An In the Kitchen Series Free Read: An Unexpected Happy Ending

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This story involves Ethan Martin and Jamie Lassiter and takes place after In the Fire. You may encounter spoilers if you haven’t read In the Raw and In the Fire first.

*****

Ethan’s POV

An Unexpected Happy Ending

“Are you sure this is the place?”

Jamie nodded as he locked the car.

I glanced at the sign over of the door of the storefront, and sighed. I’d been to the International District to eat too many times to count over the years. I prided myself on being able to cook a wide variety of dishes, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t recreate hand pulled noodles like at the shop down the street. But Jamie hadn’t brought me to a restaurant. In front of me, the storefront had a faded green and white sign that read “Lotus Foot Massage: 蓮花足部按摩” with a beat up poster of foot reflexology in the window.

I looked at Jamie again, trying not to sound critical. “Are you extra positive sure this is the right place? The windows are all covered and stuff, and I can’t see anything. You sure they haven’t moved?”

Jamie chuckled and pulled me in for a quick kiss. “For the tenth time, yes I’m sure this is the right place. There are no signs in the window saying they’ve moved—”

“Not that you’d be able to tell since all the signs are in Cantonese.”

He laughed and kissed me again. “Yes, but I’m pretty sure that kind of sign would be hard to miss.”

I took another look at the storefront over his shoulder.

“We don’t have to go in, E. I know you hate other people invading your space, much less touching you. It’s just that you’ve been working such long hours to cover my recent publicity gigs. I thought it would be a fun way for both of us to relax on our one day off together.”

I turned my attention back to him and rested my forehead against his. No matter how hard I worked or what I did, I would never be worthy of Jamie Lassiter. I’d offered to fly back to New York with him for the holidays. It had been his home for eight and a half years before he’d finally made the cross country trek for us to be back in the same city again. But it had been the only place he’d known as an adult and I knew that the decorations and festivities in Seattle couldn’t hold a candle to Christmas in the Big Apple. Yet, he’d chosen to spend our first Christmas officially together, in Seattle. And this was how I repaid him. By throwing his gift to me back in his face without even giving it a try.

“Sorry. You know I get antsy when people touch me.”

His soft snort made me laugh, so I added, “Okay, most people. More like ninety-nine point nine percent of the people out there. Maybe higher than that.” I sighed. “Okay, everyone except you.”

“E, we don’t have to do this. I thought it would help you relax, but if it’s a problem, we don’t have to do it.”

I pulled back and looked into Jamie’s gorgeous blue eyes. Those eyes had seen me at my best and worst. They were the ones I’d lost for too many years and had finally gotten back after we’d both pulled our heads out of our asses and accepted we were meant to be together. The first ones I wanted to see when I woke up each morning and the last ones I wanted to watch close at the end of every night. He’d done this because he loved me and had wanted to do something nice for me. And instead of being grateful, I was being a dick. Again.

“Nah, I’m good. But promise me one thing.”

He tugged me tighter against him. “Anything.”

I closed my eyes and buried my face against his neck. “Promise me you won’t leave me in there alone. I swear J, I’m not a wuss. But the thought of people touching my feet … yeah, just promise me you won’t leave me in the hands of some acupuncture sadist.”

“You realize you have ink, right?”

I shuddered. “Yeah, but that’s a different kind of needle. Plus, there’s ink at the end of the session.”

Jamie shook with laughter, but he kissed the side of my head and murmured, “I’ll never leave you again, E. Promise.”

After everything we’d been through together, it was the one promise I knew he’d never break.

I pulled back and took in a deep breath. Jamie grinned and said, “Let’s get that massage.”

We pushed through the glass door into the tiny waiting room. There were a few chairs against the bank of shuttered windows, the scent of burning incense and a small, battered, wooden desk that held a cash register that looked like it had been around longer than I’d been alive.

A younger woman pushed through a gap in the curtain, and asked, “Two?”

Jamie nodded, already pulling out his credit card. I wasn’t sure what I expected since I’d never actually paid for a massage before. I’d been on the receiving end of numerous massages from Jamie, but most of those had been short-lived once his hands got anywhere below my waist. From that moment on, they became a different kind of massage, one that usually ended with a decidedly happy ending. As I watched the woman swipe Jamie’s card, then part the curtain and wave us back, a happy ending was the last thing on my agenda while we were here. Truthfully, just getting out of here alive would have made my top five. Okay, top one.

