The smell of sex wafted round her, her heels clicked loudly, as she tripped down the apartment corridor. Her euphoria was fading fast, and she spurted forward in sudden nerves. She had to get inside and scrub off this smell; it was hard to have an affair when your partner had supersenses.
Key in the lock, the empty clunk of the door, she jammed on the light, and could tell he wasn't home: the slightly stale smell, the stillness. Not that she hadn't expected that; she'd've been stupid to come home otherwise.
She had an hour at least. Probably more. Certainly enough time to get rid of the evidence.
Her nerves dissipated as the door swung shut. Calm. Her space, her apartment. She'd decorated it anyway, lived in it. Wasn't like he spent that much time at home. Hers. She toed off her shoes, felt the fabric of her skirt flip around her body and flow between her legs. She'd savor it, this feeling. Heaven knows how long it would last.
She stripped off her dress in the foyer, unclipped her bra. No underwear. She had to get rid of this, but she enjoyed the exhilaration of nakedness, too. Cool skin, crisp space, scrunching through the carpet on tiptoe. She smiled to herself, and tossed the dress in a plastic bag.
Coffee and cigarettes and baking soda. It was easier to fool a nose than one might think. Did you know that cigarettes and coffee actually replaced other smells in clothing? And baking soda absorbed them. Well, you learned new things every day. It was amazing how motivated one could be when there was an affair to plan.
She flushed again at the memory of her evening, the smooth warmth of his skin, the dry brush of his thumbs, his laughter, coaxing hands on her thighs. 'Come for me, chere,' he urged. Those red eyes glowing. A kiss.
And his languid warmth after, his teasing. 'Belle, ma belle.' Nuzzling play with her nose. 'Why go back to him, petite? Remy makes you happy.'
'I have to.' Feeling the ripple as he spread languor across her limbs, the small caress of her breast. But she slipped off him. 'I have to go.'
Yes, she had to come back. No rule against enjoying it while it was good, though.
She took her time in the shower: lather, soap, repeat. She enjoyed the bubbles, the scrub, the stretch. She toweled off, slicked back her hair: her little ritual, and she hung her towel up precisely, snapped open her nightgown smartly. Clean and proper and completely aboveboard.
His harsh clatter at the door disturbed the calm of her apartment, her good mood. Instantly annoyed, her spine straightened in the mirror, and keeping her little ritual became more of an effort. Brush was more of a weapon. Stroke one. Stroke two. Long, even, firm, parting the ends. Stroke one…she could hear the creak as he paced across the apartment and back again…three, no, four times, as though he didn't know where he was going. He probably didn't. Wasn't here long enough.
Stroke one…and two…
He appeared aggressively in the bedroom doorway, and she laid her brush down with a firm clip, met her own steely gaze in the mirror. She wasn't done for him.
'Where—' his tone at first a harsh one, and for a moment, he seemed to swell behind her, but she was beyond caring. She had long since given up understanding his behavior. He was never around long enough anyway. A pause as she arranged her locks in the mirror, and his voice held strain when he asked, 'How was your night?'
'Good.' She eyed him sardonically over her shoulder. 'And yours?'
He shifted tensely, almost seemed ready to walk away, but stood firm. Since he was actually talking to her tonight, she guessed this was when he told her he was leaving again. It was his pattern: distance, absence, then he'd seek her out and tell her goodbye. He'd been avoiding her for the past five weeks. How long would he be gone this time?
Someday he'd leave, and she wouldn't be there when he got back.
She sniffed and rose from her seat by the vanity mirror, gathered the stray items of jewelry she'd worn tonight: might as well put them away.
'I'm—' his low growl broke, and she nearly rolled her eyes. What -- he couldn't even tell her this time?
'You're—?' she mimicked rudely, hands on hips. He was backlit against the hallway, his face and eyes shadowed, but when he moved she could see in his stance, the wedge of light, that he was taut, nervous with her.
What a laugh. She didn't know why he bothered to tell her anymore. It wasn't like his being here was so different from his being gone.
'So you're leaving then?' she prodded. Turned away, plimped her earrings neatly down in the jewelry box. His typical silence. Box closed. 'Logan?' she clicked in impatience. It wasn't like they hadn't done this before a million times.
Crisp steps forward across the firm carpet, faced him firmly, lips taut. 'So?' And this close she could see his eyes light in the darkness.
