Chapter 2

Sully changed his mind though. In his opinion, Michaela was already chirpy enough and didn't need coffee to top it. To his astonishment she didn't argue when he hinted that tea would be more appropriate at this time of the day. He had no idea that she'd even accepted water, as long as it meant they would still be together.

They both wore casual clothes when they met in the kitchen some minutes later. Sipping their tea, which had its usual calming effect, they sat in comfortable silence at the table until Michaela felt it was the right moment to say goodnight.

"Thank you for making this day so special, Sully," she said, putting her now empty mug down, before she looked at him.

"Was my pleasure," he assured smiling, returning her gaze. Yet the moment their eyes locked, the atmosphere in the small room changed. Both became highly aware of the fact that they were two people in love, all alone in the house. In order to ease the sudden tension, Sully gave his voice a playful tone when he added, "Could have been nice yesterday too... if ya'd been here."

Knowing that she had been caught, Michaela averted her eyes, instantly apologizing, "I'm sorry."

In an attempt to hide her embarrassment she quickly looked for an excuse. Having found it, her high spirits returned as she pointed out, looking at him again, "Actually, I only did it for your sake."

Recognizing her teasing, Sully raised an eyebrow, bending forward so that his face was close to hers. "How's that?" he wondered, searching her eyes.

Although squirming on her seat, Michaela didn't shy away when she replied, "Well, this way you only had to think about one present, not two."

Keeping his position, Sully chuckled, "Then, maybe, I should have told ya that I've already taken care of your Valentine's Day gift a while ago."

Although the Quinn family had never suffered from lack of money, Michaela's parents had made sure that their daughters weren't spoiled. They only gave them presents for Christmas and on their birthdays, which were usually practical things. And books of course. Only her father had now and then given Michaela something more personal to cherish, like on her eighteenth birthday when he presented her with an old pen that once belonged to his grandfather. Thus Michaela wasn't used to the kind of attention Sully gave her. Like a child, she forgot about any tension but grew excited, "May I see it?" she pleaded with her eyes sparkling.

"Uh," pretended Sully to think, "I don't know… after all, Valentine's Day is over..."

"Please…" Michaela leaned closer until her lips almost touched his, "I promise to take your turn of getting the bagels for breakfast all week." So as to seal the deal, she kissed him lightly before she bent back.

Seeing her expectant expression, Sully grinned. He knew that, if he wanted, he could bargain a bit more but actually he was eager to see her reaction. Preventing himself from second thoughts, he shoved his chair back, straightening abruptly. "It's upstairs," he explained as he held out his hand for her to take it.

As soon as the humans left the kitchen, Wolf scrambled out from beneath the table where he'd been dozing. His favorite woman climbing the steps to the upper floor meant that it was time for having a good night's sleep on the foot of her bed. The only thing that puzzled him was his master being with her. For a moment he stared after them in confusion, but then he simply yawned widely, shook his fur so it was fluffy again before he followed them. His bewilderment, however, grew as he saw them passing the door he knew so well. He was only stunned for a moment though for his curiosity instantly was awoken. But the minute he arrived at the room Michaela and Sully had entered, the door was closed before his nose, yet not before his master gestured for him to stay outside. A second long Wolf considered to whine in protest but knowing that this would be in vain, he rather strolled to his usual place in the woman's chamber, almost already asleep again.

Inside of the room, which had once been planned to become the master bedroom, Sully, standing behind Michaela, still covered her eyes with one hand. "Ya ready?" he asked, nervousness shining through his tone.

Mutely nodding, Michaela still pressed her eyelids together wondering what he was about to show her. She knew that the room was full with antique furniture that he wanted to restore and sell afterwards. Assuming he had finished one piece for her, she slowly opened her eyes. Not prepared for the view before her she gasped. Sully had once shown her the huge bed and she'd marveled at its beauty back then, but the sight now was even more overwhelming. Sully had obviously polished the wood. But not only that, he had also removed all the dust, which must have been more than a hundred years old, from the delicate grooves of the carving which took up almost the entire head board. It looked like a large fan of feathers that was meant to protect the sleepers on the soft mattress that was covered with clean, white sheets already.

"It's so beautiful," Michaela eventually breathed, unable to think straight.

