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Rhythm and the Blue Line Ch 19

More stress means more stress relief.
Ryan sat at her desk, willing the time to pass. It was Friday and she was itching to get out of the office. She'd been distracted all day, thinking about the gig the following night. Plus, she wanted to see Brody.

She hadn't seen him since Sunday and smiled at the memory. They had eventually worked off enough stress that she had slept until after ten in the morning. Brody had been gone when she'd awakened, but he'd left a note and a ticket for that afternoon's game, telling her to come and noting that cheering on the team was yet another positive way to release stress.

Although her initial reaction was to decline, she decided to go. She could go to the game, or she could sit at home and worry about the gig. She had a good time: the Caps won the game, and she'd enjoyed chatting with the other women again. Afterwards, she and Brody had met up with Lara and Trout for dinner. By the time she'd gotten home, despite everything that had happened at rehearsal, she'd felt more relaxed than she had in a while.

After they'd gotten back to Brody's place, they'd made love again. Advance stress relief, he'd called it, since he'd be gone for road games and not back until Friday. She'd laughed and gone along with it.

She glanced at the clock and groaned. One more hour. She clicked on her work log to see which project she could make the most progress on. As she clicked on a file, her phone rang. She hoped it was Brody, but any break was welcome.

"Hello, Ryan Bancroft."

"Hi, sweetie. It's Mom."

Ryan groaned to herself; a call from her mom was not the break she'd hoped for. "Hi, Mom. What's up?"

"Oh, not much. I was just calling to remind you about Aunt Margo's party tomorrow. It's so wonderful that it's their thirty-second anniversary. So many people don't get that far these days."

Ryan closed her eyes and counted to ten. "Mom, I told you, I can't make it. We have our gig at the 9:30 Club tomorrow night. I've already talked to Aunt Margo and Uncle Pete both."

"Really? It's tomorrow? But, Ryan, it's their anniversary. Can't you come before your show?"

"No, Mom, I can't. I wish I could, but this was set up before the dinner was, and they understand." The last thing she needed, Ryan thought, was to be with her family before the gig. She could just imagine the "encouragement" she'd get.

"Ryan, really. I don't understand why you do this. It's not much to ask that you be there to celebrate an important milestone for someone in the family, especially after all the things they've done for us. For you."

Ryan ground her teeth and counted to ten once more. "Mom, I'm not 'doing' anything. I have previous plans, and people are counting on me. It's as simple as that."

"Your brothers are coming, so I don't see why you can't, at least for a while. It's bad enough that Evan has to leave early, but at least he'll be there for part of it. JT will be there for the whole thing, and you know how busy he is."

"JT's not performing tomorrow night. You know, if one of them had a game and it conflicted, you'd miss the party." Ryan chafed at the comparison to her brothers, JT in particular.

"Well, that's . . . that's different." Her mother sounded surprised.

"How? How is it different?" Ryan demanded.

"Ryan, please. It is different and you know it."

"Right. Look, Mom, I have to go. I need to get something finished."

"All right. I still think you should be there. Your brothers are making the effort, and you should too."

"Fine. Bye, Mom." Ryan didn't bother explaining why she couldn't attend; her mother wouldn't listen anyway.

At last it was time to go, and she all but raced out of the office. She turned on her iPod and punched up Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime as she walked to the Metro. Nothing like drugs, prostitutes and political assassinations to take her mind off her problems. When she got home, she tried to put it out of her head. She went into the apartment and found a note from Lara that said she was at her mom's place and would be spending the night at Trout's.

Ryan shook her head. "I bet she did that just so I can't vent about my mom." Well, she couldn't blame Lara. Lord knew Ryan had done enough venting in the time they'd been friends. She flipped over the note, per Lara's instructions, and found some new lyrics.

Just came into my head, Lara had written. See if it shakes anything loose for you.

Ryan welcomed the distraction. She hung up her coat and went into her room to change into jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, then went out to see if there was any food.

Lara had made some chicken thing a couple of nights ago, and Ryan decided that would do. She put the leftovers on a plate, nuked them, and ate quickly. After she'd finished, she grabbed her guitar and Lara's note and sat down, noodling with no particular ideas to see if anything happened. After half an hour, she had nothing. When she heard a knock at the door, she put her guitar down and got up to answer it.

"Hi, Brody. Come on in."

"Thanks." He stepped in, closed the door and followed her back to the living room. "How are you doing?"

She threw her hands up as she walked back to the couch, and picked her guitar up again. "Just fucking great."

"Ah, I see."

"Sorry. I'm okay. Sorry."

"What's the problem?" He came closer and rubbed her shoulders. "Just nervous about tomorrow? You'll be fine." He took a step back and looked her up and down. "And I was right; you definitely look sexy with the guitar."

That made her laugh. "Well, thank you. But yes, I'm nervous about tomorrow."

"You'll be fine, Ryan. You even got in an extra rehearsal this week, didn't you?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know." The band had caught a break when Nate as able to switch shifts with someone and they'd squeezed in a rehearsal on Wednesday night. Even so, they were going into this without as much preparation as she'd like. She took a deep breath. "So, yes, I am stressed about tomorrow, but that's not all of it. My mom called me before I left work."

"Uh oh. What'd she say?"

"Oh, she tried to guilt trip me into going to a party for my aunt and uncle tomorrow night. For their anniversary." Ryan huffed out a frustrated breath. "I've talked to my aunt and uncle; they understand. The gig was set up before the party was. I told Mom that, but that's not good enough. Well, screw it." She put her guitar down again, then dropped onto the sofa.

