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Lovers in a Dangerous Time

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It was dark, but Jules Callahan knew what she was looking for. She snaked her way through the packed club, the dull throb of the music setting her pace.

She’d seen better days. They’d defused the situation but not without bloodshed. Sam had been far enough away to keep his hands clean, but she’d ended her shift in the shower, scrubbing blood out of her hair. She worried that tonight would sleepless, filled with dreams of violence and chaos.

As the water ran clear, she made her decision. Post-shower, she’d dressed quickly in her civilian clothes and headed for home. She told Sam she was going to order Chinese food and watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Instead, she pulled a dark outfit from the back of her closet. In less than ten minutes she’d changed, finishing her preparation by pulling on a pair of boots and heading for the door.

As soon as she arrived at her destination, she made her way upstairs. An attractive redhead smiled at her on the stairs, but he wasn’t what she was looking for. She stood on the balcony, surveying the space, and waited. It wasn’t long before she felt a body pressing against her back. She remained still as a hand snaked around to caress her hip and a mouth pressed a kiss to the side of her neck.

“Same rules as always?” a voice murmured in her ear. She nodded before answering.

“Same rules.”

“You’re in control until you say otherwise. Roger that,” came the reply as strong hands caressed her waist.

The front of her body was flush with the balcony, while her companion held her from behind. She felt a surge of energy flow through her as those hands roamed, one slipping under her shirt to graze across her left nipple. She was braless under the thin button-down; the bare skin of her breasts strained against the fabric as her breathing quickened. The hands roamed further down her body, drawing the hem of her dark skirt upwards. Anyone below them would have caught more than a glimpse of her panties had they looked up, but as far as she could tell their activity went unnoticed.

“Someplace more private?” the voice in her ear hissed, reading her mind. She wasted no time finding a private room near the back of the club, generously tipping the attendant in exchange for complete discretion. She was, after all, a police officer and she didn’t want to chance a tape of her night’s activities ending up in her boss’s hands.

They stood at the foot of the wrought-iron bed for a moment, not touching. She knew the man in front of her was waiting for a signal, but she didn’t rush, preferring instead to let herself anticipate what would happen next. Finally, after several long moments, she spoke.

“Scorpio,” she said firmly, and the hands were on her once more, more insistent this time. Her body was propelled back against the wall, hard enough to make her yelp. Her assailant’s fingers dug into her arms as he wrestled her down to the bed. She fought hard but she was much smaller, and this was a fight she planned to lose. Moments later she was pinned to the mattress as thin rope was wrapped around her wrists, which were then secured above her head.

Her adversary stood, apparently satisfied with his handiwork. Seeing an opening in his defenses, Jules kicked out. Her foot connected with something soft and she heard a muttered, “God damn it” from the end of the bed. She craned her neck to assess the damage she’d inflicted, but could see nothing in the dim light. She pulled against the ropes to try to get a better view, but they were tight.

“Just like I like ‘em,” she murmured as she felt an odd sense of gratitude sweep over her. Not many people would understand her method of stress relief, but if her companion thought it was strange he never said so.

In truth, the tall man who now stood just out of kicking range liked these sessions as much as she did. He’d been waiting at the club hoping to see her come through the door and her mere appearance at the foot of the stairs was enough to make him hard.

She’d dressed for the occasion. The usual short dark skirt that grazed her thighs, the lace-up black leather boots. Her hair was pulled up into a simple ponytail, which was part of their code.

After their first few encounters, he understood that Jules was reluctant to verbalize her needs. She thought it made her weak; he thought no such thing, but wasn’t going to argue with her, so they developed a non-verbal code.

The ponytail meant she wanted it rough. One of the first times they were together, in a moment of passion while he was thrusting into her from behind, he’d wrapped her ponytail around his hand and pulled. She’d moaned, so he pulled harder, tipping her head back and ravaging the side of her neck with his mouth. Almost instantly he’d felt her starting to peak, and when her orgasm crashed through her he was surprised at the intensity and her unrestrained screams of release.

The ponytail was what started it, but the code was much more complicated now. The boots meant she needed control of the scene, and that there were to be no surprises or sudden moves until she’d called Scorpio. If her top had been pink, it would have meant that he should be gentle, although she’d only worn pink to meet him when she was injured. Tonight it was blue, which meant he should leave bruises.

His arousal had increased when she looked up at him, revealing the dark red lipstick that highlighted her soft mouth, because that meant she wanted the ropes.

