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"There you go, baby girl," Stella whispered affectionately, carefully settling into the pillows propped against the head of the bed. "We're home now," she assured the infant cradled in her arms in the same caring voice, tenderly stroking over the tiny, fisted hand with her index finger.

She was still captivated by those; the small hands and feet, the little fingers and toes and it had almost become an addiction for her to watch as their seemingly endless usage was explored. Each time it seemed more amazing what the human body was able to create and even more amazing than that was that the 1 ½ months old creation was hers. Hers and Mac's to be exact, that alone probably worth a mention among the wonders of the world and reason for the many instances one of their colleagues had suggested they should name the baby Miracle.

Although they all agreed that it was not the baby itself which deserved the honorable mentioning since her conception had happened only hours after their first kiss.

What did was that they had managed to get to the point and that, combined with Stella's prompt pregnancy, had made them an easy target for lighthearted teasing. Naturally, her more than him but everyone had enjoyed dropping hints about sexual education and birth control and Sid had even gone so far as sneaking a small pack of condoms into Stella's locker. Anonymously, of course, and she had originally suspected it to have been Danny. Yet when Sid had offered to help her and Mac catch up on what they had obviously missed in biology class one day while they had both been down in autopsy, she had instantly known who the little souvenir had come from. His response to her astonished look had been a meaningful smirk before he had gone back to the dead body in front of him, leaving Mac to gaze at them in confusion. Stella had filled him in later that night and two days after that, several helium filled condom-balloons had escaped the body bag Sid had opened, one of them with a note that read that they hadn't been able to figure out what else to do with them.

Wishing once again that she could have seen his or even better any of the other's faces, a smile tugged at Stella's lips and hearing a noise, she looked up to find Mac step into the room. He dropped the bags he was carrying at the side of the changing table opposite the bed before he crossed over, slipping out of his suit jacket as he did. Easing himself onto the mattress next to her legs he put the jacket down beside him and with his eyes wandering over Stella, he began to loosen his tie.

"Looks like somebody is a lot happier," he remarked, pulling the decorating fabric of his neck.

"It certainly seems to taste different now," Stella agreed, her eyes wandering over the infant sucking contently at her breasts after having rejected the much desired milk not even an hour ago.

But then she had rejected more or less anything that had been offered, her heartbreaking cries having echoed mercilessly through the bedroom of Hawkes's newly acquired two-room apartment. Mac and Stella had taken their time discussing their attendance of the early-evening-party their young CSI had thrown to celebrate his success at the same day of their daughter's baptism. In the end they had opted to at least stop by and until that one specific moment about sixty minutes ago the little girl had been doing fine.

She had loved the attention everyone had bestowed upon her, being cooed over something she adored and after only a few minutes everyone present had been wrapped around her tiny fingers – which had prompted Mac to point out that it was Stella that ability came from, a silent glare having been his answer. Even Lucy's several attempts to use the baby as a real life doll had been endured and each time it had been Lucy who had ended up in tears as she hadn't understood why her own mother had persistently handed her one of her plastic dolls instead.

But with an additional lunch after the late morning ceremony in church and a nap that had merely lasted for the duration of a 30 minute car ride, fatigue naturally had to overwhelm the infant at one point. That had been reached a little over an hour after their arrival at Hawkes' and neither Mac nor Stella or even the both of them together had been able to soothe their child.

With each unsuccessful attempt, Stella's patience had decreased as well and when Mac had unnecessarily stated that their daughter was hungry and tired, she had rewarded him with an overly sarcastic "genius." Right from the day their daughter had been born, she had hated the helplessness of being unable to calm their crying baby and the inability to know what could end her child's suffering caused frustration. A sense of motherly failure that she simply didn't want to accept, insisting that the baby cried for a reason and it was her duty as a parent to ease the discomfort the infant was in. Therefore Mac had ignored her comment and had simply placed his hands on her shoulders. He had let his palms stroke slowly over her upper arms, comforting her while she had made another attempt at soothing their little girl. Once again it had been futile and she had turned, their eyes locking before he had drawn away to get their things ready to leave.

As soon as they had been in the car, the infant had fallen asleep but upon entering the parking garage of their apartment building her hunger had woken her again, thus Mac had sent Stella upstairs while he had taken care of unloading the car.