Sully had made up his mind. Although he would never start anything Michaela didn't want too, he still wanted her to know that he was ready to go on with their relationship. Laying his hands on her shoulders from behind, he bend his head towards her ear. "I figured we'd need a bed sometime," he said in a low tone.

It was the combination of these words and the deep timbre of his voice that sent Michaela over the edge. Feeling a strange weakness in her knees she turned around, throwing her arms around his neck. As she buried her face in his chest she heard the strong drum of his heart, realizing that it was beating so fast because of her. She would never say it out loud, actually not even admit it to herself, but she wished he would stop being so considerate towards her. But maybe it was her fault that he thought she didn't want more because she'd never shown it. But tonight she felt it was time to overcome herself, let her heart speak rather than her mind.

"I love you, so much," she whispered before she kissed Sully with unconcealed desire, making him lose the ability to think coherently. It really hadn't been his intention to try the bed right away, but how could he resist such a kiss?

Their lips only lost contact when a piece of clothing needed to be pulled over a head, but then they were instantly drawn to each other again. Both their urgency to shed anything only grew until they at last stood skin to skin, running their hands up and down the other one's body. As Michaela showered his collarbone with small kisses, Sully forgot last doubts. Michaela wanted this as much as he did yet he still realized that she avoided eye contact. He knew though what this meant, and while he held her close with one arm, guiding her towards the bed, he reached out for the light switch with his free hand.

Once darkness engulfed them, Michaela was instantly more comfortable. Clinging to Sully, she barely noticed that he pulled back the quilt from the bed before he carefully lowered them onto the mattress. She was consumed by a mix of anxiety and curiosity for she feared as well as anticipated what would come next. When Sully's fingers lightly caressed her breasts, she stopped thinking though. All that mattered were his tender touches, the loving words he murmured and his hot breath all over her body.

Hearing her quietly moan Sully instinctively knew she was ready for him to join them. As he did so, he felt her flinching though. Recognizing what he'd just done he froze. Michaela, however, didn't give him any time to contemplate the fact that he was her very first man. Holding onto him even tighter, she whispered, "Don't stop…"

That was all that he needed, and the split second of hesitation was gone. Incredibly gentle he commenced their love making, yet when he felt Michaela matching his movements, his passion took over. Forgetting place and time, they lost themselves in each other. They were two lovers, ascending to the peak together. Not knowing the way yet, Michaela just followed Sully's every step that took them closer to the top. As he at last shuddered against her she held onto him tightly, feeling the urge to protect him.

Yet her welfare was all that Sully was thinking about, too. Supporting himself on his elbows so as to ease some of his weight from her body, he tried to recognize her features as he asked, still breathing heavily, "You alright?"

Hearing the concern in his tone Michaela quickly assured, smiling up at him through the darkness, "I'm fine."

And fine she really was. Although exhausted, she felt in a very pleasant way relaxed and tired. If she could have her way, she wouldn't move but just spend the night next to Sully in this large bed. She had no idea though if that was what he wanted, too. Yet while she was still wondering, he answered her unspoken question. After giving her an affectionate kiss, he lowered himself next to her, pulling her into his arms. As she snuggled up against his side, she felt his hand repeatedly running over her hair. Closing her eyes she relished their intimacy, wishing it would stay so forever. Yet the long working hours from the day before and only short sleep afterwards were eventually catching up with her. While Sully still couldn't fathom what had just happened, Michaela fell asleep in his embrace.

xxx

The darkness outside hadn't lightened yet when Michaela woke up. For a moment she was puzzled because something was different but she couldn't immediately pinpoint it. It wasn't the fact that she was in Sully's arms. She'd found herself there quite often after she dropped off while watching TV. Yet then she became aware of bare, warm skin against hers and remembered. With her memory returning, heat flashed through her body, and she tried to lie as still as possible. What was Sully thinking of her now that she had given herself to him so unrestrained? And then another thought occurred to her which actually made her blood run cold. Since it had never occurred to her that she would sleep with any man before she was at least engaged, she hadn't taken precautions. Trying to calculate she fought the panic that threatened to claim her. She counted twice before she relaxed. It was only eight days since her last period which meant there was no real danger that she could have conceived. Adding to that, her cycle was even longer than the normal twenty-eight days.

