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Introduction:

This is a work of fiction, and all characters in sexual scenes are above the age of 18.
Crap. Crap, crap, crap.

That was all Quinn Kent could think as she grabbed her coat and shrugged it on. Crap, crap, crap.

It was the first week of her second year of college and she was starting it off with bad habits. She was a Linguistics major and was running late to her morning Language Progression class. Which pissed her off because the lecturer who taught it was an eccentric asshat who wouldn’t hesitate to give her flak for her tardiness in front of the entire auditorium.

A very slender figure standing at 5’4”, Quinn grabbed her bag, slung it over her shoulders and snatched up the Pop-Tart that jumped out of her toaster. Shoving the Pop-Tart into her mouth, she put on and laced her canvas sneakers.

Another minute went by. Crap. Crap.

She grabbed her keys and her scarf and hurried out of her dorm. She ran across the campus with unconscious grace, her long hair streaming behind her—a deep chocolate brown that matched her eyes.

Gently puffing, she raced across the CRSU campus; breezing down archways and sidewalks to the Thompson building. Most of the Linguistics classes were held in that building, as well as classes for the other Cognitive Sciences. She hurried down the corridor and flew up the stairs, managing to get there just in time to avoid being roasted by Eccentric Asshat.

Today was not an ideal day, Quinn thought as she settled into a chair in one of the middle rows. It was because of the less-than-adequate timetabling this year. Monday mornings were never ideal, but when she had a couple of two-hour long lectures back to back all the morning and into the afternoon, it was even less so. There was Language Progression from nine a.m. till eleven a.m. and Psycholinguistics from eleven a.m. till one p.m.

She sighed at that. The silver lining was that after Psycholinguistics, she’d be free as a bird for the rest of the day. She’d maybe study a little. Or a lot—having always been a dutiful student. Then she’d maybe catch a dinner and a movie with her friends. Carolina, Sylvie and Jennifer were always up for fun, as long as they didn’t have anything more fun planned. Like a date.

Quinn hadn’t been on a date in…well, forever. Because men were annoying. She sighed again as Eccentric Asshat began the lecture. Men were annoying. Or was it just college guys? They were either too loud and boorish, or too shy and wimpy to make the first move. Or too handsy. Or too stupid. Or sleazebags. Or know-it-alls.

Men were annoying. Quinn had dated a few guys—six of them, to be exact. She was a serial monogamist and had been in a long-term relationship with each guy she’d dated. But she hadn’t dated since last summer. Her last boyfriend, Boyfriend#6, had been a jerk. Boyfriend #5 had been too smarmy. Boyfriend #4 had been too handsy, and so it went.

She listened to Eccentric Asshat with half an ear, alternately doodling and making notes as he talked for the two hours with little intermission. At the end of Language Progression, the departing class was informed of a room change concerning their next Psycholinguistics class. The room where Psycholinguistics usually held had been booked for a workshop for the week, and they had been temporarily allocated to a first floor room in the Spencer Building.

Quinn had never set foot within the Spencer building before—it was solely for Law and for undergrad students taking pre-Law electives. She didn’t much care about the venue for her next class, but she’d have preferred it not to be all the way across the campus.

The students walked together in groups of twos and threes to their next class. Quinn walked with two acquaintances, but for the most part she didn’t join in their light chatter. She wasn’t anybody’s definition of a social butterfly, and mostly only came alive in the company of those she knew well.

She was also a mostly chill person and mostly only got pissed off when her wildly extroverted friends did something stupid—and dragged her into it. Neither Carolina or Sylvie, or her best friend Jen majored in Linguistics. Jen was in Psychology, Sylvie was an artist and Carolina was chasing a degree in Journalism.

She’d had just the Pop-Tart for breakfast, so with her stomach rumbling, Quinn sat through the first half of Psycholinguistics. There was a fifteen minute break between the two-hour session, and during that time she left the lecture room to the mini restaurant at the ground floor of the building.

Quinn went in, her stomach rumbling at all the lovely smells. She intended to grab something on the go, but it was so busy and the line was so long, her fifteen minutes would probably all be swallowed up waiting in line.

She sighed in annoyance, looking around. What now? She stepped back out of the restaurant. Down a narrow, quiet corridor was a vending machine. Fine, then. A candy bar would have to do until she could eat something substantial.

She went to the vending machine. Hunting for her favorite candy bar, she dropped coins into the machine and made her selection.

Her candy bar fell, but as she bent to retrieve it she noticed that the bar behind it was teetering, seemingly on the point of falling too. Seeing her chance, Quinn gave the side of the machine a few surreptitious raps with her fist.

The second bar fell.

She whooped; as everyone knew, winning the vending machine lottery was not something that happened every day.

Quinn was gleefully reaching for her prize when an amused voice from a ways behind her said, “I’m impressed.”

She whipped around guiltily, candy bars in hand, to see the 6 foot 3 inch Adonis standing several feet behind her. For a moment, she stared at him. Not necessarily because of his height and not necessarily because of his looks—it was something a little more subtle than that. There was something she couldn’t put her finger on, but that made a difference in her perception of him.

There was a sort of…self-assurance about him. It was in the way he stood; proud, straight and unbent, with his feet planted on the ground ever so slightly apart. It was the steadiness of his metallic gray eyes and the slightly superior smirk on his lips. That something about him stopped her from thinking that he was just a pretty face. He had the look of the warrior about him, the chief of the clan—the alpha of the pack. Something about him seemed to say, “Get out of my way or be run over.” And he had the muscles to back it up; about 200 pounds of solid muscle.

Quinn felt herself blush.

His smile widened ever so slightly, softening the planes of his rawboned face. God, he was beautiful. “O que temos aqui? Do you make a regular habit of attacking poor, unsuspecting vending machines?” His voice had the whisper of an accent; Brazilian Portuguese.

Quinn swallowed and made her stiff lips move. “I, uh…no, ah, this is the first time.”

The smile still played about his lips; humor in the gray eyes. “That’s what they all say.” He raised an eyebrow and then slipped his hands into his pockets.

His hair had a loosely waving texture and was slightly longer than usual; long enough to swirl around his face and fall to the nape of his neck. It was a brown so dark she would have figured him for a brunet—if a patch of sun hadn’t been falling over him and teasing out the auburn sheen hidden within the strands. His hair was beautiful, too. Such a unique mahogany shade.

He seemed to be waiting for her to speak. Quinn licked her dry lips and said, “Um, I don’t usually commit such heinous crimes, but…” She held one of the candy bars out to him. “If I give you one, will you promise not to call the cops on me?”

He laughed. The sound had the uncanny ability to make her feel like she was melting. “You think you can bribe me? Madam, I’ll have you know that I am a fine, upstanding individual and cannot be bought.”

Still embarrassed, but beginning to enjoy his sense of humor, Quinn waved the candy bar at him. “Are you sure?” she tempted shyly. “It’s got caramel.”

He inclined his head to the side, as though considering it. And then with a humorous glint in his eye he asked, “What about wafers? Has it got wafers?”

She smiled. “Wafers aplenty, I swear. So what do you say?”

He walked towards her, holding his hand out. “Hand over the loot and we will never speak of this day again.”

Quinn tossed the candy bar to him. “So…honor among thieves?”

He smiled back at her as he opened the candy bar. “I think that’s going to be the theme going forward.” There was a slight pause before he said, “If word of this does somehow get out and we need to go on the run, it would be helpful for me to know your name.”

“I’m Quinn.” She glanced at him and glanced away again. His silver eyes were still trained on her face. His eyes really were something; especially the way they contrasted with his olive-gold skin. “And you, partner?” she asked, trying to sound offhand.

He laughed softly again. “Rafael. Rafe.” Then he said, “You’re a freshman? I’ve never seen you in this building before. Have you just started your first year in a pre-Law course?”

The question was asked politely. Pleasantly, even. But his gaze was sharp and there was a certain something in his tone that told Quinn he was not just requesting, but expecting a straight answer.

“No,” she replied, barely meeting his gaze. Her heart begun to beat just that little bit faster. “No, I’m a Linguistics major. I’m in my second year, and Psycholinguistics is my favorite class. They shuffled us around today, though. You?”

“Third and final year of pre-Law. Criminal Justice with Political Science and Forensic Psychology electives.”

Quinn paused a moment, her eyes widening a little. Criminal Justice, Political Science and Forensic Psychology? Crap. When did he get time to breathe? Or even study for it all? Or even just learn it all? She smiled a little at him. “Pre-Law? Then doesn’t that make it all the more wrong for you to have accepted a bribe?”

“Everyone is powerless against wafers, Quinn. Doctors, lawyers, priests. You name it.”

Hearing her name on his lips was a mild shock to her system, and from the way he smirked as her eyes flew up to his face, she just knew that it had been a calculated move on his part.

“Are you busy, I wonder?” he asked easily, his low voice with a hint of humor. “We could carry on discussing the power of wafers in turning good people into criminals over coffee.”

Was he about to ask her out? To hide her blush, Quinn let her head fall forward so that her hair could screen her face. “I have to go back to class in a few minutes.” Then, worried that he might take it as a refusal when she had just been giving information, she glanced up again and added hastily. “But—but I’m free right after, for the whole day.” And once the words were out she was mentally kicking herself for having betrayed so much eagerness.

“When would that be?” Again the question was courteous; again it demanded a response.

“Just one hour.”

“Good. Meet me down here and I’ll buy you that cup of coffee.”

There was something in his voice that made her wonder if he had just made a request…or given her an order. Her heart was now seriously pounding. Quinn nodded a little. “Okay.” She made to turn away. “I’ll see you in an hour.”

