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Love And War

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Beth didn't get any news from Rio for the rest of the day. She heard the sound of helicopters in the neighborhood for hours after Turner had left her house, and she knew they were on a manhunt but there was nothing she could do about it except waiting. She hoped Rio had managed to escape from the feds, but she didn't exactly have any easy way to make sure of this, except that in the eventuality Rio would get arrested, she was convinced that Turner wouldn't resist to show up at her house and tell her they'd gotten him just to see her reaction. She was supposed to have the kids coming this week but she couldn't exclude the possibility that things would keep being messy on the followings days so she reluctantly called Dean to ask him if they could swap their weeks. It wasn't the first time she was asking him last minute favors and she knew he was more and more annoyed with it, never passing on any occasion to imply that she was an awful mother. It deeply hurt, every time, but she had to admit that he had a point. She needed more stability in her life, and she wasn't sure that Rio's comeback would bring that to her.

On the next night, as she'd just finished having dinner alone and was packing the leftovers, facing the sink, she turned around to gather her plate when she jumped with a scream. Rio apparently just happened to materialize there, silently standing in front of the kitchen island, and she gave him a murderous look.

He frowned, "I'm gettin' mixed signals here, so just to be clear for future references, you want me to knock or not?"

His voice was teasing and his smirk was widening into a smile and she couldn't help but smile back at him despite how he'd frightened her. She wanted to slap him. She wanted to kiss him. She wanted to punch him. She wanted to fuck him. She didn't know anymore what she wanted, all she knew was that her heart was beating faster and that she was so, so happy he was here and didn't get caught.

"Maybe... Just make a little more noise next time, okay? Or no, better than that!" she added, teasing him back, "They invented that thing called a phone lately, so you can just text the person and—"

"Nah, I don't do phones, too many steps!" he threw back.

She laughed.

"How did you escape from them?" she asked.

"Stayed hidden in your tree house for a while, I heard it was a good spot to hide a man." he told her with an evil smile, and she bit her lips, trying to remember if she'd ever told him anything about how she'd hidden Boomer there. "Then I left when the night was dark enough." he added.

"You could have come back here for the night." she pointed out, and she suddenly blushed when she realized what she'd involuntarily implied with this. Trying to clear her mind from her confusion, she suddenly pointed her hand at the food she was packing, "Have you eaten yet? Do you want some?"

"Oh no, thanks, I'm good. Unless... you wanna bake me a sandwich?"

His grin was devilish and she blushed even harder.

"Is that what you came for yesterday?" she flirtatiously asked, trying to counterattack.

He shrugged, "I told you why I came yesterday."

Right. The business proposition. She wasn't sure she'd like what was coming and she could tell he had high expectations on her reaction, so she just swallowed and nodded, waiting.

He cleared his throat, "Okay, here's what I been thinkin'. You my partner. For good. Equal share of the profits, equal share of the work. And I'll help you gettin' rid of Turner. The guy's obsessed with both of us anyway."

She looked at him, her eyes widening in shock. She used to think he'd never want to hear about her again, and although he'd just showed up the day before to tell her that they could be something, she certainly didn't expect him to offer her a partnership after the series of multiple mutual betrayals they'd been through. God, she didn't even know if she wanted that!

"Why are you offering me this?" she asked.

He shrugged, "Can't defeat you."

That made sense. If he figured she wanted to be a boss, it was better to have her on his side. He took two steps closer, skirting around the kitchen island, and she silently swallowed.

"Can't kill you." he added in a lower voice.

He took another step, his body inches away from hers now. The fingers of his right hand followed the line of her temple, pushing her hair aside in a motion that was so familiar now that she was more likely to notice when he didn't do it, and he stared deeply in her eyes before he tilted his head. She parted her lips, expecting him to kiss her, but at the last moment, his mouth reached for her ear.

"Can't lose you." he finally whispered in a breath.

She gasped, and an achingly happy feeling grew somewhere inside of her chest and overwhelmed her as he straightened his head. She looked him in the eyes, trying not to smile from ear to ear.

