I am finished! I will miss this so much! What a wonderful way to decompress after a hard day of work. I have looked forward to writing every day of the last 6 weeks. And I have put off so many other important projects in favor of this delicious diversion.

Unbearable seems so long ago now. I have much more hope for GSR now, and am counting days until they show Committed. Perhaps, they will grow together as we have wished. In the meantime, we must content ourselves with sharing our own versions of their story.

Thanks to all of you who read Afraid of The Light, and a special thanks to all of you who took the time to review. It brings such joy to my day to think that someone enjoys something I do. As you exit this story, please let me know what you think. After each story, I vow to never do another, but I always jump right back in. This time, I won't make that promise, and, hopefully, I can find a less consuming way to integrate it into my life. Thanks for riding along with me.

Sheila

Afraid of the Light

Chapter 21

Nick stood away from the truck with his hands on his hips. A conglomeration of boards and metal fittings crammed the back of his pickup. Warrick stood beside him in a t-shirt and jeans. Nick turned to him. "This is not going to work."

Warrick shook his head. "I don't know."

Brass appeared from around the front and clapped his hands. "Okay people, let's get this unloaded."

Nick turned his head and fixed him with a glare. "And you'll be doing what?"

Brass squinted in the bright morning sun. He scratched the back of his neck. "Supervising."

"How's that? This Trojan horse is your idea. War and I don't even think it's going to work." Nick folded his arms and waited.

"Come on, guys. Where's your imagination?"

"I think we lost it somewhere along the road in southern Nevada." Warrick growled.

"Do we even have permission to do this?" Nick asked.

"Hell, yes." Brass looked off into the distance. "Wouldn't drag it 10 hours away from Vegas if we didn't, would we?"

Warrick looked at Nicky. Both of them doubted that Brass had talked to anyone about his little scheme. He tended to lose eye contact when he answered questions about this part of the plan.

Warrick finally sighed. "We drove all night. Let's at least get some breakfast before we do this."

"No time. Come on! Let's get this together. Afterwards, I'll buy the first round."

"Brass, it is 8:00 in the morning."

"No problem. We'll start with lite beer." Brass started walking ahead, waving them down the sidewalk. Nick reluctantly hoisted a large plank onto his shoulder; Warrick grabbed the other end and followed him.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Jack had been yelling at the back of Sam's head for the last half hour yet she sat calmly reading the in flight magazine. Occasionally Danny would lean over and say something to make her laugh. In the seat behind them, Jack sat pretending to do the work he brought. He had insisted that he take the seat alone; claimed that he needed to catch up on work.

But he didn't work. Instead he kept up a running litany of concerns that he directed at Sam. The fact that it all happened inside his head was the only concession he allowed to this craziness. Anxiety stabbed at his gut. He shouldn't have asked her, and she, sure as hell, shouldn't have said yes. But she deserved to go, and so he did and then she did and now they were on a plane.

His default plan was to act as sour and distant as possible. It helped that Danny was there to keep her distracted. It seemed counter to the purpose of the journey, but he knew no other way to get out of this weekend with a shred of dignity.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Goodwater held a bottle of vodka in his big hand and waved it menacingly at the proprietor. "None of the cheap stuff. I better not find one plastic bottle in any of these boxes. Also, I want the vodka to be Russian, the bourbon to be from Kentucky, the gin to be from Great Britain, and so on. Got it?"

"Yes, sir." The small, balding man nodded vigorously.

Goodwater didn't relax his glare. Instead, he reached into a box and pulled out a bottle of rum. "Here's an example. The maker on this rum is Anderson. Anderson is a Scandinavian name. They do not make rum. Do you understand?"

"But—"

"I don't care what the bottle says. Good rum doesn't get made in Norway or Minnesota."

The man nodded weakly.

"And another thing, I don't see any umbrellas. We need little umbrellas and fruit and stuff for the punches. We're not longshore men drinking out in the parking lot. This is a celebration. Festive! Do you understand?" Goodwater stood over him scowling.

"Sir, we could re-negotiate the price."

"We will not!" Already what I am paying you is grounds for litigation. Now you just turn around and put these boxes back on the truck, and go get me the good stuff."

The man didn't move.

