A/N… With this instalment, I definitely feel like this one is finished. Thank GOD! Thank you all who liked the first part—not really sure if this one quite falls into the same line, but it was a mission that is now complete. **wipes brow** I want to say a huge thank you raizingkain2001 who is not only the most wonderful friend/cheering squad a girl could ever have, but who also wrote Daryl's little speech for me. It's wonderful to write with you again, Tam.
God. It seemed like she couldn't get away from him. Everywhere Carol turned, Merle was within reach, his lecherous eyes crawling over her body like a man dying of thirst. His one good hand accidentally brushing against her thigh, her side, her back and shit, even her ass on one stunning occasion, was sending Carol into a sex-driven spin that she'd never realised was possible. And for every attempt at familiarity from Merle, was a counter-attempt from Daryl to squeeze as far away from her attention as he could.
When Merle leaned across her at dinner and blatantly brushed his fingers against her breast, she squawked like a chicken and flew back, somehow managing in a spectacular display of her uncoordinated brilliance to dump her entire bowl of stew down her front.
Carol jumped to her feet, blocking out the concerned talk of her family and stomped away, running up the stairs and ripping her sodden shirt from her body and hurling it against a wall. Not until her back was bare and she was scrambling for another clean top did she register the heavy boots on the stairs behind her and panic at Merle arriving while she was half naked.
With a desperate squeak, she seized up her pillow and held it across her breasts just as Daryl appeared in her doorway and cast a shadow over her.
He opened his mouth to say something but seemed arrested by the sight of her bare shoulders peeping over the top of the pillow. Carol shook, dying a little with embarrassment that she wasn't even shaking from anger or fear. Oh no, she was shaking because Merle had her so riled up and desperate for sexual release she was a hot tamale ready to crash into the first male body that came her way.
Huh. That looked like it would be Daryl.
"Get in here. Now," she hissed at him, her eyes wild and terrifying.
Daryl stepped forward, his face the very picture of fear but for the first time he was pushing beyond that, his eyes flitting from one patch of exposed flesh to another and Carol even fancied that the frown drawing his brows together might be from the obvious effort he couldn't hide to try and see through her prison regulation pillow to see her personal pillows behind it.
When he was a step and a half away from her, she started shaking even more, the urge to throw herself at him barely contained. What a disaster that would be, she already knew, and felt like screaming at him for being so clueless and broken when they were probably going to die soon and she needed him not to be.
"You gotta control Merle," she said, her voice cracking with the heat of desire as he seemed to be compelled to move closer.
"Get him the hell away from me, Daryl."
He blinked at her and there it was again, that cluelessness that made Carol want to scream and kick him in the shins.
"You ever wonder how I got through fifteen years married to a man like Ed? You think he satisfied me in any way at all? I had…toys, Daryl." Her face flamed hot and red but still she took that final step so that only her pillow was between them. "A woman has needs and I've been pretty good about ignoring them for the last year because some idiot is too blind to do anything about it, but now Merle is stirring it up and I don't want him. Please. Please get him to back away before I end up doing something I'll regret."
There was an unexpected smile on Daryl's lips that ripped the breath from her lungs.
"You callin' me an idiot, or is that honour meant to go to Rick?" Her look of revulsion made him chuckle. "Herschel?"
"If Merle has you all hot and bothered," he said, eyes darting away from her face and looking down at the pillow and the valley of her breasts flattened behind it, "then maybe you should take him up on his offer. I ain't heard any complaints 'bout him before."
Carol's mouth dropped open. It was a torturous ten seconds before she snapped her jaw closed and glared at him. "You really are an idiot, aren't you?"
"Go on, tell me how you really feel," Daryl scoffed, hurt.
It was enough to dull some of the sexual overload that was shorting her brain circuits, softening her face as she looked up at him and completely failing to hide the love she felt for him.