"How's her mother doing?" Mac inquired, his hand finding her leg.

"I'm fine," Stella assured, a warm smile crossing her lips at the soft caressing of her ankle that Mac's thumb had begun. "Just a little tired."

"Missed your nap?" he teased, a spark lighting up his eyes.

She responded with a grin, knowing that he was talking about the many times he had come home during the past weeks only to find her having involuntarily dozed off on the couch, the baby nestled in her arms and the TV running.

"Sort of," Stella replied. "But I think we can be very proud of this young lady," she changed her attention back to the baby in her arms, the pride she was talking about audible in her voice. "Considering what we put her through she held up really well."

"That she did," Mac confirmed, his eyes following Stella's every move as she switched their daughter. She made sure the infant was just as comfortable before she readjusted her bra, her gaze then meeting Mac's. Those private moments lit up his eyes with a glow that she adored; that she knew was the sole product of affection and fatherly pride and her body still tingled with a warmth whenever it filled his look.

"I love you," she told him tenderly, a soft smile playing around her lips.

"And I love you," he replied quietly, holding on to her eyes for another moment then letting them drift to the tiny girl in Stella's arm.

"And I love you, too," he whispered, stroking over their daughter's head prior to placing a cautious kiss on her hair.

Logically, it was dark and didn't show any signs of curls yet, those though being something Mac quickly had expressed his hope for. While Stella agreed that it would be cute, particularly on a small child, she had also remembered the many fights there had been when it came to brushing her own uncooperative hair during her childhood and it was the sharing of those memories which had subdued Mac's enthusiasm. It had also led him to reduce his wish, so he now shared Stella's opinion that their daughter should have inherited some of her mother's curls instead of all of them.

"What about me?" Stella caught his attention, regarding him with a certain demand in her eyes.

"I told you, I love you," he said, his voice just as innocent as his look.

A second later, however, a flirtatious smile spread over his face and with his hand remaining on her ankle, he leaned in to her to join their lips into a gentle kiss, their words confirmed through that simple touch.

Savoring that short moment of intimacy Mac took his time to actually draw away, their eyes fluttering open as he shifted back into his original position. After exchanging another glance, she found his gaze dropping once again to the girl in her arms and this time she let hers follow, the sight of her; Mac; everything of right now, responsible for the contentment that settled into her body. That things would turn out the way they had done surely wasn't what she had expected upon learning that she was five weeks pregnant only five weeks into her relationship with Mac yet they had.

The explanation of Stella's OB-GYN to the strange reaction she had had when performing the standard ultrasound had turned the simple routine check-up into a shock. Stella had made her double check and insisted on her blood being drawn, all day long trying to convince herself that she couldn't be pregnant. The list of reasons, however, had been short and had quickly been overpowered by that sneaky voice inside her head that had constantly reminded her just how likely it was. Even more likely from a scientific point of view, it had whispered, since Mac and her hadn't used any protection; she wasn't on the pill – getting a prescription had been the purpose of her doctor's visit – and he certainly wasn't the guy to have a stack of condoms in his nightstands.

They had known what could happen but that night none of that had mattered.

When their lips had finally parted that evening in front of Flack's apartment, all Stella had wished for was to go home and that they had done. Their fingers had intertwined while they had walked towards the elevator and they hadn't let go of each other until they had reached the car at which point Mac had pulled her into an unexpected hug. Whispering words conveying his immense relief that she was safe into her ear, he had held her tight, everything else that had been inside of him, his concern, his fear and feelings for her, revealed in that one gesture. Emotions had again threatened to overwhelm her then and she had finally given in to them a few hours later.

Having realized that the sushi they had picked up on their way to Mac's place had lost its appeal to her, Mac had placed his own food down and drawn her wordlessly into his arms. The moment she had touched his chest, she had broken down crying, all of what had piled up over the past months and especially the last hours crashing down on her. Despite her efforts, it had taken her some time to calm herself but once she had, Mac had tenderly wiped her tear streaked cheeks, silencing her intended apology with a soft kiss.

