Authors note: First, I one none of these characters (except any I may make up in the future). They belong to ABC.
Second this is a semi-AU story. Jolies story is exactly as we saw it play out UNTIL Haver was finally taken down for MBK killings. After that is where things diverge. John did not stay in Llanview, but remained with the FBI. He ended up working on all sorts of anti-terror cases that took him all over the world, and made it hard to come back to Llanview. While he was gone, Natalie went through pretty much what we have seen play out on screen except for all the John-related stuff. For example, Hayes Barber still was Hayes, but it was Antonio, Bo and Rex who helped find/save Natalie. Anyhoo, more will be explained as we go. So with that away we go!
Natalie walked towards the main restaurant in The Palace, noticing every detail with a critical eye. Renee had trained her well before shed turned over the reins after Asas death. She said she didnt have the heart for it any more and instead wanted to spend time at the ranch in Texas which shed always felt contained more of Asas true cowboy essence that of the young man she had first fallen for decades before. As Natalie reached the dining room her eyes quickly fell on Michael and Marcie McBain, who were clearly in a festive mood. She realized they were with someone else and not a full instant later her body reacted before her mind had processed that that someone was John McBain. Her breath hitched and she felt a flush suffuse her neck and face and she cursed herself for still reacting to him so strongly and instantaneously after all this time. It wasnt as if they had had no contact over the 3-plus years since he had left Llanview, at the end of the Music Box Killer case. In fact he had even called her at least once or twice a year and they exchanged occasional emails. But seeing him that was entirely different and she just could not help her visceral response.
Natalie had worked hard over the past while to cultivate an even-keeled maturity that went with running The Palace, but everyone who knew her (and Natalie had no delusions about herself) knew that was hardly her default setting. Telling herself she could handle this, over and over again so it was like a mantra, she squared her shoulders, took a deep breath and headed towards their table.
John was sitting with Michael and Marcie, enjoying the chance to catch up with them. They seemed happy together, AND happy to see him, although they were still surprised he was there since he had just given them a heads up last night about his imminent arrival. They had just finished telling him about Natalie recently taking over The Palace when he felt the energy change just as Michael looked up with a bit of surprise and said, Oh, there she is now!. John hesitated for a second to steady his own breathing and then turned to face her.
Blue eyes met blue eyes. Natalie stopped in her tracks, about 5 feet from their table, and John slowly stood up and took a few steps toward her until he was within arms reach. Neither of them said a word though each of their mouths moved slightly as if they were at least trying to. It suddenly felt like all the air had been sucked from the room and all Natalie could hear was the sound of her blood rushing through her veins and she was sure the whole dining room could hear it too. John felt almost as if he had been pole-axed he had forgotten what it was like to be near her and get lost in the blue and fiery pools of her eyes. Michael and Marcie were looking at them and as the silence went on and on they found themselves sharing a highly amused look. Yep their look conspired to say they still have that connection.
John Natalie they both started to say at the same time. They laughed softly and some of the tension was eased. Before they could say anything else, one of Natalies staff approached her. Ms. Buchanan, this requisition needs your signature. Natalie shook off her distractedness. Oh, thanks Angela she said as she signed the form, glad for the momentary break from the intensity of Johns gaze and the situation. John, for his part, took the opportunity to take a good look at Natalie. She was as beautiful as ever in fact perhaps even more so because she had matured into a poised young woman without losing an ounce of the vitality that made her quintessentially Natalie. As he stood staring, he finally became aware that Michael and Marcie were in turn watching him barely containing the smirks that threatened to break into all-encompassing grins. He cleared his throat and took a side-step back towards the table, but couldnt bring himself to widen the distance between himself and Natalie. Natalie was finally finished signing the paperwork, and she turned towards all three McBains and smiled a bit self-consciously.
Michael, Marcie how are you guys? What a nice surprise to see John in town. Was this a planned visit? John have you known for a while you were coming? You didnt mention it in your last email, but that was a while ago where were you again? Qatar? Natalie trailed off knowing she was rambling out of nerves. She exhaled and at that moment Michael jumped in, Hey, Natalie, you have a few minutes to sit with us? At which point Marcie piped up, Oh, yes, please join us. John said nothing but quickly moved to the extra chair to pull it out for Natalie and motion for her to sit. Once they all took their seats there was a moment of silence and then Marcie filled the void Oh, Natalie, this was actually a total complete surprise. We got a call from John last night saying he was arriving this morning and we picked him up and then brought him straight here for an early lunch we thought about the Diner but then figured this was really cause for celebration and that it was even better to come here because you. Marcie trailed off in great discomfort realizing she had said exactly what she had been trying to avoid. John jumped in, saying I think Marcie meant that they knew I would probably like to catch up with you, and this would be an ideal place to start.
At that, Michael, Marcie and Natalie looked at John with a bit of surprise because it seemed highly out of character for him to be so, well, open and candid. Natalie shook off her surprise and smiled broadly, saying I am so glad you did come here it really is great to see you. a surprise but a welcome one. How long are you going to be in town? John smiled back and said, Well, actually its open-ended right now. I have so much leave time built up that the brass said I have to take some. I could have waited until after one more assignment, but the one I was in line for probably would have lasted at least 6 months, so I thought I might as well just take a break now. I have to take at least 2 months. Michael jumped in and said, Wow, thats great, John. And John briefly looked in his direction and smiled, but his attention never really left Natalie as he studied her for her reaction. She relaxed a bit in her chair and smiled a real smile at him one that made her eyes twinkle and said, John, thats really great. Youll really be able to spend time with, um, well your family and, um, friends.. John grinned broadly, finding her discomfiture adorable. Uh, yeah, I really look forward to spending time with Michael, and Marcie, and baby Tommy. Itll be great to catch up with Bo, and Antonio, and gee, who am I missing? He couldnt keep a straight face any longer as he watched the expression on her face, as she tried to fight showing first that she was disappointed and then growing angry. Finally he said, And of course I am hoping you might be able to fit me into your schedule. Perhaps a game or two of pool a burger and a beer.. Natalie smiled back and simply nodded her head.
At that moment Natalie noticed another one of her staff members approaching. She slowly stood up, saying, Im sorry, we are heading into a busy part of the day. Michael, Marcie and John.great seeing you guys. And, uh, John, if Michael and Marcie can spare you or at least share you maybe we could meet up at Rodis later and see how badly your pool game has suffered with all your globetrotting. Michael and Marcie glanced at each other, and Marcie said, Oh, well, Michael will be working and I will be with Tommy, but I am sure it would do John good to get out Roxy did promise to find him a room, though.. John jumped in and said, How about 7?, and Natalie smiled, nodded and walked away, casting another glance over her shoulder, meeting Johns gaze again.
Michael and Marcie turned in unison to John, but before they could say a word he said, Not. A. Word., softening it with a smile. And they all resumed eating and listening to John tell stories of his different assignments that had taken him around the globe over the past three years.
Later that afternoon Natalie was sitting in her office reviewing some plans for an upcoming charity ball. But she couldnt really concentrate. She was still a bit rattled by her encounter with John, and both excited and nervous about seeing him again at Rodis. They had never really made it out of the starting blocks, let alone off the ground (Natalie laughed to herself over her use of such mixed metaphors), but they had nonetheless grown very close, and there had definitely been something between them. It had been burdened by what had happened with Cris, and the knowledge that he was going to be leaving once he caught the MBK. But now it seemed like, well, maybe. Natalie looked at her watch and realized she would have to pick up the pace in order to get her work finished and have a chance to change for tonight. Good thing she had taken Renees advice and opted to live in a lovely apartment on the top floor that had been converted years ago from one of the penthouse suites. Renee had planned on living there when it seemed like things wouldnt work out with Asa and now it was Natalies and she loved it.
While Natalie was working, John was hanging with Michael, Marcie and Tommy at the Angel Square Hotel. That was after he had negotiated the danger zone known as Roxie who just had to hug him AND pinch his butt for good measure. He secured a larger room than he had had during the MBK case, stowed his bags, and then had headed down the hall to his brothers. It really did seem like Michael and Marcie were happy, he thought. And he found himself curiously drawn to Tommy. It all helped him keep his mind off Natalie he knew he would be seeing her soon, and did not want to get himself keyed up. Plus he DID want to spend some quality time with his brother and his family.
So, Johnny, Michael said. It really is great to have you back here it sure beats email and phone calls. What finally made you decide to come off the road?
John sighed, saying, You know, Mikey. It just felt like it was time like I needed a break, you know? The work is sometimes interesting and intense, but other times VERY routine and boring. And to be in so many strange places. When I first started in the Anti-Terror Unit that is part of what I loved about it I guess I needed that distance, but now hell, I dont know. Maybe after a rest Ill be rarin to go back, but I dont know. Maybe I am ready for a change a more normal life, finally.
Michael and Marcie just listened as John talked, each wondering what he was really meaning without saying it. Finally, Michael gently asked, Uh, so, are you even slightly thinking that Natalie factors in to all this somehow? I mean, I know that you two never actually dated or anything, but it always seemed like there was something building and she hasnt exactly done too well moving on either.
John was quiet for a moment. Even as recently as six months or a year ago he would have quickly and definitively shut down this part of the conversation, but he HAD been thinking about things with Natalie lately. Correction, had been LETTING himself think of her his mind had constantly wanted to go there since he left Llanview. Finally he broke the silence. Mikey I guess I just dont know. But I would be lying if I said she never entered my mind when I made the decision to finally take some time off. I can honestly say that the main thing is I wanted to spend time with my family reconnect meet my nephew but I am not sorry to at least have a chance to play a game of pool with Natalie and just see if there is anything beyond that.
That was as far out on a limb that John was willing to go with anyone on the subject of Natalie, but he was done fooling himself he knew how strong her pull was and how much she played into his decision to come back to Llanview or what he somehow had begun to think of as home.
Natalie arrived at Rodis at 7:10, stressed about being late, but also worried he wouldnt be there. She had taken FAR too long to figure out what to wear, and finally opted for a favorite, well-worn pair of jeans and a cotton button-down blouse that was comfy but also a great cobalt blue color that brought out her eyes. She had thought about wearing something more momentous but finally realized it was most important that she was comfortable since she knew she might otherwise be on edge. She had told herself that there was no need to be nervous, but then just as quickly chided herself to be honest of COURSE there was! What exactly were she and John to each other? Well, the short answer was friends sort of. But there had always been that indeterminate vibe between them the sense that there was something more. The feeling that led to her mortification when she had up and kissed him that St. Patricks Day just after he had saved her from Haver, and just before he had left town!
Natalie had told herself repeatedly that she had not chased him out of town. That it wasnt because of her or that kiss that he had turned down Bos offer of a job. John had been so sweet that night, emphasizing that she hadnt misread any signals. He had certainly become quite an enthusiastic participant in the kiss once it was underway but she couldnt help wonder if it had all just been too much, and if he had felt the need to run away. She had been so disappointed but also relieved, because truth be told, she hadnt gotten over Cris fully enough to really go down that road either.
Natalie shook her head to clear the cobwebs as she walked further towards the bar. Something made her turn toward the pool table, and her breath caught because John was standing there, oh so quietly and intently looking at her, one jeans-clad hip leaning against the pool table. Neither of them could even muster a smile. Just an intense look and then Natalie vaguely registered her feet moving, carrying her in his direction, as if she was being pulled inexorably toward him by an invisible cord. She stopped about two feet away and he stood. Finally he smiled a wonderful smile and reached back to grab a pool cue and hand it to her. He also motioned to the beers he had already grabbed from the bar.
You want to break, Natalie? he said softly. She had forgotten what the sound of his voice did to her when he spoke in such a low, almost seductive tone. But she pulled herself together and managed to say Sure, albeit in a lower register than typical for her, too.
Natalie leaned over the table to break, trying not to think about his eyes on her. For his part, John couldnt help himself. Thankfully he wasnt standing directly behind her because watching her bend over the table from that angle would likely have been his undoing. Instead he was able to see an equally attractive but less suggestive side view. She hadnt lost her ability, he realized, as he watched her begin to clear the table. Finally she missed a shot, and John realized it was because she was arching her back the same way she had done the day he had tried to coach her at Crossroads. He chuckled and she whipped around with a bit of anger adding color to her cheeks.
What are you laughing about McBain?! I was running the table. Good thing for you I finally missed or youd just be sitting there with nothing to do!
John laughed out loud saying, Now THERES the fiery redhead I remember. Actually I was remembering the day I tried to coach you not to arch your back that way. John said this as he slowly walked towards Natalie. Do you need a refresher course? Bend over while I show you again. Half kicking herself, Natalie found it impossible NOT to comply. She took up position at the table, holding her breath as John walked behind her, adjusted her hips, pushed down a bit on her back, and then leaned over to whisper in her ear, Do you remember what I told you how you are supposed to feel the energy from the cue hitting the ball traveling through your body? Natalie swallowed and said somewhat weakly, Yeah I remember. I also remember Jessica walking in and her acting funny, as if somehow there was something going on besides a pool lesson. Natalie chuckled nervously as she said this, not daring to turn her head to look at John, knowing she could not handle the look in his eyes, and the danger of having her face touch his he was THAT close. A moment later he leaned even closer, his breath hot on her neck and ear as he murmured, Wasnt there, Natalie?
There was a heavy silence for a moment, and then John stood up, leaving Natalie suddenly feeling bereft of him. But he didnt go far. He leaned against the table a foot away and waited for her to straighten up and face him. Then he said, How about we grab a burger, fries and another beer, and we can really catch up?
Natalie smiled and said, Deal, sticking her hand out to shake on it. John took her hand and shook it slowly, looking directly at her, and then motioned towards a table. As Natalie led the way, she took a deep breath and wondered with a mixture of excitement and apprehension what their conversation was going to be like.
John and Natalie took their seats at a quiet table in the corner, and to Natalies relief they were almost immediately joined by the waitress. They ordered their food and fresh beers, and as the waitress retreated a somewhat uneasy silence descended. Natalie and John locked eyes, and she wanted so badly to ask him questions that had been vexing her for years, however she didnt know where to start. More to the point, she was afraid he would shut down, and she didnt want to ruin what could be the beginning of a fun couple of months. John could tell that Natalie was wrestling with what to say, and in the past he would have taken the easy way out, letting her decide whether to go ahead and not trying to pull it out of her. But there was a lot that had been pent up since his last stint in Llanview, and he knew it had to be dealt with to some extent.
Natalie, John said, I get the feeling theres something you want to say.please, go ahead, you can say whats on your mind and I will stay sitting right here.
Natalie exhaled and said in a somewhat shaky and soft voice, Well, its really more of a question uh., what you asked before about there being something more going on than a pool lesson that day at Crossroads Im curious as to what you meant what you thought it was. I mean, um, after we thought Cris was dead and we became friends, I believed you cared about me as a friend that that was the truth. But before Vegas was that all an act? Was any of it whatever it was true? Or was it all part of the sting to get me to cooperate with you. You know, get the young girl to believe you could have an interest to play head games and have her do what you need her to?
This last part was said with a touch of bitterness that Natalie couldnt help. After finally asking what she had wanted to for so long, she let out a deep breath that was almost a sigh, and looked up at John.
John had been watching her as she was asking her questions, and he could tell she was getting worked up by the way she was wringing her hands. He could also see the residual hurt in her eyes when she looked up at him, and he knew he owed her the truth. He took a deep breath.
Natalie, I um, I told myself back then that I was simply playing the role of Johnny. As I flirted with you, and got in your space every chance I could as I let you know that I was attracted to you I told myself I was just doing whatever it took to do the job. And even then I knew I was lying. Truth be told, some of what I did could actually have backfired. You were clearly devoted to Cris at the time and I knew youd give me my walking papers if I went too far. But, I just couldnt help it. I had seen the pictures of you in the FBI file before I started the assignment, and certainly thought you were good looking, but I wasnt prepared for what I felt when I saw you. I crossed the line, Natalie, in so many ways. Not just involving you in all that without giving you a warning, but in the way I came on to you even if I told myself it was subtle and necessary. I finally have admitted to myself that my interest in you back then was not just professional and that deep down I knew it back then.
Natalie didnt know what to say. She was amazed he had said so much, and relieved that she hadnt been a complete idiot feeling what she had felt back then. But she also found she had a million more questions. Before she could say another word, the waitress arrived with their beers ultimately a blessed relief. John and Natalie took long pulls on their beers and then studied each other in silence. Natalie finally spoke up.
John, I really appreciate what you just told me. It made me feel so stupid when I thought that, as much as I had loved Cris, I had been disloyal enough to be taken in even a little bit by what was all a game. You were like no one I had ever met and I was so confused. I mean, I knew that I really did want to marry Cris that was not in doubt back then but I didnt understand how I could still feel a pull towards youespecially when it all seemed to have been an act.
John again watched Natalie closely. He could see the emotions playing across her face. He also knew she still had some questions, and he said softly, What else do you want to know about then, Natalie?
She looked up at him and asked softly in return, When did you begin to think begin to know that you might actually feel something for me that went beyond the job?
John nodded his head, not surprised by her question. He let out a sigh. God, I fought to keep a lid on it for so long in all honesty, I guess I can remember having a stern conversation with myself within the first two weeks, watching you play watching you with Cris. And in that conversation I assured myself it was nothing more than liking you as a human and doing my job. But even then a voice deeper down inside was saying yeah, right McBain. But I guess the first time it really hit me full force was when we were up in Flynns suite when everything started going bad. I was still playing my role, and I was holding you tight up against me from behind, trying to keep you subdued. And Flynn was saying he wanted me to kill you. And my blood was cold running through my body the thought of you being hurt did something to me. And it wasnt just guilt for getting you in that situation though of course that is what I told myself for a very long time
Again, Natalie didnt quite know what to say. Johns voice had gotten lower and lower as he had spoken, and she could hear the emotion in his voice. She found her eyes growing a bit moist, but she didnt care if he could see that. With a little break in her voice she said, John, thank you so much for admitting that to me. It means a lot helps a lot
The waitress arrived in a well-timed interruption with their burgers and fries. By tacit agreement they kept their conversation light, talking about Michael, Marcie and Tommy and Roxie! As they were finishing their dinner, John finally got up the courage to ask her a question that had long been on his mind.
So, I kept up with everything going on, as you know. And we have had a few conversations and email exchanges but I, well, we never really talked about everything that happened with Cris him coming back, ending up in jail for a while
Natalie focused her attention on peeling the label on her beer bottle, but finally looked up at John. You know the main parts, right? John nodded. Well, I can honestly say that I am now fine with everything, and Cris and I have found a way to actually be decent friends. We dont really hang out or anything, but when we have needed each other we have been supportive. When he first came back, it was at such a terrible time in my life. After you left I did get hooked up with Paul Cramer. A small shudder ran through Natalie at the thought of him. Well, I had broken up with him, but then got pulled back in when I tried to make sure he was leaving town. As you undoubtedly know, I was suspected of his murder for a while
John nodded. Yeah, I saw the bureaus files on that. He, um, well, it seemed to suggest that he had hurt you
Natalie saw the tension working in Johns jaw, and jumped in to say He knocked me around a bit, but nothing more John. I was OK. Anyway, Antonio and Bo were trying to clear me, and I obviously appreciated it, but I was reeling. HOW could I have betrayed Cris memory by hooking up with a piece of trash like Paul. And then, like a miracle, Cris was alive. He was back! Well, I am sure you know all the rest. We came to believe he was an imposter. He let us go on thinking that after he realized he actually was Cristian Vega because he was in jail for killing Tico and didnt want us to think the Cris we loved had done that and was wasting away in jail. But then when Carlo ended up in Statesville, it became so dangerous for him that he reached out to Evangeline
Natalie trailed off for a moment, and John reached out and put his hand over hers. Hey, he said in a low, soft voice. You dont have to continue. Natalie put her other hand over his and looked up at him with a slight smile through teary eyes. No, it really is OK Anyway, I was devastated that he had gone through all that and so mad that he hadnt felt I could handle knowing the truth. We did try to see if we could work things out, but well, maybe if we had had more time together as a married couple before we thought he had died the first time
John inhaled a sharp breath, and Natalie looked a bit stricken that she had said the wrong thing. He said, I dont know that I will ever be able to find the words to say how sorry I am that I derailed everything for you two
Natalie reached over again and grabbed his hand in both of hers. John, please look at me. That is the past. And at the end of the day, I am a firm believer that if something is to be to really go the distance it will no matter what. I am at peace with what happened. I loved Cris with all my heart, but I guess he was meant to be a chapter in my life a wonderful chapter but no more than that. He is doing well now, and we are friends. Thats a lot. A WHOLE lot considering we thought he was dead.
John smiled at Natalie, and looked at her. He liked looking at her. Well, I wonder what he will think when he sees me back in town? Natalie chuckled, saying I dont expect the two of you will ever be bosom buddies, but he knows all you did to save me from Haver, and that you were a good friend to me after his death. I dont think your life is in danger, Natalie said chuckling.
Good. I am just trying to have a nice, relaxing vacation! With that, John and Natalie signaled to the waitress for another beer, and then headed back to the pool table.
Before Natalie and John could make it to the pool table, Natalie stopped in her tracks Cris had just walked in the door with Antonio, who had just recently gotten out of the hospital after serving as a liver donor for Jessica. Cris initial smile died on his face when he realized who was walking behind Natalie. She said Hi Cris with forced brightness, but then didnt know what else to say. The four looked at each other as the awkward silence stretched on, and Antonio finally broke the stalemate, stepping forward to shake Johns hand. John, man, its great to see you this is quite a surprise! John replied, It was kind of a last minute decision long overdue, catching up with family and friends. John trailed off and another silence fell as Cris and John sized each other up. Cris finally said, McBain, and John followed up with an equally loquacious Cris. Then he continued on a moment later, Im glad to see youre out of Statesville, and I understand youre painting again Cris let a small smile break the stone of his features and said, Yeah and Natalie and I, well were finally friends again she finally forgave me for the secret I kept, even if we lost our chance to be together Speaking of secrets, nows probably a good time to let another one out of the bag.