"Okay," she agreed, taking in a deep breath for courage. "You're my hero. You save me and save me until I can barely keep my feet underneath me. You make me want to be better, fight more, give more, take less and when I actually manage to get you to smile, I think I might melt into a puddle at your feet. I crave your touch and sometimes can't sleep at night because I know I'll never have it and now that we're probably about to die, I can't stand being around you another minute without you knowing you're everything to me. And I could have sex with Merle, but I haven't worked out how to turn off my gag reflex where he's concerned. And even if I can't ever have you," she closed her eyes, a tear squeezing past her lid in the ultimate act of betrayal, "I'll have no one else because I don't want any other man to touch me."
Her hand did shake from fear now as she lifted it and placed her palm against the side of his face, the room charging with electricity around her as her eyes clashed with the molten blue of his and then, without any control at all, slid to his lips. Her breathing became ragged, pushing the pillow between them back and forth in a dizzying display of excitement. He hadn't stepped back, hadn't bolted from her words or her touch and now the secret was fully revealed, though none of it could have been a surprise. Anyone with eyes could have seen how she felt about him, and she figured she'd seen a little of it reflected back at her a time or two in the past. What the both of them lacked was courage and now with the devil at the door, they'd run out of time.
How long did she wait? How long could she stand him standing there, staring into her face without moving, without reacting, without taking more than just this touch of his cheek against her fingers before she quite literally died from waiting? Maybe this was his way of not saying no, she thought hysterically and then stopped breathing completely when she felt one hand snake under the pillow and settle on her hip.
"You want me to put an arrow in Merle's head for touching your ass this mornin'?" The question was accompanied by the act of his fingers moving up her side, her naked side, so slowly drifting up to tickle and tease her ribs.
"Yes," she hissed, hardly knowing what it was he said and not caring in the slightest. Except…"Make that two arrows. He touched my breast just now," she confided airily, not recognising the seductive hush that spilled past her lips.
His lower body pushed into hers, no pillow in the way there, and Carol moaned. He leaned into her, his mouth breathing hot air against her neck and then his lips grazed her ear.
"Wanna know how I really feel about you?" he growled huskily, and she stilled, panic raising its ugly head. Not once had she ever had her love returned the way the fairy tales had said it should be and now she was terrified that, after laying out her heart for Daryl to see, he was going to go ahead and slaughter it completely.
She shook her head against him, suddenly terrified and he jerked up and looked at her in surprise. Her courage at telling him what he meant to her was the last of it she had, now that the tables were turning she'd scrunched the leftovers into a little bucket and kicked it out of sight.
"Well, I'm tellin' ya anyway. Seems only fair."
Carol nodded slowly, fearfully, her body hyper-aware as Daryl's gentle fingers found the curve under her breast and then swirled around it to settle above and just below her shoulder. He pulled back so his forehead was barely a hair away from hers, looking down to steal a glance of the formerly forbidden behind that pillow and holding her breath, Carol loosened her grip on it.
He sucked in a breath as the curve of her breast became visible and his eyes shot to hers, guilty blue eyes shining as beautiful as a cloudless sky. His calloused hand left her flesh to cup her face and Carol's courage came rushing back, her lips parting, ready to receive whatever words he was about to share, and then take the reward of his mouth in a kiss she just knew would defy every ounce of her imagination and smash her preconceptions to pieces. The warmth in her belly spread outward, her limbs feeling the seductive laziness of desire as he finally opened his mouth and let his secret out.
"Ain't no secret that I flat out don't like most people. You knew that from the start and never let it faze you. Always kept after me and kept after me until I finally started believin' the things you've been preachin' at me. No one has ever built me up the way you have, or had so much blind faith in me. Or made me feel like being the man you needed." He stopped to gauge her reception of his words and Carol realised that she'd never known that simply breathing could be so painful. He closed the space, forehead against forehead, nose bumping against nose, and dropped his voice to a slow, sexy drawl that Carol knew without a shadow of a doubt was completely unconscious. "Ain't no way I'm gonna let anyone-least of all my brother-steal that away from me."
She wasn't sure who made the final move. All she knew was that his lips covered hers, his breath became hers and with the devil on their doorstep, she finally knew what it was like to hold her man in her arms.
Merle could go hang.