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“Oh my God…”

Alexis stared wide-eyed into the dark, empty night.  She could still feel the strength of his arms wrapped around her, locking her arms to her sides.  Her head was spinning from the breathless confusion that had taken hold of her senses.  But her brain won out, as it always did.  It snapped her back to consciousness with a merciless pounding of blood through her temples. She closed her bleary eyes with a hard swallow - her mouth had gone dry.   The sweet, wet kisses she’d felt were just a lie of her mind. 

“What the hell WAS that?”  She whispered, her hand wandering up to push the damp strands of hair from her eyes.

The light sound of someone breathing drifted down to her ears.  It came from beside her, and she slowly turned her lowered heard.  Before her eyes could seek the face, the strength and timbre of the voice told her that she was, indeed, awake.

“It sounded to me like it was a dream.  A vivid one, at that.”

She cleared her throat and forced herself to open her lids in spite of the swell of embarrassment rising inside of her.  Her face felt hot.  What could she have done or said in her wanton sleep that roused him from all the way down the stairs?   Her eyes finally found his face, shrouded in the night’s color.  She smiled and tugged at the silk collar that encircled against her neck.

“I’m fine, Sonny.  Go back to sleep.”

“Good dream or bad?”

“What?”

“Good dream…or bad?”

Alexis gave in to nervous laughter and shrugged her shoulders.  Her throat tried to form words, but only small, staccato sounds emerged.  She was sure her face was beet red and was glad for the cloak of darkness.  Still, she turned her head away from him.

“I’m sorry I woke you.” 

“Me too.”  Sonny took a step closer to the bed and sat, uninvited, on the edge.  “My dream was a good one.”

“Oh.  Well…”   

Alexis let her words hang in the air as Sonny grinned up at her with a sly expression.  It made her swallow again, her brow furrowing.  Sonny laughed lightly at her skittishness, and eased himself further up onto her bed.  The added weight on the mattress tilted Alexis’ body toward him and she squirmed, pushing herself back against the pillows.  His new proximity made her uneasy in the wake of her untoward apparition, and the adjustment of her eyes to the dark didn’t help.  The top several buttons of Sonny’s shirt had parted company with their closures, exposing the tan, muscled expanse of his chest.  In her dream, it was the same.  In her dream, the smooth, hard heat of his body had been an achingly welcome sensation against the softness of her own.  And the scent of his skin had filled her head…

“Yeah.  It was really good and really…eye opening.  They say your subconscious desires show themselves in your dreams.”

“Oh.  Well…”

“You said that already.”

She pulled at the edge of the sheets that covered her legs and chose her words thoughtfully, speaking them deliberately.  “I’m sure that you could get right back into that dream if you tried real hard.  So…goodnight, Sonny.”

Sonny’s eyes traveled up the sheet Alexis had just pulled closer over the outline of her lower body.  They settled on the fistful of covers that she held bunched up against her waist.  He noticed how the pale moonlight shone through the sheer curtains, casting a light glow across her.  And as Alexis breathed, the dark silk moved with the rapid rise and fall of her chest, sending rivers of moonlight reflecting up and down her body.  Sonny’s pulse quickened as he stared, mesmerized by how easily the hands of the moon just reached out and touched her, as if she belonged to it.  It was the way he had touched her himself, as if she belonged to him…in his dream.  Without even knowing it, his hand wandered toward her and his fingertips came to rest against her thigh. 

“If I tried real hard.”  He parroted.  The thought dissipated in the air, and Sonny finally shook his head.  “No.  I don’t want to force it.  I’d rather it happen again because it’s supposed to.”

All Alexis could think of was his hand against her leg.  Though separated by both pajamas and sheets, she could still feel his touch burning into her.  It took the power from her voice, rendering it breathy and weak. 

“Sure.  Right.  Me too.”

Sonny’s eyes were suddenly fixed upon her face.  She stared back for a brief moment, then shyly scrunched one shoulder up toward her ear as she lowered her gaze and looked away.  Her dimples played hide-and-seek with her cheeks and it send Sonny’s blazing out into the open.  He was sure that he could read her restless mind.

“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

“What?”  Alexis was suddenly wide-eyed again.

“Your dream.  What was it about?”

“I…” She froze. “It’s…gone.  Sorry.” 

She was a horrible liar, and she’d never lied to Sonny.  She didn’t think it was even possible to lie when he looked at her the way he did.  She struggled to extricate herself – both from his question and from the covers that the weight of Sonny’s body held down tightly against them.  She needed to not be so close.