Antonio and Natalie looked puzzled as John and Cris seemed to take each others measure again. Cris, what secret? Natalie asked. John gave Cris a go ahead gesture and Cris took a deep breath, nodding. Well, McBain here was the final piece of the puzzle in my getting out of Statesville. As you know, I was going to keep my real identity secret until I ran into Hesser three and began to remember his role in what had happened. He figured out I was remembering things and I knew he was going to try to get rid of me so that is when I reached out to Evangeline to see if I could at least get transferred. Of course I had to admit to her that I had remembered that I really was Cris, and she had the DNA test done to prove it and give my case more weight That all helped but John really went to bat for me. He told everyone up to the Governor that he had set in motion the chain of events that had led to my being brainwashed by Hesser to try to kill Antonio and to kill Tico who, of course, had been involved as well. It made a difference and you do have my thanks, John.
Natalie and Antonio looked on in stunned silence. John finally said in a low voice, Cris, it was the least I could do it was my fault it all went down the way it did Cris didnt react at first but then smiled a bit more broadly this time Is this the great Agent McBain admitting he was wrong? John chuckled, Yeah, it is. And in your case and Natalies I can never say that enough.
Natalie finally found her voice, John it really was good of you to take Cris part. I. I had no idea John looked at Natalie and took note of the softness in her eyes and said, Well, it was for Cris to tell, if he ever wanted to I didnt really feel I deserved any thanks it was what was right
Antonio jumped in clasping Johns shoulder, You helped bring Cris back to his family you helped balance the scales and we are grateful. And on that note, have you two eaten? John and Natalie both nodded, and at that Antonio said, Well, Cris and I were going to grab a bite but maybe well see you around again John.
As Cris and Antonio walked away John expelled a breath he hadnt realized he had been holding. He let out a small laugh as he turned to Natalie. That went better than I would have thought. Natalie let out some nervous laughter of her own, yeah but really John it should have given what you did for Cris. John made a no big deal gesture with his hands, and then noticed Natalie steal a glance at the pool table and then look away. He could read her expression and said, Its probably not the best idea if we play pool at this point it could still be a sore spot with Cris At which point Natalie nodded gratefully.
Natalie and John stood in silence, neither wanting the night to be over yet, but not sure what to do next. John reminded himself he had not come all this way to be too timid to spend the time he wanted to with Natalie, and he jumped in with both feet before he could talk himself out of it. Hey I. uh.. have some cold beer back at my place we could grab a few and take them up to the roof of the Angel Square Hotel Natalie smiled and nodded in happy agreement and John ushered her out the door. They walked in companionable silence to the hotel, enjoying the gorgeous spring night.
Once they got to the hotel Natalie suppressed a groan when she remembered they were walking smack-dab into Roxies lair. She was on them like white on rice.
All right then Johnny Mac you sure dont waste any time youre not back in town 24 hours and already you got my Natty coming up to your room well Im not surprised, I mean the whole town even the resident serial killer knew you guys had a thing for each other.. but Natty, baby, Miss Palace Penthouse, what are you doing slumming dont you want home turf advantage? Now one thing not to be a bucket of cold water or anything but I dont stock any of those ultimacy kits in my rooms, but Im sure I can hook you up if you didnt bring an umbrella for a rainy day
ROXIE! Natalie barked, not able to take another moment of this embarrassing monologue, her face redder than her hair. Were just going to drink a beer on the roof. She didnt dare risk a glance at John, but she could tell he was trying not to laugh out loud because in he peripheral vision she could see his shoulders shake as his head hung down.
Roxie winked at them, Ah.. I gotcha OK.. but you know the moonlight for the misbehavin can get to you just make sure you lokc the door up there if you are gonna do anything, unless you want an audience
Natalie just bolted for the stairs at that point as John followed behind her chuckling. When they got to the top of the stairs she let him pass by so he could lead the way to his room since she wasnt sure which was his. With each step, she found herself getting a bit more nervous.
John and Natalie headed down the hall and he noticed her look at the door to his old room as they passed by.
Michael made the arrangements with Roxie for me, and he thought I should have a bigger place this time.
Oh, well thatll probably be nice Natalie said.
Yeah, still there were some good times good memories John trailed off, locking eyes with Natalie as they reached his new door.
For a moment neither said a thing, but as their gaze gained some heat and tension began to seep into the silence, John turned to put his key in the door and cleared his throat nervously. Natalie took the momentary break from his stare to run a shaky hand through her hair. John finally got the door open and walked inside to turn on the lights, Natalie following behind. She said, This is a lot like Michaels and Marcies place
Yeah, it is its nice to have some breathing room and a place to sit besides the bed or the floor.
Since Natalie wasnt sure how to respond to that, and felt her nerves growing, she made a show of noticing the couch. True! And, wow, well thats quite an orange couch, but it certainly looks functional. Anyway, it seems a bit stuffy in this room its probably because its been closed up for a while why dont we head to the roof for some fresh air.
John simply nodded and headed to the fridge in the kitchenette to grab the beers he opted for the whole six-pack. She was right, it did feel a bit closed-in, but he was pretty sure it didnt have anything to do with the room itself. He popped back into the main room, waved the beers at Natalie and cocked his head towards the door. She headed with purpose towards the door, down the hall and to the stairs leading to the roof. When she got to the top of the stairs, she could not get the door to open. She felt Johns warm breath on her neck as he said, Here, let me and slowly reached around her, his chest pushing up against her back, and gave the door a hard shove, further closing the non-existent gap between them.
It was with great relief that Natalie headed through the now-open door and breathed in some of the night air that was balmy with a cool undertow, and also had the faint scent of flowers. John followed, stopping to observe her as she headed to the low wall to look out over Llanview. He noticed how beautiful she looked in the soft night light a blend of the moon, street lights and a neon sign on the next building. He put the six-pack on the bench against the wall, took out two bottles, removed their caps and walked toward her. Natalie heard him come up behind and inhaled deeply before she turned to face him. He smiled at her, proffering one of the beers, and smiling back she took it from him and downed a good-size swig from the bottle to steady herself after the contact their hands made when he handed her the beer.
This did not go unnoticed by John and he was silently glad that he was not the only one nervous. He was a bit puzzled over this case of nerves, but he realized that the last time they saw each other there were so many reasons he could hide behind to keep things at a friends only level. Now there was nothing but them on a private rooftop, a couple of beers, a gorgeous moonlit night and the connection he still felt as strongly as he had three years before. He could tell Natalie felt it too by the way she returned his look.
She turned around and faced the view of the city again. I love coming up here. It always feels so calming. I really dont think I would have kept my sanity after Cris went off to jail when I still thought he was John Doe and then after getting out of that pit Hayes threw me in and of course after I found out John Doe was really Cris and he was getting out of jail Natalie chuckled and titled her head back to look at the sky. Wow, my life sounds like a soap opera! With that she went to sit on the bench, and John followed her.
It must have been very difficult, Natalie. I, I wish I could have been here for you. I almost made it back when Hayes had kidnapped you, but He stopped talking because Natalie had sharply turned to face him in her surprise, a quizzical look on her face. What do you mean, John you tried to get back?
John was quiet for a moment and nodded, taking a long pull on his beer. He then spoke softly and with obvious emotion. Natalie, I didnt just keep in touch with you, I kinda kept tabs on you to make sure you were OK, especially after I heard about Cris coming back and then it seeming like he was an imposter. I was always so far away, though a different country, trying to track down potential terrorists. Then I heard about the Killing Club Killer getting you, and it beginning to look like you might be dead
Johns voice broke a bit when he said that, and he shook his head as he studied the ground. Then he quickly looked up at Natalie, and she could have sworn she saw moisture in his eyes, though it could have been the reflection of the moon. He continued.
I called my boss, and my boss boss, and I told them I didnt care what I had to do that they could even have my job that they had to get me back here as quickly as possible because I was going to find you I was going to leave no stone unturned. I lost count of how many planes and trains I was on how many hours days, really I was traveling, thinking of nothing but proving them all wrong, and bringing Barber down. Once he had been identified, I stared at his picture endlessly on my trip, visualizing my hands wringing his neck and giving him one last chance to tell me where you were I made it as far as JFK Airport in New York and when I landed and turned my phone on there were 10 messages waiting, all telling me that you had been found, alive, just in the nick of time. I couldnt believe it. And I couldnt wait to get to Llanview to see you with my own eyes. But before I could even complete that thought my phone was ringing again. It was the FBI Director himself. And he told me he had heard about your being recovered, and that they needed me to turn right back around because some suspects we had been watching closely were on the move.
John sighed deeply, running his hands over his face, and he looked at Natalie. Natalie, I was so torn. I wanted to see you, to know for myself that you were OK, but I also knew that if I didnt stop what these terrorists were doing still, to this day I wrestle with whether I made the right decision. But I told myself you had plenty of family and friends around you.
Natalie sat speechless for a moment, trying to take in everything John had shared he had spoken so fast and with such urgency and emotion. He grew concerned with her silence, fearing she was mad at him for not making it all the way, but then he realized that she was actually moved a telltale tear coursing down her cheek. Natalie reached out and took Johns hand, saying, I cant believe you tried so hard to get here to find me you risked so much. I dont know what to say, except wow, I really have nothing no words
John could hear the deep emotion in Natalies voice, and when a tear fell from each of her eyes, he could not resist the urge to touch her any more. He cupped her face with both hands, his thumbs wiping her tears away. She looked at him with such tenderness and passion a look that mirrored his own that he just had to find a way to communicate the totality of his feelings at that moment, and he gently pulled her towards him and into a kiss. It began as tender, almost a communion, but as their mouths opened to each other and the kiss deepened, so too did the heat. Their tongues entwined and Natalie moaned into Johns mouth, and he moved one hand to the back of her head while his other arm wound tightly around her back, deepening their kiss even more. Natalie wrapped her arms tightly around Johns back, lost in the wonderful sensation of the kiss. He began to push her back on the bench and she felt her excitement growing, until the increasing weight of his body triggered a horrible bolt of memory and an involuntary response. She began to whimper and push against John, trying to break away.
John was in such a fog of passion that it took a moment for him to realize that Natalies sounds were not borne from pleasure, and that she was trying to fight him off. He let her go immediately and she bolted for the low wall, leaning on it for support as her whole body shook visibly from head to toe. She was sucking in gasping breaths as if she had been submerged under water almost to the point of her lungs bursting.
John sat stunned for a moment and then slowly approached her. Without touching her or getting too close, he said softly but with deep emotion and regret, Natalie, I am so sorry I am sorry if I came on too strong I, it just felt Oh, God, I am really sorry. I would never push you He did not know what more to say. He could see Natalie shake her head slowly, and then she turned to face him.
John it wasnt you, it isnt you. I was feeling the same way about you I was as into it as you were its just thatits just that I, wellit was just this instinctive She couldnt find the words but her eyes beseeched John to see the truth. To understand what she was saying. He felt his blood run cold when comprehension dawned. He slowly and carefully walked to within a foot of her. He didnt touch her but his eyes reached out and she saw both understanding and deep pain and sadness. Almost as a whisper, he said, Who hurt you, Natalie? Hayes?
Natalie stood looking at John, taking in the intensity of his eyes, and the clear emotions playing across his features. She could tell he was holding himself in check most especially the anger coursing through his veins at that moment. But what called out to her most was the undercurrent of tenderness and concern that was clearly there. She felt so conflicted in that moment. She wanted to tell him everything to lay down her burden but she was losing her nerve. She didnt want him to look at her any differently.
John watch as Natalie battled with herself over what to say. He took a half-step towards her and said softly, Natalie?
She let out a deeply-held sigh, and leaned back against the low wall. Finally she looked at John and said, Hayes? Hayes, Cris, Paul but then again, where do I draw the line because there are those losers I met due to Roxies lifestyle when we lived in AC Natalie laughed but it was a bitter sound completely lacking in mirth. She pushed off the wall and John was afraid she was going to leave, but instead she folded herself onto the bench, her energy seemingly drained.
He slowly approached and sat carefully beside her, keeping some distance between them though he felt such a strong urge to simply hold her. Natalie, I dont want to pry, but I am here I can be a good listener talk to me. Tell me what happened to you after I left
Natalie looked at John and he could see the tears glistening in her eyes. She leaned her head back against the brick wall for a moment, saying, After you left, huh? Well, you know that I was an idiot and took up with Paul. I knew from the beginning it was a mistake but I was in a defiant mood eventually I realized I just couldnt be with him another day. A whole bunch of crazy stuff was happening with him, Kelly and Kevin over baby Ace anyway, he was going to be leaving town and I went to see him to make sure he was going to follow through. The long and the short of it is we started to fight he he, um he tried to rape me and I fought back. Hard. And then he hit be across the face a few times to get me to stop fighting and must have misjudged because he knocked me out. Apparently even Paul Cramer has a line he draws at raping an unconscious woman or maybe he was just afraid the noise had made someone call the cops. Whatever, he didnt follow through. I woke up in the room, still clothed, and left.
John could tell Natalie was trying to keep a tight lid on her emotions and speak as if she was discussing nothing of great importance, but it was clear what this was costing her. Still, it also seemed clear she needed to tell this. She looked at him and he simply nodded his head, and she took a deep breath to continue.
Soon after my involvement or lack of involvement in Pauls murder was settled, Cris returned. And it was a miracle. I felt like I was getting a second chance that I hadnt screwed up so badly that my life had been permanently derailed. I welcomed him back into my heart and my bed. I could tell he wasnt the same Cris I had married, but after everything he had been through, that made sense. I could see a violent streak in him but he never was that way with me to me. But when he stood in front of me, and Antonio, and told us he was an imposter I felt so violated. He had traded on my love for Cris and devastation over his loss and had led me to believe I was making love to my husband, not a stranger. But worseI felt so guilty. How could I not have known this man I was intimate with wasnt my husband?! Was I that pathetic that desperate that I couldnt see the truth right in front of me?!
Natalie was visibly upset as she stopped talking for a moment and wiped tears that had fallen from her cheeks. She sucked in a deep breath and continued.
I was so confused, John, because he had seemed so much like my Cris he smelled like him. You know, that is what I wasnt able to get over when Cris really did return when he got out of jail. He knew how violated I had felt and how devastated I was that I had so deeply betrayed Cris memory that I couldnt spot an imposter as I let him have free access to my body and my heart. He started getting his memory back within 2 months of entering Statesville, but he made the decision for me that living with those awful feelings would be better than knowing my husband was in Statesville for murder. He made the wrong choice. And he should have realized that if he really knew me. It turns out that I just could not get past him letting me go on feeling so demeaned and violated, and that somehow I had permanently tarnished my marriage to himmy memories of us. As you have seen, we are friendly now but there was just too much
John reached out and gently took Natalies hand, and looked her square in the eye. He did make the wrong choice. It was such a guy choice, because I might have done the same thing thinking it was the noble thing to do not fully realizing how wrong it would have been It would be hard to get past all that
Natalie nodded, saying, Yeah, but I do still feel a little bit of guilt that I couldnt get past it. I know Cris was trying to do the best he could in an impossible situation that was not his fault but oh well. Life does go on. But while I was still barely recovering from finding out Cris was an imposter, my path crossed with Hayes Barber. I suppose I was already a potential target because I owned the cottage where the Love Center crew was staying and he was picking them off one by one. But he asked me out on a date a few times and I was SO not pro-man at the time and he gave me a very weird vibe, so I finally had to shut him down and make it clear I had no interest in going out with him. That was bad enough, but then I ended up going on a couple of dates with Marcies brother Ron, and seeing that enraged Hayes and I quickly became his main target. Hindsight, you know So, since I wouldnt give him what he wanted, he took it he took me
John could tell there was a lot more to tell about the Hayes story, because Natalie was now shaking, and she wrapped her arms around herself to try steady her nerves. John moved closer and put both arms around her and leaned her back against his chest. He gently kissed her hair and whispered, Ive got you Natalie... no ones going to hurt you anymore tell me He felt Natalie nod her head, and then she leaned into him, the back of her head settling into the nook made by his neck and shoulder.
John, he basically I was he treated me like a live version of a blow-up doll, Natalie spat out quickly. John willed himself not to react, but it took everything in him to hold himself still. Natalie continued, in his mind, because I had shot him down, I was a symbol of every popular girl who had ever looked down on him during his high school days as Ivan Potter. He was especially enraged about the cheerleaders, so he dressed me up as one. The first time the first time Natalie couldnt continue at that moment. She felt a surge of emotion and energy course through her and she bolted off the bench to pace. John was momentarily surprised by her actions, and then stood as well, but remained close to the bench.
Natalie stalked back and forth for a moment and then stopped to face him, a glint of anger in her eyes. I fought him, John. I fought him SO hard. But it made him so mad and he had that extra strength that being crazy gives people, and I and I couldnt hold him off. And because he was so mad he hurt me I was afraid he was going to kill me Natalie looked at John with such pain in her eyes, but he could see there was a question there too as if begging him to understand.
Natalie John said. This wasnt your fault. You do whatever you can to survive you lived
Natalie inhaled deeply and went on. I told myself exactly that, John. That I was going to do whatever I had to even if it was to submit Her voice broke on that word, but then she pushed on. It appears that Hayes vowed to make some changes, too. He began to drug me to make me more pliant. In a way he did me a favor because most of my other memories are so fuzzy just flashes like in some weird surreal dream or one of those crazy surreal movies. That is until I came to in the bottom of that pit. At first he would come to bring me some food or water, but then he stopped coming, and I was so afraid I was going to die. And I was kicking myself because I had tried to be a good girl to survive and he was killing me anyway. I felt so tired John. I just wanted it all to end all the pain and loss and I thought maybe I should just let go and stop fighting.
John walked to Natalie and took both her hands in his. Then he took his right hand and pushed a strand of her beautiful red hair behind her ear. And then because he couldnt help it any more because if he didnt do something he would start screaming at what he had just heard he gathered her into his arms and held her close. She nestled her face in the crook of his neck, and he willed his body not to shake as a tear slid silently down each of his cheeks. He rocked her back and forth slowly, and he could feel each deep breath she took. Then he heard her say quietly, I wrote your name, John. He pulled back to look at her with a puzzled expression, but didnt say anything since he wanted her to continue at her own pace. She stepped back from him but took his hand in hers and led him to the bench to sit down. She kept hold of his hand as she turned to look at him.
When I was sure I wasnt going to get out of the pit, I took a rock and wrote the names of my family on the wall. I wanted them to know I had been thinking about them if they ever found my body. And I wrote your name John. During one of the worst times of my life you tried to see me through you gave me a sense of strength. Because you you had really come to matter to me. And even though I hadnt seen you in over a year I kept flashing back memories of you kept coming to me. I thought about how you helped me keep it together in the end, when Haver had strapped the explosives to me. How you risked your own life to defuse the bomb. I realized I wasnt ready to give up.
John looked at Natalie in awe. He was deeply moved by her words, and didnt know exactly how to respond. So he just took his left hand and ran it down the side of Natalies face, waiting for Natalie to continue.
I decided to try to climb out of the pit. I removed rocks from the wall to create toe-holds, and I finally made it all the way to the top. There was a grate over the hole, and I realized that Hayes had padlocked it. I was trying to see if I could open it when I slipped and fell, and then I remembered nothing until I looked up and saw Rex and Bo peering in and then the landslide. Turns out my removing those rocks had made the pit walls completely unstable my effort to save myself is almost what did me in. But they got me out, and I woke up in the hospital to find my family surrounding me, and all I felt was this intense gratitude to be alive I had WON, John. I had made it. And that carried me through a lot of bad memories.
Natalie, did your family know did you go to see someone to talk about what had happened to you?
Natalie shook her head. At first, I just didnt want to dwell on that, because it was so much less important than the fact that I made it out of that pit. And my family was so proud of me for surviving and I just didnt want to be the victim again.
Natalie you make it sound like all of that was somehow your fault. You were VICTIMIZED. You didnt do anything wrong you didnt go out courting disaster. It came and found you. And yet you are still here. You are one of the strongest people I know. I thought that before and I know it even more now. I am glad you felt you could tell me.
It felt safe to tell you and such a relief. I dont want to be damaged I dont want all of this to ruin my life. But Natalie trailed off and looked at him, not able to continue.
What, Natalie? John asked softly as he rubbed circles into her hands that he held.
Youre the first guy Ive kissed since I got out of that pit tonight was the first time I even felt like I wanted to kiss someone and be kissed and then I freak out. And you are someone that I trust literally trust with my life. What if I am really and truly broken?
John was silent for a moment, wanting to choose his words carefully. Natalie, since this was the first time anything like this has happened that you have kissed anyone since that animal Hayes had you I dont think its surprising that you had the reaction you did. But I cant help thinking that it was a good sign that you took that first step. And and I am truly, well, I guess honored flattered that you would feel like doing that with me and that you then felt you could trust me enough to tell me all that you did.
John, it really helped. You have been so great, and it is such a relief. But, wow, I am exhausted. I feel like I ran a marathon or something.
You know, Natalie, I have learned the hard way that keeping a lid on feelings on memories on denying or trying to forget something happened it takes more energy than the most strenuous exercise. John stopped and looked at Natalie communicating the deeper meaning behind his words, then continued. Look, why dont I take you home now so you can get some rest. And maybe you can carve out some time for me tomorrow I would love to spend more time with you.
Natalie smiled at John. A real smile. Sounds good and I think I can squeeze you in
She got up and turned to John, and then drew him to her in a hug. He sighed deeply as he enveloped her in his arms, breathing in the fragrant smell of her hair, and then kissing it. She finally pulled back and said, Thanks, John. He nodded with a gentle smile, and then they headed from the roof.