Perfecting their nonverbal communication had taken months, but he knew now that she trusted him, and he trusted her to say the words that would make him stop immediately if she was ever uncomfortable or in the wrong kind of pain. She’d never said them, of course, because she was stubborn and because pushing her limits was what Jules did, but he felt better knowing the option was there.

As he rubbed the spot where her kick had connected just below his ribs, he marveled at how much her tenacity could turn him on. She was a firecracker, intense and relentless, and it was one of the things he liked most about her. He watched as Jules kicked a few more times but he stayed maddeningly out of her reach. She stilled for a moment before speaking.

“What do you want from me?” she asked quietly, opening negotiations. Communicate, strategize, contain.

“You know what I want,” he replied, coming to stand at the head of the bed, his hands tracing a lazy pattern down her bound arms. “What’s your name?”

“Holly,” she replied. She felt his hands loosening her hair, letting it fall onto the pillow. He ran his fingers through the dark strands and she braced herself for the sharp sting of the yank she knew was coming.

It didn’t come. Instead, he let his fingers travel along her neck and jawline. Then his breath was on her neck and he pulled at her earlobe with his teeth. She could feel his hands moving down. One drifted maddeningly over her collarbone and began to gently caress her breast. Her nipples were already erect and sensitive, and when he slipped his hand inside her shirt to continue his ministrations, she moaned.

“You like that, Holly? Answer me.”


“You like the feel of my hands on you, don’t you? My strong hands on your soft, delicate skin,” he said as he roughly pinched the side of her breast. She gasped at the sudden pain and felt a flood of heat rush to her core. He rolled her nipple between two fingers, alternating between gently worrying it and pulling firmly, each time prompting an involuntary gasp from her.

She closed her eyes, but then felt something covering them. Her breath caught in her throat. They’d never done this before, but after a moment of hesitation she decided to see where it went.

He finished tying the blindfold around her eyes and stepped back to admire his work. She was flushed and her firm breasts were rising and falling slowly. Sniper breathing. For the first time in many months of these nights together, he could tell she was actually unnerved. He hadn’t noticed that rhythmic, controlled breathing since the first time they’d used the ropes.

Without her sight, Jules found that her other senses were heightened. She could smell the cool peppermint aftershave he wore as he moved his mouth to press against hers. She could feel his movements and hear the buckle of his pants being undone. She felt him moving down her body to unlace and remove her boots. As he slowly pulled the second one off, her legs parted, seemingly of their own accord.

“Soon, Holly,” he chuckled. Next was the shirt. Since her hands were bound, he settled for unbuttoning it, revealing her bra-less breasts and firm abdomen. The skirt offered no resistance as he slowly pushed it down past her hips to reveal sheer lace panties. She moaned again and he knew that tonight she needed something more direct, although he would have enjoyed making her wait.

With one fast motion he’d ripped the panties from her. She pulled at her restraints to no avail as he used his tongue to trace a curving line from her abdomen to her inner thigh, detouring for a moment to suck and nip at the small tattoo on her hip. At his destination, he exhaled softly and grazed his teeth across the sensitive skin he found on either side of the cleft of her sex. He knew how aroused she was, but he was still pleased to find her slick juices running down her inner thigh.

He kissed and tongued her bare slit, savoring the taste of her. She writhed against the bed as he slipped two fingers between her lips to circle her opening.

“What do you want, Holly?” She shook her head and whimpered. Even a Jules desperate for release wouldn’t respond to such a direct question, particularly if the answer might somehow make her seem needy. She bit her lip hard, and prayed that he would end the anticipation and push into her.

His mouth was on her again, venturing closer this time. He used his tongue to part her folds, dipping into her in search of her swollen clitoris. He captured it between his lips and swirled his tongue around it. She bucked off the bed, moving as much as her bound hands would allow. Waves of energy that coursed through her were so intense that she wondered how much pleasure a person could endure before passing out.

A hard slap to her thigh brought her back down and to greater heights, simultaneously. There wasn’t much logic to that, but her thoughts cleared as her arousal surged. He was sucking and biting at her clit and labia as his fingers stroked her opening. As if he sensed her patience growing thin, he suddenly pushed two fingers into her. He continued the rhythmic movements of his tongue against her bundle of nerves as he slowly pumped his fingers in and out. He could feel her orgasm building, so he slowed, intentionally delaying it to prolong her pleasure.

