Title: Forgive Us Our Trespasses ... If Only For a Moment
Author: Pink Rabbit Productions (pinkrabbit@altfic.com)
Disclaimer: It all belongs to other folks, like ABC, and Im thieving scum, but Im honest thieving scum, and if they want to sue me, really, Ive got nothing to take, so it would be a waste of effort. Meanwhile, it contains all girl nookie, so if thats going to offend you, make you want to offend me, get either one of us arrested, or cause some other similar havoc, such as the earth spinning off its axis, please, just make life easy for one and all and give it a miss.
Pairing: Bianca/Lena
Summary: Nights in jail were never like this.

"Lena, I don't trust you, and I'm not going to let you out of my sight until I hear back from my Uncle Jack, so I guess that means you'll be staying here tonight."

Her eyes wide, Lena just stared at Bianca for a long moment, uncertain she'd heard correctly, the words rattling around in her head as she translated and retranslated them, not quite believing the meaning her brain kept coming up with. She was generally comfortable with English, but she knew she did occasionally miss the subtleties of the language, and she double, then triple checked herself, hoping against hope that this was one of those times. Unfortunately, it didn't seem likely. Finally, she spoke up, sounding hesitant and a little confused even to her own ears. "What? As your ... prisoner?" she questioned, pausing briefly before getting the last word out, the idea almost too absurd for words.

Bianca flushed uncomfortably, abruptly feeling vaguely foolish and resenting the emotion---though not nearly as much as she resented the fact that just the slightest look from the other woman made her want to believe her every word, melt and cling and lose herself in velvet flesh and doe brown eyes. She made a sharp, cutting motion with one hand, purposely hardening her voice and her eyes. "Well, it's me or the police." Bianca glared pointedly. "Your choice." Hold onto your anger, she reminded herself, you have to or you'll be right back where she wants you---under her spell.

Lena reared back ever so slightly, flinching as though slashed with a blade instead of a dagger-sharp voice. She looked away, her chest aching, the sudden tightness in her throat making it hard to respond. "Obviously," she whispered, drawing the word out before continuing in halting syllables, "I don't want ... to be arrested." She pushed down the near-instinctive rush of sheer terror, torn between the desire to cringe and sink into herself at the shame that came with knowing her actions had brought them to this impasse, and the nearly irresistible desire to grab Bianca by the shoulders and shake her until she admitted the truth---that it was love between them, the rest of the world, and the problems it inserted into their affairs be damned. That she had grown up in a culture where police were not synonymous with truth, justice, and the American way, but rather political imprisonment, beatings, and indeterminate sentences wasn't helping much either. But Bianca had no way of understanding any of that, and she had every reason not to trust, no matter the love between them.

Theirs was not a simple relationship.

Staring at Bianca in an effort to understand what was going on behind eyes that were now shuttered and unfriendly, Lena cocked her head to one side, then finally held out her hands in a purposely submissive gesture, wrists turned inward, hands loosely closed. "Perhaps you would feel safer if you tied me to the radiator," she suggested quietly, the words intended to make a point. She knew perfectly well Bianca would do no such thing, but she wanted to make her see the inherent idiocy of the current situation.

A dull flush crawling over her cheekbones, Bianca swallowed hard and looked away. "Don't tempt me," she growled, not liking the way the other woman's quiet comment left her feeling very young and rather gauche.

Lena didn't drop her hands, simply continued to watch Bianca, her expression enough to make the younger woman cringe with unwanted and unasked for guilt. "Look," the younger woman snapped at last, "I'm not going to tie you up." She looked up, glaring angrily, her look saying quite eloquently that she was aware of the ploy.

"But I might try to make some daring escape," Lena said practically. She earned another glare for the subtle sarcasm.

"Not unless you want to be arrested," the younger woman bit out. "Because don't doubt that if you try to ... or call someone ... or otherwise play some game, I will see you in jail."

That time Lena did drop her hands, flinching as though she'd had the wind knocked out of her, shoulders slumping in defeat. "Of course you will," she said under her breath, then her voice dropped another notch until it was barely audible. "You hate me." Her eyes rolled ceilingward and she had to swallow hard to fight the threat of tears. Suddenly light-headed and shaky legged, she all but collapsed onto the edge of the bed, sitting hard and leaning forward, elbows braced on her knees, face hidden in her hands.

Rather new to this whole concept of caring what others thought---in general and of her specifically---Lena was beginning to wonder if it was really worth all the pain and self-doubt, not that self-doubt was exactly a new phenomenon, but normally she managed to ignore it much more efficiently. Working for a man like Michael Cambias required a great deal of rationalizing and long practice had made for considerable skill on that front. She looked up through her hands, felt her stomach do a barrel roll as she remembered time spent together---from friendly, lighthearted meals to scalding lovemaking.

Definitely worth it, Lena decided even as she tried to navigate a way back to a place that would let them regain the sweet togetherness that represented the best time of her life. Letting her head fall forward again, she sighed heavily, cursing the situation and her own foolishness. God, why hadn't she seen that it was a setup? She'd noticed Bianca's odd mood, but just chalked it up to the newness of being lovers, and the other woman's relative inexperience and youth.

Bianca stared at the other woman's downbent head, hating herself for the pity she couldn't help but feel. She wanted to hate, she really did, but as she looked at Lena, all she could think of was the timbre of whispered words of affection echoing in her ears, the feel of silky lips on her skin, and velvety skin on her lips, shared sweat, and even more shared laughter.

God, how the hell was she supposed to hate when all she could think of was how Lena had made her feel more loved for those hours than anyone or anything that had come before her?

Clamping down on a traitorous wave of sympathy, Bianca turned away, folding her arms across her chest as she muttered, "I'll ask Boyd if he's got something you can borrow to sleep in." She tamped down a mental image of all the flesh that would be left bare if Lena borrowed something of hers given the relative height difference between them, then turned to leave only to turn back, one hand outstretched as something occurred to her. "Your cell phone." She'd almost forgotten there was more than one way Lena might hatch some plan to escape the retribution headed her way.

Looking up, Lena blinked, taking a moment to understand what Bianca wanted, her mind on anything but the practicalities of being a prisoner. After a moment, she reached into her bag and withdrew the tiny phone to hand it over, then watched as Bianca removed the battery before handing it back. She stared at it for a moment, then shoved the useless piece of expensive plastic back into her purse. Not that it would have done her any good anyway. Warning Michael was only likely to make things even worse, and she had no desire to protect him anyway. And after everything her mother had already been through, she didn't want to worry or frighten her.

Massaging her eye sockets in a failed attempt to slow the headache raging in her frontal lobe, Lena listened as Bianca rustled about the room, looking up just in time to see her lover---or was that now irretrievably her former lover, she wondered---unplug the cordless phone that sat on the nightstand beside the bed. Bianca wordlessly tucked it under her arm and slipped out, leaving Lena where she was, wishing she was almost anywhere else.

No, that wasn't what she wished. Being with Bianca, even angry and hateful was better than being without her. She just wished she could find a way to undo the damage she'd done. Half turning, she retrieved one of the pillows off the head of the bed, clutching it tightly in her arms to bury her face in its softness, the sweet scent of Bianca's shampoo and perfume filling her senses until she wanted to just curl up and hide under the covers. God, could this get any worse, she wondered grimly, then reminded herself that she still had a chance. Bianca hadn't turned her into the police. There was still hope.

