Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
Viggo and Nyssa are on the run. They had a fight and they fell asleep in bed together.
To know more, read Chapter 12.1.
Viggo woke up hungry and convinced that he was lying in his own bed with his fiancée. But the scent, the shape of her were wrong, somehow. He explored with his fingers and his hand closed on a bony shoulder.
Nyssa, he thought, now a little discomfited.
She shifted against him, mouthing a wordless mumble. Her breasts pressed against his side. He felt a twinge of sexual awareness. The twinge sank in his guts, and with it the realization. The bed, the house, the woman and the innocence were gone. He was a prison escapee and he had fallen asleep holding his best friend after making a heavy pass at her.
Viggo breathed, in and out, deeply, against the pain. The feeling of loss wasn’t as crushing as usual. Yesterday had been draining but the messy outburst had brought him some of the acceptance he needed, at last.
His stomach rumbled. It was dark outside. They had slept all through the afternoon. He needed food and he wanted to check on the dog. He kissed Nyssa on her forehead, refusing to question his right to touch her. In his sleep, he had thrown a leg as well as his arm around her. Getting up without disturbing her was going to be a bitch. He twisted in place like a moron and fell on his ass.
He fed dry dog food to Scruffy, fried bacon and eggs again, thinking that it was his second breakfast in one day – probably not the healthiest diet. The prospect of a heart-attack seemed pretty tame, though, considering everything that was going on in his life. Nothing he would like more than a chance to die of something boring like a major organ malfunction.
Trouble had a way of breeding perspective. Like distancing a deluded man who believed in chivalry and codes of honor from morals. He had sunk to a new low earlier that day, and all he could feel was elation. He burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Nyssa asked.
She was standing in the doorway, stretching. She had changed into flannel pants and her favorite oversized male shirt. She was cute as hell and that set off an internal struggle within Viggo. When he noticed the angry bruises on her neck, it gripped him even harder. She looked down, saw where he was looking and blushed, covering the marks with her hands.
“I bruise easily,” she said.
No, she didn’t. He had grabbed her and…
Viggo was torn between his attraction and burning shame. He should keep her at arm’s length, he should protect her from him. He still wanted her. He was so damn angry. Didn’t he have a right to act like a selfish ass? But it hurt to hurt her. Shit, she was resuscitating his conscience, it was meeting the jailbird and they were clashing.
Fuck, he had no idea who he was anymore, or what he was supposed to do.
Maybe she knew what he was going through because a faint smile curved her lips. She bounced to the cupboard and offered him a pile of plates. He stared dumbly at the china. Her smile widened.
“Just break them.”
He chuckled. Smart girl, she knew what was going on in his head.
“Thanks,” he said, moving closer to put the pile back where it belonged, “but I’ve outgrown dish-throwing.”
“Too bad,” she pouted.
“Yes, too bad.” Gently, he traced the bruises he had given her. “Do those hurt?”
“Not really. As I said, I bruise easily. Those are superficial and…I know you didn’t mean to.” She stopped and frowned, clearly displeased with the way it sounded. “I mean, you didn’t mean to, like it was an accident, not like you lost your head – you know?”
“I did lose my head,” he acknowledged ruefully.
She took his face in her hand and peered in his eyes. “No,” she pronounced at last, releasing him. “I don’t see evil. I don’t see madness.”
“What do you see?”
“That you’re lost.” She brought his hands up to her bruises and he was ashamed to see how perfectly they matched. “And that you won’t do that ever again.”
He nodded. “I won’t.”
“Okay.” She stepped back but didn’t stop holding his hands. “Good. That’s your only second chance. Don’t blow it.”
She tried to look stern, but her lips were quivering, and something relaxed in him. The angel and the devil on his shoulders shut the hell up. Neither could resist her. Both loved her. Both wanted to mess with her – just a little, mind you.
“Are you hungry?” he asked. She looked at the small feast he had cooked, and she shook her head no. “Want to do something stupid?”
She started grinning before even asking what kind of stupid thing he was thinking about. “Like?”
She seemed embarrassed. It baffled him – was there something else he didn’t know about?
“What is it?”
“I don’t really swim,” she replied. “I can but I just don’t.”
“You remember what I told you? About my father’s disappearance?”
Did he ever…
“I heard Paul and Mom talking about him once. She was saying that she expected Dad to wash up on the shore one day. I wasn’t ten yet. I guess it made an impression. I had recurring dreams for years. To these days.”
“Nightmares. About dead-bodies floating in a moonlit sea. A liquid graveyard, to the horizon.”
She shivered. He thought back to her diary and he understood. Somewhere in the depths of her mind, Nyssa was truly convinced that the ocean brimmed over with corpses. He felt for her.
“Come along. I’ll protect you from the zombies.”
She smiled. “Promise?”
“Yes. Come on.”
Viggo towed her down to the beach and she didn’t try to break his hold on her hand. It felt light, so very light. Only when he started undressing, did she make a little sound of trepidation. “Are we skinny-dipping?”
