I cradle his head in my hands and lift it from my shoulder, then press up on my tip-toes to kiss him in a way I haven’t done since that evening in the wine cellar of St. Abbott’s Monastery. A hand clutches my waist, while the other dives in my hair. The kiss is ravenous. He feeds hungrily on my mouth, as I do on his, the two of us devouring one another’s flavor as a street urchin might food after being too long deprived. Suddenly, both his hands are on my waist, and he’s lifting me away from him, our lips separating with a loud pop. He wipes a shaking hand over his mouth, discretely removing my lipstick from his lips while fighting to catch his breath.
“Laura, I think it would be best if we stop—“
I don’t let him finish the sentence, stepping back to him.
“Don’t think,” I answer. “Isn’t that what you’re always telling me? Don’t think,” I urge again, “Just feel.”
My skin’s already on fire, my panties damp, at just the thought of feeling his hands on my bare skin, feeling his skin under mine. I make my intentions clear, trailing kisses along his neck as my fingers release one button after another on his shirt. His hands grab at mine, stilling them.
“I don’t want to start something we won’t finish, Lau-ra,” he tries again, lengthening my name the way he does when perturbed with me or trying to get my attention. “Unless I use your bathroom, the nearest cold shower is several mi—“
“You won’t need one,” I interrupt to promise.
He doesn’t believe me. Can I blame him? How many times now have our evenings ended with me rushing out the door when things heated up? So, I make my intentions clear by doing something I’ve never done with him before: I push back up on my toes, kissing him, as I reach between our bodies and caress his burgeoning erection through his pants. His body shudders at my touch, then, with a groan of half-need, half-relief, he wraps his arms around me and crushes me to him, taking control of the kiss, slowing it down until he’s once more tantalizing me with those tender, breathtaking movements of his lips against mine. My hands are on the move again, tugging his shirt from beneath his belt and unbuttoning it the rest of the way. He gasps against my mouth when I drag my fingers from throat to belt.
“Not here. The bedroom,” he mumbles gruffly against my lips, then his settle over mine again.
Somehow, we make it up the stairs with our lips barely parting and I’ve managed to ease his tuxedo jacket off his shoulders. With a careless shrug, it drops to the floor midway up the steps. The fastidious Mr. Steele is seemingly unconcerned with wrinkles at the moment. Who am I to judge? I couldn’t care less. But there’s some housekeeping to do first, and although I’m kiss dazed this is not something I’m willing to ignore, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
“Have you been checked out by a doctor recently?” I ask against his lips, as my fingers work on removing his cufflinks. He hums a yes against my lips, but must sense that isn’t enough.
“Clean bill of health,” he assures between kisses. “You?”
“There hasn’t…” I stumble, my skin flushing. I had been prepared to ask the question but not answer it. I’m by no means a virgin. I’ve lived with a man, for God’s sake. But since I arrived home one day and found out that man had left without warning, I’d sworn men, in general, off. Until him. Until now. “The same,” I answer instead, refusing to divulge there had been one since Wilson.
I feel him nod, as I remove the last cufflink, tucking the pair into his pants’ pocket. His shirt drops to the floor and I tear my mouth from his, wanting to taste him, trailing lips and tongue along his neck. He throws his head back to give me more access, and seconds later I feel my belt slacken then hear it hit the floor.
“Condoms?” I manage to ask.
“Wallet,” he confirms.
I know I should be relieved. I went off the pill after Wilson left me as it seemed a pointless waste of money. His preparedness prevents us from having to stop and run to the drugstore for protection. But I can’t help wondering if those condoms were tucked away with the hopes we’d cross this line one day soon or if they were for some nameless faceless woman… women... he may or may not have met yet. The thought makes my stomach clench so I shove it aside and return my mind to the business at hand.
I drag my fingers through his thick, lush chest hair, fulfilling one fantasy, but there’s dozens more to go. I kick off my heels which only serves to emphasize our height difference. In short order, I feel his fingers tugging down the zipper of my dress. Strapless, it slithers down my body leaving me in only a black, also strapless, bra, matching black panties and a pair of stockings as it was too warm out for a full pair of hose. I kick the dress aside, and return my attention to exploring his well-toned, attractive torso with my hands and mouth. This time it’s me who grabs his hands when I feel them move to the clasp of my bra. I shake my head while looking up at him, distracted for a second by how his eyes have darkened several shades and his irises have grown large from desire.
