, but being with you … us being together. It feels right.”
Megan gazed at me steadily. “I know what you mean. And I’m under no illusions that it’ll be all sunshine and rainbows from here on out, but I don’t care, because we get to do it together. We’ve gotten close in the last few months, but now it’s time to figure out how we work as a couple.”
“But first, can we have the weekend just to be together? I’ve gotta see Davi about the gym on Monday, and no doubt now Stacey and Brownie know we’re together, soon everyone else will. Before they all start sticking their noses in, I just want some time for me and you.”
Megan grinned. “I agree. So get out of bed, and go buy me some ice cream.” She gave me a light shove, then yanked the covers away, wrapping them tight around herself.
“You got it, boss!” I kissed her one last time, then climbed out of bed.
An hour later, I pulled back into the carpark round the back of Meg’s place, with a bag containing a bunch of DVDs, some popcorn and ice cream, and the ingredients to make pasta carbonara for lunch.
When she let me back into the flat, I noticed she’d tidied up, as well as having a shower and getting dressed. Instead of the usual joggers and t-shirt she wore when we hung out, she’d put on some jeans and a scoop neck top, and done her make up.
I looked down at my own clothes – I’d also forgone the joggers, and instead had jeans on, too as well as a short-sleeved shirt – and laughed.
“What’s so funny?” she asked, flicking through the DVDs I’d brought with me.
“Us. Have you noticed how we’ve both dressed up?”
Meg blushed, and looked away sheepishly.
“Come here.” I pulled her to me, and wrapped her in my arms. “You look beautiful.”
She looked up at me and smiled, “Yeah, you don’t look too bad yourself.”
I paused for a minute, and then asked something I probably should have earlier in the day.
“Are you okay just hanging out? Or should I be taking you on a proper date or something?”
“Don’t be draft, Kian. I’m more than happy with a day in front of the telly.”
I shook my head. “Yeah, but I’ve gotta take you out at some point, and we need a night out together before Ella is born. What do you fancy doing?”
“There’s a new barbeque restaurant in town I wouldn’t mind trying.”
“Jim’s Low ‘n’ Slow? Sweet, I could just go for a nice steak. Lemme give them a ring, and see if they’ve got any tables available for tonight.”
“All right. I’m gonna grab some spoons for this ice cream, and microwave the popcorn.”
I pulled out my phone, and looked up the number, then gave them a call. I booked a table for that evening, and then headed through to the kitchen where Meg had already started eating the ice cream.
“Hey, share,” I said, trying to grab the tub from her. She tightened her grip, and growled at me. “Okay, you can keep the ice cream.”
“Damn right,” she said, then scooped up a massive spoonful.
When the microwave pinged, I emptied the popcorn into a bowl, and we headed through to the living room.
“Right, what do you want to watch?”
“I promised I’d give Terminator a try, and you did buy me ice cream, we’ll watch that.”
“Sure, as long as you don’t start complaining about the logistics of time travel again, like you did when we watched Twelve Monkeys.”
Megan laughed and snuggled up to me on the couch as the film started.
It was weird … we’d watched movies together loads of times before, sometimes even cuddled up together, but as the film played, something felt different. I didn’t find myself worrying about where to put my hands, or if I was sitting too close to her. I just felt at ease, like I had waking up together that morning. I wondered why we hadn’t done this sooner. If this was what our relationship was going to be like, I’d never regret the decision I’d made.
After Terminator I made us some lunch, and then we watched Cinderella from Meg’s collection. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when Meg went on about how gorgeous the prince was.
“With the obvious exception, you have terrible taste in men.”
Meg threw a cushion at me, unknowingly pulling her top down for an instant, so that her bra-covered boobs were exposed to me.
Like most girls, she hadn’t even noticed the minor slip, but I had, and I couldn’t get that glorious sight out of my mind.
I wanted to rip her clothes off. I wanted her, more than I’d ever wanted a woman in my life.
Normally when I had dirty-hot-sex, it was all about a fucking, but with Meg the part of me that just wanted meaningless sex wasn’t there.
