Time

Authors: Sophia

Hosted by VendrediAntiques.com


1

"And remember me tonight
When you're asleep...
Because tonight will be the night that I will fall for you
Over again
Don't make me change my mind
Or I won't live to see another day
I swear it's true
Because a girl like you is impossible to find..."
~ Secondhand Serenade

*************************

"If you don't follow me up here Micki, I'm going to be very disappointed."

"What the hell's up this hill anyway?"

"It's a surprise." He held his hand out to her, "C'mon."

"A surprise?" She wasn't sure she was going to like this. Of all the hills in San Francisco to investigate, Johnny had chosen the longest and seemingly steepest of the lot.

A hill in San Francisco is not just any hill. San Francisco hills are infamous for being the most treacherous, 4-speed roll-back collision hills in the nation. Perilously narrow streets made narrower by cars forced to street park at perpendicular angles to the curb--on roadways so steep, the narrow homes lining them are split level starting with one story and ending with two on the downhill side. And this hill was certainly living up to that reputation.

"Johnny, I'm tired."

"You won't be if you give me your hand and come on up here."

"You're not going to tell me, are you?" she asked reluctantly, trudging up the sidewalk to him and accepting his hand.

"Where's the fun in that?"

Fun indeed, Micki thought, as she let him half drag her up the hill, holding her arm up every now and again like a parent encouraging a toddler to keep up. Dammit, his legs were longer and she was stuffed. She had just finished eating about half her weight in lasagna, and polished off more than her fair share of a bottle of Niebaum/Coppola Cabernet. Hill climbing wasn't the first thing on her mind right now--crawling into a warm hotel bed and nodding off for ten or so hours before their flight back to Chicago tomorrow afternoon was.

But if she had to characterize this evening, she'd have to label it fun. Fun was a rare thing to experience with her normally laconic partner. Fanciful in wit but often distant in emotion, tonight he was an unusual blend of playful and courteous. Should she dare say even gentlemanly? He'd even paid for their dinner of all things. She supposed she should be getting wary and just call it a night before his attentions reached a dangerous level, but something in her right now just didn't care. They'd gotten back the ivory letter opener and he was her friend and tonight they were just having a hell of a good time. He was a man, why shouldn't he treat her like a lady for once. If you can call dragging a very full, slightly tipsy lady up one mother of a hill at ten o'clock at night gentlemanly.

With more than a little effort, Micki managed to reach the peak of the hill without collapsing in a panting heap. Alcohol did not do much for strengthening the physique for endurance. To her utmost dread, she realized Johnny was tugging her towards an alley-like path to the right--a path that quickly ascended into a long steep stretch of stairs up into the woodsy hillside.

"Whoa, hold on," she said as she dropped his hand and bent at the waist a bit, laying her hands above her knees, catching her breath. He turned and gave her a disapproving look.

"You're not going to give out on me now," he insisted.

She lifted her head. "Why not?"

"Because I'm counting on you."

"Counting on me for what? To train for the triathlon?"

"No, to follow me up this damn hill."

"Could we settle for a shorter hill?"

He set his hands on his hips and leered playfully at her. "No, I need us to ascend *this* hill in particular."

"I'll make you a deal. You tell me what's so great about this hill and I'll consider making an attempt to climb it for you, okay?"

"Don't you trust me, Micki?"

"No. Next question."

He laid his hand over his mouth, thinking. "All right then, what if I told you there was an amazing feat of human engineering up here that just couldn't be missed...would you come?"

She arched her back and eyed him with a dubious expression. "That's the best you can do?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

She felt her heart rate slowing back down to a more acceptable rhythm and air returning to her lungs. "Okay, if we go at my speed, I'll follow. But what do I get if this isn't the most amazing thing I've ever seen?"

"You get to kick my ass for dragging you up here."

She laughed, "For that, I'll try anything."

She entered the alley with him and at the top of a second torturous flight of stairs, the path turned into a pleasant red brick-lined walkway winding up the hillside in a long circle, past the front doors of some fine whitewashed stucco homes.

"People live here?" she wondered, amazed at the hike it would take in from the street, not to mention the perilous parking situation.

"They certainly do, some of the most expensive homes in the City." His voice was warm and low just above her ear. He walked close to her, his hand lightly brushing across her shoulders as they made the climb.

His faint possessive touch made the mild wine-induced buzz she was experiencing take on a whole new flavor. She supposed she should make an attempt to step away, but the notion soon lost to the pleasant awareness gathering within her. An awareness she had felt before not so long ago in a seemingly abandoned farmhouse. It had never really left her altogether, just gone dormant for a while.

Experience told her that danger lurked around every corner, but somehow wandering recklessly with him around this distant city made her feel exempt from all of that. The day to day peril of their occupation was 2,000 miles away, and tonight the still San Francisco spring air was lulling her into a protected universe where only the present mattered, not the perilous trenches of the past or the uncertain wavering future. Her mind only wanted to focus on the feel of his fingertips brushing the hair from the back of her neck as they moved along.

The path ended, opening up to a roadway lined with parked cars, lights on, people inside, all waiting to drive up the hill. Johnny took her hand again and led her across the street between two cars to a cement sidewalk circling the edge of the steep hill.

"Final climb, Micki," he said, nodding to the cars. "See why we walked?" The cars weren't the only pilgrims making the ascent she noticed, several other humans were joining the climb now, too, almost exclusively in pairs--male-female, male-male, didn't matter, all were most certainly couples.

Micki gave Johnny a wary look. "You're not taking me to a make out spot, are you?"

He did his best to look appalled. "Wha? Micki, where's your head? I'm taking you to see a tower."

"A tower?"

"Yes, in fact, there it is." He pointed to her left. Just clearing the trees was an enormous white glowing tower rising two hundred feet straight up. Tall, thin and narrow, its rounded cap was rimmed by stars flashing in the clear night sky.

Johnny stopped them a moment to fill her in on a bit of San Francisco history. "Coit Tower was built in 1933 by a Mrs. Lillie Hitchcock Coit in memory of her dearly departed husband. He was the City fire chief for 40 years. The tower is symbolic of a fire hose--see what love can do?"

Micki raised an eyebrow over her shoulder at him, "It looks like a penis," she said flatly.

His mouth dropped open. "Micki, you aren't making this very easy for me, you know."

"Making *what* easy, Johnny?"

He appeared to attempt to make a glib come back, but only his twitching lips tried to make the sound. He gave up, shutting his mouth tight and took her hand again instead. "C'mon, I'm not through with you."

"You mean this isn't the part where I get to kick your ass?"

"Not even close," he grumbled, leading her away from the glowing phallus and out toward the edge of the rounded parking lot. As they cleared the distance, Micki was suddenly overcome by the view.

"Oh my god..." she breathed, as Johnny pulled her forward toward the viewing ledge. Coit Tower sat atop Telegraph Hill, one of the tallest, narrowest hills in the City. At its peak where they now stood, one could see far into the night over San Francisco and the surrounding bay. Johnny took her hands and half lifted her up onto the wide ledge next to him so she could see from the bright pastel-lit apartment rooftops of Pacific Heights and Russian Hill, out over the Marina's sail boat slips to Fort Mason, jutting out into the water in front of the red glow of the distant Golden Gate Bridge. Panning across the bay waters to the flashing beacon of Alcatraz, they could see over to the far Oakland city shoreline and white cable lights of the Bay Bridge.

A near-360 degree view speckled with red and green port and starboard lights of freighter ships and smaller craft navigating the dark shallow waters of the bay, their lonely horns bellowing across the waves. Below them and around them, people huddled in twos on the grassy slope or sat upon the ledge, some peered into the night through binoculars. A very popular spot indeed.

Micki tore her eyes away from the view long enough to look at Johnny, her mouth still slightly open in amazement. She was about to make a comment to that effect, but instead found herself taken aback by the brilliant green glint in his sleepy eyes, lit by the white glow of Coit Tower. Johnny wasn't looking out to sea at all. He was looking at her, only her. He still held her gently by her wrists and she felt herself suddenly shook by a nervous tremble.

"You cold?" he asked quietly, his careful gaze unrelenting.

"No," she managed.

"Well, come here anyway," he said, pulling her into his arms, wrapping her inside the edges of his leather jacket. He held her close to him and she let herself be surrounded by his welcoming warmth, her arms circling around his waist. She felt her trembles ease and her nerves calm. It was so easy to be in his arms. She had certainly been held by him before and she realized now how much she had missed it. But again, this was a very different situation--they weren't in danger or afraid they were about to lose each other. She was just here with him sharing an evening, and for once really genuinely enjoying his company. Why shouldn't she enjoy being close to him as well? She sighed quietly and relaxed even further against him, allowing herself to revel in the mild musky scent of him intermixed with the thick essence of leather. She closed her eyes.

For several long minutes they stayed like that. His hand gently stroking her back in lazy circles. She didn't move, but presently he lowered his head and she imagined she could feel him smiling into her hair, planting a gentle kiss there.

"Still feel like beating the crap out of me?" he asked, his voice muffled by her hair.

"Hmm, thinking about it..." she answered, her voice taking on a drowsy quality that had nothing to do with tiredness.

He pulled back from her slightly, and lifted his hand to tip her chin up to him. She met his deep gaze, watching his eyes dance across her face with expectation. He was going to try that kiss again she mused, a strange calm taking her over. He'd been trying all night she realized--dinner, wandering about North Beach in and out of absurd novelty stores, fumbling through Washington Square Park in the dark, and finally climbing the ridiculous hills to this place--all a plot to get her close enough to kiss.

She wasn't about to disappoint him. The curiosity was too much to bear another near-miss. She held very still and let him guide her lips gently against his, warm and soft, just a glancing touch that didn't pull back but hovered, just a fraction from contact before moving in again to gently press against her. Hardly a kiss at all, she dimly thought, but somehow appropriate. His hands were cupped about her face, his thumbs brushing her cheeks lightly. After a few moments he pulled back to gauge her response.

The newly awakened part of her wanted to slug him for being so damned reserved, but she knew the insecure percentage of his character was waiting for her to give him further instruction as to what direction this little experiment should take. She gave him his answer in the form of a warm smile and a verbal gibe.

"Is that the best you can do?"

He pursed his lips in annoyance. "Yeah, that's what I thought," he murmured low, as he pulled her to him, burying his hand in her hair and bringing her mouth to his.

His second attempt was better--much better--as his mouth came down on hers with a considerably less-guarded touch. He pressed and moved deliberately against her, separating her lips and moving to envelope her top lip between his before making a clean sweep of her lower, plumper lip, pulling it into his mouth, running the leading edge of his tongue across it, getting a good taste of it, before ending with a tiny nip.

He tipped her head back to look at her, still holding a palmful of her hair, his expression more assertive. "Better?" he asked.

They were suddenly startled by a blaring horn not six feet away. Turning, they saw a pile of young adults bouncing out of the back of a pickup, running toward two twenty-somethings embracing in the blaring truck's headlights.

"Hey everyone," one of the gang was yelling between horn blasts. "Our friends just got engaged!"

A number of couples paused in their own romantic endeavors to applaud the starry-eyed duo still held close to one another in the glare of the lights.
Micki gave a little laugh, shaking her head. He held her close, chuckling himself.

"I think this place might be a bit *too* romantic," he admitted.

"Well, subtlety was never your style, Johnny," she said, giving him a squeeze.

