***NC-17 PART!!!***

"Mmm, Maria . . ." he said hoarsely as they came up for air and his lips moved to her neck. She sighed and lay back to let him move over her now. His hands ventured under her sweater, moving up her ribs to play at the edge of her cotton bra.

"Michael," she whimpered as he nipped at the sensitive flesh of her shoulder and his hands came up to cup her breasts gently.

"Maria . . . God, Maria . . ." he murmured against her. Suddenly nothing existed but her. Her taste, her touch, her smell. The feel of her body beneath him and the sound of her sweet sighs in his ears was all that he needed to live. No food, no air, no home planets, no nothing . . . just Maria. She was all he needed.

"Michael . . . God, Michael . . ." she moaned as his lips returned to hers. His hands still cupped her through her bra, his fingers brushing over her nipples and causing her to arch up towards him. She felt his tongue sweep over her lips and parted them to allow him inside. His tongue tangled with hers as he kissed her breathless. They'd probably have kissed all night, never breaking the blissful connection, if only they hadn't needed to breathe. They finally pulled apart as both of them gasped for some much-needed air. Michael lay down beside her as he tried to catch his breath. He reached down to grab her hand and laced his fingers through hers. She looked over at him and gave him a smile. She was so beautiful. Her face was streaked with tear tracks; her eyes were puffy from crying. Her hair was a mess and her lips were swollen from his kisses. She'd have probably told him that she looked her worst at that moment, but Michael would forever disagree. He'd never seen her looking more radiant than she did at that moment.

"Would you believe me if I said I loved you?" he asked.

"I don't know, I guess I'd have to wait till you said it to find out," Maria replied. She was smiling at him, the pain in her eyes replaced by a light that made her whole face shine. "What if I'm saying it now?" he asked. He sat up beside her and pulled her up to sit next to him. "I know this is cheesy and probably something more suited to Max than to me, but, well, I just want you know . . . I mean, Maria, no one has ever made me feel the way that you do. No one else understands. No one else gets me."

"There's not so much to understand, really," she said. "You aren't as big a mystery as you like to think."

He grinned. "Well, some people would disagree with that."

She reached down to take his other hand, weaving her fingers through his as he had done. "I know you, Michael . . . better than you want to be known sometimes. I know what hurts you and I know what you're afraid of. I know what you love and what makes you happy. I know the real you . . . and even that can't make me run away." She met his eyes and smiled.

"You . . . you're what I love," he said softly. She blushed as he released her hand to bring his hand up to her face. Running his fingers over her cheek, he said, "I love you, Maria. I don't know what made me think I could run away from that."

She felt tears prick her eyes, but she still smiled. "I love you, too," she replied.

He leaned forward then, capturing her lips in another toe-curling kiss. She moaned against his lips, bringing her hands up to tangle in his wild hair as he explored her mouth thoroughly. His hands moved to her back to draw her closer to him, all the while never breaking their sweet contact.

When they parted again, she rested her forehead to his for a moment. "Michael," she said breathlessly, "I know what I want for Christmas."

She had to chuckle at that. "And what might that be?"

"You," she answered simply. "I want you."

"That's it, huh?" he teased.

"I'm serious, Michael. I want this . . . us . . . tonight. I want you to . . . to . . ." she trailed off, unable to form the words.

He touched her cheek again and made her meet his eyes. In a voice just above a whisper, Michael said, "Say it, Maria. Ask me."

She caught her lip between her teeth for an instant, then took a deep breath and said the words he longed to hear. "Make love to me, Michael . . . please, make love to me." It was all he needed to hear. His mouth was on hers again and they fell back against her pillows together. As their tongues tangled in an erotic simulation of what was to come, Michael's hands worked their way back up her sweater. Breaking the kiss only for a moment, Maria helped him pull the sweater up and off. His fingers found the front of her bra as he kissed her again, opening the clasp easily and sliding away the garment. He pulled back to look at her.

"God, Maria . . ." he breathed. "You're so . . . so beautiful." She blushed and turned her eyes down, unused to such adoration in anyone's eyes as they looked at her. But Michael would not let her run anymore than she would let him. He took her chin in his hand and turned her eyes back to his own. "You are absolutely amazing," he said to her and the look in his eyes was so tender and sincere that she could hardly believe it. Was this the same guy who had told her less than a month earlier that he couldn't be with her, that he had to be alone? That seemed like a lifetime ago as she looked into the fathomless depths of his eyes.

"Michael," she said simply. His name was like a prayer, like a promise, like her one great wish. If she could have only one thing in this life, she wanted it to be Michael. She didn't want anything more than she wanted him. "Please," she breathed. No other words were needed. He could see everything that she was feeling in her eyes. The dark pools of green told him everything that her heart held. He leaned her back gently and his eyes never left hers.

With one touch, Michael could undo her. With a night full of touches and kisses and caresses, she might lose her mind. But, she couldn't think of anything she wanted more. She lay still beneath him as she welcomed his hands on her skin and his lips against hers. He wanted to kiss every inch of her. He wanted to stake his claim to every part of this woman that seemed to make every aspect of his miserable life worth living. He didn't care how bad his day went, if only he knew that Maria was waiting for him when it was all said and done. He wanted her to belong only to him, because he knew that his heart was already hers. She could crush him in an instant, but that didn't bother him. There was no way that she would hurt him. He trusted her with more than his life. He trusted her with all that he was, with all that he'd ever be. She was all that mattered.

