Sharing and Other Social Skills
Parker scowled at the woman across the bar. Eliot wasn’t paying attention, too busy arguing with Hardison about whether the twins needed subcutaneous trackers or not now that they were about to start school. (Hardison had been in favor since they became mobile and it had nothing to do with that one time he’d lost Dawn at the grocery store, thank you very much. Eliot thought he had showed great restraint by not punching Hardison in the face every time he brought it up. That was usually as far as they got before one of the twins dropped something and Eliot had to bend over to pick it up. Parker wasn’t sure why, but that was always the end of it.) Anyway, this was the bar so the twins were at home with Nate and Sophie, Eliot and Hardison were arguing, and some redhead with too much boob on display was walking this way, her eyes locked on Eliot.
Parker twisted on her barstool, draping an arm across Eliot’s chest, hand creeping up to twine two beaded braids around her fingers. The redhead stopped in her tracks, Hardison paused mid sentence, and Parker grunted in satisfaction, settling her chin on Eliot’s shoulder.
“Uh, Parker?” Eliot said, although he wasn’t trying to push her away.
“She just cockblocked you,” Hardison said in what she recognized as his helpful tone.
Eliot turned to look at her, breath gusting against her cheek as he said, “Parker? Did you scare a woman away?”
She scowled at the woman in question, who’d gone back to her table but occasionally twisted to glare at them. Eliot grunted, catching the hand wrapped in his hair, and she realized she’d been pulling it in her agitation. He let go of her hand when she relaxed against him and she let go of his hair, just in case, and started to pet the side of his neck.
“Parker?” he said again, voice softening.
She closed her eyes and dipped her nose into his neck, breathing deep, and it was just Eliot so she lifted her head, eyes drifting open, and said, “Yes, I scared her away.”
Parker scowled. “Because she can’t have you.”
He blinked at her then said, “What?”
“She can’t have you. I don’t share.” Her scowl shifted a bit, turning into a frown. “Except with Hardison. I don’t share him, either, though, except with you.”
He blinked again, then said, “You mean the house? Or the twins?”
Parker sighed and finally just laid it out in her logic. “Them, either. But I’m talking about you. And Hardison. I…I stole you. I did. I stole you before Aimee brought the twins to you and I’m keeping you.”
Eliot leaned back in his chair, something flickering over his face even as Hardison leaned into him and said, “I’m still confused. Does this mean we’re not allowed to date?” He straightened sharply and said, a little too loudly, “Is that why I haven’t been able to get laid in almost a year?”
The bar got a little quiet, but Parker just shrugged even as Eliot started to look a little guilty. She knew he’d been the one to call Hardison away from his last three dates and it’d only been a real emergency once.
Eliot finally reached over and patted Hardison’s knee. “We’ll fix that later. Right now, we need to have a talk about how people aren’t like diamonds or money and you don’t just get to keep them.”
Hardison’s mouth fell open but Parker cut him off, compelled to say, “Of course they aren’t the same. People are much harder to steal.”
Eliot pinched his nose with the hand that wasn’t still resting on Hardison’s thigh and said, “Parker, what, exactly, do you think the three of us are to one another?”
Parker fidgeted because she wasn’t good with this kind of thing and she didn’t know how to explain. “You’re-you’re Eliot. And he’s Hardison. And you’re both safe. You just, you feel safe.”
Eliot nodded. “Does that mean you don’t want us dating anybody else? Or that you just want final approval?”
A scowl slammed back into place at the thought of them dating anybody. “Nobody else. I don’t share, Eliot.”
She thought she’d made that abundantly clear. She’d chosen them and she’d stolen them and she was keeping them.
Eliot nodded again. “Okay. But there’s a problem with that. Men have…”
“Needs,” Hardison finished for him in his helpful tone, although it was a little more agitated than before.
“You want to have sex,” Parker nodded and Eliot rolled his eyes up to the ceiling as Hardison choked on air. “We can do that.” Both of them got quiet, just staring at her. She shrugged. “I’ve only had it once, but I’m sure you’ll be better at it than that guy.” Their jaws dropped and they were still staring at her. She frowned. “Do I need to call Sophie and have her mediate for us again?”
“NO!” they shouted, obviously remembering the last time Sophie had stepped in to get them to stop arguing.
Parker snorted, happy they’d finally reacted to something. She leaned away from Eliot, propping herself up against the bar, and let her knee shift until it was pressed into Eliot’s hip. Eliot stilled and his eyes slid down until he was staring at her knee touching his hip. His hand tightened on Hardison’s thigh and Hardison whimpered.
“Nate and Sophie have the twins,” she mentioned because that was important.
Eliot’s nostrils flared and Hardison went a little glazed in the eyes. Eliot shifted suddenly, pulling his wallet out of his back pocket and paying their tab. Hardison started jerkily shoving his phone and other tiny little electronic pieces that Parker didn’t care to try to identify into his pockets. Parker slid off her barstool and started for the door, ignoring the scramble behind her. Eliot reached around her and opened the door for her, hand landing in the middle of her back and Parker allowed herself to smile. He always did that when he went through a door with her. He sometimes even did it to Hardison, when neither of them were paying any attention. She took a deep breath of night air and her smile grew when Hardison’s hand settled comfortably on her shoulder.