He’d been with other women of course, and he’d used his mouth to pleasure many of them, but none reacted with the intensity that Jules did. She always enjoyed it, even during their less intense trysts, but tonight her response was off the charts. She was whimpering, her legs wrapped firmly around his shoulders. Her head was thrashing back and forth on the pillow as if to compensate for her immobile hands and she contorted her hips trying to bring more of her body into contact with him.

He felt the blood rushing to his erection, making him impossibly hard. He set aside thoughts of plunging into her and feeling her convulse around him as he licked and stroked every inch of her most sensitive parts. No, he could wait for his pleasure until she was on the brink of coming apart. These nights were about her; his satisfaction mattered less to him than making sure she found the relief she needed.

As he drove her near to explosion and then pulled her back again, she began to groan in primal frustration. He pushed another finger into her and felt her muscles quivering. Her body throbbed around his hand as he curved his fingers, stroking the spot deep inside her that he knew would bring her even more bliss.

Jules struggled harder against the unyielding ropes as her frustration grew. She needed to come and her companion seemed intent on delaying or perhaps even preventing her release. She almost laughed out loud as she remembered that old saying about killing someone with kindness.

Suddenly there was a sharp noise from somewhere outside the room, triggering a cascade of thoughts through Jules’ head. With the room hidden from view by the blindfold, her brain began to play out images of the day on the inside of her eyelids, even as he moved his hand inside her and whispered soothingly that it was just a door slamming.

Set in motion by the slam of a door, the movie theatre of her mind played back the moment earlier that day that she lost control. She’d successfully de-escalated him, but something changed and he became agitated again. She heard the go in her headset and tried to object, but the man with the gun whirled toward her and then everything happened at once.

She threw her hand up in front of her as she saw the barrel come up. She’d always thought that was an obsolete instinct. A hand might have worked in prehistoric times to block a thrown rock or the swing of a stick, but the advent of bullets made the protective gesture futile and outdated.

Even as her hand was still in motion, she heard the shot and saw the man’s blood burst from his head. She felt its warmth on her face and when she turned her palm toward her, it was covered in dark red spatters.

Her brain-cinema crackled and she saw herself in the shower, scrubbing her hair roughly. The water that swirled in the drain still had tinges of pink. Then another shift and she was back at the scene, turning toward Sam as he lowered his gun.

It wasn’t the blood in her hair that drove her here tonight, nor was it the fact that she’d lost the connection and they’d been forced to take a life. It was the look in Sam’s eyes as they locked with hers.

They would always play by the book at work; priority of life would always be observed, no matter how they felt about each other, but that did not mean that it would ever be easy for Sam to see a gun pointed at her head. In that moment before he snapped back into work mode, she saw every fear he had in his eyes, and she felt an irrational guilt for being the cause.

She knew that fear because she felt the same way whenever their day ended with him emerging unscathed from a perilous situation. Likewise, he understood the guilt of being the one who made her worry. On those days they spent the night on the couch with his body wrapped around her as the thudding of their hearts reassured each one that the other was still alive.

Jules’ mind divided the bad days into those two categories: couch days and club days. The couch was comfort and love. It was unwinding in Sam’s arms while they watched a movie they’d both already seen, and then it was slow, tender love-making that left her satisfied and relaxed.

The club was for when she needed to feel unbreakable. The ropes that were biting into her wrists were a persistent physical reminder that she was at the mercy of another, out of control and yet completely safe. Each bruise reminded her that she would heal. Each moment of pleasurable pain reassured her that she was tough as nails and the explosion of her orgasm made her feel invincible and vibrantly alive.

As her torturer continued his gentle assault on her tightly wound body, Jules began to shake. She was desperate for him to exert his power over her. She knew that on days like this, being helpless was the only way she could let go, and the exhaustion that followed would keep the bad dreams at bay.

The energy that was building up in her was overwhelming and this softness wasn’t what she needed to release it, but he seemed intent on treating her delicately. He sensed the change in her, but didn’t alter his approach. It was agonizingly languid.

Jules heard soft, pleading whines rising in her throat and felt the shaking turn into a shudder that contorted her lithe form. Her mind fought for control but she couldn’t stop herself from calling out to him in desperation.

“Fuck me, please, god, I need you to---“ she begged.

Her words dissolved, but the message had traveled loud and clear. He stripped off his pants and climbed back onto the bed, settling between her legs. He traced the rosy swell of her right nipple. The fingers of his other hand dug into her waist sharply as he lined himself up with her center. His hands found her shoulders and he held her down as he entered her with a powerful thrust.