* * * * * *

Boyd Larraby stared at Bianca, his blink rate increasing exponentially as he digested what she'd told him. "You ... uh ... you..." he stammered at last. Normally, he was better at giving wise council, but this was just too surreal, leaving him without the faintest notion of what to say.

Myrtle Fargate had no such problems. "You can't be serious," she broke in when he appeared to completely lose the ability to speak, simply staring at his friend as though she'd lost her mind. Her eyes turned in the direction of Bianca's room, though with Boyd's bedroom door closed, she couldn't actually see it. "You can't keep that girl prisoner." Myrtle and Boyd traded a look that would have been comical under different circumstances, then turned their attention back to Bianca in tandem.

"I'm not keeping her prisoner," Bianca insisted defensively. "But I can't risk letting her out of my sight until we know more about why she stole that disk." She turned a pointed look on Boyd who appeared very uncertain about the whole proposition.

He shrugged after a moment, clearly uncomfortable, but well aware that she had a point. "No," he admitted after another moment, "but still...."

"You just cannot lock someone up in your room," Myrtle filled in when he didn't continue. She drew breath to lay down the law about what was and was not allowable in her home, with the idea that turning one of the upstairs bedrooms into Sing Sing with chintz wallpaper was firmly on the unacceptable list when her youngest border held up a hand, halting her.

"I'm not locking her up," Bianca insisted, though she couldn't help but remember those moments of unwanted guilt when Lena had held out her hands as if she expected her former lover to latch handcuffs into place. If all went according to plan, others might be doing just that, and Bianca nearly relented under the wave of horror that swept over her when she considered that image. It was probably exactly what she deserved, she reminded herself. "I'm just ... just making sure she can't make any more trouble. It's not like I'm tying her to the radiator, just making sure she knows that if she tries to leave, I'll call Uncle Jack again and have her arrested." That's it, she reminded herself, use your anger. You're Erica Kane's daughter and she deserves whatever she gets.

"But, Bianca--" Boyd said quietly.

"It's decided," Bianca cut him off, while Myrtle looked back and forth between the two friends, picking up the subtle undercurrents, suddenly aware that there was more going on here than she knew about.

"All right, what are you two up to?" the older woman demanded sharply.

"Just making sure my mother is protected," Bianca responded tartly. She looked at Boyd again. "So can she use something of yours?"

A moment passed and then Boyd snapped his mouth shut and nodded. "I think I've got something," he muttered at last and moved away to dig through a nearby dresser.

Grabbing Bianca's arm, Myrtle tugged the girl aside. "All right. Something's going on here, and I want to know what it is." In spite of everything, she liked Lena, and was certain she'd seen genuine emotion in her eyes when she looked at Bianca. The younger girl was angry---and with good reason---but Myrtle was far from certain that things were as simple as she suspected Bianca wanted them to be. Despite growing up with Erica Kane for a mother, she could be remarkably idealistic and inclined to see things in very neatly delineated black and white. Myrtle had lived long enough to understand that most situations were painted in far more shades of grey---and even Technicolor some days---than that.

Bianca waved it aside. "I told you, she stole a disk from mom's safe, and I need to give Uncle Jack time to check out her story before I decide what to do."

The younger woman wouldn't quite meet Myrtle's gaze, and the older woman glanced over at Boyd who was still shuffling through his things and steadfastly refusing to look her way. Bianca wasn't one to lie, but she wasn't telling the whole truth either. Another quick glance at Boyd confirmed that he was still paying far too much attention to the contents of his underwear drawer. She considered grabbing both of them by the necks and demanding an explanation but Bianca was in bullheaded mode. She could be remarkably like her mother on the rare occasion she got that glint in her eye, and Myrtle had learned through hard won experience with Erica that at those times, it was best to just give the Kane women their head. Hopefully, Bianca wouldn't do so much damage that it couldn't be undone. "Be careful," she said at last, her voice soft and a little chiding. "Revenge is seldom nearly as enjoyable as we expect it to be."

"I'm not--"

"Here, this should do," Boyd interrupted as he shoved a pair of well-worn sweat pants and a t-shirt into Bianca's hands, cutting her off before she could get out the thoroughly unbelievable denial she'd been planning. He stared at Bianca as her hands closed on the soft fabric. "Are you sure about this?"

For just a moment she started to crumble and then she remembered the lies and the sight of Lena breaking into her mother's safe and stealing the disk. Slender shoulders straightened and she stiffened her spine. "I'll do what I have to." She tugged on the clothes hard enough to remove them from Boyd's unresisting grasp, then turned on her heel and all but fled.

When the girl was gone, Myrtle turned to look at Boyd, her expression worried. "Just how deep in is she getting herself?"

The chemist had the good graces to look uncomfortable. "I don't know, Myrtle. There's a lot going on, and I think she thinks she's handling it, but--"

"She's not even close," Myrtle said with absolute confidence. She knew Bianca well enough to be certain---even without knowing the details---that she was in over her head.

"No," Boyd sighed, "I don't think she is."

* * * * * *

Intensely aware of every sound of rustling fabric behind her, Bianca closed her eyes tightly, desperately trying not to think about the elegant body being revealed piece by piece, then hidden away again in borrowed sweats. The problem was that only made it easier for her brain to replay their night together, using the backs of her closed eyelids like a movie screen, the memory of the flex and play of graceful flesh a reminder of everything they'd shared painted in chiaroscuro shades of light and shadow. She clasped her hands together tightly in a vain effort to stop them from trembling and tightened her chest muscles in the struggle to keep her breathing slow and normal sounding. It didn't work. How in the hell was she going to get through this?

Anger, Bianca reminded herself. She was gut wrenchingly angry, and that was the trick. Just keep reminding herself of all the lies and the way Lena had played her. Keep that fire fed and blazing because if it banked even a little bit she wasn't going to be able to keep up the illusion that she was anything but still desperately in love. She took a deep breath, let it out on a slow count in an effort to slow her pulse as the sounds behind her faded away into utter silence. Long moments passed until Bianca could barely resist the urge to whirl and check what was going on. "Lena?" she said at last, her voice sounding far less confident than she would have preferred. She heard the heavy rasp of a deep breath being drawn. She wasn't the only one affected by this strange dance fate had forced between them.

"I'm ready," Lena sighed on a sibilant gust of air.

Bianca turned, then momentarily froze as she encountered a downbent head and a submissively slouched, rangy frame, Lena's normal, graceful carriage having given way to a dull, exhausted slump. For a moment, the younger woman couldn't think straight for the desire to take the other woman in her arms and offer whatever comfort she could. It didn't help that Lena was possibly the only woman in the world who could look that good in Boyd's oversized castoffs, her hair tousled, one shoulder bared where the neckline had slid to the side, lean curves hinted at, but not revealed by worn sweats.

No, no, and no, Bianca reminded herself. Lena had attacked Enchantment and, by extension, its CEO and her mother, Erica Kane. Pity and comfort were the last things she deserved. And, beautiful as she was, desirable was the last thing she should be considered.

"So am I to be locked in the closet or the basement?" Lena questioned, interrupting Bianca's tortured thoughts.

Struggling to maintain her self-righteous anger and ignore the stomach twisting guilt caused by the defeated sarcasm in the other woman's voice, Bianca snorted softly. "Of course not," she dismissed.