“Is that window open?  It’s warm in here.”

The second her legs were freed, Alexis stumbled from the bed – literally.  Sonny’s quick arm across her middle kept her from hitting the ground.  Alexis blushed in the moonlight.

“Thanks.  I got tangled…my balance…”

“Right.” 

Sonny grinned at the anxiety taking hold of her face, and the feel of her warm softness through the cool, thin black silk.  He held her with that one arm as his pounding heart beat out the demand that he tried to ignore.  It was like a mantra sounding out from his chest – I want, I want, I want.  He didn’t move to release her, not did Alexis ask him to.  But she couldn’t look at him, and it made him want her all the more.  She was different than most women he had known.  Alexis was so controlled and afraid, so unaware of her own beauty and grace, and in complete denial of the sexual power inherent in her brilliant mind and sharp wit.  Not to mention the sweet charm of a tough-talking attorney who bumps into stairways and falls out of bed.  Alexis cleared her throat again and sighed heavily as she finally wrapped her fingers around the long curve of his forearm and lowered it away.

“It really is…kind of hot tonight.”

She frowned as she quickly moved from the bed and reached for the curtains to push them back.  And as she did, the full strength of the moon’s glow bathed her profile in light, and the visage took Sonny’s breath away.  Her hair, her skin, the silk…it brought him to his feet.  Alexis opened the window and closed her eyes, deeply inhaling from the wealth of the clean night air.  She smiled into it, secure that her head would soon be cleared of her errant thoughts of him if she just kept breathing.  Sonny watched that smile take over her face and he quietly stepped up behind her back.

“Better?”

She jumped, startled, and spun around to find his face and body just inches from hers.  The large pools of her eyes swam into his, and she nodded.  She could feel his warm breath against her neck, but she wouldn’t turn her head.  She would not allow her eyes to drift down to his bare, beckoning chest that was just a hand’s reach away.

“Good.”  His eyes roamed her face, still damp from whatever her dreams had held.  A few stray wisps of hair clung to her forehead, while others formed delicate waves against her cheek. He wanted to touch them…so he did.

“It’s too bad you don’t remember your dream.  I remember mine.”

Alexis shivered before the open window and under Sonny’s touch.  The silk of her shirt was cold as it brushed against her bare skin, and her breasts responded to the chill…or to the touch.  She crossed her arms over her chest to hide her body’s response from Sonny’s view, clamping one palm against each shoulder.

“You were there.”

“Where?”

He smiled.  “In my dream.”

“Oh.  I guess it makes sense, if you think about it.  I mean, you are here, sleeping in my apartment for the first time, so…I…in fact, now that you mention it, I think maybe you were in mine too.  So, see?  It’s natural, right?  Given the fact that you are here, sleeping in my apartment…” Her voice trailed off as Alexis watched Sonny’s tongue sweep back and forth across his lower lip.  Her breath was ripped from her lungs and she tensed her neck with a frown.  “I think I’m just going to go get a fan because it’s still hot in here.”

As she tried to step past him, Sonny’s hand rose up to her hips, holding her in place.  Alexis froze.  As her eyes darted across the floor, Sonny murmured softly.  “No it’s not.”

Alexis bit her lip and kept her eyes low.  “If you’re feeling cold, you might want to… button up your shirt.”

Sonny smiled and firmed his hands to give her a gentle push back, against the window.  “I’m not cold, Alexis.”

He brushed the back of his hand across her damp forehead and down the side of her face.  The tension in her face softened and her breaths grew shallow in response to him, and Sonny felt a renewed surge of desire aching below his abdomen.  He wanted her, and the strength of his desire scared him.  He was sure that Alexis wanted him too, but her intrinsic fear was far greater than his.  The choice would be hers, but a choice would be made.  Sonny would not allow her to run - not from him.  He would make her say yes…or no.

“And it’s not hot in this room.”  Sonny’s fingers suddenly moved down from her face.  He clasped his palm to the back of her left hand and pulling it from its locked place around her shoulder.  He pressed her palm flat against the center of her chest, below her collarbone.  “The heat you feel is all in here.”  Her eyes questioned silently, as he placed his own palm in the same spot, right in the center of his chest. 

“And the heat I feel, is all in here.  My dream, about you, was not coincidental.” Her curious eyes met his, and Sonny knew it was safe to go on.  “And it would not have made Carly a very happy woman.”

