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Slow and Steady

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In some ways, the nights were easier. No one was watching - well, the cameras in the ceiling were always watching, but Hartono and his goons were nowhere in sight - and all was peaceful, and still, and quiet. She couldn't see his eyes when they lay together in that bed, couldn't see him watching her with that gentle, speculative heat that sent a shiver coursing down her spine. Couldn't see the broad expanse of his chest, the rippling muscles that called to her, couldn't hear that voice soft and deep and warm as honey. When darkness fell Jen didn't have to think about any of it, not the way she'd been plucked out of Fraud and forced into a stranger's life, not the way she and Nick fit together so easily, as if they truly were married, truly meant to be together.

She didn't know him, not really, and she had to remind herself of that at every turn. She didn't know his last name, didn't know where he'd come from, if he were SIS or a copper like her, roped in for reasons passing understanding but mostly having to do with their physical resemblance to the real life Trish and Wesley. It was harder than she'd expected, to keep it all separate; she knew how he took his tea and which side of the bed he preferred, could recognize the touch of his hand against the small of her back or the cadence of his footfalls without even seeing him. Jen knew his favorite foods and his favorite footy team and that he was fond of any activity that involved being sweaty and outdoors. The list of things she knew about Nick was all but endless, only matched by the list of things she didn't know. Where had he grown up? Gone to school? Did he have any siblings? Any ex-lovers for her to feel irrationally jealous about? What was his story, this mystery man who rested behind her now, his body curved around her in sleep?

In some ways the nights were easier, but in some ways, they were infinitely harder. Nick always slept like a log; he'd start out on his back, but at some point in the night he would inevitably reach for her, one strong arm snaking out around her waist, drawing her back against his solid bulk. And it was for this, and many other reasons besides, that Jen had not had a decent night's sleep in two months. It wasn't just that he was handsome, with a sweet face and a body that made her heart race; Nick was thoughtful, and practical, but clever, too, a man who could make her laugh and soothe her heart all at once. From the moment they met they had faced this new reality of theirs together, hand-in-hand; he had reached for her, that first night, when they sat upon the bed planning their next move, and engulfed her hand in his much larger one.

I know you don't know me yet, Jen, he'd told her then, but I promise you, whatever happens, I will do my best to keep you safe. We're in this together, you and me.

And though Jen knew it was folly, to let herself be so overcome with yearning for this man she could not ever hope to claim, she had taken his hand, and she had not really let him go.

There was no one waiting for her, when she got back from this assignment - whenever that might be. Her last relationship had ended disastrously, and she had not found another man to tempt her since. Until now, until Nick, this man who seemed to know her, inside and out. Their relationship was just an act, she knew, a carefully fabricated lie, but she could not sleep for wanting him.

Behind her Nick shifted, drawing closer to her still, and then something happened she had never anticipated, something that took all her carefully cultivated reasons for keeping her distance from him and set them ablaze.

Nick leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss against her bare shoulder, just beside the thin strap of the lightweight vest she wore to sleep in before settling himself deeper into the pillows with a soft sigh of contentment. Jen couldn't help herself, a sharp little gasp escaping her at the touch of his lips, her heart suddenly pounding so hard she was certain he could hear it.

What the hell was that? She wondered, her mind turning feverishly. Until that moment she'd thought he was asleep; was he sleeping still, reaching for her in dreams and then retreating once more into shadows? Or was it something else? Had he known she was awake, and tried to press his luck?

She got her answer in an instant.

"Jen?" Nick asked uncertainly, his voice thick with exhaustion. He hadn't been sleeping then, she decided, but no doubt he'd thought she was. And wasn't it odd, that he should reach for her in such a moment, only allow himself to take such liberties when he thought she was sleeping, when he thought they wouldn't have to talk about it, wouldn't have to face the startling depth of affection that had welled up between them?

She was faced with a choice, now, a choice to confront the swirling torrent of longing that had brought them to this point or to brush it aside, to demand he keep his distance or fall at last into his arms. There were cameras and microphones pointed at them, and while Jen was reasonably certain they weren't being monitored too closely in the middle of the night, she knew someone was always watching. There was only so much she could say, only so much she could do, with SIS keeping a constant eye on them.

