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Vide Cor Meum

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Vide Cor Meum (Here Is My Heart)

Joyous, Love seemed to me,

the while he held my heart in his hands

and in his arms, my lady lay asleep,

wrapped in a veil.


He woke her then,

and trembling and obedient, she ate

that burning heart out of his hand.

Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.

From Dante Alighieri's La Vita Nuova


"Dr. Fell, do you believe a man could become so obsessed with a woman from a single encounter?"

"Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her? Find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so. But would she see through the bars of his plight, and ache for him?"



Every time she lets him fuck her, he feels like he's getting away with something. Spitting in the eye of God, if you will.

There's a feeling of exaltation, a wicked sense of triumph, that elates his black soul and sends a pleasant fire through his veins. It would warm the cockles of his heart, if he had one.

Jackson stifles a smile at that and changes the rhythm of this thrusts, attempting to slow down this mad engine that's racing towards an exquisite precipice. Lisa's breath catches and she arches against him, the twin rosebud nipples of her breasts surge enticingly towards his mouth. He breathes in deep, a rush of oxygen filling his lungs, and with it, the scent of her, laced with perspiration and a faint hint of the perfume she put on this morning.

Here is a simple truth: the perfection of her body makes him shudder with lust. He's not ashamed of it anymore. He's not on the job, there's no one to answer to, and he understands the biological imperative. He is, after all, only a man, and what is man, but an animal with an oversized brain and the ability to reason. Jackson assures himself that what he feels for her is perfectly reasonable. Anyway, who could blame him, really? What red-blooded, heterosexual male would pass up an opportunity like this? She's practically perfect in every way: svelte limbs, curves in all the right places, tousled curls, big eyes, full lips...

Jackson takes a moment to run his tongue against the seam of her lips. Like magic - Open sesame! - she parts them to allow him in. His kiss is just this side of brutal, but she eagerly responds, her tongue rubbing against his in a way that is hot, nasty, and sweet all at the same time. He lowers his head, teeth scraping against her flushed skin. His tongue fleetingly passes over her body's one imperfection and Lisa hisses and clenches around him. The little spasm elicits a grunt from his throat and he pauses for a moment to catch his breath. Once recovered, he continues on his set course. He wraps his lips around one sensitive nipple and sucks, his cheeks hollowing with the effort. She whimpers and pants. One hand strays up to run through his hair, gently pressing him closer to her breast, while the the fingernails on her other hand dig into his lower back, urging him on. Jackson can't help but grin smugly at her impatience.

He raises his eyes and catches the open-mouthed expression of bliss transfiguring her face. Her brows are knitted into a sweet little frown and she moans, her head tossing against the pillow. The dark waves of her hair are artfully mussed and her lips are swollen from his kisses. Her pink tongue darts out to lick them and she swallows. A fleeting recollection from earlier resurfaces and he groans, remembering how her tongue had flickered against the skin of his hip right before she took him into her mouth.

He didn't think it was possible, but he just got harder.

Jackson slides a hand under her, urging her to tilt her hips, just so. He picks up the pace again, snapping his hips upward a little on the slide in, so the head of his cock bumps her g-spot. Lisa cries out, a new flood of her wetness gushes around him. Her eyes flutter open, pupils blown wide with lust, meeting his gaze evenly. Her expression is one of almost composed wonderment. Fuck, he thinks, she is stunning. But, no, it's more than that. He's fucked beautiful women before, but none of them have known him for what he is. None of them have looked at him with such gentle trust and - dare he think it? - acceptance. She must be out of her fucking mind to let him do these things to her. Lisa lets out another warble of pleasure and clutches at him, her nails sinking into the skin of his buttocks, urging him faster, harder. "Oh, oh, oh!" she gasps, her swollen-berry lips forming a beautiful, round "O" of pleasure.

Fuckfuckfuck, he thinks again, trying to slow down that unstopable climb towards, as the French call it, la petite mort. Little death, the transcendant release that comes with orgasm. He doesn't believe in God. If God exists, Jackson's surely screwed - and not in a good way. However, he does believe in religious experiences.


He plunders her mouth with lips and tongue and she sighs sweetly, returning his kiss. She's an angel, she really is. When he is inside her, he knows that she is the closest he'll ever get to heaven. When he's again separate, alone, without, he comprehends the full meaning of the word "hell."