One dark eyebrow twitched upward as Lena considered that response. Bianca could almost see the gears turning in her head, then dark eyes fell to the floor with a speculative look.

As tempting as it was to make the other woman sleep there, Bianca wasn't quite up to it. "Look, the bed's more than big enough for both of us," she snapped before she could think better of it. Oh yeah, that was a good idea, she thought even as she struggled to remind herself that it was a very big bed.

In an instant, a second eyebrow joined the first in its quest to reach Lena's hairline, her expression a melding of confused and hopeful.

"Nothing's going to happen," Bianca cut that thought off with brutal efficiency. Despite the tight coil of tension deep in the pit of her stomach and the sudden flash of fantasy playing like background music in her brain, she had absolutely no intention of going there. No way. That way lay madness, total surrender, and utter doom. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Now if she could just forget that along with all of those obvious negatives there would also be mind blowing physical pleasure, an unbelievable sense of safety, and the kind of desire and passion even poets had yet to dream about.

Bianca sighed softly. This really wasn't fair any way she looked at it. She suddenly noted Lena watching her closely, luminous eyes wide and unfathomably deep as she contemplated something or other. You don't want to know, she decided practically. Knowing will only make it that much harder. Grabbing for the nightclothes stacked on her dresser, she turned to make a panicked exit. "I'll be back in a couple of minutes." She hardened her gaze, doing her damnedest to mimic her mother at her most contentious---a state she'd seen on more than one occasion. "And don't try to go anywhere."

This time there was neither defiance, nor sarcasm in Lena's tone, just a hopeless sort of hurt. "Where would I go ... when you are here?"

There was absolutely nothing Bianca could say to that. Part of her wanted to scoff and mock, twisting the knife in a way she knew would earn her mother's approval, but the softer, gentler side of her nature wouldn't allow it. In spite of everything, there was a part of her that wanted to believe and keeping that thickheaded need in check took all of her willpower. In the end, she just turned on her heel and left without another word.

When Bianca returned several minutes later, she found the lights doused. For a brief moment, she braced herself as if expecting to be leapt upon, but as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she realized that Lena had slid under the covers---taking the same side of the bed she'd slept on during their one night together---and curled into a tight fetal position, her face buried in the pillow clutched tightly in her arms. She looked far younger than her years, like a child hiding from imagined monsters stalking the night.

Which I suppose makes me the monster, Bianca mused, not liking the mental image she suddenly had of herself.

No. She cut off the latest traitorous wave of pity. It was an emotion she simply couldn't afford.

With a soft sigh, she slid into the opposite side of the bed, curled into a ball facing outward so that they were back to back.

And lay there. Her breathing tight and uncomfortable, painfully aware of the shared body heat radiating under the thick quilt even though no flesh was touching. How unfair was it that even knowing what Lena was and what she'd done, Bianca wanted to roll over and take that body in her arms, wanted to touch all the exotic, erotic places she'd just barely begun to learn, and hear the soft sounds of praise and pleading uttered in the sexiest accent she'd ever heard?

How unfair?

Very unfair.

Growling a curse under her breath, she pushed up on one hand, plumped her pillow, then lay back down and yanked the quilt back up over her shoulders, settling in with grim determination. Sleep. She would just sleep and then wake up in the morning, and within a few hours it would all be over.

Yeah, right, that was likely to happen.

So she lay there. Feigning sleep. Badly. Or at least it seemed to her that the signs that she was wide awake and suffering the tortures of the damned had to be obvious to anyone in the same county, much less lying in the same bed. Wondering if Lena was lying there enjoying her power, the younger woman felt a burst of resentment for the ease with which the Polish woman had cast her spell. Smart, sophisticated, beautiful. It had probably been nothing more than a game to her. A game with a profit motive. Monopoly, but with hearts traded instead of properties and railroads. Great. So did that make her Mediterranean Avenue or Boardwalk? Considering the value of Boyd's formula, she ought to at least be Marvin Gardens, she supposed.

Only it now it was Go Straight to Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.

And considering everything, why the hell did that thought have to cause such a sick lump in the pit of her stomach? She should have been happy downright thrilled even that Lena and Michael would get their comeuppance. And in Michael's case, she was. But when it came to Lena....

When it came to Lena, she just couldn't take the same pleasure in the idea of a cell door being slammed shut.

It hurt too much and left her dizzy and bleeding even though she knew it had to be done. Sad but true, despite everything, she was still in love with the other woman.

Speaking of unfair. Though it did pretty much fit in with the disastrous pattern that was her love life. Nineteen and already forced to consider the likelihood that maybe she'd be better off just remaining single. Apparently she'd inherited her mother's luck when it came to love and sex.

Musing on the cosmic curse that seemed to hang over her head, she couldn't help but think that whatever gods were in charge of such things had a rather perverse sense of humor. There she was with great taste in men, and lousy taste in women, so of course she had to be gay. She supposed it contrasted quite neatly with any number of straight friends she'd had who had wonderful, supportive, go-to-the-wall-for-you, girlfriends frequently her and lousy, rotten, backstabbing boyfriends.

It occurred to her that, contrary to the notion of original sin, sex and love weren't so much god's eternal punishment on humankind as his twisted prank. Well, she sincerely hoped he was having a good laugh at her expense because somebody certainly ought to and, God knew, she was pretty short on the laugh factor.

She was still musing on the pathetic, yet perversely black-humored nature of her love life when she felt a hint of movement on the other side of the bed, then heard the rustle of the quilt. She started to turn only to freeze when she realized Lena was easing free of the bed. Suspicion suddenly uppermost in her mind, Bianca froze, barely even breathing.

If she tried to leave or to get to a phone to warn Michael Bianca wasn't sure what she'd do. Call Uncle Jack she supposed, and let the chips fall where they may. She tensed, eyes slitted open as she tracked Lena's progress around the end of the bed by the faint shadows cast on the walls. Like any good thief, she moved on light feet, so there was no sound. Bianca fully expected her to make for the door, but she didn't appear and it took the younger woman a moment to realize that Lena had paused.

Silently turning her head just enough to spot her former lover, a hint of a frown touched Bianca's expression as she made out the lean shadow standing in front of the window that looked out onto Myrtle's garden, apparently just staring out at a moonlight-kissed world. Her arms were loosely crossed in front of her, her posture slumped. As Bianca watched, Lena simply stood there for a long time, then finally sank down onto the window seat, her back to one side wall, feet up on the narrow platform. She wrapped her arms around her folded legs and leaned forward, resting her cheek on her upthrust knees, apparently just staring out at the garden.

The sob came several moments later, hard enough to rattle her slender frame, the actual sound soft and gasping, though easily recognizable to someone who'd cried as many tears as Bianca Montgomery.

It's just the fear, the younger woman told herself, remembering the terror in brown eyes when Lena had thought she was on the verge of arrest. She'd clearly been scared to death of the payback for everything she'd done.

Another hard shuddering sob, then Lena buried her face in her knees, muffling the small sounds, though Bianca could still see the hard tremors that shook her narrow frame. Except it didn't really seem to matter why she was hurting so much, didn't seem to matter at all that she deserved any pain as retribution for the things she'd done. Seeing her in such agony made Bianca hurt right along with her.

Somehow managing to both crumple and curl tighter into herself at the same time, Lena clutched harder at her folded legs as she collapsed sideways, leaning heavily against the window, still wracked by hard shudders.

