Elsa eyed her strangely as she deposited the newest ice cream flavor into the case, Emma's hands still sticky with chocolate. "When did you decide to do that? I didn't think we were doing anything new right now."
Emma shrugged, reaching for a slip of paper and a marker to write the flavor's name down and tuck into the display. "At Costco. Chocolate was on sale," she lied, keeping her eyes firmly trained on her task. Her handwriting was terrible, so it took an extra amount of focus to keep the letters legible as she wrote out Chocolate Sin.
"You don't even like chocolate that much."
"Aren't you always telling me everyone loves chocolate and the fact that I don't go nuts for it makes me incredibly strange?" Emma capped her marker, bending back into the case to carefully position the label before gesturing to the chalk menu board behind them. "Can you do the board? Your handwriting is better."
"Sure, if you tell me what you're calling this one."
"Chocolate Sin," Emma answered promptly, silently cursing the flush creeping into her cheeks. Elsa made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a snort, but with Emma's back turned, she heard the scrape of chalk soon enough.
"You made it for Killian, didn't you?"
Emma groaned, leaning back against the counter. She had no choice but to get this over with – Elsa was too stubborn to let something go once she'd latched on. "I told you, it was…"
"On sale. Right, except I'm the one who does the expenses, and it wasn't. You usually lie better." Elsa raised a brow, wiping her chalk-covered hands on her jeans. "C'mon, Emma, you're being ridiculous. Just admit when he comes in here tomorrow, you already know you're going to pack up two pints of it. You're going to tell him the flavor name and wait for him to flirt with you. How much longer do you plan to torture the man?"
"Whose side are you even on?" It was meant to be light, a joke, but even to Emma her words sounded defensive.
Elsa sighed, a frown knitting her brows together. "I'm on yours, Emma. I'm always on yours. But I think you're doing yourself a disservice. You should see how your face lights up when he's in here."
"I don't light up. You make me sound like a damn Christmas tree."
"You can be awfully prickly."
"Says the resident ice queen."
Elsa laughed, shaking her head at the old nickname. With her pale skin, light blue eyes and almost white-blonde hair, she certainly looked the part, but it was her tendency to freeze people with her stare – a genetic gift from her mother – that had truly earned her the moniker. "Fine, don't listen to me."
"Do I ever?" Emma grinned, glancing at the calendar hanging neatly beside the register. "Are we all set for Halloween? I picked up the candy you put on the list." She moved away from the freezer case, willing Elsa to go along with the change in topic.
"Yep. Did you figure out your costume?"
"You're looking at it." Emma gestured to her jeans while making a face. She didn't really see the point in dressing up this year.
"Emma, please. It's one night. Haven't you ever wanted to be someone else for a little while?" Her words carried a hidden weight, and though they'd grown up quite differently, Emma knew Elsa had at times been just as desperate for a different life. They'd both spent considerable time wanting to be someone else, something else, but Emma had forced herself to accept her life by facing the cold reality that this was her hand and she had to play it. Elsa was still a dreamer.
"I don't have time to go down to…"
"So you don't have a costume at all?"
"Huh?" Emma's stomach sank as she took in her friend's gleeful smile, her eyes dancing. That couldn't mean anything good.
"I knew you'd flake out on this, so I ordered you a costume when I got mine."
"Seriously?" Emma's eyes narrowed, her arms folding across her chest. "What makes you think I'm going to go along with your little plan?"
"Because even you, Emma Swan, must have wanted to be a princess at some point growing up. And now you will be." Elsa grinned, pulling her phone out of her pocket and scrolling quickly before handing it over. "I got myself this one, in blue. And for you, this one," she said, tapping the screen before tilting it back toward Emma. "In red."
"How the hell am I supposed to scoop ice cream in that?"
"You're not. We're just going to hand out candy. It's Halloween, and it's not like kids can put ice cream in a candy bag." Elsa's grin widened, and she snatched back her phone. "Besides, Halloween is a Thursday this year."
