Thanks for your continued support!

Special thanks to lily moonlight for the invaluable feedback and encouragement.

Also, I've recently been made aware (within the last few hours) of some similarities between this and an upcoming episode of Bones. The similarities are purely unintentional, as I've just seen the spoiler video.

Enjoy!

VVVVV

Just as Stella settled back against the couch with a book in one hand and a glass of wine other, the doorbell rang. She sighed and placed the book on the coffee table as she stood and made her way to the door, taking the wine with her. She was curious as to the identity of the unexpected visitor and was pleasant surprised to find Mac waiting just outside her door.

"Hi," she said softly, an easy grin spreading across her face.

"Hi, yourself," he returned as he stepped closer to her, pushing open the door and backing her into the apartment. "I've missed you," he breathed into her hair as he wrapped his arms around her slender frame.

"You just saw me like two hours ago," she replied, only half-returning his embrace so as not to spill her wine on him.

"Still, that's two hours too long," he said as he continued to hold her.

She sighed happily and laid her cheek against the lapel of his coat. "You're sweet," she whispered after a moment, kissing his cheek. A half-laugh escaped her lips, and she pulled back so she could look him in the eye. "You shaved?" she smirked. "Expecting to get lucky tonight?"

"Just needed to shave," he replied casually.

"Likely story," she said jokingly, a smile continuing to pull at the corners of her mouth.

Her smile--even a hint of one--was infectious, as was his to her, and they soon found themselves grinning widely at each other as they stood just inside the door holding each other..

Having already noted the glass of wine, he caught a glimpse of the book on the coffee table and the blanket on the couch. "Am I interrupting something?"

"I was just going to catch up on some reading."

"I can go," he told her, though he had absolutely no intention of leaving.

"Not a chance," she grinned, clenching a piece of his coat in her free hand and pulling him toward the couch. "You're way more interesting than any book."

"Glad to know it."

"You want something to drink?" she asked, taking a sip of wine before putting her glass on the table.

"I can get it," he told her as he removed his coat.

She shook her head and took his coat from him. "You just make yourself comfortable, and I'll be right back."

Stella quickly hung up his coat in the hall closet then went to the kitchen to get the wine. As she finished pouring the liquid into the glass, she caught a reflection of herself in the window. She knew without a doubt that the man in the other room was the reason for her goofy grin, and the fact that he had shown up unexpectedly made her grin even more. She was happily, firmly, and deeply in love--and she was right where she wanted to be. Her stomach flip-flopped excitedly at the thought, and she carried both the glass and the bottle with her, knowing that they'd more than likely finish the bottle of wine.

Mac sat hunched over on the couch, elbows resting on his knees, his back to her. It was obvious to her that he was studying something. Then she realized that he'd picked up her book. The one with the bare-chested man and the scantily clad woman on the cover.

Oh, she was so going to have fun with this.

"Find something interesting there, Mac?" she asked, barely able to suppress her laughter.

Startled by her reappearance, he fumbled the book and it landed on the floor with a dull thud. He quickly picked it up and placed it back on the table, glancing up at her as she smirked and handed him his glass. He took the glass from her and promptly drained it. Not the smartest move, he mused to himself, immediately feeling the effects of the contents of both the glass and the book.

"You okay?" Stella grinned as she sat next to him, their thighs brushing as she did so. "Because you look a little…flushed."

"Uh, yeah, fine," he mumbled, taking the bottle from her and refilling his glass.

Stella reached forward and picked up her glass, swirling the liquid before finally taking a sip. "You know," she breathed, her hand sliding across his thigh to the inside of his leg, "it's just a book, Mac. Words on a page…" She licked away a stray droplet of wine as it slid down the outside of her glass.

Words escaped him as he watched her performance, and a new wave of redness swept up his neck and face. He was sure she was trying to kill him.

"It's just a romance novel," she told him, drawing out the words for effect. "There's no need to be embarrassed."

He blinked quickly several times before finally finding his voice. "Why…How'd I not know you read those?"

She shrugged as her hand continued to rub across his thigh. "No need for smutty stories when you're around."

Amused by and adjusting to the new information, he smiled, shifting against her. "That's what you meant when you said I was more interesting than any book?"

"Oh, yeah," she sighed, her hand sliding further up his thigh.

"So when I'm not around, this is the alternative?"

"A woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do," she said, emptying her glass and placing it on the table.

"But those…" Mac breathed deeply, "sex scenes, aren't they kind of unrealistic?"

"I don't know," Stella replied in a sing-songy tone, one eyebrow raised in challenge. "They seem pretty effective…"

"Really?" Mac chuckled.

Her hand stilled on his leg for a brief second, then the contact was gone altogether as she stood. "Page 114," she called over her shoulder as she left the room.

Curiosity eventually getting the better of him, he turned and scanned room, but Stella was nowhere in sight. He put down the wine and picked up the book, turning to the page Stella mentioned. He scanned that page and the next two. "Is that even possible?" he muttered.

Stella--who had been down the hall, just out of his line of sight--quietly slipped back into the room and was now behind him. She slid her hands over his shoulders and down his chest, the initial contact causing Mac to jump slightly, though he quickly relaxed into her embrace. Her mouth close to his ear, she whispered, "Perhaps we should experiment and find out."

VVVVV

Thanks for reading!