This job was supposed to be secure and uncomplicated. That was until I received my new assignment. To his unit. I'd heard rumors about Captain Rogers. The tales of glory, honor, blah blah blah, and so on and so forth.
Then I caught my first glimpse of the paragon of patriotism. The breadth of his shoulders, the narrow taper of his hips, and the commanding presence when he entered a room spoke of the power he wielded. Even the fucking part of his hair dared not defy him. He couldn't be real. There was no way in hell one man could be that fucking perfect. It made me want to vomit.
Then he met my gaze and tipped his head in salutation. "Ma'am."
Well, goddamn me to hell. "Captain Rogers," I replied with a soft smile. To be honest, I wanted two things at that moment.
I wanted to slap that self-confident, purely professional expression right off his face, and I wanted to muss his hair, push him to his knees, and make him beg. I wanted to see icy captain crack. What the hell are you thinking? I shook my head to clear the wicked thoughts raging there. Evidently I hadn't purged enough frustration in my morning workout.
Everyone knew the stories of his heroic deeds and selfless actions, but there were also tales of his personal life. His lack of interest in anyone or anything outside of the job. There had been rumors about his time in the service during the world war when he'd had his sights set on Peggy Carter. Time had other plans for Captain Rogers it seemed.
The pain of such a loss struck me. I couldn't imagine losing something before it had a chance to begin.
I watched as Captain Rogers took some papers from his secretary and disappeared into his office. He sat behind the desk and flipped absently through the files. Snapping myself back to reality, I focused my attention on the forms in front of me.
They hadn't cleared a desk for me yet, so I worked at a round table in the common area of the office. It gave me a chance to absently observe the interactions of my fellow co-workers. Many of them were courteous and accommodating. A few kept to themselves, including the captain. I noticed a lovely red headed woman enter the building earlier and shut herself and the captain in his office. Natasha Romanov. No one could mistake her for anyone else, if they knew who they were looking at in the first place.
I redirected my attention when the door opened and she exited his office. Her gaze lighted on me and a smile crossed her lips.
"You're new here. I'm Nata..."
"Natasha Romanov." I returned the smile. "I'd be a fool not to recognize you."
Her eyes sparkled with something other than kindness and understanding. I began to worry. No one messed with the Black Widow.
"Julia, you're going to fit in well here." She leaned close, a red curl framing her face. "Keep an eye on Steve for me, will you?" Her cryptic request hung in the air between us as she turned to leave.
I couldn't stop thinking about her. The words in front of my eyes blurred as I tried to focus on them. With a heavy sigh, I focused harder on the document on my desk. A shift of movement out of the corner of my line of vision snapped my attention. I glared at the trio gathered around the circular table in the common room.
Ms. Nichols seemed to favor working amidst the chaos of the office. I tapped my pen against the desk, willing her to disappear. Since she'd started working in my unit, she'd proven herself to be a useful tactician, but also a distinct distraction. For everyone in the office. I tried to convince myself, but the truth struck far too close to an open wound for me to even consider the possibilities.
I pushed away from the desk and stood, stomping to the table in the corner and pouring myself a strong cup of black coffee. Natasha had tried to set me up with women for the past several years, but I'd always successfully deflected her pure hearted attempts to find someone for me to date. I'd been too lost in my own past to realize that what I truly desired could never be. Her funeral last year had finally laid the connection to my past life to rest. I gazed down into the black liquid, then took another drink. The coffee bit the back of my throat, hot and bitter, momentarily stealing the thoughts from my mind. My attention drifted back to the common room as the sound of laughter reached my ears.
She laughed with Tom, the recruit who came in just before she started. His hand rested on the back of her chair as he leaned forward and showed her something on a piece of paper. Julia's dark curly hair hung over her shoulder in a long, bushy ponytail. How the hell had she ever pulled that back and kept it in regulation? It must reach down to her...the thought dissipated as Tom brushed a stray curl from her cheek. She glanced up and our eyes met. The depths of her gaze hit me when she smiled, forming little crinkles at the corners of her eyes. I slammed the mug down and grabbed my leather jacket from the back of the chair.
I wasn't going to get any work done in the office. Not with her here. I stormed out the front door, intent on getting to the gym and hitting the bag until the fatigue claimed me. How could one woman who'd barely said anything to me since we met less than a month ago have disarmed me with a single smile?
The next few weeks proved uneventful. I spent most of my time acclimating to my new office and befriending some of my co-workers. Even though I had an office, I preferred to work at the round table. Part of the reason was it gave me visual access to the entire floor. Rule Two: Know your surroundings.
There had been one thing noticeably absent in the past several weeks, Captain Rogers. He had come into the office several times, but ignored me on every occasion. When I glimpsed him in his office earlier, the perpetual scowl on his face made him look like an old man. I mean, he was over ninety years old technically, but well, the creases between his brows from the constant look of displeasure definitely did nothing to enhance his handsome looks. I had hoped to talk to him about the plans for the upcoming exercise, but he'd bolted from the building as though the hounds of hell chased his heels.
I sighed and glanced down at the three maps laid out on the table. Analyzing the best route for the supplies would take a bit of maneuvering. My attention snapped when someone stepped up beside me.
