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Healing Touch

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Felicity tried to sleep.

When she got home, she took one of the longest showers of her life - attempting to wipe away every trace of the night and the feeling of The Count’s hands that lingered on her skin.

It didn't work.

Every time she closed her eyes, she still felt his breath on her neck, his fingers trailing all too intimately through her hair, making her skin crawl, and she would wake with a gasp.

The tenth time it happened, she gave up, sitting in her bed. Her heart hammered in her chest as she rubbed her sweaty palms over her face, dragging deep breaths in and out of her lungs. Her eyes burned with unshed tears that she refused to let fall.

With a weary gaze around her darkened room, she mapped the familiar objects, hating how the little things jumped at her, making her question herself. The Count had robbed her of something tonight. He’d taken her sense of security - the safety she felt even in her own home was gone, and she wondered if she’d ever fully get it back.

Flipping on her bedside lamp, she waited until the room was bathed in light before she pushed the covers back and climbed from her bed.

She would not be sleeping.

Grabbing a throw off the end of her bed, she slipped it around her shoulders and padded into the living room.

The low glow from a nightlight in the corner of the room shed enough light for her to find the remote to the television. She hadn't been able to get into bed without leaving some light on in her apartment. The Count seemed to lurk in every dark corner, waiting with his beady eyes and slick voice that oozed a mixture of crazy and confidence.

Curling herself into a corner of her couch, she turned on the tv. The artificial light splashed across her face and she flipped through the channels until she found a late night rerun. A small smile pulled at her lips as one of the characters made a face and she settled further into the cushions, letting a fantasy world chase away her real world demons.

She dozed off a few times, jerking awake to the feeling of hands pressing down on her neck, or a set of pin points pricking into her skin as Oliver stood frozen in horror in front of her.

The knock on her door startled her, and she jumped up, remote in held in her hand as a weapon as she searched the room.

Her heart thudded loudly in her chest as she glanced at the clock that told her it was well past two in the morning.

With slow, careful steps, she approached her front door and peered out through the peephole, sighing with relief when she saw the familiar face on the other side.

Punching in the code to her alarm, she opened the door and blinked up at him, blanket still wrapped securely around her shoulders.

She frowned in confusion as her tired brain searched for reasons she would be at his apartment this late at night.


"Hey," he murmured, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his dark wash jeans.

The dark gray pullover fitted to his chiseled form impeccably and she had to tear her eyes away from his chest to meet his gaze.

His blue eyes were clouded with worry and apprehension, as if he wasn't sure how she would react to him being there. And truth be told, she wasn't sure how she was supposed to react.

Except that suddenly, those shadows haunting the edge of her consciousness were gone, retreating back into their corners, and she was overcome with an overwhelming sense of security.

"What are you doing here?" she asked softly, leaning gently against the doorframe, knowing she should invite him in - wanting to more than she should.

Something had shifted between them tonight at the Foundry. When she’d apologized and then thanked him, she hadn’t expected his reply. The sharp honesty of his words cutting through any pretenses they had about what she meant to him - the importance of her safety and well-being. He’d killed again. For her. To save her.

The implications of that and his words had been too much to dwell on earlier, but now they were pushed to the forefront as he stood on her doorstep.

He stared at her for a long moment almost as if he was making sure she was truly okay, a haunted look playing over his features before disappearing. It made her wonder if she hadn’t been the only one with nightmares that had woken her.

After a moment, he let out a long breath, and answered her in a soft voice. "Couldn't sleep. I wanted to make sure you were okay, and when I drove by, I saw your lights's late..."

Her eyes fell to the floor, and she nodded her head before replying, "I couldn't sleep either."

A shiver ran through her body and he noticed because he immediately stepped forward into her personal space, his eyes trailing over her face. She could see the concern and desire to help in his gaze as it wandered over her, and she tried to offer him a reassuring smile.

As much as she wanted to stay near him, she knew they couldn't have this conversation - any conversation - on her doorstep. Stepping back, she beckoned him inside and locked the door quickly behind him.