"Maybe we should go," he decided, and pulled away from her. He jumped down off the ledge and turned, motioning her forward. He grabbed her at the waist and lifted her down. She took the opportunity to circle her arms around his neck, planting a kiss on his cheek, not yet ready to separate for the evening.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were getting attached to me," he teased, returning the kiss on her forehead.

"Don't piss me off, Johnny," she reminded him, blithely.

"Don't worry," he said, gathering her arms gently from around his neck and taking her hand. "The night's gone pretty well so far..."

So far? she wondered, eyeing him carefully, walking with him back across the lot toward the tower path. There was going to be *more*? She felt her breath catch in her throat as it constricted. She looked sidelong at him and he must have been reading her thoughts because he was giving her a smug grin.

Against her will, she felt the fear once again whispering to her, breaking up her otherwise pleasantly contented demeanor. What was he up to? Certainly he didn't presume he'd be taking her back to the hotel and getting her in the sack that easily? Well, maybe he could, she admitted to herself. But, *still*. She must have been tensing up because he now looked concerned and shook her arm by the hand he held to loosen her up.

"Hey Micki, don't lose me here. We're just going for a walk, okay?"

"We've been going for a walk all night," she said, her voice sounding tighter than she wanted it to be.

He squeezed her hand gently, "Walking is okay isn't it? Maybe another kiss or two if I'm lucky?"

She relaxed then. This was Johnny after all, not some gropey blind date. He'd been perfectly behaved with her for almost two years now, what on earth did she think she had to worry about? He was certainly going to behave if she asked him to. The real problem was she wasn't sure she wanted to have the option. A large part of her just wanted him to pounce and have it done with already. He'd been driving her nuts for far too long with his little off-color comments and long soulful looks. She was in love with him, she knew that--had been for a very long time, too long. Then why did the thought of giving herself up to him terrify her so much? Was she afraid of disappointing him? Maybe, maybe that was it. Or maybe it was the thought of stepping ahead before either one of them was fully prepared to deal with it.

They walked in silence for a while back down the hill. Downhill was certainly more manageable than uphill--and easier to think, more oxygen going to the brain. His expression was unreadable now as he strolled along beside her, giving her some mental space. The only difference from their trek up was the way his thumb was gently caressing the back of her hand as he held it, swinging his arm a bit. He certainly seemed relaxed. Maybe he was faking it.

"Johnny?"

His eyes dropped to hers again. "Yeah?"

"You okay with this?" she asked, for nothing else than just to feel him out a little. To see if he was experiencing any of the same confusion she was.

"Yeah Mick, I'm okay with this. I'm *very* okay with this," he answered her steadily.

"You don't think we're going to regret this tomorrow?"

He gave her the same look he had a minute earlier to loosen her up. He shook his head. "Taking you to dinner and dragging you up Telegraph Hill for a little smooch? No...I'd never regret anything about tonight; you know that. We're not breaking any laws here...it was just our time, that's all."

He certainly had a way of summating everything so simply she thought with envy. Why did it have to be so much harder for her? She couldn't be nearly as complacent about this whole thing, her mind working overtime to try and suppose the whole thing out.

"Well, suppose this evening winds up being, well, more than a...more like a...*situation*," she finished with a frustrated release of breath.

"You propositioning me, Micki?"

"Dammit Johnny, stop being so..."

"What?"

"So sure of yourself." She stopped then, hands crossing her chest, glaring at him.

"Whoa woman. Get a grip. You're going rabid on me here." He took her hand and brought it to his lips. She immediately loosened and felt herself calm a few pegs.

"I think I've got something figured out," he said, dragging her knuckles across his lips. "You're fine as long as I'm touching you."

She sighed and let her hand smooth over the side of his face. "Touch me, then," she said softly, and he obeyed. Taking her by the waist, Johnny pushed her gently back against the brick wall and with full intent, proceeded to indulge himself in her mouth. Long, slow, delicious open kisses, his tongue sliding against hers, tasting her, brushing his fingers over her face, slipping an arm low, drawing her closer to him. His lips played against hers in a teasing rhythm for a while before pressing hungrily to her again, exploring the soft recesses of her mouth. His kisses tasted pleasantly of mint and dry wine and something else altogether uniquely him. She was enthralled by it--by discovering him this way.

Micki felt her hands rising up around the back of his neck, encouraging him in his endeavors, freely releasing the confines of her mouth to him. Everything within the reach of his lips was his for the taking. She was losing her fear quickly as the deep pull of lust began to take over her trepidatious mind. She soon felt herself issuing a pleasant hum, lost in the play of his lips to which he responded fervently.

After a dizzying length of time, he released her, letting them catch their breath. "Feel better?" he murmured, rubbing his forehead against hers, his mouth moist and beautiful, still just a few inches from her lips.

She was breathing as if she had just climbed another hill, nodding she answered, "Much better. What took you so long?"

"What took me so long?" he asked, pulling back and smiling at her. "It was you giving me the look of death."

"The what?"

"You heard me, a guy knows better than to try and shag his business partner nowadays."

"Are you saying the thought's crossed your mind before?"

"Do you really want me to answer that?"

"Yes."

"Okay, yeah, I always thought you were pretty hot."

"Always--you're saying from the beginning?"

"Sure, from the beginning."

She dropped her eyes then and began to giggle, shaking her head. He reached out and touched her chin, raising it to look at him again.

"What?" he asked, trying not to laugh.

"Oh no Johnny, you don't get it. You could have had me so easily back then."

"Excuse me?"

"That night we, um, first met at the Silver Dollar. I found myself, well, very attracted to you."

He crossed his arms and dipped his head to her, incredulous. "You've *got* to be kidding."

She opened her mouth as if to debate him, and then snapped it shut. "Afraid not."

"Jesus Micki, I was an ass back then. If that was a turn-on, well then how do I rate on the Micki Foster desire scale now?"

"Who said this has anything to do with desire?" she asked, batting her eyes at him. Baiting him was becoming much too enticing right now.

"Sometimes I think you deliberately try to make me crazy."

"Well, then maybe you should do something about it."

"Like shutting you up? I can handle that." He bent down and before she could get away, grabbed her below the waist, unceremoniously throwing her up and over his shoulder and trudging down the hill toward the private walkway.

She squealed, bouncing half upside-down, his shoulder digging into her abdomen, suddenly exasperated by her predicament. Thrown over the shoulder like a sack of potatoes, indeed.

"Shit Johnny, put me down!" she yelped, slapping his back as the brick walkway bobbed perilously several feet beneath her.

When did he get so tall?

"What? Can't hear you."

"Johnny, you heard me, put me down!"

"Sorry, can't do that."

Dammit. This was worse than a blind date. Definitely entering strange waters here.

"Johnny...I'm serious," she said lower, in an attempt to actually sound serious.

"So am I," he replied, sliding her back onto her feet and pulling her into one of the whitewashed Telegraph Hill doorways--right onto someone's front porch. There was a bench in the arched alcove in front of the heavy oak front door. Johnny took a seat and reached out to her. "Sit down," he commanded, with an alluring mix of mischief and desire in his eyes.

"Johnny, we can't stop here, this is someone's house," she whispered.

"So?" he argued, looking up at the front door. "Looks pretty quiet to me. Have a seat."

"You're taking up the whole bench," she whined, looking over her shoulder back toward the brick path in time to see two people walk by, oblivious to them in the shadows.

"That's the whole idea..." He took her hand and gently eased her down into his lap, settling her legs across his.

"I still don't think this is a good idea," she said, despite the fact her traitorous hands were winding their way up his neck and back into his hair. It felt just as silky and wonderful as she ever imagined now that she was able to really get her fingers into it.

His eyes, darkened by the shadows, were busily scanning her mouth as his hands came up from her waist and slipped up into the back of her loose sweater, sampling the smooth skin of her back. She issued a little moan and her lips parted as she leaned forward into his kiss.

God, he felt good. A little too good for her calculated and controlled sensibility. She couldn't remember the last time making out with someone felt like this. Or even the last time she'd been kissed properly, or if she had *ever* been kissed properly. The muscles in her limbs were already turning to mud, not to mention the alarmingly advanced condition between her thighs. What the hell was he doing to her? Maybe trust had something to do with it. This really was spinning out of reason a lot faster than she had ever anticipated, but it wasn't something she wanted to let go of either. She was in too deep now to call it off. Front porch or not, she fully intended to see this through to the end--her passion-starved body wasn't going to have it any other way. Good Lord, was she actually considering fucking him right here in his lap, just inches from where these fine folks picked up their morning paper? Johnny was right, where's your head?

"Johnny...?" she breathed, trying to gather a cohesive sentence as he went to work gnawing her neck, his warm hands lushly kneading the flesh on her back. "Um, I think we need to...uh, wait...maybe take this somewhere else."

He mumbled something against her neck...it sounded like an annoyed groan.

"I'm serious, I think...oh god, don't...I think we're going to need a bed." There, well-said. Jesus, he was running his tongue under her ear. "Johnny...?"

He was in no mood to talk and stole her next words with a rough and thorough sweep of her mouth, pressing his lips tightly against hers rooting for the closest fit, one hand escaping her sweater to tangle into the back of her hair. He drew her even closer to him, pressing her tightly into his lap leading her to discover *exactly* how okay he was with this. So maybe sex in public wasn't such a bad idea after all? She made a reach for his fly.

That, for some odd reason, stopped him cold. He took her hands and gently held them together against his chest. He surrounded her with his arms, tucking her under his chin and began rocking her, shushing her, stroking her hair. She was still wiggling in his embrace as he tried to bring her back down a little, kissing the top of her head. Calming her.

"Micki, I want you to listen to me for a moment," he said, with a rough edge to his usual throaty half-voice.

"Hmm...?" she murmured, swiveling in his grasp, trying to free herself to get another taste of his mouth.

"Listen to me," he said beseechingly, holding her shoulders and dipping his head to look closely at her. The normally soft hazel of his eyes were drenched into deeper hues by the pull of his arousal. "I need you to make a decision for us."

She stared back at him, dazed, taking a minute to try and shift gears. First he wanted her to let go of reason, now he wanted her to stop and think in some kind of rational manner while her thigh was taking a perfect reading of his pulse through his jeans? What the hell?

"Okay...what?"

"I need you to think very carefully and tell me if this is what you really want."

Her sharp and somewhat hurt intake of breath forced him to rephrase his question.

"I know you want this--believe me, I know. What I need you to realize is that if we let this happen tonight there's no going back. We...*I* can't pretend like it never happened."

She opened her mouth to try and make a statement, but words escaped her right now. Yes, there would be no going back. She was sure she knew that.

"I don't think I want you to leave this all to me," she said.

"I'd agree, but we both know between the two of us...you're the more sensible one."

She sat still for a moment and let her mind begin to ponder the significance of this night. He'd been playing it nonchalantly only to put her at ease--now she understood his stakes were much higher--he was much more terrified than she was. "I see," she said, and sat up straight, moving out of his lap and taking a close seat next to him, wiping her mouth dry with the back of her hand. His eyes followed her, desperate but committed to whatever response she would give him. "I suppose we should think about what happens when we go back to Chicago," she said, coming more fully into control.

He took her hand suddenly and held it firmly in his. "No, not that. I'm not asking you to rationalize this or analyze the details. Don't let your mind or body decide--neither one is very reliable about these things. We've let our rationalizations bury us long enough--don't listen to the reasons, listen to your feelings. What is Micki Foster telling you to do?"

She closed her eyes and just breathed slowly, trying to find herself deep down under the hurricane of lust raging within her. This wasn't exactly the best time to bring this up. Still, she did know the answer, she'd known it all along. She opened her eyes and began to speak, staring at the swirling patters in the white stucco wall.

