Thanks for sticking with me through this one, and thanks for Caroline's insight...without it this train would have derailed!! Hope to be writing again soon:)

Part 10

Ryan leaned against the cool glass of the cab's window, his heart hammering in his throat. He had no idea what he was going to say, and he was nervous about facing her after leaving the way he did. His thoughts were catapulting around his mind, as erratic as the storm that was pounding down around him. The rain was coming down in sheets and every now and then, the sky would light up with a flash, followed by the crash of thunder. It was fierce, but beautiful.

The twenty minute drive was the longest he had ever endured. He didn't know how this night was going to turn out, but it would be such a relief to finally know. If she turned him away, at least he would have the absolution he had been bracing for. But if she welcomed him...

Mercifully, the cab turned into the private drive that led to his home. He stopped at the end of the driveway. "This is good enough," Ryan said, practically throwing his money at the driver. He climbed out into the torrent, wishing he had brought a sweatshirt to protect him. The driveway was steep and slippery, but he managed to make his way to the top. The house was dark, except for the dim light escaping only one window. Her window. He wondered if she had fallen asleep with it on, or if she might be awake, staring out at him unknowingly. His stomach was a series of knots, and he hurried under the stoop before he was completely drenched. He turned the knob, only to find that the door was unlocked. He secretly chastised her for being so careless. He turned it slowly, not making a sound, and stepped into the house. It was quiet and still, but he could see the faint light coming from her room. He slipped off his shoes, not wanting to mar the floor. His treads made no sound as he slipped like a whisper through the kitchen. He reached the door of her bedroom, only to find her bed was empty. He frowned and searched the room, and saw the light was coming from the adjoining bathroom. He stood in the doorway, unsure of what to do now. He didn't want to barge in there and terrify her, but he didn't want to just stand and lurk like some stalker. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and decided to wait until she came out.

He didn't have to wait for long, and then he saw her. She was wearing a silk robe, toweling her hair from the shower she had just taken. He stood perfectly still, not knowing what Kirsten's reaction would be. He watched as she went to turn on the bedside lamp, illuminating the room even more. Ryan could do nothing but stare.

Kirsten tried to remember if she had locked the front door and she decided to check. She jumped and almost screamed when she saw Ryan standing in the doorway. Her hand went to her chest to calm her pumping heart. "Ryan," she simply said, blinking repeatedly as if to convince herself that she wasn't dreaming.

Ryan swallowed hard, his gaze still burning. He was trying to read her, to figure out what she wanted from him, if anything. "I'm sorry I scared you," he said, barely hearing his own words over the beating of his heart. "The door was open."

Kirsten could only stare, chest heaving with the breath of uncertainty. She waited for him to say something, anything. But she knew he was waiting for the same thing. Her heart raced at the sight of him, covered in rain, his tee shirt soaked completely through, dripping everywhere. But she didn't care. He was so beautiful; she wanted to run to him, but instead her feet were cemented. He was so fragile, it seemed. She had hurt him so badly, and wanted to choose her words carefully.

"I was just going to check it," she replied, letting her gaze travel over him. She unconsciously took a step forward. Her body was on fire.

Ryan couldn't respond; he could only stare. His breathing increased until it felt as though he was going to hyperventilate. He was fighting the urge to run to her with every ounce of his strength. He took a step toward her without even realizing he had moved.

Kirsten watched him intently, excited by his advance. She wanted him to kiss her so badly. Her body was screaming for him, and she basked in his fiery gaze. She was warm from the inside out, so grateful that he had come back to her. But there was still so much uncertainty hanging in the air. His eyes revealed no clues, only pain. Her brow creased with an overwhelming need to ease that pain, so she took another step forward. Ryan mirrored her. Soon, they were moving quickly to one another, and Kirsten figured it would forever remain a mystery who reached for who first.

In an instant, she was in his arms. Their bodies collided with a primal force, and Kirsten felt his lips pressed hard to her own. She could feel the cold dampness of his clothes through the silk of her robe. All of the frustration and hurt they had battled found its way out in this kiss. They both fought for control, and Kirsten gasped when Ryan pressed her firmly to the wall, pinning her. She reached out her hands to push him back, but he caught her wrists and forced them against the wall on either side of her head. Her eyes were wide with excitement, and she felt that her body might explode. She looked up at him as he hovered, both breathing hard and erratically. She blinked as drops of water fell from his drenched hair fell onto her face, trickling down her neck to disappear inside her robe. She waited for his next move, and she whimpered when he leaned down to claim her lips yet again. He tried to force them apart with his tongue, but stopped short when she bit his lip. He grunted and pulled back, watching as a grin danced across her mouth.

She grabbed the hem of his soaked shirt and peeled it off, tossing it to the floor. She ran her hands over his bare chest, placing kisses on his neck, and he let her have her fun. But not for long. He pushed her back and reached out, and in one swift movement, untied the sash of the robe she was wearing, jerking it from her shoulders. She stood completely naked in front of him, and he couldn't stop the grin that curved his lips.

