A little post Valentine's fluff. This is a sequel to my "Come to Thee by Moonlight" which veers AU early in season 4, so I recommend you check that our first.
And should this be the last thing I see
I want you to know it's enough for me
'Cause all that you are is all that I'll ever need
I'm so in love, so in love
So in love, so in love
Tenerife Sea, Ed Sheeran
The Troubles end nine months after Audrey came through the door.
She spends five of them as Lexi. But the ruse wears thin, and within a few months everyone who knows her at all knows better. Eventually it's impossible to deny to the Guard that she loves Nathan, but by then they've calmed down a bit. Dwight reins them in, and Audrey refuses their demands and barters for more time, and then some long lost prophecy surfaces that suggests killing Nathan would actually be a bad idea so she gets to go back to being Audrey.
He starts losing his haunted look and she stops having nightmares about being forced to shoot him. They're proper partners again. It's not enough – not after they've admitted their love for each other and she's felt all the planes of his body pressed against hers in those desperate embraces in his bed. She's seen the depth of his pain and she wants to swallow it for him. Instead she tests his coffee and answers his 2am texts and touches his hand every time she leaves the station.
Four months later they catch a break. They watch the lighthouse crumble into some freaky vortex and then a shockwave blasts through the town, sending them stumbling backwards.
Audrey pulls herself to her feet, expecting Nathan to offer her a hand. But he's still kneeling on the ground, and for one terrible second she worries that he's injured. But then she interprets his wide eyed expression properly. He raises one hand and settles it on his cheek as the other fists in the grass.
"Parker." There's awe in his voice, so pure and sweet that it steals her breath and makes her fall in love with him all over again.
"I can feel."
But she already knows. Because she's different too, somehow. There's a heaviness that lifted when the lighthouse fell. She always thought being driven and responsible was a part of her programming; that the real Audrey Parker felt this way because there was always so much depravity in the world that needed to be contained.
But it must have been the guilt of the Troubles weighing on her, because when she takes a breath now she feels light and free.
"I know," she says, perhaps the closest she's ever come to a giggle. Then he is rising and they meet each other halfway in a passionate kiss. The hand behind her neck is gentle even as she feels his heart pound wildly beneath her palm. She strokes a finger down his cheek and he pulls her even closer with a moan that makes her heart flip in her ribcage.
For nine months since she's been back they've denied themselves this – except for a few frantic embraces before or after life-or-death situations and one night when she'd almost let alcohol get the best of her judgment. It's sweeter than she ever imagined, a heady nectar of relief and promise and love with an aftertaste of lust.
He rests his forehead against hers when he finally pulls away. "How about that dinner?" he asks, his voice low and gravelly, referencing the fantasy she'd told him the night she crept into his bedroom and revealed that Lexi was a lie.
"Yeah," she breathes, unable to deny him anything.
"Yeah." Again the response is instinctual, but as she drifts back on her heels clarity returns. They've been working thirty-six hours straight and are surely facing a mountain of paperwork and she hasn't shaved her legs in at least a week. Dinner is code word for everything that comes after dinner and they've denied themselves so long for some stupid fantasy she had that they might as well wait one more day so they can get it right. "Wait, no."
"No?" His disappointment nearly weakens her resolve and she reaches out to clench his hand.
"Not no – no. Just not tonight. Tomorrow? It's just gonna take us awhile to wrap all this up and we're going to be exhausted. I mean – can you believe the lighthouse got taken out again? The insurance claim's going to be ridiculous."
His eyes narrow at her ridiculous rambling. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," she insists, squeezing his hand again for emphasis. He squeezes back, his fingers sliding between hers. "I'm just tired," she says. Truth is she's also a bit terrified. The enormity of what is finally going to happen between them is overwhelming.
He rubs at the back of his neck with his free hand, and she notices the split second when skin hits skin and he freezes in shock. He clears his throat. "You know we don't—"
She cuts him off. "We do. We will." Just because this is scary doesn't mean she doesn't want it. "Just not tonight. Tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," he repeats.
He deserves some time too, she realizes, even if he doesn't know he needs it. He can feel again for the first time in years. He should have some time to re-explore that on his own. Even if she does find his reactions fascinating.
"We should get back to the station," she says. "Call this in. See if there are any other disturbances."