"I hate you," Emma muttered, but even as she said it, her eyes drifted across the street. She couldn't help but wonder if Killian liked red.
Of course, Elsa took care of that for her.
She should have known her friend was up to something by Elsa's almost smug smile when Killian arrived late Thursday afternoon. Despite the cool day, he had his sleeves pushed to his elbows and two of the buttons of his shirt undone. All in black today, his eyes only seemed brighter as he grinned at Emma.
"Hello, love," he said in greeting, walking right up to the display and leaning on the glass. "How are you this fine day?"
"It's windy and cold, and I sell ice cream," Emma replied with a brow raised at the plate glass windows, endless grey clouds filling the horizon. "No one but you is crazy enough to come in here today."
"It is Thursday, after all." His smile softened, something much stronger than his usual teasing creeping into his eyes. "I know how worried you get if I miss a Thursday."
"Next Thursday is Halloween," Elsa cut in, ignoring Emma's glare. "We won't be selling ice cream in the evening, but we're going to stay and hand out candy. You should come by," she offered sweetly, sidestepping Emma's attempt to step on her foot.
"Aye, I usually hand out candy from my own shop. Perhaps we could combine our forces?" His eyes slid over to Emma as he spoke, lingering on her mouth before meeting her annoyed stare with his usual good humor. "If that's all right with you, darling."
"I don't care what you do." It was a lie, and from the look he gave her, he knew it, but he only nodded.
"All right, shall we say six o'clock?"
"Fine," Emma agreed before Elsa could make it worse, shooting her another glare. "You want your ice cream today or what?"
His glance flickered to the board behind her, scanning the flavors, and she knew the moment he saw the newest edition. When his stare settled back on her, his eyes had darkened, and though he smiled, there was something predatory in it. "Chocolate Sin sounds rather tempting."
Emma forgot Elsa was standing next to her, trapped by the desire in his voice. Heat exploded in her veins, her pulse coming alive beneath her skin. His eyes left hers, meandering over her body as though he could see through her thick sweater – as though he knew she suddenly ached in all the wrong places.
She jumped when Elsa bumped into her, empty pint containers in hand and her shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter. Emma grabbed the containers without looking at Killian, certain he could read her thoughts.
It was only when she had her back turned to quickly wipe off the sides of the pints before putting them into a bag that she heard Elsa ask Killian with far too much innocence, "Hey, how do you feel about red?"
"I rather fancy a woman in red," he answered without hesitation.
"I look ridiculous." Emma glared at her reflection in the small mirror, scowling at the long skirt and snug bodice. Elsa had helped twist her hair into an elaborate set of braids, a tiara carefully pinned into place. "And what princesses, exactly, are we supposed to be? I don't remember anyone wearing red."
Elsa shrugged, nudging Emma with her hip and adjusting her own crown in the mirror. "Who says we have to be anyone in particular? Halloween is the one chance every year to put on whatever you want just because you can."
"Does that include leggings and a sweater?" Emma asked hopefully, tugging on her dress. The built-in boning was giving her far more cleavage than seemed entirely appropriate for handing out candy to kids.
"Sure, once we get home." Elsa grinned, her eyes sweeping over Emma in a pleased evaluation. "If you make it home tonight."
"If I make it home? What the hell?"
"Just wait until he sees you."
"Until who sees me?"
"Emma, you're not stupid. Pretending to be doesn't really work for you." Elsa laughed at Emma's furious expression. "Oh, c'mon, after the way you two were making eyes at each other last week? It's just a matter of time."
"I don't make eyes," she protested instantly. Killian gave her all sorts of looks when he was in the shop, but the only look she ever gave back was one of annoyance.
Elsa sighed. "You're the most stubborn person I know." The bell clanged against the glass door, and Elsa gave Emma a slight push away from the mirror. "That's probably him now. It's six."