Jamie and I were led over to two empty chairs, each with a person standing next to them. The chairs weren’t exactly chairs. Instead they looked like fully reclined wooden lounge chairs that been covered with thick towels.

“Um, Jamie?” I whispered.

He either didn’t hear me or was ignoring me, because he proceeded to sit down at the chair monitored by a young lady, attractive and in her early twenties, and began taking off his shoes. A young man of equal age tapped me on my shoulder nearly startling me out of my own skin.

“Your shoes.”

He held out a square wicker basket with an expectant expression on his face. Catching on, I sat down on the chair and slipped off my Chucks and placed them in the basket. Jamie had already settled himself on his chair, a look of pure calm on his beautiful face. When the young man returned, he indicated for me to lay back. I could do this. Jamie said he’d done this before and he was alive and well next to me. Nothing bad would happen, right? Just a way to work out the kinks of long days and even longer nights at Bistro 30.

The chair should have been hard, but there was padding underneath the towels making it comfortable. No more than a few seconds passed when the young man placed a dry, warm towel over my eyes. I immediately tensed at the loss of sight. I hated giving up control. The only person who I’d ever willingly given up control to was Jamie. But he was the only person, besides Claire, I truly trusted in this world. After taking a deep breath in, I tried to will my body to relax. I could do this.

Fucking hell. I’m going to kill Jamie for this.

A scrape of chair legs across the floor. The subtle chime of the metal chimes over the door. Nothing dangerous or threatening. I could do this. And then I felt strong hands in my hair, massaging my scalp.

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

Had anything ever felt as good as this? I stifled a chuckle as an image of Jamie writhing underneath me popped into my head. Yeah. There were definitely things that had felt better than this, but this was … yeah. Maybe Jamie was right. I needed this. We both did.

I banished thoughts of Jamie and focused on those strong fingers on my scalp. No matter how enjoyable this was, it would be difficult to explain sporting wood over Jamie while I was being worked over by some stranger.

The hands slipped down to my temples and slowly rubbed away the tension I’d been carrying. Over and over those strong hands massaged and rubbed and circled over my skin. I’d have to remember all this for later when Jamie and I were alone.

I nearly choked on my yelp when those strong hands moved to my earlobes and tugged. Hard.

What? In? The? Actual? Fuck?

Hell, I loved it when Jamie got rough with me. But as the masseur’s hands moved down to my shoulders, I felt those fingers not just on my skin, but deep down into the muscles underneath as they pulled and stretched with bruising force.

Okay. So maybe this was just a way to get the knots out. I could take it. I wasn’t a fucking wimp who couldn’t take pain. I’d been stupid when I was younger, getting into the occasional fight here and there. I could take this shit.

Then the pressure lightened and then pulled away all together. I heard the scrape of a chair again then hands rested on my biceps.

Hey, that wasn’t so bad.

Or so I thought. Blinding pain radiated through my right arm as fingers gripped my bicep and twisted. Over. And over. And over. What in the fuck was this guy doing? Trying to twist my goddamn arm off? And who the fuck thought this felt good? The scalp thing? Yeah, I could totally get off on that. But this?

The hands moved down to my forearm with that same brutal twisting motion. I wanted to scream. I wanted to tell the guy tearing my arm off to back the off. But the absence of screams from anyone else made me wonder if was just a wimp.

As suddenly as it began, the pain lessened and the pressure lifted. Long strokes up and down my arm had my mind reeling. Had I imagined the pain? Maybe I was more stressed out than I thought I was. Maybe my muscles were so knotted up the pain was just my body’s way of releasing the tension. That had to be it, because soon I was floating on a sea of pleasure. No more twisting. No more bruising strength digging down into my bone. Just a steady movement up and down my arm, finally resting on the palm of my hand.

Back and forth. Small circles. Every finger stroked from base to tip.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

Are you fucking kidding me? I almost laughed.

Every fiber of me wanted to laugh. But this wasn’t a fucking laughing matter. The dude was stretching every one of my goddamn fingers until he popped the tip – popping them with an audible fucking pop – then yanked them all so hard I was sure my joints would never be the same. I used my hands every goddamn day for my job. And to work Jamie over. If he broke my fingers, I couldn’t cook. If I couldn’t cook, what the fuck else was I going to do?

