"No," she cried out, waking with a start.
He was there as he had been last night when the same thing happened. Last night, she'd recoiled, pulled away from him embarrassed. She didn't want him to think she was acting like a child. Tonight she clung to him, practically crawling into his lap while still in that state of half sleep.
She gripped his biceps, afraid she'd drift back to sleep if she let go. She should be embarrassed her subconscious went to him like this. Between her kissing him out of the blue the other night and this, he probably had the wrong idea about her.
He'd kissed her back, but she could tell he was as uncertain as she was. She didn't like sleeping anymore. The reality was bad enough, living on the run, not certain she'd ever get to see her family again. To dream that final day again was torture. She recalled vividly the look on her dad's face. Had she truly believed he didn't love her?
"It's okay, Claire, it was just a dream. You're safe." He kissed the top of her head, smoothing her hair as he spoke. His voice was melodically soothing, and kind of hypnotic. His assurances made her feel that she was safe.
They were in Mexico until he received word from someone it was safe to go back. He didn't seem to know whether that would be days or weeks, maybe even months. Indestructible or not, she knew he'd do anything for her. She felt the same way about him.
She had no idea who he was in contact with. He wouldn't tell her, frustrated that not even her infamous Claire-Bear pout could get it out of him, she'd stopped asking.
She lifted her head from where it rested against his chest and looked at him. They'd gotten close over the past couple of days. The first day they were both tired and a little overwhelmed with all that had happened so talking wasn't done much.
Yesterday, they had talked more. Well, she had talked more. He wasn't much with the talking. She got that, though. He didn't use his voice. She still got a funny feeling in her stomach at the realization she was the only one who knew he could talk.
Sitting here in bed, on his lap, she realized she affected him, too. She wasn't sure what to do with that knowledge exactly. She couldn't say anything. He was a prime example of the fact you didn't always need words.
Cautiously, she released her grip on his arms despite the fact she was wide-awake now. It was almost as if her mind thought that he was keeping her dreams at bay.
She reached for him then, arms going around his neck. She kissed him, more confidently this time. The other night she hadn't really known if he liked her, if he'd wanted to kiss her. Now she did. It was kind of powerful.
She whimpered when his tongue met hers. She had little to compare him to, and nothing good but she knew she liked the way he kissed. And the way he made her feel. He drew away, breaking the kiss with a mumbled curse when she shifted on his lap.
"What's wrong?" she murmured, kissing his lower lip and then his upper one.
"We should not be doing this."
Since they'd both been sleeping and it was hot in Mexico, he'd shed his shirt some time after she'd fallen asleep. No doubt counting on the fact he'd be awake first and able to put it on again. That left her free to touch his shoulders, chest, and torso to her heart's content. And she started doing just that, curious if he would feel as good as she thought he would. He was trim, fit, hot, and built without being gross. She'd seen pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Universe and that just gave her the creeps.
But her Haitian, he felt good to the touch. Her hands found their way to his chest as she kissed along his jaw to his ear. She was acting on instinct, but his shallow breaths told her she was on the right track.
"But I want to be doing this," she whispered before kissing his ear.
"I'm supposed to be protecting you."
"Mm, you are. You're right here, in my room with me, can't get much better protection than that."
"Getting personally involved."
"Yeah, I saw that movie, too," she murmured, nipping his earlobe with her teeth. "You're not my bodyguard. I'm not paying you, my dad's not paying you." She found one of his nipples with the pad of her thumb. It was an accident, but his sharp intake of breath suggested it had been a good one. She smiled then, kissing his neck, realizing she'd found something he liked.
"Claire," he whispered. "There are other people besides your father I'm accountable to as far as your care."
"You're caring for me just great," she murmured, trailing a path of kisses lower along his collarbone to his chest. He was hard, sinewy even. Shifting on his lap, she noticed that his chest wasn't the only hard part about him. It was frightening, but in a way she didn't quite understand. She felt excited and other things. Her body was all about wanting him touching her. She just didn't know how to go about getting him to.
She found one of his nipples with her mouth. Whether he knew it or not, he was protecting her, helping to chase her dreams away. He was letting her focus on what was real, what her life was now. He was it for the time being. She had no one else and she couldn't live without contact. She always hugged her dad. She wanted that with her Haitian, too, just in a different way.
She shifted again, deliberately. She may never have been in this position before but she had instincts and his mumbled chanting told her they were spot on. Just as her teeth clamped over his erect nipple, hard and at attention because of her, he took hold of her and shifted them.
He was on top now. In charge. She saw the battle waging within reflected clearly in his eyes. He wanted but didn't think he should. Didn't think he deserved. She reached for his cheek at the same time he took hold of a few strands of her hair.
Hair once blonde was now dark brown in an effort to blend in. He'd assured her before dying it they'd change it back to its original color once it was safe. She'd done a double take more than once at her reflection.