“Not unless you’ve got an aversion to my boxers.” He realized that she might and stopped in the process of dropping his pants. “Do you?”
“No,” she said.
Moonlight illuminated her red cheeks. It moved him. He brushed her short hair back and bent to her ear, “Are you coming or not?”
“Yes. I guess.”
He tugged on her shirt. “With this?”
Nyssa didn’t start undressing, though. Intrigued, slowly, giving her plenty of time to stop him, he undid a button. She sucked in a sharp breath, but she didn’t protest. Though her face was still burning up, she didn’t appear to be in distress. He kept unbuttoning the shirt until she stood there in her flannel pants and a white sport bra. He rested his hands on the indents over her sharp hipbones. He liked them, liked that she allowed him so close. And it scared him.
“You need to put on some weight,” he told her. She crossed her arms over her chest, openly flustered. He wished he could swallow back his tongue – and those words with it. “Not that you aren’t beautiful the way you are. You’re…amazing.” He stuttered and almost gasped the word, but he was grateful for the emotion in his voice because it changed a cliched compliment into heartfelt appreciation. “But you really aren’t eating enough. I want you to be healthy.” He stroked her cheek. “I want you to enjoy life, and food.”
“Life, Nyssa. Everything.” He wanted to kiss her. He tugged on the elastic waistband of her pants instead. “Want me to take those off?”
She shook her head and did it herself. And she was just so pretty. He turned away and went into the water – mostly to hide the effect she had on him. She followed him, squealing a little as the first cold waves rolled over her naked feet.
Laughter rolled out of him, great, real, joyous. He swept her off her feet and she let out another shrill cry, throwing her arms around his neck. Her surprise turned to alarm when he dropped her deeper in the ocean. She was clutching his wrists, and he didn’t try to shake her off. He knew that her fear was genuine.
She did relax after a while, frolicking around, splashing water at him. She could swim, even if she never strayed from his side. He didn’t mind. He got a kick out of it whenever her legs brushed his, whenever she touched his bare skin. He was careful not to let her know how hard he was – it was embarrassingly adolescent of him. Nyssa abused his distraction, splashing sea water right in his face.
“You, little,” Viggo spluttered.
He reached for her but, laughing with delight, she swam away from him. He was in much better shape, he caught up with her in a couple of vigorous strokes. His hands closed over her waist, and he drew her against him despite her show of resistance. She was still giggling but the laughter died in her throat when she saw the expression on his face. What did she see?
God, she was beautiful…She was way more than cute. Her face had too much character to be described by so asinine a word: the determination in that chin, the intelligence in those eyes, the self-assurance in those high cheekbones, the humor in that tiny bit of a noise, the irony in the quick play of her eyebrows, climbing up and down her forehead, curving with interest, furrowing with compassion and worry and – oh, hell! – the sensuality of those lips.
He was going to kiss her. The cop part of him knew that. The rascal part of him knew that. They both admitted that this alarming outcome was inevitable and shook hands on a compromise. He was going to kiss her, but he wasn’t going to frighten or hurt her. He was going to make it good for her.
He lowered his face to hers.
“You can stop me at any time,” he whispered hoarsely
“I know.” She didn’t flinch, didn’t try to move away. Their legs tangled together, their arms went around each other. She could stop him if she wanted to. So, he kissed her. It was beyond selfish and yet, because it was done with love, it was the most selfless thing he had ever done. He wondered if love would always taste bitter-sweet to him now.
They stayed in each other’s arms for the longest time, afterward. He buried his head in the gentle curve of her neck and listened to the slow strong beat of his own heart until he couldn’t bear it anymore. She smelled of the ocean. Her cold skin glittered. He wanted to lick the salt off it. He did taste the hollow over her collarbone. It awoke his lust, raw and urgent, but he didn’t let himself be derailed. He just delighted in her little shivers of pleasure.
“Nys, I don’t know…”
“Hush, now.” She shut him up with her lips pressed to his. It made a graceless smack. “It’s okay. I know you suck at slam poetry.”
She was trying to lighten the mood, so he helped her, “I could bring out the chocolates, the flowers.”
She laughed. “Viggo, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t need the hearts and flowers.”
“Then, what do you need?”
The curve of her lips tender, love shining out of her eyes, she brushed the tip of a finger along his lips. “Patience. Tons of it.”
“I…” He ran out of words. She deserved better.
“Oh, Viggo…” Still, she traced his lips with her finger. “It’s not for a lack of trust.” He released a breath. She had no idea what a disservice he was doing her. “I do trust you but my body…It feels too much like a loss of control and everything in me rebels at the idea. Not that, at the same time…” She looked away, flustered. “I don’t…Ah hell…” Catching up, at last, he smiled a cocky smile and got head-slapped for his trouble. “Don’t gloat!”
If you want to know what Russ is up to in San Francisco, read Chapter 13.