"I believe I'm telling myself what I've always known from the beginning. That I'll follow you into whatever danger or challenge might present itself to us. I know my place is with you--it's where I belong; it's where I feel right, complete." She turned to face him directly.

"The truth is Johnny, the farther and harder I've tried to distance myself from you, the more miserable I've been...we've been. I know we belong to one another--I've always known that and I don't, I can't believe that expressing this connection we have is in any way going to change that. If death, separation, suffering, insanity--if none of these things has broken us--how could love possibly break us? How could love ever come between us? That doesn't make any sense to me.

"So to answer for you, yes--I think you were right--there is nothing wrong with what's happening between us tonight--it was just our time."

His face, which he had been patiently holding very still for her to finish her thoughts, softened then into something one could only describe as utter adoration--if an expression taken from so close to the heart could possibly be conveyed in this manner.

"Well come on then," he said standing, taking her hand. "Let's let this happen."

2

Micki stood and let herself be pulled forward into his fierce hug, his nose and lips falling to the base of her neck, nuzzling her.

She sighed, shuddering in anticipation. "Think we can get a cab out here?" Walking all the way back to the hotel seemed an impossible venture to her, given the general fluid condition of most of her lower body.

"Hold on--let me see..." he was digging into the pocket of his jacket. Presently, his hand emerged fingering a key. "Maybe we could try this," he said, handing it to her.

She responded with a wary look. "What is it?"

He shrugged, "It's a key, Micki."

"I see that. To what?" He nodded at her to take a closer look at it. It had lettering on it, 371 Coit Terrace. Abruptly she turned to look up at the door. 371 was the number stuccoed in tile to the right of the frame. Giving him a raised brow, she tried the lock. It clicked heavily, and she pulled the iron latch upward, opening the door.

Inside was nothing short of amazing. Coit Terrace residents certainly lived a cut above the rest. The moonlight pouring in through the tall arched multi-paned windows illuminated the rough white adobe walls and terra-cotta tiled floor. She stepped in, raising her eyes to view the open double story entryway that led to the left, down into a sunken living room tastefully decorated in turn-of-the-century Mediterranean handcrafted wood and ceramic. To her right stood a wide, half spiral staircase which snaked its way up to the open beams of the second floor landing.

Johnny leaned back into the heavy wood door, hearing it groan and latch into place behind him. He reached his hand back and fitted the bolt, his eyes never leaving her. Inside. They were inside the door. He hadn't even thought to hope for it, even if he had spent the better part of yesterday planning for the possibility.

Micki was ahead of him halfway into the foyer, looking up at the high ceiling down to the long walls where dark woven tapestries were hung with iron rods. Her pretty rose-red lips were opened in awe. "Johnny. How on earth?"

He smiled at her, "Impressed?"

"Your mother?"

"Sort of, a friend of the family."

"Some friend. Do they know you've absconded with their key?"

"Yes. They heard I was coming out here and asked if I could check on the place. The house is empty at the moment, furnished for sale purposes."

Micki whirled around, giving him her best by-the-book stance. "And you figured you could just bring me here?"

She couldn't help but make this difficult, could she? He wasn't backing down now, no way. Quickly, he tried to reassemble one of his best adventurous smirks from their early days--whatever worked for her. "Come on Micki, don't you want to find out how the other half lives?"

She raised her chin, her face becoming a sexy mixed expression of skepticism and daring, "I think I could manage breaking a few rules."

"That's my girl," he grinned, stepping forward, taking her arm and leading her deeper into the house.

She looked impressed, very impressed. Something in his chest cavity was doing back-flips. Tonight was going well. He could almost not even allow himself to believe it. He'd gone from rigid and scared to manic relief in a matter of seconds sitting beside her on that little bench, inches from freedom. He had asked the question, and if he could trust his ears to be honest, it seemed she wanted this as every bit as much as he did, and for the same reasons.

His gamble was paying off. Her heart was opening to him through the promises she had shown him; from the softening of her voice, to the sweetness of her mouth, to the way she pressed to him as he touched the silky warmth of her skin. He was thrumming with anticipation, but consciously willing himself to stillness--to take each offering as it came, to let her bloom slowly for him into wantonness, a metamorphosis he never dared to imagine he'd witness. And yet it was happening, and he didn't want to miss a beat of it.

She was discovering the kitchen now, running her hand over the dark hand-thrown ceramic tiles and steel fixtures. She came to the double fridge which was humming dully, and in curiosity, jerked it open. She turned to him with a quizzical eye.

"You don't bother to stock your apartment this well Johnny. When did you manage...?" she stopped herself. She just discovered she knew. "You didn't meet up with an old friend yesterday, did you?"

He glanced shyly at the floor. "Nope."

She smiled suspiciously, turning to close the chilly door. "I thought you were gone quite a while. What else did you buy?"

He tapped a cabinet confidently. "Just a few essentials for a decent breakfast...or midnight snack...or both."

She nibbled her bottom lip warily. "You are being cocky about this."

"On the contrary, Micki, I'm scared as shit. But at least I won't starve if you make me sleep on the couch."

She tilted her head in consideration of the option, and he snorted in disgust.

"You wouldn't really do that to a guy, would you?"

"I don't know--you haven't showed me the bedroom yet."

He took her hand and tucked it in his arm leading her back out into the foyer. Leaning close to her ear he whispered, "That's the next stop on the tour."

She dropped his arm when they reached the foot of the stairs and ran her hand over the decorative ball at the end of the railing.

"Up the stairs?" she asked, tossing an impish look back at him to make sure he'd follow close. Johnny encouraged her with a smile and vigorous nod as he climbed the stairs after her. He was smiling a lot now he realized, growing more hopeful, less guarded, less suspicious. She had done this to him, in her own time she had turned him into a creature he could almost stand. He loved her so goddamned much it captured his breath.

She was simply everything, and tonight he wanted to lose himself in her and in letting go be transformed and found complete. He was following her upstairs, watching her round little ass as it ascended above him. God, the things he wanted to do to her, show her, confess to her--it made him dizzy to try and make order to the chaos that was unfolding. So instead he disallowed himself all contriving and structuring--free falling in the jump of his life.

Micki stood at the arch that opened up into the second floor master bedroom and took inventory of the layout. The room was long and narrow. At one end stood a large rough stone fireplace and wood pile, in the center of the room were a set of overstuffed linen chairs and low glass table. Just beyond them was a sliding glass door which opened out onto a small deck. At the far wall to her right, under a round plate-glass window, was a large, high bed with a beige comforter tossed with earth-toned pillows of various sizes up against a rough-cut hardwood backboard. The room was both organic and comforting under the shadowy glow of the moon.

Johnny's hand was stroking the back of her neck. "How'd I do?"

She nodded her head sighing, "Not bad at all." She couldn't look at him just yet. Standing at the doorway to a bedroom in which they were certainly sharing the rest of the night together, took her back a moment. She needed some time to center herself.

"Ladies room?"

He pointed to a door just behind them in the hall.

"Give me a minute."

"Sure..."

Micki shut the bathroom door behind her and closed her eyes. She couldn't deny it, she was scared. It seemed far too many things hinged on this evening--it had been too long in coming for it to be easy. She felt flushed and cold at the same time; her body wasn't operating in a manner she was accustomed to. He was right, as soon as she left his arms she felt like she was going to fall apart, come undone. To do this, to make it complete and join with him, required a certain abandoning of the self. A self she had closely guarded for many years--a self that had grown used to certain sacrifices. No, she corrected herself, she hadn't completely sacrificed her sexuality, just made it more personal. And she had to admit, Johnny held his own vaporous presence in that sexuality. She was extremely attracted to him and always had been, even if he drove her absolutely nuts with his single-minded recklessness, so unlike her own sensibilities. She had to admit--it held a certain appeal.

But still, they had found it easy enough to channel those unspoken energies into their work. They had created a special type of intimacy over the last two years that hung balanced on a delicate thread they each knew the dimensions of so well they could navigate around it undisturbed, without drawing undue attention to it. And that would have gone on indefinitely, had they allowed it to.

She opened her eyes and forced herself to look in the mirror. The reflection matched the face she was accustomed to seeing, aside from the flush to her lips and cheeks brushed into her pale skin by his kisses. God, just thinking of them made her pool with desire. Ahh, that was it--she could survive this if she concentrated on the pleasure it would bring her. What he could do to her. The thought of allowing him to release that drive and passion he held within him on her both thrilled and frightened her.
She shook her head, she didn't want to think anymore--the decision had been made.

She hurried and finished with the facilities, noticing with a smile that he'd stocked the bathroom as well with a few basic amenities. She couldn't remember any man ever making such careful plans for her before. She made use of the new toothbrush and dragging her fingers through her hair, turned and opened the door.

The bedroom was empty, but a fire had been lit, running ripples of ruddy color across the white walls and thick matte carpeting. She welcomed the added warmth on her hot and cold skin, the heat helping to thaw her nerve-chilled hands as she came and sat on the woven sheep's wool circle before the fireplace, and waited.

When Johnny came back into the upstairs room, he was taken aback. Micki was flickered by firelight sitting, hugging her knees, as she turned to look at him where he stood in the doorway, captured by the vision. She was so small, slight, sitting under the rising chimney of rough cut stones. Somehow she had grown smaller, more precious in the last few hours. A tiny gemstone that had at last thrown off its cover of dust opening its inner radiance to him.

Despite the alluring memories of their earlier caresses, he was almost afraid to touch her now, that she would continue to shrink into an infinitesimal spark like the condensation of space narrowing to a vanishing point. She was everything, breath and life and darkness all in one. She was the gauge by which he weighed the passions of his life--and after tonight there would be just one. She would draw everything, already so close to owning him whole. She had his heart, and now his body dared to follow as far as they might go.

She smiled at him, and neither the shadows of the big room nor the murky light from the night sky could hide its brilliance. He went to her, drawn by it, and sank to his knees behind her, brushing his hands over her shoulders. She moved into his warmth, nestled between his thighs as she leaned back against him.

His hands moved up her neck and into her hair, stroking it, smoothing it between his long fingers. It was softer than he imagined and stronger as he gathered it and pulled it gently from side to side as if he was trying to uncover the source of the swirling colors--copper and amber upon red. She gave a low hum, and he felt something in his chest rise at the sound. He was enthralled by every new sound she uttered. After two years of hearing every word, every emotion, every tone her voice could utter--her sighs and soft moans were entirely new to him--an expressive foreign language he ached to learn and master.

He could tell by the way his hands trembled as he drew her hair through his fingers that tonight was going to be like nothing else he had ever experienced. It was going to defy experience--transcend him from the base and carnal lust surging through him into something blessed and pure. Making love with her would be like a kind of holy communion, a healing of the soul. She was healing him even now as she let him stroke her hair--pulling the broken pieces of him together--the isolation of the child, the outcast of the man, brought home here in this stranger's house tonight.
His hands reluctantly left the silky tresses and settled into the smooth skin of her neck and shoulders, pressing and drawing easy circles with his thumbs into the muscles beneath--tracing the tendons and brushing the skin. His attentions earned him a different sound, a relaxed sound, and she eased more fully against him, more than happy to continue his gentle kneading as her eyes closed and her breathing deepened.