She yelped at the sudden intrusion and his fingers gripped her tighter as he fell into an agonizingly slow rhythm. Each time he withdrew, his hard cock dragged along her clit, sending shivers up her spine. His mouth captured hers as both of his hands tangled in her hair. She could taste herself on his lips.

He pulled at her head roughly as he continued to pound into her. He left a trail of angry red bite marks along the curve of her left breast, and with every sharp pain she felt herself teetering on the edge. She almost crested twice but both times something pulled her back from the brink. It wasn’t him toying with her this time.

He could feel her frustration and shifted his body so he could slip his hand between them to press against the small nub he found there. He lowered his mouth to her chest again and began to soothe the marks he’d left with slow, gentle kisses. Her drive toward release had paused the movie in her head, but with the soft brush of his lips it came flooding back.

This time the matinee was Sam’s voice while she was trapped in that lab, inhaling more anthrax with every breath, reminding her to slow her breathing and heart rate so she wouldn’t bleed out. A second later she was slammed with the memory of Sam’s desperate eyes today just after he contained the subject, even though he knew the blood on her face wasn’t hers.

That moment split into two more, and she wrestled with the taste of Sam’s lips on hers that first time outside the Royal York and the next first time after Ed was shot. Both times his mouth seemed on the edge of devouring her.

A new movie flashed onto the screen and there was Sam tracing his fingers along the trail of light hickeys he’d left along her collarbone. He’d suckled each spot as he made love to her in the bright morning light of her bedroom. She remembered the feel of his hand sliding against her clit as he filled her again and again, her body convulsing against his as he wrapped his free arm around her and whispered in her ear over and over that he loved her.

The gentle ministrations of the mouth on her now collided with her memory of Sam’s mouth on her breast, his tongue circling her areola as liquid heat pooled in her center. The thoughts of him crashed into her, filling her mind like a pitcher of water until it overflowed and overwhelmed her.

She’d never needed the code phrase before and didn’t realize how hard it would be in the moment to form the words. Her brain was screaming them but her lips wouldn’t move, as if the threads that connected those two parts of her body had been cut. She looked up at her partner, who seemed to sense something was wrong, and after seconds that seemed to stretch into days her voice came back.

“No joy, no joy,” she gasped and her lover immediately stopped his movements. His hands flew to the ropes, pulling at the releases so her arms were free within seconds. Moments later the blindfold was gone and she could see her panicked face reflected in his eyes. He didn’t press her for an explanation but she searched for one anyway, the silence hanging in the air as she tried to organize her thoughts.

“I don’t want to stop,” she said finally. “I just…” After a moment, he realized she wasn’t going to finish her sentence.

“You know I’ll give you whatever you need, Jules.”

She looked up into his intense blue eyes and nodded. He would give her space or pull her close; he’d touch her only how and where she wanted to be touched. She knew that she could stop the encounter right then with no risk of making him angry or resentful. He would be concerned if she did so, but would never demand that she explain.

Jules knew all those things, but that didn’t mean she felt comfortable being weak, even if he was the only person there to see. It didn’t matter that he’d learned the maps of her body and boundaries during their encounters at the club and followed their demarcations precisely. It didn’t matter that she trusted him to bruise her, to make her bleed, to handcuff her or to hold her down and fuck her. Admitting to needing something, even from someone who knew her so intimately, terrified her.

Jules debated ending the conversation there, perhaps by distracting him with the talents of her mouth, but she knew she would regret giving into fear.  She pressed her lips together and repeated the words in her head before she said them aloud, her voice cracking almost imperceptibly.

“I need to be able to see you.”

He nodded and turned on the bedside table lamp. It cast a warm glow over the two of them. He knew that she hadn’t meant the lamp, but it was his way of showing her that he wouldn’t judge her for her momentary ‘weakness.’

The light spilled over her skin, illuminating the marks he’d left on her torso and thighs. Some were angry and as red as strawberry jam on the pale expanse of her torso. The ones along her waist were already blossoming into purple blotches, and he could still see the impressions of the ropes on her small wrists. Without thinking, he lined his hand up with the marks his fingers had left on her shoulder.

He looked down at her, trying and failing to read her thoughts. He understood her in ways that no one else did, but there were still parts of her that were a mystery to him. He suspected there always would be, but didn’t matter, because he craved every part of her, even the ones she couldn’t show him.

He was still inside her, but without all the props it was now just the two of them. He gently tucked her hair behind her ear and looked to her for permission to begin again.

She met his eyes, then nodded. The movement was barely there, but he understood.