Natalie woke to sunlight streaming in one of the things she most loved about her apartment at The Palace was the wonderful light that poured in the large windows. She stretched and then got out of bed to head to her living room, where her coffee and oatmeal were waiting for her she was endlessly grateful that one of the perquisites of her position and living arrangement was access to Room Service. After she poured and fixed her coffee, and took the cover off her cereal, her hand reached for the morning newspaper but she knew she wouldnt be able to concentrate on a thing she read her thoughts were once again claimed by what had happened between her and John the night before, as they had been when she had tried to fall asleep.
Where to begin? She had felt their connection stirring to life again from their earliest moments at Rodis. Then, that soulful kiss. And, of course, her reaction to it and the conversation that prompted. She was glad to find that she had no embarrassment of what she had shared with John. He had been so incredibly gentle and understanding and emotional and she was deeply touched by his reaction. But it all made her wonder what it meant where were they or could they be headed. The bond was there as before, but now there didnt seem to be the same impediments as the past, and that both confused her and made her hopeful. She was confused because she could sense a real change within John, since he simply did not seem buried under the memory of Caitlin and he pain surrounding her murder. The ringing phone broke into her reverie.
Natalie, hi, its Simone. The Mitchells called and wanted to know if they could slide their appointment with you from 2pm to 3pm today. That is open on your calendar.
Thats fine, Simone. Can you make sure I have the latest menus for them? They want to get some preliminary ideas for what they might serve at their anniversary party. I will be down shortly just have to get showered and dressed.
Will do. See you in a bit. OH! By the way, some flowers were delivered for you do you want me to send them up or leave them on your desk?
Hmm, flowers? Why dont you leave them there and I will see what theyre all about when I come down.
Done. See you soon.
Natalie headed to the bathroom, forcing herself NOT to think about who might have sent her the flowers, since it was very likely they were from a happy client or vendor.
John woke well before dawn well, he finally gave up on sleeping and got up before dawn and found himself drawn to the roof again. It was so peaceful up there before the town began to awake, and there were no distracting noises to sidetrack his train of thought. Natalie, of course. How many times over the past years had that been true more than he could count, which is what drew him back to Llanview. While they had not yet talked about his decision to leave three years ago nor why he had really returned from an emotional connection standpoint they had covered a huge amount of ground. Their connection was as strong, which had become very clear after Natalie had felt she could trust him with the full story of what Hayes had done. Not to mention that kiss. It was amazing both clearly wanting it, holding nothing back, neither seeming to worry about anything but that moment and them. Until it had triggered those horrible memories. It was funny, though, because rather than scaring him as it might have done in the past, he found he wanted to help Natalie move on from that pain to replace those memories with newer, much better ones.
He had walked her back to The Palace last night and they had paused a bit self-consciously in the lobby. He had not let go of her hand, and was tracing circles with him thumb on the back of her hand. She had smiled gently at him and thanked him for the way he had handled things when she had gotten so upset and for the way he had listened and comforted her. He had leaned forward and kissed her forehead, and then asked if he could see her tomorrow she had readily agreed. He left promising he would call before lunch to make plans for the evening.
John realized the sun was starting to come up, and he returned to his room. He thought about what he and Natalie could do tonight and also realized he wanted to make sure she knew he was thinking of her that he wasnt running from the emotions that had made themselves so evident the night before. So he picked up the phone and ordered a gorgeous Spring Bouquet to be sent to Natalie. Much to his surprise, he didnt struggle when asked what to write on the card Cant wait to see you tonight, and I promise not to make you cry!.
John spent the next thirty minutes trying to figure out where to take Natalie and then was struck with an idea that just felt right. He would call her a bit later, after he popped by the PD to catch up with Bo.
Bo heard the knock on his door and shouted out, Come on in. As he realized who was entering his face broke into a smile and he came out from behind his desk, walking to meet his visitor halfway. He extended his hand and firmly shook hands. John! I had heard you were in town. What a great surprise it really is great to see you, and you look well.
Thanks, Bo. You too. If feels kinda funny being back, but good.
You just here for a visit?
Yeah, I wanted to get off the road for a while and I also had to take some of my vacation really wasnt given an option. But truly, I wasnt sorry that my boss finally forced the issue. I am finding that Im liking the chance to catch my breath.
So you are still with the FBI then. You arent looking for something new to do?
John would have had to be deaf to not pick up on the tone of Bos voice the coy, leading question type of tone and he chuckled.
Actually, Bo, I am still officially with the Bureau and theyre expecting me back in a couple of months. But it sounds like you have something on your mind.
Bo chuckled in return, Well, it just so happens I am once again in need of a new Chief of Detectives. Antonio had been doing that most recently, but between acting as the liver donor to Jess, and needing more flexibility because of Jamie and Capricorn well, he prefers to be a detective rather than Chief. So my offer still stands from three years ago any chance you might be more open to considering my offer this time?
John exhaled and didnt immediately answer. Finally he smiled and said, Well, why dont you check in with me on that a bit further into my vacation stay see how things are going
Bo didnt say anything for a moment and then nodded and said, Fair enough and, am I right that you were seen with my niece Natalie last night?
Johns smile widened, Uh, yeah. I guess there are no secrets in a small town so, if you hear we are together tonight well, I will pre-confirm that as the truth so you dont have to wonder. On that note, I guess I should catch up with Natalie to finalize things. I hope we can get together for a beer or something soon.
Id like that, John. And give my niece my love, will you?
John left the station and on the walk back to the hotel pulled out his cell phone and called Natalie. When she answered he said, hey.
Natalie couldnt find her voice for a moment, since the husky sound of his voice made the hairs stand up on the back of her neck and her breath caught in her throat. Finally she said, hey back, and felt her face flush when she realized how husky her own voice was. She cleared her throat and continued on, I loved the flowers, John. They are gorgeous, and it was so sweet of you. But you arent the one who made me cry well, not in a bad way anyway
Well, I am glad you liked them. Just thought a little something to chase away any dark memories. I have come up with a plan tonight, but dont want to spoil the surprise do you trust me?
Yeah, John, I do. I do. Do you need me to meet you somewhere?
Nope. I will pick you up at 8:00, OK?
Yeah thatd be perfect, unless.
Well, maybe you might want to come a bit earlier and we can have a quick drink at my place before we head out to whatever you have planned.
John smiled and that was communicated in his voice when he said, I would love that. Should I meet you in the bar?
No, John. Just take the elevator up to the top floor. You wont have a card-key so just punch in my code, 723, and come on up. Does 7 work?
Seven it is. See you then.
Great, bye John.
Natalie hung up the phone and couldnt help the huge smile that engulfed her face. She hadnt felt this way in a long time. Now what should she wear
Natalie looked at her watch, noting she had 10 minutes until John was due. She surveyed the wreckage of what had been her neatly ordered bedroom and knew there would be absolutely no way she could make a dent in picking up the strewn contents of her closet and dresser: what had until recently been hung carefully, and folded neatly, was now flung across every surface in her room. Including the floor. She sighed, as she shut the door behind her, but also knew it wasnt likely to be an issue because she and John had clearly not yet reached the sleeping together stage. As that thought flitted through Natalies head, she stopped short in surprise because she hadnt thought about or even WANTED to think about being with someone that way in so long. And the fact that she was pleasantly excited by that prospect - her body was certainly making that clear, she thought, as she fanned her flushing face with her hand was a bit of a revelation to her.
She stopped to take one more look at herself in the large mirror in her living room, feeling she had set upon the right note in her final! choice of outfit. She had really felt at a loss because she didnt know what John had in store for them, so she didnt want to dress too far towards either end of the jeans-casual/dressy spectrum. She ultimately chose a pair of black silk pajama pants and a black silk halter top that was totally plain. Since it didnt plunge too low, and the back was decently high, she didnt feel like she was dressing in too obvious a fashion. Completing her look were onyx dangling earrings and a matching onyx pendant that seemed to float on a platinum chain. Finally she had on black strappy sandals but not too high and wore her hair up except for a few tendrils that framed her face.
Natalie inhaled deeply as her mantle clock struck seven, and was about to run her slightly sweaty palms down her pants when she remembered that probably wouldnt be a good idea on silk. Instead she ducked into the powder room to avail herself of a towel and one more look at her make-up! At that moment her doorbell rang, and she took another deep breath before heading towards the door but not before tossing a look over her shoulder to make sure the door to her destroyed bedroom was tightly shut.
John had gotten to The Place 20 minutes early, and then steadied his nerves with a quick beer in the bar. He felt a bit foolish that he was nervous, but also found it a bit comical. Finally at 6:59 he got into the elevator and entered the code and pushed the PH button. He left the elevator, headed to Natalies door the only one and rang the bell, taking a deep breath as he waited for her to answer. A moment later the door opened and he just looked at her with a smile on his face, taking in her beauty.
Natalie stood appraising John as well, appreciating his navy suit and sky blue shirt, which was open at the neck. That registered, along with the fact that it made his eyes seem even bluer almost impossibly so. They kept looking at each other until Natalie finally shook he head and laughed, stepping aside and saying Come on in!
John crossed the threshold and took in the classy yet understated way in which Natalie had furnished her apartment. It was done in rich hues of cream, taupe and black, with splashes of red. There were several over-stuffed pieces of furniture, all of which looked incredibly inviting a couch, love seat and double-sized chaise. Beyond her living room was the dining room equally elegant yet managing to seem casual, too. Again, inviting, with its warm wood pieces and cushy upholstered chairs. Throughout her apartment were well-placed personal touches photos, books, floral arrangements and plants. He noticed some other doors/doorways, and imagined behind them were her bedroom, bathrooms, kitchen, etc. What really caught his attention were all the windows and the large double doors that appeared to open onto a balcony.
Natalie watched him survey her home and she could tell he liked what he was seeing, which pleased her inordinately. She still wasnt entirely comfortable with the notion of living in a penthouse apartment at the top of an upscale hotel, but she had hoped she had managed to make it comfy and inviting, while selecting pieces that still fit the surroundings.
She finally spoke, Why dont you take a seat, and I can get us some drinks. I would have put them out already but I wasnt sure what youd feel like beer, wine, champagne, whiskey?
You know, a cold beer would be great right now John said as he sank into the couch.
Natalie headed to the kitchen and returned with a tray that held two large pilsner glasses of beer and a small crystal bowl that had mixed nuts in it. As she set the tray down on the ottoman in front of the couch she said, I thought I might as well use these glasses Im not sure why but when I first moved in here and began to buy my dishes and stuff I became almost obsessed with glassware and crystal. Maybe because growing up we always had mismatched glasses that Roxie picked up from various bars and from the gas station when they had a promotion. Somehow I just felt the need to have the right glasses a glass for every occasion.
She handed him his glass and with her own in hand sat beside him on the couch, but half-turned with one leg tucked under the other so she could really see him. He turned a bit in his seat to face her and gently clinked his glass against hers. Cheers. Natalie followed suit.
Natalie, your place is really great. It is a huge step up from the Angel Square Hotel, but it doesnt feel intimidating. I can really see you here
Thanks, John. It took some getting used to, but it does feel like home now but I pinch myself sometimes
I can imagine. Your life has changed so much in a pretty short period of time from AC girl to Buchanan heiress but I can still detect the feisty AC fighter, John chuckled.
Oh, really? Yeah, I guess I have to cop to it I will never be the completely refined Buchanan twin that role is Jessicas, and frankly she can have it. I have learned the grass isnt always greener.
Thats for sure. Michael filled me in on everything that had happened with Jess and her DID. I am sorry if this makes me sound like an awful person and I am not saying your own life in AC was a bed of roses but I am glad you werent the one who had to go through all that
Oh, believe me John, I have thought the same thing myself what happened to Jess would have happened to me instead, and I doubt I would have handled it any differently not at that age. Well! Lets talk about better things. Have you enjoyed catching up with Michael, Marcie and Tommy?
Yes, I really have. I am happy for him that he has a wife who loves him so much and a beautiful son.
John looked intently at Natalie as he finished talking, and she wondered if he was trying to communicate something else behind his words, or if she was just engaging in a flight of fancy. She was surprised to hear the softness in her voice almost a wistful envy when she replied, Yeah, that must be so nice like nothing else matters beyond your own home.
John didnt say anything, just looked deeply into her eyes and nodded with a ghost of a smile playing around his lips. Not sure what else to say, he asked Hey, do you give tours of this place?
Natalie brought him through the dining room, kitchen which was surprisingly spacious guest bedroom and bath, laundry area, powder room, and then motioned towards the doors leading to the balcony, explaining, They are replacing some of the railings and stone flooring out there, so it is a bit of a danger zone right now. And then she led them back towards the couch, neglecting to show him one final room which he now knew must be her bedroom. He stopped for a second, saying, Uh, arent we missing one?
Natalie blushed and said, Oh, well that is just my room. Nothing outstanding just, you know, a standard bedroom she trailed off in obvious embarrassment.
What, do you have a guy shackled in there or something or do you feel you cant trust me to be near your bed with you nearby? He said this with laughter in his voice to make sure she knew he was teasing.
No! Thats not it its just well oh, to heck with it come look, but dont say I didnt warn you that its a disaster area.
Natalie pushed open the bedroom door and snapped on the lights, motioning for John to follow. He did and his eyes widened in amazement at the display. He looked at her questioningly because he could not imagine she typically kept her room this way.
Natalie chimed in, Well, I didnt know what we were doing tonight, so I wasnt sure what to wear. I kept trying things but nothing seemed right. In the end I settled on this outfit which was the first one I actually tried on by the way. She said this with defensive defiance which John found truly adorable. He walked towards her and playfully rubbed one finger down her cheek and then tapped her nose.
Well, you made a wonderful selection Natalie. You look great. He then made a great show of checking his watch, saying, And on that note, we probably should get going since we have a bit of a drive.
Oh, OK. I am just going to grab my pashmina. Natalie chuckled when she noticed John mouth the word pashmina? with a funny expression on his face, and said, My shawl John my shawl.
Natalie settled into Johns rental car a pretty nice premium sedan and waited for him to climb in the car he had been a perfect gentleman and had made sure she was comfortably seated before heading around to his side of the car. He got in, started the engine and began to head to wherever they were going. She waited to see if he would say anything, but when it was clear he was leaving Llanview, she could not hold her tongue any longer.
So where are we going? Obviously not one of our usual haunts are you going to keep it a secret the whole way?
No, I dont see the harm in telling you about 20 miles from here, down this old highway, there is a wonderful old place that has been like an institution for people who like good food and smooth jazz that hovers perfectly in the background, setting the mood as opposed to being competition to conversation. The restaurant is actually an old house, so it isnt one of the large, open, overly-stylized places that pass for the hot restaurants these days.
Natalie was actually surprised pleasantly so to hear his description. So, how did you find out about it?
When my dads former partner retired, he and his wife who had been a chef in one of ACs best casino restaurants decided to open it. They have poured themselves into making it a very special place.
Hmmm. It really sounds great. I, um, well I really appreciate the extra thought and effort you put into planning this.
John turned his head and just looked at Natalie for a second and then smiled. My pleasure, truly. His voice was so low and husky when he said that, Natalie felt a reaction across her skin, almost as if she had been caressed by him. He saw an almost imperceptible shudder go through her and his smile broadened. Then he got semi-serious. I wanted to be able to spend some time with you without an endless round of interruptions from people who know us. As I thought about what we could do, I realized there probably wasnt anywhere in Llanview we could go without bumping into someone. Plus well, there are good and not-so-good memories attached to those places and I wanted tonight to just be something different for us.
Natalie reached her left hand out to cover Johns right hand, which had been resting on the gear-shift, giving it a slight squeeze. With a small smile she said, What a great idea, McBain. He rubbed her hand with his thumb and smiled broadly as he concentrated on the twisty road ahead.
Natalie sat back and relaxed in the intimate cocoon of the car: the quiet road the soft jazz coming through the speakers and the deep sense of comfort she felt being with John. Neither felt the need to say anything, but every now and again their eyes would shift in each others direction and theyd share a soft smile. As a result, Natalie was almost a bit disappointed when John pulled into the front drive of the restaurant. Two valets popped to attention and opened their doors, one handing John a ticket. Natalie took a look around and found herself charmed. Even in the dark she could tell the grounds were lovely cobblestones, low walls, gardens with low landscape lights scattered throughout. The restaurant itself simply named The Cottage looked almost like an enchanted cottage from a fairytale, with its wraparound porches, stacked stone pillars, soft lighting, and hanging baskets of flowers, all of which made it feel so inviting.
John stepped around to Natalie and took her elbow as he guided her up the front steps, across the porch and through the front door.
John, this is wonderful, Natalie said as they waited by the podium in the foyer.
I thought you might like it, he smiled.
At that moment an older gentleman with a shock of white hair and twinkling blue eyes approached them and said, John! I was so excited when Kate told me youd made a reservation. My goodness its been a long time he said as he reached John and pulled him into a back-slapping hug.
Ciaran, its great to see you too! Let me introduce you to Natalie. Natalie, this is Ciaran Murray, my dads former partner. Ciaran, this is Natalie Buchanan.
Ah, love, so nice to meet you Ciaran said as he took Natalies hand and kissed it. Then he turned to John, saying, My goodness, isnt she lovely?
Natalie blushed and felt her color deepen when John looked at her intently and said softly, Yes, she is.
Noting the interplay between the two, Ciaran beamed at them. Then he offered to escort them to their table, saying hed then scoot in back and let Kate know they were there. He led them through what was previously the living room of the house and over to a quiet, private table nestled in the curve of the large bowed window. The chairs were more akin to wing-backed easy chairs than standard restaurant fare, and flowers and candles tastefully dressed the table. Ciaran seated Natalie, let John take his own place, and then excused himself to get his wife.
This is just so beautiful. Its perfect.
Theyve created a special place John said softly.
Ciaran arrived with Kate in tow she was a lovely sprite of a woman with white hair and sparkly blue eyes to match her husbands, as well as a welcoming smile. John stood up to hug her and then introduced her to Natalie.
Kate took Natalies hand in both of her own, saying, Dont get up pet. It really is great to meet you, and Ciaran didnt do you justice when he described you. We were so excited to hear John was bringing you so unlike him! You must mean a lot to him, love. Natalie kept her smile on her face but felt her spine stiffen a bit with concern for John feeling put on the spot. But to her surprise John smiled at Natalie then turned to Kate, saying, She is so it made perfect sense to bring her to your special place.
Kate said, Well thank you John, and on that note Ciaran and I are going to send your waiter over and leave you two to enjoy your time together.
John and Natalie ordered their meals and a delicious bottle of red wine, and then settled in for their evening. The setting encouraged a feeling of closeness and openness with its soft lighting, understatedly elegant and cozy dcor, comfortable chairs, and a band softly playing in the next room the houses original dining room where a small dance floor was occupied by a handful of couples. Natalie felt she needed to let John know how much she had appreciated the way he had supported her the other night when she had told him all that had happened to her since hed left Llanview especially at the hands of Hayes Barber.
She started slowly, John, I dont want to steer our conversation in a bad direction, but I did just want to let you know how much it meant to me to be able to tell you what happened with Paul, and Cris, and Hayes. I felt so safe so close to you. Natalie stopped talking because she felt herself choking up a bit. John replied in a husky voice, Yeah it felt like the walls came down for a little bit. Natalie nodded and started to say something, then hesitated. But seeing the gentle look on Johns face, she said, I dont want to put them back up John reached his right hand out to place it over Natalies hands, which she had been wringing together on her side of the table. Neither do I, Natalie.
At that moment the waiter returned with their wine, breaking the moment but not the feeling of closeness that enveloped them. John and Natalie spent their meal sharing stories of what theyd been up to the past three years, with Natalie focusing this time on the good things, and she was blessed that there were many. John told her about the many countries hed been in, hunting down terrorists. As fascinating as it could be, and as important the work was, it did take a toll John had seen a lot of misery, devastation and hate. Still, the sometimes serious subject matter did not put a damper on their conversation which flowed easily.
As they sat back sipping their wine, their dinner, dessert and coffee dishes cleared away, the band began to play Chris Isaaks Wicked Game one of Natalies favorite songs. John noticed her perk up and realized what had captured her attention. He looked towards the dance floor and back to Natalie. Do you want to dance? Natalies shock must have been apparent because John continued in mock affront, What? You think I cant dance?
Before he could change his mind Natalie stood up, took Johns hand and led him to the intimate dance floor where three other couples were already slow-dancing. Perhaps it was the wine, the ambience, the closeness theyd been developing or the combination but without any awkwardness John took Natalie in his arms. With her right hand clasped tightly in his left, but pulled to rest against his chest, he wound his right arm tightly around her waist and back, and she wound her left around his neck, resting her face in the crook of his neck. There was virtually no space between their bodies as they silently swayed to the sinuous, sensuous strains of the seductive song. They were both acutely aware of all the points of contact their bodies shared the softness of Natalies chest against Johns taut muscular one thighs touching as their arms continued to hold each other tightly.
John was fighting a losing battle against his traitorous body, and soon his intense attraction to Natalie was in rock-hard evidence against Natalies soft stomach. John was a bit embarrassed and said, Uh, Natalie I, uh, Im sorry I I just geez sometimes it sucks to be a guy.
Natalie chuckled softly and pulled her head back a little to look him in the eye. It took all Johns restraint not to make a sound when as a consequence of her movement her stomach pushed against him. She said, Actually Im flattered. Ill take it as a compliment.
Well, thanks. It is. But I am sorry I dont want to seem like some pervert or schoolboy or something
John, really, its OK and, well, uh, well if it makes you feel any better, Im having a very similar reaction. Its just a lot harder to tell up-front, so to speak, in a girl Even though she tried to bring some humor to the situation, the husky nature of her voice underscored just how much she was being affected by their close contact.
John sucked in a breath as he digested what Natalie was actually saying. He finally found his voice sort of and croaked, Are you saying your w..
