Build A Baehr (Excerpt)
“Just take a deep breath or something.” I resist the urge to curse as the command is accompanied by an unrelenting pressure on my arms as they are pulled further back and over my head than I would have liked. Can’t swear in yoga class. I remind myself forcefully as I attempt to wriggle my hips in an attempt to alleviate some of the strain on my back. Particularly when you are supposed to be setting some sort of an example.
The attempt to wriggle my hips is largely futile given the solidity of the man sitting on my thighs, so I force myself to keep breathing and arch further up off the yoga mat in an attempt to lean back into the stretch.
The pain in my back lessens as my abs start to scream in protest.
“Deep breath.” The man behind me rumbles softly and with some amusement.
“Take a deep breath? It feels like my insides are being ripped out!”
Lachlan Baehr, my yoga partner and fake boss mercifully adjusts his grip on my arms and relaxes the intensity of the backbend. The amusement in his tone goes nowhere.“Suck it up buttercup.” There is a sudden warmth in the vicinity of my left ear followed by the faint scent of his aftershave as he leans forward a bit. “I commend you on biting back all of those four letter words ye want to spit at me.”
Mind reader. “You are so not my favorite person today.”
“Liar.” My left cheek is suddenly cold as he shifts himself back. “I’m your favorite person every day.” I feel a slight pressure as he pulls back gently on my arms. Thankfully, not as intensely as before and I am able to settle into it without much strain.
“I bring you tea every morning.” Lachlan reminds me.
I catch the female half of the couple next to us looking our way, and roll my eyes. “Is that all you’ve got?”
“I help you up in the gym when you’re working on your fitness?” He singsongs in return which earns a snort of laughter from our audience.
As the stretch becomes painful, I shift a bit under him. “You take every opportunity to torture me you mean?”
Lachlan snorts. “Darling, you’ll know if I ever want to torture you.”
“Sadist.” I cease my attempts to squirm as he keeps me pinned stolidly in place under him. Idiot. You’ve been doing Yoga long enough with him to know better.
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Reading me correctly, he relaxes the stretch.
Unable to help myself I sigh loudly with relief as the remaining bit of strain on my back and arms vanishes. “Just wait until the shoe is on the other foot.”
“Regretting the donuts are we?”
Still laughing at me. Naturally. “You fed me those donuts!”
Lachlan, rather primly for a man of his size and military experience: “I offered you those donuts. You chose to eat them and now you’re paying.”
Unable to argue that, I grimace. “Sometimes you eat salads and go to the gym and sometimes you eat donuts and don’t put on pants. It’s called life balance. You should try it.”
I feel his laugh more than I hear it. “I think I’ve got the no pants thing covered.”
I roll my eyes as I recall all the times I’ve wandered into his office and found him without his pants. “If you’d take the time to close the door between our offices, this wouldn’t be an issue.”
“But if I closed the door, how would I summon you?” Leaning forward he releases the pressure on my arms in a steady move that allows me to use him as a support while I lower myself to the floor. “By using the phone like a normal person?” I mutter into the yoga mat as I lay there like a limpet.
Shifting back, and bracing his hands on either side of my hips, he moves off of my thighs and onto the floor beside me. I hear the voice of the instructor telling us to roll onto our backs, but I’m deliciously comfortable so I ignore her.
“You could knock.”
I can feel him studying me, so I reluctantly roll over. Set an example. “On an open door?” Raising myself up onto my elbows as instructed, I wrinkle my nose at his expression. You are having way too much fun at my expense this morning Baehr. “You have all the hallmarks of an exhibitionist you know that?” Digging down deep, I find some energy somewhere in the vicinity of my little toe and use it to lever myself up and off the mat. Your turn, you sadist. I watch with some glee as he takes my place on the mat.
Lachlan, flicks me a glance as he shifts and wriggles himself into a comfortable position on his back. “I doubt anyone else in the office would agree with you.”
I cross my eyes at that. “So it’s just for me?”