Goodwater whipped out his badge and stopped it inches from the man's face. Everyone froze for a moment. Then the man swallowed hard and snapped his fingers. Behind him, workers jumped to their feet. He barked orders and the boxes were hurriedly shoved back into the truck. Goodwater gave him a generous smile and waved heartily as the truck backed out of the drive.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Grissom's head pounded. He opened his eyes, but was assaulted by the harsh light of the morning. He groaned and squeezed his eyes shut again. His mouth was sticky dry, and he wondered how much work it would take to get to the bathroom and stick his mouth under the faucet. After a few minutes, he realized that the act of dreaming about it alone

wouldn't sate his thirst.

Something tugged at him and he tried to remember the events of the night previous. Images of Robbie and Sara's ID and grieving parents and Goodwater in love with hookers swirled about in his head. The image of Sara filtered to the front, and he sat upright. Forcing his aching eyes open, he looked around the room. It was clear that he was alone. A sense of deep disappointment descended on him until he spotted the travel bag sitting on the other bed. It was definitely not his bag. He put his hand to his forehead and tried to organize his thoughts. He remembered her in the bar. He remembered hugging and kissing her. He remembered that she wore an achingly beautiful smile.

He leaned over to the left and spied himself in the mirror. A blurry man with a smudged face, red eyes, and hair smashed to one side of his head stared back at him. It struck him that a version of this was the image she had been treated to last night when she arrived. The thought of it horrified him. Something sounded at the door and he sat back. Light flooded the room as the door opened and she walked in carrying plastic bags. Seeing him up brought a smile to her face. "Hey Sunshine, how are you feeling?"

Embarrassment filled his gut and he looked down. "I guess I made quite a fool of myself last night, didn't I?"

She chuckled. "You were a mess alright, but you're my mess and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Her words warmed him and he found that he was relaxing. "What did you buy?"

She began pulling items out of the bags. "I brought an entire hangover relief system. We have some water and juice. A take out breakfast of eggs, bacon, and hash browns, eggs over easy just like you like them. And I bought you some ibuprofen. I bet you have a monster headache."

He wanted to tell her that she was the only hangover cure he needed, but his vulnerable state left him feeling stiff and formal. Instead he took the pills she gave him and greedily drank from the water bottle she handed him.

"Feel up to a shower?"

He nodded. The awkwardness of it hit him. He was sitting in a small place with the woman he loved while at his worst. He was dirty and sick and could barely communicate. A situation like this sat outside his locus of control. He had no idea how to let her take care of him. He stayed rooted in the bed. "Sorry, I put you through all of this. If you just give me half an hour…."

She climbed on the bed next to him. He tried to not shrink away. She watched all of this and sat back. He waited for the words of recrimination, proof that he was incapable of what he so desired. The hurt feelings, the walking away, slamming of doors, the self loathing, the vow he would make to never hurt her again; he waited for all of that. But it never came.

She reached over and held his hand. "I see you're going into your 'I am a rock. I am an island' routine. Its Emmy caliber, I promise you, but I want you to know that it isn't going to work. You love me and I love you. This star-crossed shit is getting old and we have spent too many years doing it."

He raised his face to look at her.

She smiled. "Grissom, you look like hell. My grandpa would have said that your eyes look like two piss holes in the snow. But I'm not going anywhere. I need you and you need me. So I suggest you get up out of this bed and into the shower so I don't have to sit here with my nose all wrinkled up every time a breeze blows my way."

He chuckled. "God knows I don't deserve this." He still didn't move.

She reached a hand under the covers and pinched his thigh. He yelped. "Out of the bed. Now!" She pushed him over the side and he landed with a thud.

"Jesus, Sara! My head!"

"Will be the least of your problems if you don't get some of that grime off you." She lunged at him as he scrambled to his feet and into the bathroom. She smiled as the bathroom door closed. She hoped that it was the beginning of something new. She wasn't going to worry about his fears or hers. She knew him and she knew what she wanted, and that's what she was going to trust. That was what she would use to shape their relationship now.

……………………………………………………………………………………….

Nicky stood hip deep in the pool while Warrick handed him pieces of board. Brass looked on critically, his arms folded across his chest. Nick ignored all of his suggestions, and was assembling it by guesswork. Even Warrick knew better than to offer his thoughts. The only salvation was a six pack of Corona already stuffed with limes sitting on the edge of the pool. Nick's surliness was curtailed by its proximity.

"Hey Jimmie!" Came a roar from the other side of the pool. They all turned to find a tall, stocky man striding towards them with a big grin. Warrick stepped back as he swept past him and engulfed Brass in a bear hug. For a moment, Nick forgot his numerous complaints and watched the reunion with a grin on his face. Brass wrestled himself away from the big man and stood back with a smile. "Rupert, you old dog! Just as ugly as you ever were."