Before he could finish the word Natalie whispered saucily, Drenched, drawing out the word in a torturous fashion.
Unable to help himself John let out a soft groan and in retaliation pulled Natalie closer and ground himself into her stomach. He smiled broadly at her gasp and felt himself growing even tauter as he noticed her flushed skin and eyes hazing over. She dropped her head back on his shoulder and their swaying to the music continued to arouse their bodies. As the song ended the hall clock struck 11pm, and John pulled back a bit, surprised at how the time had flown. He was about to suggest they return to the table to finish their wine when Ciaran approached them.
I hope you two have been enjoying your evening. We dont close for at least another hour and I thought you might enjoy a nightcap on the back porch. Its very pretty back there, even if I do say so myself. And its quite private, he winked.
Natalie was a bit embarrassed but nonetheless found herself quite interested in that option. She looked at John and tilted her head to convey she was at least open-minded about it, and that was all the encouragement John needed as he piped up, Thats a great idea, Ciaran.
Great! You two go ahead and Ill bring you out a nightcap. So what would you like more wine? Brandy? Irish Mist?
Noticing Natalies quizzical expression at the latter, Ciaran explained, That is a fabulous liqueur. I make all my Irish Coffees with it its much smoother than Irish Whiskey. A little bit over ice is magnificent..
That sounds interesting Id like to try it.
Make that two, said John.
Done. Ill bring it right out and with that Ciaran was off to the bar.
John led Natalie through the back of the house and towards the porch.
Thank you for all the lovely reviews!
As Natalie and John stepped onto the back porch it was clear Ciaran had not oversold it. The covered porch was quite large and had a number of overstuffed couches and chairs, low coffee tables, and candles twinkling everywhere. They were appreciating it when Ciaran popped out with their drinks.
Natalie said, Ciaran, this is truly beautiful. Do you have to take all this furniture inside when bad whether hits?
Well, we do take it inside during the winter, and we clean it regularly during the warm months, but my brilliant wife found old furniture and had it reupholstered in sunbrella fabric and voile! Anyway, on that note Ill take my leave so you can enjoy it. I wont be back out until Im closing up for the night about 1am, he winked again, and then was gone.
John shook his head and chuckled, Subtle, isnt he? Natalie just laughed and nodded in reply. They took a seat on one of the sofas, settling back against the cushions and sipping their drinks.
Natalie said, This IS smooth, and John replied with a raspy, Yea, and just looked at Natalie, his face turned towards hers and their heads remained tilted back against the cushions. Natalie smiled and said softly, This has been such a wonderful evening. Its been so nice to be somewhere new away from Llanview were able to just be.
John nodded a bit, not taking his eyes off her as he said, Im glad you think it was a good idea. As soon as I thought of this place I just felt youd like it. I just wanted some uninterrupted time with you its not that I have anything against Llanview or the people there or anything
John sensed an almost imperceptible stiffening in Natalie, which she tried to hide.
What? he asked.
What do you mean?
I get the feeling that I might have said something wrong that bothered you.
Natalie, John drew out her name.
Natalie sighed. Its silly not important. I dont want to ruin the mood when were having such a nice time.
You wont. Tell me. Really. He said that last word with gentle encouragement.
Well, its more of a question She was quiet for a moment, still clearing wrestling with the wisdom of heading down this road. John took her hand. Natalie, you can ask me anything I promise. She finally took a deep breath and asked, Why did you leave?
She asked it so softly that he almost didnt hear her. Almost. But the emotion in that question was loud and clear.
John new this was an important crossroads. He could take the easy way out and make it all about not being ready to leave the FBI, but he knew she deserved better HE deserved better. He wanted to tell her the truth because now he knew it would admit to it. The thought of that sent a surge of energy through him and he couldnt remain seated. He stood up and walked towards the railing, looking out over the moonlit garden.
Natalie felt herself growing upset, fearing she had messed up everything. She got up and walked over to him. John, forget it, please. You dont have to answer lets just have our drink and enjoy the night air She couldnt hide the slight wobble in her voice that made it clear she was upset.
John whirled around and Natalie held her breath until she realized his face held no anger, no tension just an open and gentle and concerned expression. Concerned for her. He ran his right hand down her left arm to her hand, and then took it, whispering, No. I want to tell you everything. He studied her small, delicate hand in his lager one, but knew she was probably the stronger one of them and he took courage in that.
Natalie, you dont know how much I wanted to accept Bos offer and stay but I was so wracked with guilt and fear, but mostly guilt. Or at least thats what Id let myself feel at the time, but maybe it was more fear.
Natalie said nothing, just rubbed his hand and nodded encouragement for him to continue she knew she just needed to tell his story any way he could get it out.
I had carried my guilt about Caitlins death around for so long and my pain. I just closed myself off completely and never believed I could ever get over what had happened feel anything for anyone that could have any real meaning. Then I met you. I was more than a bit rattled because I did find myself caring for you, about you, in a way I hadnt since Caitlin. But that didnt lessen my guilt in fact it made it worse, whether that was right or not. It was bad enough when I just felt like Id let her down because I couldnt save her, but when I realized shed been killed BECAUSE of me because Id taunted Haver.
John pulled away from Natalie and turned around, leaning heavily against the railing as he relived the emotion of that discovery. Natalie took a step towards him and rested her hand on his right shoulder, and John reached his hand up to hold hers without turning around. He talked to the garden after a deep sigh.
I had SO much guilt, Natalie. And it was almost like that blow knocked me back to square one because now I knew it was ALL my fault. The only thing I knew how to do was to submerge myself in that guilt all over again because that was what I had done the first time around. Bury myself in guilt and work and avoid it all. But I realized I couldnt do that in Llanview because because you were there, and I couldnt focus on Caitlin because it was taking all my energy trying not to think of you seeing you, bumping into you
He turned to face her.
Of course, I couldnt admit that so I had to tell myself that I was hopeless and broken. Could never care about anyone else again wouldnt let myself. And that I was needed in the FBI. I ran, Natalie. So I could be consumed by nothing but my guilt. But no matter how far I ran no matter how many hours I worked to exhaust myself into sleep, I couldnt stop thinking of you. So my guilt was no longer about Caitlin, but about the fact that it WASNT. That I couldnt make it all about her and I should have. I mean, she was dead BECAUSE of me here she is the supposed love of my life, dead because of me how could I let myself even think of someone else and so soon after learning the whole story. So I continued to run. I took every assignment in every corner of the world because I thought if I couldnt stop thinking of you I could punish myself for it, not even trying to let myself move on in order to do penance for thinking for a moment that I could. And every now and again I would also admit for the smallest second that competing with the guilt was fear. I couldnt let myself care again about someone because another loss your loss would be the end of me geez, let myself care as if I could stop myself from caring thinking
John stopped and sucked in a breath, and looked at Natalie taking in the range of emotions that played across her features her anguish on his behalf obvious.
Natalie felt herself reeling a bit, given all John had shared the pain and dislocation he had felt. But she also was stunned at how she factored into things and not knowing what to say, she just nodded in silent support.
John finally continued.
It eventually dawned on me that I couldnt keep running forever. Or even if I could, it was never going to get me anywhere or away from what propelled me to go. And as I saw all the misery in the world, I began to feel a bit ashamed. What did I really have to be so messed up about? Yeah, Id had some losses, but compared to some of the kids babies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo And I was really CHOOSING to be miserable because it was within my reach to have a better life. And I realized I didnt want to live that way any more. I wanted a better life. Heck, a life period.
John took both of Natalies hands in his and looked at her intently.
I could never get you out of my mind, Natalie. I had tried to kid myself that once I left Llanview youd begin to not matter as much to me as time went on but that didnt happen. I actually thought of you MORE. And Im tired of fighting it wondering if there might be a chance and then shutting myself down fighting what I feel.. what I hope.. what I want Natalie I came backI came back for you.
OK Lucky 13! Once again, thanks for the encouraging feedback!
Natalie was stunned speechless. She was so moved that she couldnt speak. She felt tears form and threaten to spill over, but she simply couldnt form words.
John wasnt sure how to read her. He could tell she was moved, but he feared he had completely overwhelmed her, this coming out of the blue after all this time
Natalie, I didnt want I hope I didnt scare you
Natalie put her fingers over his lips to silence him. She took her hands and placed them on either side of his face, cupping it gently, and with tears finally spilling over she whispered, Im not scared. And then, she stood on her toes, pulled his face to hers, and drew him into a soulful kiss.
John was deeply moved and relieved by her response, and he sighed against her lips. Then he felt the heat increase between them as their mouths began to open more to each other, the intensity of the emotions caused by his revelations and their history coursing through them. He bent slightly and wrapped his arms around her, then stood up straight, lifting her off the floor. He pulled her tight to him as she wrapped her own arms around his neck, her right hand snaking through his hair to pull his mouth even harder against her own. Their mouths were completely fused as their tongues dueled and neither felt like they could get close enough. With Natalie still in his arms, her feet still dangling off the ground, he walked them over to the couch and tipped them in a tangle onto it without breaking their heated kiss. Natalie bent each leg along either side of John and gasped as his obvious arousal pressed hard against the sensitive juncture between her legs. John ground himself into Natalie and both of them moaned at the exquisitely tortuous contact. Their mouths finally broke apart so they could take a much-needed breath, but John remained planted squarely and firmly between her legs. They just looked at each other, trying to get enough air. John moved one hand to cup her cheek, and that movement further increased the weight of his pelvis on her and she couldnt help the small whimper that escaped into the night air. John caressed her face and then moved his lips back to hers, plying them with slow, sensuous, languorous kisses. Natalie wanted more and she wrapped her legs around his hips and her arms around his shoulders and back, opening her mouth wide to his onslaught with their tongues once again mating. Johns control snapped and he reached a hand underneath Natalie to grab her ass and draw her even more tightly against him, and neither could help it as their bodies began to rock and grind against each other. Natalie unhooked her legs from around John in order to gain more leverage in pushing her feet against the cushions and keep pace with John motion for motion and their groans and moans were captured by and vibrated through their still-fused mouths.
It would be an understatement to say their tangled and clamoring bodies were in the throes of a passionate frenzy, but a brief, cogent thought finally filtered through Johns brain that he was teetering on the brink of losing it, and this was not the place. Yet, he couldnt quite bring himself to stop. Natalie was simply letting her body herself be nothing but sensation as she felt John move on her and heard his own sounds melding with hers. Her core ached and she knew she was wet with want for this man who was crushing her so deliciously under his weight. Finally John stopped moving but didnt move off Natalie and pulled his mouth off of hers. Their breathing was ragged as they looked at each other and caressed each others faces.
Wow, Natalie. Ive got to stop for a minute or Im going to lose it. I had forgotten how hot dry-humping can be, he chuckled shakily.
Natalie looked at him with a slightly salacious grin, moved her lips close to his, and whispered Speak for yourself about the dry thing
John groaned at her words the image they conjured up and collapsed against her, his face landing in the crook of her neck. Youre gonna kill me he whispered, and his hot breath on Natalies neck sent a quake through her body which they both felt where their bodies were joined at the proverbial hip. Aaargh, Natalie, please stop moving! John laughed in pain against Natalies neck. Then the both started giggling and couldnt stop. John finally rolled off Natalie and onto the floor beside the couch, but put his arm around her as he looked at her.
We should probably get going or run the risk of Ciaran having to roust us. They both laughed at that thought, and then John grew serious. He softly caressed Natalies cheek and looked deeply into her gorgeous blue eyes. Thank you for not being scared off, Natalie. Natalie placed her hand over his and returned the intensity of his gaze without faltering. Thank you for sharing all you did, John. Im Im glad you came back.
John got onto his knees and leaned forward to give Natalie a tender kiss. Then he hoisted himself up, leaned down to take Natalies hands and helped her to her feet, enveloping her in a tight embrace. Natalie rested contentedly in his arms and couldnt remember ever feeling so safe so at home.
Finally he pulled back and said, Time to head back to Llanview but well come back this can be our special place we can get away to every now and again. Natalie just smiled and said, Its a deal, and they headed to say their goodbyes to Ciaran and Kate.
John and Natalie waited for the valet to bring his car around, still a little embarrassed from when they said their goodbyes to Ciaran and Kate. They had gone back inside and quickly realized they were the last ones to leave but that wasnt all that surprising. They found Ciaran and Kate having a nightcap at the bar, and Natalie felt immediately self-conscious because, based upon the obvious humor in their gazes and voices, it felt as if they knew exactly what John and Natalie had been doing on the porch. But then again, Natalie thought somewhat indignantly, isnt that practically what Ciaran had goaded them into?! The light in the bar was dim, but still a good bit brighter than outside on the porch, and as Natalie glanced at John she realized that he had her lipstick all over his face and neck and ears! Natalie was a bit surprised because she could not remember kissing him all those places she could have sworn their mouths had stayed practically crazy-glued together. John took a look at Natalie and was a bit startled by her appearance as well.
Uh, Natalie. Its a decent ride back to Llanview why dont you take a quick run to the restroom while I settle up with Ciaran here. Natalie was a bit surprised and about to argue when she realized John was looking at her a bit funny and it dawned on her that she might have a few telltale signs of their activities as well.
OK she said as she bolted towards the ladies room. She opened the door and made a bee-line to the mirror and she had to fight the urge to keep a lid on the laughter that was dying to come out the simultaneous feeling of mortification helped. Her hair oh, my her hair. Suffice to say it looked like she had been through a wind-tunnel, or perhaps a Tornado. About 5% of it remained truly up, while the rest was an unruly mess around her face and trying to tumble back onto her shoulders. She had no more lipstick on her lips, but a good bit elsewhere since what had ended up on Johns lips from her was given right back in a number of places. Again, she was surprised because she didnt think their lips had spent that much time apart. Her halter was twisted dangerously and it was only by the grace of God that she wasnt exposing her breasts. Competing to color her face and neck were red patches of obvious whisker burn, and uh oh yep, that was a good-sized hickey darkening over her clavicle. Finally, it seemed like more mascara was under her eyes than on her lashes thats what happens when you get emotional and then work up a passionate sweat.
Natalie sighed deeply and quickly tried to do some damage control. She took her hair all the way down and dragged her brush through it. Then she used a damp paper towel to wipe away the lipstick and mascara, but didnt bother to reapply it. She took another damp towel and dabbed it on her chafed skin, hoping the cooling touch would soothe it a bit and make it seem less obvious. Finally, she knew she could do no more, took a quick moment to use the facilities and headed out to face the others.
She walked back into the bar to see a mortified John whose face and neck were being wiped off by Kate, who was wielding a wet bar towel. Natalies eyes met his and she doubled over in giggles with them all now joining in.
I, Im sorry she said through her laughter. It just looked so funny
No worries, luv, said Kate. Im glad you guys enjoyed the porch. It has worked wonders for me and the old fella sometimes too! I just thought Id try to make him a bit more presentable in the event you have to stop for any reason.
Ciaran piped in, saying, And dont worry, Natalie, shell leave whatever is under his clothes to your capable hands which set Natalie off giggling again while John was caught between laugher and mortification.
They finally headed out, and now were waiting for their car. After helping Natalie into the passenger side and accepting his tip from John, the valet beat a hasty retreat. John climbed in the car, closed the door and just sat with his head back against his headrest, eyes closed, and let out a groan. OK, I havent felt quite like that since I was 16 Natalie giggled, and giggled, finally saying, I know but I think they were actually quite understanding they actually seemed happy to see our state of disarray.
Yeah John said as he turned his head to look at her. You cleaned up OK, though. And you took your hair down He said this as he reached forward and softly grabbed some of her hair between his fingers.
Natalie said softly, Well, it was pretty much down anyway.
John leaned even closer to her, his right elbow resting on the console between them as his face came within inches of Natalies. He moved his right hand to her cheek and then tucked her hair behind her ear, saying, I like it. And then his lips were on hers and the tip of his tongue traced the outline of hers asking for entrance to her mouth, which she granted. The kiss they shared was deep and passionate, but not in the frenzied way they had been on the porch. It was slow, sensuous and held the promise of things to come. John pulled back finally and looked at Natalie, then peppered a few kisses on her swollen lips. Finally he stopped and said, I guess we should head back. Natalie merely nodded, briefly running her hand down the side of Johns face. She took his right hand in hers and gently turned it over, and placed a tender kiss in his palm. The gesture truly touched John and he took his left hand and placed it under her chin, causing her to look up at him. He looked at her intently and said, Thank you very softly, and then pulled her into a hug. He just wanted to hold her for a moment. Natalie loved the feel of being in Johns arms, and felt a few tears prick her eyes at the gentle way he kissed the top of her head. She let out a deeply contented sigh, saying, John, thank you so much for this wonderful night. He kissed her head one more time and said, No, I thank you. I needed this so much, Natalie. You made it very easy very safe for me to go out on a limb and finally tell you how I feel. No more hiding. No more lying. No more walls. After a few more moments of enjoying the feelings running between them, he pulled back and said, I guess wed better head back.
Natalie settled back into her seat as John turned on the soft jazz again and then pulled onto the road. She couldnt remember ever feeling quite this way, and was amazed at how quickly this had all come about almost over night, but then also almost 4 years in the making. Life is funny, she thought as she closed her eyes, and then drifted off to sleep.
John glanced over and realized Natalie was sleeping and he felt a wave of tenderness surge through him. He felt so many things for her tenderness, respect for her amazing strength that she didnt seem to see in herself, and a now-unbridled passion since he was no longer holding himself in check. Just thinking of their writhing together on the porch and what he would like to do to her caused a tightening in his pants, and he just tried to breath deeply to calm himself. He found her incredibly beautiful and arousing, but he also knew it was everything else he felt and thought about her that heightened his physical reaction. He was a still a bit bemused at what a talker he had become so very unlike him. But once he concluded he didnt want to lie to himself anymore once he had realized he COULDNT do that anymore the need to just tell her everything had been overwhelming. Her opening up to him so much had given him the courage. He had come to Llanview hoping to see some sign that he had not waited too long, and then it had all gone so quickly from there and he couldnt help but feel hope about where it could head, along with a frisson of fear that she wouldnt want the same things.
Natalie looked so beautiful in the soft glow of the cabin lights enhanced by the moon. He wanted to touch her, but not to wake her, so he willed his hand not to reach out.
John pulled around to the back of The Palace and parked near the rear entrance. Natalie was still sound asleep, and he hated to wake her. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, then pulled back an inch and whispered, Wake up, sleeping beauty. Natalie smiled sleepily with her eyes still closed, whispering his name almost like a soft moan, John. and then pulled his mouth down to hers to kiss him with soft and pliant lips. She then removed her lips from his and opened her eyes to look at him in a way that could only be described as dreamily. It wasnt a dream No, Natalie its better its real. He kissed her again then finally broke away, saying, Time to get you upstairs.
Natalie snuggled sleepily against John as they rode up in the elevator to the Penthouse. When the got out she began rummaging in her purse for her keys, which John then took from her to open her door. She held his hand as they walked in the door, but rather than follow her into the living room, he stopped in the foyer. She looked at him through heavily-lidded eyes and said, Dont you want to come in to stay
John walked close to Natalie and cupped both hands around her face. There is nothing I would like more but it is so late and you are dead on your feet. Plus, when this happens, I want to have plenty of room to work, he winked at her when he said this, and squeezing between piles of clothes wont cut it. Natalie chuckled and stifled a yawn she had forgotten about the wreck she had made of the room. She got serious for a moment and covered his hands which were still on her face with her own. John I just want I have felt so close to you tonight the other night it meant so much to me that we could share what we did no walls I dont want you to think I want to show you prove to you that Im not scared that I want this you
John caressed Natalies cheeks with his thumbs, saying, Natalie, it meant a lot to me too, and if anyone has anything to prove, its me. Its just that now, more than ever, after everything, this should be perfect its a big deal to me, too and, well, I can wait so we can make it perfectand I want you to feel you are in control of everything
Natalie smiled, Hmmm, me in control, huh? If Im in charge, then how about this tomorrow well, actually, since its 2am I should say today the work on my balcony will be complete. So how about tomorrow night as in Saturday night you come here and be prepared to stay. And come well-rested take your vitamins
John couldnt help but laugh at her silliness. Oh, honey, you might want to take your own advice, he teased.
Well, all right, but dont say I didnt warn you I am going to have everything set up so I can seduce you accordingly
John felt his manhood pulse at that and he couldnt help but take a step forward and grab Natalie tightly to him so she could get the full effect. He moved his head down towards hers, and just before he claimed her lips he whispered, Im already fully seduced. He then planted a blood-boiling, body-melting kiss on her and then abruptly stepped back having to steady her by grabbing her arms when her legs almost gave out. She shook her head, her eyes still closed, and said, Wow.
Natalie finally looked at him and asked, So, am I going to see you before Seduction Saturday and she trailed off on an adorable giggle. Johns entire face split into a smile he couldnt help it then he said, Oh! I totally forgot to ask you I had told Michael and Marcie we were going out tonight well, last night and they wanted to know if tomorrow night.. well, actually tonight we wanted to go out to Capricorn with them. They got a sitter and this is one of their few nights out
That sounds nice and I guess we wont be tempted if we stay in a public place
Oh, Ill be tempted but the fear of arrest MIGHT hold me back.
On that note, John held out his hand as if to shake Natalies. She smiled broadly at him and shook his hand, shaking her head at the same time. Night, John.
With that, he took his leave and Natalie decided to just sleep on her comfy and roomy double chaise rather than fight for space on her bed. She promptly fell into wonderful dreams of John and her finally making love.
