hee. hee.

oh, right, you want a real a/n. not just me giggling. anyway, if you're offended by adult content (okay, specifically sex) then first, what are you doing reading an m-rated story, and second, skip this chapter, it's not really taht important.

review. this chapter is OVER THREE THOUSAND WORDS. longest chapter ever in this story.

plus, i'm really insecure about it, since let's just say this isn't my area of expertise.

I didn't want to say this. I wanted this. I needed this. I needed her.

But more important than any of my desires was one thing. And that was Claire.

"Sweetie," I began, "Are you ready?"

She hesitated. As she thought, I ran my fingers from her shoulder across the top of her chest, just beneath her collarbone. I stroked her neck, finally resting my finger on her lower lip.

I saw that lip tremble just a little.

"You know, you make it really hard to think when you do that," she muttered. I could feel the exhalation of breath as she spoke.

I smiled. "So you find this distracting?"

I pressed my lips just below her ear, brushing kisses from the hollow there to the cleft in her chin.

"Yes. Very," she hissed. Not angrily.

"Give me an answer, Claire. Please." My voice was intense. I hoped it wouldn't scare her for one reason or another, that she would recognize it as merely charged with feeling.

Love. Desire.

"Go ahead," she said.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

She sounded perfectly confident. I kissed her, exultant.

I would never, even if we lived ten hundred—the old joke—years together, get used to kissing her. I was sure my heart would never stop trying to leap out of my chest through my mouth.

Claire wasn't the first girl I'd ever kissed. I'd gotten to second base with Diane Meeker back in tenth grade. I was ashamed of that now, because it felt like a mockery of this.

This was so much more.

It was more because I loved her, and she loved me. It was more because this was just the beginning of our lives together. It was more because I knew that I would die for her.

In an instant.

Without even thinking about it.

I moved my hands from cradling her face to cup her breasts. They were tiny in my too-big grip, even though Claire was not a small woman. The softness of them fascinated me. Gently, I ran my fingers up and down, drawing the circle of the edge.

"Quil," she murmured, and I felt something like a shock run from my feet to my head. The way she said my name! I'd never heard her voice sound so deep, so full of feeling.

"Claire," I whispered in return, slowly moving my head to press a kiss against her forehead. I wasn't even sure why. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

"Quil," again, as though on the verge of tears. I shifted my right hand from over her breast to gently, gently glide just beneath her eye.

A single drop of moisture slid onto my finger. "Claire," I started, and then sighed, pulling her into a big bear hug, "If you want me to stop, you have to tell me, all right? Right away, too. Don't think I'll blame you, sweetheart."

She nodded, and then blushed. I could half-see the beautiful color flood her cheeks in the darkness. "Quil… the reason I'm saying your name is to remind myself it's you."

I stroked her face with my thumbs. "I'm sor-"

She cut me off. "Because I love you, and I want you, and I want to make you happy. But none of that changes the fact that this is literally my worst nightmare. The worst dreams are the ones where I can't see him, I just…"

She shuddered.

I reached above the bed and turned a light on. "Better?"

"Thanks, Quil. It helps if you talk, too."

"All right," I said. As I ran my hands down her stomach, pausing to explore the little valley between her breasts, the bump where her ribcage ended, the sensitive circle around her belly button, I whispered to her. It probably made no sense at all, but that wasn't the point.

The point was my voice.

"Claire, I love you, you know I love you, you are the most important thing in the world to me, and I want you so much, and I'd never hurt you, I never could, I- God, Claire, that feels good," as she mirrored my motion, tracing her tiny hands down the muscles of my stomach, the ridges in my chest- I'd never really cared about looks before I met Claire. I was handsome enough to get girls, and that was all I wanted. Though I knew Embry was taller than me and Jake better-looking… it never bugged me.

Now I thought, for the first time, that it mattered.

And yet Claire was looking at me the way I caught myself looking at her sometimes, like nothing more beautiful could be imagined, like her heart was in her gaze and she was giving it to me.