"I... I don't know what to say."

He looked at her for a while, sinking his teeth in his bottom lip before a teasing light flickered in his eyes and he added, "By the way, I'm sorry but the job ain't provide health insurance or what. But you can have benefits" —his face came closer and his lips brushed her mouth in a lateral move for maybe half a second before he straightened— "if you want to".

His move was so quick that it mostly surprised her but the instant his eyes met hers again she knew she wanted his lips back on hers.

"I'm sorry, I'm afraid I misheard what you just said about the benefits." she teased back with her most seductive smile.

Her valid hand came at the back of his head while she stood on her toes to reach for his mouth. She pressed her lips against his and he didn't react for one second before she felt his hand in the middle of her back, pulling her closer, and his tongue sliding in her mouth. The kiss was deep and tender and this time it was nothing like the way they had awkwardly kissed the day before, and she moaned under his mouth. She was slightly panting when their lips parted but she cocked her head and gave him a provocative grin.

"Is that what you meant?"

He smiled and they stared at each other for two seconds before he lowered his gaze on her lips. She thought he was about to kiss her again, and to be honest she didn't know what was still holding her from jumping at him to kiss him already, but he slowly stepped back, licking his lips, and his expression got back to serious.

"I mean that if you're a part of it, you're in for good. You trust me. I trust you. I ain't keepin' you in the dark no more, but I need to be a hundred percent sure I can rely on you. You can't decide to get out of the game every other week 'cause one of your kids got a dance recital or you saw a cop or summin'."

But the thing was, she wasn't sure she wanted that. She wanted him, that was something she was sure of, but a partnership? She knew for a fact that they had never been able to trust each other, and she didn't see how things could go differently this time. Besides she knew how bossy and in control he liked to be. Was he even able to partner with someone? Maybe that was not the kind of relationship she wanted to have with him.

"Couldn't we just—" she started but he cut her, with a remarkably quick understanding of where she was heading to.

"Nah. I don't want you to be a sleepover friend."

She rolled her eyes. Sleepover friend!

"Couldn't you just say girlfriend, like everybody else?" she asked.

He shook his head, "I don't do girlfriends."

He'd been there before, he'd already done that mistake with someone else. He'd thought he could have it all, the normal, settled, happy relationship, handling the business aside. But it didn't work this way. Even though Vicky obviously knew what he did for a living, and was okay with that, there were things that she couldn't understand nor accept, and little by little, protective lie after protective lie, one secret after another, he had lost her trust, until he had lost her. And he didn't want to lose Elizabeth the same way. He wanted her to be all-in. Otherwise he was all out. He thought that if she said no he'd give Big Mike a call and settle his business in Canada. Would be too hard to stay in Detroit after that anyway.

"Doesn't work like that." he said. "Either you wanna be a part of my life, and it means you're a part of the game too, either you're just a sleepover friend. And it ain't what I want you to be."

"Why not?"

"Oh you want that?" he asked, raising one eyebrow.

She tried to picture it, getting to sleep with him but being left in the dark about any business information. That was more or less already the dynamic they had before, she bitterly noted. And it was honestly killing her. Frustrating her to the point of shooting him. Sooner or later she'd want to know more, do stuff, outsmart him, and it would ruin everything. She looked back at him, slightly nodding, and he nodded back. She got what he meant. But there was something else that was bothering her right now.

"How many sleepover friends do you have?" she suspiciously asked.

"Oh you really want me to answer that, darlin'?" he replied with a hint of warning in his voice.

"Yes please."

She could tell from his look that he was pissed off, but she didn't care. She was too, and mostly she was hurt. They never had spoken about any kind of exclusivity, which was more or less understandable since she wasn't even sure they'd ever been together, but the idea of him seeing another woman was painful. She could still picture the gorgeous girl he'd hugged on the pill deliveries and it didn't help her calm down her insecurities.

"You jealous or somethin'?" he asked with narrowed eyes.

"I wanna know the terms of the deal. I'm supposed to trust you, right?" she retorted with a daring look.