Natalie slept in a bit, not wanting to leave her lovely dreams behind. Those, combined with the knowledge of what was coming tomorrow, conspired to keep Natalie in a heightened state of awareness -- OK, arousal! -- all day. She felt her temperature was running a bit hotter than normal and her nerve endings seemed to be quite sensitive. She didn't know how things would go tonight when she went out with John, Michael and Marcie. She figured it would be a bit more casual and less intense -- surely it would be with Michael and Marcie along -- than their previous two evenings out, but what WOULD it be like? One way or another she couldn't wait for the day to be over and to get on with it, and she couldnt believe it was only noon when she looked at her watch.
At that moment her cell phone rang and the caller ID showed it was John, and her stomach tightened a bit.
"Hello, she answered.
"Hey, he said huskily. "You finally get any sleep last night?
"Yeah, I did. I actually slept really well... nice dreams.
"Oh yeah? Anyone I know in them?
"Hmmm, maybe a certain FBI agent on leave
"Ah. We do anything fun?
Natalie chuckled, "Weelll, let's just say I am looking forward to seeing if the reality lives up to the dreams
John laughed softly and felt a bit of a charge run through his body. "So you're dreaming of me, huh? Well, I for one have confidence that you will be even better than 'dream Natalie' last night".
Natalie couldn't help the smile that was engulfing her face. If someone had told her just five days ago that she would be flirting with John McBain... and making out with him last night on the porch of a restaurant... and proactively planning to sleep with him tomorrow night ... well she would have thought they were nuts. But even more surprising was how open they had been which each other -- there was still a significant emotional connection, not just a rampant physical attraction.
"Hey John said, "You still there?
"Uh, yes" just thinking about things" Natalie purposely said in a whispery and flirty voice.
"You are an evil woman, Ms. Buchanan.
"Oh, Agent McBain, you have no idea.
The two of them chuckled into the phone, realizing this was getting silly -- fun, but silly.
"So, Natalie, do you want me to pick you up tonight?
"Well, that probably doesn't make much sense since you are coming from the same place as Michael and Marcie. Why don't I just meet you guys there?
"OK, how about 8?
"See you then, and I hope we get to dance again John
John groaned a bit and then laughed, "Natalie, Natalie, Natalie
Natalie was glad that the rest of her day flew by with appointment after appointment, and the need to review the set-up for a major fundraiser that night. Finally she dashed up to her place with just enough time to shower, get dressed, and put her make up on. This time she left her hair down.
Michael, Marcie and John drove over to Capricorn together, and for some reason John didn't mind the good-natured ribbing and less-than-gentle prying they were doing with regard to Natalie.
"So, bro, this is your third date with Natalie, huh? Third night in a row? I didn't think you had enough to say to fill three nights worth of conversation
"Well Michael Marcie chuckled, "Who says they were talking the whole time? I was up around 2:30 this morning with Tommy, and I could swear I heard a certain someone sneaking into his room
John just shook his head. "I wasn't sneaking, Marcie. I was simply trying to be considerate of others. And Natalie and I have plenty to talk about.. a lot of catching up to do.
"Hey, Johnny... We're just kidding you.. it's good to see you getting out and it always did seem like you and Natalie meant something to each other
John simply said, "Yeah, and that simple word spoke volumes to his brother and sister-in-law.
They walked into Ultraviolet and spent a little time catching up with Rex, who then showed them to a table he had reserved in their honor. There was a banquette facing the door, the table, and then two chairs facing the banquette. By tacit agreement John took the banquette so he could keep an eye on the door. Michael and Marcie could tell the moment that Natalie walked in, and they shared a conspiratorial glance that said, "Yeah, he's goner.
Natalie spotted the McBains across the room and gave a slight wave to John -- along with a smile -- as she headed in their direction. John smiled in return and stood to await her arrival, as did Michael and Marcie. He took in her outfit as she walked over, marveling at how she was relatively covered up, yet looked incredibly sexy. It was two floaty, flirty pieces of black silk ... a blouson blouse that was full as it curved into the band that fell just at her hips, its dolman sleeves ending at her elbow, coupled with a full skirt that moved freely around her knees. There was something about the outfit that reminded John of silk pajamas, and he tried to steer his mind from that direction. When Natalie arrived at the table there were hugs all around -- including one initiated by John with Natalie (further raising Michael and Marcie's eyebrows) -- and then Natalie took her seat beside John. Over the course of the next two hours they all talked and laughed ...truly enjoying the night with a lightheartedness that just felt good. John couldn't remember feeling even remotely like this since he was a boy, before his father died: just in the moment, having fun, not over-thinking everything. He was so glad to be spending this time with his brother and his wife ... but also knew without a doubt that being with Natalie, having opened himself up to her, was the main reason.
Natalie was thoroughly enjoying the evening -- and even managed to get John up on the dance floor a few times. It didnt take much of a fight, truth be told, because he took the opportunity to hold her very close, his body communicating without need for words exactly what he was thinking and feeling. If Natalie had thought her body was keyed up earlier in the day that was nothing compared to what it felt like with John's arms around her, his hardness meeting her softness, his breath heating the skin on her neck and down her back. Every now and again he would gently kiss her temple, or the crook of her neck -- whatever he could steal without many noticing. Natalie couldn't imagine what it was going to be like tomorrow night when they were all alone and didnt have to hold back at all. Of course there were several sets of keen eyes trained on them -- Michael, Marcie and Rex -- and they all marveled at John's seeming lack of inhibitions when it came to showing that he considered Natalie more than a friend. Maybe he HAD changed...
Michael and Marcie were also enjoying the chance to be out and just be together, slow dancing. When the music sped up again they started to head back to the table, as did John and Natalie. John put his arm around Natalie and his hand gently brushed her breast as he did so. At first she thought it was a mistake, but the wicked gleam in his eye as he looked at her told her it wasn't. Natalie started thinking of how she might begin to play this game herself V but first needed to head to the restroom. Marcie took the chance to come along, but for once didn't pry -- there really was no need to since it was evident she and John were acting like a pair.
When the women arrived back at the table, Natalie decided to toy a bit with John. Rather than sit on the part of the banquette closest to her -- the spot John had left for her -- she opted to sit on the other side of John. But instead of walking around to the other side of the table she scrambled over him, ensuring that she briefly landed on his lap, her tush grinding into the erection he was sporting, before she took her seat close beside him. It was all John could do to stifle a groan and he shot her a look which told her there would be payback. It didn't take long. As they sat talking with Michael and Marcie, John's hand snaked to the back of the band of her shirt, which had some elastic in it, ducked under the material and then made its way around her rib cage, allowing one of his fingers to rub her nipple through her bra, shielded by the billowy fabric of the shirt. He felt Natalie tremble a bit, but she was otherwise stoic. Not wanting to be outdone, she took her left leg -- which had been resting closely beside John's right one -- and tossed it OVER his right leg so that her thigh nestled between his legs, and directly on his aching groin. John closed his eyes for a moment and focused on controlling his breathing. All the while Michael and Marcie were oblivious since Natalie and John managed to nod at appropriate points in the conversation.
John was debating what to do next, when a wicked thought came to him, just as Marcie asked Michael to dance since her favorite song -- "Holding Back the Years by Simply Red -- was playing. As they began to stand, John moved his right hand along Natalie's thigh resting in his lap, then up under her skirt and before she could react two of his long fingers were moving her panties aside, parting her, and slowly entering her moist core. At that exact moment she happened to be taking a sip of her drink and the shock of John's actions caused her to inhale quickly, sucking some of her beverage down the wrong "pipe. As she began to cough her body bolted upright which served to do two things -- essentially plunge John's fingers deep inside her and trap the base of his thumb (oh, the wonderful base of his thumb!) against her most sensitive part. She continued to cough, which also caused her to squirm around, furthering heightening the wonderful torture.
Michael and Marcie remained standing by the table and it seemed like Michael was going to make a move towards them to see if Natalie needed any assistance when she waved her hands to ward him off. John jumped in, saying, "I'll take care of Natalie ... you go dance with your wife
For John's part, when he first moved his fingers past the barrier of Natalie's panties and then felt how wet she was, he thought he might lose it right there. Seconds later when her coughing spell ground her down on his hand, his fingers deep inside her, he could feel the jolt in his own groin. Her continued movements were torture, and he could see she was barely holding it together, using the screen of her coughing to hide the fact that she was actually moaning.
Natalie was in shock, since this had all happened so fast, but she was incapable of stopping the movements her body was demanding. She leaned back resting her head on Johns shoulder as she turned her head to look at him. The look in his eye was almost her own undoing V neither of them had a spark of humor in their intense gazes, just passion and pure lust. John could tell by the quaking of Natalie's entire body (which she was riding herd on so it was hardly noticeable) and the way she was beginning to contract around his fingers -- that she was close. He knew he should just stop -- they were in a club for God's sake -- but he simply couldn't. He leaned his mouth down to claim hers in a passionate yet tender kiss, and when their tongues met he captured Natalies unbidden cry when her orgasm hit. To anyone looking at them, it would simply seem like Natalie was leaning back for a PG-13 kiss, never knowing what was going on under the cover of the table and the dark club lighting. As Natalie's shudders continued to wane, John pressed small kisses into the back and side of her neck, and finally withdrew his hand from her. She leaned back against him with her eyes closed for a moment, then opened them to look up at him.
"My God, John... I can't believe... I mean...we're in a CLUB! But I ... I couldn't stop it!"
John hugged her tightly, "I know... I didn't mean for it to go that far... but then you moved when you coughed.... and it was... so... hot... But, Natalie, I am so sorry if in any way I upset or even offended youK I never intended to
He felt Natalie shake her head "Oh, John, I am SO not offended or upset... I may be in a bit of shock, but that was... intense...and amazing. But I do feel it is only fair to warn you that payback is a bitch"
John felt a thrill of excited -- and a tad bit of fear -- run through him as he contemplated what she might do to him. At that moment Michael and Marcie returned and John figured he was safe for a bit. About five minutes into their renewed conversation, Natalie gave him a sweet smile -- but he saw an evil glint in her eyes. A moment later, she "dropped a lipstick she had pulled out of her purse onto the floor under the table.
"Oops she said. "I'll have to scoot under here to get it A nanosecond later Natalie was under the table. She quickly retrieved her lipstick and as she turned around to come up from under the table she buried her face in John's crotch, her hot wet mouth briefly closing over John through his pants, then nibbling on him with her teeth before shooting back up and taking her seat.
As Natalie had disappeared under the table, John had girded himself but nothing had prepared him for what she did. The feel of her mouth on him, even through the fabric of his pants ...and then her teeth. He jerked and his right knee hit the table making all their drinks jostle a bit. Michael and Marcie looked at him in surprise, and he sheepishly squeaked out, 'Sorry, involuntary response... Natalie brushed against me and it felt like...a, um, mouse running over my foot.
When Natalie reclaimed her seat she didn't look at John for a moment because she knew she would collapse in a fit of laughter. She saw John look down and shake his head, and even in the dark she could see he had a small but noticeable wet stain right on his crotch -- she wasn't sure if that was all her doing or if he had lost at least a bit of the vaunted McBain control, but she just felt compelled to help him out. She nudged her glass of water off the table and onto his lap, at which point John jumped up in surprise. At least this time everyone understood why -- and being the incredibly helpful soul she is, Natalie immediately grabbed a napkin and started wiping the affected area... causing John's temperature to skyrocket, notwithstanding the ice-cold water that had doused him.
He grabbed her wrist and barked, "Natalie -- and Michael and Marcie began to laugh until they cried because it didn't take an idiot to realize why John might not want Natalie rubbing the front of his pants at this point Natalie began to giggle as well, finding the indignant and scandalized look on Johns face incredibly hysterical. It was too much to fight, and he collapsed back on the banquette and chuckled -- at least a little bit -- himself.
"Don't worry, bro. It's just water, I'm sure it'll dry fast... and maybe you needed a bit of cooling off anyway
This, of course, caused more giggling on Natalie's and Marcie's parts. They did remain a bit longer to give John a bit of time to dry out, and conversation was kept on safe topics.
When it came time to leave, Natalie insisted that it was not necessary that they drive her home After she said her good-byes to Michael and Marcie, John walked her over to the taxi stand. She turned to face him and they both just looked at each other and then laughed softly.
"Natalie, you are really a spitfire
"Me?! You're the one that started groping meK first my breast, and then...then, well ... you KNOW what you did!
"Funny, I don't recall any complaints, unless they were in between your moans
Natalie swatted his shoulder with a mixture of laughter and indignation. "You just wait McBain -- tomorrow you will be in my lair with nothing to stop me
John closed the distance between them and stood so his chest bumped Natalie's as he looked down and said softly, "You say that like it's a bad thing, and then kissed her deeply before pulling back. "You'd best get home and rest up... I think we both have some 'debts' to pay
John deposited Natalie in a taxi, and watched it leave. He sighed, thinking that the time was going to go at a glacial pace until he had dinner - and everything else -- with Natalie tomorrow night.
As Natalie sat back in the taxi, she still could not get over her own behavior. She had never been this way with any other guy -- and it occurred to her, based on tonight, that John just might kill her. The way he made her feel tonightKfully dressed, in a club -- a CLUB! -- but what a way to go!
Natalie woke up the same way she had drifted off to sleep thinking of the pleasure Johns touch had brought to her body. Those thoughts had chased her to her dreams, which were full of images of them making love. She didnt know how she was going to get through this day with every nerve ending tingling already. It was like she was truly in a perpetual state of arousal since they had acted like a couple of teenagers on the back porch of The Cottage. It was a revelation because she had felt essentially zero desire didnt even think her body would work that way anymore after the summer of Hayes Barbers reign of terror. But she couldnt help it, and she felt both mortified and excited when she remembered what they had done at Ultraviolet last night. She felt a delicious shudder run through her body and then spoke aloud to herself, Enough, Natalie. Time to hit the shower a COLD shower.
John wasnt doing much better, but then again, it wasnt exactly the worst kind of torture to remember the past two nights with Natalie. As he got ready at the ASH to spend the day with Michael, Marcie and Tommy they were going on a picnic in the park he contemplated whether he had enough time for a second cold shower this morning. It was getting ridiculous. He HAD to stop thinking of her, or he was going to have to resort to the standard tactic of junior high boys and wear his shirt untucked all day to hide the evidence of his traitorous thoughts that pushed uncomfortably against his zipper. It was going to be a LONG day.
Finally, it was 7:30 only 30 minutes to go and John would be here. Natalie surveyed her apartment and then the balcony which really was more like a large terrace. The apartment was virtually the same as the other evening, except she had lit a few candles and put some fresh flowers around and her bedroom was back to normal. Well, with a few extra candles OK a lot of extra candles softly glowing. But it was the terrace that she had spent the most time on. The space was almost as big as her living room, and it was a wonderful space with sweeping views of the city and out towards the open spaces in the distance. Surrounding it on three sides was a low stone wall that was topped with a wrought iron railing to add a bit of extra safety. She had spent some money to get just the right furnishings an outdoor black wicker sectional that had deep, thick cushions (red!); a large, equally cushy ottoman; and a massive double chaise that was at least the scale of a full-size bed. Off to the side, closer to the wall/railing was a small dining table that afforded great views from every chair. Scattered around were potted plants and flowers, lanterns, hurricanes with candles and votives tucked wherever a soft twinkling light would add to the ambience. Finally, soft jazz played through the artfully hidden speakers. She planned to serve cocktails and dinner catered by room service (there were GREAT advantages to living in/running a top-notch hotel) out there, and then well it was clear the idea was to end up in her bedroom. She felt a surge run through her at that thought, and she dashed to take one final look at her appearance.
Natalie had mulled over a number of outfits but this time had done it without pulling out everything she owned. At first she had tried to find something that didnt seem too obvious, but then she reminded herself that that probably didnt matter since it had been made explicitly clear that tonight was about them finally making love for goodness sake, she had actually labeled it Seduction Saturday! No need to be coy or subtle anymore. She settled on something that could be considered lounging pajamas like something out of the great 1940s movies that Katherine Hepburn might wear. The pants were pale pink silk charmeuse, and had a drawstring waist and a fluid drape. The top was a deep v-neck halter in the same color, but had matching lace overlaying the silk. A jeweled button closed it at the nape of her neck and a zipper closed it to a point low on her back. On her feet were silk high-heeled mules (also pale pink), and she had kept her jewelry to a minimum diamond stud earrings. She knew the color of her outfit set off her skin and hair well, especially as she had left it loose to tumble around her shoulders.
As much as Natalie had been DYING for this night to arrive, the minute the doorbell rang she felt a flock of butterflies flap in her stomach. Taking a deep breath she headed to the door and yanked it open without giving herself time to think. She and John then stood there for several seconds just looking at each other with goofy grins on their faces. John was wearing black dress slacks and a white dress shirt that was open at the neck. He was carrying his sport coat along with a bottle of wine.
John was captivated by Natalies appearance the moment she opened the door. She looked like well she just looked gorgeous. Sexy but in an elegant and sensual way as opposed to flashy and showy.
She finally laughed softly and invited him in. He handed her the bottle of wine, saying This is what we had the other night with dinner I thought tonight might warrant something a bit more special that beer.
Thanks, John. I thought this was delicious the other night. Um, why dont we head outside and we can enjoy a glass before dinner arrives.
Natalie caught Johns questioning look and said, Im cheating a bit. Rather than cook I thought Id just order from the hotel this way I know it will be good.
Sounds great he said as he followed her onto the terrace. He was amazed at the size of the space, the view and the way she had decorated it. Natalie, this is amazing
Yeah? Well, I love it out here. I spend so much time its so open and peaceful, and I love being out in the fresh air. Tell you what, enjoy the view while I go get a corkscrew and some glasses.
John did just that, as he also tried to quell his nerves and excitement. He just wanted to touch her, but knew he would have to have some patience.
She returned with a tray that held the wine and two glasses, and she rested it on the table so she could pour it, then handed John a glass and clinked her own to his gently. Looking him directly in the eye, with a small smile playing around her lips, she said, Cheers.
Natalie could feel the tension and heat between them and figured she needed to try to dial things back a little bit. She walked towards the wall and looked over the city, pointing in no specific direction. You can see so far on a clear day and while some of the view is of the skyline, this side of the building is a bit more private
John walked up and stood beside her to her left. His drink was in his left hand and he put his right hand up to gently rest on the nape of Natalies neck, under her hair, and he felt the small tremor that went through her body at the contact. She closed her eyes briefly before turning her head to look at him with a shy smile on her lips but heat in her eyes which intensified when he started rubbing his thumb on her neck. They stared at each other as if mesmerized and then John moved Natalies hair to the side and placed an open-mouthed kiss on her nape where his hand had been. Natalie closed her eyes and sighed, and was gripping her wineglass so tightly she feared she would snap the stem. John finally moved his head from her neck, pulled her toward him in a sideways hug and kissed her temple softly, looking at the view once again.
Natalie turned, saying huskily, Do you want to sit? John nodded and led the way to the oversized chaise. Natalie sat first followed by John, who put his arm around her and scooped her tightly to his side. They sat this way for quite some time, not saying a word, but simply enjoying the quiet, the view, the cooler evening air, the jazz in the background just being together. A few times they would glance almost shyly at each other and smile. After a while, John said This is nice being here with you, like this. And Natalie turned to look at him responding, It just feels right. John looked at her and took her wineglass from her hand, putting it with his on the small table next to him. He pushed the hair back from her face and brought his lips to hers in a gentle kiss. When Natalie opened her mouth to encourage a deeper kiss, John rolled towards her with his body half-covering hers as their tongues began to explore each other. Natalie could feel her heart start to pound as she wrapped her arms tightly around Johns back and the lower part of her body began to shift restlessly. Suddenly she heard the sound of bells, and realized it was her doorbell dinner had arrived. She ripped her mouth from Johns and they both panted for a moment before she said, Ill be right back. John fell back against the cushions, tossing an arm over his eyes and trying to catch his breath. What she did to him
Natalie came back with the room service waiter in tow, who took his time setting up their meal on the table, even taking time to light the candles Natalie had placed there. Finally, he took his leave and John walked over to Natalie. Placing his right hand in the small of her back he gestured with the other towards the table. This looks great shall we? Natalie took a step towards the table but then he felt her stop. He could tell she was slightly agitated as she turned to him and said, I cant do this I cant
John was a bit taken aback and more than a little disappointed, but he also understood that this was a big step for them, and especially her. He swallowed hard and reached out his hand to take hers. Hey, its OK. I understand. Look, we can just have dinner, enjoy the evening and being together
Natalie shook her head, No, John. Thats not what I meant. I meant I just I cant sit here and make conversation and pretend I care about this meal at this point I cant wait any more I want to make love with you now unless you are starving
Natalie didnt get to complete the thought because Johns lips had descended on hers in a passionate kiss that she felt down to her toes and everywhere in between. She clung to him helplessly as his tongue plundered her mouth. When they had to break apart for air, taking in gulps, he asked in a shaky voice, Do you feel what Im starving for? Natalie just nodded and then took his right hand in both of hers and began walking backwards, pulling him with her. Rather than heading towards the door they had come out of, she led him to a separate set of glass doors that led to her bedroom. They stepped inside and he took in the softly lit, peaceful feel of the space. In the center was a large bed that looked like a cloud with its puffy white bedding and endless array of pillows. At the foot of the bed was an upholstered bench. He hadnt realized how large the space was the other evening, and off to the side were a small desk and chair and a conversation area with a loveseat, two smallish armchairs and coffee table. The color scheme was white, buttery yellow and slate blue. Beyond that was a door that led to her bathroom.
Natalie walked John towards the foot of her bed and stopped to look at him. He couldnt get over how luminous she looked in the soft light coming from one tiny lamp on the desk and the candles that glowed everywhere. He took her face in both of his hands and she loved the feel of his callused fingers on her face. Are you sure, Natalie?
Not trusting her voice, her eyes huge in her face, she simply nodded and could have cried at the look of tenderness that washed over Johns face. He could see the pulse jumping in her neck, and he brought a finger down to touch it and then replaced his finger with his lips in a soft kiss. Then he stood back and said, Undress me, Natalie.