Yet with this one fear being erased, her earlier doubts returned. She had practically thrown herself at Sully! What if she had forced him to do something he hadn't really wanted? Wasn't it much too early in their relationship for this decisive step? Although, as far as she had gotten to know him, she could trust his feelings for her. Or couldn't she?

Sully had dozed rather than slept because he was much too excited about what had happened between Michaela and him. Initially, it was pure joy that kept him from sleep. Yet the longer he lay awake and the more time he had to think, the more unwanted thoughts entered his mind. They all culminated in the disturbing question whether he had taken advantage of the fact that Michaela had been a bit tipsy last night. As he noticed the change of her breathing which announced that she was waking up, he anxiously waited for her reaction. Feeling her tensing up he feared he had made a terrible mistake and was totally taken by surprise when he heard her whispering shyly, "You do… love me?"

"'Course I do. I've been tellin' you," he responded, puzzled by this question. How could she still doubt that? However, so as to underline his words, he pulled her closer against his chest, stroking her long tresses in a soothing rhythm.

"I know," she breathed, relaxing. Sully felt the warmth that radiated from her skin and knew she was blushing when she continued softly, "I… I guess you can never hear it enough."

Recognizing her need for reassurance, Sully shifted so they both lay on their side, facing each other. As he stared into her eyes in the pale light of dawn, he took her hand. Lifting it to his lips, he kissed her fingers. "I love you," he said, holding her gaze, and Michaela instantly melted. Dropping her insecurities, she smiled and snuggled up against him again. "I love you, too."

They both would have enjoyed staying in bed longer, yet there was somebody else in the house who didn't like this prospect. Although it hadn't been the first night he spent alone in Michaela's room, this time Wolf was a bit miffed. She was at home but he wasn't allowed to join her! He had already been on his morning walk around the property, but the door which separated them was still closed when he returned. Undecided about what to do, he sat in the hallway across from the forbidden room when he heard the two voices he loved most from inside. Edging closer, he expectantly waited for his humans to appear in the doorframe, but nothing happened. Eventually he decided to make his presence known and only stopped his soft whining and scratching at the wooden pane when he heard an unnerved groan from his master plus a giggle from Michaela in response. Recognizing Sully's steps as he approached the door, Wolf backed away somewhat. Yet when Sully opened the door, the expression on his dog's face was completely innocent so he didn't have the heart to reproach him.

"Alright, Wolf," Sully said instead, trying to sound sternly, "I guess we need to have a little talk again."

xxx

If Sully had a gift for music he would have sung when he prepared breakfast later. He was loved by an incredible woman, and his heart was full of love for her. He could finally make plans again, and life seemed to be back on the right track. Even the sun was shining for the first time in days, and a touch of spring was in the air. As he heard Michaela's steps on the stairs, he filled their cups with coffee before sitting down at the table.

Yet when Michaela entered the kitchen, avoiding his eyes, his high spirits were damped somewhat. As she took her seat across from him, still not meeting his gaze, he grew worried.

Michaela silently sighed. She didn't want to ruin the mood but she couldn't help herself. When they got up after Wolf had insisted on their company, enough light was filling the room so she could see their clothes scattered on the floor. Not only did she become embarrassed again about her openly shown desire but was suddenly highly aware of her current state of nakedness, too. Fortunately Sully left the room quite quickly so as to avoid that their furry friend made himself comfortable on their bed. Being left alone, all her insecurities returned full force. What she feared the most was that she had lost Sully's respect. She didn't dare to even glance at him when she sat down, her face burning.

The red on her cheeks, however, gave Sully a faint idea of what it was that worried her. Yet first he had to be sure that last night hadn't disturbed their relationship, now that she'd had time to consider.

"Do ya regret…?" he asked in a soft voice.

He couldn't finish his question for it was interrupted by a startled, "No!"

Frozen in the middle of her move with her arm lifted, the knife posing above the butter, ready to cut it, Michaela finally looked at Sully. The last thing she wanted was him to think he had done anything wrong.

"Then there is nothing to fret about," Sully said quietly. "I love you, and you love me. That's all that matters."

As she lowered her arm, averting her eyes again, he added, "I'll never leave ya, I promise."