“You first,” I insist.
He seems surprised, but doesn’t argue and his gaze follows my every move as I kneel down to help relieve him of shoes then socks. His eyes travel over my body as I stand and I can’t help noticing his hands clenched at his sides, as though it is taking great effort to keep from touching me as he wants. I’m no more capable of stopping the smile that spreads across my face than I am of keeping the next day from dawning. My self-confidence soars with that unconscious action alone and I let the old Laura out to play. My Mr. Steele isn’t Wilson. This I instinctively know. There would be no ‘not there’, ‘don’t do that’ or ‘you’re out of control,’ coming from him. To that end, I dip a couple of fingers under the waistband of his pants and tease, laughing huskily when I feel his stomach muscles tauten.
“Lau-ra.” He draws out my name in his impatience, well aware of what I am doing, not that I’m keeping it a secret.
Using his shoulders as leverage I seek his lips with mine. Subtly, he widens his stance to lessen our height difference and give our mouths more contact. One of his arms snakes around my waist, his fingers clenching it, while he wraps the other arm below my shoulders, freeing my hands. I make good use of them, unbuckling his belt then unlatching his pants and sliding the zipper down. When my hand slips inside to play with his glutes, he gives a guttural moan, his fingers digging into my waist and deepening the kiss. Growing impatient myself, I move my lips to below his ear, teasing a spot with lips and tongue that leaves him muttering God’s name. With another smile lifting my lips, I tug his pants over his hips and he kicks them aside when they pool at his feet.
He’s wearing briefs. I should have known, I think to myself. An impeccable dresser, he wouldn’t wear boxers and risk unsightly gathers beneath his tuxedo pants. His rigid erection is compressed by the tight, elasticized material, but the outline is easily made out and I cup him one last time before sinking to my knees, unplanned, and anxiously remove this last piece of clothing. He springs free and I am at once intimidated and fascinated.
I dare a peek up at him and find intense blue eyes staring down at me. I let my gaze travel slowly over him, from head to toe, then tip my head back to look him in the face again.
“You truly are a gorgeous man,” I compliment. And he is. If his legs weren’t a bit on the slim side, he’d be absurdly perfect. That one, single flaw, as minor as it is, makes him even more appealing to me. As does the stunned smile that’s plastered on his face. He didn’t expect such a compliment from me, it appears, and is supremely touched by the words.
I want to see the look on his face the first time I really touch him, so I keep my eyes on him as I reach out and take him in hand. He flinches, then sucks in a deep breath as his eyes grow dazed with relieved rapture. Only then do I turn my attention back to the task at hand. Granted, my own little black book only holds a few names, three to be precise, but none of those men had been as well-endowed as he… or uncircumcised. His erection is heavy, thick and long, hence the intimidation, but I am too caught up in exploring this piece of him for that feeling to take hold. I marvel at his shaft’s warmth, at how anything could be so hard yet soft at once. I experiment, my hand moving up his length to gently ease back the foreskin, revealing the engorged head. I circle my thumb over his cap.
“Christ, Laura,” he grates out from between clenched teeth.
His hands reach for me, grasping me by the arms, trying to urge me to my feet. I easily slip away and impulsively run my tongue along the underside of his erection then circle the tip with my tongue before taking him into my mouth. He sways on his feet and one of his hands tangle in my hair. I freeze. This is not something I’ve done much for a man. Wilson hated it, claiming I was degrading myself by the action. The only other man I’d done it for was my college professor, who’d ended up guiding my head with his hand while pumping into my mouth. My throat was bruised for a week, an experience I don’t care to repeat. Yet, I can’t count how many nights I’ve fantasized about doing this for my Mr. Steele.
“You don’t have to,” he breathes.
I release his tip from my mouth and look up at him from under my lashes. His face is strained, his chest rising and falling rapidly, his free hand clenched at his side. I swear he’s blushing and I get the distinct impression this is not part of his usual sexual repertoire. I nearly laugh aloud at the thought he might not be willing to risk this particular piece of his anatomy to a pair of the teeth belonging to someone he barely knew. I give his erection another stroke with my hand and watch him pant.
“I want to,” I assure him. “Do you want me to?” I continue to stroke him, stopping here and there to caress his cap with my thumb, to give his sacs a gentle squeeze. Long seconds pass before he finally answers.