"Nick," she breathed, unsure of what to say, unsure of what she wanted more, to turn in his arms and kiss him senseless or to admonish him for his lapse in judgement. The urge to kiss him was winning out, at present.

"I'm sorry," he murmured softly, though he made no attempt to move away from her, though she felt the wash of his breath, warm and tempting, against the back of her neck.

In that moment Jen felt herself balanced on the edge of a knife with no way of knowing which way she might fall. But it was dark, and it was quiet, and her body burned.

"I'm not," she whispered.

Behind her Nick drew in a sharp breath and she waited, tense and taut as a bowstring, to see how he might respond.

And respond he did, though he moved slowly, so slowly she began to tremble for want of him. His hand flattened out, his palm pressed hard against her stomach, drawing her back into him until she could feel the insistence of his erection against her bum. She gasped, just a little, at the feel of him, at the heady knowledge that he wanted her, just as she wanted him, that he too had been lying awake, unable to sleep for longing.

"You must know how I feel about you, Jen," Nick whispered, brushing her hair aside with his nose so that his lips could drop a tender kiss at the nape of her neck. "Tell me you know. Tell me you feel the same way about me."

And oh, how she wanted to tell him; she wanted to tell him how he made her smile, for the first time in what felt like years. Wanted tell him how safe he made her feel, how cherished. Wanted to tell him how every night for the last two months she'd fallen into uneasy dreams of his lips, his arms, his hands upon her skin. That he could possibly have felt the same way about her seemed a gift too good to be real, a blessing she could not deny. Just the touch of his hand against her stomach over her thin vest was enough to ignite an ache between her legs she was certainly only Nick could sate, and so she told him, in her own quiet way.

"I know," she answered him, not daring to speak too loudly lest the microphones pick up her quiet confession. "I do." Jen only prayed it was enough; even in the dead of night she could not tell him everything, not yet, not now when she did not even know his name, did not know what their future might hold.

It was enough for Nick, though, for he released a sound that was very nearly a growl and began to move at once. Slowly that broad strong hand trailed down her stomach, slipping beneath her top to rest against her skin. He lingered there, unmoving, the heat of his skin against her own setting her ablaze. Careful, now, she told herself, knowing they could not afford to move too much, to go too far, not with the cameras overhead. They would have to be slow, have to keep their hands and bodies tucked beneath the duvet as they were now. She eased herself back against him, the lines and curves of her slotting into place against the solid heat of his chest, her bum pressing more firmly into the hollow he'd made for her when he curved around her, the smooth skin of her calf brushing against his leg as she tangled their limbs together beneath the duvet. This seemed to be encouragement enough for Nick, for he kissed her again, and ever so slowly his hand began to rise.

It was torture, death by centimeters, as his fingertips ghosted across her skin, dancing across her belly and leaving her shivering with want of him. His hand was calloused and roughened from hard work; he'd spoken to her of the projects he'd done, the fulfillment he found in creating things with his own two hands, and she could feel the evidence of every minute he'd spent at those endeavors in the raspy scrape of his hand against her sensitive skin. She wanted to move, to touch him somehow, but she could not, could hardly even breathe as she waited to see where he would go, what he would do, what pleasure he could bring her, if only she let him, if only she lowered her guard and allowed him to see her as she truly was.

"You are so beautiful," he growled against her neck, craning his head so that he could catch the lobe of her ear between his teeth, a sharp sound of pleasure escaping her as she drowned in him, surrounded utterly by his heat, by his passion, by the strength of him.

He shushed her in low voice, even as his hand crested the swell of her breast, cradling her gently, savouring the moment. "You'll have to be quiet," he told her, an unwelcome reminder of just how precarious their position was. "Can you do that for me, Jen?"

Before she could answer him that hand moved, kneading her lightly, the scrape of his palm against the hardened bud of her nipple almost more than she could stand. A whimper escaped her, soft and low, and behind her, Nick just chuckled. Jen had imagined, more than once, how it might feel to have his hands upon her, and yet she had been utterly unprepared for this, the flood of emotions that washed over her even as the physical sensation of Nick catching her nipple between his fingertips, rolling it gently left her breathless and aching. Still he continued, slow and steady, building her higher and higher with no more than his hand upon her breast, until neither of them could bear it, until they both knew there had to be more. The press of his cock against her ass was insistent, and could not be ignored indefinitely, but it would seem Nick had other plans.