"The Troubles are gone," he says. It's the first time either of them has vocalized it.
She grins, the thought of everything that means for this place she's come to care for flooding her with joy. "Yeah. And you never know. The victory parties may get a bit out of hand."
She stretches up on her toes to kiss him again, quick and sweet, just because she can, and then she pulls him by their still joined hands toward the Bronco.
Hours later, as she soaks in her tub with a glass of wine in one hand and a trashy novel in the other, she regrets sending Nathan away. This is how she always spent her rare days off back when she was a fed. The hot water and the booze used to relax her, the supernatural nonsense taking her mind away to a fantasy world so very different from the horrors she actually saw on the job. But now that fantasy world has become her life, the horrors there just as terrible when seen up close.
And when things between the main characters start to get steamy, all she can picture is Nathan showing up unannounced and climbing into the tub with her.
At least her legs are shaved now.
She gives it all up as a lost cause long before the water cools, puts on her comfiest pajamas, climbs into bed, and calls Nathan.
He doesn't pick up until the third ring. "What's wrong?" he asks, sounding breathless.
"Nothing. What's wrong with you?"
There's a pause before he answers. "I've been running."
She can see the appeal in that for him – she always kind of hated the shortness of breath and the ache in her muscles but after years of nothingness the strain would probably be pretty satisfying.
"So much more motivated than me," she teases. "I've just been taking a bath."
He doesn't say anything, but she can picture him swallowing as the cadence of his breathing changes.
"You're picturing me in the bathtub, aren't you?"
"Yeah," he admits, voice hoarse, and she relishes the feeling of being wanted. They've kept things so professional since she came back from the Barn that sometimes she doubts how much he could really want her, if she is the only thing he can feel and still he manages to keep his distance.
She laughs, wishing she could see the way he blushed. "Used to relax me. Didn't work so well tonight."
"Why did you call?" he asks, and there's something about his tone that makes her suspect that he knows.
There's something instinctive inside her that makes her want to lie and hide. She's always avoided vulnerability at any cost. But for the first time there's a countering force begging her to be honest with him.
"I missed you," she confesses. And it wasn't just that she missed him in the tub with her. She'd rather have stayed downstairs with him at their table in the Gull talking about nothing all night. She just hadn't realized her coveted solitude would feel so empty until she'd already said goodbye.
"I could come over." She wants to give in to that eagerness. It would be the best reward for their victory to spend the night wrapped in his arms. Even if they waited until tomorrow to have sex the closeness would be sweeter than a dozen of Rosemary's cupcakes. She remembers the way she'd melted into him the night "Lexi" had gone to see him. There had been so much despair between them then but his relief at the simplest of touches had been magnificent. Now that he is whole and they can start again she wants to see how her presence will affect him.
But it would be so easy to lose herself in the strength and novelty of her feelings for him, and she won't do that. She can't forget how to be her own person. The thought of depending on someone else, even Nathan, still makes her uneasy.
"Nah," she says, trying to let him down easy. "I'm already in bed."
His resulting silence makes her question that choice of words.
"Besides, you probably need a shower anyway." She closes her eyes and sees the water running off this body, his skin glistening with soap. "Great. Now I'm picturing you in the shower."
He chuckles, but there's something a little strained about it. "You could—uh—join me," he suggests, his voice so low and quiet it takes her a second to interpret what he said. She's not used to him being so forward, and it thrills her. She allows herself a few second to indulge the fantasy, and then she shakes her head, even though he can't see her.
"Not tonight. Can we just talk for a while?"
"I've been told I'm not much of a conversationalist."
He's so monotone it takes her a moment to realize he's kidding – and referencing something she had said.
"Look at that. Being Trouble free turns you into a comedian." She's excited to discover if that's actually true. She's definitely seen glimpses of his wry sense of humor, but their lives have been so serious it's rarely been appropriate. "I think you'll manage. If you get stumped I can ramble on enough for the both of us."
"So what have you been up to since we left the Gull?" They'd ended up having dinner together anyway, but burgers and beer was an end of case tradition, not a date. It was a deeply personal question, because asking what he'd first chosen to do now that he could feel again was like requesting a window into his soul. Nathan was a deeply private person, and there was a good chance he'd brush off the question; she probably would, in his place. But she wants him to be honest with her.
