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It is always an unexpected, random moment when the alcohol finally kicks in.

And it often comes with a seemingly inconsequential yet soul-stirring realization.

The kitchen clock lingers on 10:29 when Raquel is struck by how it is the little things that frequently go unnoticed – the neighbor’s dog howling right outside her window, the chilled room prickling her skin, the lingering rich taste of the leftover paella de pollo y chorizo she found in the freezer – that restore her soul after a whole day functioning on autopilot.

With eyes closed, Raquel lifts her glass by the stem to savor the earthy Merlot that Sergio brought over to dinner.

At the sudden sound of a stream of water coming from the sink directly across from where she’s standing, her eyelids part, alarmed.

Raquel spots her neglected guest – the one she could swear was still finishing his meal at the table to her right – soaking the dishes under a few inches of soapy water.

With his shirt sleeves rolled up around his forearms, Sergio reaches out to a sponge.

It takes her less than three full steps to detect the faint scent of his cologne.

“Just leave it there,” Raquel murmurs, expertly holding her glass of wine away from their bodies in the likelihood that he may react with fright. Her left arm surrounds him from behind as her cheek finds nest on the taut muscles between his shoulder blades. “We’ll take care of it in the morning.”

¿Segura?” Sergio gives her a side look without turning his body around, shutting off the faucet with a dripping hand, perhaps to hear her more clearly. “I really don’t mind.”

She smiles at the sincerity in his tone, but still insists ‘no’ with her head.

Her nose brushes up against his properly tucked shirt which, this close, smells so strongly of laundry detergent.

It’s easy to imagine this man living by himself for so long that doing the dishes after a meal, much like taking care of his clothes or doing his bed, must come as second nature.

Raquel can’t help but tease him whenever a chance presents itself to her,

“Quite the bachelor, uh?”

Sergio looks down with a chuckle, shaking his head with what she bets is exasperation. Though his face is out of her sight, there is no doubt in her mind that his cheeks are tinted red with self-consciousness.

“Don’t worry about it,” she reiterates with a soft intonation and a gentle kiss right below the collar of his shirt, “There are better things for us to do right now.”

Raquel moves back to make room for him to dry his hands, enjoying the domesticity of having him occupying her space as if this happens all the time.

(Impulsive as she is, Raquel already wants it to.)

¿En serio?” Sergio leans against the wood laminated countertop in a casual pose that melts her insides.

Finally facing her, he sips on the dark ruby liquid without detaching his teasing eyes from hers.

And, just like that, the temperature in the room is skyrocketing.

She nods her confirmation without an ounce of shame, not shielding her intentions away from his daring gaze.

“Such as?” he probes further, nudging his glasses up his nose with a clueless expression that does not suit him at all.

She doesn’t fall for it because his charming smirk gives the level of his awareness away.

“Oh, I don’t know…” Raquel wears an enticing smile of her own because she absolutely loves the earnest but subtle way he flirts back at her. She strides in his direction, delivering a whisper of temptation straight into his ear shell, “I’m sure we can think of something, no?”

His loud intake of breath is the sort of reward that she craves.

All Raquel wants to do is to kiss him senseless.

Without her boots, though, it takes a little effort to find an angle that works for them.

Soon enough, she’s standing on the tip of her toes, tugging on his black tie to lower his head towards hers.

His hungry eyes are the last thing she sees before their lips meet halfway.

Everything about this – the heavy anticipation that’s been building up since their last kiss late at night right outside his cider factory, the hint of red wine on his breath, the way they carefully sip from each other’s lips – is the textbook definition of ‘perfect.’

She can tell he plans to keep the kiss chaste, perhaps trying to avoid an uncomfortable confrontation with her mother or daughter. And, though Raquel understands where he’s coming from, ‘chaste’ just won’t cut it.

Hoping to state her intentions more clearly, she holds his chin and forces his lips wide open so she can slide her tongue along his.

It seems to have worked, she thinks to herself, because he brings her closer, framing the side of her face with his unoccupied hand.

Pulling on her hair, Sergio bends her head to his left side, directing the new kiss with a groan.



She moans in response to his firm grip on her and the delight of finding that ‘chaste’ doesn’t seem to cut it for him either.

After palming the back of his hand and wrist, Raquel sinks her nails into the compact muscles of his upper arm, finally exploring the curves she could only admire from across the dinner table.

Her bloodstream is rushing fast and the fact that she hasn’t dropped her glass already comes as a surprise.

Sergio uses his weight against hers, persuading Raquel to walk backwards.

He shifts their bodies slightly to his right so that her buttocks are pressing against the solid material of the silverware drawer.

Ignited by his fire, Raquel leans even closer, moving her head to a vertical stance to de-escalate the kiss for a couple of beats.

Feeling him relax in her arms, she clutches onto his neck and angles it to her left, setting herself up to take complete ownership over his mouth – which she does, with her lips and teeth and tongue.

His arms drop in response and his free hand tightens around her waist.

The waves of adrenaline rushing through her blood – definitely from his attention on her but perhaps, just like him, also due to possibility of getting caught – makes it all that much more exciting, taking her back to when her dad walked into her and Francisco making out in this very kitchen when she was sixteen.

Raquel lets go of his lips to snicker at the memory, dragging her thigh along his groin and her fingers across the side of his face to compensate for breaking the mood.

A few seconds stretch into a long minute as they all but stand there – still sharing the same gasping breaths, stealing quick pecks and teasing bites, – like two electrons unable to break free from this irresistible electromagnetic force keeping them in orbit.

I’m sure we can think of something, no?

Raquel revisits the provocation that brought them to this very moment – thinking of the permutation of things to take place within her bedroom walls a few minutes from now, – then proclaims,

“Something like this.”

She holds his eyes while tugging on his bottom lip with her teeth one last time, leaving no room for him to misunderstand exactly what kind of ‘better things’ they will get to tonight.

Knowing the layout of the house by memory, Raquel confidently walks towards the dimly lit hall which leads to the place she likes to think of as her ‘sanctuary.’

Sergio follows in her footsteps, grabbing the now half-full wine bottle by its shoulder.

He is walking close by and she can feel the heat emanating from his body, intoxicating her with desire.

Raquel slows just before reaching Mariví’s half-closed door.

Lifting a finger to her lips to shush her companion, she can’t help but smile at the predictable sound of her mom’s soft snores making their way out of the room.

Advancing a couple of more steps, Raquel gently pushes Paula’s bedroom door open to find the little girl sleeping soundly. She steps inside as carefully as she can and squats by the bed to adjust the lavender-colored fleece around her daughter’s body. Feeling her heart expand with love, Raquel draws her fingertips across Paula’s fine brown hair. Her daughter scrunches her cute little nose, lost in dreams already, and Raquel can only smile. She kisses Paula on the cheek, breathing in her sweet scent, murmuring against her skin how much she loves her, how she wishes for her to sleep with the angels until morning comes.

Stretching out her legs as she raises to her feet, Raquel turns around in this almost-absolute darkness to find Salva standing there, looking apologetically and out of place, like he’s breaching her privacy somehow. But he is also staring at her, transfixed, as if he simply cannot draw himself away; as if a tourist gazing into the eyes of the Great Sphinx of Giza, cautiously trying to decipher it, afraid it will decipher them right back.

Unwilling to fight his magnetism any longer, Raquel steps out of the room and closes the door with a barely audible click.

In less than six heartbeats, she’s crossing the threshold, watching him head straight to the bedside table that is closest to the window, where he puts down both their glasses – when did she even hand hers over; is she disassociating this bad? – and the dark amber bottle.

Resting her spine against the door frame, she twists the lock behind her just in case Paula wakes up in the middle of the night, granting them enough time to look presentable before tending to her daughter.

Raquel lets out a heavy sigh and doesn’t even realize that her exhausted eyes are fluttering shut.

Scenes of Ángel’s damaged car, the confrontation with his wife right by his hospital bed, the fruitless inspection of the house in Toledo, the borderline illegal interrogation of Silene Oliveira, the laughable charges that Alberto tried to press against ‘Salva’ – each of these moments flash like Polaroids underneath her eyelids.

As soon as she opens them, Sergio is standing no more than a foot away and affirming, more than asking,

“You’ve had a long day.”

Raquel wonders if this is a prelude for him to politely excuse himself and head his own way.

She can’t recall the last time someone, other than her mother, cared enough to ask how her day was.

The fact that such a small gesture makes her this suspicious comes to show how deeply loneliness has sunk its roots into her bones.

“A tough day,” she corrects him in all honesty, rotating her neck in a futile attempt to alleviate the pressure points that have been driving her insane since lunchtime. “What about you?”

Sergio unconsciously looks to his lateral left, recollecting memories through an auditory sense. In a subtle manner that would go disregarded by an untrained observer, his steely eyes rush to his upper right side, in an visual construct that suggests he is about to share something that, at best case, is only partially true – if not a straight up lie.

“Uneventful,” he offers with a detached, robotic voice that she doesn’t recognize.

Perceptive as always, Sergio starts massaging the stiff tendons on her neck.

He never meets her eyes, though.

Wishing she didn’t pick up on non-verbal clues so naturally, Raquel lolls her head back.

Though she can already feel her knots dissolving under his digits, though it’s always easy to lose herself in his touches, she’s not letting him get away with this.

Not tonight.

“Salva…”

Raquel hesitates, not usually bothered by the fact that he (still) feels inclined to filter out his thoughts to her. But the day has been tough at best, so she’s not at all afraid to propose,

“Can we leave all pretense – our social masks, our fear of judgment – outside this door?” Raquel rests her hands on top of his, touching her own neck in the gap between his knuckles – not so much to prevent them from moving around, but to try to remove all distractions, “We can get back to all of it tomorrow. But, for tonight, can we just... be ourselves?”

Sergio’s eyes finally repose on hers and his shoulders go lax as though dropping a ton of bricks.

“I’d like that,” he responds almost instantly, adding a nod to emphasize the truthfulness behind his words.

Raquel doesn’t even attempt to hide her surprise.

She had expected him to put some resistance or at least play it off like he had no idea where she was coming from.

Sergio must have caught on that because he cradles her face before reaffirming against her lips,

“I’d like that a lot.”

The air leaving his mouth is warm and this tone she knows well by now.

Sergio opens his arms and, without even thinking, Raquel dives right in – their arms and torsos and legs fitting like the pieces of those Lego blocks that Paula piled up (and left unfinished) by her bathtub last Sunday.

Raquel can’t remember the last time she felt this connected to another human being…

Are her feelings for him just a reflex of the vulnerable state she was in when they met; of this despondency that constantly shadows her and only dissipates when someone looks at her like he does?

Or is it because it’s him; because it’s real, would have been real, regardless of the space-time continuum?

Does this distinction even matter at this point anyway?

“Shall we finish that wine?”

His voice slides through her musings; his lips moving against the sensitive skin of her neck with each word he utters.

Raquel smiles – how could she possible deny him anything? – and squeezes him into her arms for a couple of seconds before letting him go.

It’s the way he turns around, she believes, slowly sliding his hand off hers, the pad of his middle finger dragging across her palm until they are no longer touching, or perhaps how his elegant body seems so blend in so effortlessly with her space, that triggers Raquel to poke the air with her index finger the very moment an exciting idea strikes her.

“But first…”

Her suspenseful pause hangs between them.

Sergio stops on his heels, turning around to face her with a frown puckering his eyebrows.

Raquel only half registers his questioning stare as she pulls her phone from her back pocket. Looking down to the obscenely bright screen, her fingers know the path to her Van Morrison playlist by heart. She clicks on shuffle and ‘Into the Mystic’ comes on.

Memories of sunsets and slow dances and beer-soaked laughs in music festivals in Ibiza pop up in succession.

With each chord, she’s further transitioning from Police Inspector Murillo to simply Raquel.

Her phone flies carelessly towards her bed as her hips move along with the beat, inching closer to Sergio.

“Wha- What ar-“ He stammers and takes a long pause, looking like a deer caught in headlights. “What are you doing?”

If his emphasis on the personal pronoun isn’t enough to indicate that he is distancing himself from this situation, Sergio’s hands are raised to physically shield himself from her advances.

“Well,” she dodges his trap, wrapping her arms around his neck and expecting to feel his heavy hands land on her waist anytime now, “We are dancing.”

His arms are stuck at his sides; his anxious eyes avoiding her at all costs, making their way to her bedroom door as if plotting an escape.

Blinded by her unchecked glee as she hums along with the song, Raquel takes a step back and holds his right hand above them, palm against palm, pulling at it as if drawing a halo around his head with the obvious intention to twirl him around.

Sergio looks disquieted, not knowing what to do.

Times goes in slow motion as his torso begins the right-turning move, as directed by Raquel, and his left leg follows the motion.

But his right foot stays as it is, rooted the floor.

Halfway through the playful spin that she had intended, Sergio’s legs turn into a comical knot and he trips over his own feet.

Out of instinct, his hands rush to her hips, holding tightly to her in the hopes of centering his body.

To avoid a disastrous fall that would certainly take them both down, Raquel counters his motion by pushing her body against his, involving her arms around him in a tight grip.

They do end up twirling around – but clumsily so.

Once their balance has been re-established and both their bodies are fully upright, Sergio takes an audible breath of relief as Raquel laughs frenetically against his chest, her legs weakening with the intensity of it.

Her hair is covering her face, so she misses the fact that Sergio is facing the ceiling, looking flustered, absolutely mortified.

The way his head moves lets her know that he is chancing a look down at her right before he says with a voice full of dread,

“I… I don… I don’t dance.”

Raquel swallows her giggles, narrowing her eyes at him to playfully dismiss his words.

Though he’s never admitted to being a perfectionist, she’s noticed that Sergio likes to play low maintenance. He never boasts… until he does. Her best guess is that he must believe to some degree that, if people keep their expectations low, he can’t disappoint them – all the while reserving himself an opportunity to sweep them off their feet with his immeasurable knowhow once he feels comfortable enough to show his cards.

It’s a remarkable strategy, really.

But the realization that it does feel like she’s holding an ironing board – stiff as he is in her arms, – slays her right through the chest.

