Cameron lay enveloped in a heady, heavy blanket of bliss, his body too spent to move.
His heart pounded, his head buzzed, and a show of sparkling lights danced behind his closed lids. His senses were on overload, and he could still feel himself moving against her, inside of her, with her…the taste, scent and texture of her pulsating through him. He'd fed his hunger on her once, and then again. Now she was everywhere on him and it left him giddy. Intoxicated. It left him craving more. He willed his body to move, and his lids began to slowly blink open. And Cameron's eyes gazed down at the beautiful woman lying naked upon him, and he was filled with awe. He couldn't imagine how Ned, or Kristina's father, or any other man could see her the way she was right then, or know her the way he'd just known her, and still let her get away. Their loss was his gain. And he couldn't help feeling a little smug about that.
The corners of her mouth turned up against the salty, sweaty skin of his chest with the feel of his fingertips gently brushing against the warm, damp skin at the small of her back. Alexis lay half sprawled across his body, half curled up against it. Her limbs were liquid, melting into him like hot wax - like a candle succumbing to the flame that burned down through its center. Cameron had burned down her center, and she melted around his flame, into his heat, giving herself over to his will…his love…his desire for her. She'd never felt so deeply wanted by a man, been taken with such gentle intensity, or been tended to with such giving abandon. She'd never felt charged with such life and drained of such energy.
And now, she wanted nothing more than to keep floating on the wave of feelings, safely and happily wrapped in Cameron's arms as his feathery touch sent a series of tingles up her spine. But a tiny cry suddenly echoed through the small speaker on the nightstand. Alexis's head quickly lifted up from the strong pillow of his chest, the long strands of her hair sweetly tickling him a she moved. She froze at attention, eyes trained on the baby monitor as she anticipated the next sound Kristina might make. No sound came. Cameron's hand flattened against her back and smoothed around the circle of her hip. Alexis shifted her eyes to his.
"Did I imagine that?"
"No. But it sounds like she went back to sleep - if she even woke up at all."
"She cried - of course she was awake."
"It sounded more like a baby dream sound. Quick, non-distressed, and isolated."
"Does your practice include infant psychiatry?"
"My life included fatherhood. Remember the ear pulling?"
"Right." Alexis sighed as she looked back at the monitor.
"You'll come to know all her signals soon."
"I know." Alexis pondered another thought. "Do you think she could be hungry again?"
"After that full bottle she had not an hour ago? I seriously doubt it. I can't say the same for myself though."
"A bit. For food this time." He winked. "Aren't you?"
She grinned. "A bit."
Cameron gave her rear end a light squeeze. "Funny how working off one appetite can work up another."
"Isn't it though?" She whispered.
Alexis set her chin upon his chest and looking up at him with languid, smoky, sexy brown eyes. He smiled back, his hand moving leisurely through the thick strands. She blinked slowly, sleepily, sighing with contentment, and lightly raked her nails through the hair on his chest. A moment later, her gaze unconsciously shifted back to the monitor.
"Don't rock the baby boat, Alexis. She's quiet." He gave her nose a gentle tap. "A trait she clearly didn't inherit from you."
Her lids lowered halfway, and Cameron silently cursed himself for his stupid wisecrack. He could see that he'd sent her thoughts to Kristina's father, and that was the last person on earth he wanted to bring into bed with them. When he'd wisecracked about his jealousy of the heretofore un-named man, he'd meant it.
"No, she didn't inherit it from me." Alexis murmured.
Sonny was quiet. He didn't trust words, and he used them in a measured manner. It worked for him, much of the time. At other times, it didn't. When Sonny needed to express more than he had the words to say, he lashed out - broke things, hurt people, or turned it inward to hurt himself. She tried and ultimately failed to show him another way, but it wasn't her concern any more. And it wasn't what she wanted for her child. Alexis turned to meet Cameron's somber eyes.
"Kristina IS a good baby, isn't she? She isn't fussy, she doesn't cry unless she needs something. And she's…observant. Have you noticed that? She really looks at you when you talk to her, like she really wants to understand. Maybe she inherited my analytical tendencies?"
"Harvard Law, here she comes."
"Davis and Davis, Attorneys at Law." She grinned. "I like the sound of that."
"Once she gets past potty training, the bar exams should be a breeze."
Alexis frowned. "Potty training. You know, she could have cried because she was wet."