He doesn't answer right away, and she fears she's pushed too hard. If she could see him she'd have a better idea what he was thinking. Perhaps she shouldn't have asked this over the phone.
It's easier to be bold when she can't watch his defenses coming up.
"Went down the beach," he finally says. "Wanted to feel the sand and the spray and the breeze." Of all the things he could have chosen it is so simple. She aches for him – all the pain and heartbreak he's been through over something she – at least indirectly – caused. Somehow he's still the best man she's ever known. Flawed and insecure and awkward but under it all so damned good. It's Haven's biggest miracle.
"May have taken a swim." There's something about his tone that makes her think that he is trying to flirt.
"Without your clothes, perhaps?" she flirts right back.
"Why Officer Wuornos, I'm surprised at you. Think of the scandal if I had to arrest you for public indecency."
"Chance is you'd be getting arrested right there with me."
The thought of that is thrilling. They are upstanding citizens – but maybe.
She wants him to let down his boundaries and enjoy himself. She wants him.
God, she has it bad. When her mind was constantly Trouble solving there wasn't so much time to dwell on that.
"Maybe we save that until the second date."
"Hmmmm," she responds, not liking the seriousness that has crept into his tone.
"You don't owe me anything."
"Yes I do."
"Just shut up a second, Nathan. I owe you so much. This whole town does. There's no way I would have been able to stop the Troubles without you. The cycle would have just kept continuing, and I'd be gone and all the identities that replaced me would be caught in the same trap. Hundreds of people would have died through the years. Thousands would have suffered. And it's more than that. Because I owe you, not just for saving me, but for being there for me through everything. For having my back and making sure I took care of myself and for forgiving me for pushing you away before the Hunter and for all the Lexi nonsense."
"I don't want you to go out with me because you think you owe me." He sounds so defeated, like he didn't process a word she just said, and she wishes they were in the same room so she could provide some physical reassurance.
"Stop. That's not why I'm going out with you. I do owe you. But the two are unrelated. We're going to have dinner tomorrow night because I really, really want to."
"Yeah?" he asks tentatively.
"Yes. Look, I freaked out a little this afternoon. This is a big step for us. I'm not any good at relationships and you don't seem to be either. You're too important to me for this to go wrong. But I do want this. I really, really do."
"Good. " She can hear him blow out a breath. "I love you."
She knows that, but he hasn't told her for nine months, and it is good to be reminded. She'd begun to question whether tomorrow would ever come. "I know. I love you too."
The department store is a disaster.
She and Nathan had stayed up for hours talking, so she lets herself sleep in, relishing the fact it is the midmorning sun streaming through her curtains that wakes her up, not an alarm. She allows herself a leisurely breakfast, but she has preparations to make, so she gets dressed and goes into town.
Her first task is to find something to wear. But nothing she tries on is right. At first her critiques are legitimate – this dress is too short, another too matronly, one makes her breasts look too small and another her butt too big. By the twelfth dress her reasonings grow more ridiculous –she isn't sure how Nathan feels about sunflowers or the color green.
By the seventeenth dress she gives it up as a lost cause. She still had the blue dress she'd worn on one of their first cases together, and that will have to do. He'd seemed to like it well enough on her then.
A trip to the lingerie department assures he'll like it well enough off her too.
She's always found that kind of stuff distasteful – but she's never been with a man she cared so much about pleasing. She knows without a doubt that Nathan thinks of her as an equal and not a sex object. But the man hasn't gotten laid in years, and she wants to give him something to salivate over.
The thought of the way he'll look at her makes her flush with wanting. Truth is it's been a long time for her too. After all the anticipation she expects fireworks. Knowing Nathan the way she does, she's sure he'll give them to her— as long as he can keep his wits about him.
The possibility that maybe he wouldn't be able to is enticing as well.
She's so wrapped up in her dirty thoughts that she forgets the hazards of living in a small town. The woman at the checkout counter raises a judgey eyebrow, and Audrey suddenly fears that Nathan will hear she's been out to buy lingerie from some biddy on the street before he sees it for himself.
She should have gone to Derry to do her shopping.
She's so wrapped up in self-recrimination when she leaves the store that she doesn't even notice when she almost walks into someone.
