Burn Notice: I don't own it, I just like to play with it.

After writing the Brisco story that was all nice and happy, I must have had some angst I needed to get out. So here it is. Sorry, Sam!

Broken Rings

By WritePassion

When he proposed to his lady friend Elsa, Sam never thought about the repercussions. He thought she'd say yes, they'd get married, and then everything would pretty much stay the same except for the legal changes. The marriage came quickly on the heels of the proposal, just a simple little affair with Michael as best man, of course, not long after he and Fiona returned from France where they had their honeymoon. Elsa was in the middle of a busy convention season and had no time for a getaway. She promised Sam they would take the time when things settled down.

With Michael still considering his options, Sam found himself with no work unless he took on cases alone. Lounging around poolside all the time quickly lost its luster. He certainly wasn't going to turn into a shopaholic like a trophy wife. Did his marriage to Elsa turn him into a trophy husband? Hardly. He knew she loved him as much as he loved her. The trouble was, she had total control of the hotel and he had nothing to do. Inaction was wearing thin. Ironic, considering that when he first arrived in Miami he expected to spend all his time lollygagging and having fun. Michael didn't need help with his CIA problems because he was done with them, he and Fiona were taking a little time away from the private investigation business, and his wife was constantly managing the hotel or leaving town on business without him. Sam was getting bored.

He and Elsa had passed the one month mark when Sam asked, "Why won't you let me do anything around here? You know, there are probably plenty of ways I can use my military training and leadership skills in this hotel."

"Sam, I don't need any help. My people have everything in hand, thank you." Elsa paced in her office while Sam sat in one of the chairs in front of her desk. "That's why I have staff."

"And yet you're always running around." He got up and followed her. "Okay, now there's part of the problem."

"What? I don't see a problem. Everything works like a well-oiled machine." She stopped and put her hands on her hips, weight shifted to one stiletto heel, with her eyes staring up at his.

"Not everything, but that's not my point right now," Sam countered and stood with his own hands on his hips.

"I thought you were looking for ways to help. If everything is working fine, I don't need you to..."

"To interfere with your hotel and your staff?" His mouth twitched. "That's where the problem is. In case you've forgotten, we're married now. Since we don't have a prenup that divides our property, by law what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours. But you don't seem to see it that way. So what am I supposed to think? What's mine, Elsa?"

She began to feel her temperature rise, and not in a good way. When they were simply lovers, Sam never made a big deal about this. He seemed happy to sit on the sidelines and just take whatever she wanted to give him in exchange for loving her. Now, things were different and she wasn't sure why. It unsettled her. "You're being ridiculous, Sam. Of course what's mine is yours and vice versa!"

"Then why is it still only your hotel? You've got your hands so tight on the reins you can't share, and I want to help you. This shouldn't be your burden alone."

"I never thought of it as a burden." She denied it, but her crossed arm stance told him that he'd hit on the truth.

"Then why were you so hot for Evan to take over the business? He doesn't want it, so why don't we do this together?" His expression softened and he stepped forward, closing the gap between them. He placed his hands on the sides of her arms and held them tight. "Elsa, honey, I understand wanting to be in control, but... if you'd let me help, I think you'll find it a lot less stressful."

"I'm not under stress." She looked away when she said it, because lying was useless. She knew he could sense the tension in her arms where he held them.

He jostled Elsa until he irritated her enough to glare at him. He smiled. "You know I'm right."

The steel was in her eyes as she asked, "If you're right, then what would you do with the hotel? What would you change?"

"I have some ideas for streamlining the check in process. Nothing major, just a little tweaking of the system. And then there are some, uh, training issues with the cabana boys."

Knowing how much time Sam spent at the pool, Elsa's ears perked up at his ideas as he went into more detail. Slowly, her resistance faded away, and by the time he was finished, she smiled. It wasn't the hard, you-have-no-idea-what-you're-talking-about expression. She was impressed and interested in implementing his suggestions.

"So, what do you think?" He witnessed the change in her features, and through his hands he felt her arms relax.

"I think you've got some good points there, Sam."

"But..."

She shook her head, stepped closer until their bodies touched, and she slipped a hand behind his neck. "I want you to work with my managers on these things. Let's do it."

Sam grinned with a leer in his eyes as his arms slipped around her and pulled her tighter into him. "I thought you'd never ask," he teased and dove into her lips with his own. At first she hesitated, but Sam knew how to make her lose all self-control. He could tell by the cadence of her breathing that he'd done it again. Running his hands over her back, her breath quickened and he knew it wouldn't take much more to have her begging for him.

The sound of knuckles on wood and a clearing throat brought everything to a screeching halt. Elsa ripped her lips away from Sam's. She pushed a few stray locks of hair behind her ear and disengaged herself from his arms while trying to remain composed. With embarrassment, she groaned inside, knowing that she and Sam must have made a pretty pair blushing like teenagers caught in the act.

The petite blonde woman smiled with amusement as she watched her boss regain her sense of dignity. "Ms... I mean, Mrs. Axe, I have those contracts you needed to look at and sign. Please don't forget your ten o'clock appointment with Mr. Varady regarding the software convention, and I'm still working on booking you on the Thursday flight to Atlanta."

"And my accommodations?"

"You'll be staying at the Windpointe Inn, ma'am."

"Thank you, Marissa." Elsa glanced at Sam and back to her. "Sam, I don't think you've met Marissa, my personal assistant."