His lids dropped marginally, and she remembered all those other times he'd left before, how he'd always shut her out. She didn't need this. 'Marie—' and he caught her on the breath.
He fumbled it, his arm falling.
Up this close, she could see the creaky motions of his body, the wildness in his eyes, and she hunched before him undecidedly, feeling suddenly guilty. It felt different somehow. Wrong. And suddenly, she thought she might know why.
'Did you—did you have one of your nightmares again?' The words came out flatter than she intended.
His frame shuddered, and he was suddenly looming over her, his heavy arm across her shoulder. 'Yeah.' His voice cracked, uncertain. She should have known.
But she stiffened in growing anxiety as he pressed and pulled his way down her body, clasped her wrist. She could feel him shaking.
Nightmares. He still had them, and they shook him, she knew. The specter hanging over him, part of the reason he needed to be alone. Seven years she had been with him, and she thought that might never go away. When they'd started, she'd thought that she could take them, that he could…
His heart was loud, his breathing quick as her nose was pressed, buried in his flannel.
Sometimes he needed control, afterwards. Sometimes he needed release, and he found that in her. He could find power and dominion and assurance in her. He could take her. But she didn't know if she could give that to him. Not today. Not tonight. Not after she'd found pleasure and power and connection with someone else. She could still feel the trails of Remy's warm clasp on her skin.
Maybe she owed him. Maybe she'd betrayed him. But she didn't think she could. She didn't think she could.
He pressed her forward, and she rocked off-balance into him. He was still agitated, clumsy clutches at her, and she hunched, tried not to, thought she might be sick. She couldn't do this for him. He was so big, so rough, so much bigger than…he overpowered her. She couldn't be that for him tonight.
Was it wrong that she needed more of him? Wrong that she didn't just want him needing her like this? Why was she paying for his nightmares? His mistakes? She had enough trouble with her own.
His hand tangled round to clasp her neck, wasn't quite normal for him, wasn't quite as aggressive and smooth as usual, but she was suddenly smothering, heart pounding, and she didn't care anymore. Tripped back sharply, and she was surprised he let her go.
His face was shadowed and too vulnerable, too open, too unlike what he would have normally been on another night like tonight. There was no intensity there, no demands, no fire. Only hurt, and she didn't know what it meant, but she couldn't look at that either.
'I'm sorry you had a nightmare,' she said to the floor, and the words sank between them, lodged somewhere near the floorboards where they were both scuffing their feet.
'I'm—I didn't…' he stammered, and she was thoroughly tired and wrung out by the fact that he could still make her care this way. She didn't know how to deal with it, and it never seemed to get better.
'Come on,' she murmured. 'Let's get you a drink.' And they scootched their way across the cool linoleum floor. The kitchen. Neutral ground – neither his space nor hers.
Pressed the drink into his hand, and she was aware of her body and his, tried not to be. His heat and confusion and bulk, and he drank after a moment, seemed to remember what to do. She began to wonder about what kind of nightmare he'd had.
He set his glass down evenly on the counter, slid an open palm towards her resting hand, like he was seeking to make a connection to her, a strange, maybe tentative link. She—wasn't he leaving? What the hell, he wanted her blessing?
She jerked, her hand dropped to her side, and his withdrew silently.
She didn't look, and he was very quiet. 'I don't want to go.'
'What?' She'd crossed her arms across her chest.
'I don't want to go,' he said with more strength.
So who was making him? She clamped the thought down petulantly in her mind. She'd learned long ago that no one could ever hold onto him. It was no use anyone trying. It wasn't like he was here even when he was…here.
'Please?' He pressed into her silence with that voice, that voice that so often had made her do anything for him.
'I don't know what you're asking,' speaking through gritted teeth. She couldn't be close to him, feel his hands crawl over areas another had been, let him in when he'd done so spectacular a job of shutting her out.
'I'm sorry,' he whispered on a kiss. Her throat. How had he gotten so close?
'I'm sorry,' he pressed to her jaw, 'don't wanna go…don't go,' pecked across her skin and the corner of her mouth, and when he drew back slightly, she saw his eyes full of something she'd never seen after his nightmares.
His head bent, and her mouth tipped open, and she was tasting him and smelling him, inhaling him. His warm tongue and moist breath, his clever fingers stroking apart her lips and jaw.
She couldn't do this. Not so thoroughly. Not so open and well. He might know. He might taste. And she couldn't afford to have Remy's touch covered by his.