It was that kiss which was responsible for the tiny human now nestled in her arms; that tender, loving kiss which had made her realize that there was only one way this night would end. Only one way she had wanted it to end, as she had ached to give in to that emotional longing which had built, without having to think about any consequences. That, she hadn't and neither had Mac. But he had instantly understood her need for what had been to come; her need for him and he had gladly caught her as she handed herself over to his affectionate care.

Nevertheless the possibility of a baby had been something they hadn't discussed and hadn't been prepared for when Stella had told Mac the following day after having gotten the confirming result of the blood test. He had been equally as stunned yet the subject of abortion had only been breached to determine that it wasn't an option for either of them. Since the alternative of adoption had been mutually ruled out the second the words "I'm pregnant" had been out of Stella's mouth they had spent the next days getting used to the idea of becoming parents. Individually at first but more and more together, often talking about it once Stella had crawled back into bed for another half hour after her wave of morning sickness had been dealt with.

By the time of her next ultrasound appointment four weeks later, they both had begun to carefully look forward to it and the true excitement had finally captured them another three weeks into the pregnancy when they had passed a baby store one afternoon. The following day Stella had found a small gift bag sitting on her desk, its contents three tiny pairs of socks, each in the shape and color of a different animal face and a few days after that Mac had accompanied her to her periodic check-up. It was the one appointment Stella still remembered every detail of, Mac's eyes having lit up with that glow for the first time at the sight of their baby and it was that moment that everything seemed to have fallen into place. All of her concerns had reduced to those every parent-to-be was having but even those hadn't frightened her, as somewhere deep inside of her she had known that they would manage just fine and so far they had done; perfectly. She wouldn't have it any other way than the way it was and while she could imagine nicer circumstances to get where she was, she would go through everything again without the slightest doubt or hesitation, would she not be guaranteed that an easier path would lead to the same outcome.

Feeling their daughter's hand on her chest, Stella's point of focus returned to the girl in her arms and with her hunger finally stilled, she had shifted, rewarding her mother with a yawn.

"Not yet Little Lady," Stella smiled, lifting her into a more upright position to keep her from falling asleep just yet.

Mac had already reached for the blanket on the nightstand, draping it over his shoulder as Stella tucked her feet under the comforter to compensate for the lack of his touch. She let him take their child out of her arms in what had already become a routine movement and readjusting her bra, her warm gaze lingered on father and daughter. It was a sight she would never become weary of and she slowly began to scramble to her knees, sliding over to him. While her arms snuck around his waist, her chin came to a rest on his free shoulder and she felt his face sink against hers in response. He treasured the moments the three of them had together as much as she did, however, seeing as Stella's hours at the lab had to be covered as well, those moments were rare.

With an ongoing grudge against them for disrespecting department policy Sinclair had refused to go through the selection process for a suitable CSI for the few weeks Stella's maternity leave lasted. But Mac knew better than to utter a word about it especially since the Chief had still not tired of emphasizing that it was only thanks to his good-hearted humor that both of them were allowed to continue working in the same lab. Therefore he was silently – as Sinclair had so eloquently put it – suffering the consequences of their irresponsible actions and so was she.

While there was nothing she loved more than to be with her daughter, there were days when she missed Mac, missed having him at home; missed being with him at work and lately had begun to miss work in general. In those instants she couldn't help feeling useless, was unable to deny the nagging restlessness deep down inside of her and as much as she experienced guilt about it, she was relieved that her maternity leave was up in two weeks. It would also give Mac the opportunity to spend more time with their little girl given that neither was comfortable with leaving her with a nanny so soon and thus they had decided to cut back their hours, each working only part time for another two months.

Rewarding Mac's tending to his fatherly duties with a kiss on his cheek, Stella lifted her hands off his body and sweeping his tie together with the jacket from the mattress, she slid from the bed. She walked over to the closet, putting the tie into its drawer then draped the jacket over the chair next to wardrobe, opting not to take on the struggle of fitting it back inside. Like the rooms in what formerly had been only his apartment, it was cramped as all trace that there had once been two people sharing the place had been erased over the years. Due to the crib and changing table, the bedroom in particular had shrunk in size and even though there was the spare room – the reason for their choice which place to give up first – which later on could have been transformed as a nursery, they had soon after her moving in with him decided to search for a bigger apartment.