Natalie felt a ripple of excitement and anticipation course through her, but also a sense of gratitude. She knew what he was doing he was letting her be in control, making him the vulnerable one first. She couldnt get over his sensitivity and how well he seemed to know just what she needed.
With shaking hands she started to undo the buttons on his shirt, never breaking eye contact. John could feel his own pulse begin to race it felt intensely erotic to have her slowly undressing him. She undid the buttons at his wrists and slid the shirt off his shoulders, down over his arms, and then placed it on the bench in front of her bed. She then tugged the hem of his tank t-shirt from his waist band and lifted that over his head, and as she did so her covered breasts briefly made contact with the muscles of his chest, and both sucked in a breath. After she had tossed the t-shirt on top of the shirt, she noticed the scar from when Haver had shot him and before she could stop herself she gently but briefly pressed her lips against it, taking pleasure in the effect she was having as Johns abdominals contracted sharply. Then she was standing in front of him and she looked into his eyes, and she could see the passion that burned there, a passion that he was holding in check for her sake. Natalie bent down and removed his shoes and socks. Her hands, now openly trembling, made their way to his belt, which she undid and slipped from the belt loops. Losing a bit of control, she simply let the belt drop to the floor as her hands moved to the button of his trousers. She undid it and then slid the zipper down and with a small push the pants fell to the floor. Breathing deeply, John stepped out of them and now stood before Natalie in his boxers which did little to hide what her touch was doing to him. Natalie couldnt quite catch her breath and she moved her hands to the elastic band at Johns hips. She rested her hands there for a moment, then hooked her fingers inside the band and began to pull down, having to tug a little harder to move the material over the resistance of Johns straining manhood. She purposely avoided looking there until his boxers were at his feet, and John quickly kicked them aside.
Natalie could not remember feeling as sexually charged as she did right now. Slowly undressing John had been such a turn on and she could feel herself getting wetter, but when she saw him standing there, his large erection jutting out, the beautiful muscles of his legs, stomach, chest, shoulders, arms all tense she felt a jolt of desire sear her core.
John could see her swallowing hard through her shallow breaths and felt himself growing even harder and bigger which had seemed impossible under her heated gaze. He wasnt sure how long he could keep his control since he wanted to touch her so badly.
Natalie reached up to run her hand down Johns face and whispered, Now you do me and John groaned and closed his eyes, then grabbed her hand and kissed her palm.
Not losing eye contact, Johns hands went to the nape of her neck and undid the single button. The front of her halter fell immediately exposing her breasts, and John couldnt resist a single, almost chaste kiss, against one of her nipples, and he reveled in the feel of Natalies entire body quaking at that contact. Standing straight and recapturing her gaze, which seemed drowsy with want, he moved his hands to the back of the halter and pulled the zipper down until the fabric fully parted and he tossed the garment on top of his clothes on the bench. While he was doing that Natalie had kicked off her shoes, and he found her urgency reassuring. His hands went to the drawstring of her silk pajama pants and he pulled on in while dipping his head for a quick kiss on her lips. With the string loosened her pants slid quickly down her legs, landing in a silken pool at her feet. It was only then that John realized she was not wearing panties and he could not contain the deep moan that escaped as that realization dawned and he took in her voluptuous naked form which had blushed a pale pink.
Natalie thought she might just die right then and there if just his stare would do this to her how could she survive his touch?
John wanted to do nothing but give Natalie pleasure over every inch of her body. To erase every other feeling she had ever had, everything that had been done to hurt her. He tenderly took her in his arms for a tight hug and both of them exhaled at the contact. She could feel how big and hard he was against the softness of her stomach and she wanted him to use that strength to banish the ache that spread through her womb and the tight, wet passage that guarded it.
John pulled back to look at her and softly asked, Do you trust me, Natalie?
Yes, she whispered in return.
I want this to be all about what you feel about touch and sensation He said this with his mouth close to her neck and ear, the warmth of his breath raising goose bumps all over her, and Natalie was afraid she might fall down. Without warning John picked Natalie up and walked around the side of her bed and deposited her in the middle of the cloud. He then walked to the chair by her desk on which he had noticed an oblong silk scarf hanging. He picked it up and slowly walked towards Natalie and she felt the thrill of anticipation at what he might do to her.
John gently caressed her face and leaned down to kiss her with equal gentleness. Then he covered her eyes with the scarf and tied it behind her like a blindfold. Natalie felt her pulse race and she was sure he must be able to hear her pounding heartbeat. Her breath became shallow as she waited to feel what came next.
First, with a feather light touch John moved his fingertips all over Natalie, the hair on her body standing on end in the wake of his touch. Over time his caresses became deeper and his lips joined in, kissing her first lightly and then more open-mouthed with his tongue bathing her. His approach was essentially random she never knew where she would next feel his hand or mouth and the experience was intensely erotic as she felt all her senses had heightened. Driving her to distraction he had focused until now on her arms, legs, feet, stomach, shoulders and neck every now and again swooping in to kiss her mouth but he was steering clear of the where her body most wanted to feel him.
John was also finding this an incredible turn-on as he watched Natalies reaction shallow breathing becoming gasps and pants her body tensing where she thought she might next feel his touch. His own arousal was becoming painful but he wanted to do this for her for them. Natalie was craving his touch and desperately wanted him to assuage the gnawing ache that was molten between her legs and in her hardened nipples. When John reached across her she felt his rock-hard erection press against her and she moaned, which may have been the final straw because he finally relented and clamped his mouth over one of her nipples. Natalie felt an electric jolt through her entire body and then centering in her core, and she began to writhe under his touch. He then moved his mouth to her other breast while his hand replaced his mouth on the first. Natalie kept whispering his name, John John Johnover and over because she was incapable of saying anything else.
John knew Natalie was ready, with no apprehension or hesitation. As she had writhed on the bed her legs had fallen open and he took advantage of this, and her continued inability to see him. Natalie could sense the shift in his weight and was dying to know where hed torture her next when she felt his tongue plunge forcefully inside her wet passage. Her reaction was fast and strong and she cried out and her hips bucked so hard she would have knocked John off her had he not anticipated her response and clamped his hands down on her hips seconds before his mouth had taken such intimate hold of her. Besides panting and groaning the only sound Natalie could make was a few weak attempts at his name, which came out like whimpers as her head moved listlessly from side to side. She was simply floating on an endless sensation of ache and pleasure competing for supremacy. His mouth and tongue were doing amazing things, and when he plunged two fingers inside her so his tongue could dwell on her clit she truly thought she would die. But John was adept and managed to keep taking her to new heights, where she had never been, and when she was sure shed finally fall over the edge she would instead feel herself start to climb higher. She had lost all reason and was almost desperate for release, yet at the same time didnt want this exquisite torture to end. She had no more control and couldnt help the guttural moans that escaped from deep in her throat.
John had never been more aroused in his life as he realized what his touch was doing to her, and he knew they both needed a release soon. Without warning he plunged his tongue inside her to join his fingers and the intensity of that touch as his upper lip pressed against her bud was too much. On a whispered scream she cried out his name but it turned into almost a hum as she shuddered violently through her release. She whimpered as wave after wave crashed over her, feeling as if she had shattered into a million glittering pieces which must have been what caused the explosion of light behind her closed eyes. She felt like she was hot liquid without a bone left in her body.
John was rocked by the intensity of Natalies orgasm and as she clenched around his finger and tongue and he drank her he knew he couldnt hold back any longer. Natalie wanted more, too, because she kept moaning, Please please please
John moved up her body, positioning himself between her legs. Then he reached up to remove the blindfold. He wanted them to see each other as he entered her as they completed this journey.
Natalie welcomed Johns movement, knowing what was finally coming. When he removed the blindfold her passion-glazed eyes met his intense blue ones, and she felt the emotion in them wash over her the tenderness and the passion. They looked at each other for a long moment and Natalie reached up to caress Johns face. They didnt need words. He lowered himself to kiss her gently, then pulled back. He reached down, grabbing his manhood and running it along Natalie, causing her hips to jump. Then he put the tip at her opening and bracketing her head with both of his hands, slowly pushing into her body, shifting his weight from his hands to his pelvis as he buried himself up to the hilt inside her hot, tight passage. The whole time, their eyes remained locked and each noted the deepening color of the others eyes.
What Natalie felt as John entered her was indescribable His thick length caused exquisite friction against her still-contracting walls. She could feel herself stretching to accommodate him. John couldnt believe how it felt to have her completely engulf him he could not remember an intimate embrace to tight, so hot, so wet. He slowly began to move in and out, almost withdrawing completely and then pushing all the way back in, and Natalie felt her body start to tighten and ache again. John was trying to maintain as much control as he could, but wanted so badly to drive into Natalie until she screamed. Natalie couldnt stand the slow torture any more she was desperate to feel him forcefully take her to where they needed to go. Unable to help herself she reached around and grabbed onto Johns ass, her nails digging in a bit as she pushed him with all her strength into her. That was all the hint John needed, and he finally gave them what they both craved, pounding into Natalie and then claiming her mouth in a searing kiss, his tongue mimicking the motion of his taut muscle that was now spearing Natalie.
John felt Natalie begin to contract around him and he pulled his mouth away from hers to gasp for breath. The sound of her moans, coupled with her hands that still ground him into her was too much for him, and he buried himself deeper than he thought possible as he came inside her, his whole body shuddering against her. That was all Natalie needed and she felt her own orgasm grab hold, and the only cogent thought she had was one of wonder, that this was even more intense than her first one. As magic as his tongue and fingers had been, they ultimately could not measure up to the feeling of his manhood practically splitting her in two.
Slowly they came back to reality, but remained joined in a tangle of limbs, John still inside her. John was placing soft kisses along her neck and shoulders as she held him in a tight embrace. Then he looked her in the eyes, pushed back the hair from her face, and kissed Natalie deeply in a soul-stirring kiss. Natalie shifted her hips and that action, combined with the kiss, caused a stirring in John and he felt himself growing hard again. This time they took it slow, sensuous, languorous, but the effect was still the same blissful release.
Natalie rested against Johns chest in the circle of his arms, and sighed with deep contentment.
You OK? John asked.
Yessss, I am she said a bit drowsily, totally sated.
He tipped her head up so that he could see her face, and softly kissed her. You are amazing Natalie that was amazing.
Natalie smiled back and said, It truly was. She said that somewhat dreamily, but he thought he detected at least a touch of wistfulness.
Hey, look at me. Whats wrong?
Natalie looked at him and shook her head slightly. Nothing its just that, this whole night has been so special and I dont want it to end but I know it has to
Hey, hey first of all, theres going to be a lot of other nights and second, this night is FAR from over
At that, John took possession of Natalies mouth again as he rolled her underneath him and began to make love to her all over again.
After sleeping for an hour, they both began to stir. Natalie laughed when she heard Johns stomach rumble loudly. Oh, yeah, I guess we forgot to eat.
John laughed, too, saying, Yeah, and we worked up an appetite.
Well, how about we go out to the terrace and see if we can salvage anything or, if not, I can order more room service.
Natalie got up and walked towards the door without putting anything on, though she did tug a comforter with her. At Johns expression she said Its pretty private out there and late or early. Plus, well hide out under this comforter together. John got up and joined her and had to admit he enjoyed the feel of the cool night air on his skin and watching Natalie in the moonlight. They grabbed the dessert chocolate souffl and refilled glasses of wine and stretched out on the chaise under the comforter. They fed each other dessert, stealing soft kisses in between bites. Then they held each other as they watched the sunrise.
With dawn breaking over Llanview, a beautiful array of colors lightening the sky, John and Natalie drifted off to sleep. About an hour later the sun had moved higher in the sky, but it was still a relatively cool morning and the touch of the cool breeze moving over Natalies exposed breasts is what woke her. She didnt immediately remember where she was, but quickly realized it as she took in the fact that she was uncovered to just below the waist, and the soft yet taut space between her belly button and the apex of her thighs was being kept warm by Johns large hand, tossed over her protectively as he slept. She felt a tenderness wash over her, but that also competed with the desire that took almost immediate hold as she remembered what that hand and its twin had done to her. She simply could not get enough of this man. She studied Johns sleeping face, which looked younger and more relaxed in repose. He, too, was uncovered to just below his waist, and she enjoyed the chance to look at his muscular physique, set off by his tattoos and a sprinkling of hair in strategic locations not too much, but just enough to feel delicious against her skin. As she glanced lower, she saw the tenting of the comforter at the juncture of his legs, and she felt her desire grow more apparent.
Natalie gently pulled up on the comforter to shield them from view although it was unlikely anyone would be up to see them this early, nor were there any proximate vantage points unless someone had a telescope or binoculars. However, she did want to preserve a little privacy just in case. She moved down on the chaise and then moved her mouth onto Johns erection, taking in all of him in one quick motion. Johns hips bucked involuntarily and a moan was ripped from his throat as his eyes shot open. For a moment he, too, was disoriented and then he realized what or who was providing the wonderfully agonizing wake-up call. He felt himself grow even harder and thicker at the sight of the comforter moving around with Natalie completely hidden from view. He moved his two hands to the back of her head as her mouth worked its incredible magic, and he got a strangled Natalie out in a combination whisper/moan. As John grew more excited and his hips writhed, Natalie clamped her arms around his waist and she opened her mouth even wider to accommodate him while not letting up on the pressure. The way she worked her tongue, lips, teeth and suction was causing John to lose touch with reality as he felt himself grow tighter and tighter, his limbs starting to feel like liquid. When Natalie moved one hand up to pinch his nipple while the other snaked around his backside to pull him even deeper into her mouth so he hit the back of her throat, he completely lost it, cumming hotly in her mouth and his entire body was wracked with violent shudders as he gulped mouthfuls of air between his moans.
Natalie was incredibly turned on by the reaction she had gotten from John, and had felt some of her own wetness seep onto her thighs as she swallowed Johns. Finally she removed her mouth and trailed kisses up his entire body, lying on him when her mouth finally took possession of his. As their mouths opened and tongues passionately parried with each other, John reached down to grab Natalies ass and then pulled on her upper thighs just below her cheeks so that her legs opened and his still-hard penis pressed between her lips and on her swollen clit. He ground her down on him even harder when he felt the vibration of her surprised moan inside his mouth. Finally he grabbed each side of her face and pulled her mouth away so he could look at her, their passion-stormy eyes meeting each other intently as they both panted for breath. Then he pulled her down onto his chest, tightly wrapping his arms around her. He felt her hot breath hit the crook of his neck as she settled there and he said, That was an incredible way to wake up but are you trying to kill me?
Natalie chuckled softly. No I just couldnt resist. You may have created a monster, Agent McBain I cant seem to get enough of you I just have to have my way with you
Well, the feeling is obviously mutual Ive had at least a partial erection since my first day in town when I saw you walk into The Palace restaurant and even after last night and this morning, it still hasnt gone away To underline his point, John lifted his hips off the chaise just enough to steal a gasp from Natalie at the increased contact.
The were quiet for a bit as Natalies body still covered Johns and his hands traced light paths down her shoulders, back, tush and thighs. Finally Natalie asked, Do you have plans for today?
And in answer John tilted her head up so they could see each other and then claimed her mouth in a searing kiss, and Natalie could feel him grow thick again beneath her.
Hmmm, big boy. You want to spend the day with me, maybe we should get ourselves showered and ready to face the day or round two. She said that on a wink and John laughed at her playfulness. She moved off of him slowly in order to torture him just a little bit more then reached for his hand. Not bothering to cover up with the comforter, they made their way through Natalies bedroom and into her bathroom. John stopped short as he took in that massive room. To his right was a large Jacuzzi tub, surrounded by marble and festooned with candles and a basket of soaps and bath products. To his left was an incredibly large marble-tiled shower with glass doors. It was the size of a walk-in closet and had four shower heads and tiled benches running along both sides. Lining the end of the bathroom was a long countertop with his/her sinks and vanities, and to the left of that was a doorway that led to the toilet area.
Wow, was all he could manage.
Yeah, I know. Im still not quite used to it, but I have come to love it. So. bath or shower?
Hmmm, decisions decisions. How about a shower for now but maybe we can enjoy a quiet evening in the tub.
Why John McBain, how much time were you planning on spending here with me?
Until you throw me out for the day or night.
Well, I guess as long as you are still useful, Natalie said as she eyed his pelvis which proudly displayed his ongoing interest in her.
John couldnt help but blush a bit when he laughed and shook his head. He took a step closer to her, all humor gone from his face as one finger tip reached out and gently traced the outline of one of Natalies equally erect nipples. As she sucked in a breath and her eyes stayed locked on his, a long, thick finger from his other hand snaked gently between her moist lips and inside her. He whispered huskily, I guess were both still tracking with each other.
Natalie closed her eyes and nodded, feeling a twinge of disappointment when John removed both his hands from her. She turned toward the shower and turned all four shower heads on, steam starting to rise quickly. Over her shoulder she whispered, Coming? and walked into the large marble enclosure. John didnt hesitate to join her, and quickly grabbed the shampoo out of Natalies hands, saying, Let me.
John proceeded to wash Natalies hair, and then picked up her soap to cleanse the rest of her. As he did so he noticed all the markings their night of passion had left behind small bruises, love bites, indications of whisker burn. Natalie, you have such delicate skin I hope I didnt hurt you
John, did you hear me complaining?
Natalie began to wash John as well, and they were becoming increasingly aroused with their touches growing longer, deeper, more insistent. Finally John grabbed Natalie to him tightly as his mouth came down on hers, and she wound her arms around him with equal ardor. He backed up until he felt the backs of his legs hit one of the benches, then sat down. He then gently turned Natalie around and began to pull her back towards him. She understood what he wanted and felt the realization jolt through her and increase her excitement. She placed a foot on either side of Johns, and then let him guide her down onto his lap and onto and around his huge erection. She felt him fill her completely, stretching her a bit as she sank down onto him, letting out a soft, breathless moan during that entire journey, the kisses he planted on her back increasing her pleasure.
As John looked at Natalies tight backside in front of him, and then saw her widen her stance around his legs so she could do what he wanted, he had to bite the inside of his mouth to stop from groaning he wanted to hear Natalies own sounds and knew his would drown her out, so strong would it have been. He watched himself disappear and thought he might lose it then and there as he felt her take all of him into her tight, hot body. John wrapped his arms tightly around her for a moment, pulling her back against his chest. When he was completely buried inside her neither of them moved for a moment, but then John reached around in front to begin to rhythmically move the fingers from his right hand over her clit with just the right amount of pressure to take her breath away. The sensation of his fingers there, as his thickness pressed against her walls was almost more than she could bear. To quench the ache, she began to move. She knew the only way out was to go to that place that only could take her not to be quenched at first, but to devastate her, leading her to a shattering climax that would only briefly sate her until she felt her need of him build again. Natalie became writhing motion and sensation as she gyrated in time with that of Johns hips as he kept himself buried tightly within and the corresponding movement of his fingers on her. She felt the pressure within her build, and couldnt believe it when it seemed John was actually growing inside of her. Her moans, groans and whimpers echoed off the marble as warm jets of water continued to hit their bodies.
John wanted to last but knew it would be over quickly if he didnt change the pace a little bit. At this point Natalie was completely pliant, lost in the sensations flowing through her body, so he got no resistance when he moved his hands to her waist and pulled her off of him some only to plunge her back down. He did this several times and her head was moving around on her shoulders like a rag doll, her breasts bouncing with the force of their re-coupling. Knowing they were both getting close he could feel Natalie getting tighter around him with each thrust, and beginning to contract he lowered her slowly back on to him and began to move his own hips in a deliciously fluid motion that Natalie matched. What had been fast and frenzied was becoming slow and languid as their bodies writhed against each other and John reached around and began to massage Natalies breasts. Finally John scooted to the edge of the bench and suddenly opened his own legs wide, completely spreading Natalies and causing her to fall even harder and deeper onto his thrusting manhood. That was all she needed she started to scream out his name but couldnt even finish as her intense orgasm gripped her and she could only manage to gasp for air and groan as her body moved on his in undulating waves.
John felt like he was being held captive in a tight, hot, contracting vice and he held onto Natalie for dear life, grunting against her back as his own orgasm ripped through him.
Natalie collapsed back against John as both of them sucked in air and slowly came back to earth. Johns arms formed a tight band around her and she felt him still inside her, and she didnt want this moment to end.
With a shaky voice, John groaned, God, what you do to me Natalie. When we reach that place I feel like I am on the verge of dying, and I WANT to
Natalie couldnt manage words yet, but simply nodded and wrapped her own arms around Johns in reply.
Finally, John gripped Natalies hips and helped her stand up and disconnect from him. He could tell she was still shaking a bit, so he didnt let go of her as he stood up, kept her steady as he turned off the shower, and then he scooped her up to carry her to bed. He helped her climb in, got in beside her, and stroking her hair, said, Get some rest
In seconds they were both sleeping deeply, comforted by the contact of dreaming in each others arms.
A hunger pang woke John, and it was with some surprise that he looked at the clock it was noon! They had been asleep for a good four hours clearly they had worn each other out. He looked at Natalies sleeping form, her gorgeous face, and felt a surge of feeling rush through him. He had been fighting his feelings for her for so long, but now that there didnt seem to be a reason to, he was startled by how deep and intense they were becoming. Natalie began to stir as well, and her beautiful blue eyes, still drowsy with sleep, met his.
Hey what time is it?
Wow you want some food? Guess we missed breakfast and since we didnt actually have dinner, Im starved. Have to keep my strength up or you WILL kill me.
You?! Im older than you, remember?
Well, McBain, doesnt seem like youve lost a step or anything you want me to order room service?
Uh, Natalie, I think we need to get dressed and go out to get something to eat, or well never get around to actually eating.
Yeah, youre probably right.
Ok, can we stop by my place for a quick stop so I can change? Then we can go to Rodis or something.
