Once she was gone, the room felt terribly cold, empty, and all he wanted was to get out of it, follow her, and finally confess his true feelings. Just spit it out. But he could not. His feet just did not cooperate.
What was he so afraid of? He knew that the fear of never seeing again had been strong enough to prompt him to spend what little money he had saved just to… to what? He had not really thought it through, had he? As he was travelling, he had been so focused on just reaching her, making sure she was there, safe and sound, that he had not really thought of what he would do once in Boston.
Had he been foolish enough to hold out the secret hope that she would jump into his arms as soon as he would show up? That she would come back to Colorado with him, no buts, no questions, and they would live happily ever after?
Who was he kidding? He should have known better: she may have adapted fairly well to her new life in Colorado, but she still was a lady from Boston who could not possibly consider him other than as a friend. He had to face that he had been nothing more than a useful relationship, here to give advice, solace and help. Nothing more.
And just a minute ago, her confusion, her trembling, her red cheeks: that had to be embarrassment, not surprise as she had politely, properly claimed. He had embarrassed her, which was the last thing he wanted her to feel in his presence. Yes, embarrassment. Nothing more.
He would have given anything he had ever owned in the world for her to look pleased to see him. He had expected her to be at least fond enough of him so as not to let all that formality stand between them. Nothing more.
What a slap in the face! How disappointing! He had let a stolen birthday kiss, a few conversations, certain looks, smiles and hugs leading him to think that maybe, just maybe, she might return his feelings, but was simply too shy, too proper or too inexperienced to act upon them, that only her rigid upbringing and innocence were standing in the way of declaring her feelings. But then again, he had fooled himself. If she ever felt something for him, it must have been merely physical attraction. NOTHING MORE!
He sank onto the edge of the bed, bitter and confused. She had left a few minutes ago, but her perfume still lingered around him. The softness of her skin was imprinted on his senses, the sound of her voice still ringing in his soul, it was as if she had left a ghost behind just to haunt and taunt him.
To him, it went well beyond a mere fancy. As hard as he had tried to deny his feelings, he had finally reached the point where he felt ready to voice them. But was she ready to hear him out? Obviously she was not. That Burke fella seemed to have captured her attention. Sully could see how drastically ill-fated the relationship he once had with her was, as she now looked so obviously comfortable with the very Boston lifestyle she had claimed being unhappy with. Here, she was different. She was no longer Dr. Mike, the pioneer doctor, the generous woman with such a caring heart, the brave one who had faced contempt, intimidation, who had stood her ground every single time people had tried to dismiss her just because she was a woman. Here she had transformed into someone he didn't know, just some prim and proper Boston lady. Granted, an extremely beautiful one. God, she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Yet, he was not in love with her only because of her looks; he did love the lady doctor with the heart of a warrior that she was... at home…
Home… Once again he wished he had never come. He blew out the lamp, reclined on the uncomfortably soft bed, debating whether he should just simply lie on his bedroll on the floor, but his weariness got the best of him, and he soon fell asleep.
He didn't know how long he had slept when he opened his eyes again. The only light came from the moon shedding its pallid rays onto the floor. The bed was too soft, the air still bore the intoxicating, warm scent of her, and he still heard the sound of her breathing… wait… who was there in the room with him?
The soft rustling of taffeta skirts on the carpet answered him. He heard the cracking of a match, caught a glimpse of a feminine silhouette crouched by the fireplace, briefly outlined by the small flame, then more brightly by the fire she had lighted. She stood up, and walked slowly to his bedside. In the dim light, her eyes seemed unusually bright, their soft hazel hue turned to shimmering gold. Mesmerized, Sully sat up and reached out to his vision, unsure whether he was really awake or still asleep and fantasying. But she didn't disappeared when his fingers closed gently on her wrist. As if in a trance, he leaned forward, pressing his face to her torso. The warmth from her body seeped through the hardened fabrics of her dress, calling out to him as if her femininity was begging to be freed of the constricting attire. Effortlessly, without even looking, he undid the laces and hooks at the back of her dress, which pooled at her feet, along with her undergarments which followed with amazing ease.
Sully didn't stop to ask himself whether it was right or wrong, because something told him that it was not really happening, somehow, somewhere at the back of his mind, he knew that Michaela would never had come to him in the middle of the night to offer herself so directly, without reserve. He might as well enjoy the fantasy, for it was probably the only intimacy he would ever share with her.
So he enjoyed imagining how exquisitely velvety her skin would feel under his fingers, how silken her hair when it tumbled onto her small, delicate shoulders, how perfect her body would look in the firelight, how perfectly it would fit nestled in his arms, how her breasts would brushed against his chest, and the taste of her lips so sweet, and the sound of her voice lost in pleasure gracing his ears, the tickling sensation of her panting breath against his cheek… And, capping it all, their bodies joined as one, slowly rocking together on that bed too soft for a lonely man but fit for a lovers' encounter.
The fantasy ended too soon, as Sully was abruptly shaken out of sleep by the uncontrollable outcome of his secret dream. Slightly embarrassed, he cleaned himself up quickly. Then, as he was poised to spread his bedroll, hoping that the hardness of the ground might prevent the reoccurrence of any voluptuous, but hopeless fantasies, he heard a door creak, and a muffled pitter-patter of feet that he instinctively guessed to be Michaela's. He held his breath as she got past his room, not daring to hope she was truly coming to him, then let out a disappointed sigh when it became obvious she was going downstairs. He considered following her, but then, he wasn't exactly sure it was Michaela he had heard, and the last thing he wanted was to be questioned as to why he was not fast asleep at this ungodly hour. Resigned, he stretched out on the floor, and forced his mind to focus on the most boring subjects he could think of to keep his imagination from straying again. Morning would come soon, and with it, he hoped, a more meaningful talk with Michaela. Yes, he would talk to her first thing in the morning…