And for an instant he was tempted to give it all up on her. She could be such a pain in the ass sometimes! She had no right to act jealous with him, while they'd spent more time scheming against each other than actually having sex, and mostly been nemeses instead of lovers. Besides, if she wanted to take that direction, she was the one with a husband she had every right to sleep with whenever she wanted. And although he was fully aware that she obviously wasn't keen on sleeping with Dumbsie anymore, he couldn't help it.

"Am I asking you anythin' 'bout Carman?" he disingenuously struck back.

"Oh, you can, we got divorced!" she replied, and he jumped at this chance to change the subject.

Because the truth was, he'd stopped seeing anybody else since that bathroom night. Not that he hadn't thought about it nor been tempted, but he simply couldn't. They were really nice girls, but they weren't her, and she was the one he couldn't get out of his mind. And that was definitely not something he was ready to let her know yet.

"Didn't know that. Am I supposed to be sorry for you or congratulate you?"

His voice was teasing but his eyes were actually seriously asking her that question, and she let the exclusivity conversation aside for a while.

"I guess you can congratulate me but... not too loud." she finally said with a melancholic smile that melt his heart. "It's still fresh."

He nodded. He'd been there too. He knew the intense feeling of failure divorce could create, even when you knew there was no better solution.

"I'm sorry, Elizabeth."

"It's okay. I'm okay, I guess."

There was a silence. He wanted to take her in his arms, and kiss her, and help her forget all about that dumbass ex-husband of hers, but the uncertainty of their future was still hanging above their heads, and he needed an answer.

"So, what do you say 'bout my offer?" he asked, with burning eyes and a drawling voice that made her want to rip off his shirt.

She couldn't deny that a wild part of her was tempted, but her rational mind was begging her to find a more harmless alternative.

She swallowed, "What if I say no?"

He bit his lips, his eyes clearly saying that it wasn't his favorite option.

"I'm done forcin' you to do things. If you want out, you're out, and I'll make sure Turner ain't gonna bother you anymore. I don't want you to be on my hook 'bout that. But you won't hear 'bout me or see me again. Over. You'll be free to go back to that lil' life of yours. For good. That's for you to decide now."

"You are forcing me to do things, Rio." she quietly said.

He licked his lips, "No I ain't. It'll be your choice. Just keep in mind that takin' a job only for its benefits ain't never a good idea."

She sighed. As usual he could read her mind as an open book but she didn't like the idea of him being aware she was actually considering accepting his offer only for having the opportunity to date him. She gave him a discouraged look.

"Will I have to kill people?" she asked in a tiny voice.

He shrugged, "Not if you don't want to. At least I'll try my best not for it to happen. I'll handle this if it's that important to you."

He didn't want to scare her so he refrained from telling her that killing people was not really the worst thing he'd ever had to do, that there were things he had seen that still could wake him up at night sometimes. He would do whatever it'd take to keep her away from the dirty shit but he couldn't promise it wouldn't happen.

"This is madness..." she mumbled while lowering her eyes. She looked back at him, "What if one of us dies?"

He cocked one eyebrow and smirked, "You realize legit people die too, right?" he asked with a playful tone suggesting that he was revealing to her that Santa didn't exist. "Abidin' by the law ain't makin' you immortal, ma, you could get hit by a bus or summin'." he added.

She rolled her eyes at him, "You know what I mean!"

He swallowed, "Well if one of us dies, one of us dies, what can I tell you..."

"For God's sake, Rio, I have children!" she abruptly cut him.

He narrowed his eyes, upset by the way she was suggesting he wasn't a good parent enough, "So what, me too!"

"And are you okay with the idea that your son might have his father killed or sent to prison anytime? Have you even considered this before you decided to have children?" she acidly asked.

She knew she was pressing a sensitive and hurtful spot on him, and that she was pushing his worst buttons, again, by doing so. He would be mad at her for that, but hurting him seemed to be the only way she had found to soothe her own distress facing the dilemma he was imposing to her. She was aware that they were back to the familiar and comfortable mechanics of their push and pull game, but it seemed they couldn't help it, as if taking a shot of venom was better than opening up because the hurt was at least something they knew how to deal with.