His hand released her, but she still held her palm against her beating heart as Sonny pushed the hair back off her shoulders and ran a single fingertip down the length of her arm.  She felt another shiver run through her, and familiar heavy tension spreading through her solar plexus.  Sonny enjoyed the effect he was having on her, enjoyed seeing her begin to let go and to trust.

“Your turn.”  He threw the ball in her court.

“I…my dream was…odd.”  Her mind was following the path of his finger as it retraced its path up her arm.  Her head reflexively tilted toward the feel of it.  “N-Ned wouldn’t have appreciated it either.  N-not too long ago.”

The corners of Sonny’s mouth softly turned upward as he took another step forward, forcing her to take one step back.  Alexis jumped slightly at the unexpected feel of the window frame along the center of her spine.  She kept talking.

“But right now, I’m sure he couldn’t care less.”  Her eyes betrayed a hint of sadness before she took them away from his.  It hurt him to see it.  He wanted to melt away all the self-doubt that her problems with had Ashton left lingering within her.  She was too good for her ex-fiancé, too good for her ex-husband…and also, too good for him.

His touch along her arm had left a hot phantom in its wake.  A tremble was rising up in her legs and she was suddenly afraid she would fall.  She needed him to not be so close.

“Okay then.  You told me, I told you – let’s go to bed.”

Alexis squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head in frustration.  But Sonny’s grin widened – he’d shaken her up, and she needed that.  So did he.

“I MEAN, good night!”  Her legs refused to move, and Sonny studied her expression as he spoke softly, running his fingers through the silk of her hair.

“He cares.  His behavior with you was classic jealousy.  If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t be jealous.  He wouldn’t feel so threatened by what a strong-minded, strong-willed, loyal, loving woman you are.” 

A reluctant smile began to creep onto her face.

“I would care if I was him.  But I’m not him, I’m just me.”  He took one last step toward her closing most of the gap between them and leaving nowhere else for Alexis to move – unless it was to move completely away.  “I don’t threaten that easily.”

“So I’ve noticed.”  She whispered, looking him in the eye with a steady gaze.

“And the last thing I’d want to do it reign in a woman like you, if I was lucky enough to have a woman like you.”

Alexis read his eyes like a map, charting a dangerous course that they might dare to travel together.  Soon, her eyes drifted down to the growing rise and fall of his somewhat naked chest, now just inches away from her and begging for her face to rest upon it.  She ran her tongue across her lips and wrinkled her nose.

“Define ‘have’.”

The darkness of her eyes locked into his and Sonny knew his gauntlet had just been lifted up.  In a quick motion, he grabbed her head in both hands and his eyes bore into her with a scream of unspoken need.  Her startled breath caught in her throat as Alexis kept her gaze steady – waiting, wondering.  Slowly, Sonny’s eyes shed their fierce intensity and softened, drifting down to her mouth.  His fingers curled against her scalp, threading through her hair while his palms held firm against her head.  His mouth was thirsting for hers and it hovered just inches away, hesitant, as if the quenching site before him was but a mirage and destined to disappear at first taste.

“Sonny…”

Her anxious, breathy whisper, edged in fear, sent him over the brink.  His mouth claimed the softness of hers with tenderness, his first such forbidden knowledge of her fueling his lust for more.  His urgency grew, and Alexis met him in his need for connection, surrender, and physical desire fulfilled.  His tongue found a rhythmic partner in hers, and he found a welcome place in the sweetness of her mouth, caressing and exploring as he lost himself in the newness of her. 

Sonny’s knees all but buckled as her tongue found its way into his eager mouth and he pulled her inside of him, urging her to take possession of him and wanting to devour her all at once.  But he held back.  Not too much, not too soon – there was so much more to share with her, and he was in no rush.  But his mouth still plunged, un-sated.  He heard a small whimper escape from the depths of her throat and it rendered him breathless.  He pulled away, the sudden dizziness overtaking him.  Sonny leaned his forehead into hers as he worked to fill his lungs.  His hands loosened themselves from the tangle of her hair and slid down to rest alongside her neck.  The quick throbbing of her pulse beneath his fingers matched the rapid pace of his own heart and he smiled as he fought to temper his lustful panting.

“I’m sorry. I forgot to breath.” 