I didn’t want to just fuck Meg as hard as I could then leave as quick as possible. I wanted to be near Meg. Not just for sex, but for something else – something I wasn’t sure what. Comfort? Connecting? I didn’t know. All I did know was I was starting to sound like a guy from one of those chick flicks. And the worst part? I was kind of okay with that.
But, just like our date later, I wanted to do things properly. This wasn’t just a quick fuck. This was the start of our relationship, and I wasn’t going to screw that up by being the old Kian.
I couldn’t remember a time when I’d spent this long with a girl without shagging her. This was the first time I’d dated a girl and wanted it to last longer than a few weeks.
This wasn’t just about sex. This was about Meg, and what I felt for her.
I thought us getting together would simplify our relationship, and in many ways it had. But it’d also opened a whole new can of worms I hadn’t anticipated.
I couldn’t sit still. I once again found myself questioning if I was sitting too close or where to put my hands, only this time for a different reason. My instinct was to pull her to me, but for once, my head remained cool, and I reined back my desire.
“You okay?” Megan asked, her eyes shifting from the screen to me, her brows drawing together as her gaze met mine.
“No you’re not. You’re bored shitless. I can tell by the way you keep fidgeting.” She turned off the movie and stood up. “You wanna do something else?”
Oh God yes!
I stopped the thought before it left my lips, and shrugged. “I’m happy to do whatever you want.”
“Don’t give me that, Kian. You’re never okay just doing whatever. You don’t have to be my puppy.”
A grin tugged my lips. “All right, you got me. I am bored of the movie. I’ve got all this energy that I don’t know what to do with.”
“Tell me about it. Considering we didn’t go to sleep until gone half-three I’m wired.”
“Wanna go for a drive or something?” I was struck by sudden inspiration for the perfect way to spend the rest of the afternoon. “There’s this great little nature reserve and reservoir about an hour’s drive away.”
“Sounds like fun. We can burn off some of this energy and work up an appetite for dinner.”
I raised my eyebrow and smirked.
Megan blushed. “Oh god, I didn’t mean that.”
Laughing, I rose from the sofa. “Sure you didn’t.”
“Okay, maybe just a little. Between that aftershave you’re wearing and the pregnancy hormones … well, it’s probably best if we get out of the house.”
My steps towards the door stilled, as I once again battled temptation. Knowing Meg wanted it too only weakened my resolve.
The sexual tension ebbed a little once we were in the car, and headed to the nature reserve. As I focused on driving, and Meg manned the MP3 player.
“Hey, now we’ve got the chance, you can let me have a spin in this baby.”
“Great idea. The carpark at the reserve is pretty big. Hopefully they’ll be enough space for us.”
When we reached the carpark it was relatively empty for the time of year.
I drove over to the secluded side, and then me and Meg switched places.
“Just go easy on the throttle, yeah. This thing has a mind of its own at times,” I said, as Megan braced her hands on the steering wheel.
“You’re like an over-protective parent. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna hurt your other baby.”
She eased her foot down on the accelerator, and the Audi surged to life. Meg let out a delighted squeak, and then put her foot down so we zoomed across the carpark. With expert reflexes, she turned the steering wheel, and we sped in the opposite direction.
“Okay, calm down Hamilton.”
After a few more laps around the car park, Megan finally slowed the car to a halt, and looked over at me wide-eyed and breathless.
“That was so much fun,” she said. “Can’t you keep it?”
“Do you recon a buggy would even fit in the boot?”
“We should at least try before you commit to a sale. This car is too awesome to give up.”
“You’re a bit of a speed demon, aren’t you?” I said, as we got out of the car, and headed into the reserve.
“I love the rush, it’s like when…” she stopped, and bit her bottom lip as her cheeks went red.
“It’s like when I came to your fight. Obviously what happened afterwards was horrible, but before that. Oh.My.God!”
“You should try being in the cage sometimes.”
“I should. After Ella is born, will you teach me? I don’t think I’d actually want to fight anyone, but the training sounds like fun and I’d help me loose the baby weight.”
