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


I'm going to have a heart attack. Right here, right now. When we got our laughter under control, I reached for her and she stopped me with an open palm. I paused. She gave me a saucy look and began to undress herself, very slowly, button by button. She's doing a strip tease for me. Good Lord, am I dreaming? I must be. It's not possible to be this giddy. My knees turned to water a minute ago and I'm hanging onto the doorframe to keep upright. Her chest is bare and ooops, there go those little jogging shorts, puddling on the floor at her feet. This tiny wood nymph is now standing in front of me in nothing but a leather G-string, a black G-string, dark as midnight against her creamy white skin. You'd think the shock, the thrill of seeing her tiny body nude would have worn off some by now. Novelties and all. NOPE! Her breasts are perfect. They sit high on her chest, plump and firm, slightly large for her tiny frame. The nipples are dark pink, goose bumped areola and button hard centers. I moan just thinking about what they will feel like in my mouth. Here's the heart attack part. She's sliding her own hand down under that little black triangle and touching herself! Her head is thrown back, her legs spread apart, bracing her knees on the edge of the bed. I lose my jeans and boxers on the way to the bed and quickly rip my tee shirt off, my eyes never leaving her body. She lowers her head and peeks out at me from under impossibly long eyelashes. She uses her free hand to cup her own breast and squeeze the globe, her thumb teasing her nipple. I pay careful attention so I can do it for her later, the way she likes it.

Finally, she speaks as we face each other across the large expanse of my double bed. No porno-flick was ever this good. The low huskiness in her voice sends another ripple down to my groin and I stiffen even more, feeling my shaft rise higher, tighter to my stomach. "Oh, God Michael. You are so beautiful, so sexy."

"Me? You." I manage to croak out. Christ, my voice just cracked. Real smooth, Guerin. Try again. "Maria, I could cum just watching you."

She chuckles and drops another bomb. "Touch yourself, Michael. Show me how you do it. Show me what you do here alone when you think of me." We both groan. "Michael, I'm so wet for you. Show me."

"Jesus!" I squeak out, reaching for my shaft with my right hand. I'm so hard and so upright, only my thumb fits between my cock and stomach unless I push it down. I slowly stroke myself from base to tip, spreading the precum fluid over the head with my thumb, squeezing the base lightly after descending again. My own touch is like a shock because I'm so high on my arousal. "I can't keep standing," I whisper as I feel my knees giving way.

Another low chuckle. Her voice is an aphrodisiac. "Then lay down." I quickly toss my four pillows to the head of the bed as a backrest and climb up to recline against my headboard. I take up my stroking again, watching her roll her nipple between her thumb and forefinger. Her breath is coming in short little pants.

"Yes, Michael, oh, you turn me on. Those stomach muscles." My stomach muscles clench and then release, at her words. She moans. I'm not going to last long this way. I cup my balls with my left hand, raising one leg for better access and caress my sacs gently.

"Maria, I want."

"Shhh, later. This way for now." "Later?" I croak out. My voice has completely abandoned me at this point.

"I'm going to jump your bones more than once tonight."

Holy shit! She's never talked to me this way and it's intoxicating. "Maria, you're killing me." "Mmm, I hope not, although they do call orgasm the `little death'." My strangled groan brings a smile to her face. Her fingers are inside herself now where I want to be stroking in and out of her heat. She's roughly circling the center of her pleasure. "Do you want me to talk or shut up?"

I've spent months trying to get her to shut up and I can't believe I'm going to say this. The irony doesn't escape me. "I want you to talk." She grins.

"What about?"

"What do you think about when you pleasure yourself? Tell me."

"Mmm, you. The way your skin feels against my chest. What your fingers do to my G-spot. Your lips when you suck on my nipples" I am moaning almost continuously as she recreates one of our many sessions together. I actually can't believe I haven't lost it yet. She still going. "What you feel like inside my mouth, hot, like silk over steel."

"Oh my god, Maria, you're mouth, love your mouth, so many fantasies." She continues.

"What you taste like when you throb and explode down my throat. Salty, tangy."

"MARIA! I'M SOOO HARD!" I could feel the coiling sensation in my balls that precedes orgasm. Then I see her head fall back, her fingers furiously pushing at her mons, her fingers gripping her nipple so hard that her knuckles are white.