When she turned around, he stood in the middle of her small apartment, eyes still glued to her face as if he stared long enough he would be able to see where she was hurt and how he could fix it. If only it were that simple...

"You should be sleeping," he finally stated softly, breaking the silence that had fallen over them.

She chuckled ruefully, "Tried. Not happening. And, for the record, so should you."

Sadness and guilt flashed through his eyes and she automatically took a step forward, reaching out a hand before she could stop herself.

He sighed, one corner of his mouth lifting up into a small half-smile and she stopped, her hand returning to her side as they shared a quiet moment of understanding.

Rounding the couch, she curled back into her corner, the unspoken invitation obvious. He joined her a few moments later, his large form sprawling out and she had to use all of her control to not immediately curl up next to him, seeking his warmth and security. Somehow, she inherently knew she'd sleep if he was nearby. But she couldn't and wouldn't ask that of him.

They watched in silence, the mere presence of another heartbeat was a comfort both of them could appreciate. Slowly, she felt her eyelids getting heavy and tried to stay awake, knowing the darkness that awaited her if she let herself fall asleep.

The third time she jerked up, he sighed and reached out to her, one large hand landing on her knee. She had to bite down on her lip to keep from gasping as the heat of his fingers seeped through the thin cotton of her pajama pants.

“What happens?” he asked softly and her gaze flew to his, knowing exactly what he was referring to without him having to say it.

Her eyes slammed shut and she shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. It’s just not...good.”

“Felicity,” he said and the way her name rolled off his tongue had long ago become one of her favorite things.

The hand on her knee moved, reaching up and grasping her own hand, squeezing it softly.

Her eyes flew open and met his - filled with so much concern and heaviness she found she couldn’t look away. She wanted to wipe the sadness from his eyes - whisper words that would make him smile and ease the obvious pain in his heart.

Everything began to spill out before she could stop it. “It just happens over and over. I feel him touching me, whispering how he was going to kill you, exploit your weakness, make you suffer and then it happens - all of it and I wake up not being able to breath because I caused it all…that I was the reason you had to kill again, I was the one who put that look back in your eyes and I hate that...”

Tears streamed down her cheeks and before she could finish, he was tugging on her hand and pulling her against him. She crashed into his chest, hands twisting in the soft fabric of his pullover as he held her tightly.

“I meant what I said earlier,” he whispered against her hair. “There was no choice to make. You didn’t do that - he did. He made the choices that led to that. I wasn’t going to lose you…”

The breath flew out of her and she froze against him, her brain and her heart warring on the meaning behind those words.

She pushed up on his chest, ignoring the tenderness in her wrists were they’d been tied to the chair.

His face was so close, she had to focus on her breathing to keep it as normal as possible. She could feel the way his heart beat elevated underneath her palm. When his hand traveled from it’s place at her back to come to rest at her wrist where the sweatshirt she’d been wearing had ridden up, she gasped in surprise, as he revealed the dark bruises forming underneath.

Fingers that could inflict so much damage, gently traced the lines left by the rope and her breath caught in her throat when he found a sensitive spot and she winced. Her eyes fluttered shut and she focused on his touch instead of the lingering pain.

She wasn’t prepared for the feel of his lips upon her skin, kissing where his fingers had just touched.

Her eyes flew open on a gasp and she found him looking up at her with such an open expression, her heart flipped in her chest. Longing mixed with guilt and sadness as well as desire and something deeper swirled in his gaze, and she found she couldn’t look away.

When his eyes flicked back to her wrist, she watched as he carefully inspected it, kissing every inch of marred skin, his lips soft and smooth against her skin. Taking the other hand, he repeated the process and she couldn’t stop the gasp that escaped her mouth as his tongue darted out to sooth over a particularly rough spot.

Dark eyes flew to hers and she knew there were questions in her eyes, ones she couldn’t voice because he’d temporarily left her speechless.