Raquel’s joyful façade transforms into horror.

“Oh, God,” she covers her mouth with both hands – her eyes filled with remorse and a hint of humor that she just can’t bottle up. “I’m so sorry, Salva.” She bites down on her bottom lip, her heart sinking with the genuine concern that she may have offended him. “I really thought you were trying to be modest or something.”

Though still wearing a look of annoyance, he relaxes his frame and brings her back into his embrace.

“Definitely not trying to be modest,” huffs Sergio, and she can see him struggling to pretend that this is no big deal. “It’s fine,” he mumbles with a dismissive shake of his head as if trying to convince himself more than her, caressing her scalp in a soothing manner before complementing, “You had no way of knowing.”

“Your body language was screaming at me.” She counters, resting her head on his collarbone and kissing his chest as though apologizing further. “I can’t believe I missed it.”

Ironically enough, she thinks to herself, they are standing in the middle of the room when ‘Gypsy Queen’ starts to play. His arms around her shoulders; her hands holding onto his hipbones. The rhythm is so absolutely right that it wouldn’t take much more for them to sway in unison.

Ever since he played the keyboard, Raquel couldn’t help but wonder what type of dancer he was. Now, all she wants is to investigate the story behind him and dancing; find out whether this is just overthinking on his part or something he’s genuinely not good at.

“Well,” she sighs theatrically, circling her arms around his torso, “I’m glad I know now.”

“You are?” he looks down at her with a wrinkle of mistrust sitting at the center of his forehead.

Raquel detaches her body from his and nods with a serious expression.

She looks down to her bare feet, seemingly deep in thought.

“Yeah, you know,” she prepares to gesture at each item she’s about to list, “Rescuing strangers in coffee shops, being an active listener, doing that thing you do between my legs…” Raquel moistens her lips with her tongue and aims her mischievous eyes at him, “It’s good to know there’s actually something you’re not good at.” A full smile blooms on her face as her eyes shine with mockery, “Too much Superman and not enough of a Clark Kent is a bit intimidating.” She plays with one of his shirt buttons, clearly not threatened at all by him. “You were starting to make us, mere mortals, look bad.”

Sergio sniggers, dramatically rolling his eyes at her.

His hands finally slide down to her waist just like she wanted them to a couple of minutes ago.

A shiver shoots through her at the way he pulls her in.

It pleases Raquel to no end how a set of her words make him go from defensive to open like this.

“Confession time?” He prompts, kissing her left temple and letting go of her body to run his hands through his hair in fake exasperation and catch her curious nod. “I think I need that wine now.”

The affection she spots in his beautiful dark eyes as he stands there aiming his gaze at her right before he turns around makes her pulse go high.

Raquel thought she was broken beyond repair.

She never dreamed she would feel this way again.

Taking her time watching him get comfortable, Raquel loves the meticulous way with which he is careful to disturb the covers only minimally as he sits and takes off his shoes, adjusting them in a ninety-degree angle with the bed frame.

Sergio looks at her as if asking for permission to lie down.

Taking the happy nod that she throws his way, he props himself up on his right elbow, facing the window.

Her chest is heavy with infatuation as Raquel reaches out to her phone to hit ‘pause’ on her music player.

(Van Morrison’s repertoire will have another memory attached to it from now on.)

Turning her neck towards the sound of a muffled groan, Raquel catches Sergio patting his ribs as she circles the bed.

Alberto.

The silence closes around her like walls.

Was it naïve for her to believe that mere legal proceedings would keep that bastard from ever haunting her again?

Raquel sinks on the mattress.

Lost in her emotional turmoil, she pours them more wine without even registering exactly what it is that she’s doing.

Raquel sits cross-legged, tightly gripping the bowl of her glass, not having the slightest clue on how to breach this subject with Sergio without bursting their bubble.

Amongst antsy sips and accelerated heartbeats and gazes that never intersect, Raquel and Sergio find enough courage to confess half-truths: that he knows she’s capable of defending herself, yet he couldn’t help but hit her ex-husband for ever laying his hands on her; that, politically incorrect as it may be, she’s glad he has done so and should in fact have done it herself.

He never mentions his ulterior motives concerning the heist; she doesn’t admit to being somewhat flattered and, therefore, conflicted about his antagonism with Alberto.

Sitting this closely together, it only takes their eyes to stop avoiding each other for a completely different type of silence – one charged with longing, the one thing that is invariably true – to settle over them.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Raquel confesses, diving deep into his enigmatic chestnut orbs in search of reciprocity.

Sergio verbalizes none of his feelings.

He half-lies there, stoic as always, his eyes clouded with unchecked desire.

When his head drops infinitesimally to the side, shortening the gap between them by less than an inch, Raquel feels like she’s sitting on the first row of a rollercoaster right before its highest drop.

Their faces move closer and closer and closer until her whole world is reduced to the feel of his delicious breath gracing her chin.

With the cold air giving space to this synergy between them, Raquel tastes his lower lip.

She does is once – quickly, merely scratching the surface of her hunger for him.

She does it a second time – slowly, marveled at the way he sucks on her mouth with a matching thirst.

They part but hover over; heaving breaths mingling as they chase each other’s gazes, steadily daring the other to either drag this out a little longer or deepen the kiss already, noses bumping left and right, up and down, circling each other in a synchronous dance.

This slow burn is driving her insane.

He must be feeling the same because they steal a ghost of a kiss then separate to ditch their wine glasses with a sense of urgency.

When their mouths meet again it is with unrestrained hunger – this is the kiss they have been waiting the whole day for, after all – tongues searching, hands clutching, bodies gradually moving to a horizontal position.

One of his hands covers the back of her head to cushion it against the mattress; hers trail down to cling on that dip on his lower back that she loves so much.

Drunk on this sexual tension, Raquel and Sergio lie sideways, fighting for dominance in their own ways.

When she pushes her body forward to control the angle of the kiss, he doesn’t even bulge.

When he insinuates his weight against hers, she puts up a fight to meet him halfway.

While Sergio might be an innate strategist, Raquel is a competitor at heart.

Her semi-functioning neurons cooperate enough to command her hands to pull at the hairs at the nape of his neck.

The sight of him letting go of her lips to grit his teeth is a soothing balm to her lustful soul.

Without a trace of insecurity, Raquel holds his defying eyes for as long as she can until her face is tucked against the side of his neck.

All her other senses give space to the irresistible woody smell of him.

Her mouth latches onto that tendon right below his ear – she tastes him ever so slowly and with an unapologetic purpose, – nibbling the hardened muscle underneath his salty skin.

Sergio groans out in sheer pleasure and squeezes the back of her thighs as she aims her gaze down to watch the pores at his top chest area (as far as she can see above his shirt) break out in goosebumps like she knew they would.

This is the advantage she was looking for.

There’s little resistance on his part when Raquel throws her right leg over his left hip and rolls on top of him with an ambitious smile.

Her hair falls around their faces as she braces herself on her elbows to lean in over him.

Time seems to be cruising in slow motion as Raquel brushes her lips past his.

Her tongue darts in and out to play with his in a measured but deep exchange.

Stretched out across his masculine frame like this, Raquel pushes her breasts up against his chest – her nipples deliciously rubbing against the cups of her bra, – her knees digging deep into the mattress as she presses her heat into his groin.

Sergio pulls her hips down against his more firmly and cups a bust through her blouse.

To counter what she interprets as an effort to distract her, Raquel holds his hands above his head, pinning them down against the cushion.

The new angle makes his growing erection slide up and down perfectly against her clit.

Raquel is the one who cries out this time around, not even kissing him anymore, just riding him through their clothes.

Her rhythm must have done something to him too because Sergio forces one hand out of her grip, closing his recently freed fist around her hair, from where he tugs her head backwards.

It’s not too gently, nor too harshly – just right.

Attaching his lips to her neck, he sucks on her skin, stealing a breathy ‘Sal-va,’ from her lips.

His tongue, his fingers, the tip of his nose, his beard… her skin tingles everywhere he touches.

Raquel loses the ability to think straight, weakening her hold on their interlaced fingers.

Sergio takes advantage of the moment to flip their positions.

There’s a tinge of recklessness in the way he claws her hips, trapping her against the covers.

Sergio always coats it with tenderness in such a natural transition that it should betray how he’s intentionally keeping a fundamental part of his psyche from her.

(In reality, he keeps it from the rest of the world too – but it will take her over a year to figure it out.)

As an officer of the law, Raquel has caught far less conspicuous inconsistencies in interrogation rooms.

But she’s too far gone, so deeply enchanted by him, to notice the neon-blinking red flags passing her by.

They keep on making out; theirs skins on fire, lips bruising, tongues playing.

Her legs fall more comfortably around his hips, welcoming his heat, the balls of her feet massaging his calves.

His hands keep hiking up her sides, his fingers sinking deep whenever she moves in a way that clearly hits him just right.

“Raquel,” the sound of his voice is mostly suppressed by her lips, so tightly pressed against his.

She hardly registers her name because the feel of his hardness sliding along her slit, despite the clothes between them, is heaven on earth.

“Huh,” he tries to force their mouths apart, “Raquel?”

She outright ignores him, keeping her hold on the back of his neck, wanting nothing more than for Sergio to keep moving against her like this.

Contradicting her wishes, he detaches their bodies and braces himself on his hands in a push-up-like manner.

Raquel lets out a frustrated grunt, her eyes smoldering.

“Your mother and daughter…?” he questions, fighting to breathe through his heady sex drive, toying with the clothing over her abs to appease her.

Raquel blinks intensely as if resetting her brain might help her make better sense of his words.

(He’s speaking Japanese as far as she’s concerned.)

Sergio gestures towards the door with his head as though Mariví and Paula are standing right there, staring them down with shocked expressions.

That.

Right.

Raquel would laugh if she wasn’t this charged with sexual frustration.

She does roll her eyes, though, and takes a paused breath to choose her next move wisely.

“Well,” her fingers undo the knot on his soft tie and slide it off the collar of his shirt with flair, “I guess you’re gonna have to be quiet.”

“Señora Murillo…” he retorts in a formal tone, sitting back on his legs, his eyes twirling with that cockiness that kind of gets on her nerves, “I am going to have to be quiet?”

Raquel nods resolutely, purposefully not catching his bait.

It takes everything in her power not to replace that hand scratching his beard with her own and put an end to this cat-and-mouse game that he seems to enjoy playing at her expense in complete inopportune moments such as this one.

“If I seem to recall correctly,” he begins to lecture her and she envies how easily he can play it off like she has no effect on him whatsoever when, all the while, she’s getting wetter – and grumpier – by the second. Sergio slides a knuckle up her shirt – along her tummy, between her breasts, up her neck, – until his thumb is tenderly outlining her chin, “You were the one who taught me that if it isn’t loud, it isn’t worth it.”

A shot of arousal zaps through her veins.

As if she isn’t worked up already, Raquel is transported back to that moment on his couch – on her knees, begging him to take her harder, vocally responding when he all but drilled her from behind.

Damn him.

Raquel dips her head so that the pad of his thumb slides perpendicular to the seam where her lips meet. She opens her mouth, dragging her tongue – slowly and only once – along his digit, intently watching his eyes grow threatening and his cheeks redden.

Well, that shut him up.

(She enjoys playing this game too.)

Raquel braces herself on her elbows and slides her frame towards the freezing iron headboard, against which she mirrors his sitting position.

They face each other at eye level now.

She reaches for the glass to her right and takes a swig at his delicious Merlot.

The sense of pleasure rushing down her throat pales in comparison to what they were doing less than a minute ago but offers a momentary distraction at least.

Sergio opens his palm towards her in a silent request that she easily concedes to with seductive eyes.

Among all the things they have done together in the course of these last few days, there’s a different type of intimacy in the way they sit in comfortable silence now, taking turns in sipping the ruby liquor, without a rush, sneaky fingers touching as the glass switches hands.

He offers her the last gulp and, when she denies it with a thankful smile, Sergio finishes it at once.

As he rolls to the side to put her glass beside his on the nightstand to her left, she stands up and heads towards the light switch, flipping it off.

Her heart skips a beat when Raquel turns around to find Sergio watching her in the enticing semi-darkness, bathing in the dark orange glow coming from the lamps on each side of the bed.

She lifts her cable-knit turtleneck shirt above her breasts on the way back to the spot where she left him.

Running her fingers through her tousled hair as soon as she raises the thick fabric over her head, Raquel can’t help but smile as Sergio’s mouth falls open, his appreciative gaze sweeping across her curves.

It’s hard to believe that this is real; that, less than a week ago, she was staring at this very ceiling, wondering at what point exactly her life went off the rails; that this bright, handsome man wants her – with her scars and bruises and stretchmarks – this badly.

When his fingers rush to undo the top button of his shirt, she raises a judgmental eyebrow at him.

As fate will have it, it’s her turn to bluff,

“I thought we were going to sleep?” She presses her lips together to keep a laugh from sneaking out of her mouth, “So we don’t wake them up?”

Sergio’s eyes widen comically, darting towards the door as if his x-ray vision is passing through her walls, aiming at the people to whom she’s referring.

His lips move but no rebuttal comes out – and the even remote possibility that he’s lost the ability to formulate his thoughts amuses her to no end – as he pinches the bridge of his eyeglasses with his thumb and index fingers in that cute mannerism of his.

Sergio re-adjusts his body so that he is sitting with his legs hanging outside of the bed, his feet tapping the floor, expectantly waiting for her.

She tosses her black sweater on the armchair where her gun and his blazer were left forgotten, standing before him in nothing but her dark grey trousers and a matching grapefruit pink lingerie set she fished somewhere deep down her drawer with him in mind this morning.

Her nerve endings are on high alert as her legs fit right between his, the outside of her knees touching the inside of his, her kneecaps brushing against the side of the mattress.

Nursing her bottom lip in anticipation, Raquel dives her smiling eyes into his.

Her fingerprints map his nose, his cheeks, and his mouth, her nails digging into his thick facial hair.

Sergio welcomes her just as warmly, letting his eyes slide through the exposed skin of her upper body, sliding his palms over the back of her clothed legs.