“You?” he gasps. “God, yes.”
I smile up at him, then focus on fulfilling one of my fantasies with him… and apparently one of his own. His hand remains in my hair as I lick, nibble and suck, but he never attempts to guide me. I take my time, knowing it won’t take much to push him over the edge. With my free hand, I explore his slim legs, his firm bum. After several minutes of this, I settle in and find a rhythm using both my mouth and hand, and soon he’s calling my name over and over, as he explodes into my mouth. I swallow every drop and am thrilled I was able to do this for him. When I release him, he falls to his knees in front of my and pulls me into his embrace.
“That was…” He kisses me again, leaving the thought unfinished. “I’ve dreamt of you…” He wraps his arms tighter around me, nibbles on my lips. “I never expected…” Another thought left unfinished. I smile and weave my fingers through his hair. Embracing his head in my hands, I draw him to me and we kiss at length. He seems confused when I stand after our lips part. I yank the comforter and sheet to the bottom of my bed.
“Get in,” I order softly. “I’ll be right back.”
His eyes follow me, as I go downstairs to secure the latch on my front door. I stop to take a long drink of my now cold tea, then turn off the lights downstairs. Housekeeping finished, I pick up his tuxedo jacket on my way back up the stairs, fishing through the pockets until I locate his wallet. Hanging his jacket over the railing, I drop the wallet on my nightstand, before joining him in bed, straddling his waist. A smile lights his face, his hands grasping my hips. I bend over and kiss him.
I take my time familiarizing myself with his body. I discover his inner thighs are ticklish, and if I press my fingers firmly between the fourth and fifth rib on his right side, he laughs and jerks away from my hand. I can make him moan by suckling his skin right below his left ear, and he clutches me to him when I do the same to any spot on his collar bone. The tip of my tongue drawn down his neck sends shivers over his skin, a nibble of his nipples leaves him bucking beneath me and grabbing at pillows and sheets. Love bites on his thighs wrench deep, guttural moans from his throat, and when done on his delicious bum, he’s left mumbling my name and God’s alternately. My fingers drawn through the hair of his head leaves him unconsciously leaning into my hand as though he is starving for this display of affection, and when I run those same fingers through his chest hair, his eyes focus on my face as he absorbs the emotions, reactions found there. He hides nothing from me, but when I reach for his again rigid shaft, he captures my hands and shakes his head.
“Laura, please.” He draws out each word.
Apparently, he’s had enough and wants his turn with my body now. Who am I to deny him? He has, after all, been extremely patient as I’ve taken my fill of his, though it’s not been nearly enough. I nod from where I sit astride him. He sighs and his body shudders with relief beneath me. His hand glides up my back and fumbles with the clasp of my bra. I see irritation with himself flash in his eyes, his hands not nearly as steady as he wishes them to be. I feel the hooks give, and he wraps me in his arms, pulling me down against him before he rolls us, so that now I lay on my back. Sometime during the movement, my bra has disappeared, yet he doesn’t reach for my breasts immediately. Instead, he takes his time, much like I did with him, learning all facets of my body.
But first, he feels the need for a bit of equality it seems, kneeling by my feet and removing each stocking ever so slowly, his lips and tongue lathing every last inch of skin as it is bared. I can’t stop myself from writhing on the bed. He’s driving me crazy and he’s come nowhere near either of the most pertinent parts of my body. A crooked grin settles over his face when he brushes a hand over the dampened crotch of my panties. Not only am I already hot and wet, but his touch makes me lift my hips so my mound presses against his hand. I think he might have a bit of pity on me. I was wrong. He slowly works my panties down my legs, his lips trailing after them, purposefully avoiding the place I most want his mouth. I grunt in dissatisfaction, and he laughs deeply at my wordless complaint.
Stripped bare before him now, he stretches out on his side next to me, tracing the tip of a finger over the freckles spattering my shoulders and sternum. He seems fascinated by them, devoting a good deal of time to their exploration, then, much as I had, his eyes traveled slowly over my body.
“My god, you’re beautiful,” he breaths.