He gave her a small smile. “It’s nice to meet you, Quinn.”

Quinn’s step faltered. It was a natural enough phrase, but there was the barest emphasis on the words. She smiled back as she hurried away. “You too, Rafael.”

“Rafe.”

“You too, Rafe. See you soon.”

Trying to control her steps so she didn’t break into a run, Quinn made her escape. She was thinking of it as an escape, but anticipation sang through her at the thought of seeing him again soon, especially when it seemed that he liked her. She was on cloud nine.

Sweeping her hair back from her face, Quinn walked back into class with a flush in her cheeks, a sparkle in her eyes and a smile on her lips.

She heard absolutely nothing that the professor said. He might well have been speaking Cantonese for all she understood. The hour dragged, and she was amongst the very first students to jump to her feet once the class was dismissed. She shoved her books in her bag and slung it over her shoulder, growing nervous again as she walked back down to the restaurant. She was at the door when she spotted him, and found that she had to wipe her hands down the front of her jeans.

She felt flustered. None of the guys she’d dated had ever flustered her before. Her heart was doing a strange little tap-tap-tap.

He made her uncomfortable. Not in a disturbing or aversive way; it was more like…a tingle. Like she was on her toes, or constantly looking over her shoulder. Unsure of what would come next. There was something about this man. Something intrinsic. Something hard to define yet very specific.

She had only a moment to wonder what that indefinable something was before he turned his head and their eyes met. The gray eyes were direct. She watched, rapt with attention, as his lips lifted in a slow smile. Warmth spread through her stomach. The tap-tap-tapping of her heart increased. It was as though he had made her the sole focus of the room with that direct look, that devil’s smile.

Quinn had never before felt such an instantaneous attraction to any person, and for a second she actually contemplated turning straight back around and walking away. But she couldn’t. He had most definitely seen her and it would be far too strange to turn tail and run.

Rafael sat where he was at the table, watching her with a dark gleam in his eyes as she closed the remaining gap between them. She forced a smile onto her leaden lips. “Hi again.”

He didn’t respond verbally. With that dark smile on his lips, he simply inclined his head towards the empty chair opposite his own.

She sat.

He watched her for a moment with his cool, calm smile; as though he saw and enjoyed her unease. “How do you take it?”

“How do I take what?”

“Your coffee, Quinn. How do you take it?” He raised a slightly mocking eyebrow. “I was under the impression that we were here to drink coffee?”

Quinn blushed; yes, he was definitely enjoying how nervous she was. “Um, I like café mocha.”

Rafael looked her over, humor buried in the silvery eyes. “By that I assume you mean that sugary coffee-flavored chocolate drink?”

She smiled back a little. “Mocha is coffee.”

Sim, it’s coffee—atrociously buried under sugar, milk, chocolate and syrup.”

“Okay, fine, so I like girly coffee. How do you take it?”

“Black and bitter, like my soul.”

She laughed at his deadpan expression which accompanied the joke, and he rose to go the counter to order. She watched him as he ordered an espresso and a mocha, paid, and returned to the table. He set the mocha in front of her with a mocking smile.

She wrapped her fingers around the warm cup as she smiled. “Thanks.” She sipped, looking at him over the rim of her cup as she scrabbled for something to say. “I was surprised that you do Criminal Justice plus two elective courses.”

“They might be elective courses, but having them under your belt helps when the time comes to apply for Law schools.”

“I suppose so.”

“And yourself? E se você? Does Linguistics keep you busy?”

“Busy enough. But I’m betting not as much as you, though. What do you do to unwind?”

“The gym usually helps,” was his easy response.

She looked over the hard muscles under his shirt. This man was no stranger to the weight room. He had a lean, muscled powerful body. A perfect body. She was sure it’d be even more beautiful without his clothes on it. Then she blushed at her thoughts, peering into her coffee.

“I wonder if you already have plans for this evening?”

She looked up again. She examined his beautiful face, but was unable to get a read on the feelings behind his question; but because there was that thread of authority in his voice, she replied honestly. “Not really. I'd thought I might see a movie with friends but we haven’t made any plans.”

“Good. There’s a churrascaria a few miles from the campus. Occasionally, I like to go there.”

“A what?”

“A churrascaria,” he repeated. “A Brazilian steakhouse. I intend going there for lunch today. Join me.”

Join me. As Quinn looked at him, she found herself wondering yet again if he was requesting or instructing. And why on earth she felt compelled to obey the tone. “I…sure. Thanks.” She downed the last of her coffee and made to stand.

Rafael stood as well, and with a barely perceptible smile on his face, politely held his hand out to her. Quinn reached out to accept it. His large fingers curled around her much smaller ones, totally enveloping her hand. Her heart began that tap-tap-tap again.

He released her hand when they were standing and courteously let her precede him out of the restaurant. Quinn nearly jumped when she felt his hand at the small of her back. It was a light, guiding touch, but it made her stomach coil...and go warm.

His hand remained on her back and they walked in silence out into the fall afternoon; sunny but with a choppy breeze. They walked together down the sidewalk to the small lot behind the Spencer building. His hand on her back guided her towards a sleek black Mercedes.

Then he removed his hand from her back to unlock the door. He opened the passenger door and held it open for her.

Quinn got in. Getting in a car with a strange man without telling anyone where one was going was generally accepted to be an idiotic thing to do, and she was usually very a level-headed girl, but…she got in. She somehow knew she wasn’t in any real danger. He had an edge to him…but it wasn’t that sort of creepy edge. It was the tingly one. The sexy one that shouldn’t tempt a good girl, but always somehow did.

She slipped into the comfortable leather seat, admiring the black leather finishing of the car’s interior.

Rafael got in behind the wheel and started the engine.

Quinn listened to the way it all but purred under his hands. She gave him a nervous little smile. “Sweet ride, bro.”

He laughed. “I’m glad you appreciate it.”

“So you’re loaded?” she teased.

He laughed again as he pull the car into the road. “No,” he replied, easy and frank. “No, I wouldn't say I was loaded. I work part time as a paralegal in Seager & Slattern, but the car was gotten from a check a particular person wrote me.”

“Oh.” She gave him a smile, but with her nerves still buzzing she said nothing else as they left the campus grounds and he drove fast through the city. How did he balance a part-time job and a heavy curriculum with everything else one needed to do in life and still have time to take girls to lunch? Rigid discipline, probably. Plus serious time-management skills. She stole glances at him every now and then.

“Do you live on your own?” he asked after a moment. “Or in a dorm?”

“Well, both, sort of. I’m in a dorm but it’s a single one for just me. I don’t think I could handle asshole roommates. You?”

“I have an apartment not too far from the campus.” He sent her a smile. “I don’t think I could handle asshole roommates.”

Quinn smiled back and fell silent again, watching his easy movements. She looked out the window as the car began to slow and they turned a corner onto a street lined with restaurants. This was one of the perks of living in Chicago; you could get all kinds of food at almost every turn.

She stepped out of the car once he turned off the engine and waited for him to come around to the sidewalk. They walked the short steps up to the steakhouse. Rafael pushed the door open and let her precede him inside. Quinn looked around. Most of the tables were filled. It was warm inside, smelling pleasantly of smoke and spices.

She walked in step with him as they went past the tables to a vast bar with salads and sides. “Aren’t we going to go sit down?” she asked.

“Not yet. You don’t order your meals from a menu here. It’s an all-you-can-eat and the price is fixed.” Rafael picked up two plates from the end of the bar and handed one to her.

“How does it work?”

“You choose your sides from the bar over here, and take them to your table. Now, you see those people walking around with trays of barbecue? They’re called Passadors. Once you’re at the table, you’ll find a card that you turn up to green, and they come to you with a tray and you choose the meat you want, just off the charcoal spit. There’s a drinks menu you can order from and a dessert menu once you’re done with the main.”

Quinn nodded. She liked the informality of it. It was a nice change from being shown to a table by a maître d and ordering from a menu. She looked around again. The place was nice—polished, but not pretentious. It struck a pleasant balance.

She watched for a second as Rafael chose his sides. Then she looked down at her own empty plate. Baffled by all the numerous unfamiliar foods she said, “Some help? What would a first timer enjoy?”

Rafael reached over with the serving tongs and took one from a platter of strange spherical things. They were golden brown. He put one in her plate.

She peered at it. “What is it?”

Acarajé. Seasoned ground beans fried in palm oil. It tastes better than it sounds.” He put a few more things onto her plate. “Rissole. Pastel with catupiry.” He added some cut vegetables, and then handed her a small bowl. “This is farofa. You’ll like it with the meat.” Then he added a corn wrap. “Pamonha.”

Quinn started to laugh. “Are you serious? I couldn’t eat all this, not with barbeque and drinks and dessert.” She pulled her plate back before he got any more ideas. “I’d be as big as a damn house if I ate this much.”

Rafael eyed her, but he said nothing. Without a hint of shame, his eyes appreciatively rolled over her slender figure twice, before he turned and walked towards the tables. Nervous again, she followed him to a semi sheltered booth in the corner. He set down his plate and lingered behind her to remove her jacket.

“Thank you,” she murmured as she took a seat on the cushioned sofa.

Rather than choosing the chair opposite, Rafael sat beside her. Her nerves began to jump again. To give her hands some work to do, Quinn began toying with the card at her elbow. She flipped it from red to green and then picked at the edge with her fingernail.

She looked up when he gently but firmly pulled the card out of her hand and set it on the table. “Why do I get the impression that I make you nervous?”

Quinn gave him a sharp look as she blushed. Perhaps it was because he was doing it on purpose?

He laughed, draped his arm along the back of their sofa and put his hand to the back of her neck. “Relax.”