He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek, then the chin, and then ghosted his lips across hers. Their mouths pressed together and their tongues danced and intertwined as he began to move within her. After several long moments they came up for air. Her eyes met his as they found their rhythm again. Jules let her hands roam over his body, pulling at his t-shirt and digging into his arms as the pace quickened.

Suddenly, he flipped them over so that she was on top of him. Without missing a beat, Jules began to ride him, rising and then sinking down on his pulsing cock. Her movements grew more urgent and her breath quickened, but he could tell the release she needed was still eluding her.

“Talk to me,” she commanded, leaning close to him without slowing her pace.

“You’re beautiful,” he said as she rolled her eyes. “You’re beautiful when we’re fucking,” he tried again, this time garnering a smirk from her.

“I love feeling you on my cock,” he continued. “I love plunging into that tight, wet pussy of yours over and over, fucking you until you can’t take anymore.

“I know the first time may have been a fluke, but I need you, Jules,” he said, his voice low and full of raw emotion. His fingers found her body, caressing her curves as he spoke. “I need to see you walk through that door because when you do, I know that it’s not about the ropes or the people we pretend to be. It’s about the fact that you need to feel human, just for a moment. You spend every day being a superhero and saving the day, but when you show up here I get to help you save yourself. And those are the times I get to feel human too.”

Her eyes were shining with tears again and he felt her beginning to convulse around him as the words tumbled from his mouth. “I love fucking you, Julianna Callahan, and I love it when you fuck me and I love it when we meet here and you tell me your name is Holly, and I love pulling your hair, but the thing I love most…” His voice trailed off and she was surprised to see that, for once, he was having difficulty expressing himself.

“What do you love most?” she prompted breathlessly as his cock filled her again and again. Her movements grew faster but her eyes stayed locked on him.

“The thing I love most is when you’re you, and I’m me, and we’re making love instead of just fucking, because you’re the only woman I will ever want this with.”

She choked back a sob as his fingers brushed gently against her clit, nudging her over the edge. She called out his name as she came, her body convulsing and the tears falling freely from her eyes. Her brain-cinema fell apart as her nerve endings exploded, sending shockwaves through her entire body as the screen went dark.

She rode out her orgasm and then stilled, laying her head on his chest and idly circling one of his nipples with her small fingers. The tension ebbed from her body even as the aftershocks continued to course through her, causing her muscles to pulse around his hardness.

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For being here with me.”

“There’s no where else I’d rather be,” he replied, and she kissed his mouth.

“You didn’t come,” she murmured, rocking her hips. He was still hard inside of her, so she wrapped her legs around him and toppled them over so he was once again on top. She grabbed his t-shirt and yanked, ripping it half way down the front. She flashed him a devilish grin and pulled again, tossing the tatters to the floor. For the first time tonight, they were both completely naked, and she took the opportunity to drag her tongue across one of his nipples.

“Fuck me,” she said as she dug her heels into the base of his spine.

“Yes ma’am,” he replied, withdrawing and then pushing deep inside her. She raised her arms up over her head and he gently grasped her wrists, pushing them into the mattress.

“I said ‘Fuck me’,” she hissed. She raised her head to nip at the pink nubs on his chest, biting them lightly. He released her hands so he could push her back down onto the bed. She pushed back, igniting a new fire deep in his belly.

“This isn’t all for me,” she growled in his ear. “I know you think you come here just because I want you to, but you need this as much as I do. ”

“Shut up.” His voice was exasperated but still warm. She ran her tongue along her top lip before replying.

“Make me.”

Instantly he had her hands pinned again. His mouth attacked hers, his tongue thrusting between her lips as he penetrated her again and again. She struggled against him, the added friction of her resistance driving both of them higher.

She hadn’t expected to have another orgasm but before she knew it, she was close. Sniper breathing long forgotten, she gasped for air. Her heart pounded fast in her ears. He could feel his climax coming but he’d already decided that she would come again before he would allow himself to. It was a challenge to resist the urge to let go as she moaned into his mouth.

Jules thrashed beneath him. He was everywhere, on top and inside of her and in her, and she finally felt safe under the comforting weight of his body. She immersed herself in the feel of him as he drove into her forcefully. Their pace grew faster and faster, until they were both covered in sweat and her moans were throaty and loud.

He felt her thighs begin to quiver, then the quiver became a quake and then she was screaming his name over and over as she fell apart. The sound of it pushed him over the edge and he groaned, exploding into her as her contracting muscles urged every drop from him.

After a long moment in which neither of them spoke, he withdrew from her and gathered her gently into his arms. They laid there without moving for several minutes before she began to stir.