“Want a paper bag.”  The throaty sound of her voice turned him on even more, and his groin registered the notion with startling strength.  Touche – score one for Alexis.  He smiled and lifted his head to see her flushed, dimpled face wearing a devilish expression.  Damn, she was beautiful.

“I want YOU.”  He sheepishly glanced down at his body’s shameless proof.  “But then you already know that.”

She laughed warmly at his embarrassed grin over a thing she fairly took as a compliment.  But then, her face took on its familiar serious cast that he so wanted to dissolve away.  “I know - WE know, that this is impossible, Sonny.”

He slid his hands down her throat and continued down the front of her silk-clad body, grazing the soft roundness of her breasts and lingering there just long enough to send her a message – a message that his palms received back as she hardened beneath his touch.  Her cheeks renewed their flush and he smiled, dropping his hands to her hips.

“Nothing is impossible, Alexis - unless you want it to be.”  His fingertips found the hem of her shirt and trailed up to the smooth curve of the small of her back.  Sonny’s palms flattened, settling there lovingly, protectively, while he laid a gentle kiss against the base of her throat.  “You know what I want.  What do you want?”

He felt her hands against the sides of his ribcage, but her intent was unclear.  Did she mean to push him away, or keep him close?  His lips found her right cheek, then her left, before touching down upon her tender lips, still swollen from their mutual assault.  He kissed her top lip and then the bottom…and then, he felt the rest of the buttons on his shirt coming undone.  Sonny smiled against her mouth, and Alexis smiled back.  Her eyes suddenly closed and her mouth captured his, her tongue quickly parting his lips to dance with him again.  Sonny followed her lead, feeding her hunger while he reveled in the taste and feel of her once more.

Sonny’s hands swept up the expanse of her bare back, the softness of her skin and the smooth lines of her curves making him gasp.  Those tailored suits of hers may not have kept her assets completely disguised, but who could have known the bounty of womanly blessings that lay hidden beneath the professional veneer.  The level of primal masculinity she inspired in him was astonishing.  She was utterly, completely feminine and he wanted to lose himself in the bliss of it – of her.

As Sonny moaned within their kiss, Alexis melted into his hot mouth and the feel of his soft, firm hands on her sensitive skin that lay untouched for so long.  Her hands began to push away at his shirt, moving the cotton over his shoulders and down his body until the unwanted garment hit the floor.  Sonny halted his kisses as the night air wrapped around his bare chest.  Alexis lowered her head and pressed her mouth to the edge of his throat.  Her hair brushed against his skin and he shuddered.  She moved her lips across his collarbone and down to the curve of his pectorals, leaving a trail of exquisite kisses that made Sonny’s eyelids flutter. He soon felt her fingertips gliding a path along the solid muscles and through the soft spray of hair that covered them.  Her hands trembled as they touched him, but Sonny smiled and took one hand from its wandering along her back.  He cupped her face and tilted his head as he looked her deeply in the eyes.

“I need you to tell me, Alexis.  I want you.  What do YOU want?”

She wanted more.  She wanted to feel his skin against hers.  She wanted to know his taste and his scent.  She wanted to look into his eyes and see his need and desire for her.  She wanted to trust and let go.  She wanted…oh God, she wanted...

“You.”

Sonny released his breath.  His other hand reluctantly withdrew from beneath the silk and his fingers played with the edge of her collar.  He moved in for another kiss, pulling her lower lip between his teeth as Alexis lightly drew her nails down his abdomen, lingering at the waistband of his drawstring pants.  His fingers left the collar and sprang into action, making quick work of the buttons of her shirt.  The slippery fabric hung loosely upon her body, and he drank in the sight of her as his fingertips fluttered their way down the newly exposed skin between her breasts.  His hands stopped at her waist - the mirror image of the place where her hands still hovered on his own body. 

As Alexis moved into him, he felt the touch of her palms around his hips, pulling him closer.  Sonny swallowed as he tugged at her sleeves and watched the silk leisurely slip from her shoulders and down her back, settling in a drape across the base of her spine.  He turned his face and nestled it within the curve of her neck.  Alexis’s neck arched opening herself to him.  Her hands dropped from his hips and her shirt completed its journey to the ground.  Sonny felt her fingers raking through his hair, and he lifted his face to look at her – to speak to her with his eyes before his body began to tell her everything.  She smiled.  She knew.  And soon, hot skin found the same, two breaths were held, and the mouths, souls and bodies of new lovers sought to meld.   And in the quiet storm of his mind, Sonny prayed.

“If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”