Swallowing hard against the butterflies creeping up from her stomach, Emma followed Elsa back into the shop. The lights were low, but they'd spent the afternoon carving pumpkins, and each one was lit with a candle, casting shadows in the early evening light.
And standing in the middle of it all was Killian Jones.
She hadn't expected him to dress up, for some reason, despite it being Halloween and her own costume. But there he was, clad in black leather pants and a snug brocade vest, the shirt open beneath to expose far more of his chest than she'd seen before. Her eyes devoured his bared skin, tracing the lines of the tattoos that were still too hidden to discern, before making her way to his face. He'd left his jaw extra scruffy, and dark kohl lined his eyes, setting off the icy blue color. The whole thing was topped off with a heavy, floor-length leather coat with broad lapels and shiny brass buttons.
She waited for him to tease her, to remark on her silent appraisal, but instead she watched as his throat bobbed with a hard swallow. "You…you look…"
"I know," she mumbled, finally forcing herself to look away. She looked ridiculous. She didn't need to hear him say it – even if a tiny voice in the back of her head protested he was far too dumbstruck to have been implying he found her outfit amusing.
"Idiots," Elsa muttered behind her, so quietly she knew Killian wouldn't have heard.
Emma ignored her, carefully picking her way across the shop with one hand on her full skirts, half-afraid she was going to catch the place on fire by knocking into one of the candles. Taking a deep breath before turning back to him, she picked up one of the bowls of candy and thrust it into Killian's hands. "Here. What are you supposed to be?"
"Isn't it obvious?" He waggled his fingers at her, one hand still clutching the bowl of candy. Heavy silver rings covered his hands, the stones catching in the light as he gestured to the sword at his hip. "A pirate, m'lady." The sparkle of amusement in his eyes made her want to bash him over the head with his sword…or maybe use it to cut away his clothes. "Might you be able to tell me where I can find hidden treasure?" His eyes lingered on the low cut of her neckline, and Emma rolled her eyes.
"You just don't give up, do you?"
"Not very pirate-like."
Emma huffed, turning away before the urge to smile got the better of her. He was not charming, and he was not more attractive than ever in his costume.
But as the night went on, it became harder and harder to lie to herself. The scent of leather and Killian's soap constantly assaulted her, his easy smile and genuine interest in all the kids that turned up at their door combining with deadly effect. Even as the hours grew and his eyeliner smudged, and he abandoned his heavy coat, he only became more attractive.
The feeling seemed to be mutual.
Killian's gaze rested heavily on her most of the night, and while at first he would look away when she caught him, by the third or fourth time, he didn't bother. There were casual shrugs and teasing grins, but by the time they'd given out the last of the candy, a challenge rested in his gaze.
He set the empty bowl down on the counter as he approached, the usual swagger in his step. "Thank you for the invitation, Swan. It was a lovely evening."
"I didn't invite you. Elsa did."
He glanced over his shoulder at the other blonde, blowing out candles and picking up stray candy wrappers. "Aye, she did," he said softly, turning his attention back to Emma. "All the same, it was a pleasure spending these hours in your company." She gaped at him, dumbfounded as he picked up her hand, bowed over it like he really was a gentleman pirate of old, and brushed a kiss across her knuckles. "Goodnight, love."
"Goodnight," she replied automatically, hating how breathless she sounded, hating how her skin burned where he'd kissed her. She watched, helpless, as he swung his coat back on and slipped out the door and across the street.
"Emma, if you don't go after him, I swear I'm going to," Elsa threatened, following Emma's stare. The wind caught the edge of Killian's coat, swirling it around his legs as he unlocked the door to his own shop.
"I…" Her mouth dry and her throat tight, Emma shook her head. "If he wanted to spend more time with me, he would have stayed," she finally said, tearing her eyes away from him and neatly stacking up the three bowls they'd used. "He left."
"Did it ever occur to you he's waiting for you to decide what you want?"
"I don't know what I want," Emma whispered, blinking back sudden tears that came up out of nowhere.
But it was a lie. She wanted Killian – almost as much as she wanted to protect herself.