For him, it's not too difficult to imagine himself a devil, one of the damned. It's a story Dante could have sympathized with: how he managed to catch this angel as she passed too close to the fires. On a mission of mercy perhaps, Jackson muses, because she's so very good. He caught hold of her and she carried him out - out of the pitch, and the fire, and the all-consuming rage he felt for so long. Naturally, she fought him at first. She is, after all, a good girl. She struggled valiantly and, really, he admired her for it. Of course it only made her submission that much sweeter.

Jackson's nothing, if not a handsome devil. Like Lucifer himself, he's a seducer. Tonight, when he kissed her, she cried. He had come to her back door, her kitchen door, and tapped lightly, like a gentleman caller would. She had let him in, even though the long t-shirt she wore as a nightgown hardly covered her bare legs.

She let him in.

She leaned against the counter, a safe distance from him. He could see her hands gripping the edge with white knuckles.

"What took you so long?" The hurt was evident in her soft voice. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He had no answers for her.

He frowned and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I don't want to harm you," he said finally. "I should have put a stop to this before it was too late." He sighed, shook his head. "But you can't trust me, Lisa. I'm not a good man."

She nodded in resignation, but came to him anyway, touched his mouth. Eyes brimming with bitter tears, she recited:

"O serpent heart, hid with a flow'ring face. Was ever book containing such vile matter so fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell in such a gorgeous palace."

He had chuckled at that, smiled wanly, and then kneeling on her cold kitchen floor, he slid her panties - white cotton and so innocent - down her legs. He pressed his mouth to her sex and made her come twice before she led him by the hand upstairs to her bedroom, wrapped her legs around his waist and willingly opened her thighs to him. So very different from their first time.


The first time, he had been a bit rough. Well, moreso than usual. But Jackson just couldn't help himself. Something about Lisa Reisert really got his motor running, transforming him into a testosterone-flodded, chest-beating, man-handling, grunting neanderthal. Maybe it was all of their unresolved issues - getting shot had hurt like a motherfucker and it had really pissed him off. Or maybe he had some previously sublimated sadistic tendancies. He certainly hoped not. But, god, he had to admit it, he had really gotten off on throwing her arround. At the time, it was a character flaw he didn't care to examine further. But the incredible thing was... Lisa seemed to get off on it, too. She had given as good as she got. Where he had left bruises on her hips, she had left angry, red nail marks up and down his back. Where he had left stubbleburn between her thighs and rugburn on her knees, she had left him with a bloody, bitten lip. When he had thrown his head back, lips curled, teeth bared, and roared his completion, she had been right there with him, body shuddering uncontrollably around his, her cries like a sweet aria to his ears.

Afterwards, lying next to her, feeling oh-so-satisfied with himself as his heart rate returned to normal and his skin chilled, he turned his head to look at her. An angry bitemark on her breast, right under her scar, wiped the smirk off his face and a pang of regret sprung up in his gut. Her breasts had risen and fallen evenly as she, too, tried to catch her breath. He turned toward her, reaching his palm out to cover the livid, purple mark. Her eyes fluttered open at his touch, taken aback at his gentleness. Jackson frowned, tracing a finger over it and tried to swallow the lump forming. He attempted to clear his throat. "I didn't mean to, uh..." he said, trailing off, unable to look her in the eye. "I mean, I didn't... hurt you, did I?" He finally worked up the nerve to meet her gaze. Her eyebrows were raised and he felt a stab of disgust with himself that she was so suprised by his concern.

"Well, I..." she began carefully, a blush rising up to stain her cheeks, "I don't think I could handle a repeat performance every night, but I'm okay. Actually, I'd say more than okay."

The finger-shaped bruises on her hips did nothing to ease his mind. The heat of her flushed skin had turned her scar an angry red and Jackson wondered if the Other had left bruises like that, too. Imagined scenarios - how it happened in lurid detail - sharp and vicious like a knife, flashed in his mind. God, he was going to throw up...

"Do you, uh, want me to leave?"

She didn't answer him for a long moment. He was rolling out of bed and about to pull his boxers on when she spoke, her hand shooting out to grab his wrist in an unyielding grip.

"No," she said softly. Her voice was as weak - desperate - as her grip was strong. "Stay."