The way he says the words combined with the look in his eyes makes me believe I am exactly that to him. I flush from the heady pleasure of it all. Observant as he is, he doesn’t, of course, miss the sudden pinkening of my skin and he’s touched by it, if the kiss he gives me is any indication. Our lips don’t part until he stretches his long, lithe frame over mine, settling between my legs when I spread them for him. I suck in a hard, fast breath when his heavy erection lays against my center. I don’t have time to think about this, however, because he unleashes a storm of sensation across my body. I’m amazed by how active he keeps us, starting out with me on my back, then my stomach, then side and finally ending with me straddling his lap as he sits on the edge of the bed. Every position gives him the access to my body he is wanting, and he does with me as he pleases, with my blessing. By the time he’s done, he’s learned every one of my body’s secrets, and exploits them at will to bring me the most pleasure. I wrap my arms around his neck and tuck my head into his shoulder, having been rendered a quivering mass of flesh, already brought to climax twice, once by his mouth, then this last time by his hands. I burrow my fingers in his hair and pull his head down for a long, lingering kiss and he, in turn, rolls us over, until I lie stretched out on top of him.
It’s time for us to finish what we’ve begun as neither of our bodies are up to prolonging it any further. I straddle his hips, as he intends me to do, then lean over and grab his wallet off the nightstand, handing it to him. He fishes out two condoms, handing me one. I’m nervous, thinking about the mechanics of it all, and absent mindedly rip open the foil packet I suddenly find in my possession. It takes me several seconds to realize he’s stretched an arm across the bed to return the second condom and wallet to the nightstand. I find his eyes watching me and I shake my head. Tossing the foil wrapping aside, I hold out the condom to him.
“Maybe you should…” I explain, refusing to volunteer my hands are simply not steady enough to do the job. Not to mention, I’m long out of practice. My mind circles back around to the source of my sudden nerves. I don’t think I’m capable of taking control of this, our first time together. There’s balancing, not leaning too heavily on him, setting the rhythm… not to mention it’s been a long time for me and given his considerable package, I suspect there will be some discomfort for me at first.
I’m distracted again, as I watch him adeptly roll the condom onto his shaft with practiced hands. I’m shocked to discover I feel disconsolate at the action. I am by no means immune to jealousy. Prone to it, actually, where my Mr. Steele is concerned. I don’t want to think about how many women he’s been with since he entered my life, or how long it’s been since he took his last lover. I may pretend I’m okay with him addressing his physical needs elsewhere, but given the clenching of my heart now, I have to admit that I’m not. Somewhere along the way, I’m not sure when, I’d claimed him as my own and I discover I desperately want him to tell me that he is.
Thankfully, he reaches up and tugs my head down for a kiss, interrupting my morose thoughts. As soon as our lips make contact a jolt of pure need makes my body tremor. I slide my arms around his neck, and urge him to roll over until he is on top of me again. When our lips part, I see he’s been caught off guard but pleased. It’s unlike me to willingly concede control of anything, especially when it’s important and this, our first time, is monumental. I trail my lips over his chest as he reaches between us to position himself at my entrance. He pauses, and waits until I drop my head to the bed then brushes my hair off my face with his fingertips. My hands caress his back, his shoulder and our eyes meet, hold.
“I feel as though I’ve waited a lifetime for you,” he whispers.
“I feel the same,” I confess. I, however, don’t mean for us to finally consummate this relationship of ours, as he likely does. I mean for him to appear in my life. As crazy as he might make me at times, he completes my life somehow. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to envision him leaving without sadness consuming me.
He kisses me, then presses forward, mumbling my name against my lips. My fingers dig into his back, my back arches, and I hiss in a breath as I bite my lower lip. He stills, then leans down and rests his forehead against mine.
“Laura,” he whispers my name, but can’t hide his concern.
“I’m alright,” I assure him, stroking his back to prove it. “Just give me a second.” His head nods against mine.
I take a minute to pant. He waits for me, peppering my face with touches of his lips. I will my muscles to relax and when they finally do I wriggle against him, a hint that he should move. He retreats then thrusts a bit deeper this time. I feel my body stretch to accommodate him. It’s not as uncomfortable this time, but, like the gentleman he always is, he stills again. When I’m ready, I tilt my hips and press upwards, taking him in to the hilt this time. A shiver courses over me as he fills me in that way only a man can.
“My God,” he murmurs, bowing his head and resting it against my shoulder to do some panting of his own this time. “I can’t quite believe this is happening,” he murmurs, sounding as dazed as he claims to me.
“Me either, but it is,” I whisper against his lips, the thread my fingers through his hair and press his head downwards to kiss him again.