One hand left hers and fell to her cheek, his warm palm cupping her jaw just as he had earlier that evening after he’d shot the Count. She leaned into his touch, allowing the his touch to erase the fears clouding the edges of her mind.

Her head fell forward and his mouth trailed against her temple. The air left her lungs and she found herself hanging on a precipice with him, suspended in air by his hands on her skin and this moment between them.

When he spoke, his words were so quiet, she could barely hear them.

“He shouldn’t have touched you; he should never have gotten near you…”

She took a deep breath and shook her head. “It was my own fault…”

He shushed her - that soft release of breath that caused the words to die in her throat.

When he pulled back, he brought her right hand back to his mouth, only this time, instead of just staying near the mottled skin of her wrist, his lips began an upward track, along her forearm to the sensitive skin on the inside.

Her eyes widened as she looked at him with confusion until she suddenly realized what he was doing.

He was retracing everywhere the Count had touched her - everywhere his hands had been, trying to erase the bad memories.

Tears blurred her vision and she could barely breath as his mouth trailed higher, until it met the edge of her sweatshirt.

His eyes flicked to hers then, silently asking permission as his fingers reached for the edge of her hoodie. She saw the desperate need in his eyes - to fix this; to make it better - and she couldn't deny him that. She found she didn’t want to - she wanted to be able to feel Oliver’s skin against hers; his kisses healing all the mental scars he couldn’t even see.

There was a tiny voice at the back of her head warning her that she’d never forget this - never be able to erase this memory from her mind. His touch would be burned into her very skin and it could lead to pain. But somehow, she knew it wouldn’t.

She trusted him. She always had. She trusted her belief in him more than her own self-preservation at this point.

With a slightly nod, she slowly lifted her arms above her head. The hand at her face fell to the hem, and inch by inch, he rid her off the thick material, leaving her in only a thin, white cami.

She watched transfixed as his eyes trailed over every inch of her skin and warmth swirling low in her belly.

A sudden sharp reminder of the Count’s hands on her shoulders, tugging at her hair flashed in her mind and she shivered violently, shaking her head to escape the intrusive thought.

Oliver must have seen something in her eyes because he sat up straighter and shifted them both so she was practically sitting in his lap.

WIth the sweatshirt no longer in the way, he began again where he left off. His lips never left her skin as he moved on an upward trek. Heat curled through her with every movement, every touch.

When he reached her shoulder, he gently pushed her hair out of the way and she clamped her eyes shut tight at the memory of different hands trailing through her hair.

His hands fell to her hips, lifting her easily while he moved them so she was turned with her back to him. Ohe hand stayed at her hip, rubbing soft circles against the material of her sweats. With every circle, he got closer and closer to her skin beneath her tank top.

His other hand swiped her hair to the side as his lips descended on her shoulder, his tongue darting out to taste her skin, branding her and wiping away any traces of others.

Felicity let her head fall to the side to give him more access. She’d stopped trying to make sense of her own feelings and everything they weren’t saying and instead let him absolve his own guilt as well as her fears.

His fingers had just brushed against the skin at her hip when he pulled the hand from her hip and moved it up. Both hands cupped her shoulders, much the same way the Count had only this time instead of feeling revulsion, she felt heat and desire and healing. The span of his hands trailed over her shoulders to her collarbones, the heat of his palm covering her upper chest and she knew he could feel the rapid tattoo of her heartbeat.

Her body canted backwards into his, his name falling from her lips.

She felt his head land against hers, warm breath ghosting across her neck.

When his lips brushed against the shell of her right ear, she let out a ragged moan.

“I don’t want you to be able to remember his touch. Tell me what I need to do…” his voice rumbled in her ear, pleading with her, and her stomach dropped in the most delicious way.

She opened her mouth to reply but got lost in the sensations of his mouth against the nape of her neck.

Pulling in a deep breath, she finally found her voice. “Just...keep going…”

Oliver’s hands squeezed her shoulders softly, almost hesitantly, but she softly nodded her head and it was all the encouragement he needed. His lips returned to her neck, gentle yet firm, warm and wet and then all she knew was his touch and his scent and him.