“Thank you,” she murmured again as she gathered up her discarded clothing. He watched her dress quickly, smoothing her hair as if by taming its unruly strands she could hide the obvious flush of sex on her cheeks.

“You have somewhere to be?”

“Oh,” she shook her head. “No, I… I have someone waiting for me at home.”

He nodded and began to pull on his own clothing as well. As she turned to leave without a word, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her back to him.

“How do you know,” he began, his free hand caressing her face, “that he’s there? What if while you’re here, doing this with me, he’s doing the same thing?”

She shrugged and kissed him. The kiss lingered for longer than normal, as if she was reassuring him, but all too soon it came to an end and she left. He watched her go and then departed as well, tipping the attendant generously on the way out.


She took the long way home to give herself a little extra time to gather her thoughts. She’d be sore in the morning, but tonight she was finally feeling relaxed, and she hummed along with the radio as she got closer to home.

Sam was waiting for her when she came inside, sprawled out on the couch with a bowl of popcorn. She sat down heavily next to him.

“There’s General Tso’s in the fridge for you.” Ever the gentleman, Sam knelt on the floor and gently loosened the laces of her boots until they slid off easily. He started to rub her feet but she shook her head and pulled him back onto the couch with her.

“Do you want something?” he teased, flashing his deep baby blues at her with a lopsided grin. She smiled back as she pushed him over and settled herself in his arms.

“I never thought I’d like this movie so much,” he said and although she couldn’t see him, she could feel him smiling.

“’Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is a classic,” she replied sleepily. “I always wanted to be Audrey Hepburn.”

He smiled and reminded her that she said the same thing about ‘Pretty Woman’ and Julia Roberts. When she didn’t argue with him he knew that in a matter of moments she’d be asleep. She smiled and sighed and he could feel her slipping away.

Sam waited a few moments until he knew he wouldn’t wake her, then gently picked her up and took her upstairs. He would carry her to their bedroom and tuck her in, the last symbolic act of caretaking she’d allow him for the night.

He found a t-shirt and a pair of his boxers she’d stolen, then began to undress her. He started by carefully unzipping her skirt and easing it down over her hips and thighs. He folded it neatly and placed it on a nearby chair before turning his eyes to her body.

The taut skin of her lower abdomen was mostly unmarred, although as his eyes strayed toward her hips he saw that her skin was mottled by bruises. A hard slap had left an outline of a large hand on one of her thighs and both bore several welts that he recognized immediately as bite marks. Satisfied that none of these wounds needed to be tended to, he pulled the boxers onto her, shifting the waistband so it would rest on unbruised skin.

Next he unbuttoned her shirt and helped her out of the thin cotton top as she mumbled quiet protests. Laying her back down, Sam paused to inspect her upper body, which had obviously taken the brunt of the abuse. He began by checking the bite marks on her chest to make sure the skin wasn’t broken, then turned his attention to her waist. The exquisite curve was covered in dark purple bruises and he made a mental note not to hold her there too tightly.

Her shoulders were the worst. Dozens of red and purple blotches left by eager fingers overlapped there, while two dark handprints that made it clear that she’d been held down with quite a bit of force. Sam placed one of his hands near the mark and compared them for a moment, then reached for the t-shirt and pulled it over her head.

She sighed deeply as he slipped into bed next to her. He kissed the top of her head and wrapped his arms around her, careful not to put pressure on any of her injuries. He was quiet for a long moment as he listened to her breathing, which confirmed for him that she was still awake.

“I meant it,” he said quietly to the darkened room.

“What?” One brown eye fluttered open half way to look at him.

“I wouldn’t want this with anyone but you.”

Jules ran her fingers through his short hair, pulling his mouth to hers. The kiss they shared was long and full of nuances that only longtime lovers would understand. A whole conversation can live in a kiss like this one, Sam thought as Jules wrapped her leg around him. He relished the moment until it drew to a close. He missed the feel of her mouth almost immediately, but he knew she was exhausted and needed rest.

“Can you be the inside spoon?” she mumbled and he grinned and rolled over. She snuggled in behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, careful to avoid the spot she’d kicked earlier. Soon she was fast asleep, her breathing steady and her body completely still, and he knew she’d wake up physically sore but emotionally clear. Not long after she dozed off, he did too.

That night Sam dreamed of making love to Jules in the woods, leaving new marks on her in the heat of the moment that he would later soothe away.

Beside him, with the cinema of her mind finally shut down, Jules did not dream at all.