"Have you decided on a route through the mountains then?" Captain Rogers pointed at the map in front of me. His blue eyes met mine but betrayed not even a hint of humor.
"Yes, sir, I have."
He nodded and leaned closer to see the writing on the map. "Walk me through it." The scent of after shave and clean, crisp soap mingled with the heat of his skin. The combination wrapped around my senses and struck me for a moment. Clean and masculine. He sat in the chair beside mine.
I stood next to him, carefully explaining my route and why I'd chosen every turn and road. My fingers traced the route.
"What about this short cut?" he asked, his fingers brushing mine as they skimmed over the road beside the one I'd chosen.
My heart raced at the contact. The heat of his touch struck me dumb for a moment, but I shook it off. "The rains have flooded this road. Even if it's clear of water, the mud will make any vehicle movement impossible."
His fingertips brushed along mine as he drew his hand away. "Very well. Print out a copy of the map and route directions for the convoy."
I glanced around the office. The clock flashed 2003. Damn, I lost track of time again. "I'll take care of it first thing in the morning, sir." When I moved to gather the maps, his hand enclosed around my wrist. His thumb brushed across my pulse as his grip tightened. Before I could speak, his free arm wrapped around my waist, and he gently pulled me down onto his lap.
"Sir, this is highly inappropriate." I tried to pull away from him, but he held me tight.
"Ms. Nichols..." The words spilled from his lips in a heavy sigh laced with frustration. His breath brushed across my cheek as he leaned closer. "What am I to do with you?"
"Have I done something wrong, sir?" I couldn't directly face him. A quick glimpse out of the corner of my eye confirmed my suspicion. He was far too close for comfort. I shifted in his lap. My body betrayed me with every breath. My heart raced and my hands trembled as I absorbed the warmth and strength of his body.
His hand covered mine, his fingers sliding over my mine in a gentle caress. When he hooked his thumb around mine, my eyes drifted closed. "Capt..."
"Steve," he whispered against my ear, his lips brushing the tender lobe.
Oh my god, what in the hell is going on here? Why...what...he...my chaotic thoughts dissipated as he pressed his face to mine. I froze, cheek to cheek with the Ice Captain, our fingers intertwined, while sitting on his lap held firm in his embrace. Never in a million years had I ever imagined this. Up to this moment, I hadn't even been sure he'd known my name. Hell, I hadn't even believed he was real. But it was hard to pretend this wasn't Captain Steve Rogers holding me so tenderly.
I tried, oh, God help me, I tried to resist the temptation. Her body pressed against mine. Was this what I missed? The contact of another person. The pulse of their heart beneath my touch. The warmth and scent of her slid into the shadowed reaches of my soul, the part of me I'd sworn not to reveal to another. She softened with every brush of my fingertips. I leaned against her, letting her skin imprint against my own.
My eyes drifted closed and I memorized her scent. Wildflowers and ocean wind. For years I've denied that this void could ever be touched, but slowly with this woman in my lap, the sands of regret fell away and my heart filled with warmth.
"Sir..." she murmured.
I opened my eyes and she turned to face me. Her lips hovered over mine, her breath branding me. She let her gaze linger on my mouth, and my breath caught in my throat. I wanted to taste her.
"You should go home, Miss Nichols," I whispered as I pulled away, gently pushing her from my lap and standing to face her. Her pained expression hit me like a ton of shrapnel. I ran my hand across my jaw and pushed past her.
The hurt and confusion in her gaze nearly broke my resolve. I turned away and locked myself in my office. Leaning against the door, I waited until I heard the main entrance doors slam before I slid to the floor and rested my head on my knees. The adrenaline coursed through my veins, and the three hour session at the gym that had drained me an hour ago called to me again. I needed to keep my distance from her before she consumed me.
Just the thought of him drove me into a rage. I hadn't slept in days. The memory of him pulling me onto his lap, touching me, damn near kissing me, nearly broke my sanity. I sipped the coffee in my travel mug and headed for the office. My heart raced wondering what the hell I was going to say to him after that night.
He had made a move on me, didn't he? Or had it all been a delirious dream? The damnable part of it all, he'd been out all week on a mission with Natasha, so all the anxiety of having to face him after that obvious humiliation haunted her for the last week. The only way she could purge the cloud hanging over her head would be to confront him. A direct approach seemed like the most reasonable solution. We are adults, right?
Straightening my spine, I walked into the common area and headed for my office. I hadn't even glanced around to see if he had come into work. Damn. I ignored the urge to look for him and set to work.
The whole day passed and every time I saw him, he blatantly ignored me or gave me a stare that I could only equate with a father displeased with an insolent child.
Awkward, that's the only way I could describe it. I hadn't done anything wrong. He started it. I rested my head against the desk. Once I'd believed him to be too perfect, too nice, too noble, but his actions betrayed his flaws.
The beloved Captain America had a weakness all right; he was a goddamn island. That one fleeting moment had shown a glimpse of the passion simmering beneath the façade of glacial control. I wanted to break him. See him shatter. Unleash the passionate man I knew existed deep inside of him.