As Natalie and John were getting dressed which struck Natalie as incredibly intimate for some reason, which didnt make much sense given all they had been doing to each other for the previous 16 hours his cell phone rang. It was Michael calling to see if he and Natalie wanted to grab a late lunch at Rodis. Natalie nodded yes, and they made plans to meet up with Michael and Marcie in their apartment in an hour.
When they got to Johns room twenty minutes later, he wouldnt let her come in. The temptation to christen my room will be too tempting at least for me so go to the roof and wait for me. Ill be up in five minutes with a couple of beers and we can kick back for bit before we meet up with the others.
Natalie just laughed and headed for the roof.
Fifteen minutes later Michael was walking to his apartment and the door opened before he could get his key in the door. It was Marcie, and they startled each other for a moment. Michael! Do you hear that?
There was a strange noise oh, there it goes again!
Is it the wind howling?
Michael, its summer, not winter, and there isnt a storm or anything.
At that moment Roxie happened by.
Hey, Doc Mrs. Doc I was coming to see if it was you crazy kids playin doctor and makin noise, but I see you arent in fragrance delighto...
Dont you mean in flagrante delicto, Roxie? asked Marcie.
Yeah, that but listen, there it goes again you think theres an animal caught somewhere? Sounds like its coming from the roof.
The three set off to the roof to explore, and as each stepped through the door they stopped dead at the spectacle in front of them.
They saw Johns fully-clothed back, with his belt dangling loosely down his sides. A womans naked legs were wrapped tightly around his waist, and her arms were clutching his shoulders, hands snaking through his hair. Johns hands were on the womans thighs, helping to support her as the rest of his body pinned her to the wall. The telltale red tresses that had cascaded on Johns shoulders gave away her identity to the stunned trio. So intent were John and Natalie on their activity not to mention deaf to other noises given their cries of passion clearly generated by the Johns thrusting motions that at first they didnt hear the others arrival. The door slamming jolted them out of their pleasure zone as Johns head whipped around and Natalies face peered over his shoulder. In mortification she buried her head in that same shoulder.
John froze mid-thrust. No one spoke for a full ten seconds until Roxie God bless Roxie broke the silence.
Hey, Natty I see you finally saddled up your McHottie federal stallion cant say I blame you and you, Johnny Mac well, I knew you always wanted to take Natalie out for a spin heck, who didnt see that guess you couldnt even wait to get her down to your bed
Natalies small, weak voice pleaded, Roxieeee
Marcie and Michael were initially speechless, but then didnt trust themselves to speak without collapsing in a fit of laughter, so they just stood rooted to the spot.
Finally John found his voice. Uh, Mike, well meet you downstairs, OK?
Yeah, uh, OK how long will you be? he asked before thinking through the question.
Michael! John and Marcie shouted in unison
Sorry I, uh, well
Before they could move towards the stairs Roxie helpfully piped up, Oh, based on the way they were going at it and those animal noises, they were pretty close to done so unless Johnny boy died on the vine on account of us watching and, hey, some people get off on that, hows he feeling Natty?
Roxie!!!, Natalie shrieked.
OK OK, I get it, fives a crowd
With that John and Natalie were left blessedly alone. They hadnt moved. John still had Natalie pressed up against the wall with her wound around him, her head buried in shoulder. She groaned in embarrassment, but couldnt help detecting the change in Johns anatomy which had actually grown bigger. With a combination of humor-tinged surprise and stoked desire, she said, Apparently you DO like an audience.
With that John pulled back to look her in the eyes, his darkened with passion Nope, I just cant get enough of you. And he finished what he started before they headed to Michael & Marcies 15 minutes later.
Knowing they were in for a tremendous ribbing, they decided to take the bull by the horns.
OK, John said. Im sure youve done quite a bit of laughing already, so you have 2 minutes to bust our chops and then we are going to eat. Natalie and I are starved.
With an arched eyebrow Michael said, Im sure you are! Then he peered around John and said, Nice to see you again, Natalie. So glad that you and my brother have really connected this time around you seem quite, um, compatible He couldnt finish because he was now openly laughing.
Actually Michael, so am I. I am finding your brother incredibly engaging stimulating, even. And Marcie, if it runs in the family, you are no doubt a lucky woman. Anyway, can we please go eat now, we need to restore ourselves given the plans I have for John for later.
With that saucy comment she led the way out of the apartment and the four had a fun night at Rodis before both couples headed in their own directions to work off their meals.
Five weeks later
Natalie sat at her desk trying to jump-start her morning with a huge cup of coffee, but her mind was elsewhere more specifically on her apartment at the top of the building where John was stilled sprawled out in their bed where she had left him after he had woken her up in the most delicious way, and then she had returned the favor. Hmmm THEIR bed she thought. But that was what it felt like at this point. They had been virtually inseparable over the past weeks and John spent very little time over at the Angel Square Hotel. He still kept some of his clothes and personal effects there, but for all intents and purposes he was living with Natalie and she loved every minute of it even if she was horribly sleep deprived.
Natalie stretched like a contented cat basking in the sun when she thought about the reasons for her lack of sleep. She and John had not lost an ounce of their fervent desire for one another if anything it had grown! Yet it had morphed some in that it the way they demonstrated it had become quite varied in nature. At times it was frenzied and feverish and Natalie was sure her whole body would explode in a glorious death. John would take Natalie with a breathtaking force that made her excited just to think about and it also helped her realize how deeply she did trust him because it triggered no unpleasant memories of Hayes. But other times it was slow and tender as if their bodies were doing all the talking for them. During those times, they would just look at each other, seeing the passion playing across their features and pulling sounds from their throats, but still their eyes would remained locked Natalie had never felt so close to anyone and she knew in those moments with certainty exactly how deep Johns feelings were for her. And she was sure her equally strong feelings were clearly evident in her own eyes. They had not yet said the words I love you to each other, and she couldnt help but believe it was because of the moment looming 2-3 weeks down the road when John would have to go back to his real life.
John stretched and instinctively reached out for Natalie before realizing she had gone downstairs to her office and he missed her already. And he was still surprised, not so much by that feeling but how open he was to admitting it to himself, and to Natalie. He knew that she was surprised but also touched and pleased that he had become so vocal and open. Heck, he had made his feelings for Natalie an open book for anyone with eyes in their heads to see, since they spent all their free time together and didnt try to hide the fact that they had become involved with each other deeply so. Of course, he chuckled at the memory, there was no way they could keep up any pretense with Michael, Marcie and Roxie and based on a few humorous glances tossed his way, he was pretty sure a few others had learned of what had happened on the roof. But John simply couldnt bring himself to care, and that was a wonderful feeling.
John found his desire for Natalie to be insatiable, and was relieved and incredibly turned on by the fact that she had an equally robust passion for him. At times he couldnt be measured about it and he simply had to claim her with a force and possessiveness that threatened to swamp them both but shed cling to him for dear life and meet him every step of the way. Yet he had come to cherish the slower and gentler times when it seemed as if they had all the time in the world and they wanted to savor every movement, every touch.
Oh wow, John thought. I am becoming a lovesick, mooning bastard! Next thing Ill be writing fricken poetry! But somehow that didnt sound that bad when it was in regard to Natalie.
John had not spent all his time lounging about between endless sessions of making love to Natalie. Not entirely. Bo had actually asked him to consult on a few open cases and he enjoyed keeping a hand in and working with Bo and Antonio again but also the fact that he had no trouble closing the files at the end of the day. Of course, he also took long lunch breaks since Natalie sometimes summoned him back to her lair when she had a break in meetings. At that thought he felt himself harden and shook his head in amazement. And he couldnt imagine leaving Llanview and Natalie and living out of a suitcase again in different countries every few weeks. Bo had again asked him about taking the Chief of Detectives job and it was all John could do to not immediately jump at it he would except he didnt want to do anything that could possibly upset Natalie and put her in an awkward position, in the event that she didnt want this to become a longer-term thing. Even as that thought passed into his head he began to discount it because the look in Natalies eyes told him that she was probably feeling the same way he was so lucky they had grabbed this chance again, and not wanting to lose it.
He was going to have to talk to her about this and that thought made him scared and excited.
Natalie was sitting at her desk when there was a knock at her door, and for a moment she wondered if it would be John. She told the knocker to come in, and it was her mother, Vikis, head that peeked around the door.
Natalie got up and walked over to hug her. Mom, this is a nice surprise do you want to have a late breakfast or early lunch?
Well, dear, I will need to take a rain check on that because I have a hospital board meeting, but I needed to ask you a quick favor.
Sure here, sit on the couch what can I do?
I have gotten a call from someone who has an interest in possibly buying Crossroads. I havent been out there in so long that I dont even know what shape it is in whether it is OK to show as it is, or if I need to have it cleaned and spruced up a bit first. I was wondering, darling, if you might have time to pop over there the next few days and take a peek..
Wow, someone wants to buy Crossroads. Well, I guess it would be good to see it back in action but somehow knowing it was there. Anyway, Id be happy to do that. I can probably drag John with me later this evening since I dont think we have any real plans
Viki smiled broadly at the natural way Natalie spoke about John and fit him into her plans. Natalie, I am so glad things seem to be working with you and John. You two always had a closeness well, once you forgave him for what happened in Las Vegas. He became a good friend to you, in addition to saving your life. When you two came to the barbecue last weekend, I detected some real changes in John he seemed much more open and no longer seemed to be fighting what he thinks of you feels for you
Natalie smiled in return, I know. It really is something else just a bolt out of the blue. A chance to turn the clock back a bit, but then not really because we are different people and time has eased some of the things that got in the way I just wish he didnt have to leave soon. But maybe we can handle the long-distance thing at least for a bit
Well, sweetheart, that isnt impossible. But for now, why dont you just focus on the present and fully enjoy your time together.
With that Viki stood and gave Natalie a good-bye hug and kiss, and Natalie picked up the phone to call John.
John was getting out of the shower when he heard his cell phone ring so he dashed into the bedroom to get it from the bedside table.
Hey special agent or what is it that Roxie called you? McHottie federal stallion? What are you doing?
Ugh, dont remind me about Roxies way with words as if Id die on the vine anyway I was just getting out of the shower when the phone rang, so right now Im dripping over your carpet.
Not even a chance to grab a towel?
Nope. I am totally naked. And dripping. Feel like coming up to dry me off?
Johns voice had gotten a bit husky as he said that, and combined with the visual image of him standing there unclothed, Natalie found herself a bit flustered. Sometimes she thought Johns voice had more of an impact on her than his touch but that thought usually fled the moment he laid the first finger on her. Uh oh I wish I could But the Willises are coming in any moment to discuss their anniversary party
Pity. Im really all ready for you. guess Ill have to give you a rain check.
Natalie sighed and said, Yeah, and Im going to hold you to it. Well, as much as I have enjoyed talking about your naked state and all, I did call with a specific purpose. My mom came by and it seems that someone may have an interest in buying Crossroads, and she wanted me to go out and take a quick look to see if she needed to have some work done before she can even show it care to come with me say, about 6 oclock?
Crossroads, huh? I sure remember that place. Its when I first realized you really wanted me to nail you on the pool table
Natalie sputtered with embarrassment and a bit of indignation, but couldnt keep all the humor out of her voice, John McBain I cant believe you! I was I was an engaged woman committed to my fianc you were a, well a lothario trying to take advantage of an innocent young girl She knew she was straining credulity with that last one, but she couldnt help it she had to at least try to defend herself
Innocent oh, thats rich well, you werent as tough as you liked to come across, but you werent some dolly dimples either. You were a smokin hot pool chick.
Flattery will get you ah, who Im kidding, I cant turn you down why cut my own nose off to spite my face. So, anyway, you coming or not?
Well, THATS a very personal question what do you think Ive been doing while weve been talking
OK, OK, no need to get your undies in a bunch and if you just listened to me and didnt wear any
Sorry. Ill be good heck, Im magnificent. So, do you want to meet up here he trailed off seductively.
Uh, thatd be a no. We actually need to get there tonight. So why dont you come to my office at 6 and we can leave from here.
Geez, youre so bossy, but all right..
Great, now go get dressed.
As Natalie put the key into the door of Crossroads John was still mumbling behind her, I cant believe you wouldnt let me come into your office making me sit out by your assistants desk
Natalie giggled, drawing an indignant but self-mocking glare from John.
John, you had just left me a wicked voicemail telling me all the things you planned to do to me on my desk, chair, couch windowsill! we never would have gotten out of there. Not to mention we almost got caught last week by the cleaning crew. Wasnt our floor show for Michael, Marcie and Roxie enough public embarrassment
Well, technically it was a wall show but I guess the honeymoon is over and you just dont want me as much as you used to Even John couldnt keep a straight face as he said that.
Natalie laughed heartily and walked into Crossroads, reaching for the light switch beside the door. She stopped a few steps in, taking in the place. John stepped quietly beside her and took note at the change in her demeanor. It was no longer light, but neither did she seem bothered. She turned to look at him and smiled softly.
Hmmm. I havent been here since just before I left for Vegas I can visualize it all all of us like ghosts she trailed off and walked further into the room, stopping by the bar. She looked at the empty space where the pool table used to be. You know, as mad as I was at you, it did touch me that you had the pool table shipped over to Rodis
John stood with his hands pushed deep into his pockets and simply nodded. He wasnt entirely sure what to say, and figured hed let Natalie take the lead. She looked around a bit more.
Its not in bad shape, really. A bit dusty, but Mom does have a cleaning crew come in occasionally, and her security firm sends people out every now and again to make sure it hasnt been broken into.
As John watched her, he couldnt help remembering the first time he saw her, walking in from the back saying that Cris had said he was looking for her. She had such an energy around her, and all he could manage was Youre Natalie? and a moment later he said the first in what would be a long line of out-of-bounds things. He had made it clear that he found her attractive, and Cris had definitely picked up on that.
Natalie had been lost in the same thoughts. She walked up to John and said, I am really glad you told me what you did your first night back that all of what happened here wasnt just some phony game
John reached out and ran his right hand softly down Natalies face. It was always real, Natalie. From the moment I saw you walking towards me. And I didnt know what to do about it.
Cris picked up on the vibe right away I could tell he didnt want you anywhere near me
He was right, sort of.
What do you mean?
Well, I may have felt an immediate attraction to you, but you were still very much about Cris. Not seeing me as anything more than who and what I told you I was. But it was like a knife through my heart every time I saw you together and still I tried to tell myself I was just doing my job.
My heart did belong to Cris then but you being near you did something to me. You were so different than anyone I had ever met you had and energy and danger around you. And that day you gave me the pool lesson well, you were right that there was more going on back then. I would like to think that if Jess hadnt walked in, I wouldnt have let anything happen but
John took both of Natalies hands in his. You wouldnt have, Natalie. Even if I had tried. One of your best qualities is your loyalty to those you love you would have put me in my place very quickly but I was wrong to have even started down that path I just couldnt help myself.
Natalie shook her head with a degree of wonderment. How could we have ever known back then where all this would lead that we would be standing here almost four years later together. Really together.
John felt the need to lighten the mood a bit, and he attempted to wiggle his eyebrows suggestively, saying, Pity the pool table is gone, or we could complete the lesson
Natalie rolled her eyes and then walked to the bar to get her tote bag, reaching in to retrieve two beers. Johns eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas, Oh, you never cease to amaze me lets sit down, shall we?
Uh, John, the tables and chairs are all in storage
Well theres the bar, isnt there and without warning he grabbed Natalie around the waist and hoisted her onto the bar. He then stepped between her legs, placed a hand on either side of her and moved his mouth towards hers.
Natalie felt deliciously boxed in and loved the feel of his arousal pressing between her legs as his lips descended on hers. She wrapped her arms around his strong back, slightly clanging the two beer bottles together, and John pulled back in mock horror. Woman, you better be careful! Natalie giggled and placed the beers carefully on the bar on either side of Johns arms so she could wrap herself around John with impunity. All humor fled them as the heat sprang up between them and their open lips fused together while they let their tongues do their expert dance. Natalie could feel herself getting lost in the sensations he brought out in her and moaned as she felt him harden even more. She sighed deeply in Johns mouth when she felt him move his hands from the bar and wrap his arms tightly around her like a vice.
John knew they were reaching the point of no return, and he really wanted to talk to Natalie first, so he pulled his mouth off hers and smiled, saying Well I surely dont recall you providing these benefits when you tended bar at RodisI would have been an even more frequent customer this is incredibly enjoyable.
Well, I couldnt be seen to be playing favorites now, could I and I guess you really are enjoying it since your sporting more wood than the cue-rack over their used to hold.
Why whatever do you mean John asked as he ground himself into her, earning a gasp and moan for his efforts.
You are evil, McBain Natalie said as she pulled him into a fierce kiss.
No dummy, John went along with it for a good bit before pulling away again, saying, Natalie. God you just do things to mebut I really want to talk to you first, and I cant think straight let alone manage a thought when your tongue is down my throat and were grinding against each other
Natalie chuckled. Let me get this straight YOU are choosing talking over this?!
Hey now, be fair Ive been much better about talking and stuff since I got back.
Youre right you really are, and I love that. In fact, thats a huge reason why I am so ridiculously attracted to you that I cant seem to keep my hands off you
John stepped away and then hoisted himself up on the bar beside Natalie. They turned towards each other, each hitching a leg up on the bar so they could face each other almost head on.
Natalie, I have these past few weeks have meant a lot to me and not just the physical aspects, amazing as they are. Youre right I think it is because of the feelings between us that, well, that we can take each other places I know Ive never been He trailed off a bit nervously and Natalie took his hand, saying, Ive never been there either, John ever. After everything that happened with Hayes, I really thought that whole part of me had completely died I thought I was broken but with you well, its not just your touch that drives me crazy, its the feelings and emotions I feel in every touch the fact that you know how to touch ME the way I need it when I had no idea
John rubbed his thumb over Natalies hand, looking at their connected hands, then he met her blue eyes with his own. I just want you to know that this isnt just some vacation romance to me Ive never and I mean never felt this way before. And I am just so glad that it turns out I didnt wait too long I mean, I have to pinch myself to know that these past weeks have been real, more real than anything
Natalie was moved by what John had said because it was exactly what she had been feeling but she had been afraid to give voice to it all in case he didnt quite feel the same. God John, thank you for telling me all this. I feel exactly the same and to know that you started to feel things from the beginning
She grew quiet and John could tell she was thinking about something important something that was weighing on her. He put his hand under her chin and tipped her head up, What? What is it?
I guess I just cant help but wondering what might have happened if you had stayed before if you had taken Bos job offer. Would we have had all that time to be together, and not have to deal with you leaving again now
John looked at her intently for a moment and then sighed deeply. I hate the thought that I missed a moment with you, but I think if I had stayed that I might have blown it. All the stuff I shared with you on the porch the other night at The Cottage my mixed up feelings of guilt, fear I was so confused some of it was because I refused to let myself see the truth. Natalie, I would still have had to go through all that. And I might have pushed you away and then I wouldnt have wanted to lose you so I wouldnt have fully set you free either. I am not sure that I would have been able to stop myself from ruining the bond we had maybe its better that I left before that could happen
Natalie nodded, and then said, You may be right and I probably wasnt really in any shape to be in a real relationship either at the time but its just going to be so much harder to say good-bye now At that her voice broke and she couldnt hold back the tears that shot down her cheeks. John gathered her close to him and rocked her in comfort, kissing her hair. Then he pulled back and moved his hands to her face, pushing her hair back and saying, Hey, hey let me see you look at me I have no intention of saying good-bye to you Natalie. We actually can get another chance a do-over a take-two and I want to grab it, if you do?
Natalie had a bit of confusion on her face as she said, Well, I dont want us to end just because your leave ends
John smiled at her and asked, What if I didnt have to leave at all? Natalie, Bo told me that Antonio wants to give up the Chief spot and just be a normal detective and he offered me the Chief of Detectives job again. I wanted to jump at it, but not until I talked to you if, if, um, well if you had felt differently I didnt want to overstay my welcome if you had just wanted a brief romance
Oh my God, John. Really?! You would stay? Are you sure I mean I love that you want to, but, well, Llanview is a small town at the end of the day, and you, well your FBI career takes you all over the world
Natalie, my job may have been big in some ways, but my life was small. It was empty. And I knew I had to come back here and see if I had a chance to add you back in to let you in and to see if you might feel the same. In my wildest dreams I didnt allow myself to hope it could have gone this well I dont want to go
Then stay, John. Pllease stay, she whispered.
John pulled Natalie to him in a crushing hug as his mouth descended on hers in a kiss that first was filled with barely controlled passion, but then softened into a tender, loving kiss. He worshipped her mouth as she clung to him.
Finally he pulled back and looked at her for a long, intense moment.
Natalie Buchanan I love you. I LOVE you. I think Ive loved you for a long time, and I cant keep it in one more moment.
He did nothing to hide the glint of tears in his eyes, and Natalie felt hers well up in return. Then she was smiling brilliantly through those tears as she said, I love you too. I cant believe we are getting another chance. Ive never stopped loving you. I carried it with me all this time
Johns voice was husky with emotion when he said softly, Natalie, I want to take you home and make love to you all night. To give you all that I have inside.
He hopped off the bar and lifted Natalie down, gathering her into a tight hug. He could feel her let out a sigh of contentment. She kissed the place over his heart and then looked up at him. Lets go home, John.
Chapter TWENTY ONE
As John and Natalie drove out of Crossroads parking lot, he immediately called Bo.
Bo, hey its John.
John, whats up you have a thought for me on the case you were looking at?
Well, actually I was calling to see if you still needed a new Chief of Detectives Id love to do it if the offer still stands
John could hear the smile in Bos voice as he said, Outstanding news. Yes it sure is open and youve always been my top choice for the job. Uh, does your brother know yet that your staying in town does Natalie?
Actually, Natalie helped me make the decision and Im going to tell my brother as soon as possible.