"Oh. That feels… very good," I continued, blathering near-nonsense as her hands continued down, lightly across the base of my stomach, brushing across my hips, unbuttoning and unzipping and removing my pants, gently. Her touch was gentle, almost hesitant, but it felt so good. My skin tingled wherever she made contact with it.

"You're not wearing underwear," she commented.

"No. Never do- got out of the habit when I was still shredding my clothes left and right, and never got back into it, and—Claire."

"Hmm?"

"Don't… stop. Please," I added hastily. I didn't want to give orders, didn't want to scare her.

I kissed her forehead again, softly, gently. As I hovered above her, supporting my own weight with my hands, I could see, with the new light, fear on her face.

Anticipation, desire, love—but fear most of all. The thought of that hurt me.

"And don't be afraid, darling. Please, please don't be scared of me, not now and not ever. I don't know how I could survive that of all things, knowing I'd done this wrong and terrified you, Claire. You are so much more important to me than any of this could ever be. You have to know that. You have to understand. I can't live with you afraid of me, because I am not doing this to hurt you."

She smiled, peacefully. "I know. I love you."

"I love you, Claire," I said again, because she wanted me to keep talking to her and it was truer than anything else I could say, especially at that moment.

I took a deep breath and carefully touched, with just one finger, the dark patch of hair between her legs. It was rougher there than the silky waves on her head, almost curly. My hand traveled further down.

"Stop," she said, quite clearly. She didn't sound afraid. I pulled away from her. "Don't do that, please."

"Of course," I agreed. I started to roll away.

"Where are you going? I didn't say this evening's activities were over. Just that I'd really rather we left out that one thing, all right?"

"Okay."

I decided I'd have to skip the interim step if it made her uncomfortable. I was very proud, of her that she'd recognized that limit before she was terrified, and also of myself, that I'd cultivated enough trust in her that she knew I'd do as she asked.

I moved back to Claire. Tenderly, I framed her soft face with my hands, and then I kissed her. I put more passion, more abandon, into the kiss than I'd ever allowed myself before. And she kissed me back.

God, she kissed me back. Her lips moved against mine firmly, her arms wound around my neck. I could feel every inch of her perfect, smooth skin against my body, as she pushed against me. I found myself drawing circles on the inside of her cheek with my tongue, exploring her mouth more boldly than I had before.

I felt her move, and for a second I thought I'd frightened her. Then I heard her moan softly. Her legs opened slightly, and the smell…

It hit me like a brick wall. I was suddenly very glad indeed of my werewolf senses. They allowed me to take in every bit of that sweet scent.

Beautiful, sensual proof that she wanted me. I kissed her deeper still, and she made a noise high in her throat.

It was time.

Carefully, more carefully than I'd ever moved before in my life, I shifted my hips down, until they were lying on top of hers, and slowly, more so than I would have thought myself capable of, pushed forward just a little and gasped.

My breath caught in my throat as I pushed my way inside of her.

It sounded so wrong, even just thinking it. Yet I had never felt anything this wonderful.

It was too much. I was losing myself, drowning in the pleasure, shaking already- no. I caught myself. If it had been anyone but Claire, I doubted it even would have been possible to stop… but it was Claire, and so it was impossible to continue.

There were more important things than what I wanted. There was Claire, lying beneath me, trusting me completely for the very first time. I would not lose that trust. I would not mess this up. It would be special and wonderful and beautiful for her, and everything else could wait—forever, as far as I was concerned. Only one thing was important. Claire.

I loved her.

God, how I loved her! I was glad she'd wanted the light on. I could see her face, watch the rise and fall of her chest and shoulders as she breathed slowly, notice when she bit down just a little on her lower lip.

"Claire, what's wrong?" I demanded.

"It hurts… some," she admitted.

Mentally, I scanned through the information I'd copped from my brothers' memories. Though I had no experience of my own, I had innumerable first and second and thirtieth tries to draw from. Jake and Alia, Sam and Emily, Jared and Kim, Paul and that random girl no one could remember the name of that Sam got so pissed about.