He deeply sighed and she knew from the ticking of his jaw that he was trying to control his anger.

"Elizabeth," he started with a voice trembling from the control he kept on it, "I wish this day never comes, but even if I die tomorrow, everythin' is planned and Marcus will be taken good care of. And he'll even be able to afford college later and have a good start in life. If you'd seen the house I grew up in, you'd know that I could never have provided this to him if I had stayed legit."

She swallowed. She'd never heard him talk about his past or his childhood and it moved her that he opened up, even just a little.

"Is that why you are doing this, then? Are you doing it for him?" she asked.

He shook his head, "Nah, I'm doin' it 'cause I'm good at it. But don't tell me again I ain't givin' a shit 'bout my kid." he told her with a warning look.

She lowered her gaze, thinking about her own kids. She didn't know how she would afford college for them. Since Dean bankrupted their family, she had managed to build comfortable incomes that made them live, but she couldn't say she had lots of savings either.

"I'm sorry, that's not what I meant, I know you care about Marcus." she apologized in a breath.

"Good." he slightly nodded. "You have further questions?" he coldly asked.

She raised her head to look at him. She had a million questions running through her head, but she still hadn't asked the most obvious one.

"Actually I have." she answered. "You said we'd rely on each other, is that even possible? After all we've been through? I mean, I shot you for God's sake, and you tried to have me killed, and we've turned each other in so many times I can't even count..."

He eyes widened as she suddenly realized the extent of what they had done to each other. She had never summarized the whole thing like this, and she wondered if there was anything about them that wasn't dysfunctional.

"Is there even any coming back from this?" she plaintively added.

"That's for us to decide, ma." he dully said, suddenly softening.

And just like that she got angry at him. As if that was an easy thing to do, just deciding to trust him after all the times he'd betrayed her trust, after all the times men in general had betrayed her trust!

"But how could I ever trust you after you manipulated me and played with my feelings so many times? How, Rio?" she snapped back at him.

He didn't like the direction that this conversation was taking. He felt like she was seeking for a pretext to run away from him, looking for a loophole in each one of his answers, and that annoyed him.

"Listen, Elizabeth, if you don't want me around, just say it and be honest for once." he pleaded her.

"I don't—"

He raised his voice as he cut her, "You know what, that's your problem, Elizabeth! You always whine to be a part of it, but you keep pullin' out each time things get real and committin', because you're scared, no matter how much you want it!"

His words hit her point blank. That was not their partnership he was describing with this.

"Are we still talking about work here?" she asked, a hint of warning in her voice as the conversation was heading on a slippery slope she really didn't want to discuss right now.

He shook his head with disappointment in his eyes, "I dunno what we're fuckin' talkin' about."

There was a pause before he stared back at her and spoke again, "Just tell me somethin', yeah? Do you even care about all of this, 'bout me, or am I just the younger guy who gives you the thrill of sex and danger in the boredom of your lil' suburban housewife life? When you said you wanted to be a boss, did you mean it or was it just a lie, Elizabeth?"

She suffocated at his question. Of course she cared! But then she gave it a second thought and she felt an icy fist clasping around her heart as the bite of doubt invaded her mind. She'd always avoided to get her hands dirty, because deep down she'd always seen all of this as a temporary thing, but she'd never thought about what would come after. And he was right, she enjoyed the fun, but she'd immediately sobered up every time he had asked for a serious commitment to crime from her. She noticed it was the first time he'd ever asked her what he meant to her, and not being able to answer that clearly right now was heartbreaking.

"I... I don't know." she managed to articulate while trying not to cry.

He sighed, deeply hurt by her answer. And he was tired of waiting for her to make a decision, he just couldn't take it anymore.

"So, you in or not?" he finally said after a silence.

Trying not to sound too desperate, she asked, "Do you want me to give you an answer right now or can I get some time to think about it?"

He shrugged, "Sure, tomorrow's fine for you?'