Goodwater slapped him on the back. "We're going to do it up like the old days, you and I."

Brass chuckled. He nodded at his friends. "This is Agent Rupert Goodwater of the FBI. He and I are old friends."

"Jimmie and I were partners way back in the beginning; beat cops in Trenton. Don't what was more dangerous, the perps themselves or the idea of us being responsible for anybody's public safety."

"How's things, Rupert?"

He shook his head. "They're getting meaner, Jimmie. No doubt about it. Takes a little bit more of my soul every time."

Brass nodded.

"All in all though, I'm a lucky man. My girls are my life and they keep me in working order. Without that, I don't think I would be here."

"Did you take care of that little matter we spoke about a week ago?"

"Did my best. He's a little rough for wear but I think he got the message."

"Speaking of whom—"

"Room door is closed, and I, sure as hell, am not going to be the one to interrupt."

"What in God's name!" A portly man with a beard came running out of the motel office, his bleach blonde wife trotting along after.

"Jimmie, you did talk to the man?" Goodwater arched his brows.

"Yeah, sort of. We had something of a global conversation about what we were allowed to do with the rented pool. I gave him a sort of abstract understanding of the situation." He shrugged. "I figure that the truth of the matter would be easier to swallow once it was already in the water."

"I think he's choking on your truth." Goodwater observed. The owner and his wife were at the pool's edge abusing Nick as he stood there surrounded by a half built structure. Brass waded into the fray with his arms up, and herded the owners over to a table. Nicky climbed out of the pool, mumbling threats at Brass under his breath, grabbed the six pack and stalked off in search of a shaded table. Warrick shook his head and followed Nick.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Grissom felt like he was going to burst. His head was feeling better, and the water, food, and shower had all but erased any of the earlier signs of hangover. But his physical pain was replaced with an emotional discomfort. He was sitting stiffly in the chair by the window dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. He had made several overtures about going to the lab and checking on his maggot samples. Despite the fact that he was essentially done, and that the processing was over, he wanted to be there, to have her in an environment where they were both familiar. They could talk evidence instead of feelings. But she was oblivious to his suggestions, and had busied herself with her own shower. When she had emerged from the bathroom with nothing but a towel on her wet, lithe body, he had almost jumped out of his skin. He made some noises about taking a walk, giving her some time to dress and do her hair, but she very quietly and firmly told him to sit his ass back down and wait. She grabbed some clothes and disappeared into the bathroom. Things got very quiet, and she finally emerged in the same towel. She looked less certain then, chewing on her bottom lip as she crossed the room. She stopped before him, and swallowed hard. "Guess I wasn't so ready to get dressed." Her eyes were watering. She shifted from foot to foot awkwardly. "When we were last together in a motel room, you said that we weren't ready. You felt my ribs, sensed my trauma, my disturbance."

All breath fled his body. "Sara, we have all the time in the world. We should take this slow."

Her eyes traveled along the wall behind him. "So we should wait until we know each other better, right?"

He shook his head in frustration. "No, Sara, I am not trying to push you away. It's just that I don't want to rush you. You've been through so—"

Holding the towel around her with one hand, she reached over with the other and covered his mouth. "Stop, please. I know what's best for me. I know what I want and what I need." Her hand reached under to cup his chin. "I know what will help me heal. I know I can trust you."

The smell of bar soap on her arm left him breathy. He could see every freckle on her bare, scrubbed face. Her eyes shone dark like onyx. He was going to reach for her when she dropped the towel. She stepped back and stood before him, naked. His breath caught and he let out a soft noise. There she stood before him as bare and beautiful as he had always imagined. She slid her hand across her stomach stopping at her midriff. "Grissom, come here. See how strong I am. Feel for my ribs."

Grissom didn't know if his legs could support his weight. Tears rolled down her face, but she didn't budge. She stood there, staring at him, trembling slightly but unashamed by her bare skin. Awkwardly, he pulled himself to his feet and reached for her. The courage she showed choked him and he was incapable of a verbal response. Slowly, he put a trembling hand on her stomach and lightly traced the skin around her middle. She closed her eyes and moaned. Abruptly he pulled her to him, hugging her as fiercely as he dared. For a long time, they stood like this, falling into a common rhythm of breath, him stroking her hair as she quietly wept. "Grissom," she whispered. "Loving you helps me grow stronger."