Which was impossible while he was touching her; while her skin prickled. She said nothing.

“I won’t bite,” he added.

“Unless I want you to?” she suggested, and then was surprised at herself for having said that. Where the hell had that come from?

He laughed and turned his own card over. “Sim, unless you want me to.”

They talked a little as they ate. It was mostly light conversation—about school, and leisure activities and friends, but Quinn was alive for it all. They stayed at the steakhouse for over two hours, lingering after the meal. He settled the bill afterwards, and drove her back to her dorm as afternoon was on the cusp of turning to evening. Lunch had turned into an evening.

She hesitated as she reached for the car door handle. “Thanks for this afternoon...today. I had fun.”

“Good. Then I suppose you’ll give me your number.”

She smiled involuntarily, feeling a little flutter that he wanted to see her again. She rattled off the digits, watching as he keyed them into his cell phone. Then her smile faded and her heart began to tap-tap-tap as he raised his hand and put it to her cheek.

Rafael rubbed her cheek with his thumb. Fire coursed through her at the contact. “I’ll be seeing you, Quinn.”

“Yes,” she whispered.

He dropped his hand.

With fingers that weren’t quite steady anymore, Quinn opened the door and hurried out of the Mercedes. She didn’t look back as she walked quickly up to her building and let herself into her dorm.

She was on cloud nine.

***

Six weeks later, she was standing in her dorm staring at her reflection in the full-length mirror. She was a total wreck. She had tuned in to her favorite radio station and calming music was on, but it didn’t seem to be working. The brown eyes that stared back at her were full of unease. This unease was magnified when she thought that, in roughly fifteen minutes there would be a knock at the door of her dorm room.

She rubbed at her arms. “Relax,” she said aloud to the anxious girl in the mirror. “Take a good long breath and relax. There’s no need to be like this. He’s just a man, just any man.”

Then she sighed, because she was lying to herself. He was a man, but he wasn’t just any man. He was Rafael. Even thinking about him was enough to kick her heartbeat up a notch. The outward signs of her nervousness were beginning to show; she was growing jittery and she felt her shoulders start to tense up.

She gave herself another once-over in the mirror. She had chosen her outfit with care; it was early October and the pale green knit dress she wore was flattering while still being casual enough for it not to look like she was trying too hard. After scouring online images for hours she had come up with a braided half-updo hairstyle which also toed that very fine line. She had done up her eyes. All this give her an air of effortless chic.

Quinn smiled a little and shook her head self-deprecatingly. Every woman knew that "effortless chic" often required a lot of effort. If Rafael da Silva had any idea to what degree she had been obsessing over him since meeting him for the first time…if he had even a suspicion of how fixated on him she had been ever since then, he would undoubtedly issue her with a restraining order. And then run away in the opposite direction. He certainly would not have taken her out on that first coffee date, or to lunch. Or on any of their subsequent dates. Tonight would be their seventeenth date in six weeks.

Yes, she was counting.

That first coffee date that had led to a steakhouse date the same night, had then led to a movie the next night and then a dinner two nights later…and now here they were, about to have their first evening in.

Her anxiety returned.

This wasn’t just the butterflies she got when she was with him, or when she was about to be with him, or when she was thinking about being with him. This was more than that. Things were getting serious. They were now dating exclusively but nothing had been defined as yet. It worried her. She'd never heard him use the word ‘girlfriend’ or allude to a future. But perhaps she was being paranoid? It had been barely two months since their first date. Perhaps it was still too soon to start putting on labels and defining things.

But it wasn’t too soon for them to have slept together. Yet…they hadn’t.

Ah, yes. The sex—or rather the lack of it. That was the crux of Quinn’s anxiety. Ever since their first date Rafael had done nothing but kiss her. He had never pushed, prodded or even brought up the intimacy subject. Considering all that she had learned about his character, this was a real surprise to her.

Two months certainly didn’t make her an expert on the subject of Rafael da Silva, but she did know a thing or two. She knew that he always got what he wanted—because he knew what he wanted and went after it without remorse. She knew that he was fiercely independent and used to making his own decisions. She knew that he was impatient and that he was dependable. She knew that he was strong and that he had a temper. She’d learned that one during one of their earlier dates when some guy had tried to chat her up. She had shot him down, of course. When he persisted, Rafael had intervened and asked him to move along. It was then that he’d taken off. It had been a coolly worded request, but only a fool would have ignored the look in Rafael’s eyes as he made it.

She also knew that he could be very tolerant when he chose to be. In his treatment of her, he had been nothing but a perfect gentleman and had displayed such a degree of patience on the intimacy subject that she still found it surprising.

But did he intend to be a little less of a gentleman tonight? It had been his idea to stay in after all. Most of their dates had been at his prompting, and that suited Quinn just fine. He called to make the dates, asked her what she wanted to do and where she felt like going, and then made the arrangements. None of her idiotic past boyfriends had ever taken the lead like Rafael was doing.

She wondered if she should have rebelled against his easy control or at least found it difficult to get accustomed to, but it was natural for her to go along with it; probably because doing it seemed to come naturally to him.

So, did he feel that tonight should be The Night? And, further to the point, did she? Usually, many people who were in their second year of college and had never gotten laid would say that it was a state of being they found difficult. Quinn was not one of those people. She was a virgin by choice. All through high school, she’d had ample opportunity but she’d shot the guys all down. She just hadn’t met anyone who made her want it enough and curiosity wasn’t a good enough inducement for her.

When she heard the knock at the door, she jumped a little. It was seven p.m. and he was here. She cast a last look over her reflection and hurried to answer the door.

“Hi, Rafe,” she greeted brightly as she flung the door open, trying to sound as chic and breezy as she looked. The attitude had to match the outfit.

Esquilinho,” Rafael said with his slow smile. Still standing in the doorway, he put his hand to her cheek. It was a gesture she had begun to associate with him. “How are you today?”

With him, it wasn’t just an idle question; he actually wanted to know. So she said, “I found out the grade I got for my paper on historical memory in the Spanish-speaking world.”

“I’m sure you aced it.”

“Like a pro.” She grinned.

“That’s my girl.”

Blushing under the praise, Quinn tilted her head up and raised herself to her tiptoes as he drew her closer. His hands slipped around her waist and his head swooped down to hers.

Every time was like the first time, she thought, flinging her arms around his neck as his lips touched hers. Every time her heart began to race. Every time she burst into flames. Every time she wanted to give everything to him. To give and give until there was nothing left, until all of her became entwined with him.

She kissed him back, her arms tightening around his neck. He had begun by lightly brushing his lips over hers, but feeling her eager response, he deepened it. They clung for a moment and then his lips parted hers.

Quinn just sank into it, savoring the taste of him and filling her lungs with the smell coming from him. That unique Rafael smell; it wasn’t any cologne she had ever smelled. It was delicious. It was him. He smelled of rain, of warm woods, of dark honey and rich cognac. It was amazing and perfect and heady. Someone should really bottle it. She’d pay good money to be able to spritz it around whenever she felt like it. She inhaled again.

He paused a little and said against her lips, “Quinn Alexandria Kent, are you sniffing me?”

“Maybe.”

He laughed quietly. “Little weirdo,” he said and drew her even closer, pulling her up molding her body to his. No one else, she thought, kissing him back with enthusiasm. Nobody else had succeeded in drawing such a powerful reaction from her. She never wanted him to stop.

He did, eventually, and she sighed a little as he pulled back to brush his fingers over cheek and stepped aside so he could come in.

“You look beautiful. Como sempre,” he said with as he closed the door. “I like that braid thing you did with your hair.”

“Thanks.” She beamed at him. “So I wasn’t sure what you wanted to do so I got microwave popcorn and The Omen.”

Rafael lifted an eyebrow at her as he took off his coat and draped it over the back of a chair. “You like horror movies?”

She winked at him. “Only when big, strong Rafe is here to protect me.” She crossed to the kitchenette saying, “Popcorn in five minutes, so sit tight.”

He didn’t. He followed her across the room. “Is this what you usually listen to?” he asked, referring to the music coming from the radio.

“Yeah,” she replied, getting a couple of beers out of her mini-fridge. “Don’t you like it?”

“I don’t dislike it. I’m just wondering where your definite preference of it came from.”

She handed him one can, then cracked hers open. “My dad,” she explained. “He’s a music buff whose specialty is Western Classical. He played it in the car all the time so I got into it as a kid and now I feel strange without it. Basically, anytime I’m listening to music I need to feel like I’m in a concert hall or an opera house or something.”

“You’re an expert?” Rafael inclined his head towards the radio. The current track was coming to an end and another was beginning. “Tell me what’s playing now.”

Quinn replied without skipping a beat. “What’s starting now is the Romance from the Gadfly Suite by Shostakovich. And what just finished was Chopin’s Nocturne No. 10, in A flat Major.” Then, wanting to show off a little she grinned at him and affected a pompous accent. “It is otherwise known as the second Nocturne in the set of two Op. 32 Nocturnes.

“And I must say, Mr. Silva, that in my opinion this piece as well as the other Op. 32 Nocturne is quite undervalued when compared with the composer’s more popular works such as the Heroic Polonaise, the Tristesse, the first Ballade, the Fantaisie Impromptu, the 2nd Nocturne in E flat Major or indeed the rather ubiquitous Raindrop Prelude, Grande Valse Brillante and Minute Waltz. Do consider that to play the Nocturne in B Major the pianist requires great skill to keep the melodic line smooth and flexible while still using the outer fingers of the same hand to produce the auxiliary chords.”

Rafael had burst out laughing halfway through her soliloquy. “Say no more. I’m convinced of your great expertise. Your father must be very proud.” He paused. “Are you a lot like him?”