She deeply exhaled. Tomorrow was a ridiculous deadline, as if her thinking would make any progress about such a life changing decision by then, but she knew he wouldn't give her more time. He'd already waited for her decision for too long, she got that now. She silently nodded and he considered her for a few more seconds until she suddenly turned around, too ashamed of herself to face his gaze.

She pretended to absorb herself in the task of washing her plate to not let him see the tears that were already burning her eyes. She didn't want to lose him, not again. But this... She'd dreamed of such a proposition from him, but that was before she got shot, before she sobered up on that romantic way she pictured the criminal world. She couldn't do that anymore, she had a family... She heard him sigh and she knew without looking at him that he had turned away and was about to leave. She didn't want to be alone right now.


He didn't answer but she knew from his breath and the general vibe in the room that he was listening.

"I promise I'll give you my answer tomorrow, but could you please stay for a while right now? Let's put all of this aside and talk about something else. Anything."

There was nothing he craved more than staying there with her, but he wasn't sure he could handle not knowing yet if this was the last time, just like he didn't trust himself in respecting his promise to not see her again in case she'd turned his offer down. That was why he was about to leave. But her whole attitude was screaming a heartbreaking distress and he didn't want to leave her in such a state. He knew he was being hard on her, once again, he was pushing her in her boundaries with the choice he was asking her to make, but he couldn't find any better solution. He thought that maybe she was right after all, maybe they should just enjoy the time they had left before she made her decision.


She deeply exhaled, relieved, and she turned on the hot water to rinse her plate. She sensed him more than she heard him move, but a second later she knew he was right behind her, holding his breath, and he braced himself against the edges of the sink, caging her with his arms. She gasped as he used his cheek to push her hair away so he could press his mouth on the soft skin in the crook of her neck. She tried to focus on the warm water running all over her hands, but her mind was already wandering and soon she was nothing but little moans and broken breaths as his lips were lasciviously caressing her neck.

"We ain't so good at talkin', ma, you know that." he whispered in her ear.

She couldn't resist anymore so she slightly turned her head and it felt like that was the signal he was waiting for as he immediately kissed her, sucking her bottom lip into his teeth. She gasped under his mouth, groping for the tap and shutting it off before she pivoted on her heels to face him, her hands pressing the edge of the sink on both sides of her waist to steady her. He slipped his tongue in her mouth and as the kiss was getting deeper, one of his palms slid aside to clasp around her hand while he wrapped his other arm around her waist to pull her closer. She could feel him already hardening against her thigh, and that turned her on enough to make her unconsciously wave her hips a little. He let out a hoarse noise from the back of his throat when he felt it and he slipped one knee between her thighs, gently pressing her crotch with his lap and drawing little moans out of her.

They kissed like this for a while but that wasn't enough for him, he'd been missing her for so long that he had to make sure this was real, he wanted to grind into her, feel her body firmly pressed against his, and the kitchen counter wasn't high enough for that, so he used the arm he still had around her waist to pull her away from the sink before he pushed her backwards until she had her back against the fridge. She hit it harder than he had intended and she let out a little cry along with a wince of pain as the shock resonated in her wound.

"Sorry!" he immediately apologized.

"It's okay, I don't care." she panted, using her valid arm to pull him closer as much as she could and he emitted a low groan, pressing his hips hard against her and burying his face in her neck to bite and suck her warm skin, his hands exploring her body.

He could have fucked her right here, against the fridge, and he was planning to do so someday, but it wasn't what he wanted right now. Not tonight. He wanted to take his time.

"Shouldn't we relocate this in your bedroom?" he whispered in her ear as he softened his kisses.

"You think my bullet wound can handle it?" she panted, teasing but pragmatic.

His mouth left her neck as he straightened his head to look at her.

"Did the doctor say anythin'?" he asked, raising one eyebrow.

She rolled her eyes at him, "Well, obviously, I didn't ask! But it still hurts if I move my shoulder."

