Patterned shadows were etched over the face of the petite strawberry-blonde that slumbered in the crook of Archy's arm. Caroline shifted and stretched and nuzzled her face into the space between his shoulder and chest. A small, contented smile crossed over her lips even as she slept.

Archy had to admit, he was rather satisfied himself; in spite of the nagging sensation that what had happened when he found Caroline in the shadows of the library and unable to sleep. They had crashed headlong into each other with urgent and bruising kisses, up the stairs and into his room. Both of them in that moment were desperate to experience something that the other one offered and no objection was raised between them. No doubt, he thought, they would likely pay for the night before in terms of complications.

Caroline stirred, then shifted, slowly blinking her eyes trying to focus in the dim light of very early morning. For one moment, he held his breath as she looked momentarily confused. When she at last raised her eyes to look up into his face, he finally let out his breath. The relief turned to a pleasurable reassurance in the form of a small, almost purring sound that rose from his companion.

Archy brushed the lightest of kisses against her temple. "You were dreaming," his voice was a soft rumble in his chest.

"I certainly hope I wasn't," Caroline languished like a cat. "I'd be very disappointed if I woke up just now and all alone in my room."

It was Archy's turn to smile. His eyes crinkled with the delight of her response. In the four years he spent inside, he had never dared to hope that the woman he often thought about might really come to feel the same for him. After his very messy divorce from Phillipa, every other sexual encounter he had was with the tarts and shills that is brother, Lenny, had in his employ. All of that was a fringe benefit of being in the family business. But there was never anything too serious and he never made the mistake of letting any of them get too close. It was all about business.

Not this time.

When she turned to him in the dark, touched him and then kissed him, there was no way he could stop. His need, his desire made itself far too apparent, too quickly for him to deny it or to even want to stop. They barely stopped long enough to slip on a condom. The pent up want was four and more years of loving and worshiping this woman from afar and finally he was able to show her in a physical sense just how he felt. They made love in candlelight, he watched her face as he entered her, listened to every sigh and whimper, and savoured every shudder of her body wrapped around the length of him.

Afterward, they talked until they had talked themselves to sleep. For Archy, it was decidedly better than a mere bedtime story.

"Are you going to tell Vincent?" Archy asked during the course of their conversation.

After a moment, Caroline nodded sleepily, her hand stroking his stomach, "Oui," she said, "I will as soon as I get back. "Thank you." she said at last.

"For?" he asked, slightly confused, but relieved at what she had promised regarding Vincent.

Caroline shrugged then smiled, nuzzling her cheek against the hair on his chest. "For not making me beg to be touched - to be held," she said. "For telling me about when you were in prison. I never would have known that I even affected you in such a way if you hadn't said something."

"You'll never have to beg to be touched or held, Caroline," he wrapped his arms tighter around her and gave her a slight squeeze to emphasize his point. "But I do confess, I never would have thought you to be so starved for affection, " he teased, "and I most likely was never going to even tell you what was going on in my head at all until the time was right."

"When would that have been?" she teased him right back.

Archy simply smiled, and rolled her beneath him. "I don't know," he said staring down at her, his body firmly pinning hers agains the mattress, "but none of that matters now anyway."

She was about to speak when his mouth caught hers. For the first time he actually thought of breaking his own rules of not getting too close to anyone. He'd gotten used to that self-imposed edict over the last couple of years.

Everything, however, had changed now.
.

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