“Yeah,” Quinn said with a smile as she put the popcorn into the microwave. “I’m definitely my father’s daughter. My mom thinks it’s hilarious. She says I’m his twin, just thirty years younger and, you know, female. So who are you most like?”

He was taking a gulp of his beer and did not answer. When he set down the can it was to say, “I still don’t think it’s a good idea to watch The Omen.”

“You just want me to tell you how awesome you are again.”

“Perhaps.” He reached over, toying with a loose strand of her hair. Quinn gulped as his fingers grazed her ear. “You know, it’s all well and good while I’m here to protect you from the demon child, but what will you do when I leave?”

She met his eyes. The nerves which had just begun to relax were spiking again. “Did you plan on leaving?” she heard herself ask softly.

A small, arrogant smile touched his lips. “Would you rather I stayed?” His eyes on hers, he brushed the back of his fingers down her throat.

“I thought…well, it was your idea to have date night in.”

He stepped closer, imprisoning her between his body and the kitchen counter. His hand drifted to the nape of her neck. “So you wore a dress and picked up the prerequisite scary movie?” His hand moved all the way down her arm and gripped her wrist. “If I didn’t know better, chuchuzinho, I would have said you had an ulterior motive.”

“No, of course not, I only meant—”

“I know what you meant.” His hand found her other wrist. “Your masterplan was to cuddle up to me, pretending to be scared out of your wits.” His body was just a few inches from hers. His voice dropped lower. “And then you’d tempt me and drive me insane until I just couldn’t resist you anymore. You planned to have your wicked way with me. Am I right?”

“Stop it,” she said, blushing red.

Rafael laughed. He lifted her and sat her down on the kitchen counter. His hands moved to her knees, spreading them and wrapping her legs around his waist. “So you’re denying all charges?” He leaned forward and pressed his lips to the corner of hers. “Perhaps if you pleaded guilty you’d get off with a lighter sentence.” His lips brushed over her jaw and he slowly nibbled his way down to the curve of her neck.

Quinn forgot what she had been about to say. “Um…” She felt his hands slowly but insistently drift from her knees up to her thighs and slide under her dress. Regardless of how attracted she was to him, despite knowing that she wanted to be with him, despite how incredible his touch felt on her skin, she couldn’t help the quick spurt of panic. Instinctively, she tried to close her legs. Only to find that, as he had wrapped them around his waist, the attempt only served to pull him closer. His hands continued their ascent.

“No, please,” she gasped, panic turning to fright. She tried to wrestle him away, pushing against his chest with her hands. “Rafe, please stop.”

Rafael stopped moving his hands. He pulled back to look into her frightened brown eyes and smiled a little. “I thought so,” he said, sounding as though he was talking to himself. Then he said to her, “You’re a virgin.”

It was a statement and not question. She gave one small nod.

He was silent for a beat. “Are you afraid of me, Quinn?”

Unable to lie she whispered, “Yes, a little.”

“I won’t hurt you.” He chuckled. “Much.” And holding back more laughter, he tipped her chin up. “Docinho, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

She warmed up at his use of the endearment. “I know that—in theory. It’s just that I can’t seem to get myself out of that head space. Maybe it’s just me being weird or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I spent all of high school turning down hormonal teenage boys. I don’t know. I’m sorry.”

“There’s no need to apologize when what you’re feeling is completely natural.”

She searched his face. “So you’re not mad at me or anything? I didn’t just act like a tease?”

“To be fair, I was the one teasing you. Not the other way around.”

She made a sound of relief and leaned forward to give him a soft, brief kiss. Then she let her head drop onto his chest. “So, are you a virgin?” Immediately the question was out, she felt exceedingly stupid. “Obviously, you’re not a virgin…right?”

“Right,” he confirmed with a smile.

She felt a surge of hatred for all those other girls, whoever and wherever they were. “So how many are we talking here?” she asked, scowling.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t gotten to triple digits yet,” he quipped, and then seeing the sad look in her eyes he sobered and said, “Not too many.”

She visibly cringed. “How many is many? Are we talking between one and ten, between twenty and thirty…or more?”

“Middling.”

Between twenty and thirty, then. It was still enough to make her angry and miserable, imagining him with those twenty or thirty women. “So, were you…in love with any of them?” she asked, her heart dreading the answer.

He sighed, and she knew he was being candid when he made his reply. “It might seem like a big number to you, but there has to be some sort of mutual understanding before I sleep with anyone. I wouldn’t say I was in love with any of them but on some level, I did somewhat like them.”

She nodded, relieved, and let her head rest against his chest again. “So what are we going to do about this? Us?”

He didn’t speak and after a moment she looked up at him. There was a slight frown on his face. She would later come to realize that he often had that expression when he was thinking things over.

He looked down at her again. “Do you want this?”

“It’s just that—”

“Yes or no, Quinn.”

“Yes.”

“Alright, this is how we’re going to play it.” He set his hands down on the counter on either side of her. “We’re not doing anything tonight.”

Quinn nodded. “Okay…but why?”

“I want to be sure you want this and not just because I seduced you.” There was a dark gleam in his eye. “Because I could seduce you, believe you me.”

Quinn felt her heart thud. She did believe it.

Rafael tilted her chin, bringing her eyes back to his. “But I won’t. You’ll sleep on it tonight and make a rational decision about whether you actually want this or not. We’re meeting at the coffeehouse tomorrow evening anyway, so you’ll give me your answer then. If it’s no, then there’ll be no judgement from me. I’ll understand.” His eyes burned into hers. “Alright?”

“Alright,” she whispered. “And if I say yes?”

There was that smile that made her melt. “If you say yes I’ll take you at your word, knowing that you made a clearheaded decision and that you really do mean yes.”

Sensing there was more, she asked, “And…?”

“And I’ll no longer take no for an answer.”

She stared at him. “What?”

“You heard me. If you say yes, I’ll take you back to my apartment with me and…” He smiled darkly, inclining his head as he searched for the right word. “Enjoy you.”

Quinn’s eyes were as wide as saucers. “Even if I said no after?”

Sim, even if you said no after. I’ll choose to believe you don’t really mean it and chalk it up to you just getting panicked at the last moment—because the yes was a sober decision.”

“But…but I…but you…”

Rafael’s hands encircled her waist. “I’m just giving you fair warning. Once you say yes, there’s no going back.”

“What if I screamed?” she challenged.

“It wouldn’t make a difference.”

“What if I fought?”

“No matter how much you begged and cried, no matter how loud you screamed and cursed, no matter how hard you fought, I’d go ahead and take you anyway.”

She blanched, seeing that he meant every word. She knew he meant it. Six weeks had taught her that Rafael didn’t say things he didn’t mean. “But, Rafe…” she spluttered. “But I…”

He rubbed at her cheek with his thumb. “I wouldn’t harm you. I wouldn’t deliberately hurt you. All I’m saying is that I’d go ahead. And I should point out that you couldn’t accuse me of being unfair because I’ve laid out the options—and you can still say no.” He was silent for a beat. His eyes turned hard. “Oh, and Quinn?”

She gulped. There was more? “Yeah?”

“Take what I’m about to say very seriously—if you said yes, you’d be saying yes to only me. In general, I’ve never been one to share and when it comes to you specifically, I find the notion truly offensive. And that’s putting it mildly.” Rafael ran his finger along the braids in her hair. It was a seemingly casual gesture but the expression in his eyes was steely and his tone carried the stamp of finality. “I’m going to need absolute exclusivity.”

“Okay,” she whispered.

He smiled a little as he pulled away. “Good. Now I think the popcorn’s done.”

***

Quinn was at the coffeehouse earlier than the agreed time. She ordered her favorite mocha and sat alone at a table for two, sipping slowly at the hot drink. She had only been sitting there for fifteen minutes when he walked in. He caught her eye and smiled at her from across the room. She smiled back automatically.

Then she glanced away. That good, long think she’d had after he’d left last night had made her realize a few things, some of which downright scared her. The scariest of all was that she was beginning to fall…she shook her head. No, she wasn’t going to think about that right now. One milestone at a time.

When she looked up again, she had mostly controlled her expression. She could even make a joke. “Hi there, Atticus Finch.”

Rafael leaned across for a kiss before he took the other seat. “Considering a career in comedy?”

“Uh-huh. I think I’d be pretty good at it, too.”

There was a slightly awkward lull. Not one to beat about the bush Rafael reached across the table for her hand. It was easily enveloped in his larger one. “Have you decided?”

“Yes.”

He frowned when she said nothing else. “Yes, you’ve decided or your decision is yes?”

She held his gaze without balking. “Yes.”

Rafael’s eyes darkened. His fingers curled around her wrist. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“And you’ve accepted everything that comes with saying yes.”

“Yes.”

“You do realize that this is your last chance to say no.”

“Yes.”

A smile tugged at his lips. “Who turned you into a parrot after I left last night?”

Quinn pushed her empty coffee cup away and smiled back at him. “I know what I want.”

“Come.” He got to his feet, pulled her up by the hand, and put his arm around her shoulders as they went to the door. He kept his arm around her as they walked to his car parked a ways down. The evening had just started to darken into night. “I have a few rubbers at my apartment, but have you done anything about protection?”

“I’m on the pill.”

He glanced at her. “Since when?”

“Um, three weeks ago.”

A slow smile touched Rafael’s mouth. “So you went on the pill soon after you met me. It only proves my theory. You were planning to seduce me.”

She poked him in the ribs. “No, I knew you’d seduce me sooner or later. I wasn’t sure when you’d pounce so I was trying to be pragmatic and prepared for anything.”

He gave her a humorous look that clearly said he didn’t believe her, and opened the car door for her.