Mac had, with an unusual trace of timidity in his voice, explained that he didn't want to stay longer than necessary in the place he had previously lived with Claire in. He needed that fresh start with Stella, needed to know that everything would be different and new, an apartment that they both had chosen an important part of that.

Chosen they had; it had taken them some time to find a suitable and affordable two-and-half-bedroom-apartment in the city but they had finally signed the lease two days ago. They were scheduled to move within the next month and Stella had actually become quite eager to do so as the walls appeared to have been closing in on her during the past days especially. She had already begun to box several of the books, dishes and other decorating items and with each finished box the sensation inside of her that the move was the last and sealing step to mark the start of their newfound, joined life increased.

The prospect of that had her lips curl into a smile and opening the zipper of her dress, that smile grew at the awareness of his eyes lingering on her back. She added some barely noticeable sensuality to her slipping out of the dress, knowing that it would not escape his eyes. The few extra pounds she still had certainly didn't bother him; at 20 inches and a little over 8 pounds the baby had contributed to quite a round figure that he had adored. For the most part she had as well, she had been pregnant after all. But while she was sure that he would never find a fault in the way she looked, she did and she was determined to shed any of the additional weight that was left, preferably so within the next month.

With her dress squeezed back into the closet, Stella turned, her gaze catching Mac's and offering him the hint of a seductive smile, she strolled across the room towards the bathroom door. Continuing to feel his eyes on her, she reached for the robe and after taking a little more time than necessary, she slid it on. She fastened the belt before turning back around, finding Mac to have risen from the bed, their gazes once again meeting.

This time it was him who offered her a slight smile and she returned it, slowly joining him at the changing table he was placing their daughter on. Even when it came to diaper changing he couldn't be a prouder father than he was and slipping her arms around his torso, Stella pressed her body against his. For a second she held on to him, inhaling deeply then she shifted, releasing her embrace, her hand trailing his back as she moved to his side. Lifting her fingers off him, she dropped down, sorting through the contents of one of the bags and finding what she had been looking for she stood up again. Wordlessly she handed Mac the pajamas in exchange for the dress he had taken off their little girl and that she had so persistently refused to be slipped out of earlier.

In a way Stella couldn't blame her, she loved the dress, the detail on the bodice, the silken fabric and the care with which it had obviously been sewed. That had been done by Jess's great-grandmother and according to Mr Angell, her grandmother, mother and Jess herself had all worn it for their baptism.

When he had shown up about a week after Stella had given birth she had been surprised and even more so over the gift he had wanted her to have. She had naturally rejected it at first, unable to accept something so precious after his own daughter had died only a little over a year ago, arguing that one of his sons might would like to have it. He hadn't heard any of it, assuring her that he had talked it through with his sons and that they had all agreed on him giving it to her and Mac.

She had remained hesitant but that there was no one on Stella's side who could pass anything of sentimental value down to her and especially that the little girl had been named in honor of his daughter had made Mr Angell determined. Therefore it had been a lost battle for Stella to begin with and eventually she had thanked him warmheartedly, promising to let him know the date of the baptism – something she herself hadn't even known to be held.

Despite their religious upbringing, neither Mac nor Stella had breached the subject until that day, the thought not having crossed their minds. Yet after a prolonged discussion that night, they had come to the conclusion that, regardless of them not being regular church goers, they wanted their child to have God's blessing.

Setting the date then had been rather simple; Mac had wanted to spend the first Thanksgiving together with Stella and their daughter thus had already taken himself off the schedule for that holiday. With everyone else off or at least able to clear a few hours, the decision had been made quickly and so the little girl had been baptized Jessica Taylor Bonasera earlier that day.

Originally they had decided on Leila, however, when their daughter had finally made up her mind to come into this world seven minutes after midnight – and nine days after the actual due date – on the same day their late friend Jessica Angell had been born, Stella and Mac had needed only a glance to confirm what they had both already been aware of.

The middle name then had been Stella's insistence so it would provide the link to Mac seeing as neither she nor he had the desire to get married.