Without planning to, Bianca slipped, unnoticed, from bed, then stood silently watching the heart-rending scene. She wanted to hate, wanted to summon harsh words that would rip and tear the way she knew would please her mother's sense of vengeance---and her own to a lesser degree---but faced with that kind of misery, she just couldn't do it.

Hell, who was she kidding? She couldn't even pretend to want to do it. She stepped closer, and stood perfectly still, simply watching. Finally, she saw a hand---seemingly disembodied, though she knew perfectly well it was her own---reach out and tentatively brush the silky lock of hair at Lena's temple back. The delicate gesture sparked another ragged shudder in the crying woman, then suddenly she unfolded an arm from its cramped position around her legs, blindly reaching out and sliding it around Bianca's hips. There was no thought to the gesture, only desperation as Lena turned toward Bianca, burying her face in a slender hip and hiding there like a frightened child.

Within moments, hot tears had soaked into the girl's thin pajama bottoms, burning her skin everywhere they touched. "Shhhh," she breathed, the sound soft and soothing, while her hand continued stroking and gently ruffling impossibly soft hair. She knew she should push Lena away and reject any closeness, but standing there in the darkness everything was simple and primal, just two bodies in need of closeness and comfort. As she continued tenderly petting silky hair, Lena seemed to calm and relax, the hard tremors fading into tiny twitches, then finally stopping completely. Finally, she sighed heavily, her breath heating Bianca's skin through thin cotton.

Suddenly, it was Bianca's turn to shudder, though for a completely different reason, as a frisson of awareness made its way down her spine. The hand that had been petting lightly over the surface of Lena's hair curled slightly, slipping deeper into the silky strands and shaping to the back of her head. Even knowing it probably wasn't real, that she was being played one more time, she couldn't tamp down the hot, coursing flood that slid through her veins.

Bianca felt the shift in Lena's breathing and then the hand at her hip slid higher, finding the waistband on the light tank top she wore and tugging upward. Bianca might have been an old soul, but she was still blessed---or cursed, depending on how you looked at it---with a nineteen year-old's body and hormones to match, and when Lena turned more toward her and soft lips filled in the gap between her shirt and pajamas, the resulting flood of molten lava in her veins nearly took her to her knees.

Even as she followed the instinctive impulse to draw closer to her lover, Lena knew she was making a tactical error, one that she would have avoided were she all the things that Bianca accused her of being. Were she divorced from any emotion or hard and uncaring where the younger woman was concerned, she wouldn't have needed the care and comfort that only Bianca could offer, wouldn't have felt the driving need to prove the truth of her love even though she knew instinctively that Bianca would think she was attempting to manipulate the situation. But there was still a part of her that was convinced that the younger woman would feel the sincerity of emotion in her every touch. If they could just be together, then nothing else could possibly matter. She pushed the thin tank top a little higher, lips fluttering tiny kisses over Bianca's stomach, feeling the flex and play of taut muscle, then the soft vibration of a low moan as a slender hand tightened in her hair.

Bianca was here, touching her, had come to her and offered comfort. There had to be a way to salvage what they had, a way that she could prove herself. "Please," Lena groaned after several minutes of the fluttering caresses. She leaned more heavily against Bianca, her cheek pressed against the warmth of her stomach, hands clinging at her hips, feeling seared from the inside out by the heat their closeness generated.

A long moment of terse silence followed, then Bianca's voice swirled around Lena. "It won't change anything," the younger woman whispered, though there was a quaver in her voice, as though she was trying to convince herself.

Leaning away from the comforting warmth of Bianca's body, Lena tipped her head up, everything she felt showing in her eyes, lips parted faintly, so scared she could barely breathe. One hand was under Bianca's shirt, her fingers spread along the striated curve of her ribs so she felt the quiver of muscles, and the hitch as Bianca's breath caught. She didn't believe her lover, not about this. The younger woman was honest to a fault, but she was lying with the best of them if she tried to say it wouldn't matter if they made love. She stroked the pad of her thumb along the curve of Bianca's ribs, well aware of the delicate tremors caused by even that faint caress.

Bianca stared down at her former lover, trapped by the look in eyes that gleamed nearly black in the faint light, so soft and loving that it felt like someone reached inside of her and grabbed her heart, squeezing until she could barely breathe. Her mother would be furious and disappointed, but at the same time, Bianca didn't have the wherewithal to simply walk away from that pleading look.

Particularly not when it meant sliding back between sheets that still radiated leftover body heat, and smelled of the soft perfume that belonged to the Polish woman alone.

"It won't change anything," Bianca repeated as though those words would save her from the flood of emotion rushing through her veins, "won't mean I believe you."

Lena reached up and Bianca tracked her advance with dark eyes, unable to tear her gaze away from the elegance and grace of that long, fine-boned hand. By the time the caress reached her cheek, she'd already imagined it a thousand different ways, none of them as intense as that faint, heated contact.

"Then believe this," Lena urged, her voice low and intense, her accent thicker than normal.

Her skin so sensitive she imagined she could feel the very swirl of Lena's fingerprints, Bianca had to fight a moan as the velvety touch trailed along her cheek, followed the line of her jaw, then trickled down the line of her throat. Nothing in her life had prepared her for the twisting thread of need that made its way through every nerve ending in her body, stretching taut until it threatened to make her implode from within.

No, that was wrong. One thing had prepared her. One experience. One night. One woman.

All of it so intense and overwhelming that it left love, anger, need, lust, fury, resentment, and a thousand other emotions all bound up together until Bianca barely knew whether she was coming or going. Especially with that delicate touch making its way along the ridge of her collarbone. That was making it very hard to remember all the reasons this was a bad idea, things like the betrayal, her mother's disapproval, Lena's affair with Michael Cambias.

Her stomach clenched, knotted, and spun with that last thought, momentarily pushing everything else aside and reminding her of the anger that logically went with their situation. Well, no, not pushing everything aside, just everything other than the anger and burning arousal.

Gentle fingers followed the neckline of Bianca's shirt, stroking her upper chest lightly and drawing heat trails on her skin. She didn't stop to think after that, just tightened her hold on silky hair and ducked her head, resentment of the lust she couldn't resist making her touch rough and the kiss that followed far harsher than any that had come before. Almost instantly, she felt soft lips break from her own as the hand on her chest rose to cup along the side of her face.

"No," Lena whispered, her tone intense, not angry, but gently chiding and a little hurt.

Bianca pulled back ever so slightly, staring down into wounded, brown eyes, shaking as she recognized the aggression in her own actions.

Lena stroked Bianca's cheek, the pad of her thumb rubbing lightly. "Never like that," she pleaded. "Not between you and I."

"No," the younger woman exhaled, the fury sliding away in a second. Whatever bitterness lay between them, that wasn't what she wanted. Her hand gentled where it was threaded into dark silk strands, even as her stomach sank. She didn't know what to do. Her body wanted one thing, her mind another, while her emotions were at war over at least three or four more choices. There were no easy answers, especially when she wasn't even sure of the questions.

Lena stirred, but didn't press, giving Bianca time.

"I don't know..." Bianca croaked at last, her voice sounding rough and unsteady to her own ears, "...don't know what ... to do...." Inexperienced as she was, she didn't mean it literally and they both knew it. Bianca knew perfectly well how to touch and caress, where to kiss, and had already begun mapping all the spots on the other woman's body that made her shiver and moan. No, it was a more complex statement than it seemed on the surface and she was oddly relieved to see understanding in dark eyes.

