There they were, beside the bed, on the verge of shattering the last barrier that stood between them, and she was whispering her name. Was it a plea to stop or to keep going? She hadn't stopped him yet, and had, in fact, seemed to be encouraging him. They hadn't yet gone so far that there was no turning back, hovering on the brink. Did she want him to stop? In another minute, there would be no stopping. "Don't..." he breathed back, reaching to run his fingers through her hair, fingers brushing her cheek in a caress that was surprisingly tender. "Don't say anything," he told her, his lips moving against hers with a rush of warm breath, as his hands skimmed her sides before sliding beneath the hem of her shirt, fingers warm against her flesh.
When had this changed from hard passion to soft tenderness? Why hadn't she expected it to shift so amazingly from one to the other? Ailis couldn't have said either way, loosing the first sound that was purely feminine, totally affectionate, as he found the warmth of her skin beneath the thin tank she wore. The band that had been holding her hair had given up trying to stay in place, snapping free uselessly as he ran his fingers through the pale blonde strands, sending the length tumbling about her face and shoulders, reinforcing the woman beneath the soldier her father had made her into. Something brave inside her gave into his coaxing, and her hands rose, her arms lifting above her head in startlingly gentle submission, giving her consent to what was inevitable.
She was surprisingly compliant, or maybe not so surprising, allowing him to peel the last layer of cloth away from her skin. He tugged her t-shirt over her head and tossed it aside. His gaze moved over the soft curve of her breasts, the heat of his desire flaring inside him, wanting to touch her, taste her, discover all of her secrets. He lifted a hand to trace the curve of one breast with a fingertip, almost in wonder of her, like he'd never seen anything so beautiful before. It wasn't that he'd never been with a woman, but he'd never wanted a woman so much as he wanted her.
She trembled with the soft touch he brushed over her skin, ivory turning to pale pink under his gaze, selfishly delighted that he liked what he saw. So many fantasies spent on him, but somehow she'd never wandered past the first kiss, quietly romantic in the hidden part of her. This unexpected gentleness was as shocking as the first flash of desire, and no less powerful for the soft tenderness implied in his eyes and touch. Don't say anything, he'd told her, asking for her silence in this moment, but she found she couldn't be completely silent. A husky groan liberated itself from her throat as she watched his face, answering the ripple of pleasure that came at his touch with a sound meant for his ears only. Her own hands, fallen idle for a long moment as he looked her over, found new purpose in a skim of their own, insinuating her fingertips beneath the dark hem of his own t-shirt to brush against the heat of his skin.
He flinched at her touch, if only for a moment, as if her touch burned or he just wasn't prepared for it. The only person he'd allowed to touch him in recent years was his sister, and even then, it was rare, a momentary show of affection or reassurance, choosing to hold himself apart and keep to himself, even from her. This was a new level of trust for him, allowing her to peel away the layers of clothing that covered him and kept his safe, exposing himself, letting her see that part of him that no one had seen in many years. It was like they were slowly peeling away the layers that kept them separate and apart, tearing down that final barrier between them. What would come of it, he didn't know, but he had given her his trust, and there was no turning back now. He tugged his own shirt over his head. No dog-tags to ID him, no scars, no tattoos, no marks on him at all, as if his skin was a fresh slate, clean and unblemished.
Just as he had done to her, she swept him with her gaze, noting only vaguely the lack of scars beneath the covetous heat that rose as she absorbed the look of him, so close she could feel the real heat that radiated from beneath his skin. Like him, she reached out with one hand, the soft pad of her middle finger touching the defined dip in his chest with silently eager tenderness. Slowly, her eyes rose to meet his once again, longing heat flaring in the crystal blue depths of her gaze as her palm flattened over his heart, feeling the steady beat there and knowing it was almost synchronized with her own. And the hunger returned with each beat she felt, urging her to him as her arms rose, wrapping about his neck, her lips finding his, bodies pressing flesh to flesh in a shock of bare skin that filled his mouth with the taste of her moan.
His arms loosely circled about her waist as she pulled him closer, hearts beating in time with the other, warm flesh against warm flesh. He swallowed her moan as he kissed her again, deeper still, growing bolder. He kissed her for what seemed like an eternity, until he had to pull away to catch his breath, ragged with longing. No more fooling around. The time for slow and tender would come in time. He wanted her and he wanted her now. He pressed his body against hers, bearing her down onto the bed, fingers fumbling with her jeans in a hurry to get them off and see what lay hidden beneath the denim covering.
Soon enough, her jeans were loose, but her boots were a problem, as were his own, and he hurriedly pulled the laces loose and tugged them from her feet to drop on the floor beside the bed, thumping hard enough to be heard in the main room below them, but he didn't really care. They had waited long enough. They had waited years, and now it seemed all the waiting had come to a head, literally. Whether she was only using him or not, he didn't care. He'd worry about that later. For now, he was going to show her what she'd been missing and give her a damned good reason to want more of it. He tugged her jeans from her hips to join the growing pile of discarded clothing on the floor and slid his hands back up her legs, admiring the view once again, which only added fuel to the fire that blazed inside him.
He had more control than she'd ever given a lover, given up without a second thought as he bore her down onto the bed beneath him, as he fumbled to strip her of boots and jeans, leaving only the last barrier to keep her immodestly decent under the admiring gaze he covered her with. Ailis shivered at the smooth slide of his hands up along her legs, just that touch enough to bleed new tension through her slender, toned frame. She wasn't perfect, by any means; muscular in the way of a soldier, marred on her right thigh by a slash of a scar from a blade felt years ago, a starburst gunshot scar on her left shoulder, newer cuts, burns, and bruises scattered over her skin a healing testament to the last engagement she had attended.
Strange, how her thoughts paralleled his, and yet she abided by his injunction not to speak. Was he using her? Had the news of so many deaths been such a shock he had lost the control he exercised around her every other time? Would he rise as soon as he'd had his pleasure and never look back? God, she hoped not. The last thing she wanted was for John Grimm to ever walk away again. Unbidden, his name rose through her moan, bitten back before the word could make itself known as she reached for him, some part of her ready to beg for more of his kisses, more of his hands on her. Just more, in every sense.
More was exactly what he planned to give her - more of everything - but not until he freed himself of the last restraints of cloth and leather that covered him, eyes never leaving hers - socks and boots and pants, as bare to her as she was to him, only one final barrier between them. He moved back over her, tall and lean, sculpted muscles that came from years of soldiering. His gaze moved over her again, fingers tracing the scar on her thigh, finding it beautiful in a way only another soldier could. To him, the scars didn't mar her body but only made her that much more beautiful, desirable. His eyes declared his need, his desire, though he had still not said a word, fingers grazing her flesh in all the right places before his lips did the same, studying her reactions, what made her breath catch, what caused her to moan.
He seemed to know just where to touch, just how to use every little bit of unlooked for sensitivity in her flesh to his advantage, teasing sounds from her she was sure she'd never made before. But she didn't let him have it all his own way, sharing a faint smirk with his lips as a complex twist of limbs brought him onto his side, legs tangled with hers, her hands as active over the unmarred wonder of his body as her lips were gentle over the line of his jaw. Shuddering under his hands with the need for no more teasing, nonetheless she kept herself from pushing, knowing that while she had begun this, it was his to end. And half fearful of the consequences that would follow.