As his fingers traced patterns back down her arms, she fisted her hands in the material of her sweats, needing something to hold on to for fear she’d fly apart otherwise.

Trailing his lips down the other arm, his hand found one of her clenched fists and pried the fingers from the material. With nothing else to hold, they immediately grasped onto him, folding into his own as she clung to him like a lifeline. His mouth found the sensitive skin on the underside of her elbow and she shuddered as his tongue ran along it lightly.

Her head fell back to rest on his shoulder as she worked to pull air into her lungs. He was making her better and driving her crazy at the same time.

When he reached her left wrist, he traced the bruises once more, gently peppering kisses along every inch as if he could soak up her pain and make the marks disappear with his mouth.

He didn’t stop at her wrist, at an agonizing pace, he raised her hand to his lips, unfurling her fingers and pressing a warm kiss against her palm.

She keened. Her whole body arching up and reacting to that simple kiss. Curls of heat flooded her and she whispered his name, half in wonder, half in question.

Turning his head, he pressed his lips to her hair and then down to her shoulder, sucking lightly at the skin before moving her hair once more so he could find where the Count had almost stuck her with the syringe.

There were two lightly colored scraps on her skin, and he covered them with his mouth, his tongue flicking over them and soothing the sting that she could still feel.

Her nerve-endings were on the fritz, every part of her craving his touch, his kiss, him.

“Where else?” he asked, the timbre of his voice so low it sent sparks of heat racing through her.

Through the fog in her mind, she tried to figure out what he was asking. It wasn’t until his hands reached for her hair that she realized what he meant.

Where else had the Count touched her? What else did he need to heal?

Tears clogged her throat as the memories returned briefly and she felt him shift closer as if sensing her sudden change. Strong arms banded about her middle, his face pressed up against her the curve of her neck, cocooning her in his warmth as he waited for her to relax against him once more before moving again.

“Where, Felicity?” he murmured. “Talk to me…”

Swallowing, she took a deep breath, her lungs burning with the effort as she fought through the emotions raging within her. But she didn’t want him to stop, she needed this - she needed him.

“My hair,” she whispered, barely recognizing her own voice.

She heard him let out a ragged breath, feeling it ghost across her skin before he moved again.

Lifting his arms from around her stomach, he moved them back to her shoulders, fingers tracing the skin his breath had just touched. Starting at the nape of her neck, he slowly massaged her scalp, his hands trailing up through her hair and then down in the soft, blonde strands.

She swallowed as the gentle feel of Oliver’s ministrations pushed memories of the Count’s glove-covered fingers in her hair out of her mind.

Calloused fingers worked with gentleness as he stroked up her scalp, trailing behind her ears and then to her temple. The pace was slow, and he took care with every movement.

Tears began to stream down her face. Not from his touch, but from the achingly sweet way he was treating her - the emotions from the entire night overwhelming her as he took his time to take care of her.

He must have felt or seen something because suddenly his fingers were under her chin, tipping it to the side and backwards so he could see her face.

When her eyes found his in the dimly lit room, she stifled a gasp. Desire and longing mixed together to create a play of emotions across his features. Blue eyes stared at her with such utter concern, she reached out a hand and cupped his cheek, hoping her touch and her expression conveyed her appreciation - everything she couldn’t say.

With a heavy sigh, he leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her temple, using his thumbs to wipe away the tears.

His earlier question came back to her as he helped her turn in his arms and held her close.

She didn’t know how to tell him, her voice clogged with emotions she couldn’t seem to get under control so she settled on using her hands.

Grasping one of his large hands in hers, she laid it across her stomach, still able to feel the weight of the Count’s grip as he bodily dragged her across the room and then held her against him, his hand and arm almost too tight against her abdomen.

She watched Oliver’s brow furrow briefly in confusion before realization dawned. The flash of absolute anger that swept across his face let her know he wished he would have put another arrow in him.