"Ahhh, Michael, I love you, I love you. You're so hard. Ooo, ooo,ooo, ahhh, Michael." She screamed my name as she came, her shudders causing her to stumble and land face down on the bed, her head tilted up to look at me. I was right behind her, shouting her name as I ejaculated on to my own stomach, over and over. I just came so hard my stomach and my balls ache. When our breathing returned to normal, I reached for the box of tissues on the bedside table. I keep them there for just such an occasion. Post-coital clean up! She stopped me with a hand on my wrist. "Maria, I need to clean up." Looking at me pointedly she shakes her head and crawled up over me. "Maria, whaaaa..?" My words stuck in my throat as she lowered her head to my stomach and began to hum while licking my cum off my chest. "Ahh, Christ, Maria, you're so wicked."

"Do you like me wicked?" she teased.

"I looovvvee you wicked." She stopped short and met my eyes. I saw them shutter almost immediately and I realized how that sounded. I was responding to the wicked comment but it dawned on me that that she'd never heard those words from me, and she needed to hear them, wanted to hear them. They were true, after all. Why was I so reluctant? I couldn't be any more vulnerable with this woman than I was now. Not saying the words aloud didn't make them any less true. I was hopelessly, completely in love with Maria DeLuca. I knew it. But did she? I guess I assumed she knew. Why was I always taking these things for granted? Expressing my feeling has always been difficult for me. But for her I needed to try. For her, I had to stop being such a coward. I'd go insane if I lost her. What if some other guy told her those words before I did? Would she follow the words and the guy who was willing to say what he felt, willing to risk his heart for her? She needed to be loved, just like I did. But unlike me, she deserved to be loved. And she deserved to hear it, to be told. She went back to cleaning my chest as I had these thoughts but her devilish enthusiasm was gone. Buck up you wuss, I told myself, and just find the words. TELL HER!

I stopped her and grabbed the tissues and finished the job. I tugged her wrist and she fell forward onto my chest, her feet dangling between my knees. God, she was so tiny. I carefully paced my hands on the side of her face and tilted up to look at me. She resisted and I gently but firmly tilted her face up. Here eyes were glistening with tears she was struggling to hold in and I felt my heart stark to break.

Barely above a whisper, in this intimate position with her body sprawled on top of mine, her tears finally gave me the courage to tell her how I felt. "Sweet Maria, I don't deserve you." She opened her mouth to protest, but I laid a finger on her lips. "Shhh, now I don't want you to talk. I want to talk." Her eyes widened a little, but she nodded. I never wanted to talk. This was a new one on her. Me too.

"You are the best and brightest and the craziest thing that has ever happened to me. You make me want to enjoy my life. You've taught me how to be a friend, how to be a boyfriend, how to be a lover. My life was on big, black hole of depression and fear until you walked in with your staccato chatter, your gorgeous blue eyes and that mega-watt smile and lit up every corner of my brain." She was sniffling now, totally wide-eyed.

She shook her head a little as though unsure of what she was hearing and I chuckled. "Maria, if you ever left me, my heart would shatter into a million tiny pieces, because it lives right here." I picked up her tiny hand and put my finger in the palm of her hand. Her little fist closed on my fingers and she let go of a little sob and the tears let go, running down her face. I licked some off her cheeks and she smiled through them.

"Mich." I put my finger on her lips again.

"I'm not finished." She nodded. "I hate it when you cry and I hate it especially when I'm the reason. I can't guarantee you that I won't ever have a `callous bastard' relapse again, but I will try very hard never to make you cry again because.Maria.ahhh god, this is hard for me." I looked at the ceiling as though for guidance and looked back at her. There was a confused smile on her face, her silent tears till spilling down her cheeks. I locked my eyes to hers and pulled her in until our noses were touching. And I whispered what she needed to hear for the first time. "Because, god help me, Maria, I'm so in love with you it hurts sometimes."

A strangled sound came out of her mouth. She searched my eyes as though looking for hesitation, false motives, any doubts. I couldn't blame her. I opened my heart and let it show on my face. I was safe with my sweet Maria. I was safe and not afraid. When had I ever been able to say I wasn't afraid?

It was out. The words were out in the universe. I felt almost lightheaded at the release of it. "Oh, God, Michael, I love you too, You know I do. I didn't ever think I'd ever hear you.."

"Say it?" I prompted.


"Me neither. I've never trusted anyone enough to fall in love, until now, until you." She grabbed my head fiercely and caught my lips in a bruising kiss and plowed her tongue into my mouth. I let her have control, battling her tongue for a second or two in a token resistance.