Familiar hands clamp around her shoulders to keep her at a distance. "Woah there, Parker."
"Nathan." Her head snaps up with a breathless blush. Maybe it's the fact they've both had their first good night's sleep in years, but he looks particularly handsome.
Probably it's the smile. She's never seen him relaxed like this.
Her blush deepens and she can't seem to control it, which is mortifying. "Yeah." She had – except when she'd woken up at three in the morning sweaty and wanting after dreaming of him.
"I'm headed to the farmer's market to grab some lunch. Want to come?"
She has a list of things she'd hoped to accomplish, but she learned her lesson yesterday. She should eat, anyway. "Sure."
"Let me take that." He reaches for her bag and she snaps it away.
"No chivalry allowed, huh?" There's something comical about the arch of his eyebrows. But she cannot have lunch with him in public carrying a teddy.
"Can we drop this off at my car, actually?"
"Sure." The way he smirks, she wonders if somehow word of the bag's contents have already reached him.
She feels much better once her bag is safe in her trunk. They walk to the market and wander through the stands, and when he nudges her hand with his she takes it. They've never had some freedom – but isn't one of the objectives of tonight to get the town talking?
The marketplace is full today, even though fall has limited the purchasing options. Normally she'd guess folks were just grateful to soak up the mild weather before winter was upon them. But something about today feels like a celebration. Neighbors chat animatedly, and many of the vendors offer free samples. They couldn't exactly issue a proclamation that the Troubles were over when the official line was they didn't exist, but Dwight knew, and he had surely alerted the Guard. Vince and Dave knew as well, and she looks forward to the headlines of the next Haven Herald.
Nathan buys them sandwiches and she purchases two cups of mulled cider. He clutches the Styrofoam with both hands far longer than necessary – it's surely safe once she starts drinking hers – but she doesn't blame him for craving the warmth.
He doesn't blame her when she nearly polishes off half a dozen cider donuts by herself.
"This is the best thing about Haven," she declares, waving the last cinnamon and sugar powdered delicacy in front of his face before taking a bite. "I thought Rosemary would good at cupcakes, but these are divine."
His fingers dart forward, break off a piece of the pastry and pop it into his mouth before she can protest. "The donuts are the best thing about Haven?"
Wounded as he looks, she won't cave when he's just poached part of her last morsel. "Yeah."
He has sugar on the corner of his mouth. She reaches up to brush it away and then stops herself. Not giving herself time to overthink this, she presses her lips to the area and sweeps the grains away with her tongue.
He's dazed when she pulls away, eyes wide and mouth slightly agape and she laughs at the power she has over him. "You had a little something—"
He cuts her off with his mouth and suddenly he's kissing her like he had yesterday. There's nothing light or flirtatious about it – until he pulls back suddenly and grins when she propels herself forward, desperate to finish what he started.
"You're not the only one who can play this game, Parker." She wants to squirm at the intensity of his gaze, but they're in public, and she restrains herself to a shiver.
The dress still fits. She was afraid it might not look as good now that she's a brunette – there hasn't been time to figure out what colors go well with her dark hair. Unfortunately she was able to repair the damage Lexi had done to her relationships but not her appearance. Now that the Troubles are gone perhaps she'll have time for the upkeep of dying her hair blond again.
Her hair does curl easier now, and she gathers them to spill over her left shoulder. Her makeup takes twice as long as usual – both because she's making more of an effort and because her hands shake from nerves.
She's slipping into her heels when the doorbell rings.
"Coming," she shouts, figuring with his sensitive hearing he might actually hear her through the door. She takes one last look in the mirror and one last deep breath before she lets him in.
"Hey—" His voice cuts out as his eyes rake over her, and though they follow the cut of the dress they're back to her face quickly. "Beautiful." The word seems to escape him unconsciously, because after a few seconds he's stuttering. "You're beautiful. I mean. That wasn't some cheesy pickup line like, Hey Beautiful."
"Come in," she encourages, rescuing him. She's glad she's not the only one who's nervous. He's wearing the vest he wore at his reunion, and it makes him look particularly handsome. There's gel in his hair and she can smell cologne, and she wouldn't mind skipping the dinner portion of the evening.