It takes everything within her not to rush their exchange to what she knows would be a fantastic release.

Holding on to a few tendrils of her self-control, Raquel recalls quite well how he wanted to take things slow in his shed; how she was the one who kept asking for him to speed things up. She never clarified and doesn’t think he figured out that she wanted to make the best of that opportunity because, at that point, she didn’t know if their chemistry would last beyond one night.

But this… with her mother and daughter across the hall, him resting his forehead on her abdomen, flapping his long eyelashes against her skin, – this is the moment right here.

Unlike last night, they don’t kiss while undressing themselves now, nor do they rush through the process of loving each other.

Raquel carefully removes his thick-rimmed eyeglasses, setting them on her bedside table. Her thumbs massage his temples as her fingers weave through the smooth strands of his hair, kneading his scalp in elliptical shapes.

Sergio sighs, switching between blowing kisses on her ribs and brushing the bridge of his nose around her bellybutton.

Letting out a needy moan, Raquel reaches down between them to undo her belt and pop the button of her suit pants open.

His hands soon join hers as he unhurriedly drags her zipper down, attentively watching each new inch of her skin being revealed to him as if seeing her naked it’s a brand-new experience. Sergio fits his hands inside the waistband of her pants, palms on each side of her hips, slowly guiding the loosened material down her butt, her thighs, her knees, her shins, her ankles…

With his assistance, Raquel steps out of her trousers, kicking them to the side.

Baring herself to him is equally freeing as it is uneasy.

His starving gaze climbs up her body – in a way telling her there is nothing to fear, – then slides back down, for once not trying to disguise the yearning stamped across his features.

Eres una diosa,” he whispers in a husky tone that clenches her insides, planting soft kisses under her boobs while his fingertips test the pink lace hugging her hips.

The feel of his facial hair brushing up against her torso turns her skin inside out.

Raquel undoes his dress shirt, button after button, caressing his neck then shoulders then arms as she eases the white fabric off him, letting it fall on the mattress. She runs the pad of her fingers down his back and racks her short nails into his heated skin on her way back up without driving her attention away from the hematomas stamped across his thorax.

She cups his jaw, tenderly guiding his gaze towards hers.

“I did say those bruises could use some care, no?”

Without applying any pressure, she palms his chest as if her touch alone is enough to heal his purple patches.

(She wishes it were.)

With her libido going through the roof, Raquel can’t help but propose a little cheekily,

“A nurse, perhaps?”

Sergio shily chuckles, closing his warm, calloused hands around her much smaller wrists.

It’s slow and soft and intimate when they kiss; her bending over, him facing upwards.

Lowering her arms, her eyes are stuck to his as Raquel unbuckles and unzips his charcoal trousers in a dilatory pace.

“Off,” she commands, tugging on his front pockets as she eyes his interest straining against the thick fabric.

Sergio immediately complies, lifting his butt off the mattress so they can pull the pants by its legs.

Her fingerprints trace the prominent shape of his cock over his black boxers, fascinated with the evidence of his desire and the knowledge of what it can do to her.

He huffs her name in what sounds like pure agony, growing even stiffer beneath her digits.

Sergio lowers the cup of her bra with a slightly trembling hand, circling her hardened left nipple with the pad of his thumb three times before taking it into his warm mouth.

She whimpers at the slippery touch.

He retreats just enough to admire her cleavage from up close, going all tunnel vision on her – like the world could be falling apart outside and he wouldn’t care any less.

Breathing harshly through her nostrils, Raquel lets out an audible gasp as she watches her erect nub disappear between his lips once again. The visual representation of what he’s doing to her amplifies the hot moisture pooling between her legs.

His obstinate eyes meet hers right before he bites her areola – his teeth sinking slowly, his tongue roaming around her achy flesh to assuage the irritation he may have caused.

She feels her core pulsing, clenching around the empty space that is yet to be filled by him.

Reaching behind her, Raquel unclasps her bra, sighing with relief the moment the straps go loose and her breasts break free.

Sergio smiles in appreciation for the unrestricted access, taking the garment off her body as he greedily feeds on her curvy flesh, his left hand cupping her other bust.

His right hand trails down until two of his digits are flicking her clit through her panties.

Joder,” her spine arches backwards at the contact, pushing her lower body further into his gifted hands, the waves of her heart growing frantic with yearning.

His soft hair brushes up against her nipple when he looks down to watch his knuckles at work as her hips rock back and forth.

When her legs start to falter, she holds on tighter to his broad, ripped shoulder and both his hands rush to palm her ass, helping her move up to the edge of the bed, straddling him.

Without rushing to kiss him, Raquel slides her knees further apart, sinking deeper onto his lap. They are gazing into each other’s eyes the very moment their crotches make full contact – both wincing in lustfulness, both forcing themselves not to look away as Raquel slowly bounces on him with only their underclothing intermediating their bodies.

When the friction becomes too pleasurable to resist, they kiss messily, teeth grazing lips, her thumbs playing with his earlobes, his palms sprawled across her ass, spreading up her cheeks.

Sergio and Raquel part only enough to recompose their breaths, letting their foreheads rest together as their hips lazily thrust against one another.

Her wet nipples drag across the hairs on his chest – though she is careful not to put any weight on him – and his erection keeps on bumping deliciously against her intimacy when Raquel kisses the corner where his lips meet and susurrates,

“Let me take care of you.”

She doesn’t exactly ask and he doesn’t quite respond with words.

Sergio looks hypnotized, staring at her with a different type of intensity.

Raquel doesn’t know how to interpret his silence just yet because there’s a good chance he’s far too used looking after himself.

God knows the last thing she wants it to push him beyond his boundaries.

But when Sergio slides his body away from hers to position himself in the middle of the bed, his head nested on her pillows as his chest rises and falls, she chases after him.

Lying comfortably on the cold, light grey cotton sheet beneath their bodies, their fingers and toes tangle as they push the comforter all the way down until it is pooling at their feet.

Raquel slides her lips across that cute little dimple on his left cheek, smiling as she softly presses them against his beard. She prods his left ear lobe and travels lower to lick a stripe on his neck right below the spot where his facial hair subsides. Her mouth follows the column of his throat, rasping her closed lips along his Adam’s apple, tasting the entire constellation of brown moles across his right shoulder and upper arm, her curious fingers trailing down the muscles of his left forearm until she’s interlacing her hand with his.

Sergio is breathing hard and flexing his jaw by the time she carefully pecks his largest, nastiest bruise.

“Does it hurt?” she asks, chancing a look his way.

“No,” he quietly responds with a few shakes of his head.

“And this?” she proceeds, blowing the softest kisses on each purple patch, applying more pressure around the edges.

“Ugh,” he croaks then swallows hard, closing his eyes, “N-no.”

“What about this?”

She moistens her lips before nibbling on his right nipple, swirling her slippery tongue around his tight bud, loving the taste of him and the texture of his puckered skin on her lips.

A delayed and thick “God, Raquel,” is the only reply that she gets.

She smiles, dropping open-mouthed kisses all over this thorax.

His fingers close around the strands of her hair, just following her lead. His tenderness lets her know that he’s touching her so not so much to guide her movements but to show his appreciation for the things that she’s making him feel.

If he only knew that the pleasure is all hers…

“Still not hurting?” Raquel prompts with a quirked eyebrow, her thumbs following the line of his hipbones as she skims her chin and cheeks all over his warm skin in random patterns.

He aims his gaze at her to catch glimpses of her mouth exploring his chest; his own lips falling open with incredulity and appetite.

“Maybe lower?” she pursues her merciless tease, feathering her lips to his ribs, one by one.

He keeps staring at her with shallow breaths, not even blinking.

“Lower?” her tongue comes out to taste his well-defined abdomen, way below his nethermost bruise.

She does not let his eyes go astray.

Sergio eventually nods, grounding his teeth, his nostrils twitching.

Raquel fucking loves how much of a fast learner he is.

She grasps the hem of his boxers and takes pleasure in watching him squirm as she teases the whiskered skin right above his crotch with the back of her fingers.

As she’s about to tug his underwear down, Sergio covers her hands with his calloused ones, holding them in place to catch her attention,

“You don’t have to.”

Raquel snorts, thinking, ‘have to?’

She bows to kiss each one of his knuckles, praying to God he’s not against blowjobs, but more than willing to stop right away if he is.

“I’ve been so hungry for you,” is all that she utters, baring herself to him.

He lets her go, puffing the pillows behind his neck and upper back to look at her more comfortably.

Already salivating for Sergio, Raquel slides his boxers down his legs, stroking his thick body hairs and the tantalizing muscles underneath.

She looks up to find his nostrils wide open as if his cells are starving from oxygen, his brows knitting together at the sight of her between his legs, her knees spreading his thighs apart to best accommodate herself.

Raquel takes her time pumping his long, plump dick, inspecting the velvet skin surrounding the hard flesh in a way she hasn’t before.

Her other palm nurses his tender sacks, fumbling with the wrinkly skin surrounding them.

Throwing her hair to one side, she bends over to drag the expanse of her tongue along his manhood from base to tip.

She does it again and again before closing her mouth around his head, his taste salty at the tip of her tongue and a little bitter when she swallows it.

The butterflies at the pit of her stomach flip their wings at the passionate “Madre mía” he mutters under his breath, abandoning her eyes to press the inside of his wrists down his eyeballs as if starving his sight will allow him to remain somewhat coolheaded.

Raquel bobs her head up and down, s-l-o-w-l-y, knowing it will take her jaw some time to adjust to his dimensions because it’s been a while since she last did this.

But she’s not in a hurry.

She lets him feel all of her – her soft lips, her slippery tongue, the rough roof of her mouth, the inside of her cheeks, – all the while holding her hair back to follow each of his reactions.

Her unoccupied hand soon joins her mouth, squeezing and rotating at the base, wanting his analytical brain to go on overload so that nothing else exists in his world but her.

It’s so easy to maneuver him all sloppy from his precum and her saliva, so she pushes him a little further in, stopping right before setting off a gag.

He cries out, pressing his lips in a tight line, his abs tense.

Taking mercy on him – but only briefly, really, – she decreases her tempo, letting him go from her mouth to flick her tongue over the vein that pops out on the side of his length.

They both watch a trickle of her translucent drool slipping down from the tip of his prick until it disappears on the thatch of his black curls.

She holds his dick against his belly, countering its inclination to stand up tall and proud, tilting her head to reach his balls, sucking each into her mouth, then both at once.

The sound of wet slurps echoes through the room.

“Raquel,” he tucks his stomach all the way in, gripping her bedclothes until his fingertips are turning white.

She lets go of his testicles to give his impressive dark red hardness another appreciative lick, cleaning the drop of precum seeping from the tiny hole.

“Look at me,” she tempts him, rasping her closed swollen lips across his length.

His eyes immediately chase hers, his chest heaving with quick breaths.

The words ‘good boy’ come to mind at his obedience, but the way Sergio is looking at her is nothing if not that of an untamed beast, so teasing him like this seems simply improper.

He stares at her histrionically, looking back and forth between her and the door like she’s asking him to perform the impossible task of watching her blow his brain out and still remain quiet.

Raquel goes back to eating his shaft with even more gusto now – because he looks and tastes and feels so fucking good, – her eyes watering every time she shoves him past her uvula.

His body twitches as if his life is being sucked out of him whenever he makes it that far into her.

Mujer,” he apprises her, caressing her face with a softheartedness that contradicts the unabashed lust dripping from his voice. His right hand keeps her hair up in a messy ponytail, helping her work more freely on him without applying any pressure. “You keep doing that and I don’t think I can–”

Whatever verb he had meant to add at the end of that sentence dies in his throat.

Raquel sees his eyes getting lost on her curves, moving back and forth between her ass up in the air, the expanse of her spinal cord, her tangled curls, her mouth around his member, her teary eyes…

The muscles on his thighs shake under her hands every so often, letting her know that he’s edging closer to where she wants him to be.

Raquel won’t stop until his unraveling; won’t give in until she gets to taste his pleasure; the pleasure that she’s earned.

“Come up here,” he gestures for her to crawl back up into his arms, breathing out as if running a marathon.

While his request is lacking a ‘please,’ his eyes are begging her to comply.

Raquel,” he insists a little more harshly, a lonely drop of sweat falling from his right temple down to the side of his neck.

She loves the way he says her name with a hint of impatience, but still denies him – relaxing her jaw so that his dick is dangling on her mouth like a lollipop as she shakes her head negatively.

“I don’t want to climax like this,” he carries on with pleading eyes.

Raquel lifts an eyebrow because the heavy weight of his manhood on her tongue is an undeniable evidence of how badly he wants it.

The fact that he’s trying to be proper when she’s all but choking on him is beyond endearing.

“I mean,” he rolls his eyes with insolence, reading the argument in her expression as if she had uttered every single word, “You, you feel so good… Of course I want t... but... I, I…”

She smirks with his swollen member still stuffed inside her mouth because it’s a power play rendering such a prolific man speechless.

Even though Sergio seems to lack the ability to summon up the words, she knows the source of his concern quite well: the night is just starting and he wants to be able to provide for her.

But Raquel is not at all worried about that.

If their first date was any indication, she knows he will take care of needs just right tonight.

Had he been any other man, perhaps she would reconsider her decision.

But no.

She’s waited far too long to taste the charming, shy man she met at Hanoi.

Without letting him go, Raquel balances her weight on each knee at a time to take off her damp panties.

His eyes follow her every move and his whole body goes slack.

Her right hand slides down between her folds, her middle finger spreading her warm, viscous juices all around her pussy.

Raquel goes back to investing on him, increasing the suction and the cadence of her moves.

Tapping her clitoris, she moans around his flesh, pleasuring him as she is pleasuring herself.

The way he tells her he’s coming this time around hits her like a warning instead of a plea – like he is in his own way telling her to either slow down or back off, – but Raquel does neither.

Without dropping her predatory gaze from his, she guides both of his hands to the back of her head and takes him even deeper than before as if she was just waiting for this moment to give him all of her power, as if whatever he has to give is exactly the reward for which she's been working so hard.

Her lips reach the base of his length and, as she inhales through her nose, Raquel is inebriated by the musky and clean smell of his curls.