John, I am so pleased, really. Why not take this last weekend off since its Friday, and then you can start first thing Monday Ill have a lot for you to dive in on.
Good deal, see you then. And, uh, give my niece a kiss for me when you see her.
John hung up as he approached a red light, and before Natalie knew what was happening he had swept her into a window-fogging kiss. Then he pulled back and said, Well, Bo told me to give you a kiss for him when I saw you.
Well, I doubt thats the kind of kiss he would have had in mind at least from him to me
John just laughed and drove on, heading towards The Palace. But then he had a thought and turned to Natalie, Hey, do you think it would be OK if we made a quick detour by the Angel Square Hotel. I want to see if Michael is home so I can tell him Im staying I dont want him to hear it from someone else.
Oh, sure thats fine and maybe, well, um, maybe
OK, you dont have to feel like you have to do this, but, well, I,
Natalie, seriously, what?
Well, I wondered if you should or would want to pack up your stuff and bring it all to my place like move in with me. but you know if you need your space, now that youre going to be here full-time, I dont want to put you on the spot
John was touched and thought her truly adorable in her flustered state. He reached out and put his hand over hers, which she was wringing in her lap.
Natalie, youre rambling worse than Marcie. Im, well, I am blown away that you want me to move in, and I am not going to give you a chance to re-think it, so the answer is yes I would love to live with you. Space? I mean, truly, I can barely stand to let you two inches away from me but are you sure YOUVE thought this through?
Oh, Im sure, John. Ive become incredibly spoiled having you around
They pulled up to the ASH and walked into the lobby, only to be confronted by their favorite meddling peroxide blonde.
Well well so you two are still thick as thieves well, I was assuming that was where you were spending your nights Johnny boy but what brings you here? Come to see your brother and his Mrs., or to howl at the moon on the roof top again?
Ah, Roxie, you have not lost your way with words, said John.
Well, Johnny, I just call em like I see em and you and Natty playing rodeo on the rooftop was pretty entertaining but probably more for you guys but seriously, several little birdies have been blabbing that you guys are spending a lot of time together but not necessarily out and about, if you catch my drift. Very handy when the boss-lady lives the same place she works can slip out for a little afternoon delight. But I hope you guys are changing up positions and all that cause youll end up needing hip replacements before youre 40 if you dont
Roxie Natalie groaned.
Well, hey, I worry about you, Natty. I mean you had some serious cobwebs with your prior lack of a love life, and now you have this hottie here snakin out your pipes no wonder hes got you singin Aries... not my favorite sign, but
Natalie buried her face in her hands while John just had to laugh. Then he said, well, I think you mean Arias, but youre right that Natalie is a talented, uh, vocalist.
Aw, Natty, dont be upset with him. Its nice to have a man-fan who can also handle an encore, if you know what
Yes, Roxie, I know what you mean. Anyway we have to go see Michael and Marcie.
Oh, right. And Roxie, I am not going to be needing the room anymore. John stopped talking for a moment when Natalie groaned, but he did have to tell Roxie. Im moving because Im sticking around. Im going to be the new Chief of Detectives.
Moving? To where oh I get it, well all right Natty, youre gonna have your guy around fulltime but Johnny boy, make sure you let her get some sleep every now and again take it from me, she can get a little crabby when she hasnt had enough but then again, shell be getting plenty of other stuff that should make her happy
Not being able to handle another moment of this, Natalie grabbed Johns hand, tossed a Bye Rox over her shoulder and dragged him to the stairs. John laughed the whole way to Michaels door.
Michael and Marcie were home and a bit surprised to see them, but then completely excited to hear Johns news. The pulled out a round of beers and caught up a bit. Michael and Marcie both noted the obvious closeness between John and Natalie, and still couldnt fully believe that this was John.
Well, bro, its going to be nice to have you as a full-time neighbor not that weve seen all that much of you around here
Yeah, well, about that I, um, I am going to move into Natalies place.
Really?! Natalie, you sure you know what youre taking on? I mean, he does snore sometimes you know.
Figuring two could get in on the game of embarrassing the other, Natalie grinned and said, Well, Ive discovered a cure for that I dont let him sleep much when Im around but that will have to change since hes not going to be able to sleep the day away to recover while Im at work
Michael and Marcie sat is shocked silence, sure that John would be mad. He just looked at Natalie and then chuckled at her as he shook his head. What am I getting myself into?
After that the ice was well-broken and they enjoyed a bit more time together before John and Natalie took their leave. They headed to Johns room to pack up the few belongings that had not already made their way over to The Palace. And they bumped into Roxie. Hey hey, you guys going to have a good-bye Angel Square hotel boink to de-christen the place?
Natalie snatched the key from Johns hand, opened the door, pushed him inside then stepped inside the door, turning to Roxie to say, Good night, Roxie and then she gently slammed the door shut. She turned around and John was literally inches from her, and he stepped forward to close that small gap, boxing her in against the door when he put one forearm on the door on either side of her head. Hmmm, Im thinking that maybe Roxie had a good idea, and Natalie thought she would melt at the sound of his voice and the feel of his breath on neck, followed by his lips placing open mouthed kisses at the sensitive place beneath her ear.
John loved the shudder that ran through Natalie as she exhaled on a deep sigh. He could feel his own body react, but he didnt want to spend any more time than necessary here, so he abruptly pulled back, stepped a few feet away, and said, Nah, on second thought
Natalie was stunned. And she sputtered, but didnt manage an intelligible word. Which caused John to laugh and her to shoot him an evil glance.
Hey, come on do we really want t slum here, or make a fabulous night of it in your luxury penthouse?
Well, I see your point. Literally. This last bit she said eyeing the tent in his pants. If you can wait, so can I but its OUR penthouse now, not mine.
He reached a hand out to smooth it down her hair, saying, I like the sound of it. And write this date down because I never thought of myself as a penthouse kind of guy well except for the magazine that goes by that name speaking of
John! Oh my gawd, youre turning into Roxie!
Ok, Ok geez, you know the FBI is a major bastion of testosterone anyway, as I was saying, it must be because of the incredible woman who owns the place..
Good save. So pack up and lets get going because I feel a cobweb or two threatening to make a comeback, and I need some attention from my favorite plumber
John proceeded to break the land-speed record to pack up a hotel room.
Chapter TWENTY TWO
Natalie and John were both silent on the drive back to her apartment. Reality was setting in, and while they were not changing their minds about being together, John staying, trying to make a go of things, etc., each knew what a momentous step it was. They looked shyly at each other on the way up in the elevator, sharing a small smile, and then John snaked his arm around Natalies shoulders and drew her head down on his shoulder, and she sighed in relief.
They silently entered the apartment and then Natalie asked, Do you want to have a beer on the terrace? Its such a pretty night.
That sounds great.
Good. Ill go get them and meet you out there.
Natalie took the time in the kitchen to settle her nerves. She was as nervous as a kitten, more so than the first night they had made love. They had covered so much ground tonight admitting that they loved each other John deciding to stay his agreeing to move in she felt in her heart that this was the right thing, but she was scared because she knew how devastated she would be if it didnt work out.
John waited on the terrace for Natalie and found himself gulping in a few breaths of air. He felt unfamiliar flutters in his stomach and he knew it was because they had just jumped off a cliff together. And he was glad but also worried he could do something to mess it up.
At that moment Natalie came out with two beer bottles and walked up to him with an air of shyness that caused a wave of tenderness to flow through John. He loved this woman. She was adorable, passionate, beautiful and he still couldnt believe he had somehow lucked out and been able to win her after all this time.
Hey, he said softly.
Hey, she replied in return, feeling the impact of his sexy voice course through her body.
He took the beer from her and looked at her closely. Are you OK, Natalie? Is this too much? I understand if you think this feels too fast
Her head shot up, Are you? Is that how you feel?
John could tell that she had not been feeling that way due to her reaction she seemed worried and a bit hurt that he might be the one experiencing such qualms. He took a step closer and said, Natalie, I have never been more sure about wanting to do something in my life and that is what makes my gut clench. I dont want to blow this us I am as open as I have ever been, and you could kill me if you ever walked away from me.
Natalie stifled a small sob and let the tears course freely down her cheeks, Oh, John how did it get to be that YOU are the one able to voice your feelings which are my feelings too? I want this so badly I have wanted it for so long and I told myself since you left that I was over it that it was never meant to be and we had never really gotten off the ground, but my heart but my heart it had its own ideas
John scooped Natalie up not caring about the splashes of beer coming from the bottles the held and carried her to the chaise. He sat down, positioning Natalie across his lap so she could snuggle against him while he held her. He kissed the top of her head gently and then said, Well just get through this one step at a time. I think we have proven we can handle long periods of each others company and I promise to do my best not to get too wrapped up in my work
Well, thats good, because I have an in with the commissioner and Ill ask him to fire you if you ignore me too much.
Thats my girl John said laughing softly.
They stayed that way for a bit, calming down, enjoying being together. Every now and again John would kiss Natalies head or cheek and shed just sigh and burrow a bit deeper.
This is just perfect, John. This place finally feels like home to me
It is home, and its going to be great. Because we love each other, and we found our way back to each other. So. how about we turn in for the night
John felt Natalies head nod, and then she was sliding off him and the chaise. She put her hand out and he took it and let her tug him up. Then he gathered her into a bear hug, and she could hear his heart thunder in his chest, and she took comfort from the fact that he seemed a bit nervous again, too. This would be the first time they were going to make love since admitting freely that it was love. Natalie pulled back and took his hand, and they walked side by side towards the doors to the bedroom. Once there, Natalie lit a couple of the softest lamps. Want to take a bath with me, John?
John felt his manhood jump at that question and he simply nodded.
Good. Ill go get it ready
Natalie went into the bathroom and made quick work out of filling the tub, pouring in some bubble bath, and lighting the candles that surrounded her massive tub. She also turned on the jets for the jaccuzzi. She turned around to call John but he was already standing there, leaning against the door jamb. He was totally nude and his sizable erection was telling her just how much he wanted her. At her sharp intake of breath John flipped off the light switch so that the only light was the soft glow of candles and the moonlight that came in through the large window on the other side of the bathroom. Natalie felt her mouth go dry and she began to tremble, this time not in fear, but desire and anticipation. John slowly walked towards her and when he was in reach she couldnt help herself she reached out and grabbed his manhood firmly, and Johns head tilted back as he let out a startled groan.
She continued to work her hand over him slowly, smoothly, and John got busy unbuttoning her shirt. It fell open and he placed gentle kisses on the parts of her breasts not encased in her lacy bra, and while he did that his hands undid the button and zipper of her pants and then his hand was working its way inside her panties so he could plunge two fingers inside her drenched heat. Natalie lost her focus at that moment and John took that opportunity to pull her hand off him so he could then fully undress her. She missed his touch between her legs, but welcomed her heightened state of arousal. John picked Natalie up, stepped into the bath tub, and then sat down, settling her into the nook made by his legs with her back against his chest. The feel of her ass pressing against him was both an incredible pleasure and torture. He positioned her legs so that each one rested over his, so that she was splayed open and she could feel the flow of water over her lips, clit and the entrance to her womanhood. While not close to a jet-spray, there was one near enough that it roiled the water deliciously over her, aided by the writhing motion she was incapable of stopping her hips from doing. Johns breath was incredibly hot on her neck and shoulders, as was his open mouth that placed slow, sensual kisses on her heated skin. Her head lolled back against his shoulder and both his hands moved over her breasts, kneading the ache in them while heightening that in her core. She was fluid motion as her body reacted and she could not help the moans that were escaping her, and she began to say his name, Joooohnnn, Johhhnn
John was incredibly turned on and he felt huge pressing against her backside, sucking in breath every time she ground onto him. Against her ear, in a heated and raspy voice he asked urgently, What to you want Natalie?
More.. I want I want moooore
In response John removed his right hand from her breast and slowly traced the path down her stomach, over the small patch of hair at the apex of her thighs, and onto the swollen area between her lips. He felt a quake run through her and he began to rub his fingers against her. Natalie thought she would die of this delicious pressure but it wasnt enough. She put her hand on his to increase the pressure and then began pushing his fingers to her opening, crying, Please
John plunged two fingers deep inside Natalie and she jumped against his touch, then fell back against him with a deep sigh that became a groan. After working his fingers for a while, feeling her begin to contract a bit, he withdrew his fingers and pushed her slightly away from him so he could place her up on the side of the tub, her back resting against the wall. Their heated gaze meeting, he then moved quickly through the water to place his mouth on her heated center, and Natalie thought she would truly die from this contact. She moaned loudly as her upper thighs gripped his head and he moved her legs over his shoulders in order to gain even better access. After driving her to complete distraction by lapping her clit and between her lips, he slowly moved his tongue inside her, drawing out the torture. He knew she didnt have much left in her and he wanted to feel her cum around him when he was deeply buried inside, so he removed his mouth and her legs from his shoulders and drew her down so she could straddle him. Their eyes never losing contact, he placed her over the head of his penis and then guided her slowly down onto him until he was fully embedded within her. He drew her into a scorching, open-mouthed kiss with their tongues fighting a losing battle to assuage the tremulous heat that was invading their bodies.
At first Natalie slid up and down on Johns fully engorged member, but each realized they needed the incredible feel of him as deep inside her as he could go. He grabbed her hips and pulled her down onto him forcefully, and Natalie ripped her mouth from his, a strangled John! coming from deep in her throat. She locked her legs together behind his back and his hands cupped her ass and helped her find the perfect gyrating rhythm to torture and sate at the same time. Then John grabbed Natalies face in his hands and looked deeply into her eyes, which were hazy with desire and the escalating pleasure she felt. He said, I love you Natalie God, I love you so much Natalie felt tears course down her cheeks, a combination of the emotions she was feeling and her body needing yet another outlet for the burning ache that would soon cause an explosion within. She said, I love you, John in a whimpering whisper, and wrapped her arms around Johns neck as she pressed her mouth against his.
John could feel her quaking around every part of him his steel between her legs was being gripped by her tight, hot walls; he could feel her arms, lips and thighs tremble everywhere they made contact with his body. And he was about to lose it as it seemed like every nerve ending in his body had been rerouted to the part of him enslaved by her most intimate hold. He bucked his hips off the floor of the tub and they climaxed almost violently together, him shouting her name, their bodies shuddering and shaking against each other as they wrapped their arms around each other in a desperate attempt to steady themselves. The moans, groans and whimpers that had been bouncing off the hard surfaces of the bathroom settled into gasps, pants and then deep but semi-normal breaths. John kept placing small kisses on various parts of Natalies face, neck and shoulders as she remained collapsed against him, and each time he could feel her clench around him in an after shock. He began to rock her slowly back and forth to help her come down himself too, as he found holding her this way incredibly comforting. Finally she dragged her head off his shoulder and looked at him, gently running her hands over his face and tracing the outline of his lips.
That was that was I dont know how to describe it you seem to know what I need even when I cant
Natalie I dont have a choice I just feel it no walls
Natalie fell forward again to rest against him and their bodies remained entwined for a while longer until Natalie giggled a bit and said, I think were turning into prunes
John laughed in return. Yeah, probably time to get out of the tub after all we do have a wonderfully dry, cushy big bed waiting for us
That we do, Chief.
Hmmm, Chief that sounds nice the way you say it
Natalie extricated herself from Johns embrace and carefully stepped out of the tub, followed closely by John. She grabbed a towel and he took it from her hands and began to dry her off, gently rubbing every part of her body, and Natalie couldnt believe she felt herself growing aroused again. It was almost embarrassing how much she literally craved this mans touch but then again, he seemed to be having the same reaction. He quickly dried himself off and then took Natalies hand to lead her to the aforementioned bed, where they held each other, still exhausted, and drifted off to sleep.
A few hours later, before the morning sun had started to rise, Natalie awoke with a feeling of incredible contentment and a wave of love that washed over her when she felt Johns chest tight against her back, his arms around her, and his hardness pressing against her. She carefully turned over, not wanting to wake him, and took the time to drink in every feature of the face she loved so much. She remembered all the times that looking at his face had made her stomach flutter, when she had to try to hide it. He had the sweetest smile on his face, and she wondered what he was dreaming about. She couldnt help herself, so she reached out and gently pushed some of the hair back from his eyes. He began to stir, and then his gorgeous, sleepy eyes met hers, and he said, Hi Natalie.
She smiled at him and gave him a tender kiss, then said, You had the nicest smile on your face
Did I now? he asked he put his arms around her and scooped her a bit closer, his arousal pressing into her leg. I guess it was the dream I was having want to know what I was dreaming about?
Natalie nodded and John continued, Well, it was some time in the future because we were at Rodis with our kids a boy that looked like me and a girl that looked like you and they were total pool sharks real little hustlers and we were playing a few games, and just happy
Natalie felt a few tears gather in her eyes, and John was concerned. He ran a hand down her face and asked, Natalie, whats wrong sweetheart did I say something wrong?
She shook her head, saying, No not at all its just such a sweet image. Is that really what you see for us? Hope for us?
John looked intently at Natalie and said, I love you Natalie. More than I can possibly tell you which is why I make love to you constantly to try to show you. And Ill tell you what I hope I hope that some time in the future but not too far down the road, when the time is right that I will ask you to marry me and youll say yes
Without warning he grabbed Natalies leg and pulled it over his hip, thrusting into her in one fluid, almost devastating motion. Both of them stayed still for a moment to adjust to his quick possession of her body. Then John stroked her face, trying to hold himself in check, and said in a low, husky voice, And then I hope that when we are married, one night or morning or day we will do this, and look at each other, and know that we are making our first baby together
Natalie could not hold back the choking sob that came from her, and tears began to pour down her cheeks, but the smile that spread across her face was luminous. She cupped Johns face in both her shaking hands, and said, Oh how I love you, and your hopes and your dreams thank you for coming back for me
Thanks not being scared, Natalie. Thank you for giving me another chance.
He could no longer be still and apparently neither could Natalie because she was moving her hips ever so slightly without even seeming to realize it. He captured her mouth with his and rolled her under him and loved her truly loved her until they both shattered once again in each others arms.
Six months later.
Natalie walked onto the terrace and stopped for a moment to observe John as he stood by the railing, looking out at the view. She tip-toed up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, her hands resting on his chest. Without turning around he covered her hands with his and whispered, Careful, my wife will be here any second
Huh! John McBain! Natalie said while pulling her right hand and arm away from him and giving him a swat on the backside.
Ruh roh, its the Mrs., and with a smile on his face he pulled her into a tight embrace as his mouth descended on hers in a hot, open-mouthed kiss which she returned ardently. He leaned against the railing and pulled her into the space between his spread legs, and she could feel his quintessential maleness making itself clearly known. So she did what any new wife would do, and ground her pelvis against him, pleased and turned on by his groan that vibrated in her mouth. Never one to ignore a challenge, John moved his hands down to cup her ass and pull her even tighter against him, and was rewarded with a moan of pleasure from her. Finally they pulled back from the heated kiss, and Natalie settled her head into the nook of Johns neck for a moment as they stood locked in an embrace.
I love the salt air, and the sound of the ocean Natalie said as she pulled back and inhaled deeply.
Yeah, its a nice change of pace. But the best part of this honeymoon locale is that we have this lush (he kissed her neck), gorgeous (he kissed her clavicle), tropical (he licked a path from her shoulder to under her ear, causing her to jump) paradise all to ourselves. It pays to marry an heiress you know family friends have fabulous private islands
John and Natalie had been taking full advantage of their privacy. There was an attentive and discreet staff who made sure to give certain areas a wide berth the private beach and cove, the waterfall, the pool at night so that the newlyweds could enjoy their time together. And enjoy it they were.
The past six months had flown by in a whirlwind. John settled in at LPD, and though they sometimes clashed on normal things work hours, who left the cap off the toothpaste they had proven to be quite compatible. Two months ago John had proposed he had arranged to borrow Asas lodge for the event, because it was the first place they had fully let their guard down with each other the first time John had given into his need to hold Natalie, and she had let him. It had been a romantic night and she couldnt remember being that happy until their intimate and emotional wedding ceremony. John had continued to astound Natalie and all of Llanview with his openness and ability to use words. The reception had been at Llanfair and was a relatively laid-back affair with lots of dancing and storytelling and Natalie and John took it in blushing good humor when Ciaran and Kate had related the story of their dishevelment post back-yard interlude.
Penny for your thoughts John asked.
Hmmm Natalie sighed contentedly. I was just thinking of all the happy times these past months your proposal at the lodge our weddingand just waking up beside you every day
John kissed the top of Natalies head. It was more than I could have allowed myself to hope for. Now, perhaps we can head into the massive master bedroom I thought the one in the penthouse was big! and stretch out on that large bed, under all that mosquito netting, and see if we can get you knocked up.
Wow, isnt THAT romantic. I think youve been hanging out a bit too much with Roxie lately and weve only been here a day and a half and we may have already made septuplets!
Well, lets go for an even eight until tomorrow or later tonight
John straightened up from the railing and before Natalie knew what happened he had hoisted her like a sack of potatoes over his shoulder. He brought her into the bedroom, tossed her onto the bed in an opening he had made in the mosquito netting and followed her into their cocoon. With the cool breeze blowing in through the open doors, the moonlight sparkling on the ocean in the distance, the soothing sounds of the waves and the fragrant smell of flowers in the air, John and Natalie quickly undressed each other and began their special journey to temporary fulfillment.
I love you Mrs. McBain John said as he climaxed inside his wife.
I love you too, John, Natalie said as she accepted all he had to give her.
Still conjoined their eyes met and held, and the same small smile played around both of their mouths, because something had just felt a little bit different this time around.
Did you feel that? John asked. Suddenly emotional, Natalie swallowed hard and could only nod as a few tears fell down her cheeks. John kissed and licked them away, and then before taking her mouth in a slow, sensuous, loving kiss, said I cant wait to meet our first child.