I laughed. She never ceased to surprise me. “Sure, if you want.”
I lead us on the route I’d taken a few weeks before when I’d come out of a session with Ollie.
It’d only been a month ago, but it felt like a lifetime.
We climbed the small hill hand-in-hand, and then settled the tree stump. Megan’s eyes swept the area, and settled on the reservoir below, then she let out a sigh.
“It’s beautiful here.”
“Yeah, it’s a great place for thinking.”
Our fingers still entwined, we slipped into silence, as we both watched the rays of the sun dance on the water below.
The peace and contentment that I’d felt in the morning returned, and I knew I’d made the right decision by not giving into my desire to ravish Meg on the sofa.
Sex I’d had a lifetime of. This. This was something new, and special that I wanted to hold on to for as long as I could.
We stayed at the reserve until late afternoon, chatting about random crap, as we walked back down the hill and then over to the reservoir, where we watched the swans and geese fight over the bread visitors threw to them. For the second time that day, I noticed how not much had changed in our relationship since getting together. Meg was still easy to talk to, and when there were silences, they were never uncomfortable.
As the sun set, we returned to the car, and headed back into the city, this time in the direction of Jim’s Low ‘n’ Slow barbeque restaurant.
“Kian Murphy, with a reservation for two,” I said to the hostess as we entered.
“Right this way, please.” She led us to a booth near the open kitchen and handed us menus. “Can I get you both anything to drink?”
“Yeah, can I get an ice water with lemon, please?” Megan asked.
“I’ll have the same, thanks.”
The hostess went to get our drinks, and Meg said to me, “You don’t have to not drink just because I am.”
“It’s cool. I’ve been taking it easy on the beers. Don’t wanna get a gut now I’m not training every day.”
Megan giggled. “Are you looking forward to going back?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe. I’m itching to start doing weights again. I still don’t wanna head back in the cage though.”
“Yeah? Don’t you miss the rush?”
“A little, but …” I paused, as thoughts I hadn’t even admitted to myself yet screamed in my mind.
Picking up on my unease, she titled her head to the side. “Wanna talk about it?”
“Okay. I’m here if and when you do.”
I reached across the table, took her hands and ran the pad of my thumb over her kuckles. “I appreciate it.”
The hostess came and took our orders, and we continued chatting as we waited for our meals to arrive.
“How are things going with Ollie?” Megan asked.
“Mostly good. He’s helped me realise a lot of things, and start to challenge behaviours that had a negative effect on my life.”
“I’m sensing a but here.”
I laughed. “You know me too well. On the whole, his advice is good, but he’s clueless as to how the MMA world works.”
Meg leaned forwards, her eyes focused on me. “Yeah?”
I paused for a moment. Not because I didn’t want to tell her, but I wasn’t used to someone listening to me without distraction. Outside of Davi and my family no one paid me this sort of attention. Like I mattered, not just they were waiting to jump into bed.
I smiled. “A couple of sessions ago he suggested I apologize to Bagley for breaking his arm.”
Megan actually snorted as she laughed. “Yeah, because guys who beat the crap out of each other for a living are into saying sorry.”
“Exactly. I get it, breaking Bagley’s arm was a shitty thing to do, and I need to not let my anger control me, but Bagley doesn’t give a damn if I’m sorry or not.”
“Yeah. It wouldn’t be about making amends with him. He probably doesn’t care what you’re doing now, as long as you’re not in his life.”
“Right, but Ollie doesn’t seem to understand that.”
“Can you blame him? The MMA world is a big jump from being a therapist. He’s just trying to help you.”
“I get that too. It’s just frustrating at times.”
“I can imagine.” Megan took a sip of her water, and her eyes drifted to a spot behind me, then she smiled. “Food’s here.”
I turned to see the waitress approaching with our plates.