His touch had drawn her into a light doze. Through half-closed eyes she could see the color of the fire blur and mix with blackness as she drifted. She wanted to sleep lightly, letting him roam her body with his strong and tender hands--releasing all her insecurities and fears with his touch. She wanted to come to him pure and resolved, with no questions, no regrets.
He moved back and lowered her weakening form down onto the plush rug under them, turning her onto her side and stomach so he could continue to press circles down either side of her spine, careful not to break the spell in which she seemed to be captured. He lay down next to her, his left arm pillowing them both as he held her, touching her, his hip to hers, letting her rest in a feathery slumber. From here he took the opportunity to sample the generous scent of her hair. How she created that heavenly bouquet he'd never know--like rain and autumn leaves tossed with the fire color of strands that flurried about her face in the wind. He placed a small kiss just above her ear. She sighed and nestled into him, content. He relaxed completely, framed next to the small radiating warmth of her body, and he too felt the pull of sleep take him forward under the yellow-orange glow of the fire.

3

The merest brush of her hips against his groin brought him back easily to wakefulness. Johnny blinked the unconsciousness from his head and glanced at his watch. Almost an hour had passed. He breathed deeply and hugged her tighter. She mumbled something about the ivory letter opener in a sleep-thickened tongue. She was waking and he decided to welcome her back with a feathery kiss to her temple.

"You awake, Micki?" he whispered into her ear, kissing the lobe.

Her eyes fluttered open to him--then suddenly went wide, her body tensing, startled by the foreign location and the close proximity of Johnny's face inches from hers. Unabashed, he caught her full on the mouth with a kiss and memories of the evening came flooding back to her at the touch. Her mouth parted and her tongue willingly slid over and over his in a thick wet dance. She smiled sleepily at him, when at length he drew back to look at her. "I thought I was dreaming," she said, a little embarrassed, snuggling into the crook of his arm as he planted a row of kisses across the top of her forehead.

"It's not a dream," he breathed between kisses.

"No it isn't. It just feels that way," she sighed, hiding a bashful smile.

He turned her then, lying behind her so they both could gaze into the cracking wood of the fire.

"This is nice Micki," he said. "Being close to you like this." She moved a little pleasantly in his arms, telling him she felt the same, suddenly overcome by a monstrous yawn that quaked her body.

She covered her mouth with a hand. "I guess I'm a little tired," she admitted.

He breathed a silent laugh into her ear, "That's fine, just fine. Go back to sleep."

"Hmmm," she closed her eyes. As pleasant as the allure of sleeping soundly in his arms on a sheepskin rug appealed to her right now, she really didn't want to spend any more time on it. There were far more active fantasies to fulfill, to seek out. She felt a stirring within her.

"I thought you had more on your mind than just sleeping tonight," she said.

He drew a slow breath, searching for an appropriate reply. "I do. I could," he said, teasing the back of her neck with his nose.

She wanted him to say the words, to put to language his obvious arousal waiting so patiently next to her, hard and still.

"So what *do* you want to have happen tonight?"

He sighed, planting a kiss on her shoulder. "Right now I want you so badly I can't see straight. But I'd consider myself the most grateful son of a bitch alive if you'd just let me hold you like this until sunrise."

She twisted to look at him with a little smile. That was a good answer. "Maybe we can try for both," she said and, lowering her eyes, she reached for him, and brought his mouth to hers.

Their kiss was mild at first, but stealthily advancing. He was seducing her with his lips--each kiss intensifying and deepening--both taking their time to enjoy the sensations of expressing themselves to one another. Micki's sweater was inching up, exposing the pale skin of her stomach and he bent to kiss her there, savoring the taste and tactile flutter of her skin as it responded to his touch.

He moved his body, rolling her to her back and settled himself between her legs. Although they were still clothed, the position drove an intense tingling throb into her lower body.

She could feel him hard against her thigh as he began to move in mild thrusts with the tempo of his long slow kisses. The action broke her voice into a low sob as he released her mouth long enough to drag his lips up and down her neck. She couldn't help but lift her hips gently in time to his seductive pulse. She wanted more, so much more. This was like a sadistic practice run, just introducing their bodies to the promise of pleasure that lay ahead. She found she wanted it so badly her head was beginning to ring. She would have to speed things up before it deafened her, and half shoved him off so she could grip the end of her sweater and pull it up over her head.

He backed off, propping himself up on an elbow, a curious smile on his face mixed with mild awe as his eyes ran up and down her newly exposed chest and belly.

"You, too, Johnny," she ordered between breaths. "Lose the shirt."

He pointed a silly finger at his chest. "Me? You want me naked, Micki?"

She rolled her eyes at him, both irritated and aroused. "Yes. Now."

No mistaking the demand in her voice. He knew it was better not to get on her bad side--he'd been there enough times already. And right now he'd do anything to keep on her naked side. His shirt and undershirt made a short flight across the bedroom floor together where they flopped in a heap.

That won him a genuine purr from the woman sprawled beneath him, as she traced the angles of the bone and muscle of his chest with her fingertips. She looked very pleased. "Come here," she sighed, and he lowered himself back into position, his arms slipping under hers, his hands cradling her face for another kiss. Her hands slid up over the smoothness of his back, coming to rest with a push in the well at the base of his spine to which he responded with another thrust between her thighs as she lifted her hips to meet him in time.

He was kissing her chin now, whispering to her in small words she could barely hear--telling her how beautiful she was, how warm, how wonderful, words lost as he nibbled his way up the side of her jaw line to her ear, stopping for a little nuzzle before touching his lips to her nose and the closed lids over her eyes. He moved to the hollow of her neck, spending a moment there to dip the tip of his tongue into the pulsing dimple.

Her fingers wound themselves back into his hair as she coaxed his lips lower to her rising and falling chest. Shifting, he settled himself in for an examination of her torso, kissing the top of her breasts still held secure by her pale lace bra. He nuzzled the pliant flesh with his nose, getting a good sense of the texture and fullness. He ran his mouth over the lace, dragging his lips across it until he discovered a rising nipple, which he took between his careful teeth for a moment, driving the rough material across her tender point. She arched into his mouth with a moan, wishing he would simply remove the confining garment and let her feel the full value of his mouth on her, suckling her with abandon. At some point in the future she'd want him to go slow, very slow. But not tonight. For now the waiting had been enough.

"Johnny...?"

He peeked up at her.

"Let me up."

He looked confused, and sat up watching her as she quickly removed her shoes and pants. Her pleasant female body was softly curved and firm in all the right places. He was still, enthralled by the creams and peaches of the surface of her skin set mildly against the pale pink of her bra and panties.

"Let's get this thing moving along," she insisted, and leaned up and kissed him, reaching for his hardness, pressing and squeezing it with the palm of her hand through his jeans.

Johnny lay his hand on the tight slope of her belly. His eyes were a fuzzy dull olive as he looked down at her, absently drawing the tip of his tongue over his bottom lip. She was touching him, acknowledging him, and inside his lust-addled brain he could feel himself slip. He was beginning to lose it--becoming over-saturated with wanting her to the point of confusion. If he didn't clear his head and get her hand off his dick soon, she'd have this over and done with in a minute. No good. He wanted this to last as he had promised himself, always. At least just this once...then, she could take him over however she liked, rake him over the coals, whatever. But not this first shot.

He took her by the shoulders, shaking his head. "Not yet, Micki, I think at least one of us should be the designated driver tonight."

"I thought you were complaining about poor vision," she teased, still stroking him, pining for a look at the goods.

He stopped her hand and brought it to his lips. "I can still feel my way around," he said, and stood up, bringing her to her feet. She sighed, not wanting to leave the lassitude of the fire-warmed rug.

She quickly dispelled her regrets as he came to stand behind her, undoing the clasp of her bra, letting it fall silently to the floor. He covered her bared breasts with his hands, cupping them and kneading them gently as he rained kisses along her shoulder.

In front of them just a few feet away, Micki could see her reflection in the dark glass of the sliding door. She could see him standing behind her, his hands on her, covering her and beginning to draw light circles around the center of her breasts--loose orbits that retraced, drew closer, until the pads of his thumbs made final contact with the tips of her raised nipples, flicking over them a moment in a flutter, before pulling back to begin the orbiting tease again. She leaned her head back and to the side and he met her halfway with a kiss, bathing her mouth in time to the rhythm of his hands. She lifted her arms over her head to grasp his face, to hold him close.

She moaned into his mouth as her over-sensitive nipples were subjected to one last round of torture before he released her, and coming around, kneeled before her and slipped her moistened panties to the floor. She gladly stepped out of them and mewled sweetly as she felt his warm tongue return, tasting the sensitive skin of her belly. Her fingers wound in his hair urging him lower, wanting him, needing him to taste her arousal.

"No wait, come over here." He stood suddenly, a wild look to his eyes, and turned her purposefully, her back to him. "Against the glass."

She obeyed, stepping a few feet forward to stand naked and tense in front of the glass door. She pressed her palms against the chilled pane, watching him carefully in reflection against the backdrop of the clear night sky, the descending rooftops, and the dark waters of the bay below.

Johnny stood behind her and began to run his hands slowly down from her shoulders to the curve of her waist, over the swell of her hips and back, just feeling her skin gliding under his fingers, getting accustomed to her shape.

He soon left her field of vision, dropping down to his knees, his hands coming to move freely over the soft firm curves of her ass, squeezing the rounded flesh--passing over in smooth circles to the top of her thighs like a sculptor evening his work. Then he ran his hands lower, down her thigh, just brushing, and back up before shifting and paying equal attention to her other leg, his hand moving dangerously close on the upsweep to the flurry of tight curls at her apex--just teasing the threads with no more than an accidental glance.

His touch was maddening. She could feel herself hot and swollen. She needed him to acknowledge her arousal, feel it, brush it between his stirring fingers. She moaned, and leaned forward against the glass, needing the firmness of the pane to help support her weakening limbs. She gasped as the taut hot tips of her breasts collided with the chill of the door. She undulated against it, the coolness easing the ache in her nipples, smoothing them flat against the slick dew-kissed surface. She needed his touch so badly she was ready to beg for it, plead with him to pull her in. She moaned again, her breath tracing a billowed pattern across the window, desperate.

In his own time he moved his lips to the sensitive flesh at the inner edge of her thigh, using his nose to nudge her apart finally allowing his tongue access to her slickened opening.

She arched in response to the sudden contact. Yes, this was going to be good, so good. He took a few long loving tastes of her, sampling her flavor, kneading her ass. She arched further, as best as she could in her position, to grant him greater access to the source of her hunger. His tongue obeyed, dipping into her, laving the rim of her core in a tantalizing circle. Teasing her open, inviting another slick taste. His lips murmured something against her as he dipped once more into her, deeper--his warm tongue fluttering inside her, and with a final kiss pulled away.

She whimpered in disapproval.

"Don't worry," he whispered below. "We're just getting acquainted here."

She unstuck her breasts from the glass and turned her head, trying to get a look at him, but he was shifting position under her, moving to lean his back against the door, grasping her at the hips and pulling her forward and lowering her curls down onto his face.

She issued a low hard groan as his lips and tongue spread her open, settling on her hot throbbing clit--kissing it, tugging it into his mouth for a quick hard suckle before releasing it to fall back into the securing folds. Then slowly and carefully, he began to move the length of his tongue against her, bathing the swollen folds to either side of her burning center, just glancing the frenzied point with each pass.

