Flashbacks #-4: "Girl Talk."

"Men have always detested women's gossip because

they suspect the truth: their measurements are being taken and compared." - Erica Jong

A few years ago...

She'd gotten up about an hour ago, hair in tangles and the craving for caffeine dragging her by her throat towards the kitchen. Elisa finally had a night off after an eighty hour week and was determined to spend it doing absolutely nothing but melting into a boneless heap in Goliath's arms as soon as the sun went down. She'd left specific instructions for Matt and Maria not to bother her unless the sun itself was about to crash-land in the middle of Central Park.

No phone, no beeper, no cell, no interruptions, nothing but her and a gargoyle chiseled from marble and built like a semi truck; it was the start of a wonderful night up until...


Her front door nearly came off the hinges and Elisa nearly shot out of her jeans. Her heart a ping-pong ball inside her ribcage, she marched towards the door ready to put her fist through the peephole.

"Come on, Elisa," a familiar voice said from the hallway outside, "open up!"

Elisa didn't even have to look. Whatever she had planned for the evening was just obliterated by that voice and an incredible sense of bad timing. Softly bumping her head against the door, she reluctantly pulled the chain and opened up to a small tornado in the form of her baby sister, blowing inside with half a dozen shopping bags hanging from her forearms.

"Hey, big sis." Beth said as she passed, presumably heading for the kitchen table.

"I assume school's out?"

"Just for the summer. I'm back in town for free housing, an internship at the George Gustav Heye Center, shopping and of course, getting all the latest gossip from my big sister." She relieved herself of the bags (inscribed with some pretty swanky store logos), plunked herself into a kitchen chair and hurriedly slapped the table's wood surface. "C'mon, spill."

Elisa simply stared at her.

"You've traveled around the world in a magic boat, fought tooth and nail against evil fairies, and of course, are currently dating a gargoyle. You haven't had a normal moment since the mid-nineties. Now pour me a cup and give me all the juicy details."

She wandered closer, hovering at the edge of the table and trying to catch a glimpse inside some of the bags. "Sorry to burst your bubble, Beth," she said, "but it's been pretty quiet lately."

"Even with Goliath?" she cooed.

Her eyes thinned; dangerous territory. "Beth..."

"Oh come on."

She exhaled. When it came to Goliath Elisa knew she'd always left Beth in the dark, along with most of her family actually.

Beth shrugged in response, unable to quell her curiosity. When her sister's relationship was finally revealed and all the little sordid details that came with, Beth was charged with the unenviable task of keeping it all a secret. For years now. "You know, I think I'm owed..."

"For what?"

"For keeping my mouth shut."

"Well, that is indeed a miracle. Blabbermouth Beth Maza actually keeping a secret."

"Funny. Now, if you didn't hear me before, load me up with some hot brew and even hotter gossip."

Elisa sighed and turned around to her coffee maker on the far counter to pour two cups worth, while Beth took the chance to sweep the rest of the apartment with curious eyes, looking for evidence no doubt. Of anything her big sister might not tell her, anything that might give the slightest hint to her relationship with a gargoyle. Maybe a claw mark or two. But the apartment was spotless if not a little Spartan for her tastes; she figured Elisa was recently dividing her time between the precinct and that castle in the sky.

"Have you talked to mom and dad yet?" Elisa asked.

"Yeah, dropped my stuff off in the old room and gave dad a kiss on the cheek as I filched a twenty."

"My sister the crook..."

As Elisa prepared the two cups, Beth continued her inspection like a Terminator would scan for victims, slowly and methodically. Clean apartment, couch pillows fluffed and meticulously placed, scented candles burning on the coffee table, as if Elisa was expecting company. A woman would never entertain a lover, especially someone significant, without making sure her home was in perfect order. But amongst all the structure, she finally found something that seemed out of place. A blue foam mat, rolled up in the corner, as if haphazardly abandoned there, and only half hidden by the bookshelf.

"Hey, is that...?"


Beth leaned in, focusing her eyes. The mystery object was quickly identified (she'd owned one herself). "Are you...doing yoga?"