He had asked her a few days after they had found out that they were having a baby; not proposed but simply inquired if she wanted to get married now that they were expecting a child. It had been obvious that he wasn't entirely comfortable with the thought; as stupid as it was, he was afraid he was more likely to lose Stella would she become his wife. Yet it had been just as clear that had she wanted to, he would have married her. That though was an intention she didn't have; she didn't need a wedding band to know how much she meant to Mac just like he didn't need it to know what he meant for her. They had established that without a doubt during those long years of friendship and she felt that if anything, a marriage could harm their relationship more than it would do good.

As a result the matter had been settled within minutes, ending in a play of affectionate passion, the bond they shared having steadily strengthened ever since.
"Any thoughts I should know about?" Mac's quiet voice caught her attention.

"No," she smiled, tenderly stroking her daughter's back who was cradled against her father's shoulder. "It might go to your head," she added coquettishly.

He raised his brows but didn't respond and giving him the briefest of a meaningful look, she continued to caress the little girl, her index finger slowly trailing down the small arm. The tiny hand was clutching the fabric of Mac's shirt and Stella let her fingertip brush the back of the hand before tracing the little bracelet which was gracing Jessica's wrist. It was simple, adjustable in size as she grew and custom crafted, the angel-engraved incorporated pendant having been a medal Jess had given Flack so his back was always had. He had always kept it in his wallet, now, however, he had passed it on to his Goddaughter so her angelic namesake would hold an eternal guarding hand over her.

Halting her movements, Stella shifted her eyes to Mac's the instant he lifted his to meet hers, the mixture of emotion mirroring the difficulty he still had with his attitude towards Flack.

Right from the start he had accepted no excuse for Flack's actions, his own grief having served as an example whenever Stella had tried to make him consider the circumstances. He had been and continued to be unwilling to share her reasoning that grief could be dealt with in many different ways and had dismissed her claim that no harm had been done, arguing vehemently that psychological harm had indeed been caused. Regardless, he had been smart enough not to say anything when Stella had gone through with her intention of not pressing charges, silently enduring her unwavering debates with the DA not to pursue Flack anyway.

Eventually – and as was to be expected – she had come out the winner, though not without a scar because Flack not only had monitored therapy to attend to but had also been required to resign. It was a flaw that had bothered her, yet she had soon realized that it was either that or losing the battle completely. She had agreed reluctantly, only to find that Flack had already considered quitting himself, doing so without any worry. Three weeks later he had announced that he was leaving the city, relocating to Newark where he had accepted a job as a guidance counselor for juvenile felons. He had been grateful for the possibility of a fresh start, slowly climbing back to life and today had been the first time he had appeared somewhere with a date ever since Jess's death.

Even Mac had stated that he was happy for him, reaching that point though had cost Stella a lot of patience and frustrating talks. It had taken her weeks of subtle but constant pressing until Mac had finally begun to at least consider forgiveness and even more weeks until he had gradually acknowledged Flack with something other than an icy stare. She had been more than relieved when he had finally started to talk to him again in a civil manner nevertheless she knew that their friendship had suffered irreparable damage.

It was why Mac had been obliged to repeat the careful proposition he had made a little over a week ago since Stella had not trusted her ears to have heard what they allegedly had. Yet he really had suggested that they could ask Flack to be the Godfather of their child, hesitantly explaining that he had noticed how much their daughter appeared to like and trust Flack. He had figured that if she as well as Stella who had had to suffer through that ordeal could do so, so could he – again; tentatively, of course.

So the honors had gone to him as well as Sid who had been Stella's choice and quite quickly agreed on and during the day Jessica Angell had become the third; someone having referred to her as the Fairy Godmother. That had been fast to establish itself among the others, the thought prompting a strange sensation of security to nestle inside of Stella; a guarantee that her daughter would always be safe and watched out for and with Mac's hand covering hers, closing it around their daughter's and the precious metal that sensation only grew.

"Nothing will happen to her, Stella. Ever," he assured her softly, his words having the ability to make her believe that. "And neither will anything happen to us," he added barely audible, aware of that only fear she hadn't been able to conquer.

She hadn't talked about it but she knew that he knew that a part of her would always be afraid that their child might be put through the same she had been. It was why she had one night, when she had been unable to sleep and Mac had come to find her snuggled up with a blanket on the couch, admitted that she was, seemingly out of the blue, thinking about changing her profession. His inquiry for a reason then had been answered with a shrug and a long look into his eyes before she had dismissed the subject again. Mac, however, had pulled her closer into his embrace and as he had murmured into her ear that neither of them would abandon their baby – voluntarily or involuntarily – she had understood that her eyes had given him the response she hadn't voiced.

