“Dude, can you say ‘overconfident’? You’re way in over your head!”

“Am not,” Nick grinned. “I know she knows. Don’t ask me how; I couldn’t explain, but I know. That’s all that matters.”

“I don’t get how you know this, and are so confident about it.”

‘I recognize the symptoms,’ he thought. ‘She does what I do. Reacts the same way I do.’

“It’s all a matter of observation, J.”

“Whatever,” AJ chuckled. “You’ve confused me enough for today.”

“So my skills are finely tuned,” Nick said in mock observation. “Time to go visit San.”

- - - - - - -

“Go AWAY.”


“Nick! Leave!”

“I came over to visit my friend,” he protested. “You can’t just throw me out like this.”

“Nick, you’re being annoying.”

“I love you, too.”

They both stopped short in mid argument, gazes locked on eachother. What was meant as a purely sarcastic remark took new meaning to them both without notice. The blue fire in Nick’s eyes scorched her, made her shiver. He’d only said it once - right after he’d kissed her months ago. She never expected to hear it again, with as much meaning.

“I’m.. I’m kinda busy here, Nick,” she said quickly, gesturing to her computer.

“Doing what?” Nick asked, raising an eyebrow as he glanced at the screen, trying to clear his head of the emotions that has suddenly overwhelmed him. “Cybersex?” he asked jokingly, amusement sparkling in his eyes.

“That’s it,” she growled, turning the monitor off and facing him, coming up five inches short of his tall frame. “Out.”

“What? What’d I do?”

“OUT!” she exclaimed, putting her hands on his chest and giving him a slight shove. “I’m working!”

“Didn’t look like it to me,” Nick protested. “That was an Instant Message. And what was that dude saying? ‘Oh baby..’ Yeah, sounds like work to me.”

“Nick!” she shouted, her patience finally gone. “Get outta here, for crying out loud!”

Her hands went to his chest again, and she shoved hard. Nick went stumbling back then, reaching out for her in an attempt to steady himself. He grabbed her wrists moments before landing hard on the floor, bringing her down with him.

Sandra’s breath caught in her throat as she crashed against him when he pulled her off balance. Her hair spilled over her face, and when she lifted her head up to asess the damage, Nick brushed her hair out of her face gently, letting the strands run through his fingers a bit longer than necessary. Their eyes met, and both hearts began to beat wildly.

“You okay?” she whispered.

“Yeah,” he whispered back. His arms hadn’t released the hold he had on her, and he found it difficult to release her just yet, if at all.

They were quiet for a few precious moments, looking into eachother’s eyes, not bothering to move or think of something to say. She licked her lips unconsiously, and Nick’s heart turned sommersaults.

“Nick, I -”

“I’d really like to kiss you right now,” he said, his voice rough with emotion.

Lips parted, she drew in a slow breath as she became fully aware of just how much he really did want to kiss her. The way he held her, watched her with those intense eyes of his, everything about him screamed for her consent.

“I’d really like to kiss you, too,” she whispered.

Letting out a small groan, Nick cupped her face in his hands and brought her to him, kissing her fiercely. Immediately, she kissed him back, equally as thoroughly, and his hands left her face, opting instead to bury his fingers in her hair as he sought out her lips time and again with his.

Her hands were on his chest, attempting to hold herself back, if only a little. Nick sensed it right away; she was trembling, despite her forwardness in her kiss.

“Let go, San,” he whispered against her lips. His hands covered her own, and he pulled away to look into her eyes. “Let it all go...”

He wasn’t prepared for the tears that quickly formed in her eyes. His heart leaped to his throat as she sniffled, freeing a hand from his grasp and wiping at the tears before they fell.

“San,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean to...”

“No,” she cut him off. “It’s okay.”

“Is it?” he asked.

She was silent for a moment before giving him her answer. “Yeah.. it is.”

He caressed the side of her face with the back of his hand, smiling when she closed her eyes and leaned into his touch. “I really do love you, San.”

“Yeah,” she whispered, opening her eyes. “I know.”

[chapter list | chapter twenty]