He searched her eyes for doubts, anything that might betray her words, but her frank stare was pure. He took her by the hand and guided her over to the bed. She lay down and looked up at him. He saw nothing but trust in her eyes, and it touched him as nothing ever had. He peeled off his t-shirt and shed his pants. He climbed onto the bed beside her and pulled her face to his, pushing her wet, brown locks off her face. "I plan to take my time here, Sara Sidle. They say it is possible to stretch time if you want it desperately enough and there is no man better prepared to test that theory than I am."

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Sam gave Nick a big hug, and he picked her up, twirling her around. Jack felt a twinge of annoyance and looked away. Goodwater and Brass were striding toward him, shouting greetings and good natured abuse in his direction. He smiled and let them distract him.

The somewhat mollified motel owner stood off to the side, arms folded tightly across his chest keeping watch on the activities in the pool. Warrick was in the water now finishing their project. Danny ambled over to the edge, his suit coat draped over his arm. Warrick started to razz him. Danny threw back comment for comment. He finally slung his bag over his shoulder and looked for an open room. He returned in a few minutes in a pair of swim trunks and a t-shirt. The scars from his wound peeked out the collar of his tee, but it was clear that he was no prisoner to those memories. He climbed in and waded over to where Warrick was working and reached for a plank. The liquor man had returned and was warily unloading bottles under the watchful eyes of a couple of agents.

Catherine and Greg arrived from the airport still fresh after the short fifty minute flight. Catherine saw Warrick up to his waist in water, and threw back her head letting loose a throaty chortle. Warrick reached down into the water, and sent water flying in her direction. Greg handed Catherine his bag, pulled his shirt off and did a cannonball into the water. A drenched Danny and Warrick cursed heartily at him.

Goodwater clapped his hands when a group of Mexican American women showed up with trays and trays of food. He waved them over to banquet tables set up over at the far end of the pool. He barked at agents and they trotted after the women, offering to take the heavy trays from them.

He was interrogating another agent about the arrival of a mariachi band when a little voice screamed, 'Daddy'. Goodwater twirled around to see two little girls running toward him. He leaned over and scooped them up into his arms. A pretty blonde woman who was beginning to lose her chin followed behind. Goodwater reached his face forward and kissed his wife. His girls were talking simultaneously at him, tugging at his face in an effort to capture his attention. He gently put them back down and let them chatter as they held onto his hands. "Hey Sweetie. I'm so tickled that you came."

She smiled, the lines at the edges of her eyes mapping her life's journeys. Goodwater treasured every crease on his wife as he knew how hard fought each of them were. "Rupert, you got to find me a couple of beds. These two need a nap before they are capable of being around company."

"You sure, darlin'? They look bright eyed to me."

His oldest child tugged on his sleeve. "Daddy, where are the balloons? How can you have a party without balloons?"

"Well, honey, I don't know. I guess I didn't think about it."

"Daddy!" Tears sprang to the corners of her eyes. "What kind of party doesn't have balloons?"

Rupert looked up in surprise. His wife chuckled. "They're as high strung as couple of divas on opening night. Let me put them down."

His little girl burst into sobs. "There are no balloons!"

"Its okay, Pumpkin. Don't worry. Balloons are on their way. Just a little late, baby. You go with Mommy. I'll see to it."

The inconsolable child was led off by her mother. Goodwater looked around and stabbed a finger at an agent. The man trotted over. "We don't have balloons. We need balloons."

The young man cocked his head. "Balloons, Sir?"

"Balloons! What the hell kind of party doesn't have balloons?"

The agent looked puzzled. "Where am I going to find balloons?"

Goodwater put a hand on his shoulder. "Son, the federal government spent roughly 50,000 training you how to be a crackpot investigator. If you can't scare up a passel of balloons in this town, then we just wasted a chunk of the U.S. taxpayer's hard earned dollars."

The young man nodded and trotted off to the motel office.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

They were both sticky with sweat. He reached over and wiped away droplets that gathered on her upper lip. His gesture caused her to smile. "You okay, Sara?"

"I've always known that you would be an amazing lover." She stretched out on the bed beside him on her side, every inch of skin exposed to him.

"Really?" A smile tugged at his lips. He placed a hand on her raised hip and let it glide to the valley of her waist. There he gripped her possessively.

She leaned into him, resting one hand on his chest. "You and me together, Gris; it feels right. And we're going to make this work. Understand?"