She nearly dropped the mugs. Elisa mentally chided herself for not hiding the mat away, but eventually answered, "Yeah, I'm taking a few classes..."


Elisa stumbled over should've been a simple lie. "Just...to keep fit."

It couldn't have been clearer to someone who'd spent her life waiting for those little hiccups in Elisa's perfectly crafted, polished steel veneer; like someone had shot off a flare in the middle of the living room, Beth caught the hesitation in her sister's voice. "You're a gym-rat, at least once a week, you spend most of your shift running down criminals and drug dealers, you have an ass a lot of women I know would kill for, why all of a sudden throw yoga into the mix?"

"Fitness, Beth. When I'm running down criminals and drug dealers, I have to make sure I don't pop something out of place. And the cost's actually covered by NYPD's fitness initiative."

Her sister had a talent for little white lies, Beth knew for sure, but she was still suspicious. "Mm-hmm."

Sitting down across from her sister, Elisa sighed, "There's no big conspiracy, Beth, it's just yoga."

"Nothing is just anything when it comes to you."

"Well, this is."

Beth took a sip of her coffee but kept her eyes squarely fixed on Elisa. "How long now?"

"Not long."

"How long?"

"About nine months..."

"Aha!" Beth pointed an accusing finger. "I knew it."


"That's almost as long as you and Goliath have been doing the four-legged frolic."

A fold went through her face and Elisa grimaced. "Jesus, Beth..." she muttered.

Beth bobbed her shoulders as a half-apology. "Well I cleaned it up as best I could. What would you call it?"

"Making love."

"Awe..." came the sarcastic reply. "That's revolting."

"Yeah, yeah, very funny. How the hell would you know how long Goliath and I have been having sex?"

"Oh, please." she smirked, and brushed a hand past her face. "When a woman goes from a dry spell to regular sex, she practically glows, in both appearance and attitude. I could tell over the phone something had changed."

Her fingers interlaced over the mug's upper rim, Elisa glared through the wisps of steam. "How?"

"Well, for one, you were a hell of a lot more relaxed. Like you just got the world's biggest itch finally scratched. What no matter what I did to try and set you off, I just couldn't light the wick."

Seems her sister had followed in their father's footsteps after all; she'd become quite the detective between anthropology and history classes. She'd tried, Elisa mused silently, she'd tried so hard to keep that shit-eating grin to herself, if only to avoid any unwanted questions from her friends and coworkers. But the clan could tell right away; her scent, and Goliath's, had changed dramatically after their first night. Heads abruptly turned when coming into scent range but the gargoyles said nothing and reacted indifferently, save for a few knowing smirks. She'd learn later that her scent was now permanently changed, bonded to Goliath's, marking them as a mated couple in gargoyle terms.

"Your silence condemns you." Beth cut through her reverie.

Elisa shook herself from the memory trip and answered, "Dad would be so proud at your deductive skills."

"So, the yoga." Beth persisted, hoping the trail wasn't going cold. "Let me guess, it's not just for keeping your ass from sagging."

"I decided it was in my best interest to make sure every part of my body was...better prepared." Elisa said, for lack of a better term.

"For what? Is making love to a gargoyle that strenuous?"

"You have no idea..."

"Then enlighten me."

She took a deep breath, a languid drink, and said, "Goliath is...different from most men."

"I could've told you that...how different?"


She felt like a ten-year-old in front of him. Elisa had never been ashamed of or even remotely uncertain about her body until Goliath started parting her robe. The breath through her lungs felt like ice, through her throat it felt like fire.

He undressed her slowly, almost painfully so, peeling away the terry robe to expose her shoulders, her breasts and stomach. But spurred by the promise of more, Goliath's pace quickened to completely relieve her of the only thing between them but warm flesh. She was nude in his arms, bared to his dark eyes and she could hardly return the longing gaze. There was such weight in that longing void, such dominance it was hard to feel equal. Her own eyes had darted away, the instinct to cover herself suddenly arising out of nowhere, as if she could never measure up.