The following Wednesday, Emma worked alone. With the slower season, they could afford to swap days, since only one of them really needed to be in the shop, and Wednesday and Thursday had become Elsa's days, while Emma took Monday and Tuesday. Fridays and Saturdays they took as they came, and with the drop in business, they were closed on Sundays.
Which meant that following Halloween, Emma had spent far too much time at home, by herself, with little else to think of but Killian. She'd done her best to distract herself with chores and errands, even a Sunday dinner with her parents she hadn't managed in months.
Where she had blushed hotly when Mary Margaret asked the same question she always asked – had Emma met anyone? Was she dating? And of course David had picked up on the change from her standard, instant no. Which wasn't really a lie – she wasn't dating.
Killian had been interested, once. He'd asked her out over and over, to dinner, for an evening walk along the harbor, onto his boat – and she'd always found a way to decline. But he'd given up, and though he still flirted shamelessly with her, he couldn't possibly still be holding out hope six months later. Emma wasn't the sort of woman men waited around for – she wasn't even the sort of woman men stayed for.
But was that entirely true? Was that what Killian had been doing, waiting like Elsa claimed? His shop was still busy despite the change in temperature, and a constant parade of beautiful women entered and exited his doors, but she never saw anyone leaving with him. He was attractive enough he should have had a different woman on his arm every night.
When it had been three hours without a customer, Emma decided to close early. Determined not to think about it being Wednesday, with Thursday soon to arrive as it always did, she refused to look across the street as she moved to the door, throwing the lock and flipping the hand-written sign Elsa had so painstakingly created to Closed.
Cleaning up didn't take long, and she was about to flip the lights off to head home when she stopped, her gaze finding its way as it always did across the street. They were nearly out of the dark chocolate ice cream, and Killian had left last week without his usual two pints.
She grabbed a container and filled it before she could second-guess herself. Lately one of the lobster fisherman had taken to coming by at lunchtime for a milkshake, and if he turned up again tomorrow, there wouldn't be any left for Killian. Since she maybe was finally prepared to admit to herself she'd whipped up the batch of Chocolate Sin just for him, it wouldn't do for him to miss out.
She didn't count on finding him bent over a beautiful woman's exposed hip, her pants pushed half-off. He laughed at something the woman said as he worked, the buzz of the needle in his hand filling the shop.
Emma's hand tightened on the bag she held, and he must have heard the crinkle of paper over the low drone of the needle. His eyes widened as he took her in, and Emma cursed herself for not bothering to look in the mirror. She probably had ice cream smudged on her face, half of her braid falling out. "Sorry, you're busy," she mumbled as he stood up, telling his client he'd just be a minute. "I'll go put this in the freezer."
"Today is Wednesday, is it not?" His brow furrowed, he pulled off his gloves and tossed them into the nearby trash, fishing his phone out of his pocket. "Aye, it is Wednesday. To what do I owe the honor?"
"I…well, Leroy keeps ordering that ice cream I made for you, and it's almost gone, and I wanted…"
"So you did make it for me." His face lit up as he smiled, rocking back on his heels with his arms crossed. "It seems I owe Elsa that money after all."
"You bet on me?" she sputtered, glaring back over her shoulder at Frozen despite knowing Elsa was at home.
He shrugged, but the smile didn't falter. "It was her idea."
"I'm going to kill her."
"Please don't. You're far too beautiful to go to jail."
"I hate both of you." Emma glared at him, shaking the ice cream. "You want this or not?" Her cheeks burned, hating she'd admitted it without intending to. No good could come of Killian knowing she'd thought of him wandering the aisles of Costco.
"Aye. I'm nearly finished with my last appointment for today if you don't mind waiting for a few minutes?"
She opened her mouth to say no, that she wasn't going to wait, that she was busy and she'd only brought him one pint of ice cream, so she would see him tomorrow anyway. But instead, she nodded, taking a step toward the back room. "I'll just go put this away then."