She should have known he'd be good at this, as his fingers moved in to pull the skin a little smoother, accentuating his long wet caresses. She was drowning in sensation. It was so long since she'd had a man pleasure her this way. So long she didn't even remember it being anything like this--a thousand times more gratifying than any touch she could conjure herself. The feel of being so intimately tasted, kissed, and devoured by a man, this man, was overwhelming. Why on earth had they waited so long? God, if she knew it could have been like this all these years, they would have had considerably fewer arguments.

Leaning forward, she rocked her face back and forth against the glass, cooling the burning skin of her flushed cheeks. That was better, but it did nothing to soothe the driving heat building below. He was making her hotter, fuller and wetter with each incredible stroke. He must he drowning, she realized and looked down a moment--his eyes were closed, the back of his head thudding dully against the glass. A soundless vibration was issuing from somewhere deep in his throat as he went about his task, thrilling her with its subtle tactile effect. She pressed her face back against the pane, dazed. It was unreal seeing him there doing this to her. Unreal.

Before she could muster another thought his hand moved and a selection of fingers slipped inside her, thrusting cautiously in and out, easing the almost sharp ache of her interior muscles--neglected for so long, their stimulation driving the registering sensations on her clit to an even greater volume. She was grinding into him now, her almost continuous moaning clouding and obscuring the glass. She was making entirely too much noise, but she didn't care, this was too good, too unfuckingbelieveably good to censor--an expression of primal need given in absence of coherent language.

God! what he was doing to her, reducing her to. His pressure was increasing, and somehow one long slim finger had found its way deep and up to an erogenous zone she didn't even know she had. It was flooding her with an intoxicating mixture of dark gnawing pleasure and tender pain. Just a touch too deep, but so good, so very, very good. She groaned against the glass, pressing into him, begging him with her hips at all costs not to change a single damn thing he was doing to her. She could feel her climax building from across her lower back and up her spine, the tug of impending dissolution. Fuck! She needed this, wanted this more than she could have imagined. The fog across the glass from her last tearing moan was dissolving and she could see out across the tiled deck to the front windows of the house next door. To her shock, she could just discern the outline of a single figure standing in the window, dark and motionless. Was she really seeing this? Was the neighbor really watching them? It made her shudder with dread, but at the same time there wasn't anything in the world that she could do to tell her body to move, to delay even for a second the gathering of the storming climax that was threatening to consume her.

So close, so close. Get a good long look buddy, because this is how to please a woman, really take her over. Oh God! No! Her palm made damp contact with the glass, sliding in a smear. It had to happen soon. Please let it happen, please. The sweet pain of waiting was becoming unbearable. Something about the way he was reaching inside her was delaying the inevitable, distracting it from gathering completely into the tight center of burning nerves his tongue was continuing to bathe so thoroughly, so deliberately. And then he pulled back, his internal probing suddenly ceasing, his mouth focusing and coming down hard on her clit, merciless. She bucked and screamed as the storm clouds burst below and shuddered through her. Yes! That was a scream, and slapped her palm again hard against the door as she came, her hand stinging, threatening to rattle it off the track, or shatter it into a thousand glinting pieces. She didn't care if the walls fell in, she was no longer responsible for it, taken over wholly by some violent enrapturing force. She was falling, dropping to the floor and he was there to catch her, to hold her as her body trembled and lost shape. His wet lips rushed against her cheek and he held her to him entangled together, stroking her back. Waiting patiently, securely for her to come back into herself.

4

"Wow," he said after a few silent minutes, giving her a squeeze. "You've *got* to let me do that again tonight."

"What? God, Johnny, no. You're going to kill me if you do that again." A few stray stars were blinking across her field of vision. Shit, had she ever come so hard in her life? She didn't think so, but then thinking was a bit shaky right now. Maybe it had just been too damn long. Maybe it was both. Right now she just needed to breathe.

He was wearing an endearingly goofy grin. "I didn't think you had that in you, Micki." She tossed her head back, raising her storm-tossed blue eyes to his, trying to assemble some composure--he was getting too smug far too fast.

She licked her lips seductively. "There's quite a few things about me you don't know," she said, even if he had just minutes ago uncovered about every last one of those things utilizing a bare minimum of appendages. So what, let him think for the moment this kind of thing happened to her on a more or less regular basis. Lie and let him think he didn't just spoil her for any other man in the world. He couldn't know could he? His eyes were softened into the gentlest look she had ever seen him give her. It was too much, she closed her eyes. No she couldn't pretend with him--he knew her far too well. She wound her arms around his neck instead and let herself be surrounded by him, belonging to him completely.

"The object here tonight is see exactly how many times you can let me hear you make that sound," he paused a moment, leaving a tiny kiss on the top of her head. "By whatever means necessary."

She cupped his face, kissing his cheek and then the underside of his chin, unusually smooth for after midnight. How could she have not taken note of the five o-clock absence during dinner? The sweet bastard had shaved for her.

"First of all. It's about time you started playing fair, Johnny."

"What do you mean?"

"You're overdressed for this occasion," she said low and snaky, letting her eyes drop to the crotch of his jeans. Still, she kept herself from making a grab for it. He'd asked for the initiative after all--the control. She looked into his eyes letting see full well the restlessness there.

"Hmmm..." his voice rumbled warm in her ear. "Are you ready for me, Micki?"

She twisted in his arms. "What do you think?"

He moved his hand and resampled the wetness between her legs. Bringing the tip of his finger back to his lips with a kiss.

"I'd say so," he said grabbing her, and quickly rose to his feet lifting her easily and taking a few steps toward the bed, tossed her down on it with a lively bounce.

She giggled, rubbing her back against the downy bed cover.

He turned away from her and took little time to remove the remainder of his clothes, giving her a nice view of the backside before making a similar bouncy trip to the bed next to her.

Suddenly he was all there before her. Every inch of him, naked and seriously aroused. Despite the distant familiarity, the image didn't fail to startle her. She was staring blankly, holding herself still; "mild shock" was her initial diagnosis. Or maybe this was more like that thrilling pause when you first realize you're finally getting that shiny new bike for Christmas, or a pony. Yes, a pony. Oh God, don't laugh, she chided herself. Laughing would not be good right now--worse than staring. She bit her lip, hard.

He did the laughing for her. Her expression must have been priceless given his reaction to it. "Well?" he asked, rubbing an eye.

She cleared her throat. "Well," she repeated in a professional manner. "Nice."

"Nice?" He rolled his eyes, letting his head thump back against the pillows.

She gave him a stubborn look, trying to recover from her discomposure. "What are you used to hearing?"

"I'm *not* going to answer that."

"Are you going to let me touch you, then?" she asked impatiently.

He looked amused. "Certainly."

She made a dive for it.

"Wait--" He caught her wrist. "Go easy on me, okay? It's been awhile."

She smiled, sinking down onto the bed on her side, her nose even with his hip, answering his gaze. He looked unbearably innocent right now, his hair mussed, his eyes dark and soft. She began to stroke his abdomen. "How long has it been?"

He raised his brows in mild surprise, his lips eventually parting into a smile that eclipsed hers in brilliance. "I don't think so...you first."

"Ah...I'd say..." she had to pause to count. Since the day she met him, but that was probably more information than she wanted to give out right now. The idea of it gave her pause. *Had* she been saving herself for him? She hadn't thought about it that way before, but it appeared to be true. "...at least two years or so..." she answered quietly. "You...?" she asked shyly, somewhat nervous that she'd pressed him on it. If his answer wasn't what she'd expected, they'd have to start a whole new conversation.

He narrowed his eyes a moment in thought. "About the same, I think."

"You think?"

He chuckled, "Okay, I can name the exact day, hour, and minute if you wish, but I thought I'd be more subtle. I'm not exactly dating material you know. Besides, I already had a woman in my life," he said, the end of his sentence growing lost as he touched her arm with the back of his finger.

Shit, he kept coming up with all the good lines. It didn't leave her much room to improve upon. She wanted to tell him how she felt, that he meant so desperately much to her. But he knew. She could tell by the way he answered her regard, fondly reflecting the trust and understanding they both held for one another. So instead of words, she decided it might be better if she just showed him, and moved her lips to the fuzzy place below his belly.

Johnny was caught in a helpless trap. So much for being careful--the woman was heading south drawing a very dangerous path down his abdomen with her ripe wet mouth. He propped a pillow behind his head settling himself for a good view, for what he could hold out for at least. He quickly set his mental sensation alarm on autopilot as she took him in hand with her small soft fingers, caressing his length. Her hand flowed up to the tip, sliding over the pool of ready moisture, polishing the end with her palm. He couldn't help but let slip a moan at the introduction of a foreign tactile sensation teasing his cock. But that moan soon expanded into a gasp as he saw and felt her mouth open to take him in. He had to shut his eyes a moment to scramble for dominance over the rush of fantasy-fed feral instincts running amuck through his mind. So much for letting off a little steam this morning, the reality of experiencing his richest self-gratification scenario was putting all his careful promises and preparations to task.

He shook the indecent thoughts clear and reopened his eyes to match a factual visual to the thrilling sensations running through his groin. It may have been awhile, but his body seemed to remember what to do by the way it took care to shut down most of the vital systems in his body in favor of providing the nerve endings currently experiencing the tantalizing skill of Micki's tongue and lips with maximum serum levels.

It wasn't long before his sensation alarm began to blare wildly as he watched her lips slip once again down and over the tight textured skin his erection, and he cursed it for a snooze button. It is abominably unfair a man has to hold out for the full course while a woman can gleefully set a speed record for orgasmic frequency with honors.

"Micki."

All he got in answer from her was a stifled moan, the vibrations of which worsened the urgency of his condition.

"Micki...shit! Stop...!"

He jerked back, freeing himself from her, and she raised her flushed face to him in dazed confusion--her lips parted, puffed and rosy.

"Too much?"

He was lying panting, staring at the ceiling, thinking hard about some really bad head wound special effects he saw in a recent late-night B-movie. Come on, come on...blood, puss, maggots, blood...

"Johnny...?" she was crawling back up to his face, sounding a bit worried.
He was blinking and taking deep breaths. Thank god...the gore was working. He glanced at her, peach-pink breasts were bobbing at just eye level as she wiggled toward him, filling his field of vision. Crap. He closed them again.

"Hey, you in there?" She tapped his forehead with the back of her fingers.

"Just barely..." he sighed, opening his eyes with a sheepish grin. "I'll be lucky if I survive this."

"You'd better Johnny, because I have plans for you."

"Really?" he asked, his hazel eyes darting across her face.

"Really," she mimicked, flopping herself across his chest.

"Not until you give me a chance to get to know you completely," he laughed, catching her at the waist, flipping her onto her back and playfully capturing her arms back over her head. "I missed a few parts earlier."

She was pinned under him wiggling, a devious smile on her flushed face, her hair a blaze of red across the pillows, her breasts peaked and rounded by the positioning of her arms. He was arrested by the vision. Micki, naked, aroused and waiting eagerly under him in his bed. Well, his for the night at least. Until something caught him as well, and he eased back, softening.

She watched him as he loomed over her. His expression suddenly changing into a mix of sorrow and devotion--a small sigh escaping his mouth through his parted lips. He released her wrists and pressed her readied nipples into the soft palms of his hands. He held them there a moment still and uncertain, a shadow of emotion flickering over his face. He looked pained, and his hands moved back to the safety of her hips even if his yes couldn't help but continue to take careful inventory.

"What is it?" she asked, quietly.

His lips began to move but no sound emerged and he looked away from her toward the window for a few seconds before finding the words--his voice fragmented and almost lost under the dying cracking of the fire.