"It was one little squeal, Alexis." He teased with a wicked grin. "You just made a lot more noise than that and there was certainly nothing wrong with you."
Alexis's eyes widened as her face began to tingle with embarrassment. The quick blush in her cheeks was too tempting. Cameron couldn't help himself. He stoked it.
"And such lovely noises they were."
Alexis narrowed her eyes and bent the leg that lay settled between his, drawing her knee right up to rest against the family jewels. Cameron arched an eyebrow.
"You made a few noises of your own, buddy. And the next one you make could be good, or not so good." Her voice grew husky as she tensed the muscle in her thigh, moving her knee more firmly into him. "It's up to you."
Cameron felt a familiar fluttering below his waist as his solar plexus began to reawaken.
"Is that supposed to be a threat…or an offer?"
"I repeat - it's up to you."
He cleared his throat as he felt her hand dancing along his skin at the edge of the sheet that skirted his pelvis. He definitely chose offer.
"Have I told you in the last fifteen minutes how unconscionably sexy you are?"
His hand released its hold on her right hip and moved it down over the round curve of her behind. Alexis's jaw tensed as she fought a smile.
"And how much I adore you?"
His fingers began to tickle the softness of the back of her thigh, moving further and closer inward. She took in a short breath, her hip reflexively rocking into him, and Cameron's palm quickly locked her against it.
"And that two can play at that game?"
"Touche?" Alexis offered meekly.
"Check and mate." Cameron deadpanned.
She smiled softly, letting the arch of her foot slide down the inside of his calf until her leg was fully stretched out against his. He shivered as a blanket of goose bumps rose up in response to the brushing of her skin against his. Alexis pushed herself up on one elbow and kissed him gently on the mouth. Cameron slipped his hand through her hair and held her firmly against him as he kissed her more deeply. She sighted contentedly as the kiss slowly broke, and turned her head to lay it upon his chest. She could have stayed in that precious, perfect moment with him forever…if thoughts of the precious, perfect little girl in the next room weren't tugging at her heart. Alexis stared at the baby monitor, and that one tiny sound Kristina made was calling out to her again, even in silence. She needed to answer it.
"Hmm?" His fingers continued to lazily slip through her hair.
"I wish I could stay right here, like this, with you."
"But I really do want to go check on the baby. I know you're right that she was probably having a dream and she's now fast asleep and perfectly fine, but I…"
She lifted her head and looked at him. "Hmm?"
"You being her mother takes priority over everything."
"I love you." She murmured, serious eyes gazing intently up at his.
He smiled and ran his hand down her back as he kissed her softly, mindful of keeping his beard at bay from the tender skin below her lips.
"I love you. Now go check on your daughter. I'll save your place."
He patted his stomach and wiggled his eyebrows. Alexis laughed and lowered her head, kissing his belly as she pushed herself up and turned away from him. And Cameron watched her as she sat, pushing the hair back from her face with her bare back just a tempting arm's reach away. She set one palm down on the bed and cast lowered her eyes with it before turning her head slightly toward him. Her gaze settled on his chest, then drifted down to the edge of the sheet that rested across his hips. He saw her eyes follow the reach of that sheet from his body to her own, where the cotton barely covered her lap beneath the nakedness of her belly and breasts. Alexis lightly cleared her throat as she casually glanced down at her bare skin, her hands toying with the edge of the sheet.
Cameron tilted his head against the pillow with a wide grin. After the depths of sexual abandon they'd shared, the wave of shyness washing over her now was utterly adorable - and one hell of a turn on. He loved watching her shyness melt away under the heat of his passion, every touch of his hand and mouth moving her body to trust, yield, respond, and ask for more. And she melted him in return, setting him free in his head and his heart to make love with her - truly with, not to. The sounds of her pleasure fed into in a maelstrom of his sensations.
Power, submission, shyness, aggression, love, lust, comfort and risk all lived in that bed, in their bodies, in their hearts. It was the most erotic experience Cameron ever had, and it was the most organically right. And now, gazing at the long locks of gold-kissed mahogany hair falling over her naked shoulders, he felt the desire to physically connect once more before he let her go. As Alexis turned to look at the closet door, Cameron's hand touched down upon the base of her tailbone. She released a laugh of surprise as her back reflexively arched, and she clutched at the rumpled sheet to pull it closer to her body.
"You aren't going to pull the sheet off the bed and make a toga out of it like they do on TV, are you?" He teased.