The second time, while it had lacked the blistering heat and ferocity of their first coupling, was a shock to his system, to be sure. Sinking into her had been a startlingly profound experience, one he doubted he would ever have again. But you know what they say: never say never.

The second time, she had said his name. It was unbelievably thrilling. It made his blood sing in his veins and his toes curl.

"Yes! Oh, yes!" she had cried, her voice high and breathy. "Oh, god! Oh! Oh... Jack!"

He had felt her instantly stiffen after it slipped out, as though she feared a violent reaction from him. In other circumstances, he might have felt that black pit of rage churn in his belly. He recalled the last time she'd called him that. He'd had an overwhelming urge to break her pretty little neck. But right then, for the life of him, he hadn't been able to work up a single iota of anger - not when she'd said it like that, so soft and pleading, desperate for his touch. Instead, he'd kissed her deeply, hitched her legs up over his shoulders, and bore down on her harder. She went off like a roman candle moments later, crying out his name again and again, the walls of her sex fluttering around him, triggering his own climax, and goddamnit'ssofuckinggood, he thought.

Jackson had rationalized then that he really didn't mind if she called him Jack, Jill, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, or any ridiculous name she could think of, so long as she made that sweet little mewling sound when she said it.

I could do this, he thought. Steal her away. Start over. Exchange this life for a new one.


There's something that he knows when he's with her that he forgets again when he's away.

No sooner was he gone from her bed, in his car and headed back to his apartment, the voice of doubt - or perhaps common sense - began to nag at him. He could still smell her on him, feel the softness of her skin against his hands as he gripped the steering wheel. He licked his lips. He could still taste her.

It was just a fuck. You've had her, now she'll be out of your system. And the next time you get the urge for some Virgin-Mary-hotel-hostess pussy, you'll call an escort. Problem solved. You can have your own Lisa Reisert, made to order, and she'll only cost you six hundred dollars an hour.

But she won't smell like Lisa. Won't sound like her. Won't feel, taste, smile, cry, fuck, kiss like her, either.

You're a fucking pussy, Rippner. Fucking pussy-whipped. Are you going to jeapordize everything you've worked for, for a piece of ass? You are out of your fucking mind. You're as crazy as she is. Who in their right mind sleeps with someone who tried to kill them, anyway? That little bitch almost cost you your life and now, what, you want to play house with her? Get a fucking grip, man. It was all a manipulation. She fucked you out of fear for her life. You're a goddamn fool if you think it was anything more. You fucking kill people for money, Jack. You think she's gonna want you? She sure as hell can't bring you home to meet the folks, now can she?

Certainly not. Joe Reisert would break his neck if he ever saw him again, and well, could he really blame the guy? To Joe, Jackson was no better than the sick motherfucker who'd violated his daughter three years ago.

The Other, Jackson called him in his head. He did not call him the Other Man, because, in his mind, her rapist was more monster than man. But really, how different are you? How different are you really, Jack? It's such a fine line between man and monster. He knows - he knows - he will cross it one day, if he doesn't stop. He almost crossed it eight months ago.

Jackson remembers his psych professor back at Princeton stating that the willful taking of life represented the ultimate disconnect from humanity. Before, he had always been able to rationalize his choice of employment. Nice, upstanding citizens generally didn't have a price on their heads. Of course questioning a client's motives was frowned upon, but Jackson wasn't an idiot. He always did his homework before a job. If a target opened his door one day and found Jackson or one of his associates standing there, chances are the guy had been doing something naughty enough to deserve such a visit. Every target, up until the Miami job, had been a slimeball in one way or another. Keefe was no fucking saint, either. He'd spent much of the 1970s and 80s working for the CIA - Special Ops, no less. Jackson knew exactly what sort of scandalous enterprises Keefe had been a part of. He'd probably slit more throats for the U.S. government than, well, a lot of people. It was more than likely that he'd been party to the sale of weapons to Saddam's Ba'ath party. And Jackson knew for a fact that he'd supplied electrodes to the Chilean secret police during Pinochet's regime - all in service to the nation, of course. Just because he wore a suit now didn't make him any less culpable. But his wife, his children...