"These are for you." He hands her a bouquet of daisies in fall colors. It's a nontraditional choice, but they're gorgeous. "And this." Next is a dozen cider donuts, and she can't help but laugh with delight.
"Because they're the best thing about Haven," he repeats. She wants to tell him that he's the best thing about Haven but the words stick in her throat. She blinks tears out of her eyes. "You didn't have to."
"Wanted to, though." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small rectangular box. "This is probably overkill then."
For a moment she panics – but it's too big to hold a ring and he probably wouldn't give that to her still packaged. She flips it open to find a pair of sapphire earrings. They're simple studs, but the cut of the stones make them sparkle brilliantly. They match her dress perfectly.
"Reminded me of your eyes."
She chokes back a sob, and this time she can't hold back the tears. He's always brought out emotion in her she thought she'd kept controlled. "No one's ever given me anything this beautiful."
His thumb sweeps gently across her cheekbone. "You'll have to get used to it."
She closes her eyes and leans into the contact. Once she composes herself she pulls away to find a vase to hold the flowers.
He watches her from the doorway as she puts in the earrings. "You look stunning. But I thought you were out today to buy something to wear."
"I was. Something to wear underneath."
Color creeps into his neck at her implication. "Dinner?" she asks cheekily.
Just like she'd imagined, they go to the fanciest restaurant in town. She tells him he doesn't have to order lobster on her account but he refuses to listen. She doesn't argue about the bottle of fancy champagne he buys them though, and if she overindulges a little it's because of the nerves.
"Town seemed quiet today," he offers after the waiter takes their order.
"Nuh-uh. No shop talk on our first date. We are not on duty right now."
"What do you want to talk about?"
"Pretend you were on a first date with somebody else. What would you say?"
"I have no idea."
Truthfully she doesn't know either. "Tell me something about you that I don't know."
She watches the way his brows furrow as he thinks about it. His fingers trail over the stem of his fork. She's noticed that ever since the Troubles lifted he can't stop touching things.
She can't wait until that thing is her.
"Duke and I were best friends until we were eight."
She understands how much that admission cost him. "Somehow I'm not surprised." It's always been obvious that there was history there. "What happened?"
"My Trouble kicked in. Duke started avoiding me. Then he got mean about it. Was probably Simon's influence. Chief told me I was better off not spending time with a Crocker anyway."
She reaches out to cover his hand with hers. "Sins of the fathers," she murmurs. "Glad you both got over it eventually. Even if it did take a few decades."
"Duke and I are not friends," he protests.
"Forgive me for not believing you."
Nathan shakes his head, but he wears a hint of a smile. "Your turn."
She's meant this to be a lighthearted exercise, but his honesty requires a revelation of equal gravitas. "I realized I loved you during the Groundhog Day Trouble. When I watched you die – nothing has ever hurt like that. Not until I came back from Colorado and you did die, anyway. It's why things cooled down with Chris so fast. I woke up beside him after watching you die in my arms and I was so ashamed."
She can't bear to look at him so she stares at the flatware.
"Hey," he entreats. "I waited too long to make my move. That wasn't your fault."
She jerks her head up and stares into his eyes. "You were going to make a move?"
He nods slowly. "Yeah. It was the case before – the killer roots. The Teagues were bugging me about you and Chris and I realized I didn't want to keep my feelings a secret anymore."
"How long had you kept them secret?" she asks, bewildered.
"Awhile," he hedges.
"Nathan," she demands.
"The chameleon. Guess it was the same kind of reveal. I thought you were dead – and I couldn't stand it."
She's never expected his feelings went that far back. "That was so long ago."
"God, Nathan. I'm so sorry. You came to rescue me and I threw myself at Chris and I've kept you waiting so long."
"It's okay." She opens her mouth to protest and he shakes his head, silencing her. "We're here now. Somehow I think it'll be worth the wait."
She scowls, and then she takes another drink of champagne. "I can't believe it."
"Please don't feel guilty. How about another awkward first date question. What did you want to be when you grew up?"
"Who knows. That was several hundred years ago, apparently."
He takes her outburst in stride. "What did Audrey Parker want to be?"
She huffs out a breath. Even after everything – all she's learned of Lucy and Sarah and Veronica and Mara – those memories are still there.
This is a different kind of embarrassing. "A ballerina."
He grins at that. "Seriously?"