But he wouldn't even look at me. Even the slightest chance of eye contact or conversation was thwarted. I was almost positive it was by design. As if he couldn't even stand the sight of me.
I stacked the folders on my arm and stood. The order and training forms he'd need for the next mission readiness meeting. There was no way he could avoid me now. He needed these, and I'd be damned if he would avoid me today.
Crossing the empty common room, I made my way toward his office. I glanced around. All the office lights were off, except for his. I grinned. No excuses today, sir.
I knocked on the door.
I pushed open the door, and when he glanced up, he shot to his feet.
"Sir," I replied with cool indifference. "Here are the forms for the next mission readiness meeting." I set the files on his desk, leaning forward just enough to let him catch a glimpse of cleavage before straightening.
He cleared his throat. "Thank you."
"Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?" The desire to tease him rose unbidden as the innuendo dripped from my words. "Anything at all."
A crease formed between his brows as he frowned at me. "No, that will be all." He turned to grab his leather jacket off the coatrack.
"Are you a virgin, sir?" What the actual fuck are you doing asking him that?
He spun around, the jacket hanging halfway off his shoulders. "What did you say?"
I arched a brow at him and held his gaze. "Are. You. A. Virgin?" I enunciated the words clearly, praying they struck their intended target.
He shrugged the jacket on. "I don't think that's any of your business, Ms. Nichols."
"So the other night..."
"That was a mistake. A lapse in judgement." Steve scowled. "It won't happen again."
"That's a shame."
"You should go home."
"Is that an order?" I asked, pushing harder with every retort.
"I wasn't under the impression you were this belligerent, Ms. Nichols." His lips pressed into a thin line as he chose his words. "When I chose you for my team, I had hoped you would be more...professional."
"I'm pretty sure that professionalism only extends to normal work hours." I stood firm in front of the door. "And you were the one who crossed that line first, sir."
"Goodnight, Ms. Nichols." He crossed the room and reached for the door. I blocked it with my body.
"Answer my question first." My challenge struck him dumb for a moment.
"Why?" His voice dropped to a guttural, almost unrecognizable tone.
"Curiosity." I smiled at him.
He blinked twice and glanced out the office window. When he fixed his gaze on me again, the blue of his eyes had darkened to a steely gray. "Yes and no. Satisfied?"
"Why in the blazes not?" He folded his arms across his chest.
"You either are, or you're not."
"Fine. Technically, I am." Steve waved his arm. "Now, please step aside."
I moved away from the door with an exaggerated flourish. He pushed it open and exited, making a bee line for the stairwell exit instead of the elevators. I followed behind him.
The force with which he pushed open the stairwell door rattled the frame. I hesitated before following him. Just as he began his descent, I reached out and grabbed a handful of leather.
He spun at the resistance on his arm and narrowed his eyes. "I haven't time for your inquisition, Ms. Nichols."
He brushed my comment aside. "Release me."
"One more question."
He sighed, exasperated. "What?"
"Why did you push me away?" I stepped closer. "Why didn't you kiss me?"
His scowl deepened. "That's two questions."
"Answer me, damn it!" I bit my lip as soon as the outburst escaped.
Steve stalked closer, and I backed up until my body slammed against the wall. Those piercing eyes stared down at me, boring a hole directly into my soul. As if he saw through to the very heart of me and found it wanting.
"Language, Ms. Nichols."
"Fuck you," I mumbled under my breath.
He reached out and traced a finger across my lips. "Such a foul mouth for an otherwise lovely woman." His gaze flickered between my mouth and my eyes, until he dropped his hand and turned his back to me. "Goodnight, Ms. Nichols."
Desperate to push him over the edge, I called out to him, "You don't have to play the gentleman with me, Steve." My courage bolstered as he paused, his hand resting on the railing. "You're flesh and blood. A man with needs and desires. You don't have to pretend to be so fucking perfect all the time."
The week from hell had just come to a climactic conclusion. I stood motionless as her words sank into my mind. My grip tightened on the cold railing. Flashes of memories from my younger years reminded me of how I'd been, naive and idealistic. The perfect soldier.
Since I'd woken in the twenty-first century, I tried to hold onto that and live by the creed that had driven me in my youth. After the last few missions, I struggled to maintain the image expected of me and found myself losing the battle being waged inside my own mind.
I stared at the wall in front of me. Natasha had told me to take some time and process the fallout of the last mission. It never helped. Their images haunted me. The men I'd lost. Each death hung like a loadstone around my neck, pulling me deeper into my own personal hell.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Ms. Nichols." I refused to turn, to look at her, knowing if I met her sympathetic gaze, I...well, I wouldn't be able to stop myself.
The warmth of her hand covered mine. Her slender fingers pulled mine from the railing. I glanced over my shoulder. Her green eyes searched my face.
"I won't tell anyone," she said with a small smile. "You don't have to pretend with me, Steve."
I tried to pull my hand away, but her grip tightened. "I'm in no mood for your riddles and games, Ms. Nichols."
Her lips thinned and disappointment creased her brow. She released my hand and took a step back. "You know where to find me if you change your mind."
I watched as she disappeared back into the office. Alone in the stairwell, I clenched my hand into a fist, willing the slight tremor to subside. My heart pounded as her words bored into my soul. Not even Natasha had called my bluff.