His lips brushed her briefly, but didn't linger. As much as he wanted to get caught up in another soul-searing kiss, he had other things in mind. He moved down, kissing her jawline. He then trailed his lips over her neck, across her collarbone, and down her body until he'd reached her bare chest. At the first touch of his tongue to her hardened nipple, Maria jumped. He circled the stiff peak with his mouth and she released a choked sigh. Her fingers wove into his hair as her head fell back in pleasure. His mouth moved over her as he suckled gently at her tender flesh.

Just as she thought she might die from the exquisite torture of his mouth on her flesh, he lifted his head from her. She released a moan at the loss of his warm, wet mouth, but cried out again as he returned his lips to her other breast. He repeated his earlier ministrations as she squirmed beneath him.

She was so caught up in the feel of his tongue and lips and teeth against her breast that she barely noticed his hand on her stomach begin to make it's way down. When she felt him undo her jeans, however, she lifted her hips to allow him to push the jeans down a little. His hand then snaked beneath the elastic of her panties as his mouth stayed at her breast. When she felt him cup her in his hand, she released a moan. "Michael . . . please . . ." she begged.

He answered her request by using two fingers to enter her warm depths. She cried out, her eyes fluttering shut again as her body welcomed him. She'd never felt anything quite so wonderful as the feel of him inside her body. She wanted more. She wanted all of him. "Michael . . ." she hissed and tried to pull his mouth up to hers. But, he had other plans. His mouth left her breast, but he didn't return to her lips. Instead, he moved lower, placing kisses across her bare stomach even as he moved his finger within her. She writhed beneath him in pleasure.

When he'd finally reached his goal, Maria was moving wildly beneath him. Taking his hand from her, Michael tried to steady her hips with his hands. She looked down at him through heavy-lidded eyes, as she knew what was going to happen next. He pulled down the soaked panties, taking her jeans the rest of the way down as well. Once she was completely naked, Michael sat between her legs and looked up at her. The only thing that he could think of at that moment was that Maria DeLuca was a goddess. He didn't know what he'd ever done to deserve this moment, but he thanked whatever benevolent being had made it possible. Then, without a moment's hesitation, he parted he thighs and lowered his mouth to her again.

Maria cried out at the first touch, clutching the sheets in both fists as his tongue played along her folds with more talent than she'd ever realized he possessed. If she hadn't known better, Maria would think this were a common act for Michael. But, she did know better. She knew that this was a first for him just as it was for her. Still, he had quite the beginner's luck . . . and so did she.

"Oh God! God! Michael!" she cried out. His fingers had returned to her as his tongue circled her clit in a torturously slow rhythm. She could feel her whole body tensing, waiting for the burst of light that would soon overtake her. Every languorous movement of his tongue against her brought her closer and closer to the edge. Soon she wanted nothing more than to fall. She squirmed and squealed and begged him breathlessly to let her go, to push her off that bottomless cliff. Finally, he did just that.

With a quick flick of his tongue over that tiny bundle of nerves, Michael felt her go rigid beneath him. Then, she released an ear-piercing cry and he felt her come against him as her body clutched at his fingers that were still deep inside of her.

The waves of her orgasm wracked her body for several moments, and then she was still again. Michael removed his hand from her body and moved back up to her lips. When he kissed her, she could taste herself on his lips and the dark, honeyed flavor filled their kiss. He finally sat back to look at her once more.

"Michael . . . that was . . ."

"Incredible," he filled in. "You were incredible."

"You amaze me," she said with a smile.

"I love you," was his reply.

She smiled softly at him and reached up to stroke his cheek with her fingers. "Make love to me, Michael. I want to feel you . . . I want to feel us."

He didn't reply, he just bent his head for another kiss that served as more of a response than any words could have. Maria pulled at his shirt as he deepened the kiss, brushing his tongue across hers as their bodies ground together.

He pulled back and let her lift his shirt over his head before returning his lips to hers. His hands joined hers to free him of the jeans that were now painfully straining against his erection. He kicked them to the floor, along with his boxers.

"Michael," Maria breathed as she tore her lips from his. "Now . . . please."

He took his queue from her and positioned himself over her body. As he sank into her, Michael felt her tense beneath him. He went slowly, letting her get accustomed to the feel of him before he moved deeper. Finally, when he was completely sheathed within her, he touched her cheek to get her to meet his eyes. Her eyes opened and she met his gaze. Something was spoken between them in that moment, though no words were said aloud. They didn't need words. Their eyes and their bodies said enough. Maria could feel the love he felt for her in his touch and in the way that he looked at her. She'd never before felt so complete. And, in that moment, she never wanted their union to end.

When he finally started to move within her, Maria had to let her eyes slip shut again. He felt so good, so right . . . it was almost too good to be true. His body moving within her own as the most perfect thing she'd ever experienced. She suddenly knew that her whole life up to then had led to this moment with this man in this bed. This was what was meant to be. He could feel his control starting to slip just as he felt her body tighten around him. As her second orgasm crested, Michael let himself give in to his own release. He came with a strangled groan of her name on his lips, then fell down alongside her on the bed as they both heaved for breath in the afterglow.

It didn't take long for him to gather her into his arms. She went quickly to him, burying her face in his neck as he placed a kiss to her shoulder. They were both too exhausted to talk. And there was nothing to be said anyway. They'd already said it all. Now they could just sleep in each other's arms, and wait for morning to bring them another day.


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