Her eyelids slipped shut as his hand began to move until it rested at her waist and then started back again. When his fingers slipped under the edge of her cami, her eyes flew open and she found him watching her with such rapt attention, it halted the breath in her throat.

His gaze never wavered as he splayed his hand over her stomach and around the side of her hip. Heat flared everywhere his skin touched hers. His eyes darkened from cobalt to near black, and the hand on his cheek curled, scraping her nails through his stubble.

When he groaned, she was lost, her body tilting forward, breath coming in short pants.

Her other hand fell to his chest, covering his heart where the rapid thrum matched her own.

She had a sudden need to feel his skin beneath her fingers just as he was doing.

As quickly as she could, she reached down and tugged at the hem of his pullover, grasping the white t-shirt beneath and lifting it up in one, swift motion.

She had to rise up on her knees to get it over his head, his hand slipping from her waist briefly before it returned to steady her, sliding around to her lower back and pulling her flush against him.


His eyelids fluttered shut as she breathed his name and she took the moment to trail her fingers from his face down his neck to rest against his broad shoulders. The heat of his skin soaked into her and she suddenly couldn’t get close enough to him.

When he opened his eyes, there was no question in them. No doubt of his feelings. They were all there, written plainly in the blue gaze that had never been able to truly lie to her and she knew they weren’t lying now.

The truth was laid bare before her, and she replied in the only way she knew how.

Her mouth fell to his as his arms tightened around her, and he responded to her with a fervor matching her own.

Before she could take another breath, both of his hands were under her thin camisole, spanning her lower back and bringing her closer. Her fingers dug into his shoulders as he flicked his tongue against her lips and she opened to him.

Settling on his lap, one knee on either side of his hips, she ran her fingers up his neck and back into his hair, taking charge of the kiss. Her teeth scraped against his bottom lip as she held on to him, finding a peace in his arms she’d been missing since the moment the Count had taken her.

When they broke apart, she found him staring at her,something so genuine and true in his blue eyes, she was scared to put a name to it.

Then his lips were covering hers again, laying soft, slow kisses against hers before moving down her jaw to her collarbone. Her back arched when he laved a kiss at the juncture of her throat and shoulder, and she pressed down into him, her center hitting the slight bulge in his jeans. A low groan escaped his throat and, finally, he moved his hands.

Achingly slowly, he inched them up her back, the width of them covering every inch of skin. She’d shed her bra before putting on the cami and so that left her skin bare for him to explore. By the time he reached her shoulder blades, she was putty in his hands. Small moans fell from her lips as calloused fingers dipped into the shallows of her spine before returning to her shoulder blades, kneading the tense muscles of her back.

His mouth continued to work over her collarbone and she knew she’d have marks to cover tomorrow but she didn’t care. Every nip was followed by a swipe of his tongue to soothe the sting, and the sensation drove her wild, spiking the heat building between them.

Everything narrowed down to Oliver and his hands and lips on her body, making her feel whole and safe and cherished.

Her fingernails dug into his shoulders briefly before she finally moved her own hands, trailing them down his chest, tripping over scars and inked skin. The heat radiating off of him shot through her and she sunk into him even more as his hands moved around to rest at her waist, squeezing softly and lifting her, bringing her closer.

She could feel everything and her head bent back as a low guttural moan left her. A growl rumbled from his own chest and she knew she’d never be able to get enough of this man. She didn’t care about his past - his mistakes and demons - she only cared about the man he was inside - the heart of him that she saw every single day. He made her feel safe - made her feel whole and she knew she would never be able to leave him. Her heart was already his and as much as that scared her - she trusted him. She’d always trusted him.

“Oliver,” she whispered, and was rewarded with blue eyes blown wide meeting hers.

Her breath caught in her throat as they stared at each other, seconds passing words unsaid filled the space between them.

Her body was a live wire, every emotion swimming to the surface and she knew she wouldn’t need much more before she would fly apart, exploding in a sea of emotion in his arms.