He moved her gently, drawing her back against him as he turned just enough to snake one arm beneath her. With his right hand he reached one more under her shirt and traced a path straight for her other, as yet neglected breast while with his left he toyed with the waistband of the soft shorts she'd worn to sleep in.

"Tell me to stop and I will," he breathed. He spoke so quietly that for one mad moment Jen was certain he hadn't spoken at all, that she had only heard his thoughts echoing in the vault of her own mind.

"Don't you dare," she answered him, turning her face against the pillow in a desperate bid to muffle any sounds she might make, once those fingers currently drawing circles around her hipbone began to move further down her body.

And move they did; Jen arched back against him, canting her hips to allow him better access as he reached beneath her shorts, his fingers drawing nonsense patterns through her sparse curls. And all the while his other hand lingered on her breast, teasing her still further, goosebumps erupting across her flesh as she trembled and shook in breathless anticipation. Never in all her life had Jen been this electrified by the touch of a man, this desperate; never had she ever been so surrounded by lust and heat and something that felt so dangerously like love.

It seemed to take an eternity, for his fingertips to reach her wetness, and when they did she gasped, just a little, felt his answering groan vibrating through her where his chest was pressed against her back. His lips settled in the crook of her shoulder, searing hot and wet and perfect, even as he began to trace the shape of her folds, spreading the wetness he found there, that evidence of her need of him, his hips thrusting shallowly against her, just the once, as if he had lost control of himself for a moment. And oh, how Jen wanted that, wanted the strength and the fury of him unleashed, to see him as he was, not the calm, controlled professional but the passionate, yearning man. They would have to make do tonight with whispers and hastily silenced moans, with movements slow and shallow so as not to draw attention. She could not allow herself the luxury of dreaming of more, and with his hands on her, cradling her sex and her breast while his lips left trails of fire upon her neck, she could hardly even imagine that more was possible.

"Christ, Jen," Nick muttered breathlessly behind her as he continued to caress her folds, all but dripping with want of him.

She wanted to reach behind her, to tangle her hands in his hair and hold him against her, to scrape her nails against his scalp, his back, his arms, to leave a mark of her own, but she would have to make do with this, and so she only pressed her hips back into him, her bum nudging against his cock through his shorts, arching her breast further into his palm. He surrounded her utterly, wrapped her up in his arms and his legs and his heat, and every inch of her tingled with breathless anticipation.

It was a lucky thing, that Nick still possessed enough common sense to guard his own movements, for Jen felt herself already lost on a sea of pleasure. He was careful not to move his arm too much or too fast, as he bent his wrist and ever so gently eased a single finger inside her. A whine borne of need lodged in the back of her throat but Jen struggled not to give it voice, desperate for this to continue, not to ruin the moment by making too much noise. His fingers were thick and long and perfect, and even just the one, curling inside her, thrusting so slowly she felt like to burst for longing, was almost more than she could bear. The heel of his palm ground down against her clit as that finger moved, thrusting slowly in and out, in and out, a second one joining it after a moment and drawing a sigh of relief from her lips, muffled by the pillow she'd buried her face in. Still Nick kissed her, tracing the lines of her neck, her jaw, the shell of her ear; she wanted nothing so much as to turn in his arms, to capture those lips with her own and drink him in, but she could not, dared not move, dared not risk drawing an end to this tryst before it had ever even begun.

Silence came easily to Nick, and he didn't pepper her with questions, didn't whisper commands in her ear; he held her steady, bound beneath the thick, corded muscle of his arms as his fingers delved within her, deeper, and deeper still, the hand that lingered on her breast clutching her fiercely, holding her tight to him as the heat within her bubbled up, hotter and hotter. Jen dared to glance down, her eyes following the path down her body beneath the duvet to the place where Nick's hand disappeared beneath her shorts, and she gasped again, as the relentless press of his hand against her tender heat forced her ever closer to the brink. No one had ever touched her like this, this slowly, this reverently, this methodically; Nick was in no hurry, not charging towards her release, not forcing her in any way, just stroking, thrusting, caressing every spot that made her tremble, just for the pleasure of it. His pace never wavered, just continued, again, and again, and again, until Jen lost herself in the rhythm of it, felt herself lifted up on a wave too strong, too fierce for her to fight; she caught the edge of the pillow between her teeth to stop the cry that longed to escape her as the tension became all but overwhelming. She yearned for that release, needed it more than her next breath, could think of nothing but the clenching of her muscles around his fingers, the scrape of his palm against her skin, the softness of his kisses against her neck, the smell of him enveloping her. Desperately she pressed her hips down against his hand, seeking something, anything to relieve that ache so sweet and sharp it nearly brought tears to her eyes.