"Did you take dance lessons?"
"No," she says with a groan. "I had the grace of a hippopotamus. And none of my foster parents would ever pay for that."
"I don't know."
He'd let it drop, but it wasn't honest, so she reconsiders. "They were so pretty. And they got to travel the world and pretend to be someone they weren't. That's a little ironic, actually."
"We could go traveling now," he says softly.
"You'd have to get a passport."
"I could get a passport."
It's too much to think about right now. This place might just be enough for her. "What did you want to be?"
She's absolutely not expecting his answer. "A doctor."
"Yeah. I wanted to help people. But then the Troubles came. Once I stopped feeling things there were so many doctors, and none of them could help at all. Lost its appeal."
"Doctor Wuornos." She tries it out to see how the words sound. She can imagine a few scenarios where she'll whisper that in his ear. "You would have been a good one." The mood has grown too serious, so she slides her foot up his leg under the table and smirks when he twitches. "I think we both need some more champagne."
Perhaps they've had too much by the time they get to the diner. She slides into the booth. Instead of sitting on the opposite bench he slides in next to her.
"Hey," she protests but he just grins, leaning into her.
"Rather sit over here," he tells her. Then he rests his hand on her thigh.
He's overpoweringly close, and she tries to remember that they are in public. She thinks somehow she started this back at the restaurant with all the footsy under the table, but the details are just slightly hazy.
The breakfast special is chocolate chip and pumpkin pancakes, and she waffles about it for a while before she asks if she can get them.
"You can get anything you'd like."
"That's not how this was supposed to go."
He rolls his eyes indulgently, but his fingers on her leg tighten slightly. "They're still pancakes."
So she orders the pumpkin pancakes and he gets regular. When hers come smothered in whipped cream and caramel sauce she practically squeals in delight.
They taste even better than they look.
"You've gotta try this," she insists, spearing a piece and thrusting it in his general direction. He leans forward to take the piece from her fork and suddenly she realizes this was an unwise idea. His licks his lips after he finishes, his eyes smoldering, and she's so ready for coffee now.
"Good," he offers noncommittally. But he lets her feed him a few more pieces.
They leave with most of their pancakes still uneaten. His hand rests on the small of her back, scorching through the fabric.
They laughed at the diner but the ride home is silent, the air so thick with anticipation she feels short of breath. He pulls into the Gull's parking lot and kills the engine.
He turns to look at her, his profile striking in the moonlight. "So."
"Wanna come up?" There's still something terrifying about the prospect, but she doesn't have any doubts.
As soon as she steps inside her apartment she flicks on the lights and turns to him. "What do you want in your coffee?"
He freezes, but the shock fades after a moment. "You're kidding, right?"
She only lets him wonder a moment more. "Absolutely." Then she grabs the collar of his vest and pulls him into a searing kiss.
The morning's almost over when she pads into the kitchen to watch him make breakfast. She's back in her comfy pajamas, but he's wearing only his boxers and undershirt which gives her a bit of a view as he pulls ingredients from her refrigerator.
"Gonna be some weird pancakes," she quips as she hops up onto the island counter. He's just pulled green peppers and mushrooms from her fridge. "Also I'm 99.9% sure I bought none of those things."
"I'm not making pancakes."
She almost falls from the counter in shock. "What did you just say? I must be hearing things."
"We had pancakes last night."
"That has never stopped you before."
"I know more than one trick."
"You certainly do," she purrs, flashing back to last night.
She's never known sex could be like that. All the buildup had absolutely been worth it. She'd always needed to be in control in the bedroom, just like she was everywhere else. But there was something different about Nathan. She's never trusted anyone the way she trusts him. And when they were finally alone together, she didn't need to hide from the intimacy by taking charge. He'd looked at her like she was the most perfect, cherished person in the world, and for once she didn't want to be anything more than that. There had been something liberating in that surrender.
And he'd displayed the same unfathomable trust. There was something absolutely intoxicating about the power she had over him when she did take charge. Perhaps some of it would fade as he adjusted to his restored sense. But she'd been enthralled by the wonder and bliss she could evoke in him with even the lightest, most innocent of touches. And when those touches had grown less innocent … He had known so much pain, and most of it was her fault. She'd never forget his despair as he begged her for death. But his ecstasy as he begged her for life went a long way to heal that ache.