But it wasn't until she found the strength to lift her head and discovered what only could be described as wonderment running ragged across sharp edges. Goliath was awestruck, and every inadequate feeling vanished. "Like...what you see?" she teased.

His chest heaved with his answer, but any sound was strangled in his throat. Awkward touches gave way to passion, leisure became urgency and before long there were on the floor in front of the apartment's fireplace, Elisa's hands on his loincloth's heavy buckle.

Every surreptitious glance, every wistful thought, it had culminated to this moment when, with Goliath's urging, she undid the belt and slid the loincloth from his waist. "J-J-Jalapena..."

Beth was enrapt. Elisa's description bordered on the pornographic and her baby sister was leaning over the table practically begging for more, but she'd stopped just at the best part. "How endowed?"

Elisa knew she'd gotten carried away when she looked up from her mug. Of course, every time she would reminisce about that night, she'd become lost and comfortably enshrouded in that memory. But the temptation to brag was overwhelming and maybe, just maybe, it might shut her sister up. "Very."

Slumping back into the chair, Beth was bursting with a ton of questions but one bubbled to the surface quicker than the rest. "Does it hurt?"

Elisa got a half-dreamy look. "On the contrary..." And then caught herself, reality and an annoying sister crashing hard. She stiffened. "I'm just taking yoga to get a little more flexible, that's all."

"So it does hurt."

"No." she said quickly. "At least, not anymore."

Goliath held Elisa astraddle, pressed against her and only impeded by her hands against his stomach. So maddeningly close, she'd brought what the passion had wrought to a screeching halt and was purposely holding herself above him.

Again, his concern showed through. "Elisa...are you sure...?"

But she was adamant. "Yes." There was a sharp breath, and another, as lightning arced through her spine. Pain, pleasure, clenching muscles, warmth spreading from the inside out, Elisa jerked with every cold impulse that shot through her body as she slowly lowered herself onto him. Her arms once braced to his abdomen, she relaxed and let her body slide down, biting her lip all the way.

Goliath watched from underneath, that same concern slowly being overwritten by the pleasure of something he'd waited so long for. His massive hands slid around the curves of her hips, claws pressing into supple flesh as he balanced her, hoping to ease her discomfort. Her expression was unreadable; it was something he'd never seen before, something strange, disquieting, magnificent. "Elisa..."

She looked down through black strands of hair; it was obvious she was still struggling with his size.

"Elisa, the last thing I want...is to hurt you..."

"A woman...adjusts to her lover, Goliath." she said. "Let me adjust."

"The first time was, a little uncomfortable, a little during but especially after."


Elisa reiterated, "I felt like a ten pound turkey that just had fifteen pounds of stuffing shoved into it."

Beth cocked an eyebrow, coyly and quizzically. "Ouch."


"So you didn't enjoy it?"

"No, I enjoyed it very much...very, very much, but my body just wasn't used to him, that's all."

"Hence the yoga."

"Yes." Elisa nodded. "And now there's barely any pain, if at all. I told him I'd adjust. I did."

Beth digested, her brain unable to resist forming mental images of Goliath unwrapped, uninhibited and doing things she'd only seen in 9½ Weeks. But pieces were missing that only Elisa could fill in. She wondered how to broach the subject before figuring the direct approach was best. "How...big is he?"

She held up her free hand like a traffic cop. "I'm not discussing this."

"Oh come on, I'm curious, along with every other single female Goliath's come into contact with."

"Beth," Elisa said more firmly, "drop it."

But Beth only dropped her cup and held her hands up about eight inches apart. "This big?"

Elisa was adamant. "I'm not doing this..."

"Oh please. Let me live vicariously through my big sister and her incredibly huge, semi-human boyfriend." She widened her hands a little bit. "This big?"

Elisa went quiet, but Beth confused the silent refusal for a wrong guess. She opened up the distance between her hands, the twinkle of playfulness in her eyes somewhat losing its luster. "This big?"

More silence.

"I promise I won't tell a soul, on the grave of grampa Carlos."