Just like they were expressing her love right now; her gratefulness for his presence, his reliability and never-ending care and it was only reluctantly that she tore her gaze away. Whispering words of affection, she leaned in close to kiss their daughter goodnight, her lips lingering on the tender skin. She drew back slowly and took her time to pull her hands away, as Mac then began to move towards the crib.

Turning, she watched him gently lower their Jessica into the pink Disney Fairies bed sheets and having kissed her goodnight too, he caringly covered her with the blanket. As he smoothed her soft, dark hair Stella joined him, her hands once again snaking around his waist and with dreamy eyes, she let her chin come to a rest on his shoulder. Their daughter was already sound asleep, looking so peaceful and very much like the angel Stella had heard Mac tell her she was named after a few hours into her life.

Exhausted from the almost 25 hours of straining labor, Stella had fallen asleep almost as soon as she had been in her room and it had been early afternoon once she had woken to Mac's soft voice. The image of how he had so tenderly and very cautiously played with their daughter in her crib was still vivid, as were his words. Those quiet words, spoken with unlimited love, with which he had explained how the little girl had been given a special name since she had chosen a very special day to make her entrance into this world. Naturally she had only gazed at him with those huge eyes of hers, which still were of that same rich blue of a winter sky that they had been at birth.

While Mac held on to his hope that they would change to the green of Stella's, she actually adored that exceptional color they had and the chances that they would stay that way were growing by the day.

"It's going to be green in the end," Mac's voice cut through the silence as he turned in Stella's arms so he was facing her.

His own encircled her waist and smiling at his knowledge of her thoughts, she lifted her gaze to meet his.

"You seem pretty sure about that," Stella stated, a slight flirtation in her voice.

"I am," he stated huskily, leaning closer, "Emerald."

With the challenge disappearing from her smile she looked at him, allowing his lips to touch hers again as her mind wrapped itself around the word Emerald.

He still was a little tentative in using it but while he had saved it for special moments only at the beginning, he had started to call her Emerald more frequently ever since their daughter was born. It was almost as if he finally dared to and she tried to encourage him as much as possible through touches; looks; gestures; loving his choice of nickname for her. Just like she loved to be reminded of its origin, the six days they had spent in Seattle full of special and affectionate memories.

His suggestion to combine her birthday with a week of vacation had caught her so off guard that she initially had even considered it to be a joke. It was only when he had told her that he had checked with her doctor and had started to list some cities which might interest her that she had realized he was serious, her choice then falling on the Emerald City.

They had left three days before her birthday, spending their days sightseeing and exploring the area, enjoying the first time they truly had only to themselves. On her birthday itself they had gone whale watching – one whale even having done them the honor to show up despite it not being the season – and it was on their walk back to the hotel after their exclusive dinner on top of the Space Needle that they had grabbed one ice cream for the two of them down at the water front. As they had stood there, the sky slowly enveloping itself with the colors of the setting sun, Mac's arms had draped around her, his hands coming to a rest on her seven months pregnant belly.

Starting to caress it, he had whispered his love into her ear, the place of her name filled with the word Emerald. A soft tingle had spread down her back yet she hadn't replied and simply sunk deeper into his chest which was how they had watched the most amazing sunset she had ever seen.

It wasn't until they had continued their way to the hotel that she had repeated his choice of a name, the hint of a question in her voice. He had turned to look and they had walked in silence for another moment before he had explained that her eyes had taken on the shade of the city's surrounding forests its colors what it was nicknamed after.

"That won't help them change either," Stella smiled softly, his lips parting from hers bringing her back to reality in every possible way.

"I still don't know who she would get those blue eyes from," Mac countered, his face remaining close to hers.

"Your eyes do resemble the color blue, you know," she pointed out flirtatiously.

"They are grey," he stated plainly as she had expected, then a smirk appeared on his face and she looked at him in anticipation of what he was about to say. "But maybe you've changed your mind about there being something you haven't been telling me," he murmured seductively, his brows rising slightly.