"In all my life..." he whispered, "No one has ever known me like you do, Micki." He looked down at her with saddened eyes, brushing the hair from her face. "No one...I want you to know that."

Despite her best efforts, Micki felt the beginning moisture of tears stinging her eyes. She stroked the back of his hand with her thumb nodding gently.

"I do know that, Johnny. I do." A tear slipped itself out from her lid and rolled down to the pillowcase with a pat. He used his thumb to wipe the moisture from her cheek, calming their emotions before they took the night over.

"Come on, Mick. There'll be time for that later."

She nodded, smiling. "I know...kiss me...now."

He did, sliding himself alongside her, taking her head in his hands and cherishing her lips with his. Beautiful kisses made more tender by the way his fingers stroked her cheek, chin and temple. He sat her up and undid the bed, pulling back the comforter so they could slip inside between the gentle folds of the brushed cotton sheets, loosely draping the lower half of their bodies.

When he was finally able to set her mouth free for a moment he turned his focus to the full seduction of her breasts. Kissing and nuzzling them with his lips and nose, suckling the rosy tips in cadence to her light amorous sighs, sliding her hips against him, brushing the hot restraint of his erection against her open thigh to the point of exquisite pain. He met her with his eyes--dark and ready. She gave an almost imperceptible nod. It was long enough, they'd dragged this on for more than forever--it was time.

He shifted between her thighs and descended, sheathing into her slowly, his breath leaving him as he became rapturously enveloped by pure velvet warmth and wetness. He backed off and pushed forward again, gently. He did everything he could to not be overcome by the amazingly intense sensations registering below while taking careful note of her expression.

She was looking up at him dreamily expectant as they made this final connection. She was so filled with love and desire right now that it took her a moment to comprehend his hesitation. She almost laughed but thought better of it. Instead she bit her lip and smiled up at his far too serious expression.

"It's okay Johnny, I'm fine."

He looked at her a second, puzzled, then dropped his head with a chuckle mid-push, hovering over her like an insect. He lifted his head shaking it and met her eyes again all seriousness effectively wiped from his face.

"Jesus Micki, I'm supposed to be having the most incredible fucking experience of my life here and you're cracking me up."

She laughed then, a full belly laugh and he withdrew collapsing next to her, dropping his face into the soft valley between her breasts--kissing and nipping her warm pale skin between chuckles. She held him close against her while they let their nervous tensions transform into a cascade of mirthful laughter. Somehow necessary and redeeming and moreover made their impending connection all the more enthralling.

Presently their giggles ceased and became replaced by a returning course of deepening breath and sighs. He was continuing to nuzzle and fondle her, taking a nipple into his mouth.

She licked her lips, "Maybe we should let me get into the driver's seat for a while." He looked up at her, the tip of her breast still disappearing in his mouth.

"Sure, be my guest," he mumbled, releasing her and eyes wide, watched her as she sat up and pushed him back onto the bed beneath her.

"Let me take care of this." She moved and straddled him, sliding her wetness up along the hot length of him. He hissed and shut his eyes a moment against the sensation. She was kneeling over him, her hands running up and down his chest as she rocked her hips against him, over his pulsing cock lying flat against his abdomen. He released a shaken breath and opened his eyes. The vision was amazingly sexy, her leaning over him, letting her breasts swing gently forward and back in time with her hips. He reached up and moved his hands over them, cupping them and teasing the nipples. She leaned into his touch with a sigh and ground herself against him more forcefully. As incredible as it felt to have her sliding over him, he was reaching the edge of his patience and prayed she could sense it and deliver him from his waiting. She could, she did, and she ran her hands low, raising her hips, taking him in hand, and descended upon him in one long downward motion. He whispered her name, he was inside her, completely utterly taken up by her, surrounded by her deepest embrace. She paused to let them savor the moment, their eyes locking in acknowledgment and acceptance before moving slowly up and down adjusting to the feel of him.

How could she forget this? Nothing in the world was a proper substitute for a long stiff cock driven hard inside her. She thrust against him, wanting him as deep as possible in her--easing the aching flesh and muscle, opening her again, releasing her, making her whole. He was perfect for her--long and full--perfect. It amazed her. It was stirring her to deep arousal frighteningly fast--that and the divine thrill of witnessing his response. He was breathing in short pants, his head tilted back slightly, lips parted, his eyes growing blurry and disjointed as she savored him within her.

He was moaning with each descent of her tiny body, so sweet, so tight, he couldn't believe the intensity of the sensations. He wanted to weep with it was so good, so perfect. He ran his hands up and down her thighs, encouraging her. It had been forever since he had been with a woman. And longer than that since he had been this completely taken in by one body and mind as she moved him inside her--controlling the pace of his pleasure.

She was increasing the tempo now, moving a hand to stroke the glistening folds between her thighs. He could feel her fingers brushing against him as he slid up into her. Taking her ass in his hands, he met her with a slow thrust of his own as she arched upwards moaning with sensation as she adjusted the pressure and angle of his cock to her liking as it stroked in and out of her. She was biting her lower lip, her eyes a rage of blue fire--she cried out his name and surged with wetness. It was so good, each sensory input driving like fire into his spine--her eyes, her hands, her sounds, her body, over him, making love to him, flooding him with its intensity. He was experiencing a sense of completion, of contentment he had never known before--it filled him and surrounded him, driving him gloriously mad. With deep regret he soon came to realize it couldn't go on this way forever--the high limit of his control had somehow long passed.

"Micki..." he rasped. "I can't...I can't last much longer in this position."

Her face was a cloud of pleasure as her fingers moved more rapidly against her clit. God, she was beautiful, so beautiful. He felt a quickening, he couldn't stand it another minute, couldn't hold onto himself for another moment--he had to finish, had to release. "Please..." he begged her, but his plea was lost in the deep heavy groan that ripped from her throat as she arched, throwing her head back and thrusting down furiously against him, her fingers a blur, her hot slick walls contracting around him. The force of her orgasm was more than enough to drive him over the edge as he grabbed her hips for one, two, three, more hard thrusts as the world disassembled and fell away into shattered bits of memory. He cried out, gripping her tight as his body emptied into her in long thick pulses.

Johnny blinked, his skin cooling, taking a clean breath. That was good. That was so very, very unbelievably good. Not the marathon he had fantasized, surely, but what can one expect from two years of longing and abstinence? Besides they had the rest of the night for all-out fucking. This was, he hoped, an introduction. And a fine one at that. Thank god she had the presence of mind to find her own climax. Lord knows he didn't. He wasn't driving anyway. Good call, Micki, good call. Thank you for not making me look like an ass.

She was already groggy with spent lassitude and had fallen forward boneless against his chest as he held her, stroking her back, taking stock in the aftermath of the event. Fortunately for her it isn't considered rude for a lady to pass out after sex--it was, in fact, a kind of flattery. After several minutes of hazy recollections, he reluctantly pulled her off of him, settling her sleepily into the pillows while he set about trying to wipe things up a bit with his undershirt, returning it to the floor with a toss.

He reached down and retrieved the tangle of coverings and sheets that had wisely retreated to the foot of the bed and fluffed them up and over them, curving himself snugly behind her, his arm tucking possessively around her waist, and in a manner of minutes joined her in a peaceful oblivion.

*************************

Some hours later Micki woke from a half-dream to feel someone kissing the dip between her shoulder blades, feather light, almost ticklish. She wiggled a little to shake it and realized she was being held securely against a long warm body. She fought off sleepiness long enough to register by scent the body as familiar. Then she remembered. Her eyes opened. She was sleeping in a strange bed, quite naked against an equally naked and notably aroused Johnny. Who it seemed was making it his official business to make long sniffly noises across the skin of her back.

"Johnny...?"

"Hmm...?" another sniff.

It tickled, and she wiggled under him. "Why are you sniffing me?"

He reached up, cupping her breast, "You smell good...you smell like sex."

"I what?"

"Like sex, like us...like fucking."

She giggled. "You're tickling me."

He tucked his head between her neck and shoulder, breathing into her ear. "Maybe I need to be a little more direct then," he said, pressing her the rest of the way onto her stomach, urging her legs apart with his knee. And quite suddenly, but with care, she gasped as his newly resurrected erection found it's way up and inside her.

"Mmm...that's better," he whispered in her hair, beginning to move slowly, very slowly.

She sighed. "That's an interesting way to wake someone in the middle of the night."

"You like that?" he asked, taking little nibbles from her shoulder blade as he slipped a long arm down across her belly and into the forest of damp curls below, searching and selecting just the right rhythm and pressure to apply to her swelling clit.

"I could get used to it...oh, that is nice..." she made a yummy sound and adjusted herself slightly to the side to take him in more completely, meeting his languid thrust. He groaned against her shoulder, biting a little harder.

"I'll have to get a muzzle for you Johnny," she observed drowsily.

"I think that one might leave a mark." He grumbled, kissing the spot now, flicking it with his tongue.

He nipped her again, but with more care as he began to pick up his rhythm. "I can't help it...you feel so damn good..."

"Hmm...you feel good too." She was rather enjoying the overpowering feeling of his weight and presence pushing her into the soft sheets from behind, but she wasn't going to let him know that. She wanted to see exactly what he was capable of and she thought she knew how to get them there.

"...But I could do with a bit more...ah...effort."

His hand left her moist thighs and squeezed her breast teasing the stiffened nipple between his finger and thumb as his nose rooted through her hair, inhaling deeply.

"Effort...?" he asked, dreamily.

"Yes...I want you, Johnny. Hard. I want you to really fuck me," she smiled, feeling him start at her choice of words, hiding her blush in the pillow. God, this was fun--better than novelty stores.

At first all he was able to manage in response was a series of noisy pants as he was struck by a powerful rush of additional blood to his groin and an overwhelming urge to push deeper, faster.

"This is going to be over really fast if you keep talking to me like that," he said gruffly in one breath, struggling to rein himself.

"You don't want me to talk?" she asked in a calm, discerning voice--hiding at all costs the simmering pleasure he was stoking inside her.

"No," he managed to squawk, answering her far better with a more forceful thrust of his hips. Damn her, she wasn't even breathing strangely, and he was being nearly strangled by the feel of her beneath him, the intense need of her--fit so unbearably warm and snug around his straining cock.

"Why?"

"Micki..."

"What?"

"Micki...shut-up."

"Whatever for...?"

That was it--he'd have to kill her now.

"Because...I'm trying to see things through here," he panted, as he lent one frustrated forearm out to toss the sheets off of him before they became damp with sweat. Increasing his pace, he let his fingers drive in time against her clit, hard. Not even a peep. Christ! Was she even in the same bed with him?

"See what through...?"

"I'm trying...to make you come." If she didn't shut up soon and let him concentrate she wouldn't have the pleasure, and he'd probably have the beginning foundations of a complex.

"You are, though."

He groaned, quickly losing track of the argument. Shit, he was actually getting off on it. "What...?"

"Making me c..." the rest of her sentence was lost in a long whispery hiss as she backed herself into him, grinding into him, riding it out. Her contractions vibrating generously around him as he instinctively impaled her in counterpoint.