"Don't bother." He snatched the bag out of her hand, peering inside with a grin. "I intend to enjoy this directly. If you're nice to me I'll share."
"I'm always nice," she protested, but he was already moving back toward his client, apologizing once more. Emma pretended not to notice the glare the woman threw her way, settling into the well-worn leather sofa that occupied the space along his front windows.
The low table in front of it held several photo albums. In need of a distraction, Emma pulled one onto her lap, wondering what he could possibly have so many photos of.
"Wow," she breathed out, flipping open the first page. The photos were all of tattoos, bright colors and artfully shaded grays alike. Some were playful, others dark and melancholy, but a consistent style ran through all the pieces. It didn't take her long to figure out they were all Killian's, and that he'd earned his spot on whatever tv show he'd been on.
"Do you have any?"
Killian's question startled her, and she looked up to realize the woman had gone and he was standing in front of her, pint open and spoon in hand. He nodded toward the album at her dumbfounded expression, quirking an eyebrow. "Tattoos, love. Have you got any?"
"Oh. No, not yet. I always thought about it, but never settled on anything I liked enough to be permanent." She closed the album, setting it back down with the others and shifting nervously as he sat down beside her and offered her a spoon.
"I did promise to share." He dipped his spoon back into the ice cream, his tongue darting out to lick the chocolate from the plastic. Emma stared in fascination, watching the curve and flick of his tongue and wondering what he would do with it first if they were to…
"Sorry," she blurted out, suddenly very intent on the ice cream he held. Her fingers brushed his as she gripped the pint, taking her own spoonful. "It's been a long day."
He hummed his agreement, licking another spoonful of ice cream. He would taste like it if she kissed him, full of sugar and sin. The longer she watched him, the more she wanted to, her skin growing tight and her throat dry.
"Do you…are you expecting…are you done for the day?" Emma finally managed to ask, wincing at herself. When he came into the ice cream shop, she had no problem finding things to say – usually vaguely insulting things – but sitting in his place of business, strangely cozy on the old couch, it was a struggle.
"I usually close early Wednesdays. That was my last appointment." He turned to face her, setting the half-eaten ice cream down on the table. "If you'd like to tell me a bit about what you've thought of in the past, I'd be happy to sketch something for you."
"I'm positive I can't afford whatever reality star price tag you charge." Emma dismissed the idea before it could even begin to take form in her mind, what it might be like to be stretched out on a table with Killian's hands on her bare skin, marking her.
Something that might have been hurt flickered through his eyes, but he only smiled. "Love, it would be my pleasure. On the house."
"I'll think about it," she mumbled, wiping her hands on her jeans and glancing around. The idea of having a permanent reminder of Killian etched into her skin was at once thrilling and terrifying. "Well, I just came to give you the ice cream, so, um, I'll just get out of your hair. I'm sure you have things to do."
"Emma." Killian's fingers closed around her wrist, warm and solid as he pulled gently. His eyes betrayed him, filled with fragile hope. She swallowed, all of her nerves coming to life under the soft brush of his callused thumb.
"I should go." Her voice sounded breathless to her own ears, and Killian must have heard it too. His gaze darkened, the deep blue of his gaze filled with promise.
"You could stay."
"I…." She sighed, glancing down at his thumb still moving gently across her skin. "I should really…"
He shifted slightly closer, his knee brushing hers. "Why did you come here today, Emma?" he asked quietly, his touch firmer.
"The ice cream…"
"You could have put it in the freezer until tomorrow."
"I didn't think of that." She shivered as he stroked over a sensitive patch of skin, her every sense howling to life. "Why do you come in every week? You can't possibly like ice cream that much."
His eyes searched hers, his voice so quiet it was nearly a whisper. "Do you want me to have another reason?"
He chuckled, leaning closer. She could feel the heat of him, the scent of him wrapped up in the antiseptic that clung to him from his work. His hand slipped into her hair, holding her steady as he bent slowly, giving her time to pull away.