Trying to keep his voice low, his tone is deep when he double-checks, “You really want this, don’t you?” as if ‘this’ is the unthinkable.

Raquel concurs with a few decisive nods and a long ‘mhmmm’ around his hard flesh, knowing that the vibration of her vocal cords so close to his sensitive head will tip him over the edge.

Sergio grips her tresses and plants his feet on the bed, pointing his knees diagonally towards the ceiling to best accommodate her head on the ‘v’ of his legs.

He is all but fucking her mouth.

There’s this sensible voice in her head cautioning Raquel that she might suffocate – but damn if the desperate way his hips are moving away from and towards her face doesn’t make her grow even wetter.

The testament of her own appetite is smeared all over her fingertips.

“It’s all yours, joder,” Sergio adds in a feverish tone, his cheeks burning bright red – and, for once, Raquel can’t tell if it’s due to his impending orgasm or the commandeering words he’s not used to saying making their way out of his mouth.

His unexpected confession, the abandon in his voice, the fact that he’s no longer tampering his inhibitions for her… it all hits her like a tornado.

Her bundle of nerves is begging her to circle faster, though the frantic rhythm pinches a nerve in her wrist.

She does it anyway.

It hurts and, for a second, she fears her fingers might cramp and give out.

Yet, Raquel can’t stop herself.

When the blunt head of his penis jerks along her heavy tongue and Sergio lets out a lascivious low noise – like he’s never experienced something quite like this before, someone quite like her, – she’s not at all ready for white lights to start populating her field of vision, buzzing in inflection with the spams of lava she feels erupting down her core, spilling over the back of her legs, her belly, her breasts, her neural connections, raising the little hairs at the nape of her neck…

Raquel comes with a sharp cry that she smothers by taking him deeper down her throat.

The feeling is potent – it engulfs each of her senses – and starts to fade bit by bit.

Unforeseen, turbulent, and quick.

Abandoning her quivering, oversensitive folds, her fingernails rush to sink on his lean hamstrings in search for balance.

As if susceptible to her timing, Sergio roars, “Raquel,” holding his tongue at the roof of his mouth as he utters the final letter, a desperate ‘l’ that conveys the same upheaval that she’s feeling between her legs… His left hand releases her hairlocks to fly over to his mouth so he can bite on the tendon that leads to his thumb to muffle a scream.

Raquel catches glimpses of his contorted face as Sergio spills his thick load into her mouth, the thick veins on his neck popping out as she chugs his surprisingly sweet nectar in three long gulps, her tongue idle just before it goes back to licking him clean, watching his abs clench every time she nears the tip of his limp cock.

She massages his thighs, nuzzles the patch of hair right above his crotch, lays her head on his sweaty abs to grant them both some time to compose themselves.

Raquel looks to the side and spots the teeth marks, still wet with his saliva, he left right on his hand. She delicately traces it with a finger before bending over to swirl her tongue along the red abrasions left by his incisors and canines.

When it feels like neither are fighting to breathe anymore, she kisses her way back up to him, feeling a little dizzy, flying high with all the endorphins rushing through her blood.

Their smiling expressions finally meet and Sergio pulls her in by the back of her head, their lips almost brushing, eyes glossy with newly-found bliss,

“Did you–”

His question is cut in half, but she nods with a triumphant smile, knowing that her answer is affirmative either way he goes.

Yes, she did come.

Yes, she swallowed each of his drops.

Sergio doesn’t just kiss her; he shoves his tongue into her mouth, clearly searching for his own flavor and groaning once he finds it.

Her past lovers never went anywhere near her mouth right after she went down on them.

She always wondered whether that was a genuine preference on their part or a reflex of the sexist notion that puts a man’s sexuality to question if he ever dares enjoy his own taste in a woman’s mouth – though the reverse must certainly be true.

At this point in her life, it’s not often that Raquel is surprised in bed, but Sergio’s just pulled the rug from under her feet…

The deeper she dives, she more she wants to swim in his waters.

Their kiss grows tender; his hands framing her face, her nails digging deep into his biceps, his thumbs caressing her cheeks, her tongue slowly dancing with his.

After punctuating two light pecks on her lips, he aims those irresistible puppy eyes at her,

“I have also been hungry.”

Raquel is fascinated with how he keeps track of every single thing that she says and does; how he waits for the perfect moment to throw her own words back at her and it’s never out of context; how she, too, knows exactly what he’s asking her without him putting it in so many words.

“Salva,” she nudges the tip of his nose with her own, trembling with the mere thought of him going anywhere past her belly button, “I’m so sensitive right now.”

“I know,” he responds with an understanding tone which leaves no doubt as to how carefully he would treat her. “I know you are.” Sergio slides the side of his face against hers to whisper into her ear, “You let me know if it becomes too much and I’ll stop.”

Raquel sucks in a breath, biting back a smile as she finds herself unable to resist his appeal.

He must have caught her endorsement somehow because Sergio tries to sit up and switch their positions so she’s under him – like it’s ‘his turn’ now.

But she keeps him down by pushing on his shoulders with little to no strength.

Raquel shakes her head three times, clicking her tongue at each change of direction as if saying ‘no, no, no.’

Sergio looks at her quizzically, his lips parting in an imminent protest.

“I’m taking care of you, remember?” Raquel asks rhetorically, sealing his lips with her index finger, “You’re being served tonight.”

Without waiting for his reply, she goes on all fours, crawling around his body like a puma establishing its territory towards its retiring prey. Her legs encompass his hips, his waist, his elbows, his shoulders… until she’s all but sitting on his face.

Raquel looks down to find his eager face between her legs, catching the way he stares up at her like she’s the greatest thing that ever happened to him.

She never wants to stop impressing this man.

Fondling the back of her thighs, Sergio holds her eyes as he gives a long lick along her slit, grunting at the taste of her as though he’s the one getting pleasure out of this caress.

When his tongue darts out to pry her folds apart and dig into her opening, Raquel moans, feeling the ghost of a sting by her perineum.

“Take it easy on me,” she reminds him with a hiss, her voice sounding delirious as she grabs one of the headboard bars for stability, “At least at first.” Raquel doesn’t even try to neutralize the smugness in her tone when she taunts him, “I slept with this guy last night and he left me really sore.”

His lips widen between her thighs and she doesn’t have to look at him to know, without a trace of doubt, that he’s gloating with pure male pride.

“You are very persuasive, Raquel,” Sergio relaxes his head back on the pillow, strumming her tailbone with reverence before adding, “Something tells me he must have done so per your request.”

She can’t help but giggle at this delicious banter they share, biting down her lips because his breath alone is enough to make her flinch.

Sergio assiduously kiss her everywhere but her clit, letting her recover from her high while making sure his interest is known.

He rasps his beard across her inner thighs, blows barely-there kisses on her outer lips, nuzzles the faint hairs on her groin.

Inclining his head to access the juices pooling at her entrance, Sergio lets his soft lips swipe against her folds without applying much pressure, zigzagging them across her inner labia.

Her head falls back in agony as a shiver runs down her spine, though Raquel is still convinced she won’t come again anytime soon.

Sergio carries on, progressing his caresses to longer and bolder licks, sometimes reaching way past her vaginal opening.

He finally presses a long kiss on her clitoral hood, moving his head side to side, rubbing up his closed lips against her swollen flesh. She can tell that Sergio is intrigued by the different textures he finds there because he lingers, lapping it over and over again.

His hands, then, circle her hips from behind, locking her thighs into the inside of his elbows, his long, talented fingers stretching her vulva apart, completely exposing her glistening womanhood to his scrutiny.

Raquel feels her face heating up and she can’t tell if it’s from self-doubt or arousal or a mixture of both.

The tip of his right thumb flicks over the pink tender skin with which his lips were just playing.

Her nipples immediately tighten, becoming two sharp pleasure points which are dying of envy, begging to be played with as well.

Hijo de puta,” she curses at him, pulling at her own hair as she faces upwards, breathing against her biceps with her mouth wide open.

Her eyes flutter closed as Raquel gives into what seems to be the awakening of her sexual interest this soon already.

Unless Sergio is an expert on human anatomy – which, as this point, she wouldn’t even dispute, – it’s hard for her to comprehend how fucking well he knows her body already.

The tip of his tongue tenderly bumps against the glans of her clit as if testing her reaction.

A curl of heat shoots through her womb and Raquel sucks on the soft skin by her right shoulder to stifle a wail.

Her body is aching for him all over.

Without even realizing it, she’s dancing on his face, drawing out circles around his greedy mouth.

That’s when Sergio starts guzzling her like a starving man.

Her breasts move forward and retreat backwards as she undulates her lower body – over and over and over, – effectively serving him as she had promised she would.

For a woman with body image issues, she’s twerking on him like she holds the crown as the sexiest woman on the planet.

(She feels like so too.)

Her thighs burn a little, so she spreads her knees further apart, sitting lower, her hands falling to dive into his soft wavy hair, simultaneously massaging his scalp and holding him in place to the best of her abilities.

Her hips pick up speed and change directions, moving from one side to the other, letting her ass cheeks slap his face.

It feels good and sounds even better.

Sergio seems to let her do her thing at first – running his hands all over her lower back, squeezing her waist, reaching out for her bouncing breasts and catching her folds only every so often with his mouth.

Eventually, though, his tongue grows bolder, tensing harder.

He pokes at her genitalia and she matches his intentions by sitting up and down on him, taking him in.

Dios, he’s eating her, fucking her with all his might, and suddenly she’s even wetter, messier, hungrier, than before.

Raquel is two steps away from not giving a fuck on whether or not she’s loud.

His hands anchor her hips in place, halting her moves, with a strength she sometimes forgets he owns.

Sergio pulls her down against his face to go as further into her heated channel as he possibly can, letting her go once he’s had a fill.

Raquel trusts her weight on her left knee to step on the bed with her right foot, right by his head, granting him more breathing room as she widens the angle between her legs.

One of her hands remains in his hair as the other trails down so her fingers can circle her clit, his eyes preying on her from up close.

Raquel feels her juices trickle down from her folds to her thighs and sees him raising his head to lick them off her with a famished growl that he somehow manages to keep low.

It feels too incredible – the way Sergio devours her – and, within a couple of minutes, she falls back on both knees, bending over to brace herself on her flowery wall.

His nose is pressing against her pubic bone as his flat-out tongue traverses from her clitoral hood to her urethra opening to her perineum… and beyond… tickling her anus.

Joder.

The seemingly casual touch sends shivers down each of her extremities.

He does it again, deliberately, stealing a gasp from her lips.

How the fuck does he know exactly what she needs?

Raquel does not have enough brain power to figure this mystery out.

His grip on her ass is unforgiving and it fucking works for her.

Sergio takes her harder, louder, his sturdy tongue tirelessly working on her pussy.

He rolls her prepuce for a few seconds, then traps her clitoral shaft between his lips, disengaging his hands from her body as an invitation for her to chase her orgasm along with him.

Cupping her left breast, Raquel looks down to meet his dark, hungry eyes, and hears him hawk at her like when he entered her for the first time on his black leather couch.

She moves her hips in accordance to his rhythm – back and forth, back and forth, back and forth – chasing that filthy sensation again and again, her knees digging deeper in the mess of bed sheets surrounding them as she rides his face with a blunt disregard for his need to breathe.

Closing her eyes to drown out her senses, she’s overwhelmed with memories of them splitting a chocolate croissant over coffee, walking late at night in the streets of Madrid, chatting about nothing and everything, making out against his keyboard, fucking in his warehouse.

When Sergio starts to suck her clit like one would a pacifier – alternatively pulling on and letting go of her aching tissue through a speedy pulse, – with nothing but that point of contact between them, Raquel doesn’t even realizes she lets out a short-winded “Por favorrrr,” getting drawn into a vortex in which all she can do is feel – puffs of air against her groin, tender lips pumping her to oblivion, his taste still strong in her mouth, the pinch of her thumb and index finger on her nipple, the wet sound of his hand ramming his prick, the smell of sex pervading the room, the sublimation of an otherwise inexhaustible loneliness…

It’s him.

Everywhere.

And there’s only so much she can take.

Torrents of electrical energy surge through her again.

Only this time, she knows the orgasm is coming way before it hits the air out of her lungs.

It builds up slowly and lasts for a long, long time.

She can feel the pressure progressively squeezing her skull, the gasp that gets choked on her pharynx and just won’t leave, the inability to prevent spams from twisting her limbs and abs.

Raquel is levitating.

Her mouth is wide open, but no molecule of oxygen comes in or out.

Each of her muscles contract as she rides this heatwave taking her over bit by bit.

Though she’s walking a fine line between pleasure and pain, Raquel keeps on pushing and pushing and pushing her pelvis into his face until she can hardly remember her own name.

His hair feels like silk under her hands when she finally breathes for what feels like an eternity and yanks her hypersensitive pussy away from his amazing, multifunctional lips.

Having no control over her limbs and blindly trusting that Sergio will support her weight – which he always does, – Raquel melts along his frame like Dalí’s Persistence of Memory.

With hardly any vigor left, her lips chase his by instinct and she grows hotter at finding her scent and taste on him, all over him.

Reaching out to his shirt, which is almost falling off the bed, she drags it over his face to wipe off some of her fluids.

(She does it out of conditioning, given that Alberto would always grouse at how wet she gets.)

One of his hands slide to the back of her head as the other closes around the white garment as if telling her he doesn’t fucking care, that he likes it this way.

She likes it too.

So Raquel lets go of his shirt.

Sergio presses his lips to hers with unfiltered fondness, his tongue sliding along hers in between agonizing breaths.

When exhaustion wins over excitement, Raquel shelters her head in the space between his head and shoulder with a sigh of satiety.

As her left arm folds over his chest, the first thing that she hears once her ears stop ringing is the sound of Sergio’s erratic heartbeats, perfectly matching her own.

 

 


him


 

Raquel’s heart is racing against his chest, so close to his own that it feels like it’s beating within the confines of his ribcage.

Possessed by an instinct of protectiveness so alien to him, Sergio cradles her in the crook of his arm, disentangling the blanket from their feet to bring it over their bodies.