That was her sister's magic phrase, used whenever she was so desperate to know something that she might actually keep it to herself. Deploring herself for revealing this to Beth about Goliath, she stared at the hands and simply, almost imperceptibly if one wasn't looking close enough, shook her head.

Beth, now shocked, widened even farther.

Cup to her mouth, Elisa made a small sound into her cup that could've been construed as an affirmative.

And Beth took another quick measurement of the distance between her hands and the sudden burst of laughter was broken into bite-size chunks between shallow breaths. "Oh...wow." she managed. "You're going to need a lot of yoga."

"This is why I don't tell you a damned thing!" Elisa snapped. "God, I don't know why I said anything."

"I'm sorry..." But the sincerity was lost to more laughter, Beth trying to hold the sniggers inside and failing miserably, strangled sounds being forced through her nasal cavity. "You're right. You revealed something very private and I made fun of you. And I can't wait to see Goliath to put all I've learned to use."

Elisa grunted in response, "Don't tease him."

"Why? Will he divulge more secrets about you to get even?"

"No, he'll get mad at me for divulging said secrets."

"Speaking of his royal largeness, do you two use protection?"

"Always. Any particular reason why you ask?"

"Well, disease for one–"

She'd actually meant the reason why she was asking the question, but Elisa reacted in kind, "Disease? They're not animals, Beth!"

"I know, but they're still men." Beth clarified. "And men can be dirty little things."

The response was automatic. Elisa didn't like anyone, even family, speaking about her gargoyles that way. It seemed to be a human cultural bias (even for the clan's allies) to think of them as more animal than man, thus, they weren't as hygienic. "Most illnesses are cured by their stone sleep."

"Most illnesses, heavy on the most." Beth retorted. "They're from the tenth century, Elisa, they could be carrying the smallpox virus for all you know."

"Xanatos had them medically screened just days after coming out of their spell. They are not diseased, and Goliath and I are very careful..."

"Condoms." Beth guessed.

And Elisa confirmed it, "Yes, condoms."

"Oh..." A lull in the conversation allowed Beth to grind the gears for a little while and as much as she didn't like to be on the receiving end of her sister's temper, her sense of curiosity was overriding any kind of common sense. Beth just had to ask, "Do they sell condoms that big?"

The irresistible force of the coffee cup nearly impacted with the immovable object of the tabletop. "Oh for–"

Thank god the store was virtually deserted this time of night. That was all she needed, one of her friends or another cop to come waltzing in and find her in this particular section, feeding the constant rumors of her personal life and the mystery lover no one had ever seen. But she was here nonetheless, and it was a little hard to pretend that she'd come in to pick up a tube of toothpaste when the store's entire selection was staring at her in the face.

Elisa was familiar with the product she needed. Not as much as her own birth control methods, but enough to muddle through. But standing in the aisle in front of, literally, hundreds of boxes of condoms, she suddenly, inexplicably felt a little lost. Would a gargoyle raised in the tenth century like thin or ribbed? Hell, would Goliath even consent to wear a condom? She could imagine him holding that little slimy donut in his palm with either a look of confusion or revulsion at what his lover expected him to roll over his...his...

Elisa shivered slightly at the thought; her cheeks burned, and she felt the tips of her mouth curling up into a hint of a smile. Naughty thoughts were intruding again. They would crop up every so often, but after a few years of being intimate without actually being intimate it was starting to wear at her composure. Hence the reason she was here.

Then of course, real life intruded like a knife to the chest with the most important question that constantly nagged at the back of her skull, would they even get to that point? She felt like she was jumping the gun, skipping a step or two in a relationship that at times could be considered fragile, but this was only a precautionary measure and Elisa figured it was better to be prepared when, or if, that moment finally came.

"Can I help you, ma'am?"

It was the last thing she wanted to hear. Elisa was hoping to slip in, grab a box and slip out before anyone even noticed, let alone had the time to put on that smile, ask her if she needed assistance and force her to rethink what she was actually doing. She turned, and found a saleswoman about her age standing just off her left shoulder. She sighed, "I suppose..."

"Are these for a friend or a partner?"