"Besides, we have to keep our strength up."
"Another fair point." She watches him chop the vegetables, distracted by his nimble fingers. He'd grown bolder as the night wore on, and those fingers had known a few tricks that she very much appreciated.
"Though really, where did the vegetables come from? And eggs? I never have time to make eggs."
"Had Duke drop off a few things while we were out."
It is shocking that Nathan would make such a personal request of Duke – and also that he has a spare key to her apartment that he's never mentioned. But it actually explains a lot.
"He's done that before, hasn't he? Here I thought someone in town had an appearing groceries Trouble, because I've known I've found things I didn't put in there."
"He was looking out for you. Sometimes you forget to take care of yourself."
"Good think you're pretty good at that."
"About last night." He sounds anxious, and she can't stand that. She hops off of the counter to stand in front of him and grips his forearm. After everything the touch is still electric.
"Last night was incredible. I wouldn't change a thing."
"Did it make you…" He trails off, and she can think of lots of ways to finish that sentence.
"Make me what?"
He hesitates, so she reaches up to stroke his face. His eyes flutter closed. When he opens them again they are blazing with resolve.
"Want to spend each day waking up in my arms."
It's another thing she'd said that night she'd given him a fantasy to hold on to so he'd stop asking her to kill him. She thought back to a few hours ago, waking up with him for the first time – his brilliant smile and the butterflies it had bred in her, the lazy tango of lips and limbs, the way he'd whispered her first name so reverently at the crest of his orgasm and the way he'd sighed when she curled into him afterwards and ran her fingers across his chest. She'd had no idea nine months ago if it would be as good as she'd imagined.
Turns out her imagination could never be vivid enough.
She runs her hands down those arms in question, letting the joy she feels bubble out of her. "I don't want you to run out and buy me a ring tomorrow. But this is real and this is serious, and I never want to feel this way about anyone else."
He lifts her up as he kisses her. Her legs come around him out of instinct and he's got her pressed against the counter and a hand up her camisole before she processes what's going on.
She pulls away when she needs to breathe, and presses her hand against his roaming mouth. "Cool it Romeo. Breakfast, remember? Cause we have to keep our strength up."
"We can have breakfast later," he says against her palm. And then he shifts slightly to take one of her fingers into his mouth.
"Okaaaay," she says with a breathy sigh, unclasping her legs and pushing him away with great remorse. "Please hold that thought. But I need you to feed me first. I am actually starving. For actual sustenance."
"Don't be sorry. Just cook really really fast."
Even with the extra haste the omelets are delicious. He uses a number of spices she's certain didn't originate from her cabinet. In addition to all the amazing sex, she now envisions a life where she eats very well.
"I have a confession to make," she tells him once he's tucked into his breakfast.
"What?" She intends to break him of that persistent moment of worry. Either he still doubts her intentions or he doesn't think himself worthy of them, and neither is acceptable.
"Part of the reason I wanted to wait to have sex until the Troubles were over is so it wouldn't be about feeling something, it would be about feeling me."
"That's not your cue to be self-deprecating. I know you love me. I know that's never been what this is about. But if we started having sex when you were still numb I was afraid that would become what this is about. As much as I would have loved to make you feel again I didn't want to sully this if we did have a chance for a normal life someday."
He puts down his fork and stares at her, the force of his gaze so strong she feels like she might combust. "You're magnificent. I'd give up feeling everything – even you – just to live by your side."
"Lucky for us both you don't have to do that."
"What do you want to do today?" he asks a few minutes later after the omelets are consumed.
"You," she says boldly, and she laughs when he blushes. "I promised myself if we waited I'd get you all to myself for at least a week. Think we can get the rest of the town to leave us alone for that long?" she asks wistfully. She's already half-expecting one of the Teagues to show up any minute to congratulate them on finally consummating their relationship and show them the latest Herald headline.
"My father had this hunting cabin."
"Sounds a little rustic for me. I'm a good shot, but I don't have anything against deer."
"It's got a bed and a fireplace, and practically no cell reception."
"Sounds perfect," she declares, catching his drift.
A few days later, as he charts a meandering trail of kisses across her bare shoulder as they lay tangled by the fire, she decides that it really is.