He was at once all too shocked to truly savor the experience. Where the hell did that come from? Where was she hiding it? Enough of this. Time to get serious. He pulled out and roughly flipped her over onto her back meeting her serene flushed expression with his hard desperate one. He took only a moment to dive back into her, letting himself seek out his own gratification in her intoxicatingly slick depths. She was without a doubt the most seductive arousing thing he had ever had opportunity to seek absolution in. He let himself drop all restraints and maddeningly pumped into her toward is own end. She seemed to have no complaints and he growled in approval as she lifted her hips and gripped his ass, rising to meet his quickening pace thrust to thrust. He doubled his efforts, and by his blurry estimation perhaps burying himself in her a bit too forcefully for her size, but he almost couldn't control himself at this point. She was amazing, just amazing to him. He'd never thought in his wildest wet dreams she'd be so open, so willing, so intensely fuckable. Speech had completely escaped him so he devoured her lips with a kiss, trying to convey his gratitude with a tenderness sorely lacking in his lower body at the moment; to somehow begin to communicate how very much he needed this, wanted this like nothing else, and how ethereally kind she was to give herself up to him in this way.

But she knew, she knew in the way his eyes drank her in and the way his arms gripped her tightly that she was the only thing he really needed, really wanted to push away the shadows of his past. She was his to seek solace from and she hoped she had the capacity to fill him to bursting.
He dropped his head, screwing his eyes shut, and she felt his lower body go rigid as a long gravely sound issued through his clenched teeth as he came. A few sloppy thrusts followed, and with a huge exhale, he collapsed on her, bathing her insides, his golden skin dewed with sweat.

He slipped to the side to ease his weight off of her, but she held his head close against her breast, stroking the damp hair at the nape of his neck, kissing the top of his head. He was breathing in shudders, overcome and temporarily incapacitated by his efforts.

"I'm sorry....I just..." he tried to explain in an uneven tone.

"Shhh..." she breathed. "Don't be sorry, silly. You're wonderful. I wanted you to let go...it was beautiful. You're beautiful."

All he could do was wrap his arms tightly around her--she was too good, too good, he didn't deserve her. He held her close, waiting for his welling emotions to reverse and wane, waiting until he could find his voice again.

5

He was asleep beside her--really asleep. Micki smiled, waking, stretching her pleasantly aching body, listening to him breathe. His closed face reflected the picture of someone engaged in a thorough exploration of unconsciousness. She touched the hair that fell in a faint curl across his eyebrow, moving it back so she could lie there with an unobstructed view. She loved watching his face--he was beautiful; she meant it. And he was hers, really hers--all of him. She felt a peaceful sense of relief that went well beyond sexual gratification of the thought. There would be no more hiding or restraining her emotions. She could relax into them and enjoy them for once without the all too familiar frustration she'd felt to some degree ever since she met him. What had she said to herself then, silently...when she first locked eyes with him in the Silver Dollar?

"Damn. He's beautiful, and I'm going to have to pretend I don't notice. Why couldn't Ryan get someone less attractive to help us out?" Quickly followed by, "God, he's arrogant. Maybe if I do look at him it will keep me from wringing his neck." That hadn't stopped her though, she reflected ruefully. She'd left her mark on him, in more ways than one. They both had.

Her stomach made a gurgling sound, and she tried to shush it. She didn't want to wake him, not while he was so still, so peaceful. He rarely found peace and she wanted to give it to him so very badly, the giving of it settling her own unrest and fears. I have this man, she told herself. I have him completely and he does me as well. We are indivisible--no one can touch us as long as we stay connected, intertwined. I have his trust and his knowledge, he is my guide and my inspiration and a damn fine lover to boot.

Lover--she liked that word, the physicality it represented, and felt a twinge of body memory flow through her. She could still feel him in her as if he had never withdrawn. Her muscles were molded to him now and pined to be filled again despite the protest from the sensitivity of the flesh. She paid it no mind, he felt too good for the tenderness to hurt.

Her stomach stubbornly interrupted her thoughts again. She sighed defeatedly. She was surprisingly hungry even if she had stuffed herself silly at dinner. I guess we worked it off, she mused. Well, there *were* rations downstairs. She supposed she could sneak down there and fumble around for something. She leaned close to him and gave him a "be right back" peck on the nose. He didn't move.

Micki slipped off the bed and began to search the moonlit floor for recognizable articles of clothing. Bits of it seemed to have floated everywhere. If she had known about this little event she would have brought a robe, which would have made stumbling around in the dark a bit quieter. Ah...! She found his long sleeved shirt, still buttoned and pulled it on over her head. The fabric gave her a tactile thrill as it settled over her bare breasts. Hmm, it smelled of him, too. Of course she smelled rather Johnny-y herself, but wearing one of his shirts around the house had always been a secret urge, and she wasn't about to deny herself anything. Satisfactorily dressed, she slipped downstairs.

The sheets beside him had barely cooled to room temperature before Johnny's extra-sensory alert system began to nudge at him. His body thoroughly engaged in sleep, it took some coaxing before his arm wearily slid forward to inspect the scene, sliding across the sheet, searching, reaching emptiness. His eyes and head rose in concern. She wasn't next to him. He sat up, suddenly awkwardly awake.

"Micki?"

Maybe she was in the bathroom. He closed his eyes, rubbing them, trying to pick up a sound. His nose came in first with useful information. He smelled something. Something good. Something frying. He'd probably best go investigate.

Johnny pushed to his feet and looked around for something to put on, trying to create some semblance of decency. He stretched his back, feeling a little snap as something settled back into place. Idly scratching his chest, he scanned the room. He felt good, tired, but good, pleasant even--a certain brand of pleasantness he hadn't had opportunity to experience in quite sometime--coupled by the sweet almond scent of a woman rubbed into his skin. Frustrated by the scarce selection of clothing, he chose a small knitted blanket from the bed covers which he threw over his shoulders and headed for the lower floor.

The lights were on in the kitchen and the aroma and sizzle of eggs and potatoes floated into the foyer. He peered around the corner to encounter the vision of Micki clad only in his shirt, sleeves rolled up, ass peeking from under the tails as she reached up to grab the paprika from an overhead spice rack. She unscrewed the top in one full twist, shaking lightly, stirring a yellowy concoction in the pan briskly with a pancake turner. After letting his eyes take their fill of the presentation, he made a noise in his throat and stepped in as to not startle her. Despite his latent and persistent horniness, he was surprisingly hungry and wondered if she didn't mind sharing.

She turned to him in mild surprise. "I see I've woken the dead."

He faced her remark with an identifying nod.

"You're cooking," he emphasized, as if her domestic display was certainly a momentous occasion in itself.

"You're naked," she answered, eyeing his unusual attire.

"Someone stole my clothes."

She looked down at herself, a bit embarrassed at him finding her this way. She lifted the pan from the stove, clicking the heat off. "How do you like your eggs?"

"Cooked."

"We got 'em," she said, spilling a mixture of scrambled eggs and diced potatoes onto a large plate. He took a seat up on a stool at the central counter, wearing the blanket draped over his shoulders. He could easily imagine this little scene playing like some soft-porn nuptial drama. Wouldn't that be perfect? The little wife half-naked greeting him with a steaming pan of eggs...

Whoa. Hold on. Did he just upgrade his fantasies to marital? God, he really did have it bad. Funny what a decent helping of consensual sin will do to a guy. He lifted his eyebrows and accepted a fork from her eagerly.

She took a stool across the corner of the counter from him and they stabbed and nibbled at the lumpy mixture in unison, feeding one another an occasional bite. They were some damn fine eggs, too--infused with herbs and spices. Johnny never had the pleasure of being fed by her before. He wasn't even aware she knew how to turn on a stove. Micki certainly had her share of little secrets. As cliched as it might sound, he felt as if he was seeing his partner clearly for the first time.

Micki was looking up at him thoughtfully as she tangled forks with him over the last few bites. Let it not be said they didn't have a reputation for putting away food--another aspect to their inherent competitiveness--fighting over the last scrap of take-out like a couple of hounds sometimes. Pre-dawn breakfasts were no exception, as he tagged her fork with his, stealing the final wiggly yellow lump, popping it in his mouth with a grin.

"Did you ever imagine, Johnny, when you were young, what being an adult would be like?" He blinked at her, surprised at the sudden reappearance of conversation. They'd been silent during their egg and potato duel--a comfortable silence only long-term couples have learned to appreciate. She handed him a tall glass of reddish-looking juice and he took several gulps of it before answering.

"Sure, what kid doesn't..." he replied, curious as to the aim of her introduction.

"What I mean is, I always thought being an adult was about having total freedom--being able to stay up late to watch old movies without being told to go to bed, or to have my own money to spend on chocolate eclairs at the bakery..." she trailed off, her expression growing solemnly wistful. She stared at her hands, opening them. "You're never really told the whole story..."

He let the corner of his mouth rise to lighten the heaviness he saw there. "You mean the part about how one third of your yearly income will one day go toward mollusk reproductive research?"

She answered his quip with a faint turn of her mouth. "Yeah, something like that."

"I think we all wind up a little bitter about the reality of becoming responsible for ourselves," he offered. "Having to make decisions and take risks without having anyone to really fall back on when you fuck up. I guess for me--I just don't really look that far ahead. It makes screwing up that much easier to live with."

She nodded in agreement to his assessment of his reckless nature, and her expression warmed as she met him eye to eye.

"The amazing thing is Johnny, when I look at you sitting there in that silly blanket, sharing this plate of eggs with me in this strange kitchen--I feel it. I feel that imaginary reality I pictured when I was a kid. I feel that freedom. You give me that, the strength to make myself believe I can do anything. I think I lost that somewhere along the way. You've brought me back and...I've wanted to thank you for that for a long time now," she finished softly, her eyes regarding him tenderly.

He didn't move at first, just parted his lips slightly. He wanted to crush her to him and whisper wild and desperate confessions in her ear, tear himself open and let spill out a gush of raw humanity; but feared his own sanity in the end, and instead fell back on a familiar deflective tactic, the safer move, for now.

"I think that's the most incredible thing anyone's ever said to me, Micki. Well, at least just after sex, anyway. I mean it's usually, 'Where the hell is my underwear?' or 'Can you pay for my cab?'--Ow!" Micki whapped him on the head with the oven mitt, with a full smile that brightened the sky-blue of her eyes.

"You're terrible, I never should have agreed to let you join us at the store."

"What? And miss out on all the finely-tooled madness? Come on, you can't do any better than me for livening up the work day. Especially now."

"I wouldn't be making that assumption quite so fast. There's to be no inappropriate behavior within the confines of the store."

He gave an exaggerated sigh, dropping his head into his arms. He peeked up at her, pushing his lower lip into a pout. "Not even after five?"

"Nope. Sorry. The desk stays in pristine order. I don't want you messing up Jack's papers."

"Road trips?"

"You'll have to consult with me on a case by case basis."

"You're an evil, evil woman, Micki."

"Tough. Be lucky you got me to this point at all."

"I am, I am. Weekends?"

She nodded once, "Sure."

He reached out and took her hand, lightly stroking it with his thumb. "How about after this week we dig into our backlog of vacation hours like Jack's been telling us to do and I'll drive you to the coast for an extended weekend of indecent behavior?"

"You're buying?"

"Absolutely."

"I could get used to this."

Micki leaned forward on her elbows across the edge of the counter and gave him a gentle kiss, just their lips touching, lightly. The way she leaned in, allowed him an amazing view down the partially unbuttoned front of his shirt, occupied by the finest pair of breasts he'd managed to get his mouth around in a very long time. He licked her lip with the tip of his tongue while his fingers brushed the soft material over her breast. She pressed into his hand with a small whimper and he wasn't too surprised to find himself stiffening in response to the sound.

She separated from him and peered down into his lap. "That didn't take much," she teased.

"You complaining?"

"No..." she replied, and slipped down off of the stool with a dangerous look in her eyes. Johnny felt his pulse leap in kind. She was up to something.