Oh, what the fuck had he been thinking, going forward with the job when he discovered Keefe's kids would be involved? He should have called it off, rescheduled, consequences be damned. Fuck professionalism, he wasn't a baby-killer. In the state of Florida, they strapped you to the electric chair or stuck a needle in your arm for that shit. Maybe not so different, after all, Jack. If she hadn't stopped you...

If she hadn't stopped him, that tenuous grasp he had on his own humanity would have been lost, like falling off the edge of a cliff into oblivion. Or maybe it would have been gentler than that. Maybe it would have just... slipped away, like a balloon tied to a string, going up, up, up, until he couldn't see it anymore.

You won't be getting that back. Wave goodbye to it, Jack.

His choices have left him an outsider, forever looking in, searching for company to keep. All he can do is play along at life and hope that sometimes he gets it right. He desperately wants to get it right.


Three weeks later, he's come to her again. He started feeling - there is no other word for it - the withdrawal after the first 48 hours, but pride, uncertainty, and an ever-revolving host of emotions kept him away.

Back in her bed, his body humming pleasantly, virtually high on a hormonal cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin, the idea of letting his own ego keep him away from her seems idiocy of the highest degree. With her head on his chest and sweat drying on their bodies, he mutters: "Shakubuku."

She raises her head and looks at him like he's crazy, though he doesn't think she is in any position to judge. She just let her arch nemesis fuck her seven ways from Sunday. For the third time.


He grins lazily. "Shakubuku. A swift spiritual, kick to the head, resulting in an instant knowing or re-knowing of something that was previously unknown, misunderstood, or known incorrectly."

She blinks at him. "Ah."

"It's one particular method of enlightenment used in Buddhism," he elaborates. "Critics of the practice often mistranslate it as, 'to break and subdue,' but that would be incorrect. It actually means 'to cease suffering and awaken to life's potential.'"

She sits up and looks at him. "Jackson, are you trying to tell me you're a Buddhist?" The look of skepticism on her face is undeniably comical.

"Not at all," he says blithely, pulling her back down to him. He sinks his fingers into the tangled silk of her hair and runs his hand down the smooth, flawless plane of her back. "The word just popped into my head. Don't know what made me think of it." He kisses her.

"Hm. Too many episodes of 'Kung Fu' as a kid?"

"Possibly." She smiles at that. He can see her smile, bright as day in the dark room, and he has the strangest sensation of something growing, growing, full to bursting, in his chest. It is both pleasant and painful. It's something that might bear further examination in the future, but not right now. He just doesn't have the brain cells. All he knows right now, is that he wants to make her smile again.

He squints his eyes and takes on the arthritic voice of elderly Blind Master Po. "What do you see, grasshoppa? What do you hear?" She giggles - Christ, she's giggling - dimples and all. He feels... baffled. How it is possible that she can smile at all, let alone at him?

"My brother loved that show. We always fought like cats and dogs over who got to watch their show, but I actually liked 'Kung Fu.'"

"You secretly wanted to be a Kung Fu master, didn't you," he smirks.

Lisa presses her lips together and tries not to smile. "How did you guess?"

He shrugs. "My kung fu is the best."

Lisa snorts and rolls her eyes.

"You can't deny it."

"What are you, twelve? Are you actually twelve years old?"

He lunges for her and she squeals and tries to roll away from him. He easily catches her around the waist and yanks her back. His fingers wriggle into the tender, ticklish areas of her skin, her neck, under her arms. She screams and grabs for his wrists. "Stop! Nonononono!"

"Say it. Say, 'Jackson, your kung fu is the best.'"

"No way!"

"Say it!"


He doubles his efforts and she shrieks louder. "All right! All right!" she shouts. "Your kung fu is the best!" The tickling stops immediately.

"Thank you," he says and flops back onto his side of the bed. She's flushed and breathing hard and laughing and he's really turned on.

She rolls onto her side, resting her hands under her cheek. He grins at the ceiling, quite satisfied with himself. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees her smile, as well. "There you are," she murmurs.


"That guy," she says softly, "The one from the Tex Mex. I wondered if I'd ever see him again."

It takes a moment for him to catch her meaning. He can feel the smile slide off his face, replaced by a grim expression. His eyes do not leave the ceiling, memorizing the wood grain in the exposed beam above his head. He swallows, then turns his body toward her. He looks her in the eye.

"That man doesn't exist, Lisa. He's not real." It's regrettable, but true.