Lifting his chest and arching his back, he eyes me. “I know an appreciative audience when I see it.”
“Roll onto your stomachs.” The instructor calls from the front of the room.
Lachlan, more comfortable on his back than his stomach scowls, and I make a little circling motion with my index finger. “You heard the lady.”
“Is this a conspiracy?” He grumbles as with reluctance writ large in every movement of his body, he rolls onto his stomach. “If you want to ogle my backside, you have only to ask.”
Swinging my legs to the side and pushing myself up onto my knees, I take in the slight tension in his body as he repositions himself. “Just stop. I only have a certain level of sanity, and you’re not helping me keep it.”
Levering himself up on mine elbow, he looks back at me over his shoulder. “Is it my washboard abs, my broad shoulders, or—” With a slight tilt of his head and a lowering of his lashes he indicates his posterior. “My behind that has you all aflutter?”
His mock lascivious tone elicits a grin from me. “I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no conspiracy afoot here.” I tell him with mock severity. He’s uneasy just laying facedown on his stomach without anything in particular to do, so I play along as we wait for the next series of instructions from our instructor. “Haven’t you got anybody better to flirt with?”
“Not at the moment.” He stacks his hands and lowers his forehead to rest on top of them with impressive obedience as the instructor calls out for him to do so.
Bracing myself on my arm I throw a leg over his hip and shift my weight over his body until I’m straddling his hips. “Any convenient target then eh?” I lower myself carefully onto his hips. “Okay?”
“Prepare yourself.” I intone in my best deep, dark, dramatic voice.
“I wouldn’t count on any pleasure.” Leaning forward slightly, I lay my hands—heels together, fingers out—on the small of his back in anticipation of the instructor. “For now, it has come— my time for retaliation and revenge. Prepare to suffer sadist!” Despite my dramatic threats, I keep my hands gentle as I begin to knead the tight muscles at the small of his back. From experience working with him as well as all out time in ‘couples yoga’, I know he carries a lot of tension in his lower back and hips and the area tends to be sore and sensitive.
I congratulate myself on my perfect application of pressure and technique when the motions of my fingers and palms are met with a long groan and a deep shift in his body as he relaxes. “I’ve gotta say Amory, if this is your idea of retaliation, and revenge, I may never wear pants again.”
As I watch, he slides his hands out from under his forehead and bending the elbows brings his hands up and back until they are cradling the sides of his neck. You do that a lot. “Shut up Lachlan.” I tell him as I deepen the pressure of the massage slightly.
“I don’t think I could say anything if I tried.” He groans.
Spreading my hands wide and curling my fingers around his sides as I lean forward, I shift my weight onto my palms slowly and steadily backing off when his body tells me it can’t take anymore. “And yet you’re still talking.”
There is a long moment’s silence and then his reply comes faint and muffled by the yoga mat. “I hate you.”
Shifting forward slightly so I can slide my hands up a few centimeters to start the whole deep pressing thing again, I grin at his reaction to the massage. From experience, I know that another ten minutes of this and he’ll be human putty under my hands.“You think I’m lovely.”
Lachlan’s voice slides into a sort of lazy dreaminess as his tight back muscles relax further: “I think you’re a red-haired witch.”
“You’re awfully mouthy about gingers for a Scot old man.”
“I’m only thirty-eight.” He protests faintly.
I use my toes to brace myself as I lean even further over him to reach the muscles of his upper back. “You sure about that? You go to bed awfully early for a thirty-eight year old.”
His protest, when it comes, is hardly a protest. “I do not.” He says indistinctly as he sinks deeper into the mat. I’ve had him fall asleep on me before in class, so the tone doesn’t surprise me in the least.
“So, that wasn’t you asleep on my sofa last night at half past nine?” I lower my voice slightly trying not to jar him. An integral aim of this class is to promote good sleep habits, so there are always a few people who wind up passed out on the floor, and both he and I have gotten into the habit of letting the other sleep should one of us drift off.