She stood next to the counter, pushing their plate back and beckoned him to her with a crooked finger. He slid to his feet, letting the blanket flop onto the floor as he crossed to her. She sighed and raised her arms and he lifted his shirt up and over her head. She stood before him all skin and supple curves, her nipples pointed and eager.

"Ready for round three?" she asked demurely.

"Sure," he whispered, unable to get the required air supply to his vocal cords.

Johnny's jaw almost made contact with the floor when she turned and draped herself down onto the countertop, her stomach to the tile, her little ass wiggling invitingly as she took a step apart exposing the swollen pink flesh of her sex, poised wet, and ready for business.

Sweet mother of god! Still a few hours until sunrise and she had already knocked out half of the top ten in the Johnny Ventura's Fantasy 500. Then again she figured in most of the top 100 anyway. Time to invent some new ones and see if they floated to the surface before sun-up. And he had been worried about this?

She blinked at him, biting her lip like she was just a little bit shy, but not too ashamed to beg nevertheless. He moved to stand behind her, dipping his fingers between her dampened legs and she lifted her ass on tip-toe to meet his touch like a dog longing to be petted. Damn! She was sexy as all hell. Fortunately his cock knew exactly what to do and made a quick aim for her--up and in, locked and solid.

Wow, the noise she made at that point was one he'd be replying for the next several months. He pulled back and moved into her again, all the way in to the hilt, and yes, she made the noise again, like a drowning seal--if seals could drown. He was immediately grateful for the incredible view this position granted him. Fifty yard line full score seating of everything that really counted. Damn! This round was gonna be good. He took full advantage of the situation as he savored the stimulating visual effect of his cock disappearing into her just inches away in full florescent illumination. Thank god someone had paid the electric bill.

Low strangled sobs began to rise from the counter beneath him. She was writhing there, her voice rising in volume, beginning to generate this unholy noise to his quickening thrusts. Whatever it was, it sounded good and it was coming this way. He gripped the flesh of her ass more forcefully and retooled his pace, driving into her in a slow forward motion ending in a tiny jerk at the end of each thrust. That seemed to do the trick, she bucked against the little extra effort in each stroke, her moans elevating, sounding gradually more pained and desperate.

God, what an amazing thing sex must be for a woman, to be able to enjoy it in so many flavors. Careful and slow, to hard and furious, they each created their own color of orgasm in a woman, and he was so pleased to discover Micki was no exception to this. He wanted nothing more from life than to seek each variation out, start cataloging them, giving them names--developing a connoisseur's eye, selecting a menu for each and every all-night bought of pleasure he'd experience with her from a richly styled palette.

Her cries were strangling themselves into what sounded like the tight wail of frustration, so he picked up the pace a bit, running his hands over the smoothness of her back, glad for once to have been sated enough times already tonight to finally get a grip on the kind of attention she needed. Ah, that fit the bill, her moans were lower again, rougher, and her hips were rising up off the counter to meet him in collision pound for pound.

He decided to test the waters a bit and leaned forward, slipping his hand over her hip, trapping her clit in a vee, between two fingers, adjusting the aim of his cock a bit deeper and higher towards a spot he thought he'd found earlier when he had her up against the glass. She growled in approval and he began to tease her center of pleasure in earnest, raising its sensitivity. Her moans came up in pitch but grew longer, more forceful, thickened. He guessed that was a good thing and kept it up, just dragging and squeezing the skin to either side of her clit with each pulse. Suddenly her hand came over his and forced his fingers down on her nub hard, grinding down onto its leading edge in a flurry, then a pause, then another flurry. Okay, he thought he remembered that one from somewhere deep in his past and took over for her. Her back arched up, almost knocking him over as she reacted to the requested stimulation. He held her at her hip as she slid herself further up on the counter into an arched pose. Evidently this adjustment was the right move because she began to shutter from ass to shoulders as he crushed her clit between his fingers then released, crush and release. Her head shot back as she writhed.

"Oh god..." she moaned low and dark. "Oh god, don't stop...don't stop."

Thank god myself, he thought, because his lower back was beginning to seriously protest this new position.

"Don't stop..." she cried in a more primal, torturous groan, thrusting herself back against him hard. Jesus, it didn't even sound like her. Barely sounded human. And it must have triggered some deep seated bestial tendencies in him, because her transformed voice was driving him suddenly and violently toward the edge. Shit! Not now. He'd be damned if he missed this one. Her hungry pleads were becoming more and more manic as he thrust deeply, trying to disconnect himself from the burning ache in his groin. Please god, I'll never ask for another thing as long as I live if you'll just make her come. Make her come. Please make her come.

He felt it might be time to reconsider his religious convictions when in just another moment she jerked up onto her elbows in an even tighter arch and let go a full throated howl, her entire body wracking with a spasm as he shot into her as fast and hard as he could without dropping her, his own climax peaking and ringing in his ears as it flashed over him like whipcrack.

"Fuck...!" he cried, as he caught the counter's edge to keep himself from falling full-force on her where she had collapsed, leaving breath trails on the dark stone. Yeah, that was original, he thought--the muscles in his arms and legs shaking from the strain--time to work on the orgasm vocabulary. And if he was not mistaken, he'd probably just damned himself to hell for asking god to finish her off for him. Smooth, buddy, smooth. Shit, who was trying to kill whom here tonight?

"Johnny...?"

"What?" he panted, dragging his nose across her shoulder blade, still wavering in a post-climatic haze.

"I need to get down."

"Sorry." He did his best to stand on his own legs, and pulled back and away so she could straighten up.

His brain was beginning to function at the closest it had ever come to total meltdown. He could hardly grasp what had just happened. How could *that* be right? How could he have possibly just bent Micki over a kitchen counter and fucked her senseless?

She stood up, running her fingers through her hair and pulling his shirt back over her head and down over her hips. He thought if she had a purse with her she'd probably daintily re-apply a touch of lipstick, too.

He shook his head a little. "Sorry..."

"Stop apologizing already," she said with a lift of her chin, as she began to gather up their plates and wash them under the spray of the sink. "You have nothing to be sorry about. Believe me."

He realized he was just about fucked stupid by now and in an effort to ground himself, tried to be useful, handing her cups and plates to wash--careful not to speak until at least a few multi-syllabic words came to mind. He watched her, awed by the simple way she had slipped in and taken him over so easily. He wanted to tell her he loved her now, but after some thought decided against it. Probably not the best time to bring it up while standing buck-naked, hair askew, next to a dribble of cum on the floor of a stranger's kitchen. Despite that, the words wouldn't sound right and he'd probably choke on them on the way out, messing it up. He'd tell her soon, though, and he'd do it right--buy her something nice, or take her someplace beautiful, or both. For now he caught her soapy hand and brought it to his lips, pressing into her palm, the bubbles tickling his nose.

She rose up and kissed his cheek. "Grab a towel," she whispered. "You're drying."

*****************************

A thudding woke them both. Sitting up in the bed in the yellow glow of morning, Johnny tried to make sense of the sound. It was coming from downstairs. For a minute he felt panic, was someone letting himself in?

"Johnny?" Micki sat up, too, trying to cover herself with the rumpled sheet.

The thudding stopped.

"Oh. No it's okay, Micki," he said, rubbing his tired eyes. "It's the hotel. I had our bags sent over."

"Oh...What time is it?"

He flopped back down on his back, closing his eyes again, not wanting to let go of sleep just yet. She reached over and took his arm, reading his watch.

"Johnny? What time is our flight?"

"Hmmm...?"

"Our flight. It's 9:25."

"What?" his eyes were quickly reopened, the look of panic returning. He examined the face of his watch. "That's not good."

"What are you saying?"

"We've got to hurry," he muttered. Throwing the covers back, he scrambled to a half-standing position, giving his exhausted body a moment to catch up with his spinning head. And if he wasn't mistaken, he appeared to be sporting another goddamn erection--the origin of which didn't appear to have any correlation to sleep, which he was sorely lacking in.

Micki was immediately on her feet and not just a little pissed, as she fussed about, gathering her scattered articles.

"Shit Johnny, I thought you were in control of this situation."

He raised his brow at her. "In control? Right. I gave up somewhere around, 'fuck me hard, Johnny,' I think."

"I *said* that?"

"Uh huh. That was you, I'm pretty sure."

"Where the hell is my bra?"

He smiled ironically, slipping his jeans up over his hips--now this morning was beginning to wax familiar. Except maybe this time he had a chance in hell of seeing the girl again. No, he had more than a chance, he was willing to bet his life on it. He'd try to spend every non-working moment for the rest of his life with her if he had any say in the matter. Maybe she'd even give into the "rules" a bit over time. His cock jumped at the thought--not the desk scenario again. He'd really have to clean-up the fantasy rack if he valued their partnership.

Johnny dragged their bags in and up the stairs while Micki got first round of the shower. A duel cleansing was certainly out of the question, she informed him. No need to be any later than they already were. Too bad, he'd have to pick up on that particular activity later. He couldn't complain though, he had plenty of activities to reflect on over the next four hours.

She emerged from the shower, towel about her head, in time to catch him attempting to reassemble the bed.

"What are you doing? We can't leave those here."

He shrugged, a rumpled sheet still gripped in his hand. "Any ideas?"

She had a point, the maid wasn't going to be arriving any time soon.

"We'll have to take them with us."

"What?"

"I'm not leaving that for someone to find in six months, Johnny," she said exasperated, tugging the fitted sheet from the bed.

That was certainly an odd party favor to take along with them. She was right. He hadn't planned for laundry. He thought he'd better leave her to her cover-up mission and retreated into the shower.

The hot spray pelting his skin helped ease the soreness in various parts of his body. He felt like crap, but for once had no regrets. All he had to do today was get their butts on the plane, doze, watch badly edited movies, and eat peanuts until they reached home. He wondered if Micki would mind a sleep-over tonight--in the literal sense, okay, maybe a little prodding before bed. Hmm...not likely--it was a work day tomorrow after all and they hadn't yet discussed when or what they were going to tell Jack. Why couldn't he fall ass-over-teapot for a less responsible woman? Now he'd probably have to wait a whole week before he got her naked again. He sighed, turning off the water and reaching for a towel. He didn't think he'd make it that long.

When he emerged, still a bit damp around the edges, he was met with a perfectly re-set bedroom. Not a lint ball out of place--even if the comforter was now only covering a bared mattress. They could bill him. He dressed quickly, glancing around admirably, he wondered if she thought to wipe down the glass door for "prints." Probably not, he smirked. Now, that was one way to leave a calling card for the new owners.

"Johnny!"

Jesus, he was getting bellowed at already. He supposed that was an acceptable sacrifice. He heard the oak door open, and grabbing his bag, hurried down, taking the stairs two at a time. She was standing flushed and impatient at the door, her face free of makeup, her hair a half-assembled swath of damp waves. Christ, she'd never looked more gorgeous.

"The cab's been honking for five minutes."

Without giving it a thought, he grabbed her arm and covered her mouth with a rough kiss, pressing her to him until he felt her stiff resistance falter and her mouth part under his--refusing to let her go until he got a satisfying taste of her, parting with a loud smack.

"Let's go already."

"One last thing, Johnny..."

"Yes?"

"You'd better have booked us seats together, because I plan on passing out in your lap for the next four hours."

He could get used to this, he decided, smiling to himself as he took one last look into the foyer before pulling the door shut against the yellow glow of the early sun streaming in from the high windows to the abandoned tile floor below.