He nodded. He traced a soft line from her waist up between her breasts and then captured her face. He pulled her toward him. He kissed her sweetly on the lips and then moved down to bury his face in her neck. For a minute he just rested there, letting their competing rhythms merge. Then he raised his face to hers. "I want you to come to bed with me every night, and I want to pull you to me every morning when I wake." She softly massaged his curls. "I realize that there should be steps to all of this, but, thus far, you and I have defied convention at every turn." He stopped and considered his next statement. "All I know for sure, Sara, is that you are my only chance at living a real life; my only chance at happiness."

She reached in to kiss him when his cell phone erupted on the nightstand. He looked at her apologetically. "I suspect that Rupert is getting a little impatient. I am sure there are things we should wrap up." He picked up the phone and was greeted by a booming voice. "Yes, Rupert….I am feeling better. Thanks for letting me sleep in….no lab work today….by the pool….a meeting….okay?...why shorts?...Oh, it's that hot….Well, Sara might just want to rest. She was in and out of planes all day yesterday….Well, I don't know that I want her to have to look over any evidence. We can do this without her." Grissom's voice started to rise. "….What?..." Grissom got quiet and Sara noted that his eyes widened a little while he listened. "Uh, okay, Rupert, I guess we'll come to your meeting."

"Sorry sweetie. Time to get up. Rupert needs your analysis of something."

"What's that?" She wrinkled her brow in confusion.

"Uh, well, it's hard to explain. Um, just wear shorts, tank, you know, we'll be working outside." Grissom started digging through his luggage.

"Well, what if I want to nap?" She sat up, pulling the sheet up with her.

"Yeah, well, I told him you were only going to be able to help for a few minutes."

"No, you didn't. I heard every word you said."

"Um, it was implied." Grissom pulled on a t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts.

"Grissom!"

He stopped and looked at her. "Trust me, honey. It's a meeting that I think you will want to attend."

She looked at him for a moment and then crawled out from under the covers. His breath caught again as she walked by him naked and it was all he could do to finish buttoning his shorts. She pulled out a white cotton tank and a pair of jean shorts. "Your Rupert isn't getting anything more formal than this."

"Well, I am sure he will be just fine with that."

"Good! He has half an hour. Then I am going to buy a swimsuit and lay by the pool all day. Understand?"

He grinned. "You just put your foot down, Honey. He'll have no choice but to let you have your way."

She followed him out of the room, and even though the pool was around the corner, it was clear that there was a great deal of noise coming from that direction. She gave him a puzzled look and he shrugged. He reached down and took her hand in his. She looked at him, and he smiled back. "You want to walk into this meeting holding hands?"

"Yup." He replied.

The chaos was too much to hide. They turned the corner, and there were people everywhere. Agents wearing swim trunks and sunglasses were lounging in chairs with drinks in their hands. A large buffet groaning under the weight of food was at the far end. And suddenly, Sara became aware of familiar faces. All of them came toward her smiling and laughing. It was both exhilarating and overwhelming. Grissom tightened his grip on her hand. She accepted hugs and kisses from all directions.

Goodwater's voice boomed above the rest. "Miss Sara, we thought we would build you a Mexican vacation."

She looked to Grissom in confusion. He smiled and pointed at Jack Malone. Jack put his arm around her shoulder and whispered into her ear. "Do you remember a promise I made to you?"

She cocked her head to look at him.

"And there's really no way to get everyone to Mexico so Goodwater, Brass, and I thought we would bring Mexico to you."

She smiled. "This is very sweet, Jack."

"Come with me." He led her through the crowd to the pool. In the middle of the shallow end stood a bar, haphazardly put together. Inside stood a rather bewildered bartender in up to his waist, wearing Hawaiian shorts and mixing rum drinks. People in swimwear and some in full clothing, all stood around it hip deep drinking or waiting for a drink. "Remember how I told you that a few days at a pool with a bar in the middle would solve everything?"

She nodded.

"Well, we're improvising here, and we only have one day, but I figure life is all about seizing joy wherever you can find it. So I plan on making my Mexican vacation at my luxury hotel happen right here. Want to join me?"

Tears stung her eyes, but the wide smile on her face offset her emotion. "Sounds amazing, Jack."

"Okay, Sara, there is only one rule. If you want a drink, you have to wade out and get it yourself. Half the fun is watching some of the newer agents who didn't bring anything casual figure out how to get themselves a beer."

"It's wonderful, Jack."

"This day is yours, Sara. People are here because they admire your courage and love you. Families can bury their daughters because of you. Robbie Sanchez and Hatfield Corcoran are staring at bare cinderblock because of you."

