"Or is happiness a little more like knocking on your door, and you just let it in."
Stretching his legs out and arching his back, his foot skimmed against a smooth leg and his eyes went wide, turning and rubbing his eyes, instantly gathering the still sleeping Marley into his arms again.
It wasn’t a dream. She was here, in their bed, with him again.
He felt her shiver in the coldness of the room and pulled the blankets higher around their bare forms, snuggling closer to her, but situating himself so he could watch her sleep. She looked so serene and peaceful and completely perfect in his eyes with her head resting against his chest and her arm slung across his waist, stating her claim on him. He’d never been happier than he was the night before. Words couldn’t express the things his heart was feeling. Knowing he had her back was like putting a band-aid over all his problems and he’d never felt better.
The loud echo of the front door slamming shut downstairs tore his train of thought off track.
He was angry.
Feeling Marley stirring in his arms, Joe stayed completely still, not wanting to startle her awake by yelling back to his brother and he most definitely was not about to leave the confines of the bed…it wasn’t even an option.
The bedroom door had remained open, when the couple had returned the night before, too preoccupied with each other to even care about their surroundings.
The loud thumps of footsteps on the stairs traveled down the short hall way and Joe sighed, not knowing how this was going to blow over.
“Joe, what the hell? We’ve been calling you all morning anda33;”Is that Marley?” He finished in a whisper, not wanting to wake his still sleeping friend.
Joe’s eyes traveled to her again, “Yeah.” He smiled softly, “It is.”
Kevin’s arms crossed over his chest and a smile broke onto his face. “What the hell happened?”
“Long story.” Joe shrugged, not looking away from her.
Kevin’s mouth opened to talk again, “No, man. I won’t tell it to you.” Joe shook his head, reaching down to twirl a piece of Marley’s hair around his finger.
“What?” Kevin’s voice rose and Marley groaned, wiggling in his arms. Joe ripped his eyes from her, and narrowed them at Kevin.
“Give it a rest, Kev.” He swished his hand at his brother, “Get outta here and goa33;”” His sentence was cut short when soft, light kisses littered his chest. His attention was instantly diverted to Marley who was nuzzling her body closer to his, kissing her way towards his neck, and stroking her fingers over his chest.
“Morning.” He mumbled, smiling when one of her brilliant blue eyes peeked up at him. A grin passed over her lips and she rolled over, half on top of him, leaning down and pressing her lips against his. Joe’s mind went blank, forgetting everything around him that wasn't her, including the fact that his brother was in the room, and he slid his hands around her waist, clasping his fingers together against the small of her back pulling her closer and moaning softly into the kiss.
“Uh-okay, still here.” Kevin cleared his throat, clearly embarrassed and Marley let out a squeak of surprise, pulling the blanket tighter around her and sinking back in next to Joe.
“Hey Kevin.” She mumbled, refusing to make the awkward eye contact with him, feeling her cheeks growing hot with embarrassment.
“Hey Marley.” He laughed, not believing he was seeing them together again after their bitter exchange of feelings he’d gotten from both of them. Not that he ever doubted their relationship…the two had only been in denial and just needed a push in the right direction, but seeing them together without knowing what had happened.
An awkward silence fell over the three of them and Kevin scratched at the back of his neck, “So--uh, should I tell management you’re not coming to the meeting you inspired, Joe?” Kevin rose an eyebrow in question and Joe’s hands pressed over his face, clearly having forgot about the meeting.
“I don’t wanna.” He mumbled, looking at the clock and mentally noting the meeting was scheduled for just under two hours away. He groaned again, not feeling like getting his good mood crushed by a bunch of old men and his parents telling him he was out of control and needed to get his act together.
“Well you should have thought about that before you nearly broke our publicist’s jaw.” Kevin snapped back and Joe groaned from his place still hidden by his hands.
“What?” Marley questioned, jumping to attention, her eyes darting up to meet his, panic written all over her face. “Joe, you didn’t!”
“You didn’t tell her?!” Kevin threw his arms in the air in a helpless gesture.