We tucked into our food, falling silent as we ate. As I was enjoying my steak, I could feel someone’s eyes on me, and scanned the restaurant. A few tables away, a guy sat alone, tapping away on the screen of his phone. I continued eating, but watched him out of the corner of my eye. When he thought I wasn’t looking, he raised his phone a little and tapped the screen, as though taking pictures of me and Megan.
It wasn’t unusual for reporters to hang around popular locations in the city, hoping to get a glimpse of someone famous, and it wasn’t the first time someone had taken a picture of me while I was out without my consent. But it happening during my first ‘official’ date with Megan rankled me. I’d hoped since I’d stepped out of the limelight the days of reporters taking my picture while I ate were over. Apparently ten weeks wasn’t long enough for them to be over The Kian Murphy, like I was.
Clenching my jaw, I took a deep breath, and tried to focus on my food.
“Are you okay?” Megan asked, looking up from her burger.
“There’s a guy over there taking our picture.”
Megan’s head whipped in his direction, and he became fascinated with the menu, even though he had a half-eaten meal in front of him.
“Want me to say something?”
“No. What I want is to be able to take you out without some weirdo spying on us. I didn’t want to drag you into all this shit. Not after what happened last time some journo spotted us together.”
“Kian, you’re not ‘dragging me into all this shit.’ I knew when we got together that randoms taking an interest in your life was something I’d have to deal with. Besides, what harm can a few pictures do? Everyone knows we’re having a baby together. Who cares if they see us out on a date?”
“I care. This isn’t who I want to be anymore. I don’t want all that celebrity bullshit polluting what we have.”
This time Megan reached across and took my hands. “Believe me, it won’t.”
Maybe she was right. Some guy taking pictures of us didn’t change the fact this was the first date I’d had where I saw a future for me and the person I was with.
The last twenty-four hours were the happiest I’d been in months, and some scrub reporter wasn’t going to change that.
I grinned at her. “Yeah, sod ‘em. This is our night.” I leaned forwards and kissed her hard.
I cupped her cheeks as our lips parted, and my tongue darted inside her mouth.
The sound of someone clearing their throats caused us to break apart, and when I looked up, the hostess was standing beside our table.
“Sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to check if I could get you guys anything else?”
Megan smiled sheepishly. “Another drink would be good, thanks.”
“Of course. And you Sir?”
“I’ll get another water too, thanks.”
The hostess scurried away to get our drinks, and from the corner of my eye, I saw the reporter had finished eating and left the restaurant.
“I guess he got what he wanted.” Megan shrugged and carried on eating her chips.
I tried not to think of the pictures the guy had taken and instead focused on my food. I finished off my steak, and swatted Meg’s hand away when she reached for a chip from my plate.
“No way. I don’t care if you’re carrying my baby. You don’t steal my chips.”
Megan gave me the puppy-dog eyes. “But Ella is still hungry.”
I faked a sigh and laughed. “Fine, you can have them.”
Megan pulled my plate over to her side of the table.
“Want some dessert?” Megan threw me a look as if to say ‘are you being serious?’ “Right. Of course you want dessert. An ice cream sundae?”
When the hostess returned with our drinks, I ordered the ice cream sundae for Megan.
“You’re not having one too?” Meg asked.
“Nah. I need to think about getting in shape again. Monday, after we’ve signed the contracts, I’m going to do a few hours in the gym.”
“Sounds like a plan. When this little one is born, I’ll start working out again, but until then, I really don’t care.”
“Enjoy the excuse to eat ice cream while you can.”
“Oh, I fully intend to!”
Once we’d finished our meal, we got into the car, and headed back to her place.
“You coming in for a coffee?” she asked as we pulled up outside her flat.
I looked at the time on the dashboard. 11:15. “I should probably shoot. If I come in, I won’t go home.”
She smirked. “A bit presumptuous, aren’t you? Who said I’d even ask you to stop again?”
“And after I made you breakfast this morning!”
“You said that was a one-time deal.”
“You’ll never know now, will you?”
She laughed, but quickly followed it up with a frown. “Well, if you’re coming in or not, hurry up about it. I gotta pee. Damn baby is pressing on my bladder.”