Her smile evaporates. Her eyes become glassy as she studies his face. Then quite suddenly, she rolls over, turning her back to him. He knows she'd rather die than cry in front of him.

"I don't believe that," she whispers.

He scoots close to her, presses his chest against her back. He lays a hand on her shoulder, gentle as he can. Her tears are falling freely now. "I have to believe that you're not a monster, Jackson. I have to believe that there's good in you. Otherwise...this is just wrong."

"Oh, Leese," he whispers fondly. His breath on her ear raises goose bumps on her arm. "Always saving people. Are you going to save me, too? Be my own personal Jesus Christ?" He doesn't mean to, but his words come out with a hint of mockery. He feels her stiffen. "Don't cry, angel," he murmurs against the shell of her ear.

She shivers. "Don't fucking patronize me. I can't stand it."

"I'm not. Really, I'm not. But you're so concerned about what's right and wrong. What doyou want?"

"You don't get it. This isn't about sneaking around and getting off with you. I think you know I'm not that kind of person." She frowned. "It's just that, he was the first. You... were the first. The first guy I'd looked at twice since the attack. The first guy I looked at and thought, 'Maybe. Maybe I'm not damaged forever. Maybe..." she broke off. "I'm not going to deny that I felt a connection, but afterwards... I just felt humiliated. Maybe I just want to prove to myself that I'm not so easily duped."

He understands. He betrayed her. He, Jackson, who takes such pride in his own particular brand of honesty - his own brand of cruelty - had given a poor, traumatized woman a fleeting glimmer of hope... and then crushed it. He feels like a rotten son of a bitch because he's hurting her again. All he ever seems to do is hurt her.

She sighs. "Can we not talk about this right now? Can you just hold me?" He does as she requests, pulling her against his chest, smoothing her hair back from her forehead. He wipes away the stray tears from her cheeks and the tip of her nose. It's the tender gesture of a lover, a husband, a loved one.

"Let's just pretend that this is what our lives are like. This is perfectly natural. I want to close my eyes and let everything else fall away."

"I can do that."


Each scar - from the one on her left knee from when she fell off her bike -age nine - the one on her belly from her appendectomy - age thirteen - the one just above her hairline from a field hockey incident - age nineteen - to the one above her breast, the one that arrested her heart - age twenty-four. He touches each one, lips following hands. She tells him everything, and he loves her then.


"I want to know you," she says softly, brushing his hair back from his eyes. "Where did you go to high school?" She's lying pliant against him, her eyes soft and dreamy, but underneath he detects a hint of determination in her voice. He kisses her bare shoulder.

"What was your mother like?" He brushes her thick mane of hair to one side and presses his lips to the nape of her neck. She shivers and sighs, but she won't be deterred.

"What was her name?" He leaves a light kiss between her shoulder blades. Lisa gasps. Her eyes flutter shut as she moves against him.

"What did it say under your senior yearbook picture?" He runs the tip of his tongue up her spine. She moans softly, breath turning to light pants, and clutches at her pillow. He moves on to territory further south, marking her skin - staking his claim - with his hands, his mouth. He rests his cheek on one of the smooth, firm globes of her buttocks. He slides a hand underneath, gentle fingers parting her and delving in - ripe, warm fruit, pulsing in time with her heart. He spreads the slickness he finds there over her clit and strokes the tender bit of flesh with his middle finger. She rolls her hips and takes him along for the ride.

"Mmm... Jackson," she sighs.

He withdraws his finger, slick and gleaming with her juices in the morning light. He wraps his lips around the digit and sucks, savoring her. "Hmm," he mumbles, trying to categorize the taste of her. He settles on Sweet Tarts with a hint of plum and Amaretto. He lifts his head and notices she's staring back at him over her shoulder, wide-eyed, pupils dialated with lust.

"Delicious," he whispers and watches gleefully as a deep blush rises up her throat and across her cheeks. "Here," he says, and lifts himself over her. "See for yourself." He plunges his tongue into her mouth and she sucks the last bit of her essence from him. He smoothes his palm down her flank. She shudders and presses back against him. His errection fits snug against the curve of her shapely bottom and he wonders at the effortless way they fit together.

Yes, this is perfectly natural.