He leaned into her, pinning her against the wall once again, but he pulled back and watched as the look in her eyes changed from wild and excited to something a little softer. She ran her hands along his bare arms, her touch a little bit lighter than before, as if to assure herself that he was real. Her body seemed to be telling him just how much she had missed his touch. He savored the feel of her fingertips on his skin, and he wrapped his arms around her, gliding his hands gently up her back. He leaned down and kissed her mouth, soft brushes of his lips against hers, followed by a little deeper exploration with his tongue. He smiled against her when he felt her tongue slide against his own. He moved his lips to explore her neck and shoulders, as if he had never kissed her before. He used his hands to caress her breasts and stomach, and he let his lips follow along every curve. She murmured something soft and sweet, sounds so light he could barely hear them.

Kirsten rested her head against the wall behind her, enjoying every minute of his delicious exploration. His touch had went from fierce and erotic to something a little more delicate. She shivered slightly as his hands ran down her sides, over her hips, and back up the inside of her thighs. She stopped breathing, not sure of where his journey would end. She closed her eyes as his hand worked its way upwards, and gasped when he found his destination. He caressed her inside and out, and she felt that her legs would not be strong enough for long.

He smiled when he felt how ready she was for him, and decided to be merciful. He picked her up and kissed her slowly, her back still against the wall, wrapping her legs around him. She moaned into his mouth, and their silent conversation continued. Nothing needed to be said, each knew what the other was thinking. Instead of words, they used kisses, caresses. Ryan carried her to the bed and gently laid her down. He removed the rest of his clothing, and moved over her. She lay beneath him, in awe of how beautiful he was. She thought about how miserable she had been when he was gone, and how she never wanted to feel that way again.

Ryan kissed her softly, taking in the sight of her. He remembered how his heart had ached so badly when he was away from her. He knew that he could never be truly happy unless he was in her arms. But the greatest thing was, he didn't have to tell her that, because she already knew. He looked into her eyes and saw the understanding that he had craved for so long. His body was on fire for her, and he lowered his body to hers, and smiled when his permission was granted. He was inside her, in every way he could be. She cried out at the feeling, so unbelievably grateful for this moment. Even in her pleasure she thought of how close she came to losing him. She listened as his body spoke to her, assuring her that he would never leave her again. She wrapped her legs around him, tightening them, closing the space that separated them. Their movements were slow, each knowing what the other needed. There was no need to rush; this conversation without words was long overdue.

He became completely lost in her. In her soul, and her body. He wanted to please this woman, the one that he loved. He smiled as he listened to her moans and her cries, knowing that it wouldn't be long. He wanted this to last as long as it could; this time was unlike the other times they had spent together. The pain and uncertainty of the last few weeks had to find a release. And it did exactly that, except in the form of pleasure.

Kirsten watched as his body moved slowly against hers, and she felt like her entire body would combust. He felt so good inside her, and above her. No one had ever made love to her the way that Ryan did. His passion was tender and fierce at the same time.

His thrusts became a little harder, a little deeper. She was perilously close to falling over the edge, and she let him know that by saying his name softly. He was so close too, she could tell. She smiled when she saw his eyes close, and heard her name trail softly from his lips also. Neither could take it anymore, and Kirsten cried out, grabbing fistfuls of the sheets that lay beneath them. She heard him groan and move harder against her. Her body was overcome with a wave of pleasure that she wasn't quite sure she would survive. Her cries became louder and more desperate when she felt him pulse within her. Their release was beautiful, a combination of their love for each other and of the intensity of emotions they had both been feeling.

In a few moments, the storm began to quiet and Ryan remained on top of her, unable to let her go. Their breathing returned to normal, and Ryan forced himself to slide off of her, moving beside her on the bed. He admired how absolutely beautiful she was. Cheeks flushed, eyelids lowered, skin glistening with sweat. He put his arms around her and pulled her close. He breathed in the scent of her, something completely unique to her and beyond any words he could manage. They were still and quiet, no words needed. They had just said everything that they hadn't previously been able to.

They lay together, listening to the rain still pounding down outside. Ryan stroked her hair, placing a kiss on her temple. "Ryan," she said, breaking the vast silence.


She looked up at him and met his gaze. "I love you."

He felt his heart jump, just to hear her say something that he already knew. "I love you, too, Kirsten. I always have."

She snuggled closer to him, kissing his cheek. She closed her eyes and listened to the beat of his heart, mixed with the sounds of the rain on the roof above them. She knew that there would be time for conversation later; right now they were happy to simply exist. She thought about the two of them and the journey that they had experienced over the past few years. Their relationship had grown from quiet admiration into the most satisfying love she had ever known.

Ryan breathed out, thinking about how completely perfect this felt. Lying here with the one he loved more than life, knowing that she loved him too. But they both understood that it wouldn't be easy. People were always going to talk; it was something they had to accept and move on from. Neither of them had asked for this gift, but Ryan and Kirsten now understood that sometimes you don't get to chose the one you love. But then again, sometimes you do.