I unfastened my seatbelt, and opened the car door. “Okay, I’m coming in.”
There was no way I was leaving without properly saying good night, something which wasn’t possible at the moment if Megan was desperate for the loo.
Megan climbed out of the car, and I followed her up the pathway to the front door. She rushed to open it, then hurried to the bathroom, not bothering to take her shoes and jacket off.
“Put the kettle on,” she called as she slammed the door behind her.
I headed through to the kitchen and did ask she asked. With the kettle had boiled, I made the tea and took it through to the living room. When Meg came through, she’d changed into her pyjamas, removed her makeup, and pulled her hair back into a pony tail.
With a relaxed sigh, she plopped down onto the sofa next to me. “As fun as today was, it’s good to be in comfy clothes again. I’m knackered.”
Stifling a yawn, I nodded my head. “Tell me about it. Things were kind of crazy last night.”
She snuggled up to me. “Yeah, but totally worth it.”
I wrapped my arms around her, and rested my chin on her forehead. “Totally.”
We sat in silence, cuddled up on the sofa, sipping our tea and watching some late night bollocks on telly. I wasn’t even paying attention to the show. As I held her in my arms, slowly my eyes drifted closed.
Sometime later, I was woken by Meg turning around in my lap. “Come on Kian, let’s go to bed,” she whispered.
She stood up from the couch, and grabbed my hand.
I glanced at the clock, and saw it was almost half-twelve.
Screw it, I thought, and followed her into the bedroom.
Silently inviting me to join her, Megan climbed into bed, then shuffled aside to make room for me, and pulled back the covers.
I stripped down to my boxers, then got into bed next to her, where she quickly snuggled into me, her head tucked beneath my chin like it had been the night before.
I woke up the next morning to an empty bed, and the smell of bacon and eggs cooking. Not bothering to put any clothes on, I made my way through to the kitchen, where Megan was standing at the counter, serving up breakfast.
“Hey,” she said, greeting me with a smile. “Want some tea?”
“Sure. I’ll make it,” I said, switching the kettle on. “You know; you didn’t have to go to all this trouble.”
Meg shrugged and buttered some toast. “You made breakfast yesterday, I figured I’d return the favour. Besides, Ella woke me up early. I think our little one is going to be an acrobat.”
“You should probably get used to sleepless nights. It won’t be long until you’re up at all hours for nappy changes and feeds,” I said, settling at the breakfast bar, as Megan brought two plates over.
“Yeah, but then I’ll have you around to help,” she said, placing a plate of bacon, scrambled eggs and toast in front of me.
I paused for a moment, as a realisation hit me.
Before Meg and I got together, I assumed I’d see Ella regularly on days I wasn’t working, but now we were in a relationship, we’d be spending even more time together. With the added responsibilities that came with a baby, it didn’t make sense to add even more strain by travelling to and from each other’s houses.
Before I’d even had time to process the full implication of my words, I blurted out, “Move in with me?”
Megan almost spat her tea out, as she looked up at me, her mouth hanging open.
“Are you being serious?”
“Erm. Sure. Why not? Then we’ll both be there to look after Ella. Plus, now we’re together, we’re going to be hanging out a lot more.”
“We’ve only just got together. Isn’t it a bit soon to be living with each other?”
“We’ve having a baby together, we’re going to be seeing each other most days anyway.”
Megan put her cup down and stared at me.
“How romantic! I guess, but I’ve just got settled here, and Ella’s room is all decorated.”
I took a sip of my tea to give myself a moment to process her reaction. Was she just being practical? Or did Meg not want to live together?
Biting my bottom lip, I said, “It’s fine. If you think it’s too soon, we can wait. I just thought I’d be good for Ella to have us both around.”
“It would, and I’m not saying no. Can we just think on it a little longer? Maybe you should talk things over with Ollie or your family?”
“I don’t need to talk anything over with anyone. I want to wake up with you every morning.”
Megan grinned. “I want that too, but I want you to be sure. This is a huge leap. Just think on it a little longer, yeah?”