She came up for air and kissed her way over my jaw, coming back briefly to suck my bottom lip into her mouth. This caused a rattling moan to travel from somewhere in the vacinity of my toes, up my body and out my mouth into hers. She crushed her belly into my groin and to my own amazement, I felt myself stiffen against the silky skin of her belly.

"Make love to me, Michael. Please, I want to take you places you've never been."

"You already have."

"I want to feel you inside me."

"That's where I want to be. Let me pleasure you. I love hearing you yell my name when you come." I'd told her how I felt. Now I wanted to show her. She crawled off me and stood up from the bed and peeled off her thong, grabbed a condom from her purse on the nightstand and held it up. I smiled at her. "Doing a little planning, were we?" I teased. She giggled.

"You know it."

"Come here." She placed the package on the nightstand. I was determined to take my time with this. "I want to go slow, Maria, I want this to last. I want you to remember this forever."

"I will anyway. Etched in brain, Bud. The first night the big lug told me he loved me!'

"Hey! Big lug?"

"Big, beautiful, sexy, lug. My lug." Her hand slid up my groin and my humor fled.
"God, Maria, you do that too much and it will over in about a minute. Let me give you pleasure tonight."


"No buts, I want to do this for you. I need to do this for you. Please let me."

"O.K." Her voice is small. I gently rolled her onto her stomach and proceeded to lick and touch her everywhere, my hands grazing her neck, her sides, her spine, her beautiful heart shaped ass, down her legs, and back up again. She was panting and moving her hips. I thrilled that I could arouse her this way. I wanted to make her scream, but I was going to torture her first. I gently kneaded her rump with both hands until she moaned. I carefully pulled her cheeks apart and dipped my tongue into the groove on her low back, sliding my tongue into the depression between her cheeks. The pages of Alex's book flashed through my mind. My tongue dipped lower and she gasped.

"Oh, Michael, you're not going to lick me there!"

"Everywhere," I whispered. "Every inch of you is beautiful."

"Michael, you can't, you can't put your tongue.ugh, thheeerrrreeee, ahhhhh, god Michael. NO! Yeesss, ahh, god don't stop!" I swirled my tongue into the groove and curled around her sphincter muscle. Nothing about this woman disgusted me. Every inch of her was beautiful and I wanted to make her feel that way. I put one arm under her belly and lifted. She came up on her hands and knees. I dove into her wetness with my tongue, dragging her tangy honey with my tongue and coating her rectum with it. Her sounds were driving me wild and my cock started to twitch, and release fluid from the tip in response to her voice.

"Ahhh, Michael, ooo, ooo, jesus, god, so good, so good, Michael, so, you make me so wet, can't believe it!" She was totally incoherent and I loved it. I loved her. I slipped my thumb up into her wetness and stroked slowly in and out, dragging my other fingers across her center and clitoris. She shouted in response, muttering nonsense. I carefully placed my other thumb at her rectum and moved it in a circular motion, applying pressure. Her nonsense became ragged moans and her torso flopped to the bed, her head pillowed on her arm, her beautiful ass displayed in the air. I increased my pace and felt her inner muscles twitching. I knew she was close. Then the most erotic sound I'd ever hear erupted from her mouth.

Rapid, like a shuddering whimper is the only way I can describe it and my name mixed in. It was the sound of intense pleasure. My cock throbbed in response and my hips bucked involuntarily. Christ, I was so hard my cock ached. "Ooo hoo hoo, Michael, ooo, hoo, hoo, Mich, ooh, hoo, hoo, MIIIICCCCHHHAAAEEELLL!

She's screaming my name. I felt the first clenching contraction around my fingers and gently pushed my thumb inside her rectum, just one knuckle deep, carefully and wiggled it back and forth a little.

MIIIICCCCHHHAAAEEELLL! She's screaming again, Ahhhhh, Ahhhhh, Ahhhh. Her hips are bucking back into my hands and my finger slips a little further in. Her contractions gripping my fingers like a vice.

Her orgasm went on and on, her hips thrashing in the air. I almost came from watching her convulse, seeing her little hands grip the bed spread. And again, screaming my name. I was giddy that she was out of control because of me, giddy that I could make her feel this way, giddy that she trusted me enough to let me touch her like this. She collapsed in a boneless heap, panting. I gently withdrew my fingers and she groaned. I laid down beside her and pulled her back into my chest, tilting my body around her, spooning her. My rock hard erection rested between her ass cheeks. I was determined to ignore it for the moment. I was enjoying her shivering aftershocks. Her breathing slowly returned to normal. She turned in my arms to face me and gave a deep, gentle, sweeping kiss that sent a shiver down my spine.

