HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGIE! Here is **part one** of your birthday story ;o)
"Hunka, Hunka, Burning Love" (set in the “Drive My Car” universe)
“Alright, Syb, SPILL!”
Sybil looked at her friend in confusion, but before she could say anything, Rose was answering for her.
“His name is Tom, he’s Irish, and absolutely gorgeous!”
Sybil was blushing deeply, though she couldn’t help but smile at her cousin’s words. “He also happens to be brilliant, and is a very talented writer—”
“Who used to strip before he started dating this one,” Rose cut in, pointing an accusatory finger at Sybil.
“What?” her cousin batted her eyes innocently. “It’s true!” She then put on a pout. “And thanks to you, Barrow’s Burrow just isn’t the same without him!”
Sybil rolled her eyes and lifted her glass to her lips, ignoring her cousin’s comments and enjoying the wine Gwen had ordered for their table.
“I have his picture if you want to see,” Rose offered, digging her mobile out of her purse.
“WHAT?” Sybil practically choked on her wine, but Gwen was already reaching across the table and eagerly snatching Rose’s phone from her hands before Sybil could intercept.
“Oooohhh Syb…” Gwen giggled, her grin spreading further as she got a good eyeful of her friend’s boyfriend. “Well done you!”
Sybil snatched the phone from Gwen and looked at it quickly, her face burning even brighter as she recognized the picture from the night she had met Tom, the night she had “posed” as her sister, and received Mary’s pre-ordered lap dance.
“You will delete that this instant,” Sybil threatened, glaring at her cousin. “And it better not be on your Facebook page!”
Now it was Rose who was rolling her eyes. “You’re no fun,” she muttered.
“Ok, ok, there! It’s done!” Rose deleted the picture right there, but she did pout while she did so. “And I promise, I haven’t shown or posted it anywhere, I’m not that insensitive,” she sighed dramatically, before dropping the mobile back into her purse.
Gwen was still giggling and she eyed Sybil curiously. “Do your parents know?”
Sybil blushed and shook her head. “They haven’t met him yet, though Mama does keep asking,” she murmured. “But anyway, he’s a writer now, and it was HIS decision to quit dancing, Rose; I didn’t force him to do anything.”
Rose rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah, but we all know better; you’re the reason he quit,” she paused to take a gulp of wine from her glass. “And I hope you’re happy, Sybil for depriving the rest of us of your Irishman’s ‘talents’.”
Gwen laughed. “Oh I’m sure she is; I’ve never seen her glow like this!”
Sybil’s blush only deepened. “I…I’m not—”
“Yes you are,” both women responded, winking at her. “So Syb, I’ll repeat what I said earlier—SPILL!”
“Yes please,” Rose eagerly agreed, grabbing the wine bottle and topping Sybil’s glass. “Tell me, does your Mr. Branson give you ‘private performances’?”
“And are those dance moves of his as good in bed as they are on stage?” Gwen teased.
“ENOUGH!” Sybil practically shouted. “I was never one to ‘kiss and tell’ and I’m not going to start now!”
Both Rose and Gwen burst into laughter at Sybil’s aggravated state. “Oh fine, fine,” Gwen sighed. “It was worth a try,” she said with a wink. “Oh, but that reminds me! Your birthday is coming up!” Gwen glanced at Rose. “Do you think Tom would be willing to entertain us?”
Sybil threw her napkin at her friends, who only threw their heads back and laughed.
“Did you have a good time with your friends tonight?”
Heat flooded Sybil’s face as she recalled the conversation between herself and Gwen and Rose. They had enjoyed teasing her, and couldn’t stop giggling, no matter how “indignant” Sybil became. She was standing in the bathroom in that moment, and had just finished brushing her teeth. The door to the bathroom was opened, and from this angle, she could see her bed directly across from the bathroom in the bathroom’s mirror. Her face grew even hotter as she looked at the shirtless Irishman who was sitting up in her bed, waiting for her to join him.
She coughed and rinsed her mouth one more time before answering him. “Mmmhmm!” she swallowed and tucked some hair behind her ears before she turned off the lights and returned to the bedroom.
Tom just kept smiling, clearly unaware of what had been the topic of conversation when she was out (or that he was the focus for it) and simply peeled back the blankets for her, wasting no time in gathering her close as she slipped into the bed.
Sybil smiled and eagerly leaned up to kiss him, loving the feel of his arms around her, sighing happily and contentedly as she snuggled close to his body, all those embarrassing details about her conversation with Rose and Gwen flying out the window as Tom turned off the lamp, and the settled back against the pillows in the now darkened bedroom. As much as she enjoyed their “usual” late night bedroom antics, it was just as lovely when they simply curled up together under the blankets and fell asleep in each other’s arms. And Sybil was very close to drifting off completely, her cheek against his chest, when she felt his voice vibrating beneath it, asking her a question.