She’s snuggling up to him like a kitten – so pliant and delicate and soft, – her toes playing with his under the covers.

Though they probably should doze off right away, given the hellish day that they have both had, Sergio is not ready for the night to be over just yet.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you,” he says with a suspenseful intonation in hopes of capturing her interest.

Raquel responds with a lazy “Hm?” rasping her eyelids against the side of his chest like a grumpy child fighting off sleep.

It’s adorable and he almost feels bad for wanting to keep her awake.

Almost.

“Are your feet always this cold?”

She throws her head back with a laugh – God, that harmonic sound and the cute little wrinkles across the bridge of her nose, – flickering his left nipple with her chirpy lips in what he recognizes as an attempt to curb her urge to hide her face away from his sight. Her luminous hair falls over her face and she locks that stubborn strand he’s so obsessed with behind an ear.

It’s strangely exciting that such a bold woman gets disconcerted by something so trivial such as her sensitivity to room temperature.

“It usually is,” she corrects him playfully, running her freezing toes from his ankles to the back of his knees and back down again. “Which is why I need somebody here to heat them up.”

Ah, yes.

The bold woman is back.

“Not somebody,” Sergio tightens his grip on her, kissing her forehead as he wraps a hand around the beautiful mess of her curls.

“No?” Raquel pretends to be clueless, strumming up and down his sternum, sneaking her left hand beneath the comforter to grip his half-hard cock – just when he was finally getting it under control.

This is – they are – so close to how El Profesor and La Inspectora talk over the phone: flirting, fishing for a reaction, digging for information.

Sergio barely recognizes the trace of possessiveness taking over his chest at the thought of someone else between these sheets.

He shakes his head, for once not trying to shove an uncomfortable emotion down his throat,

“Just me.”

Raquel chuckles, pumping him five times before smoothing her hand up his chest.

The affectionate kiss she drops on his clavicle travels all the way down to his toes.

The fingers of his right hand map the tendons and visible blood vessels in the back of her left one, curling around her tiny wrist.

He’s completely focused on her, evaluating her breathing pattern, navigating through a catalog of things he still wants to figure out about her.

“Why the Police Corps?” Sergio speaks out the question that’s been dauting him since he first laid eyes on her pre-heist folder, knowing it will drastically change the atmosphere in the room. “You could have done plenty other things, I’m sure.”

Raquel fondles his chest a couple of times before upholding herself on her right elbow, trapping the side of his torso between her breasts.

She runs her delicious tongue over her lower lip, her mind surely wandering through the bifurcations of her memory lanes, a million of miles away from Spain.

Mamá y Laura always took to each other,” she initiates quietly, watching her fingertips slide from his collarbone all the way down to his navel. “I was daddy’s little girl,” her face blooms with a bashful smile that’s beyond captivating and he can’t help but match it with one of his own. “Each pair had their own Saturday afternoon tradition.” Raquel plays with his sparse body hairs, perhaps holding on to a distraction to keep her emotions in check. “We used to read the adventures of Sherlock Holmes together. Just the two of us.” She takes a quick look at him, her eyes lighting up, before kissing around his left nipple. “We would go over the pages for what felt like hours, trying to distinguish evidence from plot distractions, guessing why was the victim chosen, who the killer was.” Sergio finds himself fascinated by the light reflecting on her cute nose piercing, resisting the urge to kiss her right there. “I took it as a mission and sometimes he would call me his pequeña inspectora.” Her smile is one he hasn’t seen ever before. This time, she instinctively dives on his torso with a chuckle to shield herself from his gaze. It doesn’t go unnoticed by him that she doesn’t put too much weight, mindful of his bruises even amidst the fog of her nostalgia. “I think it was to tease me, but no one called me that, so it made me feel so special.” Her eyelids flutter and her chin shivers. For a second, he thinks she might cry and, in the back of his mind, Sergio is already calculating what to do if she does. “As a parent, I understand now how he wanted to inspire a sense of resilience in me. But my deductive skills developed to a degree I don’t think he had imagined.” Her demeanor shifts to sadness and Sergio feels his heart constrict to the size of a cherry. “It wasn’t until he passed that my passion for justice also unfolded.” One of her shoulders rises in a shrug as Raquel finally aims her brown eyes at him, “Police academy seemed like a natural conclusion at that point.”

Sergio’s gaze drift towards her curtains as he lets all that information sink in, adding more pieces to his puzzle of her and separating himself from his heist persona the best way he can.

Tonight, he’s nothing but a man fascinated by the beautiful woman in his arms – not her archenemy.

When he asks if she has ever regretted making such a lifelong commitment, she confesses that it didn’t take her long to figure out that the reality of the job was a lot less romantic than she had imagined. It involved a lot more paperwork too, she jokes, and their synchronic laughter shakes the mattress.

There’s a hint of pride when Raquel states that, despite the challenges, she doesn’t think she could do anything more rewarding than serving the people.

She conveys a sense of belonging that Sergio could never find.

Not even now.

Knowing that he’s tipping his toes into dangerous waters, he presses on,

“Do you ever feel like you’re on the wrong side of the battle?”

It’s her turn to look around the room as if picking up words on her wallpapers to build up sentences.

“All the time.” She draws random patterns across his abdomen, completely unaware of the effect her touch has on him. Despite the seriousness of the conversation, his heart begins to race. “It’s no secret that the system often protects those in power and further marginalizes the vulnerable population.” Biting her lips, Raquel ceases her movements to gaze at him, “But if some of us – the ones committed to due process – aren’t there to ensure the law will be correctly executed, how much worse wouldn’t it be?” She searches for opposition in his eyes. Finding none, she concludes, “If I can carry that weight, then I do.”

For two people siding on opposite sides of this war, two people with completely divergent personalities, their mentality is strikingly similar.

Sergio feels unfairly lucky to be able to watch her this closely, to get to piece together the isolated life events that turned her into the woman he can’t stop thinking about.

“The system is flawed, yes,” Raquel admits with a conviction that amplifies his fascination with her, “but it’s still better than anarchy, no?”

His eyes run straight into hers.

The silence weights between them.

His prospective answers take up space in his chest like a monster hiding under the bed, waiting for the perfect moment to crawl out.

Sergio decides to dodge her question, knowing that Raquel is far too smart for him to play with the odds any further.

“I don’t know if that’s true, but…” he ponders in his softest tone, curling the ends of her hair around his index and middle fingers, “I’m sure your dad was very proud of his pequeña inspectora.”

His eyes shine when he says his piece, siding with the truth other than insisting on an argument that would lead him to lie to her.

Looking at her now, all he sees is a little girl with golden hairlocks and walnut eyes looking up to her father; a victim of circumstances much like himself and everyone else in the gang.

(Not that she would ever see it his way, he regretfully tells himself.)

Raquel gives him a teary, thankful smile and he never wants to leave this room.

With a couple of kisses on his shoulder, she hugs his left arm and holds his hand between both of hers.

“It’s my turn now,” she declares excitedly.

When Sergio questions what exactly she means by that, they start bickering like an old married couple.

Raquel claims that she gets to ask something too and Sergio poses whether the inspector in her ever gets off the clock. She threatens to interrogate him if she has to and he responds that she’s welcome to frisk him again any time.

She rolls her eyes in mockery.

He’s immensely relieved that it doesn’t seem like she wants to go sleep either.

Without preamble, Raquel shoots,

“What’s the deal with you and dancing?”

Dios,” Sergio pulls away from her like the devil avoiding holy water, running his hands through his hair in a nervous gesture. “You will never let me live that down, will you?”

“Not tonight,” she’s quick to interject with that stubborn determination she wears so well.

“The deal with me and dancing,” Sergio parrots her under his breath, trying to school as much of his discomfort as possible. “You mean other than my absolute lack of coordination?”

Raquel shakes her head, watching him closely.

“Everyone likes dancing,” she counters with an admirable certainty and he challenges her with a scowl because they both know that contention is a fallacy. “Ok, not everyone likes it,” she gives in and he’s holding on to the faintest hope that she might drop the subject. “But there’s got to be more to it than that.”

In a clear attempt to give him some space, Raquel sits on her knees around his hips, the covers falling off her and nestling somewhere along his thighs.

The apex of her legs fits perfectly into his and he feels a spark of desire flickering down his balls.

Sergio just lies there, admiring the plane of her stomach, the way her breasts lay beautifully without any type of support, the different shades of pink and light brown her nipples and areolas display.

The temptation to change the subject increases tenfold, going from wanting to avoid a deeply personal revelation to physically needing to taste her again.

Raquel reaches for the empty wine glass and a long water bottle that she seems to keep by his nightstand because it was already there by the time they strode into her room earlier tonight.

Sergio likes it that she doesn’t pressure him; likes knowing that, if he were to take things off a tangent, she would notice it (and let him know that she did) but not insist on getting them back on track.

But, even more now than on their first night together, the thought of shedding some of his layers to her feels strangely right. It relieves some of the nausea pinching at his gut for even considering either sharing something so precious to him or lying to her, which he absolutely does not want to do.

So he doesn’t.

“My mother used to wake up before sunrise on Sundays.” Sergio doesn’t rush the words out of his mouth. He lets them simmer, tastes them before speaking up. “She would put classical music on and hum around the kitchen.” The grey walls of Raquel’s bedroom become yellow; her desk and cabinet turn into a table, four chairs and a fridge. It’s as if he’s being transported back to his own house decades before. “I remember waking up to the smell of tortillas, her voice singing Italian and French songs I could not understand.” He looks down to watch his thumb nails pressing each other, feeling the muscles in his jaw flex to the point of hurting. “Not that it mattered anyway.” Sergio observes Raquel nursing the water, her attention fixed on him, as he shifts his body to an almost sitting position. “I remember the smile on her face, like she was more in her element there than anywhere else…” he shakes his head, his eyes moving left to right, right to left as if watching the scenes through a slideshow. “I would stand by the door, just watching her, until she would invite me in.” Raquel offers the glass to him and he takes it without a second thought. “At first, I was too small, so she would just pick me up.” Closing his eyes, he can almost remember her warmth, the sense of safety she always exuded, the scent of her hair. “As I grew, I would step on her feet to get some extra height and follow her lead.” Trusting his weight on an elbow, he raises his head and lifts the glass to his lips, chugging the water more for the distraction than thirst itself. “Sometimes my father would wake up earlier than usual,” he chuckles, “probably because of the noise we were making, now that I think of it – and ask me to trade places with him.” Sergio hands the glass back to her and scratches his beard in an unconscious gesture that provides comfort. “I would hold the newspaper as they waltzed between the counter and the dinner table.” His chest hurts. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been; it hurts just the same. “And then she was gone and there were no more tortillas for breakfast, no more laughing around the kitchen…” Trapping his bottom lip between his teeth, he circles this whole conversation in his head, hoping it will make sense to Raquel. “Among all the skills I’ve acquired over the years, including Italian and French,” his heart feels like it’s going to burst as he searches for understanding and approval on her face, “Dancing became this sacred thing that I could never amount to anymore, you know?”

Raquel puts the glass away without ever letting go of his eyes.

Hers are full of unshed tears, like his pain is her own.

“I think I would have liked your parents.”

She states so simply.

And it’s impeccable.

Unlike him, Raquel always knows what to say.

There’s no unnecessary sympathy on her voice; no ‘I’m so sorry for your pain,’ or ‘These are the moments that count.’

Sergio has never quite learned what to respond to those things.

At least now, he doesn’t have to.

His heart still tightens, though, because the impossibility of Raquel coexisting in the same space as his parents is somehow unbearable.

It pains him to say the words, but he offers them to her anyway,

“I know they would have loved you.”

Because they would have.

She frames his face and bends over to give him the sweetest kiss – no tongues involved; just her beautiful, luscious lips sliding against his, saying things he wouldn’t comprehend otherwise.

His hands find her waist, slide around her hipbones, bringing her down to lie across his frame.

He breathes life into the nearness of her.

Her head finds nest on his right shoulder, her legs falling around his hips.

Their conversation keeps on flowing from that point on, developing so easily that Sergio wouldn’t be surprised if they stayed up talking until sunrise.

(A great part of him that wants exactly that.)

She talks about a boy from school with whom she played cops and robbers, being kissed for the first time under a tree when she was twelve. He tells her of not wanting to go on a first (and only) date with his brother’s best friend in college and completely embarrassing himself before dinner was even set on the table. He gets to learn about that scar on the inside of her left upper arm from when she fell against a barbed wire snare trying to prank her sister. She asks about his earring hole which she says it’s so out of character for the type of person she imagines him to be. They talk about their favorite seasons – it’s no surprise she loves Spring and he favors the Fall – and dream vacations they might never go to. After a much-heated debate, they fantasize with sandy beaches and watching a bold yellow sun disappear below a marmalade horizon every evening.

There’s little to no tension between them: just inside jokes and silly smiles, eyes full of tears from laughing so hard, whispered confessions and long glances, lazy touches and stolen kisses.

Her feet are still cold (though much less than before,) but Raquel must be feeling hot because she moves to his right side to stretch out on top of the covers, nudging his body a bit to the left.

He teasingly mutters, “So bossy,” under his breath as she moves to lie on her belly, resting her left cheek on her forearms to aim her censoring eyes at him.

Sergio keeps the blanket over his crotch as he turns her way, an arm propping his head.

He reaches behind her for his specs – since last night, every time he slides the thick black frame behind his ears, he thinks back to her teasing him with that silly Superman-Clark Kent predication, – so eager to look at her more clearly.

Ah, yes.

Much, much better.

Sergio carefully slides her sleek hair away from her right shoulder and upper back, watching as it falls beautifully across her left arm, the ends lying across the pillow and bed cover. He strums the fingers of his left hand along her mane, closing his fist around it as to memorize the amalgam of her dark brown, caramel, and golden locks.

Touching her like this, just being this close to her… it makes him want to love her again already.

Sergio finds it impossible to prevent a hand from crawling down to adjust himself underneath the comforter.

Massaging her scalp, he chances a look at her face to find her smiling breathtakingly at him.