He thought that his highest level of refined cruelty would upgrade a stage further the day he would kill Harry. Nobody had the right to hurt her. She must have seen the anger flickering in his eyes as his face had darkened because she looked worried now and he gave her a flirtatious smile to reassure her.

"Don't worry, ma, I'll do all the work for you. And I'll fuck you gentle." he lasciviously whispered with a sultry light in his eyes that almost made her lose her mind.

"Wow, you know how to do that?" she mocked, rolling her eyes at him and cocking her eyebrows in an attempt to regain her composure.

He grinned.

"Don't make me change my mind." he whispered with gravel in his voice and she was this close to ask him to fuck her here and now, bullet wound or not.

He bent his head and kissed her once more before he took one step back to free her. She took his hand in hers and dragged him to her bedroom, slamming the door closed with her leg, and it wasn't finished closing yet that his tongue was back in her mouth.

Beth felt dizzy. She had thought this never happen again, but there he was, kissing her, and the feeling was overwhelming. It seemed that his touch had set fire to every nerve in her body and she couldn't get enough of him. Her hands were roaming the back of his body, exploring his waist, when her fingers touched the butt of his gun and he suddenly froze, "Sorry 'bout that." he muttered against her lips.

He slightly pulled away from her and his hand reached at his back to pull his gun out of his jeans when she suddenly hissed, "Don't!"

He gave her a surprised look.

"Keep it." she hoarsely said.

He smirked and Beth blushed, as surprised as him to find herself turned on by the idea of him carrying a gun while they were making out.

"You realize I'll have to take it off at some point, right?" he asked with an amused expression on his face.

She blushed even harder and he pulled her closer to kiss her again. She started to unbutton his shirt with only the help of her valid hand, which slowed down the process, while the left one was squeezing the bare skin above his hip bone. As a result he was already finished unbuttoning her blouse while she was barely at the half of his shirt and she let out a frustrated moan. He caught her hand in his while his other hand was quickly finishing unbuttoning his shirt.

"I told you I'd do all the work, ma." he whispered with his lips against her fingers, his mouth brushing the back of her hand and drawing little gasps out of her throat.

He gently pushed her backwards and she followed his move, kicking her shoes off in the process before the back of her knees hit the bed, and he solidly held her against him to prevent any rough encounter between her wound and the bed before he dragged her down with him and she delicately landed on the mattress with his body on top of her. She immediately caught his mouth with her lips, making him gasp, while her hands were exploring the bare skin of his chest. His mouth slid in her neck for a while, his hand playing with her breasts before he slightly straightened his head with a sultry expression on his face.

"How many times d'you want me to make you come?" he whispered.

She rolled her eyes in disbelief, "You seriously expect me to answer that? Don't be such a brag!"

"Nah, I'm serious, c'mon!" he insisted as his devious smile was widening.

She gave him an ironic look before she replied, "A million."

He chuckled, his fingers still teasing her breast through her bra, "You won't tell me, huh?"

She sighed, "Listen, one would already be above the average of these past twenty years, okay? So don't try to push me on saying things I don't want to say."

He frowned, "Seriously? And I'm the criminal one here? Damn, Elizabeth!"

He bit his lips, truly shocked by Carman's incompetence on that field too. What upset him the most was that the more he learned about Elizabeth's past life, the more obvious it was she hadn't been truly happy, and it made him sad to see it had taken for her to go as far as committing a crime to realize it.

She didn't know why, but the shocked look on his face as she gave him a clue about the state of her marriage deeply moved her. She'd never seen that much concern about her well-being in anyone else's eyes, except maybe Annie's and Ruby's, but she wouldn't make to them the same kind of confession she just did to Rio, especially because the misery of her relationship with Dean was something she had always kept for herself and mostly denied.

His expression softened and he watched her with endless affection before he whispered, "I'll do my best, then."