This had to be a fucking joke. Jamie was pranking my ass, I just knew it. Any moment now, I’d hear his voice saying, “Surprise!” and we’d have a good laugh and we’d both have a funny story to tell everyone once I recovered feeling in my fucking hands.

I waited. Off to the side I heard the same scrape of a chair over the floor. I waited some more. Nothing, until…

Mother fucking son of a bitch!

Without warning, hands dug into my left bicep, twisting and turning and burning and tearing me open. Fucking hell, Jamie was going to fucking pay for this sick idea of a joke. As the hands shifted down to my left forearm, the pain moving from blinding to absofucking-out-of-control-unendurable agony, I knew no simple revenge would do it. With each fucking pop of my fingers, I went through every thrash metal band I loved and resolved to find which one was coming to Seattle soon. No matter how much money it took, I was buying two fucking tickets on the front fucking row. Jamie hated my music. Loathed it. Constantly complained about it. Even through the agony I was enduring right now, I smiled thinking of how miserable he was going to be at a two, hopefully three hour concert filled with screeching guitar solos and lyrics that were screamed and grunted at an ear-splitting volume.

Without warning, my arm was placed back against my side as a shit ton of weight rocked it into my body.

Creak. Creak. Creak.

Despite the pain, I snickered at the sound that reminded me of how my old bed used to creak when Jamie and I were going at it. Before we’d replaced it for one of those fancy ass foam mattress beds.

A few seconds later, I heard the same telltale creak next to me. And this time it wasn’t fucking funny, as the image of someone banging Jamie on the chair popped into my head. I shuddered and hoped this shit would be over soon.

Until, the sadist moved to my calves, grinding and mashing them with more violence than he’d seen fit to put my arms through.

Fucking great. I’ll need a fucking walker or a goddamn wheelchair to get my sorry ass out of here.

Each leg ended with the same fucking ritual he’d put my hands through. First, some light touches and rotations that lulled me into a false sense of security. Then, his fingers eviscerated me.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

As if it wasn’t enough for him to twist my skin into a motherfucking pretzel, he was no beating – no, pounding – the ever loving shit out of the soles of my feet.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

I shivered as I felt his fingers on my feet. I didn’t even know toe joints could pop like this. But this guy did. And even though I couldn’t see his face, I wondered if he wore a twisted, malevolent grin as he beat my poor body into a bruised and battered mess.

Then, nothing.

The hands lifted from my body and there was … nothing. I took a deep breath and thanked whatever deity I hadn’t pissed off lately for seeing me through this nightmare. Suddenly, the cloth was pulled away from my face and I had to blink a few times to adjust my eyes to the dim lighting.

Okay. So it’s over. Jamie and I can go the fuck home. I can kick his ass for making me endure this shit. Then I’ll get my laptop and search for the soonest available concert. And I’ll smile like an asshole the entire time.

I looked around, expecting Jamie to be standing there waiting for me, but his chair was empty. Okaaaaaay. So the asshole hadn’t waited for me like he’d promised.

Pissed, I looked around for my shoes, startling when someone tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at an open doorway.

“My shoes?”

The new lady smiled and pointed at the doorway. “No. Now you go through there.”

What? The? Fuck?

I’d heard of erotic massage places. I’d never had the urge to go to one since I’d had no problem getting off on my own, but everyone knew they existed.

Thank you very much, but hell to the fucking no.

Jamie wasn’t kinky. Adventurous, yes. Kinky? No. There were a lot of things about Jamie that would surprise people if they only knew what he did behind closed doors, but he most definitely wasn’t into chicks.

With a renewed purpose, I headed down the dark hallway past several rooms – all with the doors closed – until I saw a guy standing at the doorway of an empty room. Inside there was a massage table covered by more towels.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

I’d already endured the pain fest in the main room. I was going to fucking kill Jamie for this.

Sending up one last prayer that I would make it out of here without murdering this guy, I climbed onto the table and lay face down. Again, strong fingers massaged my neck and scalp. The touch was lighter, gentler than it had been in the main room, and slowly I felt some of the frustration and tension bleed away. Okay, so maybe their goal was to beat the shit out of you until you were fucking crying, only to reward you for having the balls to endure it by giving you a decent massage.