“I love it when you touch me,” Raquel articulates in a husky tone, her eyelids fluttering closed.

His stomach flinches in a way that feels delightful but is gone too soon.

He’s supposed to say something to that, isn’t he?

“The human touch releases oxytocin, which regulates the cardiovascular system,” Sergio spits one word after another without thinking straight.

She laughs gleefully – stupid, he chides himself, – looking at him with a smirk that says she understands this is his unique way of saying that he loves touching her too.

Raquel rests her forehead on the back of her hand, facing down, locking her hair between her neck and shoulder as if… inviting him?

At least, that’s how he takes it.

Sergio lets his eyes wander through the expanse of her naked body, vowing to touch her without restrain.

His palm curves around the back of her neck, finding her skin so obscenely soft.

Sergio finds himself completely obsessed with how the dim lights heighten the perfect contrast between her small blonde body hairs and her smooth olive skin.

His fingertips take time travelling down her scapula, following the subtle bumps of her spine, the canyons of her waist, his digits drawing infinity symbols around the barely-there dimples on the small of her back.

When his thumb falls right above her coccyx, playing with the delicate skin he finds there, his ear drums capture a sigh she releases.

The stifled sound enhances his awareness of her.

He notices her butt lifting a little, almost pressing against his hand, her little blond hairs standing on end as if his very presence electrifies her.

Sergio is unsure if it was his touch or something else that precipitated such a reaction.

With scientific curiosity, he intentionally repeats the motion, strumming right above her crack, paying close attention to what her body language is about to tell him.

And it tells him everything.

Raquel hums again – louder and longer this time around, – curving her spine backwards and pushing her face deeper into the pillow, her hands reaching out to hold onto to a headboard bar, crushing a red post-it within her grip.

Back in his make-believe cider factory, she would purr every time he would play with that tendon on the side of her neck.

But that… that didn’t even come close to this.

His palm is still resting on her lower back, his fingers rubbing the end of her spine, his eyes glued to the minimal back and forth movement of her hips towards the mattress as he curls up his torso to kiss her right there.

“It’s not fair,” he hears her say, a bit disgruntledly, “that you seem to have a knack for finding people’s weaknesses.”

Feeling his chest puff with self-regard – because this coming from her is truly a huge compliment, – Sergio smiles and falls back to his previous position,

“I like to believe I’m interested in finding people’s weaknesses and strengths.”

(Despite his efforts, he hasn’t been more honest with her tonight.)

“Yeah?” Raquel asks skeptically, bracing her chin on her hands to dare him, “What are mine?”

This is a loaded question.

One he could dissert on for hours on end.

Her eyebrows raise in expectation, her hair cascade down her back again, and it’s hard not to get sidetracked and give into the temptation to touch her all over until she’s calling out his name.

Where is all this hunger coming from?

Since when does he behave this primitively?

Sergio looks at her – really looks at her, – trapping a strand of her hair behind her delicate ear.

“I think your passion is equally your weakness as it is your strength.”

Astonishingly, Raquel doesn’t retort or fight back.

A storm of emotions takes over her face – as though somebody has told her otherwise and she believed it until now – and he can’t quite categorize any of them.

Raquel is staring at him like a stranger sitting in a corner of the Met, looking at a postmodern art piece for two hours straight, trying to decipher it, trying to decipher themselves.

Her voice is frail when she vocalizes,

“You are quite the charmer, Salva.”

Sergio looks down to the black and white motive of her pillowcase, unable to even conceive himself and that adjective in the same sentence,

“No one would ever call me that.”

She runs her tongue over her lips to wet them, aiming her sharp gaze at him,

“Maybe no one knows you that well, then.”

He nods his acquiescence to her affirmation, looking into her eyes for a long time before confessing,

“No one certainly does.”

Her eyes narrow in that way that tells him he’s in trouble because she’s feeling challenged to prove him wrong.

Raquel turns to her side to look at him more freely, bracing her body weight on her left elbow.

Sergio can’t help but run his eyes over her breasts, her belly, the triangle of trimmed hairs leading to the place against which he wants to tuck his face.

Her index finger taps the leather band on his left wrist,

“That watch must mean something to you because you never take it off,” she smiles, watching him instinctively pull his arm out of her reach. “Sometimes you even cover it with your right hand in an overprotective manner.” Her fingers dive into her hair, throwing all her mane to her left side, her enticing features looking like an underexposed painting under the low light. “You adjust your glasses when you need to make up your mind about something or somebody catches you off guard.” Her tone is soft and reassuring, as if she doesn’t want to scare him away. “You blow your freshly-brewed coffee three times before each sip as if you’ve calculated the perfect fraction so that the temperature is just right; not too hot, nor too cold.” Her hand rests on his blanket-covered hip, her thumb playing with the sentient skin above his crotch, threatening to go under the fabric. “You’re not particularly ticklish, but you shiver every time I kiss you on the side of your neck.” She reaches out to touch the patch of skin she’s referring to and he can’t help but close his eyes, unsuccessfully trying to hold back a low groan. “You must have been hurt deeply because you never fully say the truth.” He cants his head to the side, trying to find out how she gathered that. “You often look to your upper lateral right, which indicates you’re making up stories, and rarely to your lower left, which connects to your emotional memories.” She releases a smirk. “And, if I can take a wild guess, I would say you love pineapples.”

Sergio swallows a knot on his throat.

He doesn’t know how she gauged any of this, much less what his favorite fruit is.

It never occurred to him that all the while he was studying her, she was studying him too.

“You are a trained professional,” he quickly rationalizes, trying to dismiss the magnitude of the things that she has figured out about him, not quite ready to dissect what it could mean just yet.

Raquel nods like she had already expected him to use some sort of diversion technique to brush her off.

“That could be it,” she looks at him teasingly, reading right through his defenses. “That, or…” Raquel lets her pause hang between them, savoring her words before exposing them, “I’m interested in finding your weaknesses and strengths too.”

Raquel loves – in the broadest sense of the word – so generously when all his life he did so with such scarcity.

It scares and awes him in the same breath.

“Sure, you’re interested,” he says sarcastically and throws some self-deprecation her way, “Have you seen the way I dance?”

He’s testing her; it’s stronger than him; he can’t help himself.

The broad smile that blooms on her face is like a supernova blinding his senses.

“I have, actually,” she mentions smartly, “and it’s the most adorable thing in the whole world.”

Por favor,” he scowls at her, rolling his eyes as he feels his cheeks burn.

Raquel is still smiling – and he should really hate how much she loves teasing him – as she turns on her back and taps her stomach, beckoning him to come closer.

He hands his eyeglasses to her, crawling towards her curvy frame so there’s no space between them.

Her warm belly pillows his head and her fingers drag through his scalp in a unrushed manner that makes his eyelids grow heavy.

Sergio is already dreading the morning, having to leave her…

Raquel steals one of his hands, rubbing his knuckles with her soft thumb.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” she requests with a distant tone that suggests she’s feeling that bit of separation anxiety as well.

Watching their fingers play together, he’s at a loss for words.

A few hours prior, the Professor had walked into her house to kill her mother.

After dinner, he made it a point to only allow Sergio into her bedroom.

“My red quilt held your scent,” he nuzzles her ribs and the valley between her breasts. “Your perfume, your hair, your skin…” Sergio rasps the tip of his nose along her under boobs, breathing her in. He purposefully avoids looking up into her eyes, nervous as he is to tell her all this. “I think I’m addicted to you.”

He feels completely exposed – standing naked under the pouring rain, throwing a pebble at the window of an unattainable someone who is cozy inside.

“I think maybe I should go there more often, then,” she says cheekily, curling up her torso to kiss along the line of his hair.

He smiles against her skin, letting go of her hands to squeeze her lower body into his arms,

“You definitely should.”

When a comfortable silence settles in, his eyes scan the room.

Sergio spots the little things that give the essence of her true self away: a few red and yellow post-it notes stuck to the bed frame with words of love pouring from them, two scarfs which he bets smell just like her, little plastic glow-in-the-dark stars that she must have put up for her daughter’s sake, colorful childlike doodles hanging from the walls, pictures with people he will never get to know, unopened mails, at least a dozen books.

His interest is piqued,

“Tell me your favorite quote.”

He looks up to catch her looking scandalized – and panics for a second, thinking she’ll finally see right through his monotonous soul, – a quick gasp escaping her throat.

“You know that’s an impossible mission, right?” Raquel complains before looking down at him with a smirk. “Choosing one is like forfeiting the others.”

She’s so dramatic; so full of life.

Sergio nods with a breath of relief, agreeing with her assertion.

Running his thumb along the line of her hips, he re-addresses his original question,

“Tell me the first quote that comes to your mind right now.”

Supporting the back of his head with her left hand, Raquel stretches out her right arm in an awkward angle to open the top drawer of her bedside table without letting go of him.

She pulls out a book of roughly 200 pages with a black cover bisected by a red horizontal stripe.

“I was reading this when I met you,” says Raquel, adjusting her head back on the pillows and bringing him up higher so that his right ear is resting right above her heart without crushing her breasts.

Sergio sees her flipping through the pages until her thumb holds eighty-one and eighty-two apart.

Would you agree if I were to love you for one more week?” he can hear her deep voice coming directly from her chest, floating through the air like a zephyr, feel her fingertips absently moving up and down the base of his skull. “In a week I can try to collect all the words of love that we have spread on earth and I can put them in the fireplace. I'll warm you up with the fire of burning love.” She pauses and Sergio is overtaken by a deep sense of contentment, watching her enraptured as if he wants this every rainy Friday night. “And also with the silence. For the best words of love are those that are said between two people who do not say anything.”

With his face laying atop her breastbone, more so than letch, Sergio finds tranquility.

“Could you imagine that?” she thinks out loud, throwing the book to the side. He looks at her in awe, amazed at how, out of billions of passages ever written in the history of humankind, she had to choose this exact one. “Falling so deeply in love with a person and only having a week by their side?” Raquel closes her eyes to immerse herself in a feeling she thinks hypothetical and will soon follow her to bed every night. He wants to end this hoax, tell her everything no matter the cost. “Would it be better not having met them at all?”

Sergio is not at all qualified to answer her questions but feels as though he should be.

He remembers one night in Paris asking Andrés what it felt like – falling in love.

He remembers his brother passionately theorizing that it’s when the works of art – a painting, a movie scene, the lyrics of a song – finally make sense to you. It’s wanting to keep looking at them, replaying shared moments through endless loops as if one can only unravel the mystery of life through a kiss, a touch, a confession…

He remembers reducing all that to brain chemistry; a biological construct to ensure the perpetuation of the species, nothing more.

Looking at her right now, and thinking of the heist, of the misfortune of this whole thing, all he can think about is–

“What?” Raquel cocks her head at him, pulling him out of the universe of his thoughts.

Sergio feels his cheeks go red, shaking his head to convince her not to pursue this line of questioning any further.

Lying to her is the last thing he wants, but he can’t quite tell her the truth either.

…can he?

“Hey,” Raquel rolls on her side, making Sergio lie on his back. She gracefully holds his chin just to keep his eyes on hers, her voice invitingly sweet, “We promised we would leave everything out the door, remember?” When her hands tame his beard in that loving way no one ever did, he feels his defenses breaking down. “Whatever it is, I want to know.”

It’s a fair point.

Sergio swallows nervously as he slides his right hand against hers, locking her thumb with his in a tight grip between their bodies.

“You know when you read something, and you understand the literal meaning of the words but you can’t quite grasp the emotions behind them because, well, you've never felt those things before?” He pitches – barely taking a breath in between words, the air exhaling from his lungs all at once, making him dizzy – and she nods unflinchingly. “I just thought of this quote I could never quite understand…”

He needs time to dig through his memory palace and find that book he hasn’t read in a long, long time.

His eyes roam her silhouette, basking in her breathtaking nudity. He softly kisses her left cheek, rubs up the tip of his nose against the dainty, shiny piercing on her nostril, sliding down to find her beautiful, perfectly sculptured lips. His heart begins to pound stronger. Knowing he would get off track if he were to kiss her, Sergio moves down to taste her delicate collarbone, that cute bony prominence on her shoulder. The corner of his lips quirks up into a smile when he finally sees her more-than-a-handful breasts, admiring her already-hardened nipples peeking through the strands of her hair, the areolas that he now knows have the perfect diameter for his teeth to sink in. His mouth waters but his lips go dry, so his tongue comes out to wet them as if he were touching the granular light-brown piece of skin instead. The fingers on his left hand tenderly pull her tresses behind her back, his mouth eager to play with her.

Salva,” Raquel moans out in a labored breath, gripping his hair, trying to reel him back in.

She thinks this to be a distraction when it truly isn’t.

This is him drawing out a masterfully written prologue, looking for inspiration on her curves, setting the stage for her to see him.

To see him.

Sergio calmy kisses the back of her hand – that one that is still locked in his, – moving his head side to side to scrape her fine skin with his beard, before whispering,

Intrigued by that enigma, he dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her."

He recites the passage, word by word, feeling his heart beat out of control.

Even if she’s unaware of the bigger picture here – that he is the person behind that metallic voice over the phone, – Raquel is far too bright to not understand everything else he’s implying.

Sergio chances a look her way to find her eyes moving horizontally as if reading invisible lines of her own.

Her voice sounds like honey when Raquel continues the passage right from where he had stopped,

"Petra Cotes, for her part, loved him more and more as she felt his love increasing, and that was how in the ripeness of autumn she began to believe once more…”

His stomach turns in somersaults.

"You like García Márquez,” he concludes in bewilderment.

His heartbeats are ringing so loudly in his ears that he can barely hear her responding with a self-indulgent grin,

"One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my favorite books of all times."

He wants to hug her, duck his face into the expanse of her neck, wake up twenty-five years younger, be the one making love to her under a blanket of stars in a camping trip somewhere…

"Mine too," is all that he can offer.

They beam at each other with that barely contained excitement of finding another human being who sees the world through the exact same lens as you do.

Though he knows it’s fruitless, Sergio cannot help but wonder how differently things would have turned out if they had met years prior, perhaps even decades prior.

Would he have not allowed revenge to taint every single one of his blood cells?