It was a quiet drive. Once they were in the car and heading for his apartment, the lightness of the moment passed. As anxiety clawed its way up again, Quinn fell silent. The air in the car between them seemed charged and although she was aware that he glanced at her from time to time, she kept staring straight ahead. Sooner than was good for her nerves, they were at their destination. She had been to his apartment a couple of times since they’d started dating, but only to wait for a few minutes.

He took her hand as they got out of the car and pulled her to his side. “Nervous?”

She winced. “Just a tad.” What an understatement, she thought as he unlocked the door. Feeling horribly awkward, she went inside a step ahead of him. He was still holding her hand.

Quinn felt a wave of nausea as she walked with him past the front room and to the door she could only assume led to the bedroom. He gently nudged her inside and shut the door behind them. It was a neat room with an adjoining bathroom, a large bed, a reading table, wardrobe and chest of drawers.

But what struck her was the soft lighting and the wine in the ice bucket on the desk, complete with two glasses. He’d spread towels over the bed.

She turned to him. He was smirking.

“Wait just a minute. How come you’ve already planned everything? How did you know I’d say yes?” Without waiting for an answer, she narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you telling me that you were that sure of me? So you pretended that you thought it was fifty-fifty but all the while you really knew that I’d say yes. Of all the arrogant, egotistical…Hey, put me down! Put me down!”

Laughing, Rafael had effortlessly grabbed her by the waist and slung her over his shoulder like she weighed a feather.

“Put me down this instant!” she huffed, giving his muscular back a few solid pounds with her fist. It made no impact on him.

He didn’t put her down until they reached the bed. Taking her by the waist again, he dumped her on the mattress so quickly that the breath was knocked out of her.

She bounced, but before she could sit up he had leaned over her and trapped her between his arms and his body. “Are you angry with me, Quinnie-Quinn?” he teased.

Quinn glared at him. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I—what are you doing?”

He had grabbed both her wrists and pinned them down above her head. “Well, I can’t have you be upset with me, so I’ll just have to make you laugh somehow.”

Quinn struggled but found to her surprise that his grip was entirely unshakable. He was even stronger than he looked. She stared at him, feeling her heart pound, feeling warmth in her stomach at his strength.

With his free hand, Rafael tugged off her shoes and twiddled his finger between her toes. How did he know that her feet were extremely ticklish? She let out a spurt of uncontrollable laughter and tried to wriggle away. “No, no, don’t do that.”

“Do what, petal?” He moved his fingers to the arch of her foot, wiggling them gently against her skin.

Quinn was now laughing so hard her sides began to ache. “Don’t tickle me! It’s not fair!” She was thrashing against the bed as the laughter bubbled out of her. When she tried to kick him, he swiftly pinned her ankles down as well as her wrists. She could hardly move a muscle. “I call foul play!” she cried, giggling irrepressibly. “Foul play!”

“You’ll find that I don’t play fair, sweetness.” To free up his hands for more torture, Rafael knelt on the bed and trapped her ankles between his knees. Then he proceeded to tickle her sides.

Her lungs bursting with her laughter, Quinn tried to squirm away, to no avail. Tears were running down her cheeks. “Please stop! Stop! Rafe!”

“Are you still angry with me?”

“No!” she managed to get out between her giggles.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes! I swear! I swear!”

“Do you still think I’m arrogant and egotistical?”

“No! You’re as meek as a lamb!”

Finally, the torture was over. He let his hands run up her sides and capture her wrists again as his body slowly came down on hers. She had no time to catch her breath as Rafael lowered his head and pressed a kiss to the pulse at the base of her neck.

How vastly different was the feeling when the intention behind it differed. As humor slowly died, Quinn felt her heart race for a completely different reason. His lips moved over her neck to her shoulder.

He rolled so that they were on their sides, face to face and his lips found hers. He parted her lips slowly but insistently. His arm wound around her waist, molding her body to his and holding her firmly in place as his mouth explored hers. Slowly, Quinn ran her hands up his arms, locking them around his biceps as far they could go. She could hardly think anymore. She couldn’t remember why she'd been laughing a minute ago. She was floating now.

She felt the brush of his hand at her back, at the zipper of her dress. It was almost undetectable but with her senses heightened as they were, she was aware of it. The sound of the zipper being slowly undone echoed loudly in Quinn’s ears. She was surprised she could hear it over the whooshing of her frantic pulse in her ears and the slamming of her heartbeat.

Cool air washed over her exposed back. His lips rolled over to her chin, to her jaw, kissing and nibbling slowly as he went. She heard a soft, long sigh ease out of her lips at the pleasure. Goosebumps flashed all over her skin. She tightened her grip on his arms. His lips continued on to her neck. A kiss. A gentle bite. Quinn felt her whole body go warm. She felt her muscles begin to relax under his tender attention.

“Rafe,” she sighed.

Slowly and purposefully, his hands began to slide her dress from her shoulders. “Sim,” he replied, his voice low and hoarse. “Não tenha medo, minha doce menina. Eu quero você, e eu sei que você me quer. Eu vou ser gentil. Eu não vou te machucar.”

Quinn hardly understood two words of what he’d said, but his voice was so lilting and melodic that she was sure the words themselves had to be beautiful, too. Beautiful, beautiful words. Incredible feelings all over her body.

His lips followed his hands, pressing warm kisses along her shoulder blades. Her blood stirred, warmed. He pulled her dress down past her body, to her waist, over her hips and off her ankles. He tossed it over the side of the bed and let it drop.

Then he pulled back to look at her.

The room was warm and the lights soft, but Quinn still felt awkward as his eyes traveled across her body. She was something of a lingerie lover, but as nobody had ever seen her undressed before, it was something she did to indulge herself. It made her feel sexy, but now that there was somebody else to share in it, it felt somewhat embarrassing.

She was wearing one of her favorite numbers, a lacy two-piece creation. It was in a soft duck-egg blue color, chiffon hemmed with ivory lace. The colors were demure, but it was almost shocking in what it revealed. The bra had a translucent patch of blue chiffon that ostensibly covered her nipples and areola, leaving the lace to do the best it could with the rest. Her firm, round tits swelled enticingly against the lace. Her nipples hardened as Rafael’s eyes continued to inspect her, a fact which the chiffon could do absolutely nothing to hide.

The panties were not doing such a great job either, merely covering her mound and revealing the full, smooth fleshy globes of her ass under the barrier of lace. And betraying a slight wet patch around her pussy.

She felt a flush rise up her neck. When she would have moved to cover herself, he took hold of her hands and pulled them away from her body.

Não faça isso.” His voice was ragged. “Don’t try to cover yourself. I want to admire you.”

“But…”

Rafael traced her lip with his thumb. “There’s nothing wrong with my looking at you, amada. Especially when you’re completely perfect. Minha linda menina.”

He ran his hand down her neck, to her breast in its casing of blue chiffon. His thumb slowly rubbed across the hardened nipple. Quinn felt her eyes close as the pleasure ran though her body and echo in her pussy. She felt her pussy warm up, dampen, felt her clit throb and swell as his thumb continued to roll over her nipple. She moaned and instinctively, lifted her hips forward and arched her back.

He rolled her onto her back as he began to undo the lace strings that held the flimsy bra together. He undid it, pulled it off her body and threw it down where it joined her discarded dress. She kept her eyes closed.

Quinn let out a sharp hiss when she felt his hands on her flesh for the first time. His large, warm hands cupped her tits, massaging them and rolling the sensitive nipples around again and again, stroking across the very peak. His lips were at the base of her neck again, pressing kisses to her madly beating pulse.

“Rafe, Rafe,” she cried slightly disjointedly as pleasure mounted, starting in her nipples, coursing through her body, pooling in her belly. She had never felt like this in her life. It was incredible. It was unbelievable that his touch could be inflaming her so much. “Rafe…so good. So good.”

Aproveite, docinho. Eu prometo que só fica melhor.”

Again, with the beautiful unknown words. She drowned in them, drowned under the feelings his hands produced on her body. His lips moved down from her neck, down to her chest. Every time he gently nipped at her skin, delicious little shocks made her jump a little.

Rafael’s lips were warm on her already scorching skin. When she felt those lips on her tits, her body bucked. He kissed the soft flesh many times before taking the nipple into his mouth.

“Oh, hell,” Quinn gasped, her senses kicking into overdrive. He was really taking his time, sucking on her nipple, kissing it, nipping it. Driving her crazy. Making her want to scream in pleasure and frustration. She was only partly aware that her hands had slipped into his hair. Needing more, craving more of his touch, she jerked under him.

“More,” she whispered. She was so wet, her clit pulsing. Begging for his touch. “Rafe, please,” she rasped, her body vibrating. Oddly, she felt both relaxed and tense. The atmosphere, the tenderness of his approach had been calculated to calm her, but the thirst for more made her feel like a taut wire.

Rafael lifted his head, his finger skimming down her belly and tracing patterns across her skin. His eyes met hers. He was smiling,

“Please,” she gasped. It was a strangled cry.

He flipped her over so that she was lying on her stomach, and wedged a pillow under her head. She turned her neck sideways to look at him.

Não há pressa, minha linda menina. Eu quero que você esteja pronto para mim.”

He shifted her long, dark hair out of the way and kissed the back of her neck. A shiver coursed all the way down her spine. He followed it, kissing down the length of her spine. Quinn was a shaking mess beneath him. When he got to the point where her back flowed into her ass, he began to tug her soaking panties down.

That old panic reared up again as he pulled the panties down her thighs, but the burning desire for fulfilment was enough to override it. She felt him lift the panties clear of her ankles and drop them with the rest of her clothes.