I sighed in relief and relaxed into the table.

The fingers worked out the knots on the back of my neck, then traveled across each shoulder blade, thoroughly turning me into a puddle of goo.

Until I felt his hands leave my body and the table slightly shift under a new weight. Then pain. Blinding, unadulterated pain lanced every cell in my body. This dude had to be putting his entire fucking weight on my back as he shoved me into the table, each vertebra snapping as he worked his way down my back.

Goddammitfuckinghellsonofabitch!

I knew, with more certainty than I’d ever known anything before in my life, he was going to crack my spine. I was going to be trapped in this inner sanctum of hell forever because he was going to sever my spine and I’d have to stay here, being beaten and slapped and thwacked and popped every fucking day for eternity.

Then, suddenly, his hands and weight lifted, and there was nothing. A gentle hand rested on my shoulder.

Sure, now you want to cuddle? Sorry asshole.

“Please follow me.”

I rolled over and laid my arm over my eyes, wondering what gravity was going to do to my ass once I hopped off the table. I sat up and swung my legs over the table. The guy/sadist/motherfucker just stood there smiling pleasantly, with my shoes held out in front of him.

I hurriedly put on my Chucks and on wobbly legs, followed him down the dark hallway and through the tattered mauve curtain.

“Hey, E. How’d it go? Feeling better?”

Jamie’s handsome face was more relaxed than I’d seen it lately with a smile that spread from ear to ear. I loved this man. More than I’d ever thought it was humanly possible to love another person. But I also, just for a brief second, wanted to kick his ass.

“You’re kidding, right? Did you sneak out and get a peppermint mocha latte without me? Because I know you did not just endure the same shit I did.”

His relaxed expression dimmed, then was replaced with concern.

“You didn’t enjoy it?”

I sighed and reined in my emotions long enough to think before I spoke. Thinking before speaking wasn’t my forte. But this was Jamie, who I’d happily sell my left nut for if I knew it would make him happy.

So instead of spewing all my rage and frustration onto him, I stepped forward and threw my arms around his waist, burying my face in his neck. Trying not to sound like the fucking wuss I was, I muttered, “I thought I was going to die.”

He pulled back and looked at me, his face shifting from concern to outright alarm.

“E? What happened?”

I buried my face back in the crook of his neck and whined, “That guy beat the shit out of me Jamie. I swear I’m going to have bruises. And not the fun kind.”

Jamie’s body shook with his quiet chuckle as his arms tightened around me.

“I’m sorry. I guess I should have warned you. You have to tell the masseur when it’s too rough. Deep tissue massage is supposed to work out all the stress. Why didn’t you say anything?”

I shrugged, but didn’t release my death grip. A Jamie hug was the best feeling in the world. A million times better than that scalp massage, and that had felt pretty fucking good.

Jamie sighed and pulled away only enough to reach down and lace his fingers with mine. He waved to the woman at the front of the shop as we left and I didn’t say a word as he towed me toward our car.

“I wanted to do something nice for you since you’ve been working so hard. I’m sorry, E.”

At his worried look, I felt horrible. Bruises or no bruises, I was being a dick. Oh, I was still taking his ass to a death metal concert, but I needed to man the fuck up.

“Nah. I’ll survive. But I might need a little TLC later. Just sayin’.”

He paused by my door and leaned in close enough to whisper in my ear, “How about a nice, long, hot bath, then I’ll give you your Christmas present.”

His breath against my skin made me shiver in all the right ways. I smirked and turned to look at him. “Does it involve you naked wearing only a red bow in a strategically placed area under the enormous fucking tree you made us get?”

Too quickly for me to reciprocate, he nipped my bottom lip and gave me a smirk of his own, one that never failed to have an immediate effect on my cock.

“I guess we’ll have to get home so you can find out.”

Before I could answer, Jamie moved away and walked around to his side of the car. I stole one last glance at the Lotus Massage Foot Chamber of Torture before getting in the car and grinned. Maybe there was a happy ending in my future.

© 2014 Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels. Please excuse 
any typos and errors since this is not a professionally 
edited piece of work.

*****

Whatever you celebrate, we wish you a bright and happy holiday season filled with good food, laughter, loved ones and friends, and peace.

~Eileen and Nikka

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