It’s a long moment before he answers me. “Boring movie.” He slurs and then more distinctly. “Put me to sleep directly.”
“We were literally two minutes in.” I keep my voice low.
“Deadly dull.” The slur is back.
Having worked my way up to his neck now, I pause with my hands on his shoulders. “Do you want to move your hands?”
“Can’t.” He mutters into the mat.
“Can’t?” He sounds a bit like a petulant child and it makes me smile.
Okay then. I work my fingers around his hands a bit before I start to work my way back down his spine. This time, I abandon the deep pressure I’d used on my way up his spine, and use my fingertips to massage circles into the muscles on either side of his spine. “You gonna pass out on me old man?” I ask him when he lets out a deep sigh in response to the technique.
“No.” He tells me then pauses. “Trying not to.”
I grin at that. “Why am I not convinced?”
“Have I ever passed out on you?” He sounds faintly disgruntled now.
He snorts. “In yoga class Amory—have I ever passed out on you in yoga class?”
“Every time, we do back work, you turn into a jellyfish.”
“You like it.” He tells me
I shrug. “Of course I do. It’s basically the only time you shut up.” I sit back a bit as I reach the base of his spine. “Do you wanna to move on to the back bend practice, or do you want me to work on your psoas?”
His answer is muffled and indistinct: “I’m sure that that would violate some sort of work rule—qualify as sexual harassment.”
Like we don’t do this or something like it every class? “You did mine.” I lean down so only he can hear me. “Also, technically, we don’t actually work together.”
“Amory—“ He hesitates slightly. “It’s different.”
“Why? Because you have a penis and I don’t?” Now you’re going to be squeamish? After a solid three months of participating in couple’s yoga?
Lachlan laughs briefly. “Yes.”
I consider his hesitation. I suppose I might be a bit hesitant myself if I had such visibly reactive genitalia. “I promise not to hold it against you.” What’s a penis between friends right?
Another slight hesitation from him. “You’re going to be digging around in my groin—I can’t guarantee that I won’t—“
“As I said, I won’t hold it against you. It’s just physiology right?”
Casting around for some way to reassure him, I consider the logistics. “Also, we’ve got a towel to cover you up with. It’ll be fine. We’re friends. No big deal.”
“I’ve been told by some it’s a very big deal.” He mutters wryly.
“Braggert.” Relieved by the humour in his tone, I swing my legs off of him, and tap the side of his hip suggestively. “Roll over Lachlan before I change my mind.”
Lachlan rolls onto his back and looks up at me. “Maybe you should.” He tells me with a smile that is half grimace. Wouldn’t have figured you to be so prim about this.
I am struck a bit by the relaxation in his expression. He looks sleepy, as if he’s just woken up and it occurs to me that he’s rather handsome and that it would be no hardship to wake up to that face, which makes me wonder how it is that he’s single. Get a grip. I brace my hands on my thighs and sit back on my knees. “Nonsense. You’re tight right?”
He raises his eyebrows at me slightly. “I’m always tight.”
“Well that’s kind of why we’re here so—“ Leaning to the left I, reach into the small pile of blocks and bands and other yoga props piled beside our mat and snag a large towel Unfolding it, I spread it over his hips.
With a small grimace, Lachlan draws his right hand up and settles his forearm across his eyes. After a slight hesitation he pulls his shirt up with his left hand.
Well then. I think to myself as I begin to feel gently for his iliacus muscle.
The sensation of my fingers working deep into the soft flesh of his belly and along the interior of his hip is surprisingly intimate and I understand immediately why he he hesitated.
Lachlan shifts under my hand slightly and gives a soft grunt of discomfort as I press too hard. “Dear Diary,” He murmers. “Life as I know it sucks. I’ve just realized that the closest I’ve come to having sex in the past six months is being platonically fondled by my best friend in yoga class. This is the worst day ever.”
