Okay, potentially the final chapter. I may, at some time, come back and try my hand at something more…explicit. But not now. Here ya go. No offense meant by anything and I hope you've enjoyed the story.

This chapter is dedicated to Floating Amoeba as a wedding gift! Congrats!!

Chapter Eight: Candles


Lilly opened the door to her house. It was nice—really nice—to come home to the sounds of someone else moving around comfortably. To know that someone would miss her if she didn't come home. It was one of the few things she had liked about Chris living with her. She shook her head, pushing those thoughts away. Not helpful.

Scotty appeared in front of her as she was slipping off her coat. "What? No 'honey, I'm home'?"

She smirked at him. "You'll have to earn that."

He grinned, moving forward and crowding her space. Slipping his arms around her waist, he leaned in and nuzzled her neck. She felt his warm breath against her skin and fought back a groan. He skimmed his lips up her neck to graze them across her delicate jaw line.

Not good. This was not good, Lil thought to herself. Okay, well it was good, but not if she wanted to help Scotty keep it clean. Besides, he was going to pull away in a minute and then she'd just be even more frustrated.

He moved to plant a soft kiss on her lips, but she sidestepped, putting her coat in the closet and heading for the kitchen. He stood in the front hallway, holding air and wondering what had just happened.

He followed her to see her pouring the popcorn he had made into a bowl. She looked up at him and smiled. "The popcorn smells great."

He just watched her for a moment. Okay. He nodded, taking it from her. "Grab the drinks, Lil. Would ya?"

After doing so, she trailed after him to the living room where the movie was already in the DVD player, just waiting for them. She set the drinks on the coffee table and turned to the couch, where Scotty was lounging against the armrest. She hesitated for a bare moment before plopping down on the opposite end. Scotty's relaxed position disappeared and he sat straight up, brow furrowing.

"Okay, Lil. Spill. What's up?"

"Nothing." Her hands fidgeted nervously. He reached over to still them and was surprised when she flinched away. What the hell?

"That ain't nothin', Rush."

"Drop it, Scotty. Can we please just watch the movie?"

He felt his temper stirring. God, why couldn't she just fuckin' talk to him?

"Why can't you just fuckin' talk to me?"

He had never been good at holding his anger inside.

She bristled, growing rigid. "Maybe because there's nothing to fucking talk about, Scotty."

She glowered at him and he glared back, body tense and poised for attack. He'd like to tell himself that hers was poised for attack, too, but it seemed more likely that she was poised to flee. Fight or flight. Despite appearances, he knew that she didn't like to fight at home. She had enough strife at work.

That was true, but he just wanted her to open up. To trust him, like she had said she was ready to. He sighed, the fight draining out of him.

"What the hell are we fightin' about?"

She remained stiff for a moment more before following his lead. She sank back against the couch, tilting her head to look at the ceiling. "Your lack of anger management?"

He let out a light laugh at her smart-ass comment, determined to take it at face value—not as a barb. He mimicked her, staring at the pale yellow paint that adorned her ceiling. Tentatively, he reached over and took her hand, gaze never moving. It was like he could find her in the dark. "Our lack of communication skills?"

She sighed, knowing that she couldn't put this off or lie. It was hard, being in a relationship, but she wanted this to work. She was going to make it work.

"It's just hard sometimes, Scotty."

He felt as if she had just sucker punched him. It was hard? What? Being with him?

"I know you want to take this slow and I'm trying to respect that. Really, I am. But if that's what you want, then I can't cuddle with you all the time. I know they call me Ice Queen at work, but a girl's control can only last so long."

He almost gave himself whiplash turning to look at her. "What?!"

She closed her eyes. "I'm sorry. No pressure. We can wait until you're ready. I just wanted to let you know that's the reason for…well…for this."

She used her free hand to gesture between them, still not meeting his gaze.

Scotty felt the unbelievable urge to laugh. That's what this was about? She wanted to take it to the next level, but thought that he wasn't ready. He let out a breath. She thought that he wasn't ready?

Why the hell had he been waiting for her to make the first move again?

Because it was Lil and if there was one thing she was, it was skittish. He watched her. Her eyes were still closed. He grinned wolfishly.

Well, all bets were off now. A strong tug on her arm brought her reeling into him. Her eyes opened and the soft noise of surprise she made as she collided with him had his blood heating up. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her on top of his chest, and started laughing.

Resting her forearms on his chest, she lifted herself up to look into his face, a frown tugging at her lips. "I fail to see the humor in this, Valens."

"Well, you were waiting and I…" he trailed off, his laughter starting to make his sides hurt.


He managed to choke an answer out between his laughs. "Was doing the same."

Understanding dawned in her eyes and they began to twinkle dangerously. His laughter was abruptly cut off when her hands trailed down his sides to the bottom of his short, toying with the hem. He locked eyes with hers, his brown darkening almost imperceptibly at first.

"Maybe we should do something about that. Hmm?"

Instead of answering, he leaned forward and captured her lips in a heated kiss that was answer enough.

As his hands tangled in her blond hair, he knew that there would never be anything between them that stayed broken.

She had fixed him. He had put her pieces back together. Any problem they had would be tackled. He couldn't afford to have it any other way. He was never losing her.

Once more, he thanked God there had been witnesses who had seen her car go off the bridge and called for help immediately. That there had been a unit nearby and an ambulance pulled over for dinner in a close parking lot. That Lil had made it out of the car on her own, even if she then had to be pulled out of the water, unconscious.

That the CPR had worked.

That Lil had given him, them, a chance.

He owed the Big Man a lit candle.

He felt Lil's surprisingly warm hands creep under his shirt and brush against the skin of his stomach. Maybe more than one candle, actually.

Idly, he wondered if it was sacrilegious to think of lighting candles for God while engaging in sexual activities…Lil started to kiss her way down the side of his neck.

Damn…if God was a man, Scotty was sure He'd understand.