The hand on Bianca's cheek slid around, threading under her hair to curve to the back of her neck, tugging lightly. "Can't we just forget ... for a little while?" Lena breathed when their lips were scant inches apart. She searched Bianca's eyes hungrily, seeking and finding a reflection of the rich, irresistible tapestry of emotion that burned in her own breast. "Pretend we're the only ones in the world ... that none of the rest of it even exists?"

"Lena..." Bianca exhaled, still trying to resist the melting waves of heat pulsing outward from the clenched pit of roiling need that was as much centered in her heart as her body.

It was the softly uttered, "Please," that was Bianca's undoing.

Dark eyes slid closed, and the younger woman wavered gently on her feet, momentarily disoriented by the intensity of her response. Finally, she nodded, unresisting as the hand at the back of her neck drew her even closer. Later, perhaps she would tell herself she'd done it simply to return the favor and use Lena the way Lena had used her. Maybe she would even manage to convince herself that she did it to twist the knife and make things that much worse during the events that had already been set in motion. In reality, there was only one real cause, no matter what rationalization she came up with later. She was still hopelessly in love with the other woman.

When their lips met this time, there was no anger, just tenderness and desire.

The kiss started slow, lips dancing together and gaining in intensity until both women were breathing hard, their flesh prickling from the friction and pressure of their mouths moving together. Bianca moaned low in her throat, hands skimming along the breadth of slender shoulders, then down the length of graceful arms. She felt Lena turn more toward her and drop her feet to the floor, then gentle hands reached for the bottom edge of her shirt. Bianca leaned down, arms rising to make things easier as the unwanted garment was peeled away from her body to make way for the warm hands that fitted themselves to the curve of her waist, slid upward along the trail of her ribs and finally curved to the underside of her breasts. A low moan escaped her lips as the seated woman leaned forward, her breath touching super-sensitized skin a tiny beat before her lips.

And then Lena was pushing to her feet, lips dancing a playful minuet up the smaller woman's torso as she straightened. Her breathing suddenly strained, Bianca's head fell back, her hands finding and clinging to Lena's shoulders. Lena's thumbs brushed the outer curve of her breasts, then continued in a slow arc that skimmed over velvety flesh, slowing where her skin contrasted with pale coral tips.

Whimpering softly, Bianca leaned into her lover's body, unresisting when a gentle hand fitted itself to the small of her back, pulling her close. Their lips met again and soon Bianca found herself moving with Lena, their bodies perfectly fitted together during the slow waltz to the bed. Once they were there and falling into its welcoming softness, Lena thrust one hand out, her palm sinking into the surface of the mattress, the hand on Bianca's back helping to slow her descent as she climbed down with her lover, straddling narrow hips without breaking their kiss.

Her heart racing in her chest, body trembling with the force of her arousal, Lena leaned over Bianca, every kiss and caress meant to show her lover the depth of her feelings. She'd said the words, but Bianca didn't seem to believe, so she could only pray she'd recognize the truth of their bodies touching and knowing each other. Her weight braced on her hands, she trailed her lips down the graceful arch of her lover's throat, nuzzled the slope of her shoulder, shivered as blunted nails dug into her back and shoulders through Boyd's t-shirt.

"Please," Bianca whimpered, moving restlessly beneath Lena. It felt so damn good, but she wanted more, wanted to feel bare flesh on bare flesh. She skated her hands down Lena's chest, brailing the shape of her body before catching the bottom edge of the borrowed shirt. Gathering the soft fabric, she got it to mid chest then tugged lightly, the gesture guiding Lena to duck her head, raising one arm and then the other in an effort to be rid of the garment. Moments later, it was flung aside, forgotten, and then Lena sank down, stretching out above Bianca, weight braced on her elbows, their bodies wedded as their mouths bonded once again. Restless and hungry, they moved together, the sweet friction of flesh on flesh making them both shiver and pant. Trading kisses and caresses, exploring at will, nary an inch of revealed flesh was left untouched.

Desperate to please her lover, Lena pushed up on one hand, fluttering silky kisses everywhere she could reach, hunting out all of the erogenous zones she'd studied so carefully during their previous time together. If she could just show Bianca that her pleasure was everything, then maybe the younger woman could find it in her to accept that she really was loved. Lena teased the warm curve of perfect breasts, made a study of the way muscle and sinew blended one into another, dusted her lips along fine curves, while she trailed her free hand here and there. "I love you," she whispered almost inaudibly, her breath playing over heated flesh. A quick tug loosened the tie on Bianca's pajamas, then she pushed them down, working the thin fabric lower as she dusted delicate kisses along the arch of her pelvis.

"God." Barely intelligible, the single syllable escaped from Bianca's lips in a soft burst of sound as she worked the fingers of one hand into Lena's hair, while the other clutched blindly at the sheets. Lena hadn't even come especially close to the pulsating ache driving her to arch and plead, and she was already a hair's breadth from completely imploding, the sensation everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Like a dancing flame, it was impossible to describe or capture, but it gained in heat and intensity with every passing moment.

Lena eased thin fabric down another inch or two, lying sprawled across Bianca's body as she toyed with the soft flesh at her hipline. "You are the only thing that matters to me," she whispered when she looked up, silently willing her lover to see the truth in her eyes. Nothing else mattered. Not Michael, not Erica, not Enchantment, or Kendall, or anything else but this.

Paralyzed by the look of pure adoration in dark eyes, Bianca had no idea what to say or how. Too torn by the conflicting emotions to parse her thoughts into intelligible language, she just stared.

Until a fine-boned hand rose from its resting place along the curve of her ribs, and reached out to her. It hung there between them for a long moment.

The bogeyman in the darkness or an angel come to save her?

Bianca honestly didn't know. Some part of her apparently thought it did though, because once again she had the sensation of being separated from her own body as she watched a hand---her own she realized distantly---reach back, twining with Lena's to hold on tightly. It wasn't until she felt the pressure of fingers tightening on her own that the disembodied effect dissipated and she felt back in control of her own limbs.

By then it was too late. Bianca was hopelessly lost all over again. She tugged firmly on the hand bound to her own, urging Lena back up the length of her body until their mouths met and mated and that lean body was pressed against her own from thigh to breast.

Every touch, every kiss, every grinding thrust intended to prove to Bianca just how much love and passion was directed her way, Lena whimpered into the mouth bound to her own, a shiver sliding through her as Bianca wrapped one arm around her body, clinging tightly, one hand spreading and pressing into her upper back. Slender fingers dug in, massaged, then slid lower, following the track of her spine to her lower back, then spread and dug in again, purposely drawing her into a slow thrust. It felt so good, not just the physicality, but the emotional reality of Bianca drawing her close---wanting her---that she nearly lost all control. Then Bianca's hand moved again, sliding around to her stomach, finding the tie on the sweat pants and fumbling it free.

Desire. They were both lost in it, both needing it too much to slow down or be denied. Their remaining clothes were pushed and pulled aside, then lost in the tangle of blankets as they found each other and came together. Tentative at first, Bianca quickly lost her shyness under the barrage of kisses and caresses that teased her flesh. Lena's hands and mouth were everywhere, soft, tender, teasing her flesh with quick, fluttery strokes seemingly designed to drive her insane with need.