His question is left in a void when Raquel demands,

“Do you understand it now?”

Sergio cants his head to the side with a frown, having lost track of their conversation.

“Gabo’s passage,” she clarifies without him even asking.

It’s impossible for him to think of a person, other than Andrés, who can read him this well.

Because Raquel knows the answer already.

She does.

She just needs to hear it from his lips,

“I do.”

Raquel wraps her arms around his upper back, diving her face into the mass of his hair.

Sergio closes his eyes, laying his forehead on her sternum, in that place where her skin is softer than a flower petal and she smells like heaven.

Her voice is laced with intrigue when she probes,

“When was the last time you had sex?”

He breaks apart from her with a cautious look, not having quite foreseen this change of subject.

His insecurities jump ahead to the possibility of her not having been satisfied.

Putting his self-doubt to rest, Raquel tells him he made her come twice already and the night is not even over yet.

Sergio mirrors her sideways position, their heads sharing a pillow.

They are lying so close to each other that a few of her tresses move when he speaks,

“Almost a decade now.”

She looks surprised but her tone is nonjudgmental – he cannot detect even an ounce of indignity – when she retorts,

¿En serio?

How can he explain to her that, amid designing a plan to bring his father’s dream to fruition, building relationships felt superfluous at best?

“I’ve met smart, attractive women, but there was never a deeper connection.” His mind quickly reviews the images of his few past lovers and the detachment is transparent to him in all of them, and mutually so. “Sex was a way of experimenting. It always felt rather dull, to be honest. Mechanic. Not really something worth pursuing most of the time.” She rakes up her fingernails along his back muscles, listening intently. “I never slept after.”

Raquel pushes herself back up her elbow, her eyebrows climbing her forehead,

“You never woke up in a woman’s arms?”

He lifts a shoulder with a hint of embarrassment,

“Can't say as I have.”

She looks away, biting the corners where her lips meet.

Oye, Salva,” Raquel shoots a serious look at him, her right hand reaching out to push his fringe away from his eyes before sliding downwards to draw random patterns on his arm. Sergio is convinced that this is the time she’ll ask him to leave because she’s finally figured out how unexperienced he is. “What I told my mom – about you staying over for sleep, – it didn’t have to mean anything.”

Oh.

His left hand lifts to circle the nape of her neck.

“It’s different with you.” He drags his thumb across that curve of her jaw, his ring and middle fingers securing her hair out of her field of vision, “I want to stay, if you’ll have me.”

Her eyes grow soft right before Raquel scoots over to kiss him, lingering for a few seconds without letting their fondling grow steamier.

His confession must have awakened some sense of safety within her because it doesn’t take long for Raquel to share,

“I hadn’t been with anyone since my ex.” She looks down at his chest, the grief crystal clear on her façade. The fact that she doesn’t say the guy’s name speaks volume to Sergio. “I didn’t feel safe to expose myself at any level anymore – not physically, not emotionally.”

He strokes her shoulders and arms comfortingly, not wanting to even hint at anything sexual.

“I’m glad it was you,” she whispers, her sights finally set on his, her sclera growing a bit pink with concealed tears.

A warmth floods through his insides.

Their eyes chase each other, an unmitigated pitch of longing brewing between them.

Raquel is gingerly strumming the small of his back when she asks,

“Are you clean?”

Her question is open-ended enough that it would be far too easy for him to misinterpret it.

Given the context, though, Sergio makes an educated guess on what she means.

“I have no venereal disease,” he pauses, tilting his frame backwards to widen his field of vision and analyze her body language more accurately, “If that’s what you’re asking?”

There’s a coy smile on her lips as she nods.

”The precinct tests us every year,” Raquel volunteers. “I’m clean as well.”

Sergio looks at her with an inquiring glare.

He supposes sexual partners should discuss this kind of thing.

But shouldn’t they already have done so, prior to first sleeping together?

Raquel drags her right leg atop his left hip, her toenails teasing the back of his thigh.

Sergio feels himself stir, sliding his right arm in the gap between her chin and shoulder so she can rest her head on his biceps instead of the pillow.

“Have you ever had sex without a condom?”

Raquel pursues in a whisper – given how close they are, – sinking her teeth deep into her bottom lip.

His interest increases as his fingerprints rush to caress her outer thigh.

“No, I haven’t,” Sergio replies, feeling strangely at ease to admit it to her.

Before retributing the question out of impulse, Sergio reminds himself that Raquel has a daughter with a man with whom she’d been in a committed relationship for years.

His chest aches with an unwelcome mix of curiosity and jealousy.

It’s irrational and he hates it; rejects it with every fiber of his being.

He still can’t help but feel it, though, and decides to respond with a question of his own,

“Is it any different?”

Raquel snuggles up to him, kissing his neck, tracing his collarbone with her closed lips.

Sergio shuts his eyes, feeling his cock twitch and beg for more attention.

“I think physically is somewhat different,” she responds with naturality, implicitly confirming his reasonable suspicions that she’s had unprotected sex before. “More friction, the skin on skin contact.” Raquel reaches out to run her palm around his nipple as if to make a point. “But, more than anything, I think it’s psychological.” She buries her face onto the top of his chest, the warm air leaving her nostrils tickling his skin, tempting his self-discipline. “Closer, more intimate, trusting somebody with your body like that.” The way she stops and looks at him lets Sergio know that something is coming his way. He’s holding his breath already. “Have you ever wanted to give it a try?”

The question itself makes him light-headed with lust.

Her hair tickles the skin of his arm while Sergio tries to compose himself.

“I can’t deny that there’s been a curiosity,” he points out without further thought. “But the stress of an unwanted pregnancy and the health risks involved were concerning enough for me not to entertain it beyond what it was – a fantasy.”

There’s a haze of filthy glee in the way she lays a hand around his hip, her fingertips resting at the top of his buttocks.

“It doesn’t have to be just a fantasy.” Raquel promptly suggests, looking back and forth between his eyes and his lips. “I want to ask if you would be open to try it, but I don’t want you to feel pressured to do something you may not be comfortable with.”

It’s not often that Sergio feels like jumping off a cliff into murky waters.

In his mind, this isn’t a conversation that couples have until they’ve been together for a long, long time.

Still, he obviously–

“You know what?” Raquel shakes her head, letting go of her grip on him as she fills up his silence with her own insecurities. “Never mind.”

He gently catches her receding hand in the air and averts the question back to her,

“Is that something you want?”

His free hand fidgets with the edge of her comforter, his weighty Adam’s apple bobbing up and down in his throat in anticipation.

There’s something potent building up between them and he’s not sure he’s entirely ready for it.

Raquel, conversely, doesn’t even hesitate,

“Yes.” She licks her lips, running her eyes all over his face to track his infinitesimal reactions. “Which is weird because we barely know each other, and I don’t trust easily.” She’s blushing and he can’t recall the last time she looked this categorically uncertain, “But there’s something about you…” A small smile crosses her lips, slowly taking over her whole face, complementing the lovely peach color tainting her cheeks, “I want to feel you inside of me.”

Though he knows it to be anatomically impossible, Sergio has a growing concern that his heart – beating so absurdly rapidly – will break out of his ribcage.

Still looking at this scenario as if a hypothetical one, he manages to let out in a low tone,

“Would you want me to pull out?”

“No. Not unless you prefer it that way.” Her eyes intercept his and hold. “I have a skin implant,” Raquel guides his right hand to the inside of her left upper arm, where he traces the shape of a thin bar underneath her epidermis, acknowledging its implications. “The chances of me getting pregnant are close to nonexistent.”

This small gesture adds another layer of intimacy between them somehow.

As if the atmosphere in her room isn’t alluring enough, Raquel eyes him hungrily before making her point even clearer,

“I want you to come inside of me.”

Dios.

What a fucking irresistible combination of words.

Irrationally as it may have been, he’s been thinking about it since the very first time he entered her body.

Salivating with just the thought of it, Sergio confesses quietly, “I want it too,” grabbing her elbow as if the world is spinning too fast for him not to have a hold on her.

Because neither is ready to put that feeling into words – even though they are both most definitely feeling it, – they kiss.

And the kiss turns into a hand curving around the swell of her ass, both of her palms grazing his prick, tongues coming out to play, a thigh pushing two legs apart…

This time, when she rolls above him, her knees surrounding his hips, he offers no defiance.

When he raises his upper body to a vertical stance, she doesn’t try to impede him.

They are sitting in the middle of her messy bed, chest to chest, surrounded by a sea of blankets.

Raquel rests on top of his thighs, looking down at him as she traps his full-fledged erection between their stomachs, bucking her pelvis into his as the soles of her feet rest right above his buttocks. Her hands grasp the back of his head as she sweetly kisses his eyebrow, his temple, his cheek bone, his beard.

Sergio grounds her hips with one of his arms, his free hand getting lost on her curls. He faces upwards to drag his nose up the line of her jaw, her ear, the curve of neck merging into her shoulder, letting his breath wash over her skin every time he stops to taste her.

They retreat just enough to look at each other right before their lips meet tentatively, sliding gently against one another, kissing languorously for a few seconds before moving back to face each other once more.

He absolutely loves it how her right shoulder lifts every so often when they kiss.

Raquel lightly traps his lower lip between her teeth, releasing it slowly.

His ten fingers grab her shapely backside, bringing her body further into his as she grinds her mound against his hardness no doubt to mitigate the suffocating arousal she must also be feeling below her navel.

The contact makes Raquel shiver and hold onto his triceps with one hand, pushing her hardened nipples against his chest.

The friction is amazing and leaves him craving more.

When she grasps his hairy jawbone, opening his mouth to her ministrations and letting out a grunt of bliss whenever their soft tongues clash, Sergio starts dry humping her.

The wispy little hair of her bush brushes up against the sensitive skin of his balls, prompting Sergio to dig his digits into her flesh.

With a huff of sexual agitation, Raquel takes hold of his girth, leaning back into her other hand to find an angle that allows her to guide his glans along her drenched folds, smearing his precum everywhere.

Watching translucent fluids mix up with creamy ones, he growls, lifting her with a tight grip on her hipbones.

They exhale rather loudly and stare at each other as Raquel slowly sinks on him.

Oh.

God.

Their eyelids draw shut as gravity takes her all the way down, surrounding him completely.

His brain short-circuits at the galvanizing friction on the ridge connecting his head and shaft.

Raquel draws her knees apart; the side of her feet pushes down against the mattress as she slowly ascends and descends on him. The way her soaked pussy gently twists his foreskin each time he penetrates and withdraws from her steals the air from his lungs.

When she starts picking up speed, Sergio chokes her hips in place.

“Wait, wait,” he rasps desperately, his voice cracking, closing his eyes and forcing his breathing into a steady pattern to try to get his impulses under control.

It’s too much.

In the most superb way imaginable, it’s too much.

If Raquel keeps on impaling herself on him like this, he will give in and starts riding her faster towards release, thus embarrassing himself in a matter of seconds.

Her chest is at his eye level, expanding and retreating in a hypnotizing rhythm.

Fuck, she’s beyond gorgeous.

Sergio looks up to find her eyes betraying the battle between her own lust and some empathy for him.

The moment his breathing returns to normal, it seems like she has caught on to it because Raquel starts moving again, slowly, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth with a frown of appetite between her eyebrows.

“Good?” she checks, staring into his eyes.

Sergio shakes his head left to right, grounding himself in her dark brown eyes as his hips dare move in tandem with hers,

“Good doesn’t even begin to cover it."

Raquel smile pompously with that saucy curl of her lips that drives him insane, picking up an accelerated rhythm,

“Good.”

God, this woman.

It’s no surprise Andrés had the balls to tell him over the phone that he could fall in love with her too.

They move together – uuup and downnn, uuup and downnn, uuup and downnn, – calmly letting her slippery sex take his member to the hilt; sexual ecstasy saturating their veins as their hips gyrate concurrently.

“Are you hurting?” he double-checks, roaming a hand over her breasts and stomach, concerned with the comment she made earlier on when he started eating her out.

“God, no,” she replies with a heated tone, tucking him in with her elbows behind his head, pushing her breasts into his face.

“Tell me the moment you do,” says Sergio amidst his own hunger, fitting his chin on the valley between her busts to find her eyes so she knows that he means it.

Raquel nods, looking straight into his soul when she whimpers,

“Always.”

Sergio lets his eyes descent, bumping the tip of his nose against her nipples.

He opens his mouth to taste the left one, rejoicing in the softness of her skin.

Sergio licks around her stiff peak, soaking the whole areola surrounding it.

“Salva,” she wails like she always does when he first tastes her – like her mind keeps forgetting what it feels like until it remembers all at once.

She faces the ceiling, closing her fits around the ends of his short hair.

He smiles, substituting his mouth with his left thumb as his hand attaches itself to her other breast and he moves over to suck on her right nipple until the taut nub pokes the roof of his mouth.

Raquel pushes her upper body deep into his face – making Sergio thrust up higher to ensure he’s burying himself inside her, – cupping her under boob as if silently asking for more.

He closes his eyes, giving it all to her, squeezing one breast as he feeds on the other.

The thumb that isn’t busy flicking her left nipple travels up north, hovering over her mouth.

She opens to him and lavishes the pad with her saliva, sucking it in until his knuckles disappear.

The slurp of her mouth and pussy around different parts of him sends Sergio on a spiral of heat that forces him to hold back from orgasming.

His lips leg go of her breast as his right hand slides down between their bodies to find her turgid and moist clitoral hood.

He presses down on it without moving around because, as her hips circle his, she’s the one stimulating herself however she pleases.

“Absolute lack of coordination, my ass,” Raquel teases him, her seductive eyes shining with delight.

They bark out a laugh without discontinuing their movements.

Sergio never knew people could legitimately enjoy playfulness and comfort in bed beyond the haze of copulation.

Her feet sink to the mattress as he hooks his arms under her knees, lifting her and bringing her back down over and over again.

Their cadence is hastened now.

Through his hazy mind, Sergio elevates her hips as he also steps on the bed to start drilling his cock more strongly into her.

Her face drops in surprise and lust at the new angle, her head trashing side to side.