“Six months eh? That’s quite the dry spell. I’m not sure I credit that.” I soften my touch and he stops shifting.
“Would I lie to you?”
He huffs. “My schedule is full.”
I am working my thumbs into the sensitive area long the points of his hips now and the way I can feel that huff in the shifting of his diaphragm and organs against my hands is startling. Visceral in a way that is striking. I am not certain that I have ever been as aware of another person’s body before. Not in this—this mechanical—foundational sort of sense at least. I find myself wanting to giggle over his worries about having an erection, because who knew that his diaphragm would be the part of anatomy I’d find myself most distracted by? Biting my lip, I force myself to focus. “Well, then it’s a good thing that we have that bachelor auction tomorrow night isn’t it? A convenient way to restart your love life, and conveniently for you, it’s scheduled into your schedule.”
Lachlan releases a long, slow breath that I feel under my hands. “I’m not sure being auctioned off for charity is an effective way to get into a relationship.
“Maybe not.” I concede. “But it’s probably a decent way to get laid.”
“About that—” He breaks off as I find a sweet spot, and get to work on it. “Bloody hell. That’s good.”
When I feel his body give under my hands, I lift my hands and trapping a bolster from our pile of accessories, prop it beside his left hip. “About getting laid?” I prompt as I adjust my legs to act as a bolster alone his right hip. Reaching out, I use my hands to guide first his left and then his right hip into the correct position. When he arches his back slightly and grunts with discomfort, I know that despite my work, he’s still too tight for the position. “Shift your legs down a bit.” I tell him. “You should feel a bit of a pull but no pain.” I remind him. “Just find a position that feels good.”
It takes a bit of adjusting and readjusting but we eventually figure out that propping the bolster at a forty-five degree angle along the underside of his residual limb on the left is the best way to achieve the appropriate, comfortable angle we’re looking for.
Eyeing the size and angle of the bolster under his left thigh, I extend my right leg across the mat at the same angle while keeping my left leg curled under me, which allows me to prop his right thigh over mine. His right thigh is shorter than his left, so I have to squidge myself closer in order to be an effective makeshift bolster. As I lean forward experimentally, I am frankly surprised that I am flexible enough for it not to be an issue. I guess all this yoga is actually having an effect.
I am busy sliding my hands into the sensitive point where his hip met his leg and beginning to work gently on the tight muscles there whilst being amazed by my own flexibility, and so it takes me a moment to remember what we are talking about. “What about it?”
Reaching down he readjusts the towel over himself; keeps his hand resting over his belly in a move that feels vaguely protective.
“I need you to help me choose something to wear.”
I snort before I can help it. “You’ve been dressing yourself for years now Lachlan and doing a fine job of it from what I can see. I find it hard to believe that you need any help from me.”
“You like the way I dress?” He asks and there is a note of surprised pleasure in his tone that takes me aback.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a female within 200 kilometers of here that would have complaints about the way you dress.” I tell him as I deepen the pressure a bit with my hands. “You’re a handsome well built man, and you dress to show that off. If you’re not comfortable with people noticing that, I suggest you consider wearing some sort of sack cloth type thing.”
He shifts a bit in response to that. “I’m thinking of wearing a kilt.”
“Women love a man in a kilt. Sound choice.”
“I’m not sure which legs—which leg plates to wear with it.” Another shift as he follows my hands, telling me wordlessly where to massage: “I’m absolutely willing to bribe you.”
I follow the motion of his body under my hands, as he directs me to the spots that could use attention while I think about what I want from him. “I demand tea from the Andersley Tea Shop then.” I tell him finally.
He huffs, clearly unimpressed with my choice. “I get you tea from the Andersley Tea Shop nigh on every morning.”
“Well, then, I also want dinner while we review your kilt and leg plate choices. Take out. From that nice Italian place.”
Lachlan groans as I finish up with his hip flexors and reposition my hands on his outer thigh and start in on his IT band. “Deal.” He sighs. “You can have anything you want so long as you never stop that.”