Marcus looked over at the alarm clock. It was nearly midnight, and she still wasn’t home. His messages and e-mails went unanswered.
He began undoing the plastic cover of the rose bouquet. Audrey worked harder and longer hours than he did, even considering his dual life. If he weren’t around to force her to relax, she would spend her whole life in that lab.
But then again, if he didn’t have Audrey, he’d probably be doing the same thing.
He took out a rose and began plucking the red petals one at a time, tossing them across the bed, newly made with her favorite jersey sheets.
Even after more than two years together, she still seemed to hold him at arm’s length. She didn’t like to talk about their future.
Of course, flying away to deal with the random emergencies, like being sucked into an interdimensional wormhole to prevent an alien army from arriving on Earth, didn’t help matters either.
Three weeks had passed on Earth, but it felt like six months to him. He was still unsure how he made it out. How could you fight creatures half hidden in dimensions you weren’t even a part of?
Appropriately enough, it was there, in a place where love and peace were rare, that he realized he couldn’t imagine a future without Audrey. He knew she thought they were a fling. It was all he could do to keep her convinced he was here to stay.
It was what it was, he reassured himself. They had done the best they could, trying to see each other at least once a week. He had asked her to move in with him; she had turned him down, afraid she would be drawn out of her work. He asked her to marry him; she turned him down, saying she wasn’t ready for the kind of commitment he deserved.
At least he got her to keep the ring.
It had turned into something of a running joke between them.
“Hey, Marcus, can you pick up some Chinese takeout and meet me at my place?”
“Only if you’ll marry me.”
He waited, lying in her bed, looking up at the glow in the dark stars she had asked him to help her put on her ceiling. They made her feel safe, she said.
He only wished he could show her the real stars.
He had come close to telling her his other identity many times. But he had held back, unsure of what her response would be. Thousands of women would be thrilled to be with Centurion, but the one woman he wanted would simply think it a hassle.
I don’t want to keep secrets from her anymore.
He let himself float upward and turned over in midair so that he could see the picture above her bed. It was a framed shot of Earth, one he had taken for her. A gift, he had said, from a friend who had done some construction work on Moonbase, the Planetary Protection Agency’s headquarters.
He heard a key in the lock and dropped back onto the bed as the door swung open.
Marcus barely kept himself from flying at her. He got up out of bed like a normal man in motions that seemed agonizingly slow.
Strands of dark hair had escaped from her bun, already falling loose with the exhaled breath of a long day.
She stopped, blinking dark eyes when she caught sight of him. She whispered his name through her fingers at her full, red mouth.
He was helpless to stop himself from going to her.
She clung to him tightly. “I was so worried,” she whispered. “I was so, so
He pulled her close, stroking the hair off her face. “Shhh. I’m here now. I’m fine.”
Impossible as it seemed, she hugged him even tighter. “It feels like you’ve been gone forever.”
“I’m sorry. It was an emergency in the DarkLands.” His day job as a water engineer frequently took him to the devastated areas left by DarkLight, where quantum radiation and electromagnetic oddities made communication with the rest of the world difficult. “It took us forever to get the communications tower up.” He closed his eyes. As far as she knew, he had been right in the middle of no-man’s land. His hands tangled in her dark hair, undid the bun, let down the rest of her hair. “I’ve missed you too.”
She lifted her head, parting her mouth to say something, and his lips swept down on hers. Her mouth opened to him with a soft, silky gentleness that made his knees shake. She was warm and tasted of chocolate. She sucked his tongue, which tugged a rumble from his chest. He slowed their kiss, taking control, tilting her head back, kissing her with all the emotions that he had pent up for so long. He needed her, her soft curves, her caress, needed her to remind him he was alive and that she was here for him.
He was alive.
He swung her off her feet and slung her over his shoulder, and she shrieked in surprise. “Marcus!”
He dropped her on the bed and covered her body with his, kissing and tasting her skin. The scent of crushed petals rose in the air.
She squirmed as he pulled her sweater up over her head, exposing a smooth, simple pink T-shirt bra. She quickly unbuttoned his collared shirt and placed her hands on his bare, muscled chest, his golden hair tickling her fingertips. He leaned back and shrugged the long-sleeved shirt off as she reached forward and undid his pants. Her fingers rose and lightly traced the deep delineations of muscle across his shoulders, down his arms, marveling at how his skin was so soft, and yet the flesh underneath so solid. He traced her curves, finding the clasp of her bra in the center of her chest.
“No, wait, we --”
“Front open,” he said. He flashed her that sexy grin that never failed to send shivers to her toes. “You’re so thoughtful.”
Her breath caught in her throat as he covered a pointed nipple with his mouth. She ran her fingers through wind-tousled blond hair. She was supposed to be pushing him away, but her hips betrayed her, pushing hard against the large bulge outlined in his tight white briefs. She couldn’t hide how embarrassingly wet his kiss had made her or how much she loved the feeling of his arms rippling around her as he stripped her pants off.
He ran his hands along her bare legs. “So soft,” he whispered. His voice, his caress immobilized her thoughts into a warm anticipation. He looked down at her sheer pink underwear approvingly, resting his mouth against her mons, his breath warm through her panties. Heat spread from her core, quelling her mind, making her arch against him. With a finger, he hooked the crotch and snagged them downward, removing them.
He cupped her mons and swirled his fingers in her slickness. “Audrey, you’re on fire.”
“Wait --” She suddenly realized she couldn’t let him do this before --
He slid one finger in, then two, as he rubbed the pad of his thumb over her clit. His fingers twirled as they slid in and out of her, stopping her words.
He suckled her nipple, causing a low moan. The heavy solidity of him, the smoky masculine scent, and the sleek feel of his muscles multiplied the ache within her. He rasped against her neck, “You don’t really want to wait, do you?”
“No,” she breathed.
He sat back up. Scars marred the broad plates of his pecs and crossed down into the perfect cobbled valley of his abdomen. Glints of gold covered his torso, the light reflecting the curling blond hair of his chest that trailed down to his thick, jutting cock. It was awe inspiring, just like the rest of him, somehow defying gravity despite its size and heft, and she involuntarily clenched at the thought of him inside of her. She reached forward, touched the tip, wet with precum, and rubbed her finger all over the crown of his desire until it was shiny.
He shivered at her touch and grabbed her wrists. In a swift motion that seemed incongruous with his trembling, eager hands, he pinned her to the bed.
He leaned forward, taking her earlobe between his lips. His tip teased the slick, puffy lips of her pussy. “I dreamed of you, Audrey. About you shivering on me, clinging to me, needing me to make you mine.” He nudged his cock forward so that his head rested against her opening. “You’re always so controlled.”
“Marcus,” she said, her longing, her desire audible in that single whisper. She couldn’t fight him like this; she didn’t want to fight him.
“But I love seeing you lose it.”
Down in the valley of her breasts, his kisses burned a trail to her core. His tongue slid across her clit, flicking back and forth, sending little jolts that knotted her in silken tangles of need. She grabbed his thick blond hair, wrapping her legs around his neck, feeling the roughness of his stubbled jaw and cheeks against her thighs. His hands cupped her bottom as he licked her, watching her as a man might gaze over the rim of a drink. The intensity of his gaze was all too intimate, as if he could see through her defenses to the things she hid away, even from herself. It was a feeling she found both frightening and erotic.
She closed her eyes, leaned her head back. Her voice came out in a whisper. “Just fuck me, please.”
He raised his head, looked into her eyes, and smiled. “No.”