Pressed against her as he was she could feel without a doubt he wanted her. While he had removed his shirt, he'd kept his pants on so when she slid her foot along his calf she didn't actually get to touch him. She focused instead on his chest and arms, the parts of him she was able to be skin to skin with.
"Did I do something wrong?"
He chuckled at that and shook his head. He brought the strands of hair he was holding to his cheek, sliding them along his face.
"No, Claire. You are too much for a man like me."
"I have never."
Her eyes widened, understanding entering her mind.
"My life, until now, has been my job. I've done little else. I am like you yet I work for the others so I'm an outsider to both sides."
"Not to me."
"You are the exception."
"Because you reached out to me."
His eyes were intense. She wasn't sure what was going on, but it felt like time was slowing to a crawl.
"So you've never? Any of it?"
"Not until the other night, no."
"Wow," she murmured, her eyes drifting to his mouth. For someone who didn't have experience he sure did fine.
"Just kissing and only once, and well, it was nothing. He was," she shrugged, her eyes widening as realization dawned on her. "You erased his memories. Brody. At the hospital. He tried to rape me. He did at least one other girl at school. That's why I crashed his car."
She saw recognition in his eyes.
"I did not know he'd hurt you."
"I would have killed him if I had known."
She smiled at that and laughed. She liked the idea that he would do that for her, felt that way about her. She raised a hand, tapping his lips with her finger. "Now, now, don't go killing people for me, please. You'd get caught and then I'd lose you. I think we both have a lot of nevers to make up for."
"You have plenty of time, would find someone else."
She shook her head and smiled, leaning up to kiss him. She didn't know how to explain it, describe it even. She liked him, was attracted to him. It was as simple as that, but there was more. A connection of some sort that went beyond protector and protectee. She didn't want to think of someone else, for either of them.
"I don't want someone else."
"Shh," she whispered, kissing him again. He gave in then, she could feel his resolve diminishing as he deepened the kiss. She'd heard of time standing still, the earth stopping on its axis and all sorts of clich for what happened when women get toe-curling kisses. She'd always thought those things sounded so dumb. Time didn't really stand still and the earth kept spinning as usual.
She understood now, though. It wasn't so much that those things were really happening. It was that for that moment, as long as the kiss lasted there was nothing else. No worries, no cares, no anything. Just him and her and their mouths, fused together doing erotic dances that made both her mind and body ache for more.
And he kissed her so thoroughly. It made her feel giddy, which she'd always thought was a dumb way to get over a guy. Evidently, she just hadn't met the right guy because she was all about the giddiness now.
She gasped, her lips parting more, letting him deeper into her mouth when she felt his hand at a breast. He was tentative, which was fine. So was she. Every touch, every kiss, every movement she was doing was pure instinct. It was nice to know he seemed as unsure as she was.
His thumb grazed her peak and she cried out, both from surprise and the arousal that burst through her like a fire bolt. Had he done that with just his hand? Apparently, he took her sound for something other than the approval it was and drew his hand away.
"Oh, God, no, don't."
She chuckled, kissing his lower lip. "It was good. I just didn't know."
"Yes," she said, looking into his eyes. She grazed his nipple with the back of her hand. "Do you like when I do that?"
His eyes clouded before drooping a little. Yeah, he liked it.
"You know I do."
"So, why would you think I wouldn't like it?"
"Your experience was with someone who tried to rape you, Claire."
"You're not him and I can tell the difference. I'm not ready for sex, I don't think you are either. You're still too scared of me."
"I am not."
She smiled then. He wasn't as offended as he would like her to believe he was. "Well, whatever you call it. I may not be ready, but that doesn't mean you can't touch me."
"If I touch you."
"I imagine one of these times I'll be ready. I'll let you know. Until then, I like knowing you're here, that if I have a dream I can turn to you."
"I know you shouldn't. I know you want to stay in the other room, and maybe I'll get to the point that I won't have them anymore. That would be super nice."
He smiled at that. "Yes, it would. My heart cannot take much more of hearing you cry out as you do. Knowing I am the one who took your father from you. The guilt I feel over that is quite tremendous."
Her eyes widened. "But he asked you to. You know, I know, there was no other way. He had to look innocent."
"You are too logical sometimes. It would seem we both have thoughts, memories in our brains we would like to brush aside."
"Funny, you can take memories away but can't erase your own."
"I would not even if I could."
"I know. I couldn't do it to you anyway. No matter who told me to."
The mood had changed, he must have sensed it, too, because he slid beside her, gathering her to him. She drew the covers around her.
"Try and get more sleep now, Claire."
"After that? You expect me to sleep."
"I should be the one to say such things. One day I hope to show you what you do to me."
She snuggled against him, an arm sliding around his waist in a subconscious effort to keep him close.
He kissed her, a light brush of his lips. The sensuality of their earlier kisses was missing but it was still a nice one. Definitely something she'd get used to having more, lots more, of.