"Are you sure you've never done this before?"

I laughed out loud. I'd never been this happy. "No, but I'm glad I was able to give you pleasure. You deserve it."

"Pleasure, its that what that was?"

"I hope so."

"Mind-melting, bone-shattering ecstasy describes it a little accurately, I think." I grinned like an idiot and shouted with laughter.

"God, Maria, you thrill me. I love you so much." I was surprised at how easily the words rolled off my tongue. "You're going to give me a swelled head if you keep talking like that."

"Ooo, I hope so." She said this as she grasped my shaft in her hand. I groaned. Her tiny hands were hot and firm, tugging up and down.

":Maria, no, for you."

"Michael, yes. Payback's a bitch."

"No, I'm not done with you yet."

"Promises. Promises."

"I mean it."

"Me too." She rolled over and grabbed the condom off the nightstand and ripped open the foil packet. I reached for it but she held it out of reach. "Ah, uh, I'll do it." Whoever thought putting on a condom could be erotic? Well, they never watched Maria DeLuca do it. She swirled her tongue around my glans and sucked hard. My hips bucked off the bed. She placed the condom on my tip and then slowly licked and sucked the sides of my shaft as her deft little fingers unrolled the latex behind her tongue. When she reached the bottom, her mouth opened wide and she took a large portion of my balls into her mouth and began swirling her long talented tongue in and around my testes. I thought I was going to faint from the sensations.

I pulled her up and swiftly rolled her onto her back. I kissed her deeply and reached down between her legs.

"Michael, now."

"Shhh, not yet. I have one more thing to do for you first."


"Shhh." I closed my eyes and concentrated as my fingers slid inside, deeper, deeper, accompanied by the sound of her gasps. "Shhh.." I whispered. I felt my fingers hit her barrier and she tensed. "Relax." I waited until I felt her relax her walls. I concentrated on seeing the membrane and pictured the cells dissolving one by one as they broke away from the thin membrane. I heard her hiss and then sigh. It was gone.

"Whaa, what did you just do, Michael? It tingled and felt hot."

"I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No, a little sting was all."

"I dissolved your hymen." Her eyebrow arched up. I'm not sure if she was surprised I'd thought to do it or surprised I knew the name of it!

"My, my, aren't we just full of tricks up our sleeve?"

"You aren't upset? I know it's kind of a ritual right of passage, the pain, the blood."

"Yeah, right, Michael, I'm thoroughly pissed I didn't get to experience that. Was soooo looking forward to pain and blood. I mean I couldn't get enough today!" Her tone was teasing and facetious. "But why'd you do it?"

"I couldn't stand the thought of hurting you. I never want to ever cause you pain."

"You took my pain away, remember?"

"I still can't believe it. I was so scared."

"You're so wonderful. Now spaceboy, if you're done showing off your newly discovered control over your powers would you please put this to use." She grabbed my cock tightly through the latex and I bit back another moan. "Yes, Mam!" I positioned myself between her legs and she wrapped them over my hips. I supported my weight on my elbows and bent to suckle her nipple and then her lips. I went back to her nipple and continued until she was squirming under me. I wanted her hot and ready, despite my little dissolving trick. She finally begged. There is no greater sound in the world than hearing the woman you love beg you to make love her.

"Michael, now, please."

"Please, what?"

"Please make love to me, ahhh, god."

"I am making love to you."


"Tell me what you want, Maria. Ask me. Tell me, Maria."

"I want you!"


"Inside me, inside me. God your so big, I want to feel you stretch me., Michael, pleeeasseee!" My hips bucked involuntarily at her words and I placed myself at her entrance, coaxing her legs higher on my hips. I met her eyes and watched her eyes go wide and her pupils dilate as I slowly crept my way inside, a fraction of an inch at a time. I carefully pushed until I felt my balls brush her wetness. I stopped, pulled her legs up even higher and let my weight sink into her, driving me even deeper and then ground my hips into her pubic bone.

"MICHAEL!" My name ripped from her lips in a hiss as an orgasm rocked her and clenched me so hard. I bit my lip and drew blood to keep control.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! She came just from penetration. I couldn't believe how open, responsive and passionate she was.

"Jesus, Michael, you're going to kill me. Didn't see that coming at all."

I laughed. I couldn't help it. She hit my shoulders in mock indignation. "Hey, don't laugh at me, I couldn't help it!"