"Partner. My boyfriend."

"Do you know his brand?"

"He doesn't have one. In fact, I don't think he's ever used one. In fact, I'm pretty damned sure he's never used one."

"Okay, well I can talk you through some of our brands if you don't have a personal choice."

"Well, it's not so much about brand or type, as it is size."

"Ah." She seemed to understand. "Well, how big do you need?"

"I'm not sure..." Elisa replied sheepishly.

"Ah." She reached in and grabbed a random box from the metal hook. "Well, if you could hazard a guess, would he fit into a regular?"

Elisa studied the box, measuring it against a mental image of Goliath. "No...no, I don't think so."

"Bigger? Smaller?"

"Bigger." It came out too quick. Elisa bit her lip before anything else spilled out and carefully composed the rest of her response. "He's a pretty big guy, you know, height-wise, and width-wise."

"Well, height usually isn't the best way to tell."

"I know, but," Elisa cracked a smile, "that would just be cruel..."

They shared a deliberate smirk and the saleswoman shook the box in her hand, the contents rattling back and forth. "I would recommend the standard size if you aren't a hundred percent sure."

No. No, no, no. That mental image she'd conjured up came into crystal clear focus. Elisa was sure from all the times she just happened to brush up against Goliath, especially when he held her close, when passion threatened to rend clothing before each of them came to their senses. Sometimes thick Scottish leather wasn't thick enough. If only she could tell this woman what she knew without dying of embarrassment. "I don't know...the last thing I want is to get something too small."

"What if you got condoms that were too big?"

"He's seven and a half feet tall, I'm guessing at least four to five hundred pounds and built like the love child of a Greek god and a brick shithouse."

The saleswoman's expression opened up with a slightly slack jaw, brows to her hairline. "O-Oh..." she stuttered.

"Now," Elisa continued, "if you think I shouldn't judge him by his height or his weight..."

Without another word, she quickly replaced the box with a black one, emblazoned with gold lettering. "Magnum XL. Biggest we sell."

"Thank you."

Elisa stared knives at her baby sister, eyes slit and fingernails digging into the porcelain of her coffee mug.

"I'm sorry," Beth backed off, "but I'm curious and I haven't had as much experience as you buying condoms."

"What am I, a whore?"

"No, but you've had a lot more boyfriends than me."

"Barely..." Elisa said under her breath. "If you really have to know, this was only the second time I've ever bought condoms. And yes, to put that overactive mind of yours to rest, there are condoms that fit Goliath."

There was a pregnant pause before Beth filled the silence. "Can I see one?"


"Is it like a hot air balloon? Can I fill it with helium and ride home in it? Or can I tie it to either end of your balcony's railing and slingshot across the city?"

Her sister was enjoying this far too much. Even the patented cop glare couldn't put a dent in Beth's wide and taunting grin. "Funny..."

"God, Elisa, you have no idea how lucky you are, dating a Clydesdale. You know, yoga's good and all, but there is something else you can do that doesn't involve having to fold your spine in half and give yourself a leotard wedgie."

Elisa could tell where this was going. "I know."

"Oh? Have you been doing the special exercise?"

"Kegels? Yeah...well, I used to, before I switched to yoga..."

Beth was surprised. "You gave up? Listen, if the space between my hands was any indication apparently you need all the exercise you can get. Why would you quit?"

"Because in the middle of my exercises, Goliath walked in on me..."

Beth went from neutral to well-mannered shock in less than a second. "You mean...?"

"Going full tilt." Elisa confessed. "I keep the balcony doors open for him so he can slip in quickly without being seen, but who would've thought a seven hundred pound gargoyle could move so damned quietly?"

Like a 747 hitting the tarmac, Goliath took roost on Elisa's balcony and all that weight and forward momentum forced him to quickly hop from the railing and onto solid ground. He noticed he hit the wrought-iron a little hard when it wobbled on its foundation, but Elisa's invitation had spurred him to glide as quickly as possible, lest they waste a single precious minute.