The first brush of his lips was tentative, searching, but the moment she responded, all restraint left him. His arms banded around her, holding her tightly against him as his tongue explored her mouth. Emma pressed herself closer, fisting his shirt and holding on for dear life as he nipped at her lips, sucking and kissing until she broke the kiss, gasping for air. "Your ice cream is going to melt," she managed to say, mentally groaning at herself as she said it. That was what she came up with? Had one kiss from him truly addled her brain that much?
He hummed his agreement, one of his hands leaving her hips to push her hair back from her eyes, a smile playing on the edge of his lips. "Let it."
Emma smiled nervously as Killian led her up the walk to his house, a small cottage nearly on top of the harbor. Was she really going to his house, despite the fact that in the morning, she would still own the business across the street from his? He would still be in her life, whether she wanted him to be or not.
It had seemed like such a good idea when she'd been beneath him on that couch, her breaths coming in pants and her shirt pushed above her breasts. They'd been there for minutes or hours, she'd lost track, and it had grown dark enough for the wash of headlights to sweep across the interior.
"Come home with me," Killian growled in her ear, his breath hot and his stubble rasping against her cheek. "I want you in my bed."
"Another time." He hadn't given her the chance to respond, to protest there wasn't necessarily going to be another time, but he'd kissed her so fiercely she'd lost the ability to think rationally. He'd released her suddenly with a groan, yanking her shirt down and tugging her to her feet after adjusting a rather uncomfortable looking bulge in his jeans.
She hadn't realized she'd licked her lips in anticipation until her eyes met his, desire darkening his gaze. "Bloody hell, if you keep looking at me like that, love, all of my plans will come to naught."
Another kiss, another low growl as he'd tugged her toward the door. "I've thought of this for months, and I won't have it be on that bloody couch. Not tonight."
But like her, as they'd approached his house, he'd grown quieter, nervous even. With room to breathe between them, their desires simmered – still ready to boil over with the slightest encouragement, but held at arm's length as the frantic lust faded. The salt air carried the bite of winter's arrival, the gentle rush of the tide a peaceful accompaniment to their shoes on the gravel.
Killian flashed her a smile as he pushed open the door, tossing his keys on a small table as they entered. "Are you hungry? We could order dinner." He moved behind her, gently easing her jacket down her arms, his lips brushing along the back of her neck. "Or I could make something."
Emma shivered, half from the chill in the air when left in only her thin shirt, half from Killian's lips on her skin. She didn't care about dinner. Dinner would mean conversation, and he would probably ask what had changed her mind, and since she didn't even know the answer, she didn't want to talk about it.
"Or you could kiss me," she said in reply, running her hand down his chest as he returned to her side. "Maybe show me that tattoo that's right above…" She let the words die, the memory flashing between them as she dragged her nails down his chest and stopped short of his zipper. "Well, you never did say what it was right ab…"
Killian didn't let her finish her sentence. His mouth was on hers, and then he was lifting her into his arms, stumbling through the hall. A glimpse of the ocean caught her attention for a fraction of a second, but then Killian's lips closed over the sensitive spot beneath her ear and she forgot her own name.
It was only after, when they lay tangled together and Emma traced the lines of his tattoos across his bare skin that she became conscious of something other than her body or Killian's. An entire wall of his bedroom looked out over the harbor, moonlight filtering over the dark wooden floors and the foot of his bed.
His breath caught as her hand dipped lower, tracing the edge of the tattoo that curved below his hip, a constellation she didn't recognize. "Did it hurt?" Emma asked, her touch lingering as he shifted subtly beneath her, consciously or unconsciously attempting to move her touch elsewhere. "This area is so…sensitive." She smiled against his chest as she flattened her palm, pressing his hip to the bed as she continued her exploration of the art covering him. An anchor dragged along his ribs, another constellation splayed itself out across his shoulder, curving down along his chest. She dragged her tongue down the smattering of numbers running vertically down his side, coordinates to places and adventures she'd ask him about, when he might have the mental capacity to answer.