He begins to move, experimenting until he finds that place where I am most sensitive, and focusing on it, establishes a rhythm meant to bring me bliss or drive me out of my mind, I’m not sure which. I wrap my legs around his thighs, my hips moving in conjunction with his. I’m close, so close, already. He seems to know it, and arches his back so his mouth can lathe and suckle my breast. I shatter around him, my muscles clenching his shaft so hard, that I vaguely hope it’s not hurting him I guess not, when he moves faster, and lips trail down my neck, leaving heat in their wake. I bite my lip, trying to be silent, but I first moan, then whisper some deity based oaths. I haven’t even recovered from my first orgasm, when he wraps his arms around me and rolls us over, until I’m on top again. This time, there is no hesitation, and I rise and fall against him, circling my hips now and again, as my fingers tangle in his chest hair and I rake my nails softly over his nipples while his hands caress my breast, abdomen, squeeze my bottom. In only a few minutes, I am hovering on the edge of bliss again and am guessing his staying power is waning based on how his hands are grasping my hips, while he pumps his beneath me. I feel the familiar tightening and can’t stop myself from crying out this time.
“Oh my God, Remington!”
It’s the first and only time I’ve ever used that name for him aloud, although that is who he is to me in my dreams, and for a second my hips falter, wondering how he’ll feel that I’ve attached the name to him without permission. I should have thought to ask what name he’d prefer before—
The thought ends when he presses up onto his elbow and uses his free hand to pull my head down to his, kissing me with such tender thoroughness that I am left with not a single doubt the use of that particular name had meant the world to him. Three more thrusts of our hips and I am soaring and only one more beyond that has him shouting my name while he presses as deep within me as he can. The feel of his shaft twitching within me, of his body shuddering with utter bliss beneath my hands, prolongs my orgasm. When it ends, I collapse on top of him, trying to catch my breath.
“Good God, Laura,” he pants, then busses me atop my head. His hands are on the move, caressing my back, my sides, running through my hair, trying to soothe my body.
When I finally stop quaking, I leave his embrace so he can dispose of the condom in the garbage can next to the bed and use a couple of tissues to clean himself off. When he stretches back out on his side next to me, he reaches for me, pulling me into his embrace and weaving our legs together. My head rests on his shoulder where he has easy access to my lips, which he uses frequently. We stare at one another, both sated, for now, and still processing what’s just happened between us. He can’t stop touching me, brushing feather like strokes across my face with his fingertips, over my neck, bussing my forehead, cheek. I am no less hungry to maintain contact, the intimate air that surrounds us, fingering his jaw, caressing his chest, his neck. My eyes grow heavy and sleep threatens to drag me away.
“Laura, I need to tell you…” My eyes fly open. He stumbles then tries again. “I want you tell you that I—“ I press my finger against his lips, cutting of the words while shaking my head.
“Don’t,” I request quietly. “If you’re about to tell me you can make no promises beyond today—“ He opens his mouth to lodge a protest I think, given the scowl knitting his brows together, but I shake my head again and he stops, allowing me to continue. I start again. “If you’re about to tell me you can make no promises beyond today, you don’t need to. I didn’t sleep with you to pry a commitment out of you. If that’s not what you’re going to say, but are planning to make some grand announcement about your feelings for me, whatever those may be, I’d rather you didn’t because I’ll only wonder if those feelings were nothing more than an aberration brought on by mind blowing sex.” When he looks prepared to argue, I lay my fingertips against his jaw and add, “Please.”
Seconds tick by as he stares at me, mulling my request, then finally he gives me a reluctant nod before bending his head down to kiss me again.
“You’re everything I ever imagined and so much more,” he says instead. I touch my lips to his again and smile.
“It was good, wasn’t it?” I smile at his affronted look.
“Good?’ he repeats, pretending offense. I tuck my face against his neck, inhaling his warm, woodsy smell. “That’s akin to saying Royal Lavulite is just a pretty rock, the Hope Diamond is merely another trinket, the Mona Lisa a fairly decent piece of art or …”
I’m lulled to sleep by the sound of his rich voice, the hand gently cradling the back of my head, and the fingers stroking my neck.
