The first thing she was aware of as she woke up was the hand on her hip and the shoulder she was using for a pillow.

Not Sam's hand. Not Sam's shoulder.


She opened her eyes. David's hair stood up every which way, his breathing deep and even. He was dead to the world and it was no wonder after last night. She examined his face in repose, taking in every detail: the dark stubble, the receding hairline, his mouth, quirked into a small smirk even in sleep.

Right now, she didn't know if she wanted to kiss that mouth or sock it.

She settled for pressing her fingertips lightly against his lips and whispered to herself, "David, David…What are we doing?"

She should get up before he woke up, remove herself from his range physically and get some distance emotionally so she could get her thoughts together. She needed time to process last night—what had happened between them and what it meant.

Last night had been crazy and out of control—she had been out of control. The passion and chemistry between them was as strong as she'd always hoped and feared…and last night was proof that it could be all-consuming. She thought of the names they had called each other, the wreckage of her living room, the way she had slapped him and meant it.

But then there was that kiss, and after the kiss…she had never felt so wanted, and had never wanted someone so deeply to her core—hadn't known it was even possible to desire someone with such intensity. And he had said that he loved her…although considering the circumstances, she wasn't sure what to make of that. Was it something that slipped out in the heat of passion? Did he really want to tell her that, did he mean it, and if so, in what way? How did he love her, how much, how deep?

And did she love him?

There was no denying that she wanted him: last night was proof that she wanted David Addison in a way that defied logic and reason. But in the light of day logic and reason came rushing back and she had to ask herself, was this really the relationship that she wanted? Mind-blowing sex followed by arguments and door slamming in the office? Teasing and endless double entendre with moments of honesty sprinkled in every so often; moments where they finally opened up and showed the longing they both tried to keep so carefully masked? Were these small glimpses of something deeper enough? What about the cool, sweet face of romance, the calm, soothing balm of love? Did she really want to go down in flames, regardless of how good it felt to burn?

And then there was the fact that just days ago she had considered marrying someone else…someone who seemed perfect for her. But she hadn't. Why?

She knew the answer to that one, at least.

David. She did love him, in spite of her better judgment . But was it real, lasting, forever kind of love, or just a bad case of, 'can't live with him, can't live without him'?

She needed space to figure all of this out. She tried to get out of bed without disturbing him, but as soon as she shifted her weight his grip on her hip tightened and he slid his other hand up her arm and tangled it into her hair, pulling her closer against his chest. "Maddie," he murmured, and opened his eyes. She pulled her hand away from his mouth, revealing his grin.

"Maddie…" he said again, his voice hoarse with sleep and laced with sex, and the sound of her name on his lips was almost enough to banish all thoughts of logic. Part of her wanted to give into the seduction of that voice, the other part wanted to leap out of bed to avoid the inevitable asinine comment that was sure to come next.

He propped himself up on his elbow and looked down at her. His smile faded and his eyes grew soft and serious and intimate in that way that sucker-punched her every time. She hated that he was about to ruin the honesty of that look with the same old slick repartee, but she knew it was coming.

But he traced her cheekbone with his thumb, and said, "I can't believe you're really here. I mean, I've imagined it, being with you like this, a million times, but…" He shook his head and when he smiled, his eyes crinkling up at the corners, she felt her resistance start to melt. Then he kissed her, gently and so reverently that it reverberated all the way through her, body and soul.

Suddenly, all thoughts of escaping the bed vanished, and Maddie wrapped her arms around his back, pulling him on top of her. All she could think of as he planted kisses down her neck and behind her ear was that she would gladly burn forever, just as long as he never stopped doing that…

But then right at that moment he pulled away and looked at her with an expression in his eyes that she had seen before—but never quite like this… He picked up her hand and kissed her palm.

"I know I said it last night, but last night was…well, eventful, to say the least. And I don't want you to say anything back…I just need to make sure you hear me…"

He kissed her lightly on the lips. "I love you, Maddie," he said, and she knew for certain that he meant it in the real way, the best and most terrifying way.

Her heart was pounding. There was that duality again—all at once she felt on top of the world, elated and exhilarated, but at the same time, she couldn't help looking down at the ground and fearing how far away she was from the bottom. "David, I…" she began, not sure herself what she was going to say, but he kissed the corner of her mouth, stopping her.

"Shh," he whispered against her lips. "Don't say anything, don' t answer…I don't need an answer right now. I just wanted you to know how I feel."


"Uh-uh. No more talking," he said and kissed her into silence.

Her brain was still shouting for the time and space she knew she needed. But as David's kisses moved down from her mouth to her neck and from her neck to her collarbone, her body took over and her brain was, for the moment, quiet.