Completely dedicated to pleasing her lover, Lena took her time, wanting to prove the sincerity of her emotions with her body. Tender, loving, worshipful, her entire focus was Bianca's pleasure. Nothing else mattered. Not the past or the bitterness, and not her own body's screaming desire.

Lena stroked the taut run of muscle that ran along a smoothly muscled outer thigh, then leaned down, dusting kisses onto the top of her knee, every brush of her lips sending a quiver through the prone woman. "You are the only thing that matters," she breathed, and then her mouth danced along Bianca's inner thigh.

A sharp gasp exploded from the younger woman's lips and her head snapped back into the pillows, her entire body threatening to come up off the mattress as Lena's mouth slid higher. "Please, oh god, please," she begged as sandpaper heat explored and stroked. Lena was with her, inside, outside, touching, and loving. Bianca whimpered, the sound high pitched and desperate, so needy she thought she might simply cease to exist if Lena stopped.

"Shhh," Lena soothed between tender strokes. "I will never leave you." Her breath played over superheated flesh, driving her young lover to arch and plead.

"I know," Bianca admitted, her voice little more than a husky rasp, all pretenses of anger and distrust stripped away for the moment. Needing to communicate some fraction of what she was feeling, she worked her fingers through silky soft hair. Well aware of the temptation to cling with spasmodic strength that risked causing pain, she carefully kept her touch gentle even though it took all of her remaining self-control.

Feeling the clench and spasm that signaled Bianca's nearing climax, Lena only increased the tempo, one hand caressing the length of her lover's torso, while the other slid deep, tying them together intimately. No longer gentle, she was quick and strong, instinctively understanding that was what her lover needed now, and not caring about the loss of control that had the younger woman's fingers tightening in her hair until there was more than a flicker of very real pain. A mark of her success, the sting was minor compared to the thrill of pleasing her lover so completely.

Utterly lost in the rich twining of emotion and sensation, Bianca could only ride the waves of thick joy as she was caught in the undertow and tumbled, her body no longer hers to control.

Body and soul, she belonged to Lena Kundera and the realization would have scared the hell out of her if she'd still been capable of thought.

And then Lena was sliding up her body and gathering her close. Still trembling and barely aware of anything other than the press of flesh, Bianca wrapped her arms tightly around the lanky frame stretched out above her own, clinging desperately and feeling safer than she'd felt since she was a very small child before life had shattered so many youthful illusions.

Kissing away a few tears that had caught on thick lashes, her body folded protectively around her lover, Lena nearly started purring as Bianca wrapped her in a strong hold, and turned into her body. Her lover's breath hot on the curve of her neck, warm, sweaty curves molded to her own, she felt like she'd finally come home. She turned her head, blindly finding Bianca's mouth with her own, drinking in her lover's ragged breath. "I love you," she breathed through the shared kiss.

Bianca stiffened as the soft words slid through her, wanting to believe, but suddenly once again plagued by an awful wave of doubt. Pulling back just enough to stare up into fathoms-deep, brown eyes, she found herself wondering if it was all just a game. Had the older woman played her one more time? Used sex to bring her under control? Was she even aroused? Her eyes slid away in a last ditch attempt to hide the sudden bout of uncertainty. Her breath caught as a tender hand cupped along the side of her face, bringing her attention back to the woman staring so intently down at her.

"No doubts," Lena pleaded. "Not here ... not now."

A hard swallow making her throat bob, Bianca was momentarily at a loss for words. She'd never wanted anything so much as to believe the promise in Lena's eyes, but the fear of being fooled again held her paralyzed.

"You know the truth," Lena whispered, her voice sliding over into begging tones as she stroked Bianca's cheek tenderly. "You know."

The problem was she didn't, Bianca thought as she struggled against the mesmerizing effect of those remarkable eyes. She knew what she thought, but when it came to Lena, she couldn't trust her heart or her mind to be right. It was like both just turned to mush, leaving her with the desperate desire to simply beg for more, the consequences be damned.

Suddenly, Bianca rolled, tumbling Lena beneath her, and stretching out above that elegant frame. Her weight braced on her hands, she stared down at her lover, taking in the way pale moonlight spilled across perfect features, highlighting the rises and hollows of soft features. "I don't know," she admitted, ever honest, even when she would have preferred not to be. Her body calmer in the aftermath of satiation, all of her doubts resurfaced with a vengeance. "I don't even know if you really wanted me ... much less loved---"

Slender fingers landed on her lips, silencing the bitter words. "I love you," Lena repeated, her voice intent. "And I have wanted you for ... for what seems like forever." She shook her head. "Until I can't remember a time that I didn't want you ... didn't love you."

Bianca wanted to believe, desperately wanted to be able to trust in those softly spoken words and treat them like the vow they resembled.

But.

But, but, but.

She just didn't know. She let her head fall forward, her cheek just barely grazing Lena's before she buried her face in thick, dark hair, breathing in the scent of shampoo tinged with sweat and the smell of sex. Muscles rippling across her back and shoulders, she shifted her weight, taking it all on one hand as she lifted her other hand to cup the back of Lena's head in her palm, fingers sliding into damp silk, her thumb stroking lightly at the temple. Perfectly silent, the only sound she made coming from her rough breathing and the faint rustle of sheets, she trembled gently as the hands that had given her so much pleasure slid from her sides around to her back, spreading against flexing muscle, nails scraping lightly over sweat damp flesh. Other than the faint tremor that slid through her, she remained perfectly still, her eyes closed, barely even breathing. Fresh sweat beaded on her skin, drawn there by the twin efforts of hanging poised like that and resisting the intense temptation to touch and explore. A tiny whimper escaped her lips as Lena's hands slid down, her nails scraping more firmly as she reached the curve of Bianca's hips.

"Bianca ... please...." The older woman's voice strained and nearly broke, tiny restless movements making the sheets rustle and causing brief surges of jolting friction wherever their flesh touch---which was very nearly everywhere.

She needed to know, Bianca realized, to really know. Not to hear words she couldn't trust, but to feel and know that the body beneath her own was truly responding to her.

The fingers of her braced hand digging into the sheets, Bianca slid the other down from Lena's hair, just barely touching as she trailed her fingers down the length of Lena's arm, finding the evidence of faintly prickled flesh, sweat, and trembling muscle. Their fingers brushed, then she lifted her hand back up the length of her lover's body.

And why was it that, despite everything, she couldn't think of Lena as anything but her lover?

Her touch light, Bianca outlined the full, cupid's bow curve of lips that were still swollen and heated from hungry kisses. Lena's tongue darted out, the sandpaper warmth stroking the pad of her thumb just before she trailed her touch lower, leaving a fading trail of moisture on her lover's chin, then the corrugated length of her windpipe. She paused, feeling the faint tremor and delicate vibration caused by the Polish woman's tiny, animal whimpers and heavy breathing. Moving lower, she laid her palm over Lena's chest, absorbing the unsteady thud of her heart, then slid it up over the sloping curve of a firm breast, pausing over the puckered and swollen tip.

Lena moaned low in her throat, teeth gleaming white in the thin light as they clamped down on her lower lip with so much force they were just short of drawing blood. Her eyes, Bianca noted were wide and black, infinitely deep pools of pleading. A slim hand rose, reaching for the younger woman, but she caught it, pressing it back to the mattress despite some resistance.