Then she felt his hands on her ass. She heard him chuckle softly, His hands spread over her round, pointed ass. Caressing it, squeezing it. Then, still laughing, he gave it a quick hard spank and watched as the skin pinked. Quinn let out a sharp little gasp and lifted her hips up off the bed. Somehow, the stinging pain felt good amongst all the floating, building pleasure. It woke her up and set her on edge. Her ass tingled as he slowly squeezed it again.

“Spread your legs for me.”

Rafael gave the order in such a quietly assertive manner that it was impossible not to obey him. Quinn moved her legs apart, shaking as his hands slipped around her thighs and to her hot, dripping pussy. She felt the barest brush of his fingers on her outer lips and couldn’t help the long hiss.

Her hands fisted as his fingers parted her outer lips, and then the inner ones. Her folds were slippery with her wetness and his fingers were immediately coated as they begun to explore her. He slowly traced his index finger around her damp hole.

She whimpered. It felt so good. It was so damned scary. She had never gone this far before. These were uncharted waters. Exciting, but frighteningly new. When she made a move to close her legs, he gripped her knees, keeping them apart.

Pará-lo. I told you to spread your legs, Quinn. Don’t try to close them again.”

His hands moved back to her pussy, rubbing up from her snatch and towards her clit. She cried out loudly when his slippery fingers found her enflamed clit. The pleasure was a sharp stab so intense that it could have been pain. “Rafe!”

He rolled her clit between all his fingers and then pressed down on it with his thumb. The resulting feeling was so incredible. Quinn cried out again. He repeated the process. The pleasure hit her again, and built. Gasping, she reared up so sharply that Rafael put a hand to the back of her neck to keep her down on the bed.

“Shh, relax,” he said low in her ear as his fingers pulled on her clit. When he was sure she wouldn’t buck again, he moved his hand from her neck down to her back and over her ass. Then he had both hands at her pussy. As one hand toyed with her clit, the other slipped between her inner folds to her sopping cunt. Ever so slowly, he slipped his index finger into her tight, puckered hole.

“Rafe,” she sighed as his finger slid inside her.

Pare de se preocupar. It’ll be alright, sweetheart. I’ll be gentle this first time.” He slowly retracted his finger and then pushed it back in, slowly stroking. She was so tight that her wet walls were squeezing his finger. “You’re so tight, sweetness,” he growled quietly into her ear, his fingers slowly stroking her. “I can hardly wait to feel you around my cock.”

Quinn pressed her face into the pillow to muffle her cry, to hide the gasp at the words he was saying. She’d had no idea that it was possible to be this turned on, to feel this alive, this reckless.

His fingers pushed into her as his other hand fiddled with her clit. She felt the pleasure mount. It was ecstasy upon ecstasy. Her hips were bucking off the bed with every push and withdrawal of his finger. He spanked her ass again. She cried out, writhed.

“You’re going to come for me, aren’t you, Quinn?” he asked softly. “You’re going to explode just for me.”

She felt his finger gently rotate around within her, moving along her walls until they came to rest against her front wall. She had the sense that he was looking for something as he moved his finger a little to the left and a little to the right. He curled his finger, and then he let it firmly pass across a ribbed part of her front wall, up and then back down again.

Then when an unexpected volcano of pleasure blew up right at the spot where his finger was, she knew he had found it. Quinn tossed her head back and let out a long, sharp cry, howling like a wild, wounded thing. Nothing. Nothing at all had ever felt so good.

His thumb pressed down on her clit. “Come for me, sweetheart. Come for me.”

Quinn was screaming as his fingers stroked over that spot again and again. She was pretty sure she would die if he kept going. “Rafe, I…I just—”

Then, when the world’s hardest orgasm knocked her over sideways, she couldn’t keep talking. Her pussy clenching and contracting around his finger, she could only arch back and scream as her orgasm enveloped her, picked her up and flung her into a powerful whirlwind. Her head was spinning as her body exploded in a celebration of lights and colors.

She couldn’t think of anything but pure, rabid pleasure. The only thing she could seem to remember was his name. It was unconsciously rolling off her tongue as she gripped the sheets and tried to ride out the pleasure. “Rafe, Rafe, Rafe…”

She collapsed against the bed when she was finally flung back down to earth as quickly as she had been shot up into the stratosphere. If she had imagined he would give her some time to recover, she was mistaken.

Rafael flipped her onto her back, still holding her legs apart at the knees. He had a slight smile on his face. “You have a very responsive body, amada. I’d suspected you would, but I didn’t think it would be this much.” He pinched a nipple. “I’m pleasantly surprised.”

Quinn might have told him that she wasn’t responsive in general, that he was the one who brought it out of her, but she felt his lips press a kiss to her thigh and she could only hiss and fall back against the pillows.

He kissed all the way up her inner thigh, up and up until she felt his warm breath blow against her heated mound. She was past the point of speaking then, and could only close her eyes, sigh and brace herself for what she knew was coming next.

When his lips pressed against her burning snatch, she could have wept. While it gave some relief to the lust that was beginning to build again, it fanned its own flames. The feeling of his mouth on her was a whole league of its own. She felt his tongue around her inner lips and hole, tasting her juices. He slowly brushed his tongue over her lips, up and around, drawing closer to her clit but never actually touching it. He softly blew a breath over it, making her shiver with anticipation.

Shaking, Quinn grabbed his shoulders. Her nails dug into his skin. “Rafe, please. Please.”

Rafael ignored her and continued at that slow, torturous place for a few more moments.

Finally, his lips moved to her clit. Quinn cried out when his lips pressed against the hood, as he licked and then sucked sharply.

The act drove her wild. A flush spread over her skin as lust rose up sharply again. She was bucking against him as his tongue pressed down on her clit, flicked over her inner lips. He gently pulled the hood back, and swirled his tongue over the exposed nib. The pleasure was boiling in her pussy, crashing all over her body. She was melting and she was jerking. Maybe she would go insane, she thought as his warm, wet tongue gently flicked over the exposed, sensitive head again. Her juices were flowing against his tongue and lips. His mouth explored her with every kiss, lick, swirl and press imaginable.

“Rafe.”

Another soft swipe of his tongue sent her body higher again. His finger slipped inside her again. This time, he found her G-spot by memory, brushing his finger against it as he ate her.

“Rafe,” she cried out. Her voice broke. This was pleasure so acute that she wondered it if could be pain.

Faça isso por mim.” His words blew his warm breath over her. “Come for me again, pequena. Do it now.” He pinched her clit between his fingers firmly, without letting go.

The second time was no less incredible than the first. Drenching his fingers and tongue with her nectar, Quinn was pulled under again into a world of darkness and light. Her entire body was aflame. Her blood was pounding, rising to the surface of her skin and flushing it pink as she came for him. As he had told her to. Her heart was pounding at breakneck speed as she closed her eyes and let the orgasm batter her, crash over her.

By the time she came back down, nearly all the breath and energy had been knocked out of her. She lay back against the bed, her body like jelly. Sweat had beaded on her forehead and between her breasts.

Eventually, she opened her eyes. He was beside her on the bed, his fingers playing with her hair. She wanted to tell him that he had already shown her far more than what she had thought could be. She wanted to tell him that it had been more than just a physical experience. But the words would not come so she just leaned over to kiss him.

The taste of him was mixed with her own musky taste, forming something not at all unpleasant. Intrigued, she tasted more.

She was aware that he was unbuttoning his shirt, and when he pulled it off she ran her hands over his firm, muscular body. It was strong, hard, yet warm. She let her hands lightly trace over his arms, his chest as his tongue danced with hers.

Without breaking the kiss, Rafael shifted over her, keeping her legs held apart with his own. He undid his jeans and pulled it off. His briefs followed. Then his arms slipped around her, molding her body to his. Quinn felt his cock press, hot and firm against her lower stomach.

She made the mistake of glancing down. And was immediately horrified.

It was as though a bucket of cold water was suddenly emptied over her. All her earlier fears returned a hundred times over and she knew then that she would not be able to go through with this. She simply wouldn’t. He was enormous. How in heaven’s name would the thing even fit inside her? It was anatomically impossible. He was huge, both in length and girth and he was as hard as steel. His fat cock speared out from his body, the long shaft flowing into a wide mushroom head. A bead of pre-cum glistened at the slit and huge veins pulsated beneath the skin. Quinn was both dismayed and captivated.

No, she thought as sheer fright overcame her. No. No way in hell. Even if he did manage to stuff all that inside of her, it would probably rip her to tiny pieces. The pain would be unimaginable.

She began to struggle in his hold, trying to get out from under him.

He held her tighter but his kiss gentled. His hips shifted over hers, searchingly.

Terrified, she pulled back again, breaking the kiss. “Rafe, don’t!” she cried, the terror obvious in her voice. “Stop.” Her brown eyes were glazed over with fear.

Rafael met her eyes. Although desire had darkened his gray gaze and turned them smoky, she knew that he was still in control. He could stop if he wanted to.

“Stop,” she whispered.

“No.”

He said it very softly, but Quinn knew he meant it.

Sick with fear, she hit out at him. “Stop it! Don’t!” She raised her fists, striking his chest repeatedly.

She put every ounce of strength behind the blows, but he didn’t move. He simply watched her patiently as her hits bounced off his hard chest. She was hurting herself far more than she was hurting him, and she beat him with her fists for a second—before he easily grabbed both her wrists in one of his hands and pinned them above her head.

His hips were already between hers. His cock was so close to her damp pussy.

Incapacitated, Quinn wriggled under his body as she tried to buck him off. Considering he outweighed her by nearly 100 pounds, it was a futile effort. “Rafe, I’m begging you. Please, don’t. Please, Rafe. Stop. Please.”