"I'll think about that," she shot back with a grin, their gazes locking.

"Let me know when you've reached a conclusion," he mirrored her grin of mischief.

"I'll think about that, too," she replied, the kiss his lips met hers for showing that he was just as ease as she was.

There was no reason not to be as their hearts simply knew that neither would ever cheat on the other and despite her concerns, filling him in on her little deviation hadn't changed anything about that.

He had even seemed somewhat amused when she had told him about it a few days into the New Year; not about the one-night-stand itself but about her choice of who she had had it with. His initial reaction had been a skeptical confirmation that he had heard her right, her and Adam apparently having been a very scurrile thought to him – and she had silently agreed.

Yet instead of the disappointment she had feared, a trace of sorrow had cast a shadow over his features as he seemed to have realized for the first time to the full extent how much he had hurt her by shutting her out the way he had. Brushing a curl behind her ear in a gesture of sheer affection, he had studied her before he had pulled her into his arms, whispering an apology into her ear.

It had startled her and although his explanation had made sense, she hadn't been able to ignore the silly twinge of dissatisfaction inside of her. She hadn't wanted him to be hurt; she had actually been relieved that he hadn't been, that nothing of what she had originally feared had happened. Nevertheless there had been that tiny part in the back of her mind which had been bothered by the lack of jealousy and she had, only half joking, pointed it out to him.

His answer had been the same she had given herself over and over; that at that time it had been none of his business with whom she did what. But his eyes had revealed another story, very much contradicting the indifference he tried to portray and with the ghost of a satisfied smile crossing her face, she had dropped the subject. He, too, had let go of it yet only until later that night when they had been snuggled up on the couch and he had almost timidly asked her why she hadn't come to him; why she had allowed him to push her away.

She had been unable to present an answer and after a long look into her eyes, he had once again expressed his regret for denying her what and above all who she had needed. Following that had been the promise that he would never let that happen again, the night then spent in surrender to their emotional need for one another, sealing their deep and infinite trust.

The same trust which his opening eyes now unveiled as his lips left hers; the same trust that had grown, still was growing with each day and would until the very last.

"I'm right, you'll see," Mac pointed out.

She responded with a smile indicating that she, however possible, knew more than him, before her eyes wandered over his body in inspection.

"I'd like to," she murmured, her eyes flickering back up to lock with his.

"What you like is something different," he replied, a grin flashing across her face.

"I like different," she stated flirtatiously, feeling his hands glide along the belt of her robe but coming to a rest on her hips to pull her a little closer.

"It's not different that you like," he remarked quietly, leaning in to her.

"It's not?" she asked, their eyes still fixated on each other's, communicating in a language only they could speak and understand.

"You could be wrong about that," she challenged with the hint of a smile, her lips grazing his yet denying him anything more than that.

"I could find a way to arrange myself with being wrong," he whispered as her fingers tugged at his shirt easing the fabric out from his pants.

"I like arranging," she offered, her hands sneaking underneath his dress and undershirt to settle on his bare back, her fingertips beginning to caress his skin.

"You like being right," he smiled and with his arms encircling her in another embrace he cautiously started to walk her backwards towards the bed.

"There are a lot of things that I like," she answered, her palms moving over his sides to his stomach, feeling for his belt.

"That's what I like about you," he declared huskily, his lips touching her ear, sending a shower of tingles rush through her body.

"I like being liked," she muttered, standing against the bed now and her fingers slowly shifted from the pants they had opened to the buttons of his shirt.

"What about being loved?" he wondered as she undid button for button.

"It does sound tempting," she agreed and having reached the collar of his shirt, she pushed the fabric over his shoulders until it slid from his muscular frame, silently sailing to the floor.

"Temptation can be a huge risk," he pondered, his fingertips trailing over the back of her hands which were in the process of removing his undershirt.

"Risks can be intriguing," she decided, letting him lower her onto the mattress, her fingers snaking lustfully over his now bare torso as he inched over her.

"I would have to investigate an intrigue," he revealed, pulling at one end of the robe belt and with the knot coming undone the soft fabric slipped from her skin.

"I'll remember that," she promised in barely a whisper, right before his lips captured hers and with his warm body sinking onto hers, they drifted into a tender play of passion and love.