“Fran you know I don’t have any words for this.”
“It only takes three.”
Mick sighed massively and put his hands through his hair. He looked out at the horizon.
“Look,” Fran said, “I don’t know what this is or what your want right now, but I’m about to make it harder for you.” She moved so that she was sitting on her heels, right in front of him, face to face. She waited until he looked at her before she continued.“I respect your insights and I won’t push you. I hear your fear. But I want to make sure you know there’s nothing in the world – not sex, not love, not anything – that could make me disappear. I’m permanent in your life, until you kick me out.” And then she added, “You jerk.”
He smiled and looked at the ground. “How can I -” he stopped and swallowed. Cleared his throat. Took a deep, deep breath. And at last he looked back up at her, eyes glittering despite his struggles. “I don’t know how to believe you.”
“Me either,” she sighed, and she tilted her head, puzzling. “But things can’t stay like this.”
He nodded as though she had told him his dog was dying and then watched her face carefully. He said, “Will you marry me?”
For one heart-stopping instant, Fran wanted to dance across the mountain like Fraulein Maria in “The Sound of Music,” she wanted to fling out her arms and cry, “YES! YES!” or strip off her clothes and fuck him here on the mountain, but she thought better of it and said, “Don’t you think maybe the more grown-up thing to do is to learn to trust that I’ll stay, whether I’ve signed a legal document to that effect or not?”
He shook his head slowly, and Fran didn’t know if he was saying no or just thinking. “I’m in love with you Fran. I want you next to me forever. I’m scared as hell about it but it seems to me I’ll break into little pieces if I don’t. I’m in love with you.” He was shaking, but now that he had started, it seemed he couldn’t stop. “I’m in love with you. I’ve loved you forever. I think maybe I’ve loved you since that first time you asked to race me, but definitely, definitely after our first marathon. Definitely. I didn’t recognize it because it didn’t hurt and it wasn’t scary. But it hurts now, and it’s scary, so it’s like I can recognize it. It’s like the lack of fear and pain was a cloaking device and it got uncloaked when we made love and then I panicked but -”
“Wait wait wait.” She held up a hand, her face crooked in half a smile. “Cloaking device?”
“I don’t know, I’m… I don’t really do metaphors.”
“It was a simile, dear,” and her smile spread to her whole face.
He kissed her, and she couldn’t think for the pressure of his lips on hers.
He was kneeling with her, her face in his hands, his mouth on hers, focused, attentive, all-encompassing. Her hands went to his wrists. She opened to him, accepted his tongue, offered hers.
All at once, in a sweep of motion, she was on the ground, with Mick urgent and possessive above her. He was tugging down her leggings, pulling them to her knees.
“Mick, wait! No! We’re in the middle of the woods, there are people -”
His mouth stopped her in a brief, hard kiss, and then he – how did he do that? he tucked himself between her thighs, her leggings bunching around her calves, he tugged away his running shorts, and he pushed his cock into her, claiming her. Mine. With each thrust. Mine. He marked her. Mine. Forceful, jarring thrusts that rocked her. Mine. And Fran rejoiced.
The woods, the people, disappeared from Fran’s mind. Only the stone walls and the crystalline blue sky could see them, and what did they matter when he was inside her? What did anything else matter as long as he was inside her.
And oh, she wanted him inside her. Had she ever wanted anyone – anything – else?
He kissed her throat, he scraped his teeth on her earlobe, he bit into her neck. All while fucking her in those steady, solid strokes, so deep, so complete. Fran gripped her legs around him, pressed her hands to his ass. This was was not tender. It was not gentle. It was force and demand and possession and now. His lips moved to her mouth, and his eyes were open, locked on hers.
Gradually, his pace increased. He drew his mouth away, kept his eyes intensely focused on hers. His nostrils flared, his jaw locked, his cheeks flushed, his breath came ragged and rough, and his eyes burned into hers. She matched his gaze, her own brow worrying with increasing arousal, tension, a budding and incipient orgasm deep inside her. Still he thrust into her with building intensity, speed, depth, need.
“Frannie,” he grunted, and beads of sweat trembled along his hairline as the tension in his body climbed. Fran could feel the muscles in his shoulder quivering with effort; she could see the need worrying his brow.
His rocking hit her clit in a perfect, satisfying rhythm, layering pleasure onto pleasure. She was holding herself back now, waiting for him. She wanted his straining muscles to cross an overwhelming threshold and release their passion explosively into the air around them. She wanted his pleasure, to hear and feel and smell and taste it, as surely as she wanted her own. And above all she wanted to be his. She wanted there to be no question, not the least hesitancy or doubt. She moved her hand up his back in a slow caress, relishing the flexing muscles under her fingers, and then she rested her fingertips delicately over Mick’s lips. She whispered into his hoarse grunts, “Mick, would you come in me?”
As though this were the invitation he had been waiting for, he gave a wild moan and his body’s thrusting accelerated. With every increase in his arousal came an increase in her own. Again, she kept pace with him, her body following his lead intuitively.
When at last he hovered at her entrance, dangling at the peak of desire, he thrust minutely into her, eyes on hers, watchful, pleading. She returned his gaze, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, breath suspended in her throat.
“Tell me,” he ordered. “Say it. Please, Fran.”
She didn’t have to ask what he meant. She put her hands on his face, eyes on his, and whispered it to him. “I love you, Mick.”
He blinked and his expression change; his movements relaxed into broad, ecstatic strokes as he leaned over the precipice of his arousal. The movements pushed Fran over the edge, and she arched her back with the first spasm of her orgasm, but kept her eyes on his. And the instant her muscles contracted around the head of his cock, he let out a stabbing cry and thrust hard and deep into her, fucking into her over and over with near-painful force, eyes wildly, fiercely focused on hers. Time dilated, and each wave of their shared climax washed through them, circulating through their pulsing bodies, through their enflamed gaze.
Their tension ebbed and they lay together, breathless and radiant. Mick held a hand to Fran’s face and brushed away the strands of hair clinging to her damp cheek. They searched each other’s eyes in the autumn sunlight and Marie found in his face a vow that required no word.
They lay together amidst the crumbling rocks, sleepy under the warm September sun.
Fran murmured, “I see myself as a mountain. I feel solid. I make myself still like a mountain pond. I reflect things as they are.” Mick lifted his head from her shoulder and they watched each other glitter in the sunlight.
When his eyes met hers in a suspended moment, it happened, the words just came, easily. “I love you Fran.”
“I know.” She smiled at him, punched him playfully on the shoulder and said, “I love you, too.
Fran awoke to a morning of sparkling early autumn, clear and crisp. She rolled and stretched and luxuriated in an unaccustomed sense of wellbeing, her thoughts straying to coffee and her morning run. And then she remembered last night. Mick! He was – he was right there, back to back with her in the bed, snoring lightly.
She curled herself against him in the sunlight, pressing kisses to his chest. He held her and held her, his lips against her hair as she spoke blindly into his neck.
“You were a coward there a minute.”
“And you were a mess.”
“You kind of suck at words.”
“I know Frannie. I know.”
“I like the ones who are good at words.”
“So it’s mildly inconvenient that I’m so very, very in love with you.”
“Oh Frannie. Frannie.” His arms tightened around her. He paused for an instant to sniff and get his breath back. “I didn’t even know this feeling existed.”
“If you screw this up I’m gonna kick your ass,” she said, kissing her way along his throat to his jaw.
Her lips found their way to his, and she kissed him long and slow.
“Fuck me one more time,” she uttered into the kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck.
He didn’t need words to respond. He reached for her wrists and pinned them above her head, pressed her onto her back, and bit into her lower lip.