Pushing the hesitation aside, I returned to the dark office and scanned the floor. Where was she? I glanced toward her office then the elevator. She stood with her back to me as the doors slid open. When she entered the car, I darted forward before I could change my mind.
Her eyes widened as she saw me approaching. She backed up as I slid between the closing doors. "Change your mind?" A smirk creased her lips.
Without responding, I framed her face with my hands and kissed her. She gasped, then melted against me, wrapping her arms around my waist. The taste of summer sunshine enveloped me as I deepened the kiss, and a warmth infused my body, as if I had come home after years of wandering. I'd only felt this once before, and I'd craved it ever since.
Julia drew me deeper, kissing me with a desire I echoed with my response. Her hands grasped at the leather, pulling me closer. I slid my hands into her hair and tugged, forcing her to meet my gaze.
I kissed the length of her throat, down to her collar bone and then up to the tender spot below her ear. "Julia," I murmured against her skin.
She clung to me as we stood still for a moment. The friction building between us to slowed to a manageable pace. I smoothed my fingertips along the base of her neck and kissed her softly on the lips.
"Come home with me." I had never uttered that phrase to a woman in my life.
Resting her hand on my cheek, she nodded. "Let's go."
I hit resume on the elevator and let it descend. Her presence beside me brought both apprehension and comfort. She slid her hand into mine and offered me a smile.
Once we reached the main floor, I walked toward my motorcycle and tossed her the helmet setting on the seat. Sitting on the bike, I turned to see her adjusting her hair to fit under the helmet.
"Ready?" At her nod, I started the engine. The rumble brought a strange peace to my racing heart.
The vintage motorcycle sported a dual seat, an extravagance on my part, but it suited its purpose as she straddled the bike behind me. Her arms wrapped around my waist, her cheek pressed against my back. She molded against me as I urged the bike into motion.
Speeding through the traffic, I focused on the road, the cars and buses, not on the sweet distraction clinging to me. We sat idling at a stop light a block from my apartment. Her hand slid against the front of my jeans, caressing me through the fabric. The light flashed green. I gunned the throttle desperate to be home and finish what we'd started in the elevator.
The parking garage sat dark and deserted. I slid the bike into an empty space and turned off the ignition. A flurry of movement behind me followed by a tap on my shoulder brought my attention to her. Her hair hung loose over her shoulder and she twisted it absently.
"That was fun." Her breathless tone liquefied the apprehension building inside of me.
"Have you ever been on a bike before?" I climbed from the seat and took the helmet from her hand.
"Never." She winked as I set the helmet on the seat. "Thanks for popping my cherry."
I turned toward her so quickly, the helmet nearly slipped from my hand. The grin on her lips betrayed her teasing. I snatched her by the hand and pulled her toward the stairs.
"You enjoy testing my patience, don't you?" I glanced at her over my shoulder.
"I enjoy a good challenge." She brushed her thumb against the palm of my hand.
A pulse of lust shot through me. I tried to ignore the desire screaming in the back of my mind. We ascended the stairs quickly and arrived at my doorstep before either of us spoke again.
I unlocked the door, opened it, and motioned for her to go in first. She grabbed the front of my leather jacket and dragged me into my apartment, kicking the door closed behind her. Her eyes flashed green in the dim light, a hint of mischief in their depths. As she approached with her hand firm on my chest, I backed up until I collided with the bedroom door.
"Having second thoughts?"
I shook my head. "You?"
Her lips curved into a grin as her head rocked from side to side. I reached out and grasped her hair, letting the strands pull through my fingers. She rocked up on her toes while pulling me close and crushed her lips against mine. I wrapped my arms around her and lifted her off the ground. Somehow I managed to get the door open and stumbled into my bedroom.
"Don't you dare tell me to stop, Rogers." Her hands fisted in my hair, breaking the contact between our lips and forcing our gazes to meet. "I swear by all that's holy, I might just die you if you tell me to stop."
"Just tasting your name on my tongue."
"Tonight you can taste all of me." She kissed me harder.
I sat on the bed, letting her straddle my lap with her skirt riding high on her hips, her hands buried in my hair, her lips brushing against the scruff along my jaw. I wanted to touch her everywhere, breathe her in and let her linger.
"Steve," she murmured against my lips as she unzipped my jacket. Pushing it from my shoulder, she raked her nails over the thin material of my t-shirt wreaking havoc on the skin beneath it.
I pulled the material of her blouse from her skirt. The exposed flesh called to me, and I traced my fingers along her stomach, searching for the zipper at the small of her back. As I slid it down, she unbuttoned her blouse, one button at a time, starting at the bottom and making her way up the row. The soft mounds of flesh spilling over the top of her red bra made my mouth water.
Julia chuckled and my gaze snapped up to hers. Arching a brow, I dipped my head to run my tongue across the curve of her breast. She slipped the blouse off and let it flutter to the floor. My hands instinctively wrapped around her waist, tracing higher and higher until my fingertips brushed against the clasp. I slid the hooks from their moorings and kissed every inch of skin the fabric exposed. When my lips closed around her nipple, she arched against me and tangled her hands in my hair.