She could feel the insistent thrum of his heart beneath her fingers, the pace matching her own as his hands moved up and down her sides, sliding so close to the swell of her breast that she had to bite her lip to keep from a moaning whine from escaping.

Her eyes searched his and when she saw the raw expression in his eyes - that he was just as on edge - she broke, swooping down and capturing his lips in a heated kiss, knowing she would never be able to get enough.

When she shifted, sinking down farther, seeking the friction her body craved, she felt him still for a second, and looked down to find his eyes shut tightly.

A deep growl emanated from somewhere in his chest and before she realized what was happening, his hands ran upwards taking her cami with it and leaving her bare before him.

The cool air hit her skin and she moved to cover herself but he caught her forearms, his eyes never leaving hers as his fingertips trailed down over her elbows and to her sides. Tendrils of heat shot through her wherever he touched and tiny gasps left her lips.

She watched in fascination as his hands roamed up and down her sides until she could barely take it anymore. Her body craved his touch, and when his hands tightened on her waist she arched up, a pleading noise escaping her throat.

The look in his eyes shifted into something primal that made her entire stomach flip heat shooting straight to her core. And then his hands were right where she wanted them; warm, calloused fingers brushing against her soft mounds and she sighed, her head falling back as her eyes closed.

Her hands landed on his shoulder, nails digging into the muscle there as he flicked a finger over each nipple. Her mouth fell open into a silent moan and she arched into his touch.

Another flick had her moaning out loud before his mouth was on hers again, nipping and sucking at her bottom lip. Gasping into the kiss, he slipped his tongue inside, tangling it with hers as her fingers ran up and into the soft strands of his hair, pulling him closer as she wrapped her arms around his head.

She didn’t realize he was leaning them back until her skin hit the soft couch cushion and his weight settled deliciously on top of her. His short stubble scraped against her jaw and collarbone as he pressed kisses across her cheek and back to her mouth.

His hips fit against hers at just the right angle and she moaned at the pressure exactly where she needed it. She wrapped her legs around his waist automatically, pulling his body closer. The deep, feral growl that started in his chest and fell from his lips caused swirls of heat to swoop through her and she dug her nails into the skin of his back as the sensations washed over her.

His lips left hers and moved south, down the column of her throat, sucking a spot he’d learned quickly made her shudder as he scraped it with his teeth, soothing it and then moving on down until he reached the swell of her breast.

“Oliver…” she gasped, when his lips closed around one nipple.

The fingers in his hair pulled him closer, holding him to her as he sucked it to the top of his mouth before letting it go and moving it to the other.

She shifted her hips, her breaths becoming short and needy as her body thrummed with delicious pleasure.

His tongue licked a strip under one breast before moving down her stomach, pressing soft, wet kisses to her skin.

Every touch sent another spiral of heat straight to her core as he slowly built her up, feeling nothing but warmth and desire and safety.

When his tongue dipped into her belly button, her hips bucked up, moaning loudly and she felt him still as his nose brushed the top of her pajama bottoms.

Her chest rose and fell rapidly as she looked down in confusion to why he had suddenly stopped.

Her eyes found his and she saw the silent question in his eyes, he needed to know if this was okay, if this is what she wanted.

Her heart swelled with love for him, his emotions normally so guarded displayed openly for her.

She could see how much he wanted this and she let him see her desire as well, her lips lifting to a soft smile, and nodding.

“Don’t stop, Oliver,” she breathed, and she watched in awe as blue darkened to cobalt before almost disappearing completely.

He turned, resting his forehead on her stomach before hooking his fingers in her bottoms, beneath her underwear and slowly, moving them down her hips.

His breath fanned out over each new inch of skin exposed, lips trailing against her skin, teeth nipping at her hip bones making her jerk in response and she felt his small smile at her reaction.

When he paused again, she released his hair and covered his hands with her own, lacing them together and pushing her pants down over her hips, lifting her knees so he could move them all the way down and off her legs.