"Indeed it is." He caught her wrist, tugging until she relinquished her hold, easily rolling her onto her back when she didn't bother to resist. "Very sensitive." Killian's fingers danced low across her belly, grinning wickedly when she gasped. "Shall I show you?"
Emma sighed as he slid down her body, his lips and tongue following. Whatever fantasies she'd allowed herself in the past when it came to Killian Jones were nothing compared to what he was doing to her now, twisting pleasure tighter and tighter at the base of her spine until everything beyond his mouth and fingers ceased to exist.
He was gentler the second time, the frantic desire of his first thrusts giving way to a more contented, almost lazy pace as he slid deep, drawing it out. He relinquished control easily enough when Emma nudged him onto his back, rising above him and sinking down as his eyes devoured her.
"Beautiful," he murmured, one hand at her hip, the other roaming over her body. He pushed up as she sank down, and her legs shook before long. Her rhythm grew sloppy as she balanced with her hands on his chest, dark lines of ink spilling out from beneath the pale skin of her splayed fingers, crashing waves and roiling clouds tensing and coiling with every move he made beneath her.
Killian's breath turned to pants, his voice wrecked as he rasped her name. She watched as his tattoos writhed beneath her, watched until his thumb pressed down, and sparks shot through her. His hand moved to grip her hips, holding her tightly as he drove himself up with a groan.
She collapsed onto him, gasping and sweating, her hair tangled around them both. His heart hammering beneath her ear, Emma didn't move right away, enjoying the sweep of his palm along her back as she wondered why the hell she'd fought this for so long.
"Sorry, love, but I require a moment to clean up and shut the drapes," Killian murmured in her ear, nudging her ever so slightly onto her side. "The sun is brutal with them left open." His breaths were still far from even, and his hands lingered as he moved her, his lips brushing over her skin as though he couldn't tolerate the thought of letting her go right away.
Emma nodded sleepily, but it wasn't until he came back to bed and folded her back into his arms that she realized she'd never considered leaving.
Killian smiled slyly when she appeared in the doorway, already moving toward the blinds that he'd installed not long after their first night together. "Really, love, am I so irresistible that you'd leave your shop in the middle of the day? In July no less?" he teased, giving the blinds a good yank.
"Awfully sure of yourself, aren't you?" Emma shook her head with a smile, tracking him across the room as he closed the blinds and locked the door. It wasn't as though he had a reason not to be – the long winter months had seen her in there plenty of times in the middle of the day, blinds drawn and clothes off.
And despite the low throbbing between her legs at the look in his eyes, Emma hadn't come into the tattoo shop for that. At least not today.
"You love me for it," he replied, and Emma laughed. They were in a good place. Her decision was solid. She loved him. He loved her. She just wanted to see the look on his face when she told him.
"Remember how you promised me a tattoo?" she started, draping her arms around his neck and leaning back. The move pressed their hips together, and Killian's arm tightened around her waist, keeping her there.
"I recall." His hand dropped lower, squeezing the back of her thigh, his fingers stretching inward. "You still haven't told me what you'd like."
"Something small," she began, shivering as his hands continued to wander. Maybe she did have time for more than a quick conversation. "Someplace only you can see it."
That got his attention, and Emma wasn't sure if she was relieved or disappointed he withdrew his touch before he reached his goal. "What were you thinking, love?" he asked in a raspy voice, tugging her closer so her chest was tight against his, their lips only inches apart.
"Two stars. The one to the right slightly bigger." She caught his hand, smiling up at him with mischief as she moved their combined fingers under the waistband of her shorts, stopping in the same spot his tattoo did. "Here."
"Second star to the right?"
She nodded, taking in his surprised expression – surprised and touched. "I wanted something to remind me of you, but initials and names are just…"
"You like the idea?"
"Take off your shorts and I'll show you exactly how much I like it."