"Come for me, Jen," Nick growled, sinking his teeth into the juncture of her shoulder just as he gave a particularly potent thrust of his hand, and Jen fell apart, trembling and shaking and whimpering, desperate to shout out in her abandon but knowing she could not, the sensation of her release all the more devastating when coupled with the heady the knowledge that they absolutely were not supposed to be doing this here, now, together.

She felt his smile against her neck as her heart thundered in her chest, the movement of his hand stilling as she shuddered in his arms. They were both still fully dressed and lying beneath the duvet, and to the eyes that watched them nothing of note had happened, but a titanic shift had just taken place deep within Jen's soul. She had allowed herself to admit just how much she felt for this man, had allowed him to touch her, to whisper his regard for her against her hair, and in the aftermath her heart was light and free and blissful as it had not been for such a long time she could hardly recall having ever been so happy.

With her face still tucked against the pillow she breathed his name, and in response he gave her breast one final squeeze before beginning to slide away from her.

"Wait," she whispered, reaching down to catch his hand in her own, his fingers still slick from her heat as they brushed against her skin.

"I'm not expecting anything," he murmured. How was it possible, she wondered, that a man as tall and strong and fierce as Nick could speak so quietly, so tenderly? He hardly moved his lips at all, and yet still she felt every word. "I just wanted to-"

"I want you, Nick," she answered.

She felt rather than heard his sharp intake of breath, the twitch of his cock against her backside. Though Jen wasn't entirely sure how they would manage it, lying still and silent, she was overcome with longing for him, and she could not bear the thought of him rolling away from her to lie awake unsated after what he had just done for her. She wanted more, wanted everything; in the harsh light of day they would both see how foolish it had been, to take such a risk, and she couldn't guarantee she would have another chance like this one. She was determined not to waste it.

With her hand still on his wrist she directed him to her hip, and together they carefully dragged her shorts and knickers both down until she could catch them with her toes, moving slowly, carefully, deliberately, until she was bare from the waist down. The restraint required to keep from spinning in his arms and throwing herself at him left her feeling as if she were being torn apart, but still she continued, inching her left hand back across her own waist, fumbling blind in search of his own shorts.

Nick kissed her shoulder gently and pushed her hand away, shifting ever so slightly so that he could do the job himself. It seemed to take an eternity, as he seemed unwilling to move either his hands or his hips more than a centimeter at a time, and all the while Jen was all but shaking, hungry for more of him, clenching her thighs together in a desperate bid to find some relief while she waited for him to finish.

And then at last he did, and that strong arm was snaking around her waist again, his hips settling back against her bum, this time with nothing to separate to her tender skin from his throbbing hardness. She could not see him, not his face or his cock or his hands, but she could feel him, and what she felt left her breathless.

"Are you sure?" he whispered, his lips close against her ear.

A breathy please was all she could muster in response, but it was more than enough for Nick. In a moment he was moving her again, the arm that had rested beneath her body slowly slipping away while his other hand ghosted across her stomach. He turned her smoothly, trying to make the movements unobtrusive, the natural shifting of strangers in sleep, the fingertips of his right hand trailing down her back over her vest, cresting the swell of her bum and lingering there for a moment, his hand flattening out to give her a gentle squeeze. Before she had been almost lying on her back against his chest, and now she was nearly lying on her stomach, but Nick had orchestrated the whole thing so brilliantly that even Jen had not really noticed just how much she had moved. For a moment she marveled at that, at the way he always seemed to know just what to do, at the confidence he exuded in every aspect of his life, but then his right hand was trailing further down, reaching between them to grasp his hardness, thrusting himself between her legs shallowly, the friction of his cock against her wetness sending shivers down her spine. Once agains she turned her face into the pillow, wrapping one hand around the thick muscles of his forearm where it rested against her stomach, the other fisting in the sheets beneath her.