Brody was silent for a moment, not sure what to say. His instinct was to try to provide a different perspective on her mom's remarks, but he couldn't, and he doubted Ryan would appreciate it.

"And you know what really pisses me off?" Ryan asked.


"If JT or Evan had a game, my parents would miss this party without a second thought. And when I pointed that out, she just said, 'That's different.' Right, different." Ryan dropped her head back.

"What did you do?" Brody was a little uncertain as he sat next to her; he'd never seen her this upset.

"I just got off as soon as I could." Ryan shrugged. "I mean, I said good-bye and all. I couldn't take it."

"She probably didn't mean anything. She was probably just—"

"Brody, don't, okay?" She dragged her hands through her hair and turned to look at him. "I know you're just trying to make me feel better, and I appreciate it. But trust me, Mom meant it. It is different when it comes to my brothers, because my dad is all about sports, so my performance doesn't rate as a reason not to go."

"Okay, I'm sorry." He moved closer to her and put his arm around her shoulders.

She dropped her head to rest on his arm. "Not your fault. You'll see if you meet them."

"Oh, don’t worry. I know how to impress parents."

Ryan gave a short laugh. "That's not what I'm worried about. They'll love you. They just don't hold back on expressing opinions of my life choices."

"Ryan, try to relax." Brody tipped her chin up. "Getting upset isn't going to help."

"I know, but I can't help it. I'll work through it." She blew out a long breath. "Sorry, I'm not much fun tonight, am I?"

He laughed. "It's okay. We all have bad days, and you're stressed."

"You're right, I am." She turned to him. "And as my boyfriend, isn't it your job to help me de-stress?"

Brody stared at her, then saw the smile playing at the corners of her lips. "I guess it is, at that." He leaned in to kiss her and was pleased when he felt her relax against him. He rested his forehead on hers. "You're bossy, but in a subtle way, you know that?"

"Is that a problem?"

"Oh, no." He stood and took her hands to help her up. "No, I've found I like bossy women."

"Women?" She raised an eyebrow.

"Well, one woman." He snaked one arm around her waist and began walking her back towards the bedroom. "But I do like the one." With that, he wrapped his other arm around her and kissed her. Her arms came up and gripped his shoulders. As his tongue traced over her bottom lip, she opened her mouth and slid her tongue against his. He smiled into the kiss.

"Aggressive, aren't we?"

"What can I say? It's the stress." Ryan kissed him again and began unbuttoning his shirt. She pushed it open and raked her nails lightly over his chest.

"One day, we're going to have to do this when you're not stressed." Brody yanked her shirt over her head and made short work of her bra, then dragged her body up against his.

"Where's the fun in that?"

"Oh, I could have a lot of fun with that."

Ryan laughed, that throaty chuckle he was coming to love, and the rest of their clothes were gone in short order. Brody tumbled her to the bed, but then she pushed him to his back. He raised his eyebrow, then dropped his head back as she kissed his neck, and let out a surprised groan when he felt her mouth on his chest, then on his nipple. He jumped as her nails once more skimmed over his skin, but he liked it.

When she took him in her mouth, he flopped back on the bed. He'd meant, he was sure he had, to help her release her own stress. As she moved her mouth up and back down, he wondered if perhaps she preferred more active ways of getting rid of stress. Her tongue swept over the tip as she began to stroke him with her hand. That lasted less than a minute before he stopped her.

"Get over here." He pulled her up so he could kiss her and then rolled her over. "My turn."

Before she could react, he moved down her body. He licked and laved her nipples, then went lower, loving how she shuddered when he ran his tongue over her navel. Sliding further back, he paused to see what she would do; he didn't want to press her for anything she didn't want. When she reached down to touch his shoulder, he took that as permission.

She cried out and her hips bucked as his tongue glided over her sex. He grasped her sides and continued, teasing her with long, slow licks followed by quick kisses, then back. He varied his pace because he liked hearing the sounds she made. He kept her on the edge for a few moments, and then sent her over, waiting until she was limp before he stopped.

Ryan lay on the bed, wondering what had happened. She heard Brody moving and then he was over her. Although she liked how his body covered hers, she nudged him again until he was on his back, then swung her leg over him.

"Hey, that's nice." He reached up and ran his hands over her shoulders, her arms, and then her breasts. "Oh, that's nicer." He put his hands on her waist to guide her as she slid down, taking him inside her.

She was warm and wet and he wouldn't last long like this, he knew, but that was all right. Ryan leaned down and kissed him as she rolled her hips against him. She broke the kiss on a small cry as she came again. That did it for Brody; he captured her lips again while his hands gripped her hips and held her against him. He fell back with a groan. When Ryan collapsed on top of him, he wrapped his arms around her and rubbed her back.

After a moment, Ryan looked up. "Thanks."

"You're welcome."

She pushed herself up and chuckled at his mock efforts to keep her in place. A few minutes later, Brody threw on his jeans and Ryan grabbed an oversized t-shirt. She followed him out to the kitchen and wrapped her arms around him from behind.

"Good luck finding anything. I didn't have much time for shopping this week," she told him.

"A good chef is a creative chef. I'll manage."

As they sat down to watch a movie, Ryan curled up next to him on the couch. "I'm glad you came over, Brody. Thanks."

"You're welcome. Next time, though, either I bring food, or you come to my place. This was a serious test of my abilities."

Ryan laughed. "Deal. And I'll figure out some way to reciprocate."

"You know how I said you're sexy with the guitar?"

"Yes. So?" She gave him a wary look.

"I think you'd look even sexier if you were naked with the guitar."

She laughed and placed a quick but promising kiss on his lips. "Maybe someday."

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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