He nudged open the balcony doors and quietly closed them behind him, making sure his tail was inside first. He half-expected to find Elisa waiting for him, dressed perhaps in some human-centric peculiarity such as lingerie, or wearing nothing at all, but an empty apartment stretched out in front of him, the sunset illuminating what little it could in its death-throes.

He was about to announce himself by calling out to her when his keen hearing plucked something from the darkness. Across the living room, from the bedroom door only slightly ajar, he could hear an oddly rhythmic yet intimately familiar sound. The massive gargoyle slowly padded towards the bedroom, skulking as silently as possible for someone of his girth and cautiously approached the door. That sound was breathing. That breathing was Elisa's. Hairs pricked on his neck, thoughts raced through his mind and he decided to be cautious, and quiet. He gently and soundlessly cracked the door to peer inside. His hearing hadn't failed him; it was indeed Elisa. She was on her bed, naked from the waist down and leaning against some pillows propped against the backboard with what looked like a hand in between her thighs. Every few seconds she'd tense, breathe, raise her buttocks slightly from the mattress, clench and release. And then, in the last bit of smoky, dying light, something glinted in that hand. "Elisa?"

As soon as the sound escaped his lips, Elisa freaked out, "Goliath!" She contorted, pulled that glinting something from between her legs and grabbed for her panties. She dressed herself at lightspeed and stood up on her knees, bronze skin flushed gold. "What the hell?!"

Goliath wandered in, wary of what he'd just intruded on. "My apologies, but you told me to come as soon as the sun set."

Elisa whipped her head around to catch sight of the Manhattan skyline through the slivers of her venetian blinds. She didn't even notice; idiotically, she was watching the clock, not the sun. "You're earlier than I expected..."

"Did you forget about daylight savings time?"

Her mental self-reprimand translated through her mouth, wordlessly mouthing an obscenity or two. Having lived in a clocktower, Elisa remembered trying to explain a simple way of modern life to tenth century gargoyles, until she was blue in the face and suddenly indifferent to the idea itself. "Yes, right...god..."

He was now standing just a few feet away, fully aware he'd walked in on something Elisa would've preferred to keep private. From the tousled hair, her rapidly beating heart and her half-dressed state, it was obviously very intimate. "Were you...pleasuring yourself?"

Her eyes nearly shot from her skull. "What?! No!! God, no, Goliath, I was–"

"Elisa, it is alright." he interrupted her explanation. "I know we sometimes don't get to see each other often, and it is only natural..."

Did he actually think...? Elisa's thought process was going a hundred miles a minute and she was quick to dispel any doubt that she'd replaced him with stainless steel. "No, big guy, no, it's not that. I was definitely not taking a tiptoe through the two-lips."

Goliath didn't get the slang. "Tulips?"

"Sorry..." She shook her hands in front of her and started fresh. "Listen, I wasn't...you know, playing down there, I was actually hard at work."

"Yes, it appeared so."

To Elisa, he almost sounded glib. "I was doing exercises." she explained.

One of those heavy horned brows lifted; Goliath could speak volumes with a simple gesture. He was obviously a little skeptical.

"They're called Kegels, big guy, and they're supposed to strengthen the pelvic muscles."

"Because of our lovemaking." he surmised. His tone suggested guilt.

"Mostly, yes, but a woman needs to stay healthy for a lot more reasons than just sex."

Goliath moved his impossibly black eyes towards the bed and Elisa's quickly discarded instrument. It was long, sleek, with several bulges along its length and made of polished steel. He could catch her unique scent on the inconspicuous little thing. He couldn't believe he was actually feeling jealous about an inanimate object, but it had just spent an untold amount of time inside the most sacred of places.

As she calmed down, Elisa now had time to reflect on the situation. As close as they were, as much as they had shared with each other, this was a conversation she hoped wouldn't turn up for a long time, like say, when she was an old woman. She buried her face in her hands and muttered, "Christ, this is embarrassing..."

But Goliath simply returned his attention to his lover, who was trying to completely disappear behind her hands. He crossed his arms, muscles flexing from neck to waist without him even noticing. "Do these exercises help?"