She turned her head to give him an indignant look over her shoulder. "Of course not!"
"Because I've seen it all already."
Her back straightened as she sighed.
"Besides…" His fingers began to trace a light pattern against the top slope of her left cheek. "Your birthday suit is now my favorite of all your outfits."
Alexis shifted and cleared her throat again. "Well, I'm…glad you approve."
She took a deep breath, abruptly pushed the sheet from her lap, and slipped out of the bed. Cameron unabashedly eyed her from head to toe as she moved on long, shapely legs to the closet door, appreciatively taking in all the gifts that nature had bestowed upon this one glorious creature.
"She walks in beauty, like the night." He murmured quietly.
Alexis paused briefly, but didn't turn around. "Cut it out."
She flung the closet door open and tugged at a silky white robe that hung on a hook inside.
"I'm not staring. Staring is de rigeur."
She cast a quick, suspicious glance over her shoulder.
"I'm merely admiring your…spine."
She tugged harder as Cameron smiled wickedly.
"You're cute when you're shy."
"I'm not shy!" The robe spilled from the hook and fell into her arms.
"Shy is sexy."
Alexis turned to face him, letting her armful of silk puddle onto the floor as one she held one sleeve loosely in her hand. She tilted her head and stared at him intently, daringly, tousled hair falling into her face and spilling down over the top of her cleavage. Cameron's groin tightened. He sat up on one elbow.
"So is that." He whispered in a throat voice. "You'd better go check in on the nursery before something comes up right HERE that requires your full and immediate attention."
Alexis arched an eyebrow. "I can't imagine what."
She tossed her hair and kept her eyes glued to him as she sauntered past the bed on long, shapely legs, leisurely slipping her arms into the silken sleeves of the white robe as she moved toward the door. Cameron's heart skipped a beat, and the sheet that lay across his lap suddenly stirred. He pretended he didn't notice. Alexis didn't. She stopped at the doorway, an impish grin on her face, and lifted her hand to rest against the doorframe. The untied robe parted, just so.
"Patience is a virtue, you know." She smiled slyly.
"And virtue is highly overrated. So hurry back."
Cameron grinned as Alexis quickly flashed him - first her body, then her dimples, before slipping through the door. Ten long minutes later, he was still alone in her bed. His palm smoothed out along the place beside him on the bed, where she had lain. The heat of her body was gone from the sheets, as was the dampness they'd drunk in from the sweat of their fevered hours. The new, dry coolness of cotton beneath his wandering palm sent a shiver up his arm. He wanted to be warm and veiled in sweat all over again, with the salty vanilla taste of her skin on his lips. His eyes wandered to the monitor. He'd not heard a sound. Restless curiosity overtook him. Cameron pushed the sheet from his body, recovered his boxers from the floor, and padded his quiet way to the nursery.
Alexis was kneeling on the floor beside the crib, one hand wrapped around the bars, the other hand slipped between them, and her forehead resting against them. She didn't hear the light creak of the floorboard as Cameron crossed the threshold. All her focus belonged to the sleeping cherub, and the glowing expression of love on Alexis's face put a surprising twinge of envy in Cameron's heart. He suddenly wished Kristina were his child, not the child of a man who caused Alexis pain and kept her in fear. He wished that the greatest gift a woman could have had been his to give her. Helping her get Kristina back was the closest he could come.
But he would never be like Ned where her child was concerned. The role Cameron played in Alexis's life and her daughter's would be her call. And perhaps one day, she would want that greatest gift again - from him. Since he'd stumbled into Alexis and Kristina's lives, since he'd found his only living son, his yearnings to have connections again - to have a family again, were strong. He knew that a family was what Alexis always craved and thought was never to be. They could have it together, with their children, if outside forces would let them be. He was sure of it. And he prayed for another chance to do it right.
Alexis suddenly sensed his presence and turned. She whispered softly as she pulled her hand out from between the bars of the crib.
"You were right. She's sleeping like an angel. You can say 'I told you so' now."
He shook his head with a smile.
"I didn't intend to take root here and stare at her indefinitely. I really don't want to be one of those obsessive mothers who won't give their child two minutes of peace."
"After the staring time you've missed, you're allowed to catch up."