He smiled a little. “Have you already forgotten our agreement?”

Quinn stared up at him. Her voice broke as she said, “I’m…”

“Afraid?” He pressed a soft kiss to her cheekbone. “Don’t be.”

“You…you’re massive.” Tears welled up in her eyes. “You’ll hurt me. I can’t…I can’t…Just don’t! I know what I said, what we agreed…but please, Rafe. Please let me go. Just…don’t.”

“I won’t lie to you. It’s going to hurt for a little while but it’s nothing to be so afraid of.”

Easy for him to say. Eyes blurred by tears, she tried to tug her wrists free from the prison of his hand. His grip was like iron. When she couldn’t come even close to breaking it, she thrashed under him.

His body pinned hers down. “Don’t make this first time more painful for yourself by trying to fight me. I’ll be going ahead, but it’ll be alright. Frankly, this isn't as big a deal as you’re making it out to be. Just relax and don’t be so jumpy. If you don’t tense up or resist, you’ll adjust and any pain will pass sooner than you think.”

His hips ground down against hers, lining his fat cock up to her virgin opening.

Quinn felt the tears spill down her cheeks.

He kissed the salty tears away with tenderness. “No tears, docinho. There’s no need to cry, sweetheart. Don’t cry, meu chuchuzinho, meu pequeno.” Murmuring endless endearments, Rafael kissed all the tears away. Then he pulled back a little, leaning on his elbows to look into her eyes. “Do you trust me, amada?”

She sniffled. “Yes, but—”

“If you trust me, then let there be no more tears.” The order was firm, as silvery gray eyes bored into hers. “Voce entende? Am I clear, Quinn?”

She gave a hesitant nod. “Yes,” she replied. But the reply felt somehow incomplete. Quinn’s heart skipped a beat. Instinctively, she knew the word. She’d never said it to a guy before. She’d never thought she would, but it came out of its own volition now. “Yes…sir.”

“Good girl.”

He gave her a slow kiss intended to calm her. Quinn pulled in a deep, ragged breath, telling herself to focus on the wonderful sensations his lips brushing over hers gave her. She parted her lips as his arms tightened around her body again. Slowly, she began to melt again. She wound her arms around his neck and buried her face into his neck, pulling in the scent of him.

Even when she felt his huge cock press against her slit she told herself not to move or panic. His hips surged forward and he began to push against her.

Fear stormed up again. “Rafe…”

“Shh, don’t worry esquilinho. The pain will be over before you know it.”

Rafael stabbed into her with one slow, firm thrust. Quinn felt her flesh tear to make room for his invading pole, accompanied with a sharp, slicing stab of agony. She cried out with it, and then cried out again as he thrust all the way into her; gently, but decisively surging in. She felt every single line and ridge of him as she was entered for the first time, pushing in until his length was buried inside her.

He moaned just as she cried out. “You’re so fucking tight,” he growled as her warm, wet pussy stretched around his shaft, squeezing him all along his length. “You’re so fucking tight. So fucking warm.” His moan was low and guttural. “I can’t explain how incredible you feel, Quinn.”

She was biting back a sob. The pain of stretching to accommodate his huge girth was worse than the first sharp slice that had admitted him. She had never felt so full before, so full that she truly was afraid of being ripped into shreds. She had never known something so huge could be inside her, splitting her open like this. Pain was lacing through her at the penetration. But knowing from his words and from his tone that she was giving him pleasure, helped to take some of the edge off it.

Rafael stayed still within her for a moment, letting her adjust as he kissed her temples, her lips, her neck. “Are you alright?” he rasped.

She bit her lip to silence any sobs, and nodded.

Você sabe o que você significa para mim?” he whispered in a ragged voice against her ear. “Você é tudo. Absolutamente tudo. Quinn, você é linda e perfeita.”

Quinn sighed as she relaxed just that little bit more. She ran her hands down the line of his back. He was a beautiful man, she thought. A beautiful man saying beautiful things.

He withdrew ever so slowly, growling as he felt every line of his cock massaged by every fold and ridge of her. He withdrew almost to the tip, and then he pushed in again until he was sheathed in her—a very deep penetration.

Quinn shifted her hips under his as a little more pain lanced. It was less than it had been with the first thrust, and the ache of having stretched to fit him was slowly ebbing. It still hurt, but it was bearable.

His hand drifted up her side and cupped her breast. He rolled his hand over the nipple. The resulting pleasure melted her a little more. She sighed and pulled her legs up a little and arched her hips, unwittingly taking him even deeper. He moaned, and unable to help himself, pulled back and slammed into her again slightly harder than before. He did it again, gradually building a rhythm. Firmly, smoothly, he drove into her.

Instinct began to take over. Quinn felt her hips move slowly against his, falling in with the pace he had set. The pain was steadily abating and she began to feel other things. She could now feel the hard length of him as he rocked inside her. She could hear his low moans against her ear, sending goosebumps racing down her spine. She could feel the echoes of his fingers rolling her nipples around until they hardened to peaks. She could feel her wetness around his fat cock as it pushed inside her.

He was stretching her, molding her to fit him, stroking her walls with every thrust and withdrawal as the pace slowly increased and the force slowly grew.

Quinn felt a moan slip out when, as she arched her hips further up, she felt the head of his cock rub up against that incredible spot in her. Pleasure had her rippling around him. “Rafe,” she moaned, beginning to move with him in earnest. Beginning to feel real ecstasy from the feeling of fullness, from the way he was ramming into her deeply.

Gostosa,” Rafael moaned back, shoving into her with an obscene groan.

Quinn wrapped her legs around him, lifting her hips up off the bed to meet him thrust for thrust. She squeezed him to her as she closed her eyes and let everything happen. She had never felt so close, so connected to another human being in her life than to the man who was taking her now.

Since she had met Rafael, she’d wanted to give him everything. Now she had. He was the first and nothing would ever change that. She gasped and moaned as he stabbed repeatedly into her, his hips surging into hers as he growled from the pleasure he found between her legs. Nothing could alter the fact that she belonged to Rafael now.

Quinn pressed feverish kisses along his shoulder. As she yielded and gave everything up to him, she felt a burst of pure joy, a sense of rightness. She was his. She belonged to him. He was her master. Because she wanted him to be. Because she needed him to be. And he was, whether he knew it or not. It was a heady, intoxicating feeling.

The pace of his thrusts increased ever so slightly. Enough for her to know that he might be drawing close, but not quite enough to cause a return of former pain. She knew he could have gone much, much harder but that he was holding himself back for her sake. She wanted to tell him that she loved him, that she would only ever love him. But when she opened her lips all that came out was a choked moan of pleasure as he fucked her.

“Take my cum,” he said into her ear, a low guttural moan as he ground inside her. “Fuck,” he moaned. “Fuck, Quinn.”

Snarling, Rafael came hard, pleasure pulsing through his spewing cock. Quinn felt the throbbing of his cock within her. She felt his thrusts grow firmer and he rammed all the way in as he let loose a torrent of hot semen within her. Several copious jets of his thick, boiling seed spewed deep within her. She felt it coat her and fill her up, adding to the warmth and moistness of her juices.

Quinn wrapped her legs around his waist, drawing him in and lost in the feeling of his having released inside of her, of his spilling himself into her. Putting a part of himself into her.

He held himself still as the last few spurts of cum issued out of his cock. His breaths fast, he found her lips. Slowly, he began to rock against her again.

There was almost no pain now, she thought, following his lead. She figured she’d be sore as hell by tomorrow, but right now everything was perfect. She raised her hips to meet his as he ground into her. His cum seeped out of her as he thrust into her again, his lust still not yet slaked.

Their gazes met. There was a dark look in Rafael’s gray eyes. He smiled at her—an arrogant lifting of the side of his mouth. If his smile weren’t so damned arousing, she would have returned it. As it was, she could only turn away from the unbearable intensity of his eyes and sigh as her excitement reached fever pitch. His flesh met hers without pause or hesitation, melding seamlessly with hers. His hands rolled over her nipples, down her sides and reached between them to pinch her clit.

With her hips up at that angle, his cock stroked her every time he shoved in. It was perfect, it was too much. Quinn wrapped her arms and legs around him, holding on for dear life as she felt a climax build. With each stroke of his hard erection into her body; skin on skin, with no barriers; stroke and slip as he surged into her again and again. Claiming her. Leaving his stamp of ownership.

“My slut,” he growled into her ear, and together they imploded.

Quinn’s euphoria lasted for a long, long time. She kept her legs locked around his waist as she contracted around his pulsing, spewing cock. They were lost in each other and in ecstasy, together and separate. Entwined, aware and absent while still present.

And then, completely wrung out, they collapsed against each other, still joined and their bodies entangled. They stayed like that for a few minutes until Rafael, knowing she would be sore, pulled out of her and rolled over on the bed so that she was lying on top of him.

Quinn didn’t have to look down to know that his seed was seeping out of her sore pussy and pooling on the sheets between her legs. She didn’t have to look down to feel how sore and tender she was, or to know that she must have made a bloody mess of the towels.

So she didn’t look down, content for now to bask in and be amazed at how amazing this was. Her body was completely pliant against his, her muscles felt so used. She ached all over, and it was simply wonderful. She felt so…used.

Eventually, she became aware that he was watching her, and she looked up at him from under her lashes. Neither spoke. Quinn stared at him, her mind whizzing but not quite forming concrete thoughts. What should she say? What did one say to the person who had become the most important person to them?

After a moment, Rafael sat up. He picked up his jeans and put it on. Then turning back to Quinn, he wrapped a towel around her and picked her up. She said nothing as he carried her bridal-style towards the bathroom.