"No," Bianca hissed, then caught herself when she saw a flicker of hurt in expressive eyes. She didn't press forward, instead pulling her hand back, but the look in her eyes had all the shades of hell, a silent warning to the woman lying beneath her.

Lena's breath caught, her heart squeezing in her chest. She desperately wanted to reach and grab, to touch and communicate her love for Bianca, and she half started to try, but the expression in doe brown eyes warned her that wasn't what her lover needed, at least not right now.

A moment passed while they stared at one another, then Lena carefully shifted her hands to the sheets above her head, muscles clenching tightly as she clawed her fingers into the tightly woven fabric, holding on desperately to keep from doing what she really wanted. Tipping her head back, she closed her eyes tightly, swallowing hard even as a few tears spiked her lashes. She'd played plenty of submissive games in the past---taken both roles, the sex kitten begging to be dominated and the aggressive woman of the world completely in control---none of it mattering to her in the least. It had been a job if she was honest, and she'd cared nothing for those forgotten lovers. For the first time, it hurt. God, how it hurt. It was so far from what she wanted that she didn't know what to do and for the first time she truly felt like she was submitting to someone else in a way that went against her will, but she was willing to do so if it would make Bianca see the truth.

A single tear escaped the trap of her lashes, leaving a scalding trail on her skin as it made its way back toward her temple. And then suddenly Bianca's thumb was there, tenderly rubbing the tiny bit of moisture away and soothing away some of the pain that went with it.

Her heart softening in the face of her lover's obvious distress, Bianca leaned down to taste velvety lips, fluttering delicate kisses meant to renew some measure of trust. The irony that she felt some need to re-earn her lover's trust wasn't lost on the younger woman, driving home the point that she was guilty of her own sins---not as serious as her lover's perhaps, but not completely innocent either. "I need this," she whispered, startled by her drive to explain. "I need to know...." She trailed off, not knowing how to put into words the desperate, driving pressure she felt to be certain of the truth of their bodies. That at least she could understand, even if being certain of hearts and minds was far more difficult. But doing it in a way that hurt? In a way that ripped and shredded the other woman and made Bianca feel far too cruel for her tastes? No, she wasn't up to that.

Uncertain of the younger woman's thoughts, Lena couldn't quite contain a tiny, feral whimper, but she pull her hands down or resist the glare holding her captive.

Bianca stared for a long time, then finally accepted that she couldn't do it. She reached up, gently tugging at Lena's hands, encouraging them back down until they were brushing her shoulders and upper arms, not liking the almost captive pose she had adopted. "But I don't want to hurt you...." Bianca trailed off again, the sudden queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach reminding her that in a very few hours, she'd be doing everything in her power to do just that. She pushed that thought down, unable to face her own culpability and dishonesty. It was such a tangled mess and she wasn't up to dealing with the consequences.

At least not yet.

In a few hours, it wouldn't matter anymore. Uncle Jack would probably have Lena arrested along with Michael---despite any temptation to the contrary, Bianca couldn't believe there was any truth to the tale of the mother on the run from the secret police---and then---

Bianca cut that thought off right there, unable to face the ramifications of the choices they'd all made, particularly when her body was intimately bound to that of a woman she loved more than she even understood. She sighed, the anger giving way to an agonizing kind of desolation as she contemplated a future without this woman in her life. Blinking fiercely at the sudden burn of tears, she hid her face in Lena's hair, fighting the urge to wrap the taller woman in her arms and never let go---her mother, Michael, and the rest of the world be damned. "Was that night real?" she whispered, admitting to the sick fear that plagued her that the most meaningful moments of her life had been nothing more than an illusion.

A gentle hand curved to the back of Bianca's head, stroking her hair lightly. She felt Lena turn her head, then became aware of the press of soft lips near her ear.

"It was everything to me," Lena whispered, her accent thicker than usual, making the words husky and threatening to blur them together. "Everything." For the first time in a very long time, perhaps in her entire life, sex had been something other than a mechanical act. She'd long considered a lack of feeling for a lover to be a tactical advantage when it came to the pleasures of the flesh, but with Bianca any thought of calculation or plotting had been impossible. For perhaps the first time in her life she'd simply surrendered herself, achingly aroused and wanting to please a lover, not because it would advance some cold-eyed purpose, but simply because Bianca's pleasure was her own.

"Damn you," Bianca exhaled almost inaudibly, almost hating the woman pressed so close, not for her crimes, but for what her choices had cost them both. She froze again, muscles locking in place, unable to move at all.

"Please," Lena whispered after a long moment, petting dark hair with a tender hand. "I need you."

Bianca sighed softly, her breath ruffling dark hair, then pushed up on her hands to stare down into impossibly deep, brown eyes. A moment passed as she felt the cold wall around her heart melt. She couldn't do it, couldn't maintain the anger and edge of cruelty in the wake of that look. It simply wasn't in her.

Lena saw the look and her expression brightened with hope. "Do you believe me?" she asked, praying it was so.

Another small sigh escaped Bianca's lips. No, she didn't. At least not entirely. Or maybe it was that she did believe and no longer trusted herself because she was terrified she just wanted it too damn much. In any event, it wasn't a question easily answered. "You were right," she said at last. "We should just forget the rest of it for a little while ... pretend we're the only two people in the world." Maybe then things would make sense, if only for a few hours.

Lena's response was a look that somehow managed to mingle both hurt and hope, the understanding that this was neither forgiveness nor total denial lurking in her expression. It occurred to the older woman that perhaps she should have tried to continue arguing her love and innocence, but her body was screaming its need, and she was too greedy to lose her chance to bond so intimately with the woman she loved.

Besides, at some level, Lena kept hoping Bianca would feel the truth where words didn't seem to make a dent.

Lena slid the hands resting on Bianca's shoulders up and around the back of her neck, working fingers into shoulder-length chestnut hair, shivering as she became aware once again of the body pressed so close to her own, every tiny brush of flesh on flesh reminding her of the promise of heaven existed between them. She had it in her to wonder at her total surrender to someone so thoroughly her opposite, but perhaps that was part of the attraction, she mused.

Bianca was all the things life had never allowed Lena Kundera to be---young, innocent, open.

Or perhaps it was just that she was Bianca, and somewhere along the way---very early in the game---Lena had fallen hook, line, and sinker. Now she was well and truly caught and could only wait and see which way Bianca pulled the line.

Then any attempt at thought became a thing of the past as gentle hands began exploring her body once again, dusting butterfly caresses here and firmer strokes there, teasing and blazing a trail that the younger woman's mouth soon followed. Sensation so intense it was almost unreal branding heat trails onto her skin in the wake of Bianca's every touch, Lena moaned low in her throat, hands clinging to hair, arms, shoulders---anything she could reach---while her body arched, silently pleading for the silky pleasure to continue. Every kiss, every touch, every delicate caress lifted her a little higher, still bound to the earth by her body, but also lost in surging waves of emotion and sensation so overwhelming they were almost frightening. "Bianca..." Lena groaned, her voice little more than an exhaled breath.

Another soft stroke and Lena's hand clenched in silky hair, her breathing becoming rougher while her heart beat so hard she half expected it to break through her ribcage and fly free. "Please," she gasped, reaching blindly with one hand, relieved when slender fingers met her grasp and clung. She needed that the tie between them, needed to feel Bianca, not just making love to her, but with her, a part of her.