I suckled harder. Her moan reverberated through me. A mixture of desire and satisfaction raced through my veins. I brushed my cheek against her breast, and she gasped as the stubble rasped her skin.
She tugged my hair, forcing me to look at her. "Where in the hell did you learn to be such a tease?"
I smiled as I grabbed her waist and rolled to the right, pinning her beneath me on the bed. "Are you complaining?" With one hand, I slid her skirt off, leaving her completely exposed save the red scrap of panties between her thighs.
"No, just curious." She whimpered when I kissed her bare stomach. "Alright, enough foreplay, Rogers." She pulled her underwear off and tossed them over my shoulder.
I'd wanted to taste all of her, but it seemed as though both our bodies disagreed with the established pace. Her hands fumbled with my belt, and as soon as she unfastened both it and my pants, her warm hand slid inside my jeans, wrapping around me.
Oh my...I snatched her wrist and held her still. Her lips quirked in a teasing smile, and she withdrew her hand and focused on removing my pants completely.
"Touch me, Steve." Julia reached out and took my hand.
When she pressed my fingers to her warm center, I exhaled, releasing the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. I explored her, gently, almost reverently, until my control snapped. I pulled her closed and kissed her as I slid between her thighs. Her legs wrapped around my waist. She drew me closer until I brushed against her wet heat.
As I slid into her, she dug her fingers into my shoulders urging me on. Her body enveloped me completely and I dissolved into her. When she rocked her hips, I snapped out of the lust filled haze and moved with her.
Our breaths mingled and bodies joined, I savored every moan, every sigh as they fell from her lips. Burying my face against her neck, I quickened the pace, knowing I wouldn't last much longer. She moved with me, finding her own rhythm to compliment mine.
Her whimpered cries of pleasure drove me to the breaking point. I fell apart as my climax gripped me tight. Julia's body trembled as she came, her nails digging into my skin, her hot breath against my neck.
I leaned my head against hers and pressed a tender kiss to her lips. She brushed the hair from my eyes and cupped my cheek. A moment of silent acknowledgment passed between. As if afraid to break the spell of the moment, she gently pulled me down to the bed next to her and curled up against me. Her head rested on my chest as her leg draped across mine.
A few silent moments ticked by as I stroked her hair. The flicker of the streetlight outside cast a glow across the room. I glanced down at her sleeping face. The reality of what I'd just done slammed into me, igniting a tremor of delight and terror deep inside.
She'd given herself to me, and I'd accepted her gift. What did that make us now, besides lovers? I pondered the possibilities and grew more anxious with every passing moment. How could I protect her? Being in a relationship with someone terrified me. All I'd ever known was loss and sacrifice and pain. How could I promise something I had no control over?
With a sigh, I closed my eyes, willing sleep to come, but the gentle press of Julia's hand over my heart proved a constant reminder of wanting something more and the reality that it might not last. I stared at the ceiling until I felt her stir against me.
My fingers brushed warm skin. The gentle drum of a steady, strong heartbeat pounded beneath my head. I opened my eyes and found him staring at me. With a languid smile, I sat up a bit to get a better look at the disheveled man beside me.
He smiled, although it didn't quite reach his eyes. "Hi."
"Having a moment of regret?"
Steve shook his head. "You?"
I leaned forward and kissed him in reply. The sweet ache of need started deep inside, spiraling outward as I pulled myself closer. One taste of him and I was completely addicted. I craved more...and I wasn't just thinking about the sex either.
With a groan, he pushed away and moved to the edge of the bed. "I'm going to take a shower."
"Okay." I watched as he crossed to the bathroom. He never turned to look at me. Not once.
A cold shiver of anxiety snaked down my spine. I tapped my fingers on the cool sheets. His scent lingered. The sound of water running mingled with the sound of the city outside. Loneliness joined doubt in my heart. I glanced at the door, then at his pillow.
"He's pushing me out again." My body trembled with barely leashed frustration. I climbed from the bed, unbothered by my nude state, pinned up my hair, and stalked toward the bathroom. "Like hell you're going to shut me out, Rogers."
When I opened the door, Steve stood with his head down under the spray of the water, his arm resting on the wall. The water ran in rivulets down his shoulders, across his back, and over his ass. Oh sweet fucking mercy. I bit my lip, my anger suddenly bombarded with a heavy shot of lust. I shook my head and cleared my throat.
He glanced up at me. His wet hair hung across his forehead, his face pink from the heat of the water...did I mention he was wet? Those blue eyes locked on mine. I pushed the anger down and played into the moment.
"Mind if I join you?" I asked, stepping into the shower.
Steve turned to face me and pushed his hair back. "Yeah, I'm done anyway."
My hand closed on his arm as he tried to step from the shower. He turned to look at me, those pain filled blues. "Talk to me, Steve. Don't push me away."
He stood staring at the wall behind my head, then finally let his gaze roam over me. The heat of his look singed my skin.
"Help me wash." It wasn't a request. I ran my hand up his bicep and rested my wrist on his shoulder, bringing our bodies close enough to feel the sting of need, but not enough to burn.