“Friday’s your birthday; will you be getting together with the girls again?”
And everything came crashing back. “Oh God,” Sybil groaned, burrowing her face against his skin.
Tom stiffened. “What? What’s wrong?”
She sighed and took a deep breath, before lifting her head and sitting up. “Rose…told Gwen about what you used to do…”
There was a long moment of silence and Sybil bit her lip, wondering if he was going to say something. She hadn’t turned a light on, so she couldn’t see what his reaction was, but she felt tension crackling between them. She opened her mouth to say something further, but stopped short when she heard Tom speak.
“And…that embarrassed you?” he softly asked.
Sybil felt her breath hitch in her throat at his question. She couldn’t see his face, but…oh God, she swore she heard sadness. Not that Tom wanted her to necessarily advertise that he had been a stripper; his brother was the only person in his circle that knew about his momentary profession, and as far as Tom was concerned, that was more than enough. And while it did make him blush, knowing that both of Sybil’s sisters and her cousin were aware of what he had once done (after all, it was how both he and Sybil had met), again, that didn’t mean he wanted to climb Downton’s highest tower and shout from the rooftops to her parents, “I met your daughter while giving her a lap dance!”
No, the pain and sadness that she swore she heard didn’t have anything to do with others knowing or not knowing, but everything to do with the fear that she would be embarrassed, disappointed, or disgusted with him, to the point where she wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him and look down upon him. And that fear she quickly needed to nip in the bud.
“No, no, I’m not, not at all!” she assured, reaching for him in the darkness, her hands finding his face and cupping his cheeks in her palms. “No, oh Tom, it wasn’t that, I…” she sighed, wondering if he could see her face glowing in the dark from the way she was blushing. “I just don’t like it when that seems to be all anyone can focus on,” she admitted.
She felt him relax, and even felt the corners of his mouth spread in a smile, which naturally made her smile and feel a little relieved. “Trying to convince your friends that I’ve got brains to go with my brawn?” he teased light-heartedly, and then began to chuckle at the sound of her groan.
“People should be defined by their thoughts and actions, not their professions…or former professions,” she mumbled.
Tom chuckled even more and moved then to enfold her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and drawing her closer, his lips lightly grazing hers.
“Ah well, give it time.”
Sybil snorted at this. “I don’t think all the time in the world will matter where Rose is concerned,” she muttered.
He chuckled and kissed her brow. “Maybe not, but at the end of the day, your opinion is the only one I really care about.”
She turned her head and looked up at him, and despite the darkness, she could see emotion in his eyes, the hope and the vulnerability he held within himself.
“I love you,” she whispered, reaching up and touching his cheek, grinning as she felt his smile spread against her fingers. “I love you and I wouldn’t stop loving you or being proud of you, even if you had continued dancing.”
He chuckled and quickly lowered his lips to kiss hers, before resting their brows together. “I love you too,” he murmured when their lips parted. “And thank you, love, though remember—I’m a proud dancer for one now,” he winked.
Sybil groaned again, and with a resolute sigh, told Tom then about the conversation that had transpired between herself and Gwen and Rose. He listened and laughed and even blushed himself, as she retold the conversation, including the part where Gwen had teased her about “hiring” Tom to “entertain” them at Sybil’s birthday party.
“I never did private parties,” Tom told her when she had finished.
Sybil’s eyes widened. “W-w-what?”
He chuckled and stroked her cheek. “As far as strippers go, love, I’m rather ‘boring’; I mean, until the night I danced for you, I had never done a lap dance, or danced for a group of ladies in a private setting.”
Sybil’s arms tightened around his waist. “Is it wrong of me to be glad about that?”
He laughed and kissed her, and soon she found herself giggling too. As open-minded as she tried to be, she couldn’t help being a little possessive.
“Although,” he murmured after a while. “The idea is a little sexy…”
“Well think about it,” he continued. “Showing up in some uniform, like a copper…taking you by the hand and leading you someplace to do a ‘strip search’, maybe be ‘forced’ to use the handcuffs—”
She swatted his chest, though the images he was painting in her mind were causing her heart to quicken and her body to hum.
“Or maybe a fireman, who’s come to help put out your fire, using his hose—”
She cut off his words by kissing him deeply, and just like that, their “usual” late night antics quickly resumed as the sheets tangled with their limbs as they themselves tangled together.
Yet unbeknownst to Sybil, as afterwards she slept contentedly in the curve of her boyfriend’s body while he left lazy kisses on her shoulder, he was already hatching a plan…one that he hoped would lead to a very happy birthday…
To be continued…