"Help it? I don't want you to help it. I'm stunned. I'm giddy."

"Michael Guerin, Giddy, same sentence. Doesn't work for me." I laughed again until I felt her grind her hips into mine and I almost choked at the bolt of desire that shot through me. I pulled out and slowly began to move. My strokes were long, deep and slow.

Now it was my turn to utter nonsense. She was so tight and so hot it almost burned. "Maria, God, you're so hot, so tight, like velvet. Love you, so much." I love you, once said is like an aphrodisiac. I couldn't stop. The floodgates had opened and I had no desire to shut them down. "Maria, can't believe how good you make me feel. Can't believe you're mine, ahhh, baby, so good, love you."

We were then both reduced to panting and moans. I was close. I felt my balls draw up tight. Her tiny hands were everywhere and then squeezing my ass with every stroke, urging me deeper and faster. My pace increased to frantic as I lost control, becoming sloppy in my rhythm and slamming into her. "Con-trol, want to.keep con-trol, Maria, come for me again, baby, come on, come on, come on."

"Michael.already did, go, let go, lose control. God, you're so biigg!. I feel so good, so full, delicious, god, I love you. Let go Michael. I looovvve yoouu."

Her words were my undoing. I balanced on one arm, reaching between us to push her bundle of nerves against my cock. One, two, three, one, two, three. I counted to keep my rhythm and my control but it was slipping fast. Then she shouted, "Not again! Can't believe!" And her walls were convulsing around me. I was a goner. I didn't recognize the primal scream that shot out of my mouth as my whole body shook with the force of the most powerful orgasm I'd ever experienced. My essence throbbed and raced out of my body over and over again, my hips slamming into her with each spasm. I found my voice and chanted, "Marialoveyoumarialoveyoumarialoveyou." Then the most amazing thing happened. The room tilted and I could feel her spasms, her waves of unconditional love pour out of her and over my body. Snapshots flitted across my mind's eyes. Maria as a little girl laughing. Maria crouching in a closet hearing the screams of her fighting parents. I felt her loneliness, her isolation, her guilt and felt her giving it all away now, to me. Maria as young teen whispering to Liz, loving her. Maria in a white confirmation dress. Maria aroused watching me walk down a hallway at school. I saw it all. I felt it all. My body was spent and I finally lay still on her unable to move but the images kept coming. I was open and raw.

My god, then I saw it. Maria saying to Max, `Do it to me then.' Maria purposely charging into a jock, a 6'2" solid wall of muscle, and thinking, `Do it, got to do it for Michael, got to do it for Michael. And the jarring impact and falling to the floor, hands covering her head, her leg tearing open, the intense pain, her head swimming from it. The blood, Jesus, so much fucking blood, smearing the floor, pooling on the seat of her car. Felt her feeling of weakness from the loss of blood. Then Max, running with Maria in his arms, saying "You little fool, oh my god. What did you do? Jesus, Maria, NO! Then Max healing her and her stopping him before the job was done, limping to the jeep. Oh my god, what have I done to this the beautiful enchanting, erotic creature? I don't know how long I lay there panting before realizing that I was crushing her and rolling over, pulling her with me, and realizing I was sobbing again. The tears were once again washing down my face in a steady, hot stream. She was holding me tight, placing little soft kisses on my eyes, brow, nose and lips. She was murmuring, "Shhh, Michael, it's O.K., it's O.K. Shhh, I love you. I'm O.K. I'm O.K. I'm right here and you took my pain away."

"IT'S NOT O.K.!" I shouted through my tears. She inflicted pain on herself for me. Michael Guerin. And here she was comforting me! What the hell? I turned to look at her shining face.

"If you ever do anything like that again.promise me you won't or I'm not letting you out of my sight. I'll become a barnacle on your back side."

"Hmmm, that has possibilities."
"I'm serious, Maria. I MEAN IT!" I was shouting again. Deep breath. Calm down. "Don't ever hurt yourself again. Your pain is my pain, don't you understand that?! How could you do such a thing!"

"Michael, listen, it was no big deal."

"NO BIG DEAL?! Maria, you could have bled to death. I saw the blood, so much fucking blood, thank god you got to Max in time."
,br> "Michael, shhh."