His jaw stiffened, and I caught the flicker of indecision in his eyes. "Turn around," he said as he picked up the soap and lathered the washcloth.
When he touched it to my back, I arched into him. "Mmmm, that feels good."
I let him wash my arms and back, then I turned to face him. Without my prompting, he ran the cloth across my breasts and down over my stomach. He hesitated just below my naval, his eyes meeting mine for a brief second.
I propped my foot on the small ledge and parted my legs. "You made me dirty."
His lips curled to one side in a smirk even as his sharp inhale betrayed his surprise at my words. Gently, he ran the warm cloth over my still-swollen pussy. I fisted my hand in his hair to keep my balance. Much more of his washing ministrations and I'd be a puddle running down the drain.
He rinsed the wash cloth, turned off the water, and handed me a towel. I took it, and we both dried off in silence. Steve stepped aside and motioned for me to lead. I stepped onto the fuzzy mat and glanced at my reflection in the mirror. He stood behind me, his gaze roaming over my back.
Indecision, shame, and pain flickered in his eyes amidst the pure need swimming there. He caught me staring in the mirror and tried to sneak past me, but I threw my body against the door, resting my hand on the knob.
Steve shook his head and shot me an intimidating glare. "Move, Julia."
"Not until you tell me why you're shutting me out again." My grip tightened on the knob.
He rested his hands on his hips. "I'm not."
"The hell you aren't!" I snapped. "Do you regret what we did?"
"No." Steve ran his hand through his hair. "I don't, but..."
"Well you don't seem like the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kinda guy." I narrowed my eyes at him and thrust my hip to the side, making my towel slip a bit. I ignored it. "You're hot then you're cold. What the hell is going on inside your head?"
"Could you not swear at me?" His blue gaze pinned me to the wall.
"I'm sorry...you know what, no, I'm not. I care about you, damn it. I gave myself to you!" My hands trembled. "Could you at least try to like me?"
His head cocked to the side as he studied my face. "I do like you. That's the problem."
It felt as though I'd been slapped. "Liking me is a problem?"
"Yes." He sighed as he struggled for words. "I'm your superior. I should never have taken advantage of you like that. I'm sorry."
"Don't." My body vibrated from pure anger. "I'm a grown woman, damn it. I know my own mind. You didn't take advantage of me. I wanted it...I want you, Steve. Even now. I want more than this one night. Don't you dare cheapen what's happening between us."
"Everyone I've ever cared about has suffered." His tone darkened to a timbre I'd never heard from him before. It terrified and excited me. "Don't you understand? If you stay, this—" he gestured between us "won't work. It never does."
"You don't know that." I reached for him, but he backed away.
"I know that I've lost everyone I've ever cared about." His eyes turned hollow and sad. "I can't do that to you."
"I'm not letting you make that decision for me."
He tried to push me away from the door, but I fought against him. His hands gripped my wrists as he pulled me away from the door. My towel slipped, dropping to a heap around my ankles. Steve's eyes raked over my naked body, his breath hitching as he licked his lips.
"You need to learn to let go, Steve, and enjoy the moment. You're not going to be able to control everything. Shit happens, you just have to deal with it and not let the fear stop you from living." I stepped closer, pressing my bare chest against his. "Tell me you don't want me...this."
His jaw clenched as his lips pressed in a thin line. I watched his eyes drift closed as I kissed the center of his chest, just over his heart. When his eyes fluttered open, they gleamed sapphire in the fluorescent lighting. The heat from earlier had returned, and before I could speak, his lips crushed mine in a punishing kiss. He pinned me against the door, his hands in my hair, pulling the clip out and letting it fall around my shoulders.
I wrapped my arms around his neck as he picked me up and set me on the countertop next to the sink. He rested his hands on my thighs, gently parting them.
"Kneel for me." Had I actually said that to him?
He arched a brow before dropping to his knees slowly.
Oh, sweet mercy, I did. Captain America on his knees between my thighs was the hottest thing I'd ever seen. I threaded my fingers in his hair and pulled his head back to force his gaze up to mine. "You wanted to taste me. Bon appetite."
Oh God, the look in his eyes made my heart beat like a war drum. The hunger sank into me, pulling me deeper into the moment. He needed this. I needed it, damn it.
His hands slid along my calves and up the inside of my thighs. I parted them, allowing him to see all of me. His ice blue eyes darkened to a stormy midnight. Steve licked his lips and leaned forward. The hesitancy in his actions counterbalanced the urgency racing through my body.
When his mouth covered my aching core, I moaned and tightened my grip on his hair. His lips and tongue slowly explored and teased me. He spread me wider, granting him easier access. Every tender caress served as a reverence. He worshiped me, devoured me. I clung to him, admiring the way his head moved between my thighs, the rough texture of his tongue as it passed over my clit. I shuddered as he consumed me. My orgasm slowly bloomed.
"Steve...you..." I panted the words. My brain raged to resume coherent thought, but the sight of Steve on his knees eating me out. It defied comprehension. He glanced up at me, a small smile on his wet lips. Wet because of me. I closed my eyes and then opened them in a desperate struggle to regain control. "You want me."
"Go kneel on the center of the bed."