A low, hollow sound makes its way into their ears every time his hips meet her ass cheeks.

Sergio can see the vein on her forehead popping out as Raquel sinks onto him, intensifying the traction of sex against sex as he pushes back.

For full twenty minutes, they pound each other non-stop – mouths wide open, thighs burning, hips swinging, tongues tasting skin, teeth sinking deep.

When their stamina puts a halt on their thirst for each other, Raquel falls on her knees, chafing her breasts against the top of his shoulders and cheeks.

They hug each other, trying to catch their breaths, their hips still moving in sync but in a much more tamed rhythm.

Sergio buries his face in her mussed hair, his lips tasting the tiny freckles on her shoulders, his digits reading her secrets through the bumps of her vertebrae, the arch of her dainty waist, her curvy ass, her lean thighs, strumming the end of her spinal cord until her whole body shivers.

A grin creeps into his face.

Raquel is a universe waiting for him to explore.

She’s wrapped all around him – her fingerprints wandering through his scalp, digging into his damp neck, her sweet, musky scent in the air that he breathes, her raspberry kisses over his temple and ear lobe, her taut nipples brushing up against his, her nails rasping along the muscles of his back.

Exhaling a wistful moan, Raquel cocks a head to the side and opens her mouth, her delectable tongue slowly probing his lips open, rolling on his.

Sergio gets it now that this is no better or worse than how they loved each other the night before when she begged him to take her harder, faster.

This is just a different type of wanting, a different layer of yearning.

One he never experienced before.

Sergio intentionally applies some pressure right below her ribcage, watching her let out a small whimper as her head falls back.

The column of her throat displays itself to him – so elegant and irresistible, – so he bends over to trail his tongue across it, bump by bump.

Never one to let an opportunity pass her by, Raquel responds by digging her nails into his shoulder blades to the point of drawing red crescents. It stings in that way that makes his eyes roll to the back of his head. Sergio hopes the area is still sore tomorrow just so his mind can fly back to this moment right here every time he sits back on his chair.

Their lips meet again, lavishing each other but without a rush.

Sergio and Raquel duck their heads back and forth, left to right, moaning every fraction of a second their mouth are apart until they meet again.

Their noses brush halfway through each change of angle, prompting them to slow down and gaze at one another in passing every time, before diving in to deliberately explore each other's mouths in that sensual rhythm they like so much.

Their fingers interlace – palming sliding against palm, – the delicacy of hers an intriguing juxtaposition to his much rougher ones.

Sergio makes it a point to look her in the eye, for once not ashamed to speak out his emotions,

“Is this what making love feels like?”

Raquel lets out his name like an interjection underneath her breath, attaching her forehead to his, her face twisted in an expression that resembles pain every time he goes all the way in when he knows very well that it is raw pleasure.

 “Cariño,” she says it with such tenderness – and no one has ever called him that before, – cradling his face as she nods at his question, “This is it.”

Their famished mouths meet in a long, slow-going caress and let go with a pop so they can wrap their arms around each other, merging as one.

Sergio closes his eyes and absentmindedly trails his palms up and down her back,

“How does it feel for you?”

Oh, Raquel sighs, supporting the back of his neck with a loving touch,

“Full,” she twists her hips, her soaked channel squeezing his sturdy cock as she clamps down onto him. “Alive,” she continues, laying several kisses on his cheeks, her skin breaking out in goosebumps. “So sexy,” she doesn’t stop, aiming her lust-glazed eyes into his, “Safe to be myself.” Tasting his lips, she throws the question right back at him, “How do you feel?”

Sergio thinks of a million things he could say to that.

That she feels so tight and wet and hot around him; that he feels free, finally understood, like he’s not alone anymore.

He could say all that, but it doesn’t begin to cover the depth of his feelings for her.

Divesting himself of his defenses, Sergio confesses,

“Like it doesn’t matter how we met or who we are or what we are doing here,” he rests his left palm on her sternum, fitting perfectly between her breasts, right on top of where her heart is beating fast, “None of it matters because you’re with me.” He dives into her eyes in the hopes that, amidst all the disappointment that is to come once he vanishes from her life, she will remember these words, “And I swear, Raquel, I’m right here.” His right hand captures hers to lay it across his heart, keeping her gaze on his, “I’m right here with you and there’s nothing else, no one else.”

Sex has never felt like connection before.

It does now.

And Sergio is clinging to it as though he will lose himself completely once it’s over.

Raquel nods like she understands every single word that he utters, abbreviating everything he couldn’t quite express in twelve letters instead,

Estoy contigo.”

With a faint smile, she’s subverted his words to something else, something that holds a meaning of its own.

Their mouths attach but they are not exactly kissing, just moving impossibly closer and farther away each time the buries himself in her wet heat.

Sergio sprawls his palms around her ass with hunger, facilitating her up and down motions on his shaft, which is completely messed up with their juices.

Her hands prods at his shoulder as Raquel braces herself to counter his long and firm strokes.

Sergio and Raquel love each other unreservedly; their sweaty skins grazing up as they ride one another, moving in sensuous harmony.

She runs her hands across his beard, balancing her forehead on his, her teeth chattering as she struggles to keep her shuddering moans to herself.

Por favor,” Raquel begs, choking on a sob, her cheeks growing a fascinating shade of pink.

Sergio holds her eyes as he recurrently reaches for that sweet, hypersensitive spot inside of her, nodding desperately against her face, letting her know that he’s right at the edge with her.

As soon as his hands get lost into her hair, tugging fistfuls of her silky strands, he feels her tissues start to clench all around his length as Raquel reaches for release. Without closing their eyes – wide like saucers, taking everything in, both rendered completely speechless – Sergio tightens his grip on her to spill his seed straight into her walls with a guttural sound that he swallows, biting down hard, basking on the thrill of knowing that there is absolutely no barriers standing between them.

Sergio and Raquel climax at precisely the same time – a shared powerful orgasm surging through them with a turbulence similar to when a river meets the ocean.

Her body keeps on jerking as her vaginal sphincter relentlessly squeezes his corona.

His hips won’t stop twisting until he empties every drop of himself into her.

They bare their souls to each other, laying it all out, demanding one another’s attention with the irresistible gravity of a black hole.

The world goes dark as their frames relax, utterly spent, categorically boneless, ecstasy still emanating from their pores.

Raquel breathes into the crown of his head, raking her nails hard into the back of his neck.

Sergio ducks his head into the hollow between her chin and shoulder, letting his stubble graze her chest.

Her voice is soft when she whispers his name into the air.

His is hoarse when he replies hers against her skin.

Raquel and Sergio build a trail of light pecks across each other’s shoulders, ears, cheeks, the corner of their lips.

When their mouths finally meet, they kiss in a slow, sweet motion, chests heaving with the need for oxygen, just a smudging of lips.

After massaging her scalp one final time, Sergio lets his arms fall on top of her thighs, his fingers affectionately curving around the side of her luscious hips.

The tips of their noses bump against one another, eyelids dropped as if they are still assimilating everything that has happened in the last... however long they’ve been loving each other.

It feels like time has come to a stop.

Like there’s not even such a thing as time.

Sergio and Raquel exist in a galaxy of their own.

He doesn’t want this night to end; doesn’t want to leave this room.

Una preguntita,” Raquel professes flirtatiously, and he responds with two nods, getting ready to absorb her upcoming words, “Bath or shower?

Sergio smiles – this was not what he was expecting, – picking up his eyeglasses from her nightstand as he slides a hand across her back,

“Whatever you prefer.”

After a snug, long hug, they stride towards her bathroom in wobbly legs and interlaced fingers.

Sergio hangs by the doorsill, silently watching her.

A part of him wants to help while the other is just taking note of Raquel in her element.

He tries to memorize everything about this scene – her leaning over the wall and lifting a leg to turn the faucet on, looking for a towel, grabbing an extra toothbrush for him, unwrapping a brand new macadamia and shea butter soap bar, – burning the sight of every little thing she does, how she moves and what she looks like into his retinas.

At the edge of her tub, he spots an unfinished Lego piece and bends to pick it up with a smirk.

It’s a two-story dark grey building, with sturdy green window frames, a bench on the sidewalk and… a bold currency symbol stamped across the front door.

It’s a bank.

The irony does not go lost on him.

Raquel notices his interest and chuckles,

“She must have heard something on tv.”

With a sinking feeling at the pit of his stomach, Sergio reaches out to pick up a couple of loose pieces – holding back against completing the piece for her daughter – to sit a mini figure on the bench and add a post clock around the corner.

He catches Raquel shaking her head in amusement at him right before she throws herself under the shower.

Still pathetically standing in her small restroom for no reason, Sergio notices a foreign feeling taking over his chest – the same sensation that left him acutely uncomfortable when she kneeled down by her daughter’s bed – and the only way he can find to explain it is… he wants her.

He wants all of her.

The misanthrope who has learned to live self-sufficiently and has no way around kids wants to dig deeper into her life, prepare a steamy bath for her after a brutal shift, cook pasta together on Saturday nights, chat with her bubbly mother over a cafecito, sit right outside Paula’s bedroom door without them noticing just to hear Raquel reading fantastic tales to her little girl, challenge her on chest matches (watch her gloat when she wins and kiss her grumpy pout when she loses because she is that competitive though she swears that she does not care,) make love late at night after everyone else has gone to bed.

His bloodstream gets filled with an aching guilt because there is no way to place Andrés in that venue.

Because him, himself, will never belong there either.

Sergio closes his eyes and reaches around his head to grip the nape of his neck – where her hands have just been, – lulling himself back to reality.

There’s no point dwelling with impossibilities, and her gorgeous curves look even more enticing with the water cascading down on them, so he puts his glasses by the sink to join her under the hot spray.

They hug, soap up each other’s bodies, steal a touch here and there, fish for a kiss, and then two, and then three…

It’s warm and intimate and heady like when you’ve had one too many glasses.

With a parting soft kiss, they are done, patting their skins dry, more than ready to head to bed.

Sergio rubs the bridge of his nose before sliding his glasses back on, walking out of the bathroom as Raquel is lathering up lotion all over her body.

Lost in thoughts – disoriented by the smell of her shampoo in his hair; disoriented, truly, by the dimension of his feelings for her, – he heads back to the bedroom in search of his boxers.

As a tactic to buy time as he tries to slay this sense of finality within him, Sergio locates, folds, and places their clothes on her armchair. Still unsure what to do until Raquel returns, he busies himself with making the bed.

A precarious but appealing impulse suddenly hits him and Sergio finds it hard to dilute.

Uncharacteristically impulsive, he decides to shut his analytical brain down and let his intuition take the wheels if only for a few minutes.

Sergio fishes for his phone on the inside pocket of his suit jacket right by her badge.

He types until the aria ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ from Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore appears on the screen. Hitting play before changing his mind, he calmly walks towards the bed to place the device right where they’ve just loved each other.

Feeling her presence back in the room, Sergio looks to the side and lets his eyes travel appreciatively over her curves. Raquel is wearing a black tank top and a fresh pair of black panties that wrap around her hip, barely containing her beautiful ass, like shorter shorts.

Her gaze is also sweeping over his body – finding him wearing nothing but his black boxers and eyeglasses, – before facing him with a frown and a smile which is filled with questions.

His heartbeats are stinging as the head of the heist extends out a hand to the inspector who leads the investigation of that case.

Sergio holds his breath all the while they decrease the distance between them, releasing it only when Raquel grasps his offered, slightly trembling hand.

He kisses her delicate knuckles in reverence as a way to explain what he doesn’t know how to verbalize.

They look at each other with that quiet intensity of a volcano which is about to erupt.

Sergio places her small right hand right above his speeding heart, bracing her wrist with his left palm.

His right arm snakes around her back as her left hand wraps around his neck.

They start waltzing leisurely in the compact pentagon-like space between her bed, her door, the threshold that leads to her restroom, her desk, and her armchair.

Her eyes are smiling, her eyelids a little watery.

To the sound of Pavarotti, Sergio operates mechanically – trying to remember the lessons, the order in which his limbs are supposed to move – while Raquel dances gracefully.

They attempt no tricks but do grow more confident with each passing note.

That is the case until Sergio takes a vacillating step, prompting their frames to fall out of rhythm, both of her hands rushing to clutch at his trapezius as his arms draw her hips closer to his.

She does not laugh this time.

His cheeks do not flush with embarrassment.

Raquel stares at him as she carefully steps on his feet so that their heights are almost comparable, so that their bodies are closer, wrapping his shoulders in a warm, tight embrace.

Such is the circle of life.

Sergio gathers her up into his arms, swinging their bodies side to side in the middle of her bedroom at two in the morning with nothing but their sleepwear, their heartbeats falling in sync once more.

For once, Sergio has no plan.

Before his overthinking mind can wander away from this moment, her voice makes its way into his ear,

“Confession time?” Raquel paraphrases him, her breath hot and damp against his neck, making his body hairs light up. Sergio hums his reply and she discloses, “I want you to wake up in my arms.” Her nose drags across his ear lobe and he asks himself if their roles have switched and she is the one who is afraid to look at his face when she speaks, “I want to be the one and only, Salva.”

He wants to tell her she already is.

But, truly, there’s only one possible answer that Sergio can offer back to her.

He leans back to hold the side of her face, tightening the grip of his arm around her waist to ensure that Raquel is looking at nothing else but deep into his eyes when he confides in a low, husky tone,

Estoy contigo.

Loving each other in less than a week, Raquel and Sergio have already designed a vocabulary of their own.

With those two otherwise ordinary words, he’s letting her know that there’s nowhere else in the world he would rather be.

She tastes of minty toothpaste and salty tears and something sweet that he only knows Raquel Murillo to possess.

A taste he knows he won’t find anywhere else.

Something like home.

Eventually, the scent of her on his red quilt will fade.

For tonight, he has her.

He has her.

Unimaginable as that may be.

Undeserving as he is.

It doesn’t take them long to roll under the covers together – limbs and hearts and souls completely intertwined.

Raquel sleeps peacefully, dreaming with the beginning of an unexpected love story.

Sergio overthinks until sunrise, haunted by the upcoming ending of one.

 

fin.