"It's been hard to feel like a genuine, honest to goodness mother while my child was in the care and under the control of everyone BUT me. Sometimes referring to myself as a mother felt…fake. Like a lie. Or a cruel joke. I never thought motherhood would be a part of my life, so finding myself feeling the way I did about my child, from the first day I knew she existed, was profound. I never thought of myself as maternal, and children kind of…scared me." Alexis looked up at him with a sweet, warm smile. "It's astounding how quickly the sight of two blue lines can change such a long-held perception of yourself."
"You're as naturally maternal a woman as I've ever seen, Alexis. And as fiercely protective of your cub as any mother lion nature created."
"Thank you for not making a crack about the five locks on the front door."
"As long as I didn't have to pay the locksmith, it's not my business." Cameron winked. "I'll leave you alone with Kristina to…stare."
He turned to go, but Alexis's voice stopped him.
"No. I'm coming. She's fine."
She carefully pulled herself up to her feet and reached down to adjust the pink and white blanked that covered the tiny body. She turned and Cameron held out his hand to her. She took it. He pulled her close to him.
"You said you were hungry? I have take-out menus."
"I'm not THAT hungry. Are you?"
She shook her head.
"Besides, it's a little late to be eating a real dinner."
"I have popcorn."
"If course you do." He grinned and nuzzled her neck. "Kristina's first words will probably be Orville Redenbacher."
She swatted his behind, and Cameron's hands pulled her closer into his body as he kissed her throat.
"I…also h-have cookies."
He pulled back and squinted at her. "What kind?"
"Wait for me back in bed and you'll find out." She taunted as she slipped from his arms and out the nursery door.
Several Milano cookies later, Cameron's hunger for food was sated. Alexis brushed the crumbs from his chest and off the sheet beneath him with an amused grin.
"You need a bib as much as Kristina."
"As if eating cookies for dinner wasn't childish enough, I also need a drop cloth. Talk about regression."
"Talk about a sugar rush. I'll probably never get to sleep now."
Alexis crumpled up the empty bag and leaned over him to drop it on the nightstand. Cameron caught her around the waist with one arm.
"Well then, we'll just have to find another way to keep you occupied throughout the night."
Alexis hovered over him for a moment, eyes studying his face. And then, she gave in to the pressure of his arm against her back and lowered herself down into him. Her hand came up to his face and lightly stroked his cheek.
"I think I'd forgotten what being happy feels like."
Cameron swallowed and pressed his hand against her fingers to hold them to his face. "I know I'd forgotten. Are you happy now?"
She nodded as a light mist veiled her eyes.
Alexis smiled. "I'm glad."
"I'll tell you what - I won't let you forget again if you won't let me."
"Deal." She whispered
Alexis leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips. Cameron slid his hands through her hair, keeping her face close to his as she pulled away. He stared into her big, brown eyes for a long moment. And then his hands began to move.
"I love your hair. Especially now, when it's all tangled and messy, and little strands are sticking to your face." He lifted a lock of her hair and let it fall back down against his chest. "And I love the way it feels on my skin."
Her dimples deepened, and Alexis tilted her head into the feel of his hands moving against her scalp.
"I know. You made this purring sound deep in the back of your throat every time I brushed my hair across your skin. Why do you think I did it so much?"
"Why, you little vixen you!"
"No." She shook her head. "No vixen. I just really wanted to…make you feel good. That's all."
"Good is a woefully insufficient word to describe how you made me feel - twice."
Cameron winked, and Alexis giggled softly, biting her lip.
"And…not that I'm fishing or anything, but…"
"Woefully insufficient." Alexis echoed.
"The word 'good', I mean - not you."
His left eyebrow rose up in doubt. Alexis lifted her head from his chest, eyes wide and anxious.
"Cameron, you know I didn't mean you!"
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't." He moved suddenly, pushing Alexis over onto her back and straddling her body with a lustful gleam in his eye. "But just to make sure, I think we should put that 'third time's a charm' adage to the test."
His hands captured her wrists and locked them into the bed, one at either side of her head, as his mouth came down on hers. She was caught too much off guard to respond right away, and Cameron's tongue met no resistance as it slipped between her lips and flicked at the roof of her mouth before setting about a renewed exploration of her sweet, wet warmth. Alexis's tongue began to meet his probing touches, neck arching, her mouth pushing up against his. Under the pressure of his hands, he could feel the desire of her arms to move. Her wrists strained against his palms, but Cameron wasn't ready to let her go just yet. He'd made love with her, and now he wanted to make love TO her. He wanted to give…and give…and take his pleasure in hers.