And I came to one conclusion. It was only supposed to hurt the first time.

I felt a tender bubble of hope rise in my chest. Maybe her suffering hadn't been as vast as I'd always thought. We'd never really discussed what he'd done to her in those years, those long nightmare years, and so it remained a shadow of a prayer that maybe he had never truly…

It wasn't for me. I didn't care at all about my own possessive claim on her, the fact that she was my imprint, my mate, my wife, and I should be her first and only.

The thought that there was a chance she might have been hurt even a little less filled me with delight. I had this wonderful new opportunity to create a first memory for her that wouldn't hurt at all. Maybe, she could remember all of this evening, every time I touched her, as something good.

And she had not been hurt as much.

That mattered most of all.

"I thought it only hurts if the girl's a virgin," I blurted, and then blushed.

She closed her eyes again, not from fear, or love, but with sorrow lined in every one of her perfect features. There was a release of all the tension in her jaw, like she was observing something very pitiful. Finally, she spoke. "Quil, you know I want this to be my first time. But it isn't. I'm sorry," she murmured, and I shook with rage.

Damn it! I had to control myself. I couldn't… not here… not now. Of all the times to lose control, Quil… but how could she? How dare she blame herself? We both knew perfectly well that it was entirely beyond her control. I looked down at her beautiful face, effectively stopping the tremors while I gazed into her eyes, full of tears. My rage disappeared. It was ridiculous, that she should… I had to comfort her. "Claire, sweetheart… God, don't… I don't care, sweetheart. Well, obviously I care, I care a lot, I'd do anything to make it never have happened… but only for you. Do you understand that? I don't care that… that I'm not your first. I only care because it hurts you. Claire, I love you. Do you honestly think I would hold it against you that…" I trailed off. I didn't want to kill the mood any further.

She smiled, shook her head. "All right. I… I should… of course not. You're too perfect." She laughed softly. "It's just that I feel like I should have made it clear before now. There's better times to discuss it than this… I talked to Emily after we got engaged, and she said if you abstain for some time, it can be a little painful. It's not bad."

"I know," I answered, but it was. Not the physical discomfort, I could already see that tension fading, but that she had—that this had been stolen from her, this wonderful thing.

It was a terrible crime, because this was so precious. She was so precious. If it had been anyone else, it would only have been hideously evil. But to hurt Claire… there weren't words, so imaginable was the horror of it. My whole being rebelled against the very thought.

I could tell, fortunately, that it was all right to continue. I pressed further forward, until my hips met hers.

I groaned softly. Nothing in the world. Nothing in the world could feel like this. The part of her body hidden beneath the sheets and my own legs was warm, even to me, and wet, like fresh rainwater, and tiny, so I could feel the friction around me, pushing in.

"Quil," Claire whispered.

"Love you," I said.

"Love you."

"Thank you."

"Welcome."

I felt her laugh beneath and around me, watched her shoulders shake against the pillow.

Gathering my courage, I pulled out and pushed in, softly, trying to stay in a steady rhythm so I wouldn't startle her. "Claire," I said. "Claire, sweetheart… You're so beautiful."

She jumped a little. When her eyes flashed open, they were full of a strange new emotion, something burning like a fire.

As I pushed forward for the third time, she grabbed my waist, cold hands leaving a flaming trail on my skin, and clung to me.

Her hands were planted there, so they too rubbed skin-on-skin as I made love to Claire.

I watched her face, and marveled again and again how beautiful she was. It was amazing. I thought people couldn't be perfect… until I met her. I thought there was no such thing as perfect happiness, until this very moment.

"Quil," she groaned, her voice low and husky, different than I'd ever heard it before. "That feels… Oh, Quil."

At that moment, I wanted, more than anything in the world, to hear her say my name again in that beautiful voice. I wanted to please her.