"I think so." she said quietly, and then slowly appeared from her fingers. "Goliath, I'd be lying if I said you weren't the main reason for these exercises." And before the eternally-apologetic gargoyle could get a word in edgewise, Elisa continued, "But I'm also doing this for my own benefits, my own health."

"I understand."

"Then why do you look like you want to break my exerciser in half?"

A low rumble filtered out through semi-clenched teeth and Elisa couldn't tell if he was actually angry or if he was just teasing her, playing on her embarrassment. She didn't know him to be so...intriguingly vindictive.

And then, what seemed like forever, Goliath finally answered, "Is that device necessary?"

"It makes the exercises more effective. Less reps, same results."

"Perhaps you should have been more discreet when you decided to take a new lover..."

Elisa opened her mouth at his candor until she realized the ever-stoic gargoyle had just burned her. "Oh, you bastard..." She grabbed for a pillow from the bedspread and hurled it towards Goliath, only to watch as he easily caught it and smiled back.

He advanced on her, dropping the pillow and filling the room with the white-hot light of his eyes.

Again, Elisa had stopped just before things got really interesting. And Beth was practically lying on the kitchen table like she'd been caught by the collar and dragged over the surface, only to be cruelly snapped back when Elisa put on the brakes and dived back into her coffee mug.

"Augh...!" Beth groaned and held her hands up in front of her, half-clenched into claws and shaking. "Stop doing that!"

"Sorry, but you're too young for an R-rated discussion of my lovelife."

"Well," Beth shrugged, "at least you finally have a lovelife. I was afraid you might become the crazy cat-lady without a decent screw once in a while."

Elisa's brows finely creased. "Kiss our mother with that mouth?"

"Just saying..."

"Thanks." Elisa's last sip finished off her coffee and she got up, moved to the kitchen and placed the mug into the dishwasher.

"No seriously," Beth followed her the entire way, "I'm glad you have somebody in your life, someone special, even if he is a gargoyle."

It wasn't so much the word but the context behind it. Elisa slowly turned around to face her sister with an accusing stare. "Does that bother you?"

"No, of course not, but...I know you love him and vice versa, it's just that there are some pretty big differences between the two of you, namely, your species."

Elisa spurred her on. "Meaning...?"

Beth sought to tread lightly, considering she was practically badmouthing her sister's chosen suitor and was never able to beat her in a fair fight. "Meaning a real relationship, marriage, children..." The moment the word was freed between the two of them, Elisa's gaze hardened. "I don't know what you really want out of life, but I just want you to be absolutely sure you know what you're getting in to."

"Sis, as you were so quick to point out earlier, I've fallen off of a skyscraper, I've fought against gargoyles, faeries, mutates, werewolves, rampant nanotechnology, xenophobic militants–"

"That kind of makes my point for me..."

"I've traveled the world in a magical skiff, got amnesia, been shot, transformed into a gargoyle myself and through it all, Goliath has been there, physically, emotionally, spiritually." Elisa finished. "I tried to live as just friends, thinking I wanted the so-called normal life and all that comes with, but I couldn't. I love him more than I could ever imagine, and I would gladly sacrifice all of that to be with him, considering what he gives to me in return."

For once, blabbermouth Beth Maza found her tongue stuck in neutral. It was rare to hear her sister speak so passionately about something other than her job. She was damn near convinced herself.

"As for marriage, there's nothing stopping us from having some kind of commitment ceremony. Of course, Goliath and the rest of the clan already consider us mated anyways. And as for children," a forlorn look, and then, an answer, "who knows...?"

"I just want you to be happy."

"I am."

"Good." Beth smiled.

But as tender as the moment was, a hand suddenly grabbed for Beth's collar and Elisa yanked her uncomfortably close. "Of course, if you ever tell anyone what we've discussed, especially Goliath, I promise I won't be as inviting as I was tonight. Understand, blabbermouth?"