She dared give one single thrust of her hips back against him, and in a moment she felt the head of his cock slowly slipping into her. A shudder passed through her at the sensation; he was thick and hot and stretching her deliciously already.

"All right?" he whispered.

"God, yes," she groaned quietly in response. Nick chuckled again, the sound of it vibrating through her everywhere they touched. With another shallow thrust of his hips he sank that much further into her, and she sighed against the pillow. His hand on her stomach held her firm and fast against the solid breadth of his chest, and the movement of his hips was shallow and languid and devastating in its intensity. As he found purchase against her his free hand moved, slipping between her body and the sheets and finding its way back to her breast, as if he could not bear to keep from touching her a single second longer. He kneaded her gently, his hand moving faster than his cock, her body on fire beneath his ministrations.

Christ, but she had never known it could be quite this good. Passion and fevered lust had always fueled her liaisons in the past, a frenzied race for completion, but this, this slow, steady, overwhelming sensation was something she'd never experienced before. Nick moved as if he'd be perfectly happy to make love to her for hours, and Jen's body trembled at the very thought. Though she dearly wished she could see his face she wasn't sure she'd be able to hold herself together if she did, wasn't sure she'd be able to maintain the ruse of innocent slumber if she could see the passion burning in his eyes.

Still he moved, thrusting deeper, and deeper still, his cock heavy and hard within her, his hands solid and sure as he held her. Jen closed her eyes and gave herself over to him utterly, allowed him to take her over, to guide her movements with his broad, strong hands, to delve into her again and again, to consume her whole. His lips danced against the nape of her neck, across her shoulders, his tongue reaching out to trace patterns against her sweat-slicked skin, and she shivered, fighting back a desperate, needy whine at the sensation.

Jen lost all sense of time and reason, as Nick continued to press into her, each quiet, measured stroke sending her careening closer and closer to the brink. He must have sensed she was near, for though the movement of his hips never faltered his left hand traced its way back through her curls, his fingertips intent on finding her clit, and then they did, and stars exploded behind her eyes. Nick's hand was hidden from the view of the cameras by Jen's own body, caught between her and the mattress, and so he set to with a will, massaging her faster and faster while still his measured strokes continued, and the endless press of his cock inside her, the furious rhythm of his fingertips, the harshness of his breath as he gasped against her back drove her to a point of delirium from which she could not recover. Jen shattered in his arms, burying her face against the pillow as she let out a sound that under any other circumstances would have been a scream, but still he did not stop. He seemed to determined to bring her to a height of pleasure she'd never before imagined, as still his hands and his cock continued their relentless pace, and she was forced from one climax to the next so quickly that she stopped breathing altogether, her body tense and tight and utterly beyond her control until at last she gave in.

Everything was hot and wet and perfect, her release so all consuming that lights danced behind her eyelids as behind her Nick gave into the siren song of her body, pressing into her again and again as he found his own release in the midst of hers, spilling into her with a groan muffled by her skin as he wrapped his lips around her shoulder. Jen might have been weeping, but she could not be sure, and she did not care. Her every muscle had turned to jelly, utterly unable to move, barely capable of thought, her chest heaving and her breathing so labored she had to move her head to the side to gasp for air. Behind her Nick held her still, his slowly softening cock clutching tight within her fluttering heat, kissing her as the last aftershocks of her release left her shaking and blissful.

His fingertips danced across her hips and her lower belly as he waited for both of them to calm, his touch tender and almost awestruck. When Jen finally got her breathing back under control she dared to turn in his arms, rolling over slowly, trying to make it appear as if she were still sleeping, while in truth her heart was racing. At last she came face to face with Nick, his eyes wide and full of wonder, of gentle affection, of want. Beneath the duvet she lifted her hand, pressing her palm flat against his wildly beating heart, her fingertips curling into the material of his soft vest.

"Nick," she whispered, trying with that one word to convey everything she was feeling, the contentment, the joy, the bite of fear nipping at her heels as the thought that she must some day leave this man tore at her heart.

Nick reached up and covered her hand with his own, giving her a gentle squeeze.

"I know," he answered softly. "I know."