He'd been leaving, was almost gone this time, and she needed some part of her left for when she got left behind. She would need that confidence again, but as she drowned in his scent, in his mouth… 'Yes,' he mumbled again, and she was caught. She'd stopped thinking. She'd think about that tomorrow.
Her body no longer felt like hers. Felt like his. His hands beneath her nightgown, baring her shoulder, his keen little kisses. Where Remy had been, but it felt so different. She felt his breath hitch. 'Logan?'
'It's ok—I'm ok…' he choked out, still lipping the skin, and he spent extra time sucking and lapping, softly murmuring, as he thoroughly explored her throat and clavicle, drew a shaky line between her breasts with his finger. 'It's ok.' And he pulled her nightgown over her head, caressed gently as she trembled, naked and overwarm and suddenly set on the too-cool kitchen counter.
She couldn't feel where Remy had been anymore. Couldn't feel anything but him anymore, as he touched and took and asked with his eyes, thorough and gentle and slow. Remy couldn't make her tremble like this, ache, but he couldn't make her hurt like this either. His caresses moved lower, and she was quivering uncontrollably. 'Logan,' she tried to stop him. He kissed her thigh gently. 'Please.' But he stroked and kissed and made soothing noises, until he was easing her legs gently apart. She was letting him. And when he kissed her there, he met her eyes for the first time that night, direct and open, and she saw in his all of all her own yearning. She tried to just let go.
Smooth, long strokes, firm pressure, and she could feel his eyes on her, his hands which traced but didn't press. She was arching into the cool air, legs thrown wide and nipples peaking. He was giving her everything she needed, more than she thought she wanted. She felt his finger dip into her, his tongue swirl around her, and she was suddenly ecstatically, painfully flooding into his mouth.
He kissed her spasming thigh, gentle squeeze and press to her buttocks as she came down. Whispered her name. Then he rose to stand a few feet away, that same direct gaze, insisting yet asking. She wasn't sure what.
She slid down from the counter, embarrassed. Had that all just been for her? He was still dressed, and she was almost amused to see that he was still wearing his boots and leather jacket from when he'd come in earlier. Did he—was he…?
When she took a small step forward, she saw his eyes flare, and she knew that this was her choice now. A few more steps forward, and her feet grew more certain. She held out her hand and led him to the bed.
They peeled off his clothes together, but he was nearly passive now, deep eyes watching her, waiting. She eased him down on the bed, lay on top of him, and he was so familiar there, so ready. She couldn't face those eyes on her, but she knew what she wanted to do.
Exploring the contours of him, the ripple of him, the parts that were soft and smooth and hard. Hearing and seeing how she affected him: his dilated eyes and nostrils, the goose bumps, small hairs standing up when she blew gently or sucked hard. Teasing him, feasting on him, until he gave a hoarse groan and fisted his hands in her still-damp hair, the tendons in his forearm bulging, and clamping his mouth down on hers, seeking, plundering. She could feel the throb of him trapped between their bodies, the wetness between her thighs. His hand reached down, stroked over her buttocks and between her thighs.
She opened for him, straddled him, drew back to see his mussy lips and hair, heaving chest – all evidence of what she'd done to him. He stroked her arms and caressed her breasts as she slowly lowered herself. Gritting her teeth at the feeling, the suck, watching the pleasure flood his face. And she knew in that moment that he was hers, all hers.
'Rogue,' he stopped her movements, light finger to her cheek. Taut moment and his eyes flickered; then, 'You forgive me?'
She couldn't stop the flash of guilt. 'I—I forgive you.'
'I forgive you,' he echoed, and thrust sharply into her, bracing her, supporting her, and then rolling them over, kissing her. His mouth on hers, hot and heavy, and she sank in, trying to forget and feel and give. He'd always been everything she wanted. Now she had him. She could take.
The need was building in her. She could see the strain in him, spilling over, pulsing round her, and she raced towards it, shouted.
He kissed her again, smack and sweep and press, awkward from panting, hilarious from need. She chuckled lightly, and he shifted, buried his face in her stomach, smoothing away the aftershocks.
'I want to stay.' He mumbled it, but she heard. He rubbed his chin against her, eyes tightly closed, grip tight. 'I want…I want to be better than this.'
She felt her heart clamp painfully. Cool thumb to smooth away the line between his brows.
'I want to be better than this, too.' She was focusing so hard on trying not to cry, she almost mouthed the words, but his eyes fluttered open. Hazel eyes on hers. 'Stay.'