It’s a little after one when I wake, and I hold my breath as I open my eyes, afraid it might have been yet another of the hundreds of dreams I’ve had before. But it’s not. He’s here, holding me the same way he was when we fell asleep. I nuzzle closer to him, absorbing his heat and press my lips against his neck. He stirs, the fingers resting against my neck moving underneath my chin, nudging it upwards, so he can kiss me. I shiver at the touch of his mouth to mine and the memories of our earlier lovemaking sets my body on fire. He deepens the kiss and we make love again in this position, where we can touch and kiss to our hearts content. I barely manage to keep my eyes open while he disposes of the second condom. When he stretches out on his side again, and urges me to turn so he can spoon his body around mine, I willingly mold myself into his lean frame. The last thing I remember before sleep steals me away again is his hand reaching for mine, weaving our fingers together, as he presses a kiss to my shoulder.
I have no idea what time it is when he nuzzles his face against my neck, his beard pleasantly scraping against my skin. I roll to my back, and he lifts my hair off my shoulder, before caressing my cheek with the back of his fingers.
“I didn’t want you to wake and find me gone,” he tells me quietly. My brows knit together as my sleep soaked brain tries to comprehend what he’s telling me.
“Where are you going?” I manage to ask, my words slurring together as I’m not quite awake.
“Home. We’ve a meeting with Stevenson at eight, if you recall, and I can’t very well show up in my tux.” It takes several seconds for me to digest this. “The woman who runs the joint will be quite cross with me should I show up late in order to catch a few more winks with the lovely woman beside me.”
“You can’t change at the office?” He gives me a sheepish look.
“I’m afraid I’ve been a bit remiss about bringing a spare suit with me to the office, since I used the last during our most recent encounter with Descoin.” I can’t help feeling disappointed, as I wanted nothing more than to return to sleep in his embrace. Still, he’s correct. Stevenson’s confidence in the Agency might be shaken if the alleged owner and boss showed up for the meeting in a tux.
“Alright,” I concede. He leans over and kisses me, then turns over and gets out of bed. I roll to my side, watching him dress, fighting the urge to surrender to sleep again, although the sight of him in all his glory is a potent stimulant.
“Do you know where my cufflinks are?” he inquires. I snort a little laugh. Even at, I glance at the clock, three o’clock in the morning, my fastidious Mr. Steele has to be properly dressed to drive the ten minutes it will take for him to get to the Rossmore.
“In your pants’ pocket,” I provide. He reaches into his pocket and retrieves them, then once his cuffs are secure, pulls on his jacket and hangs the bowtie around his neck. He rakes his hands through his hair, and it annoyingly falls back into place except for one lock that insistently hangs down over his forehead. Shoving his wallet into the pocket of his jacket, he sits down on the edge of bed and cups my cheek with a hand. For the longest of time, he simply stares at me.
“My God, I don’t want to leave you,” he tells me, sounding awed by the fact. The words warm my heart and I can’t help but smile. He leans down and kisses me then stands, surprised when I tug the sheet off the bed and wrap it around me.
“I have to lock the door behind you,” I remind him.
At the door, he gathers me to him and kisses me again, then trails his fingertips over my cheek, reluctant to leave.
“Have you any idea what tonight means to me?” The quiet intensity of his words, the sentiment making his blue eyes burn bright as he looks at me, are so sincere my hand laying against his shoulder contracts. I’m afraid of reading too much into what he’s said, given the afterglow of a night of great sex still surrounds us.
“I wouldn’t dare hazard a guess,” I answer pertly, softening the words with a smile and by drawing a hand through his hair. The corner of his mouth quirks upwards then returns to its normal state so quickly you’d have missed it in the span of a blink. He recognizes an evasive maneuver on my part when he sees it, and that particular response indicates he’s amused he’s made me nervous.
“Laura, you will see me in a few hours,” he promises. Another sign he knows me far too well, that reassurance. With his departure, the old fears have begun to creep back in. I wonder if I’d feel more secure if I’d woken to him in the morning, rather than seeing him to the door in the middle of the night.
“Alright,” I answer, drawing the word out. “Then I’ll see you at the office.” He brushes his lips against my cheek, and nods somberly.
“With bells on…”
With those words, he unlatches the door then steps through it, turning to give me one last look before he goes. I close and bolt the door, then return to my bedroom, bereft that I wouldn’t be waking in the morning next to him. I climb back into bed and curl myself around the pillow his head had been resting on, letting his scent sooth me back to sleep.