Cool air hit her sensitive skin and she shivered, but she barely had time to take a breath before he was hovering over her once more. She opened her eyes to find him gazing at her with that same look of awe and wonder, so much love shining back at her, she had to swallow around the lump in her throat.

Everything else melted away, her fears and memories of the night disappeared when he looked at her, his eyes never leaving hers.

Lifting her hand, she let her fingers traced over his brow to his jaw before reaching to cup the back of his neck, tugging gently.

She needed him. Now.

It was all the encouragement he needed, with one slow exhale, he moved, one finger swiping up and through her folds.

Her hips jumped, her breath catching, as he continued moving one finger up and down, almost to her clit and then back again.

The moment his mouth closed over her, and he slid one finger inside her, she fell over the edge, back arching completely off of the couch, one arm hooking around her hips to hold her still as he worked her through her orgasm. Her vision darkened at the edges and she fisted one hand in the short strands of his hair, the other in the cushion next to her.

She panted his name, the blood pounding through her ears as she slowly came back to herself.

When she could finally open her eyes, she found him looking up at her as he kissed the side of her thigh, his mouth wet with her.

Her stomach flipped and, with trembling hands, she reached for him, pulling at the same time, needing him, over her, against her, in her - now.

He came easily, mouth covering hers as his fingers trailed up her sides, until they cupped her face as hers found the waistband of his jeans.

She palmed him through the thick fabric and he grunted, lifting up off her, biceps flexing by her head and she couldn't’ resist turning her head and pressing a kiss to the bulging muscle, scraping her teeth over the taut flesh.

“Felicity,” he hissed her name and she suddenly found a confidence that had been hiding since her run in with the Count.

She quickly found the closure on his pants, flicking it open and pushed at them, needing them off.

Oliver covered her hands with his own, stilling her movement and for one brief moment she worried he was going to change his mind until he placed both hands around his neck, and slid his beneath her ass.

In one swift movement, he had lifted them off the couch, standing. She gasped as her center brushed against his hard stomach and she heard the low groan in his own chest.

“Bedroom…” he muttered against her hairline and she nodded, pointing towards the door to their left.

He didn’t hesitate, purposeful strides leading them into the room before he laid her gently on the bed.

Stepping back, he gazed down at her, and she wondered what she looked like, her hair fanned out against the deep purple bedspread, bare before him.

All it took was a soft smile from her lips, and he had shoved his pants down his hips, and it was her turn to admire him.

Sitting up, she quickly found herself on her knees, her hands flying to his chest, trailing over scars and unmarred flesh, taking a moment to learn him, provide him even a sliver of the comfort he had given her.

Her fingertips traced the dark ink of his Bratva tattoo and then down to his hip where he jerked into her and she stifled a smile before frowning when she saw the deep scar high on his thigh.

She ran her fingers along it, Oliver completely still and she looked up at him, his face partly hidden in the darkness of night but all of his emotions laid out bright as day. She saw the fear beneath the obvious desire - not fear for himself but her. The night had taken it’s toll on him as well, and she wanted to erase those shadows from his already heavy heart.

The apprehension that flashed through his eyes tore through her and she quickly reached for him, fingers curling around his neck, cupping his face as she brought her mouth to his, kissing him gently. His hands moved to her hips and grasped them tightly as if trying to convince himself she was really there, grounding himself to the moment.

Her hands splayed on his shoulders and ran down his chest, her mouth following until she reached the tattoo over his chest.

Her eyes flicked up to his, holding them, both of them seeking comfort from the night, but finding so much more in this act, in each other.

There was no denying things anymore. No denying them.

Never breaking his gaze, she leaned forward and pressed a kiss the Bratva tattoo, right over his heart, just like he’d done with her.

She felt his heart stutter, the breath fall out of his lungs and ghost through her hair as his hands moved from her hips to her back, pulling her flush against him and into his arms.

He breathed her name into the hollow of her neck as he held her close, her arms winding around his shoulders and holding him close.

She felt nothing but Oliver surrounding her, holding her, loving her.