A growl left Joe’s throat as the morning he planned on doing absolutely nothing and just relaxing for the first time in weeks crumbled around him in a mess of questions.
His attention turned to Marley, “You be quiet for two minutes until he leaves and I’ll explain everything.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead, hoping he hadn’t offended or angered her. “And you.” He pointed a finger at Kevin, “You get out.” Kevin scoffed and opened his mouth to protest but Joe held up his hand to silence him, “And I’m going to sit back and pretend you never came here.” He finished, leaning closer to Marley as her fingers lightly stroked the back of his hand.
"Fine." Kevin held his hands up in surrender, "Fine." He backed into the door way shaking his head. "Seriously, try to make it if you can, Joe, because--"
"I got it Kev!" Joe yelled over his brother, drowning out his voice.
Chuckling to himself, Kevin backed out of the door and started down the hall. He paused at the top of the staircase and jogged back to their bedroom, sticking his head around the corner.
"Hey guys?" He blushed when he realized he'd interrupted a ferverish kiss. Marley pulled away and settled back next to Joe, her lips set in a thin line at her frustration. Whereas Joe was more vocal, "Jesus Christ, Kevin! What?!"
He ignored their attitudes and plastered on a cheeky grin. "I just wanted to say I'm glad you two figured it out."
The disgruntled couple let smiles slip onto their scowling faces and exchanged an endearing look before Joe faced his brother again.
"Thanks man." His voice was sincere and soft and it wasn't until Marley's hand slipped up his thigh under the comforter did his face darken again. "Now out."
Marley waited until she heard the front door slam shut until she kicked a leg over Joe's lap, straddling his waist, but sitting high enough to where there was no friction between them and ignoring his hiss at the closeness of their lower bodies. "Now." She mused, "You're going to that meeting."
His mouth opened to disagree, but her eyebrow arched, silently challenging him to not do as she said. "Fine." His features fell and his bottom lip jutted outwards, pulling his face into an adorable pout.
Marley drank in the sight of him, mentally noting every single thing about him that she had missed. It still felt like a dream being this close to him. After finally admitting to everything in the park he'd whisked her away, back to their home and shown her just how much he'd missed her. She'd rejoiced in the way they fell back into their pattern, neither of them forgetting a single thing about the other. Their thoughts and bodies were so in tune with each other as if they'd never been separated. She smiled at the memories of the previous night as her hands wondered up his chest and her eyes stayed on his, mirroring the fire she saw burning in his own. She leaned forward, brushing her lips against his cheek as her lips made their way to his ear, listening to him groan as her chest pushed further into his.
"We've still got an hour." She breathed, placing a kiss over his ear and immediately squealing in surprise when he flipped her over, settling in between her legs and planting his lips on hers, muffling both of their laughs.
Joe practically skipped off the elevator, shoving his hands into his pockets and humming to himself as he made his way to the receptionist’s desk. His mood slightly fell when he saw Amber sitting at the desk, filing her fake nails. He glanced to the hall, wondering if she’d notice if he just quietly slipped down the hall and finding the conference room on his own.
“Joe!” She shrieked and he stopped, plastering on a fake smile before turning to her. He figured she was pissed because he hadn’t called and he’d just left her at the winter ball, not even bothering to get her a ride home. But, as he turned she was smiling and waving exactly like the airhead she was. He wasn’t interested in the first place. They barely even held a conversation…she was merely there to fill the empty space and know he regretted even speaking to her.
“Hey Amber…Uma33;”I need to know which conference room we’re in.” He spoke before she could so she wouldn’t go off on one of her tangents to tell him how gorgeous they looked together.
“Yeah…okay.” She flipped her hair. “When are we going out again?” She flashed her teeth at him and pulled her arms together, increasing the amount of cleavage spilling out of her dress.
Joe’s nose wrinkled at the desperate girl sitting in front of him. “You know Amber, I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Her face fell and he wanted to laugh. “Actually, I know that’s not going to happen…with you, I was trying to forget the greatest thing that ever happened to me but I can’t, I can’t forget her…and now I have her back and I’m not letting go for anything in the world because right now I’m happier than I have ever been and it’s all because of her.”