"I don't have time right now. Elsa has a line, but I needed to run out to pick up lunch, and I didn't think it would hurt to stop by, and, oh…" Emma sucked in a breath as Killian's fingers slid between her legs. He growled his approval at the dampness he found, backing her toward the couch.
"Then we'll be fast," he promised, using his other hand to unbutton her shorts, shoving them down her legs. He released her only long enough to turn, pushing down his own clothes before sitting and pulling her onto his lap.
"I really shouldn't…" she protested half-heartedly, her knees on either side of his hips. She didn't know why she bothered saying it. They both knew if she moved an inch he'd be inside her, and she wasn't going to stop now.
Killian's hands came up to settle on her only after she sank down, his teeth tugging her shirt out of the way and scraping against her skin. It took an embarrassingly short amount of time to hurtle toward the finish line, but he was right there with her.
They kissed as they came down from the high, both of their shirts somehow still on but twisted terribly. "Come by after you close tonight," he murmured against her lips, kissing her one last time. "I'll be ready for you."
"It might be late," she warned, reluctantly pulling back.
"I know." He offered her her shorts before standing, pulling his own jeans back into place. "Fitting, isn't it?"
Killian nodded toward the calendar Emma had tacked up on his wall, the ice cream shop's logo on the bottom of the page. "It's Thursday."
"So it is." Emma pressed her lips to his before tearing herself away. It wasn't until they got home, her hip carefully bandaged, that she discovered she wasn't the only one with a new piece of art.
"What's this?" she asked, lightly running her finger over the edge of the gauze low on Killian's hip, opposite of the spot she loved to run her tongue over. He hadn't told her about it, and by the look in his eyes, she suspected he'd wanted her to find it just as she had, eagerly undressing him.
"I went to see Ruby this afternoon. Not exactly a spot I wanted to handle myself." He chuckled, glancing down at his half undone jeans and the obvious signs of his arousal. "Wouldn't want to slip and injure anything vital."
"What is it?" Emma asked, tracing the outline of the bandage. Her hand dipped lower, and goosebumps broke out along Killian's skin.
He stilled, his fingers in her hair. "Another constellation," he finally said quietly, his stare intense.
There was something else lurking in his eyes, something more than a new set of stars dancing down his hip. "Which one?" He'd been teaching her the night sky since the moment he'd deemed it warm enough to take the boat out, wrapping her in his warmth as he whispered stories in her ear.
"The swan," Emma whispered, her chest suddenly tight. Her hands rose, flattening against his chest as she rested her forehead against his shoulder. "You got a swan tattoo?"
"Aye." Killian smiled, the old flicker of insecurity hiding in his voice. "I've wanted to do it for some time, but I didn't wish to push you into anything. Ruby has had the design ready for several months, but when you came in today and asked for the stars…"
Emma smiled against his skin, brushing her lips against his shoulder as her arms moved around his back, holding him close. "You're stuck with me now, then."
"I love you," he said in reply, not a hint of his usual teasing present. When Emma pulled back to look at him, he ran his thumb over her lips, the same intense expression on his face. "Not because I have a permanent reminder of you on my body, but because you bring light into my life." He paused, his features finally softening as amusement played at the edge of his mouth. "And ice cream. Lots of ice cream."
"Glad to know you love me for my ability to keep you well stocked in sugar," she teased, rising onto her toes to claim a kiss.
"And why do you love me, darling?" Killian asked when she dropped back to her feet. He grinned, keeping her snug against him with the arm around her waist. "My devilishly handsome visage? Perhaps my rather talented fingers?"
Emma smiled, but it was her turn to grow serious. "I love you for so many things, Killian, but most of all for not giving up on me, even when you probably should have."
"You were worth it, love." He bent to kiss her again, slowly tugging her with him as he backed across the room. "Come to bed. I intend to show you just how worth it you are." His fingers dropped to her bandage-covered hip, looping his thumbs into her underwear with mischief sparking in his eyes. "Straight on 'til morning."