Suddenly, what little light was left pouring into the apartment through the balcony doors was abruptly eclipsed and a resonating thump signaled the arrival of something very big and very heavy. The Maza sisters both snapped around; either the apartment's west wall was about to collapse from the wrecking ball trying to get inside, or Elisa's boyfriend had just arrived.

"I said–"

Beth held her hands up in concession. "Yeah, got it. I promise, I'll be good."

"Good." Elisa let her go. "Now act natural."

Goliath hopped into the apartment and, with what could only be described as a hungry grin plastered across his face, turned to follow the scent towards his beloved. He stopped and shored up, that grin quickly dropping off. Elisa wasn't alone.

It was Beth's time to smile. "Well, there he is, the man of the hour." she announced loudly, and in melodramatic fashion. "Hello, big guy."

He stared at her. Goliath knew, just by the mischievousness tone, and Elisa's noticeable fidgeting, that he had been the topic of conversation. He knew how dangerous those conversations were; he'd sometimes catch his rookery sisters in mid-gossip, sharing stories of their mates and intendeds on the Wyvern cliffs and when they caught sight of him, would immediately quiet down and smile unnervingly. The sense of déjà vu fired through him like a cannon. "Hello, Beth." he said flatly.

"So, what are you two up to tonight, hmm?" Beth continued teasing. She was obviously going to test the limits of that promise. "Gonna rock the Casbah?"

Elisa groaned. That didn't last long.

Goliath responded with a glare. He'd no idea what the reference actually referred to, but by the suggestive tone, it was obviously a euphemism for sex. Elisa had revealed much to her sister.

"Goliath, ignore her." Elisa came to his rescue.

"It is not easy."

"Then I suggest you expedite her departure by throwing her off the balcony."

The smile returned. Goliath flashed his fangs at the younger Maza.

Beth got the picture. "Well, as much as I'd love to stay and see you two get naked and sweaty, it's past my bedtime and I'm sure dad's discovered his missing twenty by now." She backpedaled towards the kitchen table, hefted all of her bags into her arms and gestured towards the door. "Ahem. Little help?"

Glad to get rid of her with Goliath here, Elisa dispensed with any off-hand remark and simply, quickly, opened the door for her.

"I'll call you tomorrow for some more girl talk. See how the night went with ol' Magnum there."

Goliath's brows furrowed and his spine turned to steel. Did she...?

"Get out, Beth." Elisa shooed her out, slammed the door behind the retreating, cackling woman and secured it with the chain latch. But on turning, she was now faced with the grim countenance of a gargoyle whose privacy had just been invaded. Even though he'd never know just how much information Elisa had revealed, undoubtedly, it was enough to set that wide jaw, clenching to the point where the mandible muscle was visibly knotting under the skin. Elisa pressed her palms together in front of her chin and then laced her fingers. "Big guy..."

"Elisa." he repeated. There was a malicious hint to his voice.

"Please, please, don't be angry."

His face was blank; usually Elisa could read the gargoyle like a book, but he had successfully masked every tiny detail that might give his mood away. "Why would I be angry?" he said simply.


"My beautiful, trustworthy mate is a pinnacle of truth and integrity." he interrupted, and started advancing on her. "My beautiful, trustworthy mate would never tell anyone anything personal about me." He was approaching ever steadily with Elisa trapped against the hard, immovable wood of her apartment door, until he'd come so close his massive chest filled the breadth of her field of vision. He leaned down to put his face directly in front of hers. "And my beautiful, trustworthy mate would never, ever betray any of my deepest, darkest secrets. Would she?"

"Never." Elisa declared, as innocently as possible. "And by the way, anything that Beth says that I said is a giant lie."

Goliath's smile sent a chill down her spine; a good chill, one that ended just between her legs. A low rumble threaded its way up his windpipe, released as a growl, hot and inviting. Elisa could practically feel his arousal like an electric surge dancing across any and all exposed skin. "Goliath..." she breathed, lips curled. "I'm sorry."

"I know. But perhaps," he suggested, "you can make it up to me. Tonight."

"All night?"

"All. Night."

The next thing Elisa Maza remembered was a blur of lavender, her body being stripped of clothing and then screaming to the night.