"No, but I think we've spoken a few times when I've tried to get you on the hotel number." Sam gave her a friendly handshake and a smile. "Nice to meet you in person finally, Marissa."

"And you, Mr. Axe." Marissa's smile was electric as she took in the couple. She'd seen Mr. Axe around the hotel when he was living there and he and her boss were dating, if that was what you would call it. She was happy that the two finally decided to make it legitimate, because she knew for a fact that several of the female staff had their collective eye on him. Herself included. In a hotel, even one as highly rated and concerned for their customer's safety and privacy as the Regency, rumors and gossip ran rampant among the staff along with whispered longings.

"Is there anything else," Elsa asked as she took the folder containing the contracts.

"No, Mrs. Axe." Her glance passed from her to Sam and back again before she asked, "Should I hold your calls this morning?"

"Thanks, but I should really get back to work."

"Yes, ma'am." Marissa made a quick exit.

Elsa held the file in both hands and looked up at Sam. The hurt in his eyes made her own stomach turn. Somehow she would make it up to him. She gave him a sweet smile and caressed his cheek, noticing that ever since they were married and he spent time at the hotel as her husband and not just her lover, he shaved. That alone told her how much he respected her and her business. He wanted to be a part of it because it was a large part of her. If that's all this was about, that he wanted them to spend more time together, she would have to make a note to be more attentive.

"We'll have lunch, okay, Sam?"

"Sure." He hesitated, then asked, "Did you really mean it about the front desk changes and the cabana boy training?"

"Yes, I did." She smiled, set the file folder on her desk, and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Go ahead and get started, and let me know how things go." She kissed him quickly on the lips and then pulled out of his embrace. "I'll arrange for lunch in my... our suite."

"Sounds great." He smiled at her and left the office, glad that he seemed to have gotten through to her. Yet, for the moment, he couldn't help feeling as if he'd been kicked out of her office like one of the staff.

A little Sammy time at lunch with Elsa made him feel better, but deep down, Sam still sensed that something was wrong. To distract himself he spent the afternoon with the waitstaff manager to go over the poolside service, and by the time he walked out of the man's office, Sam was confident that he was on board with the changes. Next, he caught the elusive head manager responsible for running the front desk. He would be a hard sell, but Sam knew he could do it. He might need a mojito or two afterward, but he would make it happen.

On his way out to the parking garage he heard someone call his name. "Hey, Sammy!"

A smile spread across his face as he turned to greet her. "Hey, baby. What's up?"

Elsa walked up to him, her hips swaying and her eyes full of desire as she purred. "I didn't think you would leave without me."

"You're usually busy." He reached out and pulled her close. "Are you done for the day?"

"Just taking a break," she replied, the words coming out on a sigh. Her hand ran up his shirt at a casual pace, her fingertips pressing into him until she felt his chest underneath. "How about we take a break together?"

Her seductive smile was his undoing. He could never refuse her when she looked at him with such passion. He captured her lips with his and wouldn't let go until she writhed in his arms and gently pushed him away. "Upstairs. Now." She took his hand and led him to the elevator.

The couple rode from the parking garage to the top floor where Elsa reserved one of the penthouses for her personal use. Until she and Sam married, it was where he lived. It was convenient for her when she craved a little of his loving, and as long as he wasn't off with Michael and his friends, he was ready and willing to oblige.

With Michael on hiatus, Elsa was glad. It meant that Sam was around almost all the time. He liked being near her, so when she was at the hotel, so was he. The penthouse continued to be their love nest and developed into their second home. The only time the two saw the mansion was on weekends, if she was in Miami, and even then Sam had to drag her home.

The door locked behind them and Elsa and Sam were free to love with wild abandon. When it came to time between the sheets, she almost always found herself captured and at the mercy of his whim. Not that she minded it. He could take her to heights that she could only have dreamed about until they came together.

Elsa didn't intend to fall asleep in his arms, but she did. She'd been so tired lately. Work was never-ending, and her concern over Sam and his needs didn't help. At least Evan had been quiet, working at his shop with as much drive as his mother put into the hotel.

"Elsa. Elsa, baby, wake up." He spoke to her and caressed her cheek.

Her eyes fluttered open and she looked around. "What... oh my... I fell asleep."

"Yes, human beings do that all the time," he teased with a warm grin. He kissed the side of her face as he slipped an arm across her bare chest and tangled a leg between hers. "And you do it so beautifully." He kissed her again, this time on the lips, setting into motion a replay from the previous evening.

Sam's ministrations distracted her, but in the back of her mind, Elsa thought about the lengthy list of things she had to do today. Not to mention the things to catch up on from the night before. I had work to do last night. I shouldn't have fallen asleep! I missed that call with Mr. Tamashika. What is he going to think?

"Sam, honey, no," she moaned, attempting to push him away. After a few seconds she gave up because he felt too good. So she continued to let him make love to her while her calendar swirled in her head.

As soon as he collapsed, still breathing hard, her hands pushed on him. Puzzled, he pulled away. When she had the room she rolled and got up to retrieve some clothes and head for the shower without even an afterglow kiss.

"Elsa, what..."

"I'm late, Sam. And I had a call that I missed last night because you let me sleep!"

"I let..." He bit his tongue. No use getting into an argument with her when she was like this.

Sam leaned on one elbow and watched her go. He could tell by the determination in her stride that she was all about getting back to work. Why did it surprise him? Did he really think that things would change when they were married? He was starting to feel like her boy toy again, and not her husband. He pushed the thought away. If he couldn't get used to it, their marriage was doomed.