She nodded, unable to respond verbally.

"Have fun today, Sara. We brought Mexico to you, and, by God, we found you a pool with a bar in it."

She kissed his stubbly cheek. "Here's hoping your dreams come true. Mine have."

For a while it was a whirl of hugging people and shaking hands, some from folks she had never met before. But Grissom stayed with her every moment, and eventually found her a poolside lounge. So she sat and watched the party build around her. She ate tamales and enchiladas slathered in guacamole, and drank a liter of water.

Little girls with jet black hair wearing pink swimsuits littered with pictures of Malibu Barbie appeared, screaming about parties and balloons. Goodwater was entranced with their every movement, even climbing in the water in his jeans and tossing them around for awhile. When he tired, Danny took over and kept the girls squealing in delight into the late afternoon. Rupert retired to a chaise lounge next to his wife and they sat in a companionable silence, watching their children live life to its fullest.

Nick and Warrick set up a Texas hold 'em tournament at a table, setting up arcane rules such as one tequila shot for every hand folded. They lured young agents over to play and sported a house win percentage that the gaming commission would have found mighty suspicious. Later, Nicky reported that it was like shooting fish in a barrel. As the afternoon turned to early evening, Nicky and Warrick closed up shop and used the proceeds to restock the bar.

Jack sat on the edge of the pool, dangling his feet in the water and drinking whatever dark beer was available. As the afternoon wore on, he became less subtle about his interest in the beautiful blonde in the white string bikini. Sam split her time between Nicky's poker table and Danny's day care. She had given Jack space as he had radiated Irish tragic all day long. Early evening came and she finally waded over to him with a dark beer peace offering in hand. He leaned over and stroked her blonde hair. His touch was gripped her in her gut, and she stayed rooted to that spot. Slowly, he lowered himself into the pool, and pulled her into his arms. He hugged her tightly and whispered apologies into her ear. She looped her arms around his neck and rested there. They whispered back and forth for a long time, and then Jack led her to the shallow end steps. Holding his hand, she followed him out and they disappeared around the corner to one of the many rooms rented for this special event.

Greg dragged a chair over to Sara and sat there for much of the afternoon holding her other hand. From time to time, they shared memories of each other. They laughed about his efforts to date her. She tried to detect for a sadness in him, but only found mutual affection over their shared experiences. She quietly told him that she would need his support and friendship when she was ready to return to work. He squeezed her hand and promised that he would be there for whatever she needed.

Brass and Catherine found a bottle of Jameson whiskey, and confiscated it. They sat at a table, sipping it and commenting on the circus around them. Catherine kept an eye on the poker table, and mumbled pointed statements about Warrick's inattention. When they table closed, Warrick made a beeline in her direction with a smile on his face. Brass arched his bushy brows, but said nothing as Warrick pulled her out of her chair and suggested a long walk. The whiskey took her edge and she found herself responding with a bright smile instead of the sulking she had planned as the start to their interaction.

Once abandoned, Brass came over to corral Grissom for a game of cards. Grissom balked, insistent that he was happy just sitting next to Sara, but she pushed him away and sent him off to play. Goodwater and his wife joined them, and soon they were engaged in a brutal Hearts tournament. Sara rolled over onto her side and felt herself drifting off.

………………………………………………………………………………………

Hours later, someone gently nudged her shoulder. Her eyes opened to a very different scene. It was night and the lights around the pool brought a soft glow to the darkness. Around her were lounge chairs filled with drunk and sleeping agents. Goodwater was shaking shoulders and trying to get them off to their rooms. A cleaning crew was silently picking up trash and packing up food. She turned her head at the sound of voices and saw Nicky arguing with the motel manager about the makeshift bar. From what she could make out, Nicky had some particular ideas about the care with which it was dismantled. He had clearly grown attached to his reluctant project.

A hand brushed her hair behind her ears. She turned her head and smiled at him sitting next to her on the lounge chair.

"Ready to go to bed, Honey?"

She nodded and let him pull her to her feet. He put his arm around her shoulders and squeezed, pulling her to him. Like this they weaved their way down the sidewalk to their room. Like all new lovers, touching each other was intoxicating. They undressed together, and climbed in bed on top of one another like a couple of puppies. There were no words left for the day. Only two people exploring each other, touching, kissing, sharing, making love until sleep caught up with them. And then they lay together, legs tangled together, one body molded to another, breathing together, content in their completion of one another.

The End