"I'm here," Bianca assured her lover, completely concentrated on pleasing the other woman, lost in a sensual kind of haze that she'd barely even guessed existed. Her limited experience with others had been fumbling, hasty, and ungraceful. And that first night with Lena had so been uncertain at times. Far more successful than anything that had gone before it, but still hesitant and fraught with nervousness, both of them afraid of making some mistake or misstep. This was different, a learning of the power she had as a woman---as a lover. Her eyes flicked up, taking in the picture Lena painted, her skin pearlescent under the moonlight that spilled in through the bedroom window, graceful runs of muscle flexing just beneath the surface, her expression torqued by passion. No question now that she really was aroused.

As if drawn by Bianca's perusal, Lena looked down, her breath catching as their gazes locked, her heart in her eyes.

Lena was hers, Bianca realized in an instant. Maybe not for forever and a day, but now, in this moment, Lena was absolutely hers. The last knotted coil of tension faded away to nothingness along with anger and doubt. In the light of day, she knew all of the darker emotions were likely to resurface, but for the moment, they were forgotten. She ducked her head, speaking with her body---and ultimately her heart, though she would have denied it---instead of words.

It seemed to Lena as though she knew the exact instant that Bianca released her fears and simply made love, the sudden uptick in intensity nearly enough to drive her mad. Her head snapped back, muscles wrenched taut as sensation threatened to completely overwhelm her, flashfires arcing along every nerve ending, the physical thrill driven by the knowledge that it was Bianca touching her. She had no way of knowing if it was the forgiveness she craved so desperately, but it was the woman she loved, and there was a hint of hope.

And she'd long since learned to live in the moment anyway, snatching at any tiny bit of happiness fate allowed her because it had parsed out so few of them during the span of her life.

Lena's eyes snapped closed, but the mental image of her lover's expression was uppermost in her mind as she lost all control, pleading for more in a mix of languages, at least one of which was probably English. Thick, luscious, wanton sensation crested and washed over her like some kind sensual miracle, leaving her breathless and lost until comforting arms wrapped around her, and she was gathered against the length of a slight frame. Suddenly she was sobbing again, burying her face in the curve of Bianca's neck and clinging to her lover with desperate strength as though she could hold a world determined to tear them apart at bay if she just held on tightly enough.

"Shhhh," Bianca soothed near a delicate ear, tenderly petting dark hair and rubbing Lena's back as she held her close. "It's okay ... you're all right." She pressed her lips to Lena's temple, not fighting the hands holding on so tightly.

"Don't ever leave me," Lena begged raggedly.

Bianca drew a breath, nearly making the promise before she could think better of it, but held off at the last moment. "I'm here now. That's all that matters." Guilt trickled through her as Lena stiffened, the muscles bunching across her back and shoulders as though she'd taken an actual blow.

Bianca half expected some kind of argument, but Lena's only response was a thoroughly chastened, "Of course, you're right."

The younger woman didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed by the barely audible reply. She sighed softly, her voice low and a little regretful. "No, I don't think I am," she admitted. "But it's the best I can do right now."

Her touch gentle, Bianca tugged Lena's head up, denying her a hiding place in her need to stare into eyes that were glassy with tears. Rubbing some of the moisture on away from a gently rounded cheek with the pad of her thumb, the feel of fresh tears burning her skin, she very nearly relented. It would be so much easier if she could just accept everything Lena said at face value and move forward on that presumption.

Unfortunately, Lena had already been caught once, looked her in the eye, and lied through her teeth, certainly about her ties to Michael Cambias, and maybe about her feelings. It was hard to know what to think or do when dealing with someone for whom the truth was so fluid. Still, she couldn't completely deny that there was something there even if it was only her own love.

"Bianca?" Lena whispered, breaking in on her lover's thoughts. She brushed dark hair back from her lover's face, tucking it behind a delicate ear.

The smile the younger woman offered was poignant in the moments before she ducked her head to taste silky lips. "Can't we just forget ... for a little while?" she whispered when the kiss broke, purposely repeating her lover's earlier plea. "Pretend we're the only ones in the world ... that none of the rest of it even exists?" Too soon it would all be out of her control, but she could afford to pretend for just a little while longer. Or maybe it was just that she couldn't resist.

"I would do anything for you," Lena breathed, somehow spinning the words to give them a double meaning, that she would do anything to please Bianca, and she would do anything to have her.

In that moment, she got exactly what she wanted.

Bianca.

Bianca ducked her head, her lips finding Lena's, a moan bubbling up from her throat even as she drank in an answering whimper from her lover's lips.

Later, there would be consequences, probably hell to pay, but the younger woman couldn't hold herself back any longer.

Oh yes, later there would be hell to pay.

But for now, it was all heaven.

* * * * * *

The problem with mornings, Bianca mused darkly, is that they always come much too soon. Already dressed, she sat on the edge of her bed, perfectly silent as she stared down at the figure still lying sprawled asleep amid the passion-twisted, tangle of blankets. She'd already been there for nearly a half an hour, silently willing the sun to stay safely hidden beyond the horizon, but it hadn't listened to her prayers any better than anyone or anything else in her life, and it wasn't possible to delay any longer. She watched her own hand as she rhythmically brushed her fingers over and through chestnut silk. Very soon, it would all be over, their one last night a thing of the past.

She leaned down, pressed the softest of kisses onto Lena's forehead, then straightened, carefully schooling her expression into a cool mask. She curved her hand to a bare shoulder and shook gently. "Lena." She kept her voice firm and unemotional, showing nothing of her internal struggle. "Lena," she said again as the woman stirred faintly.

A moment passed and then brown eyes fluttered open. The slow smile that made its way across full lips was very nearly Bianca's undoing, but she hardened her heart with daylight reminders of what this woman had done and tried to do.

She set the stack of clothes tightly clutched in one hand on the bed near Lena's shoulder. "You need to get dressed."

Lena blinked in confusion, the happiness draining out of her expression the instant she saw the way well-loved features had hardened into a forbidding mask. "What is it?" she asked with considerable trepidation.

Bianca rose smoothly to her feet and turned away in the same move. She could do this. She had to. For her mother's sake, and her own. She couldn't let Lena get away with--

"Bianca?"

Lena's voice, sounding hurt and frightened caught the younger woman before she could take more than a step. She froze, then took a deep breath, hands clenched together in front of her. "I told you," she said very softly without looking back, "it wouldn't change anything." The tiny, answering gasp of pain made her wince as though struck. Her knuckles were white with stress as she clenched her fingers ever more tightly, barely resisting the urge to turn and offer comfort for the pain she'd inflicted.

"I love you," Lena breathed, her voice seeming to echo with the kind of emotion Bianca had long dreamt of hearing a lover's tones.

The younger woman took another breath, then glanced back her eyes like black chips of ice. "You need to get dressed. We have someplace to be." She finally risked a glance over her shoulder, nearly driven to her knees by the bruised look in the brown eyes watching her so closely.

Lena frowned in confusion. "Where?"

"You'll see," Bianca said quietly. "But we have to leave soon."

She started for the door, even had her hand on the knob, when Lena's voice trapped her once again. "It meant something," her lover insisted, her voice low but fierce.

Bianca did a slow pivot, drew breath and opened her mouth to deny the words, then couldn't lie that effectively. "It did," she admitted, then sighed regretfully. "Just not enough." She didn't wait for an answer, just pulled the door open and fled before she shattered completely.

End

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