Ryan had a routine in the mornings. He woke up around five to go for his daily run, after which he would stretch for fifteen minutes. After stretching, he showered and dressed, wearing the clothes he had set aside the night before. Then he ate his usual breakfast of granola and fruit. He watched the news while he ate breakfast, occasionally flipping to ESPN to see how his teams did the day before. After breakfast, he brushed, flossed, and gargled with mouthwash. He checked his email before he left for work, answered any to which he felt compelled to respond. He left for the lab fifteen minutes earlier than he needed to in case traffic was bad, and with the extra time he generally had, he stopped for coffee. He never deviated from his routine.
Then again, he'd never spent the night at Calleigh Duquesne's either.
He didn't need an alarm. His internal clock was more accurate than any alarm. And when he woke up the next morning, he was instantly aware of two things – he was not in his own bed, and someone else was in bed with him.
He lay on his side, one arm flung back behind him – most likely dislocated, if the pins and needles he felt as he shifted were any indication – and the other wrapped around the warm, soft, decidedly naked body of Calleigh Duquesne. He pulled her flush against him and buried his nose in her hair, marveling at how he could still smell her shampoo, even after everything. He smiled against the back of her neck, barely able to contain the shout of joy that threatened to explode out of him – and had ever since she kissed him in her hallway the night before.
How could he possibly be so lucky? What had he done to deserve the fabulous woman currently sleeping, warm and safe, in his arms? He must have been a saint in a past life, not that he believed in that, of course.
Calleigh shifted in his arms and he pulled back, giving her the space to move. She rolled over in her sleep, so that now her curves were pressing against him, and damn if his lower extremities weren't ready for action. It didn't take much – not with Calleigh. Hell, all she had to do was smile at him and he was gone.
But he was loath to wake her up; she looked so unbelievably beautiful while she was sleeping. Her face bore a peaceful expression that was normally absent when he saw her at the lab. The corners of her mouth were turned upwards in the barest hint of a smile. Her hair was still a mess.
God, he loved her. It was this weird feeling in his chest, like mice were running up and down his ribcage. He loved her so much that at times he thought he might die from it. He wanted her so badly that it grew more and more difficult to restrain himself at work. And here she was, asleep in his arms.
Clearly, there was a God. And Ryan owed Him big time.
Her eyelids fluttered and opened, and her eyes met his. She smiled, and he brushed his lips against hers. She instantly captured his lips in a much more intimate, passionate kiss. He responded without thinking, rolling onto his back and pulling her with him, so that she was lying on top of him. He was breathless when she pulled away.
"I was trying not to wake you," he said, which was not entirely untrue. He'd wanted to watch her sleep, but he also wanted to kiss her until his brain popped from lack of oxygen.
Calleigh winked at him. "I've been awake a while," she said. "I was just… I didn't feel like moving."
He grinned. "Same here."
She laid her head on his chest and began to trace light patterns on his arm with her fingertips. He shivered, aware of the goose bumps that suddenly dotted his flesh. He never wanted to leave this bed. "Last night," Calleigh said, her breath tickling his skin, "was…"
She trailed off, but she didn't need to finish it. He sensed where she was going. At least, he hoped he did. His way to finish that sentence was amazing, incredible, perfect, unbelievable… The list went on. "Yeah."
"Should we talk about it?"
It was incredibly hard to concentrate with her fingers trailing up and down his arms. Already his brain was beginning to fog over, and he knew that if they continued down this path, they would be late for work. But he wasn't about to stop her. His eyes were locked on her fingers. "Probably."
She abruptly stopped her ministrations, and he frowned, thinking that his answer wasn't good enough. He raised his eyes to meet hers and found the expression in them unreadable. It was a mix of so many emotions that he could not have even begun to describe it. "I like you, Ryan," she said, "and I have for a long time."
Like. I like you, Ryan. It wasn't love, but he could live with that. For now.
She paused, peering intently at him, and he nodded, indicating that she should continue, which she did. "What happened last night, I don't want that to be it."
"I don't want that either," Ryan said, his tongue practically tripping over the words in his haste to get them out. He reached up to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear. She leaned into his touch, and his breath caught in his throat. "I was an idiot. With Natalia."
Calleigh's smile lit up her face. "Well, I believe that could be considered the understatement of the year."
He gently pressed his fingers to her lips to silence her, but the action backfired when she drew them into her mouth and lightly sucked on them. He had to bite his lip to stifle the groan. "I don't want to be an idiot with you, Calleigh." God, that woman could do amazing things with her tongue. It really wasn't fair. "This…us…I want it to work."
Her eyes sparkled as she answered. "Well, then, don't date the office whore anymore."
Ryan let out a great barking laugh, but at the same time felt his face burn with humiliation. "Is that what you call her?"
Calleigh shook her head, still grinning. "Of course not. That would be rude."
He ran the pad of his thumb along her bottom lip. "And you're never rude."
"No." He felt her shiver against him. They were quiet for a long time, just staring at each other. Her pupils had dilated, his breathing had become ragged, and he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold out. Then Calleigh broke the spell and propped herself up on her elbows. "I'm probably disrupting your morning routine, aren't I?"
What routine? "Yes," he said, attempting to sound indignant and probably failing miserably, since he couldn't quite keep the smile off his face. "As a matter of fact, you are."
She laughed – a low, throaty laugh that was so unbelievably sexy that, had Ryan been standing, his knees would have buckled. "Well, maybe you need a new morning routine."
Fuck, yes. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted a replay of what they had done the night before. But they weren't done. Not yet. "What do you want, Calleigh?"
She stared at him, her face serious for the first time that morning. Then she gave him a shy smile. "You," she said. "I want you."
He thought his heart might explode. "You've got me," he said. His eyes burned, and he knew he was tearing up. He forced them back. He wasn't going to get all weepy and cry in front of Calleigh. "For as long as you'll have me."
She lowered her head to meet his and kissed him, long and slow and deep. Her tongue brushed against his, and he returned the gesture with a thorough exploration of his own. They kissed like that for a while, until he was dizzy and breathless and this close to passing out. She was grinning like the Cheshire cat when she pulled away. She shifted against him, and he knew he was in trouble. She licked her lips and said, "I think we may be late to the lab this morning."
He shrugged, barely able to control the sudden surge of desire that threatened to overwhelm him. "Oh, well."
She laughed again. He silenced her with a kiss. He rolled them over so that he had her pinned beneath him. He kissed her with every fiber of his being. He kissed her for all the times he'd wanted to and hadn't. He kissed her with all the love in his heart, and he knew that nothing would ever taste as sweet as this – as love.
A/N: And that concludes "The Taste of Love". I know, I know, I kind of overdid it on the cheese, but I like cheese. I may continue with the series should I feel inspired, but as of right now, consider this the end. I hope this was a satisfactory ending and that you all liked it as much as you liked the rest of it. I would hate to disappoint my loyal readers.
I'm probably not done with CaRWash (so long as season 5 gives us many moments – remember, this all started with an episode addition), but I think this is the end to "The Taste of Love" series. I already said that, didn't I?
Many thanks and cookies go to Dutchie, lagentillefan, ObsessedTWFan, CSIWATCHER, beautifulworld, gimmeabreak, Beaglicious, JD, Shadowfax27, Manhattan SVU, Sara Duquesne, and sienna. You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for your wonderful reviews!