And then he moved, picking her up and shifting her backwards before he crawled over her, his chest brushing hers as he reached between them, nudging her legs apart. She let them fall to the side, and he settled there, guiding himself into her.

She gasped when she felt him against her entrance, and his gaze held hers as slowly he pushed inside.

Once completely seated in her, he held himself above her, waiting for her signal, letting her adjust.

When she couldn’t take his stillness anymore, she bucked her hips into him, pulling a moan from them both and then he was moving, slowly and then faster, filling her completely.

Her legs wrapped around his waist, pulling him even deeper and she threw her head back when he changed the angle, lifting her knee higher and hitting a spot that had her seeing stars.

Her fingers dug into his shoulder blades and he kissed her, swallowing her soft moans as their tongues tangled with each other.

His hands never stopped moving over her body, every touch sending her higher and higher until she was panting his name.

His pace stuttered and he bent his head, sucking a nipple into his mouth and the sensation pushed her over the edge again, her body going bowing as wave after wave of pleasure crashed through her.

Distantly, she felt his hips pound into her erratically before he stilled, her name spilling from his lips, followed by words she couldn’t understand but that sent an aftershock of pleasure through her.

His head fell to her chest, and she held him there, cradling him to her as he tried to keep most of his weight from crushing her.

But she wanted to feel him, all of him, around her, surrounding her and so she used the last bits of her strength to pull at his elbows, trying to tell him what she wanted.

It took him a few seconds, but he slowly lowered himself completely onto her and she hissed in pleasure at the feel of his sharp edges against her soft curves. His stubble rubbed against her as he nuzzled his head between her breasts, peppering kisses over her skin.

Her fingers carded through his hair until he finally lifted himself up, pulling out of her leaving her feeling empty and shifted up, finding her mouth and kissing her softly.

He drank from her, his teeth pulling at her lower lip until she opened to him, slipping her tongue out and tangling it with his own as he explored her once more.

When they separated, both gasping for breath, he leaned over and whispered the same words she’d heard when he had come, and now she recognized they were in Russian.

Her brow furrowed, and she was about to ask him, when he leaned down, his lips brushing her ear as he whispered. “No choice to make. Never any choice to make.”

Her heart flipped in her chest and she tightened her fingers in his hair, lifting his face to her as she kissed him again, soft and gentle.

When he pulled back, she felt her eyes slip shut, exhaustion slipping over her. She whined softly when she felt his weight leave her but he whispered that he’d be right back and she nodded, all her energy suddenly gone.

She felt him cleaning her up, but before she could say anything, he had finished and was lifting her, gently setting her back down beneath the covers.

Sudden fear gripped her heart and her eyes flew open, turning and searching for him, afraid that she’d find herself alone once more.

She must have said his name, but she didn’t remember because he was at her side again, his fingers twining with her outstretched one, slipping in the bed behind her. With their joined hands, she pulled him closer, wrapping his arm around her and he didn’t hesitate to curl himself around her body.

It isn’t until she had almost drifted off to sleep, his warm breath coasting over her shoulder, steady heartbeat lulling her, that she realized he’d put himself between her and door, shielding her from any danger.

Her heart swelled at the action and she tightened her hand in his. He, in turn, pulled her farther into his embrace so she could feel every contour of his body against her back.

Her words were barely more than a whisper but she had to say them, needed to voice the fear in the back of her head.

“You’ll be here when I wake up?” she asked quietly.

His reaction was instant as he buried his head into her hair before pulling back and kissing her shoulder blade. “I’m not going anywhere. Sleep. I’ve got you.”

She smiled softly, her fears erased as she lets sleep overtake her.

“I’ve got you too,” she mumbled before falling asleep safe and loved.

She woke from nightmares once more, a scream tearing from her throat, but this time, she wasn’t alone. Oliver held her tight against him, his fingers trailing over her spine as he whispered words of comfort and reassurance in her ear.

And when the morning light danced across her bedroom, he was still there, both wrapped up in each other’s arms.