Steve opened his mouth to speak. I pressed my fingertips to his lips.
"Trust me." I winked.
He slowly rose to his feet and opened the door. When I thought he would leave the bathroom, he laid his hands on the counter beside my thighs, caging me there. The tension crackled and snapped between us. I licked my lips.
"You like giving me orders, don't you?"
"Not as much as you like taking them." I grinned.
Before I knew what he intended, he snatched me by the waist and pulled me against him. Lifting me off the counter, he carried me into the bedroom and lay me beneath him on the bed.
I pulled the towel from around his waist and tossed it to the side. "Not interested in indulging a girl's fantasy, are you?"
"Depends on what she has in mind."
"I want to tease you," I said tracing a finger along his stubbled jaw.
He cocked his head. "Haven't you done enough of that?"
"Oh, darlin', I'm just warming up."
Steve arched a brow and rolled to the side. I watched as he slowly came to a kneeling position in the center of the bed.
I stared at him, stunned that he conceded and thrilled that he'd silently given me permission to do whatever I wanted. "Where do you keep your handkerchiefs?"
"Top drawer of that bureau." He nodded to the chest of drawers at the far side of the room. Steve rested his hands on his thighs and watched as I moved toward the dresser.
I pulled two neatly folded red paisley handkerchiefs from the drawer. When I turned back to Steve, he eyed the fabric in my hand.
"What are those for?" The hesitation in his voice made me shiver with anticipation.
Holding one aloft, I waved it back and forth. "This one is for your eyes." I climbed onto the bed behind him and folded the fabric as to conceal his vision completely. I placed the handkerchief across his eyes and tied it in a secure knot.
His breaths came in heavy puffs, as if the anxiety threatened to consume him. I placed my hand on his neck and kissed his cheek.
I kissed a path to his ear and whispered, "I promise I will bring you only pleasure." He relaxed, and I slid my hands down his arms, savoring the feel of his muscles as they bunched beneath the skin. My fingers entwined with his against his thighs. I slowly drew his hands behind his back.
He tensed again. "What are you doing?"
"Trust me, love." I murmured against his shoulder.
Steve dipped his head low in a nod. I took the remaining handkerchief and tied his wrists together behind his back.
"Does that hurt?" I asked, tightening the bonds.
"No." He grunted as I secured the knot.
"Now, if you want to stop, I want you to say 'winter'. I know you're perfectly capable of breaking free, but humor me."
I traced my fingertips along his shoulders and down his spine. His shoulders bunched and the muscles flexed with every caress. I smoothed my palms across his back, up over his shoulders, and down his arms. With a gentle kiss to his spine, I inhaled his scent. Although he tried to contain his reaction, I felt the slight tremble beneath the cool, collected exterior.
Silently, I pulled away and circled around to his front, careful not to touch him. The play of the streetlights against his skin cast one side of his body into deep shadow. I moved closer, allowing the heat from our bodies to merge, but refrained from allowing our flesh to touch. His lips parted.
I pressed my palm to his stomach. He twitched at the contact but remained still as a statue otherwise. My hand slid across his abs, then down until my fingers brushed the base of his cock nestled in dark curls. I wrapped my hand around him and stroked his length.
I glanced up at him in shock. "Did you just swear?"
Steve pressed his lips together. I gripped him tighter, letting my thumb slide across the tip. He bit his lip as his head fell back. I stroked and caressed him until his hips began arching into my ministrations. I released him and leaned close so our breaths intertwined.
"Do you like when I touch you?"
I reached up and pulled the blindfold off. He blinked and focused on me. I grinned at the look of pure lust in his eyes.
"I want you to watch me while I suck your cock."
Steve groaned as I dropped to my hands and knees. I watched his expression as I guided his cock to my lips, touching my tongue to the tip. His eyes widened as I slid him into my mouth. Warm and hard, his cock tasted as I'd imagined, sinful and wicked. I savored him, closing my eyes and giving into the moment.
His hips arched as I took him deeper in my mouth. "Julia...I..."
I sucked harder effectively cutting him off. When he came, I swallowed every single drop. Leaning back, I wiped my mouth with my fingertip and licked what remained there. His body trembled, but he kept his gaze focused on my face. I crept closer, brushing my hands across his chest, raking my nails against his skin.
Steve hissed in a breath. "Untie me."
I pouted playfully. "I like having you at my mercy."
"Untie. Me." He grated between clenched teeth.
"Beg for me, Steve." I traced my fingertip down his stomach, trailing it lightly over his cock. "I want to hear you beg."
His expression darkened. I leaned forward to kiss his lips. To let him taste himself on my mouth. I deepened the kiss and fisted my hand in his hair. Hunger drew us together, and I wanted to drown in it. When he nipped at my lip, drawing it between his teeth, I pulled away slowly.
"Julia, please untie me." Steve rested his forehead against mine. "I need to touch you."
Sweet merciful God, I never thought he'd actually do it. He could have broken the bonds or pulled away, but he begged for me. I wrapped my arms around him and untied his wrists.
In a flash, he had me beneath him, his breath hot on my neck. "What you do to me...I..." His teeth grazed against my throat. "I need all of you." With those words, he thrust into me.