She scoffed and sat back, crossing her arms over her chest, “Geez Joe, it’s room 7…I’m the receptionist, not a therapist…I don’t think you should call me anymore.” She was eying him like he was crazy and he opened his mouth to speak his case but Kevin’s voice popped into his head “It’s not worth it, Joe.”
“You aren’t worth it.” He mumbled only loud enough for himself to hear before he turned to head down the hall.
Standing outside of room number 7, Joe took a deep breath before pushing it open and pretending not to see everyone at the table glare at him. Taking a seat between his two brothers, he looked back to see both of them smiling at him. They were letting him decide…how this meeting went was up to him and they were behind him 100% he’d been through hell and back and the original plan was to take a break…a real break…so he had time to himself to recover from Marley, but after the events of last night, it was a toss up, but it was still all resting in Joe’s hands. If he wanted a break to be with her, he would get it, if he wanted to keep the appearances up, with or without her, he could.
Finally looking up to glance around the table, he paused once he met Martin’s icy glare and smiled cheekily at him when he saw the purple bruise splayed against the right side of his face.
“So, Joe.” Henry Nacks, the leader of his management team spoke, breaking the tension, “What’s on your mind?”
Joe sat back in the chair, thinking over how he was going to address this question. “Well.” His fingers came to rest under his chin. “I’m sick of the bullshit.” A small hiss came from his mother, but after what he’d been through at the doings of the team around the table, she ignored addressing him in front of everyone.
“Okay, and what do you want to do about that?” Mr. Nacks questioned trying to keep the conversation professional.
A flash of Marley flashed through his head of her in the middle of their living room with only the sheet from their bed draped around her merely an hour ago, practically pushing him out the door so he could make it on time for the meeting. She was laughing and smiling and the sound was something he wanted to here forever. He never wanted to see that smile off of her face.
“I really only have one thing to say.” He shrugged. “I want us to make our own decisions.”
“The entire group of mangers broke into whispers and glanced around like it was the craziest thing they’d ever heard. “Now, Joe.” Mr. Nacks spoke above the small uproar. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Joe let out a bitter laugh and shook his head, “No it’s not a good idea that I can’t do one thing without running it by Martin, I can’t saying anything unless I tell Martin first. Only say the answers Martin tells you to say. Fuck that and fuck Martin!” Joe’s voice rose.
“Joseph!” His mother scolded him, her face turning red.
“Sorry.” He mumbled.
“Joe, we’ve put together a team of people that are only looking out for your best interest, we’re trying to keep you in the good light and in the right place at the right time, saying all the right things, you couldn’t do that on your own.” Mr. Nacks tried to reason with him.
“I don’t care.” Joe said softly. “That doesn’t make me happy. You’re all trying to make us the perfect little robot that’ll promote you and other people you want to be on your good side and I don’t like it. I don’t like being told what to do or what to say. I want to live like me…not what you want me to be.”
“Is this what you really want?” Joe’s head snapped to the side, seeing his father’s curious eyes taking in the scene in front of him.
Joe shook his head and heard the collective sigh of relief. “No…this is what I need…what we need.” He looked around the table at all the shocked faces and felt bad for a second but quickly shook the feeling off.
“Joe, I don’t think you understand what you’re doing…” Mr. Nacks tried again.
“Oh, no.” He laughed. “I know exactly what I’m doing.”
Mr. Nacks growled, loosing his composure for a second, turning to the quiet boys sitting on either side of Joe, “Nick, Kevin? What do you make of all this?”
Kevin smiled, leaning forward and clapping a hand on his brother’s shoulder, “You heard the man…you’re fired.” Kevin grinned.
All eyes turned to Nick, waiting for him to talk some sense into his brothers but he leaned forward, joining the small huddle and smiling, “…All of you.” He clarified, glancing around the table and smacking his hands on the table, pushing himself up, taking the initiative and leading his family out of the conference room, leaving the management team stunned and client-less.