She was unsure of its usual state, having never been there before, but at that moment there were pretty little soaps, lotions, bubble baths and candles along the inner edge of the large, white bathtub. Those were all brand new—none of the seals had been broken.

She’d just begun to wonder why they were there, when she realized that he must have bought them for her to use. He had bought her bubble bath, was all she could think. Pink bubble bath with French labels. It was so touching that she could find nothing to say.

Rafael held her in the crook of one arm as he lit the candles and turned on the hot tap. Then, seeming unsure what the appropriate amount was, he dumped about half of the bubble bath under the running water.

He removed the towel from around her, let it drop to the floor and gently lowered her into the warm, apricot-scented bath. The water stung her pussy a little and she winced. But as she settled back in it, the warmth began to work its magic and relaxed her sore muscles.

She stared at Rafael as he dug up a washcloth and began to attend to her. He started with her feet, up to her legs, her pussy and her torso. His hands were like the most potent medicine. They even felt better than the warm water. He washed her arms and then wiped her face with a fresh washcloth. He was being so tender that she truly didn’t know how to respond.

She looked down, away from him, and happened to glance at the bloodstained towel on the floor. Embarrassment forced her to speak. Blushing red she said, “I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t ruin all your towels.”

Rafael smiled at her then, and she noticed that the smile was both indulgent and mischievous. He shook his head. “Of all the things to be worried about, she worries about towels. A couple of cycles in the washer will make them good as new. The important thing is how you feel.”

She smiled shyly in return. “I feel great. Inside of me, I feel…”

Sim. You feel…?”

“Happy. Weird.” She looked up at him, her eyes wide and warm. “Can we do it again?”

Rafael laughed, deep and musical. “We’ll definitely be doing it again, my little one. Again and again and again. I have so much more to show you.” His hand brushed her tits, the water lapping at them as he rolled and pulled on her nipples. Quinn felt the pleasure swirl through her body to her used cunt. “You’ll learn how to pleasure me. You’ll learn how to touch me and suck my cock.” He smiled, his hand moving down her body to cup her ass. “And there are other places to fuck you than just one.”

He lifted her out of the bath then, and wrapped a clean towel around her. Despite the fear that shot through her soul at the thought of his cock anywhere near her tiny back hole, she made herself smile back at him.

Then she remembered something, her smile faded and she looked down again.

Rafael caught the sad look in her eyes just before she had looked down. He raised her chin up with his finger, forcing her to meet his eyes. “What is it, sweetheart?”

Quinn was silent for a moment, and then a flood of words came out. “Nothing, I mean I was just a little worried because I still don’t know what to think because we haven’t talked about what we are to each other and now we’ve slept together I’m now even less sure because maybe you wouldn’t really want me anymore and I just want to know if you’ll…”

Rafael listened, his eyes darkening as she talked on. His expression hardened so much so that Quinn couldn’t go on anymore and petered out into frightened silence. He had fixed her with a dark, steady glare. Yesterday he had asked her if she was afraid of him. With the look on his face right now the answer was a resounding yes.

“Let me see if I understand,” he began in a low, flat voice. He sounded insulted. “You actually think I would cast you aside just because I got you into bed? And when you were a virgin, no less? Quinn, what do you take me for? What exactly have I done that would justifiably make you think such a thing of me?”

He had never used such a cold and angry tone on her before. She had never seen the gray eyes so icy. It was a blow. She clutched her towel and couldn’t speak.

“Even if you weren’t sure of me before, can’t you see now? Can’t you see all I’m doing? Do you think I would go through all this trouble if I didn’t care about you?”

She really, really wished he would use a different tone. The annoyance he was directing at her was cutting. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I thought you were just being decent.”

“Decency wasn’t what made me take it slowly. It isn’t why I kissed you and bathed you. Decency isn’t why I’m going to insist that you stay the night here with me. It isn’t why I’m so concerned about how you’re feeling and it isn’t why I went to some fancy little French place—looking as out of place as a bull in a China shop, I might add—just to buy girly bubble baths and loofahs and lotions and candles for you. I’m not taking care of you necessarily because I’m ‘decent,’ Quinn. It’s because you matter to me.”

You matter to me. She mattered to him, she thought. He cared about her. The happiness of it made her forget that she was being rebuked. She mattered to him.

He took hold of her arms. “We can use whatever label you like. Just as long as you get it in your head that I’m not going to walk away.”

At that, she flung her arms around him. “I really, really needed to hear that.”

Rafael pulled her to his body, lifting her off the ground. “It’s you and me now.” His arms were tight around her. “It’s the two of us. Just us.”

“Thank heaven for that!” she cried with relief, pressing kisses on his neck, inhaling the Rafael smell, pressing her body to his big, muscled strong one. “You’re my boyfriend.”

He pulled back and smiled a little at her. “I’m your boyfriend. You’re not getting away from me. And I permit you to sniff me as much as you like.”

“I’d sniff you anyway. I’d follow you around just to sniff you.” She laughed and kissed at his lips. “So, I guess I’m your prisoner now.”

He put his forehead to hers. “Complete with dungeons, chains and steel bars.” He scooped her off her feet and took her into the bedroom. He sat her on the chair at the desk as he removes the stained towels and dumped them into a hamper. Then he opened the wine and poured her a glass.

She smiled as she took it, sipped. “So in your dungeon, you let your prisoners have wine?”

“None but you. You’re my most highly favored prisoner.” He eyed her, wrapped as she was in the towel. “I bought you something to sleep in, but now that I think about it I’d rather you were naked. Any objections?”

Quinn gave him a mock military salute. “Sir, no sir, Mister Jailer, sir!”

He gave her a quick kiss and tugged the towel off her. “Get in bed and wait for me. I’ll take a quick shower and be back in a couple minutes.”

She was cuddled under the sheets when he returned. She looked at him, with all her feelings shining in her eyes as he joined her in the bed and wrapped his arms around her. He kissed her forehead and she rested her head on his shoulder. She let her eyes close.

He brushed her hair back from her face. “A little sleepy, are we?”

“Hmm.”

“Are you hungry? As favored prisoner I’m obligated to feed you.”

She smiled. “Not hungry. Happy.”

Rafael listened to her breaths grow shallower and felt her body relax against his. He knew when she was just on the edge of consciousness. “Goodnight, meu pequeno doce de coco,” he murmured. “Sleep well.”

“Night, Rafe,” she mumbled back, and was out like a light.

***

Rafael:

I lay awake as my lover slept peacefully in my arms. She was warm, her body stretched out along mine, her chest gently rising and falling with her breaths. I looked down at her. Her head was on my chest, her arm around my torso, her cheek pressed against my heart and her waist-length dark hair spilling over our bodies.

She was such a contrast to me, I thought, following the curve of her cheekbone with my finger. I was a product of my environment, a fact of which I was well aware. Cruelty came easily to me, but she was always mild. I had a temper, but she was tolerant and quick to forgive. Did she have any idea how truly beautiful she was?

Our physical differences were no less marked. She was small, with that slight frame often seen on dancers. I was tall, muscular. She was pale, while the olive cast of my skin showed my very mixed heritage. I was what they called “pardo”, a melting pot of European, West African and Native American.

How strange that a person who was so different from me was exactly who I needed.

I knew very well the transitory nature of life. I had learned the hard way that few things were permanent, that few people remained with you for the long haul. I knew it, and it was why I was extremely selective about whom I let into my heart.

For many years, I hadn’t cared deeply for anyone. The father I had looked up to had proved himself unworthy. The mother who had been everything to me had left me in the worst possible way. Even after nine years, something inside me always died when I thought about her. Every time I thought about her, I got a feeling we call saudade. It has no direct English translation. Saudade is…nostalgia? Longing? Regret? None of those truly fit. Saudade is missing something or someone or somewhere that is part of the past or some bygone era. It’s the wanting to return to that something that’s gone.

I sighed.

The elder sister that had seemed very fond of me whenever she took a few days off from her hectic life to see me had turned her back on me at the time when I needed her most. I had begged and she had refused. That was the last time I had ever begged anyone for anything. It was the last time I ever would.

So yes, I was very selective about whom I let into my heart. I had a number of friends but I could very easily have gone on without them. In keeping with a promise I’d made to myself when I was thirteen and totally alone, I’d never let them get close, just so that I’d never again be emotionally involved with another person.

I just hadn’t banked on meeting this girl. This sweet, innocent, beautiful, generous, warm-hearted, trusting, unselfish, completely incredible girl. I could no more help the way I felt about her than I could fly.

And when I thought about the gift she had just given me, those feelings only became stronger. She had given me something I hadn’t had in a long time—a heart. Somewhere I could rest. Somewhere I didn’t have to worry about being unwanted. Somewhere I didn’t have to ask or explain. Somewhere I could just be. I had seen the absolute devotion in her eyes before she’d trustingly fallen asleep in my arms. I had seen the surrender, the deference. And I knew. She had given me her self. She was mine. All mine.

I pressed my face into her hair and held her tightly.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be tomorrow, or the day after that, or even in a week or two, but I would surely tell her. I would tell her that I could never stop loving her.

Yet…this was just a beginning. Every person I had ever loved had left. One way or another, they had left. Would this girl I now loved be any different? I wished I knew. I knew that she had not yet seen the worst of me. She had not yet seen the darkest that I had to offer. She did not yet know of my past. She had no idea of the things I knew damn well that I was capable of.

So, I wished that I knew what the end of this perfect beginning would be. I wished that I knew if she would be accepting of the darker side of me.

The only thing I knew is that I’d simply have to wait and find out.

***

To be continued.
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