She raised her hand to cup his jaw, stroking his stubble with her palm while she stared at him in awe. She wanted to say it. Again. The words were beating in her brain like an additional heart but she kept her mouth shut and her eyes locked with him until they frantically reached at each other's lips again. But even if she wasn't capable of letting out the words she wanted to say to him, she felt the urge to open up, even slightly, to let him see how much she cared about him despite all of her usual apparent attitude, and as he was nibbling at her lower lip she stammered, "God, I missed you so much!", feeling as scared and exposed as if she'd just proposed to him. He moaned in response, deepening his kiss, and it didn't take long after that for him to finish removing their clothes, carefully putting his gun aside, until they were both in their underwear.

He buried his head in her neck, whispering in her ear all the things he wanted to do to her once her wound would be completely healed, and to be honest, there was some stuff that made her wish she was healed up already, while his hand slid along her belly to gently tease her through the thin fabric of her panties, drawing out loud gasps from the back of her throat. She was already completely wet for him, and he couldn't repress a hoarse groan when he felt it as he slipped one finger underneath the fabric. Her breath got louder as he was circling her sensitive spot, almost touching it, and she arched her back, urging him to touch her, when suddenly his hand was gone, and she let out a little frustrated noise.

He grinned, unclasping her bra and helping her to remove it before he started to cover her chest with kisses, sucking and nibbling at the soft skin, having her mewling under his lips. He caught her hands in his, intertwining their fingers, and she couldn't repress her need to brush his fingers with hers. An overwhelming feeling of intimacy invaded her as she realized it was the first time they were holding hands like this. His tongue suddenly twirled around her nipple, making her gasp, and she freed one of her hands to stroke the short hair at the back of his head in response. She slightly arched her back, pulling his head closer until he gently bit her as a reaction, and she moaned as his mouth kept playing with her nipples, successively giving attention to each one of them.

His free hand trailed its way down her body again, and slipped in her panties, superficially teasing her at first until the rolling of her hips urged him to go further and he pressed two fingers inside of her in a slow pumping motion that made her breathe louder. His thumb came up to circle her clit and she clenched around him, meeting his rhythm with her hips and drawing hoarse gasps from his throat. His mouth left her chest to kiss her deeply and she shivered as her sensitized nipples brushed the bare skin of his torso. She moaned uncontrollably under his lips, overwhelmed with her desire, and he suddenly removed his hand from her panties to grab the fabric and pull it off her hips. She squirmed to help him and the second she was naked under him, his mouth was trailing kisses along her jaw, her chest, then all the way down to her belly until his lips pressed the inside of her thigh.

She gasped when she felt his breath on her thin skin followed by the warmth of his tongue wrapping around her clit and making her twitch. He settled his head between her thighs, slowly eating her out at first, with small flicks of pressure on her sensitive spot, until her moans got louder and demanding, and he pressed two fingers back inside of her as she was starting to squirm against his tongue. The scraping of his stubble against her sensitive skin was sending bolts of electricity across her whole body and she closed her eyes, overwhelmed by the sensations, her body shaking as Rio's fingers and tongue intensified their stimulation. It did not take her long after that to come loudly and he was almost certain he heard her scream his name.

He waited until she went through the aftershock of her orgasm to slowly make his way back to her upper body, his lips sliding along her skin all the way up until he felt her hand pulling his head closer. She kissed him deeply, pressing her breasts against his chest, her valid arm wrapped around his back. But she wanted more of him and soon her fingers were at the waistband of his underwear, trying to pull it off and his throat let out a protesting noise against her lips. He suddenly froze and broke their kiss to look at her with a serious expression printed on his face.

"What?" she asked. "If you're going to ask me again about my consent, I swear I will slap you!"

He shook his head, "Not that, but good point though. Are we ever gonna have this conversation 'bout protections or not?"

She sighed, "Rio, you gave me your blood! Thank you for that, by the way." she added in a lower voice.

He nodded, chewing his lower lip, "For the record I wouldn't have dunnit if I didn't know I was clean, ma."

She rolled her eyes at him.

"So you'd rather have let me die than live with, let's say, hepatitis?" she asked in disbelief.

"Hey, what makes you think I might have hepatitis, I'm a careful guy!" he protested.

"One can never know," she retorted, "what about your sleepover friends?"