"Shhh, my ass, Maria." Then I completely lost it as the implications of this ordeal hit me. I screamed, "I CAN'T LOSE YOU, MARIA, I CAN'T. I LOVE YOU TOO MUCH!" I grabbed her and crushed her to me. The tears started again. I hadn't cried this much in my entire life combined as I had in the last month. How could love be so euphoric and hurt so bad all at the same time? She held me tightly, enduring my crushing grasp.
,br> "Promise me."
,br> Quietly in my ear, "I promise, Michael. I'll never hurt myself on purpose again. I'm sorry. I just love you so much. I'd do anything for you and I knew how important this was. It wasn't just a test of your powers, Michael. Healing. It's the one thing you needed to be able to do to convince yourself that you're not evil, that you are worthwhile, that you deserve to have good things and be loved. I want that for you Michael. All my talk has not convinced you. In spite of the fact that I told you I could not love a loser. I could not love a cold-blooded killer. I KNOW you. And I love you, warts and all and I want you to love yourself that way too. You have a choice now. You can use both those powers if needed. You can heal people Michael. Not just wounds like mine, but you have goodness and mercy and compassion in your soul. I see it, others will too if you let them. And if you won't, then you'll always have me anyway. I love you, Michael Guerin, the good, the bad and the ugly. All of you. No conditions, Michael. I love you for free."

Can my heart get any bigger? It feels like it's gonna bust out of my chest. No one has ever said I love you to me before, except her. And no one has ever had this kind of faith in me. For free, I love you for free. The words kept echoing in my head.



,br> Her laughter was like a balm as it rang off the walls. "There's my man of few words and understatement. I knew he'd come back soon!" She howled like dog at the moon and bust out laughing again. I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. My moods were swinging like an out of control pendulum.

":Maria, now I know why Liz saw visions kissing Max and we didn't."

"Why? I don't know why you saw all that just then."

"I was closed down. I couldn't let any of it out or in. I didn't trust. I was too scared. Too full of fear. Max and Liz were never shut down from one another. They've worn their hearts on their sleeve since Day 1."

"Hmmm, and we didn't." It was a statement.

"No, not then."

"And now?"

"Now, I think.it's different."

"Different? What's different? We admitted we loved each other?"

"I.I don't just love you, Maria. I trust you." I looked at her. I knew that she knew how hard that was for me. And I see the love and trust shining back at me. "I want to give you something."



"Oh, Michael, you don't have to do that. I know we've come a long way, but I don't want you to feel obligated by this or any of it."

"Yes, I do have to do this. But I also want to do this." I rolled over and settled between her legs after discarding my sagging condom. I kissed her slowly, softly, nibbling on her lips until she sighed and opened her mouth. This was easy, relaxed, our passion spent for the moment. I closed my eyes and dug deep into my memories. And the flashes started. I projected them to her.

Watching Max and Isabel from the mouth of the cave. Standing on a rock staring at Max's hand extended to me. Scared, so scared, watching them walk away, following at a distance. Ten years old, fleas in the bed, scratching. Eleven years old, smelling the booze in the trailer and feeling nauseous. Twelve years old, cowering on the floor of the trailer from Hank, protecting my head with my arms as he beat me. Hatred. Rage. Seeing the cave at the reservation. Wonder, Fright. Recognition. Fourteen years old, staring at the sky, crying. Praying for deliverance from my life. Sorrow and loneliness. Bruise on my cheek. Pain. Anger. Max healing it in the Men's Room at school. Gratitude, Friendship. Liz helping me study. Unworthy. Science, Excitement. Want to know. Crave knowledge. Maria at her locker, laughing. Beautiful. Maria chattering nervously in the car. Aggravation. Maria lying to the cop. Stunned, was sure she would rat me out. The hotel, she smells so good. Gotta be something better than Roswell, New Mexico. Connection with her. NO! CAN'T. Scared. More to her than I thought. God, she's beautiful, sexy. Maria at the Crashdown, nervous and scared for her friend, Liz. Calm me down. Flash of tears. Want to protect her. So vulnerable. So sexy. Turned on. Can't go there. Can't help it. She'll hurt you. Smell of cedar oil. Comfort Maria. Kissing her for the first time. White holt bolt of desire. Crashdown last month, Maria's proud of me. Too much. Don't deserve her, any of them, especially her. MELTDOWN.

I don't know how long I went on kissing her softly, showing her my life in a series of snap shots, laying my soul bare. Would she still love me after all this, still love all of me? There were some really unlovable things about me. My scars, emotional ones.

Finally, I was exhausted and rolled over, cradling her to my side. She was crying.

"Don't cry, Maria!"

"I'll never betray you, Michael. I'll never abuse your trust. I promise."

"I know."

"I love you very much."



"Ditto. For free."

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