I got my wish, as she began to move underneath me, her arms and shoulders twisting, her body contracting around me, her voice soft and delicate, but still deep, as she whispered again, "Quil."

I watched-thank God for the light- as she threw her head back, revealing a long curve that replaced the short straight line of her neck. Her breasts rubbed against my chest.

"Oh, Claire," I whispered into her ear. "I love you. So much."

"Quil!"

I was certain the nice receptionist downstairs could hear her. Frankly, I didn't particularly care.

If I could make Claire scream like that, cry my name, if I could give her that much pleasure, I didn't care if the world ended.

Besides, it was a honeymoon suite. I'm sure we weren't the first people to have sex in it.

That aside… this was perfection. Claire trembled and shook around me. I slid my hands against the two curves behind the arch of her back and the semi-circle of her neck. I pressed kisses against her breasts, up and down, tasting sweat and sweetness on her skin.

"Quil," for the last time, calmer now, as she stopped shaking, as she stilled around me. "

I pulled out of her, but not away. Her body collapsed against my hands, and I held her.

"Quil, you didn't…" she said, softly.

Oh, my love. That she could think about me, about my useless physical desires, after this, after letting me do this for her? How I adore her. "I don't need to." Nothing could matter less in this moment, when she's trusted me with this, when she's content to lie in my arms, when she finally believes the truth, when she knows she's safe with me. I could always go, erm, "take a cold shower" when she was asleep.

"I want you to… I want to do this for you," she commanded, and I smiled.

"Anything you want."

It didn't take long for me to feel it. This emotion was somehow different than my phase, though the physical- a burning in the body, uncontrollable shaking, the strength of feeling exploding from the inside out- was very similar. It was motivated not by fury, but by joy. I supposed that was the difference- that and the fact that when I phased I couldn't see the little half-smile on Claire's face and her closed eyes, her expression one of perfect peace.

"Claire!" I said. Screamed, really, and her smile grew wide and satisfied.

"My Quil." She said it like she was laying a claim, and I nodded.

"Yes. Always. You know that. I am yours, Claire, and it's all I want to be."

"My Quil. I love you. 'M yours now, too. Forever."

I was staggered. It was like she'd reached into my mind and pulled out the words I wanted to hear, more than anything else. Like she knew exactly what I wanted. I tried to return the favor.

"My Claire," I couldn't say without a ridiculously wide grin, "My brave, brave angel, my love, my darling, my wife—I'm here for you. I'm yours, to take care of you and love you and whatever else you want. For the rest of my life, Claire, and after, I'm yours. Thank you so much for this, for everything you gave me today. I love you."

"I still like to hear that. Makes me smile every time."

"I love you I love you I love you I love you…"

I thought her smile would crack her face in half. She snuggled against my chest, and I held her close against me. Her back was covered in sweat, her eyes closed with the weight of this long full day (had it been just this morning we were married, and in a different country?) but that didn't matter. She was lovely like this. She was always lovely.

"Claire? Was that all right? Did I hurt you? Scare you?" I asked. Please, let me not have caused her any pain. She's been through enough. I can't bear to hurt her…

She nodded. "Don't worry, Quil… It was fantastic. Beautiful. I… I never would have thought… It was… surprisingly not scary, once I could see you, when I heard your voice. I knew you only wanted to make me happy. And you did."

I grinned. "Thanks!"

She wound her arms around my neck and let her head drop onto my shoulder. "I'm going to sleep, Quil. Okay?"

"That's fine. It's been a long day."

She smiled, nodded again, and let her head fall further back against my shoulder. I rolled off of her, lying on the bed beside her, her hair against my bare skin, my hands gently stroking her back and stomach and legs, her face perfectly serene.

Finally, finally, finally, she was mine, like I was hers, and she loved me and trusted me and had given herself to me.

My Claire, my love, my angel, my wife... "I love you," I whispered in her ear, and in her sleep she twisted the golden ring on her finger and murmured my name one final time. I watched her lips curve into a smile and I closed my eyes.

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