He realized with a sigh that he couldn't get out of this without hurting her if he didn't tell her the truth.

"I ain't have any at the moment, darlin'." he thoughtfully told her, gently shaking his head with one finger caressing her cheek, "And I'll tell you if that ever changes."

She suddenly pictured him telling her he was seeing somebody else, even casually, and her heart crushed at the thought. He somehow sensed her anxiety because he gently cradled the back of her head with his hand while he whispered in her ear, "But I don't see how it could happen." This was the closest to a promise of exclusivity she would ever get from him right now and she knew it. She wrapped her valid arm around him in a silent thank-you and they intensely kissed for a while.

"What 'bout you, sweetheart?" he finally asked, reluctantly pulling his mouth away from her lips.

"I... got tested, a few months ago. So unless you are not as clean as you pretend to be, I'm good."

He peered at her with narrowed eyes. Did she get tested because of their two encounters back in the days before she shot him? That was a surprisingly responsible move from her, but it still puzzled him. For it couldn't be because she recently hooked up with her husband, unless...

"He cheated on me. Repeatedly." she answered his thoughts, proud to be the one who could read the other's mind for once.

His fist clenched and he thought that the more he learned about Carman, the more he wanted to kill him. He'd never really had a good opinion of her ex-husband, but he'd always more or less assumed she saw something in him that he didn't get. But there was an actual difference between thinking about someone as an asshole, and having the confirmation that he was one indeed.

"Elizabeth I'm so sorry to hear that." he whispered, truly shocked.

She shook her head, "It's okay, I've overcome that. But thank you."

She kissed him, pressing herself against his body, but as she felt his hesitation she broke the kiss.

"What, now?" she asked in a growing state of frustration.

"You know that STDs ain't the only thing you can... catch, right?" he hesitantly replied with a frown and the beginning of a smirk.

Oh God, this was embarrassing. She rolled her eyes at him.

"Do you really have to ask me that now?"

He lowered his glance at their naked bodies before his eyes came back at hers.

"I can't think of a better time, darlin'." he smirked.

She nodded, admitting his point. After Emma was born, she had thought that her womb deserved some rest. Maybe even a permanent one. The point was, even if she loved her babies, and although the idea of carrying Rio's sounded somehow appealing from a certain point of view, she was on a strict birth control and wasn't planning on having more children.

"Oh believe me, I took care of that!" she finally said, shaking her head.

"All good then." he whispered, before he kissed her again.

She moaned and wrapped her leg around his hip, pulling him closer as he was quickly getting rid of his underwear, and they kissed for a while, their bodies meeting in a slow waving motion and their hands caressing bare skin until he naturally slid inside of her at some point, fucking her slowly. She thought that this wasn't just sex, it was literally lovemaking, and then she didn't think at all anymore as the languid rhythm of his hips was blowing her mind away.

She almost came when he whispered in her ear, "How come you feel so good, ma?" and she just wanted to give him as much as she received, pulling him closer and closer and desperately kissing him to the point of losing herself. They had never reached such a level of intensity before, and maybe it was because they both knew this would be their first and last night together if she turned down his offer, or maybe it was just the fact that they both had believed they had lost the other one for good at some point. The bottom line was, she wouldn't remember clearly what happened that night except that their bodies and souls connected in a way they never had before, and she knew nothing anymore except that she was addicted to him beyond any reasonable measure.

She came with his name on her lips and he came right after her, panting and mouthing her name, and they stayed still, relishing the afterglow. They managed to crawl out of the bed and in the bathroom to quickly clean up before they crashed back on the mattress and Beth immediately snuggled in the shelter of Rio's arms. She had never borne that Dean touched her in her sleep, just like she had always slept with some pajamas on, but things were different that night and she fell asleep naked in his arms. Somehow, she had even managed to forget that he was also the man who was asking her to make the hardest choice of her life on the very next day.

But Rio hadn't forgotten that, and as he was listening to her calm breath with his arms around her, his eyes open and glowing in the dark, he painfully hoped that she'd say yes before he fell asleep too with his lips on her hair.