His fingers skitter across her hips, her belly, the sweet spot where the back of her thighs meet the curve of her ass. He's finds himself suddenly obsessed with the two small dimples, one on either side of her spine, placed on her lower back, just where her hips flare. He touches his finger, then his tongue, to the tiny indentations. Lisa hisses and rolls her hips. Having sated that little desire, he nudges her knees further apart.

Taking himself in hand, he grazes the head of his cock over her slick netherlips. He is aching to take her this way. He murmurs softly in her ear, "Is this okay?"

"Mmm... mmhmm," she nods. She presses back against him, a small gesture of reassurance, and lifts her bottom a little higher. She looks back over her shoulder, she's biting her lip, and he swears she could level him with the stark eroticism of her gaze. "Yes, please," she says - his girl is so polite - "I want you to."

Jackson's not one to keep a lady waiting. He lines up, hands grasp her hips, and plunges forward to the hilt. His thrust seems to knock the wind out of both of them - they both moan simultaneously. His shoulders sag and his body goes limp momentarily. He falls over her, but catches himself at the last moment, bracing his arms on either side of her back. The feel of her, the silky, wet embrace of her body - sweet Christ - it makes his eyes roll back in his head. The view of her lovely, heart-shaped ass isn't too shabby, either.

His momentary loss of motor function is quickly replaced by the primal need to move, so he slings an arm around her hips and pulls them back to meet his own. He sets an easy, languorous rythym which elicits an almost constant stream of little moans from her. She's so wet and the soft slap of humid skin meeting skin fills the room. Soon she's writhing underneath him, shifting her hips this way and that, searching for the perfect angle. He kisses her shoulder, brushes her hair out of the way, and sinks his teeth in - lightly, of course. She mewls sweetly and he laves his tongue over the lovebite.

While he's thoroughly enjoying it, Jackson knows this position is not the most conducive to stimulating the female orgasm. He can tell by the way she's shifting restlessly. He's determined to help her any way he can. He reaches around and clasps one of her breasts in his hand, rolls the nipple between his fingers. She bucks, shoving her hips back to meet his forward thrust. She's a writhing, slippery little thing. A fine sheen of sweat covers her lithe body and he has to keep a tight hold on her. He fears she'll slip right out of his hands.

He gives one final tweak to her nipple before letting go and sliding his hand down lower. He finds her clit with a precision that he's quite proud of. She cries out and clenches around him.

"Ah, there we go," he mutters and lets out a little laugh. He tongues her earlobe in his mouth and she whimpers in response. Deciding on a different point of attack, he releases the bit of flesh and sucks at the tendon in her neck, instead.

"Is that better? Do you like that?"

"Oh, yes! Yesyesyes, I do!" she nods vigorously and he grins. He doubles his efforts on her clit and she moans.

"That's it, Leese, let me hear you. I love hearing you moan while I'm fucking you." He punctuates this last word with a particularly brutal thrust and she lets out a small squeak. Hmmm... Seems like someone enjoys a little dirty talk. He decides to test this theory.

He puts his mouth very close to her ear. "Did you know... I can feel your pulse when I touch your clit? I can feel your heart beating through your clit. Leese, isn't that amazing?

"Mmmm, uh huh," she nods in agreement. She's panting like she's just run the Boston Marathon.

"Yeah, I think so, too. I could feel it on my tongue earlier, too, you know? Did you like that? When I put my tongue on your clit?" He surprises her with another hard thrust. She squeals and her whole body stiffens around him.

"I'll take that as a 'yes.'" Oh, yes, now we are getting somewhere, he thinks and grins like the Cheshire Cat. "I liked it, too, Leese. You tasted so sweet - like a plum."

He continues his leisurely pace, ignoring the soft, almost constant moans issuing from her throat. "A sweet, ripe plum." He runs his tongue up her spine and feels her tremble. "Fuck," he groans, "I could eat you for hours."

"Oh, god, Jack-! Jackson!" she cries and he pounds into her hard, once, twice, three times.

"Would you like that, Leese? Hmm? Me licking that sweet little pussy of yours? God, I'm so hard just thinking about it. Can you feel how hard I am, baby?"

"Yesssss!" she hissed, nodding furiously. "Yes!"

"Feels good, yeah? I just want to make you feel good. I swear, I'm gonna make you come so hard, baby." He pulls almost all the way out and then slams back home.