"Steve." I whimpered as he began to move. My body reveled in the sensations of his lips against my skin and his cock as he moved inside of me. "I'm yours," I whispered as my orgasm neared. When it crashed over me, he held me close, taking us both over the precipice.
He collapsed beside me on the bed and gathered me in his arms. Exhausted and sated, I let the warmth of his body lull me to sleep.
My eyes refused to open, but the scent of coffee and bacon brought me back to life. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. The events of the night before slammed into me with the force of a tidal wave. I glanced around the room; Julia was gone. The sound of whistling echoed through the apartment.
I climbed from bed and pulled on a pair of mesh shorts. Slowly I moved toward the doorway and leaned against it when I saw the activity in my tiny kitchen.
Julia stood with her headphones on, her body swaying as she danced while she stirred whatever was in the skillet. She wore one of my button down shirts. It barely reached the tops of her thighs as she went up on her tip toes to pull the plates from the cabinet. Her curves were barely hidden beneath the fabric, and the memory of her...of us...last night send a bolt of need straight to my gut.
As quietly as I could, I approached her from behind as she ladled the eggs from the skillet to the plates. When she set down the skillet, I wrapped my arms around her waist. Oh, Lord, holding her felt like coming home.
She yelped and spun around, pulling the headphones off. "You scared me." Julia pressed her hand to her heart. "Did I wake you?"
"Your cooking did." I pulled her against my chest. "I wish you'd have woken me another way."
"Uh oh, looks like I let the beast out of his cage." She grinned up at me and wrapped her arms around my neck.
My hands drifted down to brush the bare skin her shirt revealed. "This is a good look for you."
She winked. "Maybe I should wear this to the office."
I shook my head, jealousy consuming me. "I'd rather you just save that for us." I kissed her soft lips.
"There's an us now?" she asked between kisses.
"Julia, I'm not sure what will happen or..." She silenced me with a hard kiss. When she pulled away, I finished my thought, lust hazed and hungry. "Please stay with me. I want you here, with me, indefinitely. Come what may."
"Such a sweet talker." She kissed me again and then pulled away. "Here, you'd better eat before it gets cold."
I picked up both plates and carried them to the small table as she poured the coffee. We enjoyed breakfast together, and for once in my life, the anxiety didn't haunt me. Their faces weren't burned into the forefront of my mind. I glanced up at Julia.
She watched me over the rim of her coffee cup, a curious smile on her lips.
"What?" I asked after swallowing a mouthful of food.
"I have to ask. Promise you won't be offended." Her eyes glinted like peridot in the morning light.
"Ask me anything." I prayed I wouldn't regret my sudden generosity.
"Where did you learn to...do that...?" Her voice trailed off as she spoke. The brazen vixen with her dirty talk from last night had suddenly found modesty in the morning light. It was adorable.
"How much do you know about me?" I asked and then took a sip of the black coffee as I glanced at her. Warmth flooded me, and I couldn't tell if it was the coffee or her company.
"A lot. I've been to the exhibit at the Smithsonian." She blushed as she took a bite of bacon.
"So you know about Bucky?"
"Yeah." Her gaze held concern and curiosity.
I smiled at her. "Before the war, we were best friends. He...well—" I hesitated because there was really no delicate way to say it "—he taught me a lot."
"You two were...?"
I shook my head. "No, Bucky was always on the prowl for a woman. His conquests were notorious as well as scandalous. Especially after he joined the Army." I cleared my throat. "He liked to tell me all about his adventures. Part of me thinks he liked to rub it in, honestly. I guess he thought I liked to live vicariously through him."
"So you never had sex?" Julia asked. Her brows creased as she watched me. "Even after the serum?"
"I had plenty of opportunities." I shrugged. "And then of course there was Peggy." A pang of remorse stabbed at my heart. "We know how well that worked out." I pushed away from the table and moved to the window. The bustle of the city outside gave me no peace.
Her arms wrapped around my waist from behind. "I'm sorry, Steve. I didn't mean to bring up anything to cause you pain."
I closed my hand over hers where they lay against my stomach. "Natasha has been pushing me for years. To find someone, to start fresh."
"Why didn't you?" she whispered against my back.
"Because no one could see past this image...no one could see Steve beneath Captain America." I pulled her hands apart and turned to face her. Dropping to my knees, I rested my face against her chest, my arms around her waist. "You did."
She stroked my hair, a soothing motion that set me at peace. After a few moments, Julia giggled.
"What's so funny?" I glanced up at her.
Her hand cupped my face. "I've brought Captain America to his knees...twice. Loki would be proud."
I groaned and climbed to my feet. "Don't bring him into this." As I went to walk away, she grabbed my wrist.
"I love you, Steve Rogers, and I promise I will only tease you when we're alone."
Her words pierced my soul. "You love me?"
She nodded. "It's crazy, I know. But I don't care." Julia stood on her toes and kissed me.
I grabbed her by the waist and swung her into my arms. She squealed then wrapped her arms around my neck as I kissed her again, deep and possessive. "I believe I'm falling in love with you too, Julia Nichols."
I spent all morning proving to her just how much love I could provide.