"God!" she shrieks. "Oh! Oooooooh! Harder! Don't stop!"

"Wouldn't dream of it," he pants, and furiously rubs her clit. She's sobbing now, her whole body shuddering, winding up for release.

"You're close, aren't you?" he whispers.

She doesn't answer him. She doesn't need to. He can feel it coiling in her, like a spring, like a serpent. Her body arches, his thrusts become faster, shallower. Just a little... bit... more...

He thrusts and holds himself within her, grinding her clit against her pubic bone. It's like she's been struck by lightning - she jolts suddenly, her body tense, unmoving, not breathing - except he can feel her clenching uncontrollably around his cock - and a long, keening wail uncurls from her throat. Her whole body begins to quake and she's falling, shattering, smashed to a million pieces.

It's what he always wanted, he supposes - to shatter her, to break her with the force of his passion. But the wonderful thing about it is that, in a few moments, she'll come back together, good as new, even better, and he can do it all over again.

He presses his finger to her clit, wringing the last aftershocks from her. She moans, voice soft, sated, dream-like. "Kiss me," she pleads. He happily obliges, lifting her chin to meet his lips. He kisses her soft and sweet.

Jackson gives her a few moments to come down, then he turns her over and slides back in. Lisa sighs, a blissed-out little smile on her face. She wraps her arms and legs around him and holds on like he's some kind of life raft. He slides his hand down to touch her, intent on bringing her off one more time, but she hisses when he touches her, grabs his hand. "Can't," she says. "It's too much."

"You're sure?" he murmurs against her lips.

"Mmhm. It's all right. I want to watch you come."

He almost does, right then and there. Jesus H. Christ, how is everything she says so unbearably erotic?

He starts to move, gentle at first, like her kisses. Lisa traces a finger over the arch of his eyebrow, the bridge of his nose, the curve of his lip. He kisses her thumb.

"Who was your first love?" She whispers in his ear, rolling her hips against his, urging him on with gentle hands and soft eyes. He's bone-weary, almost too tired to go on, but he can't stop, he's so close. So, so close...

He feels her clamp down around him and he groans. Lisa urges him to roll over on his back. He complies, happy to let her do the work. She threads their fingers together, palm to palm, and sits up. She grinds against him, uses her thigh muscles to slide herself up and down his shaft. She kisses the corner of his eye, swipes her tongue across his lower lip, nibbles it tenderly. After a few moments of slow, languorous strokes, she leans back, bracing herself on his thighs. It brings him into firm contact with her g-spot with every stroke and the friction is fucking incredible. She begins to move faster on him, squeezing rythymically with her internal muscles. Soon he's thrusting up to meet her. She bites her lip, brow furrowed in concentration.

"Jackson," she says eventually, "will you please touch me? I'll come when you do."

"Well since you asked so nicely..." he teases. He parts her with his thumb and presses against her clit, massaging in deep circles. Her breath catches and she shivers around him, pulsing around his cock in gentle waves. Her weak climax is enough to spur his own. Jackson groans and spills into her, fingers sinking into the flesh of her hips. The release is so sublime, so brilliant, for a moment, he sees stars behind his eyelids.

He's lived in darkness a long time. Over the years, his eyes adjusted until the dark became his world and he could see better there than anywhere else. But then Lisa turned on the light. She's flooded his world and now he's blind.

She kisses his lips with such tenderness, it causes something in his chest to tighten painfully. "When did your heart first get broken?" she whispers.

Here it is. It was fear of this conversation, this expected sharing of one's self with a sexual partner, this intimacy, that had kept him from forging any lasting relationships for the better part of a decade. The last time he'd had a real girlfriend was in college. It hadn't lasted long, only a couple of months. She had eventually seen him for what he was: empty. And then she was gone. He had been sorry to see her go, but relieved at the same time. Princeton's demanding academic program had left precious little time for anything else and now the same could be said for the nomadic lifestyle his job requires. But for a guy with his physical and intellectual attributes, one night stands were easy enough to come by, then and now. Really, they were the extent of his capabilities and he had been perfectly fine with the arrangement.

"Where were you born?" she whispers to his heart.

Perfectly fine. Until now.

He takes a breath. "Kenosha, Wisconsin."

The End