Zane soaped his body, slowly, thoughtfully, trying to wash away the grit and grime that seemed to have settled on his skin at the graveside ceremony. The experience--the sights, the sounds, the smells--were all embedded in his soul, etched on his memory. He could never forget, no matter how hard he tried, and wondered if he really wanted to.
He was accustomed to the pain; it let him know he was alive and breathing. Pain had been a part of his makeup for so long he didn't know what he would do if it were no longer there. Letting go was too easy, like giving up. He'd never been good at leaving a project unfinished and didn't want to start now.
He started when Nova slid back the shower curtain and stepped into the tub with him.
"I thought we could have a quickie before Ran got back." Her leer made him grin.
"Damn, why didn't I think of that?"
"I'm sure you had other things on your mind." She momentarily turned serious before smiling again. "Which is why I'm here. To take your mind off of those things. At least for a little while, Mr. Youngblood."
"I like your thinking." He would do better this time, make it up to her. He would take his pleasure by giving her pleasure, he would--
Zane gasped as she encircled his semi-erect penis and thumbed the pearl of pre-come gathered at the head. He caught her around the shoulders and set her back a little before she could sink to her knees. "Not this time."
She frowned at him as he guided her back against the tile wall and sank to his knees in front of her.
Nova held up the condom she had in her hand. "But I brought this."
"That's good. We'll use it in a few. But right now, I've got some unfinished business to take care of with you, Ms. Foxx..." He took a deep breath to appreciate the musky-sweet scent of her, spicy vanilla and woman mixed together to create a refreshing concoction. He lowered his face to her cunt. "Spread your legs for me, baby."
She did, bracing herself against the wall as he opened her with his thumbs and licked her slit slowly, experimentally, finally savoring the taste of her, finally savoring the texture of her moist folds before he slid a finger inside her.
"Oh, yesss," she hissed, fisting her hands in his damp hair and hooking a leg over his shoulder to give him better access.
Zane took full advantage, pumping his finger before he joined it with another and scissored them, brushing and teasing her inner walls. He closed his mouth over her swollen clit and sucked, matching the furious rhythm he set with his fingers to the one Nova set with her bucking hips.
She moaned, gyrating and writhing against his mouth until Zane plunged his tongue into her pussy and stroked inside her, fully intending to find out just how many licks it would take to get to the center of her.
Nova suddenly stiffened, then trembled and came apart around him, curving her leg around his neck to bring him closer. Her hot juices gushed into his mouth as she keened and he caught her hips and held her close, absorbing her pleasure and holding on until her vibrations subsided.
Zane stood and pressed himself against her, taunting her opening with the head of his stiff, aching cock. He bent his head to nibble her earlobe, licked his way down the side of her throat then back again to circle the outer shell of her ear. "Last time I didn't get to enjoy you like I should have. Like I wanted to."
Quivering in his embrace, she opened her eyes, her expression dazed and drugged as she watched him "You didn't?"
"Nowhere near." He slid the condom out of her listless fingers, tore into the packet with his teeth and one hand, staring at her the entire time. His dick jerked and throbbed when Nova slowly licked her lips and returned his look with a heated one of her own.
She reached for his hand. "Let me." She took the condom and proceeded to roll it down over his jutting shaft to the base, holding him a moment longer then was necessary, loving him with her hand, pumping up and down before massaging the head of his cock with her thumb again. "I don't think I enjoyed you the way I should have either."
"It was too fast."
"Way too fast. We'll take it slow this time."
He nodded his agreement, and he had every intention of keeping that unspoken promise until he slid halfway into her and felt her vaginal muscles tighten around him. It took everything in him not to move, to just enjoy the sensation of her clutching him, gloving his shaft in her warm woman's sheath. He pressed his forehead against hers and took a deep breath. "Don't move."
"I won't." But her hands came up behind him anyway to grip his shoulders, her fingers digging into him, expressing desperate need that mirrored his.
"God, Nova, you make me so hot and wild. I just want to take you hard and fast whenever I'm inside you. It isn't like me."
"It isn't like me either. I've been like this since I first saw y--since I met you."
He pulled back to look at her, searching her face and finding the truth, that they were irrevocably linked, afraid of where this was taking them but willing to go with the flow anyway.
She cupped his face with one hand. "I'll take hard and fast. I'll take slow and easy. I'll take you any way I can get you."
Hearing his own reckless thoughts said out loud made his heart throb in concert with his cock, reminded him of how deep he wanted to bury himself inside her.
Zane circled his hips, caressing just inside her opening with several quick, shallow thrusts, taunting them both before he drove deep and held still again.
She hooked a leg around his hip as her canal opened to accommodate his length and width and panted when he lifted her, pinning her to the slippery tile wall.
Nova moved first, bucking her hips against him and urging him to reciprocate. He followed her lead, twisting his hips, alternating between slow deep plunges and fast slight caresses, balls contracting right before he pistoned his hips in earnest.
She pulled his head forward for a kiss and he slipped his tongue into her mouth, tangling it with hers as he lowered his hands to her ass and pressed her flush against him. The shudders started again, inside and out, her pussy muscles squeezing tight around him, the increasing pressure signaling her approaching orgasm. She cried out as she nuzzled his neck and gently sunk her teeth into the skin bridging his shoulder and neck.
Zane shivered, her bite and climax inciting his release. He came inside her, rasping her name over and over again until the torrent abated. Breathless, they clung to each other beneath the shower's warm spray, their tremors slowly fading as they exchanged gratitude and sorrow through touches and looks.
"What did I do to deserve you in my life, Nova?"
"Nothing at all, except be." She smiled, drawing away from him with a resounding sucking sound as his flaccid penis slid out of her. She pulled the curtain back, as if her work with him was done.
"I'm going to get dressed and meet you in the living room. I don't want Ransom to come in and catch us both in the shower if I can help it."
Zane watched her go; he was bereft and satiated, lost and found, and until he held her in his arms again, he didn't think he'd ever be whole.
He lathered up with the soap again and rinsed off as fast as he could, eager to be with her again but trying to take his time and let her get dressed. Turning off the shower, he stepped out and wrapped a towel low on his hips, then drew up short in the master bedroom when he noticed Nova standing at his bureau. He smiled. "Hey you."
She started, turning quickly, hands behind her back. "Don't mind me. I just forgot something from my portfolio."
Zane smiled at the term. The thing was more like a bible and she carried it with her everywhere. "What are you hiding behind your back, lady?" he teased, meaning it as a joke, but he totally lost his levity when he saw the nervous look in Nova's eyes. Like she'd been caught with her hand in the cashbox. He crossed the room as lightly as possible, stopping short an inch away from her, and smiled down at her. "Show me what you've got there."
"I don't believe you."
"C'mon, Zane. You're making me nervous."
"That makes two of us." You and she aren't out of the woods yet.
Playfully covering her body with his, he reached behind her with both hands. He was truly surprised when she resisted strongly and balled up a piece of paper in her hands. "Something, you don't want me to see?" He slipped a finger into her fist and managed to get a hold of the paper with two fingers.
He slid the paper out of her hands, realizing she'd let him when it didn't rip in his fingers. "Now let's see what we have here."
He felt her staring, standing anxiously in front of him as he sat on the foot of his bed and unfolded the paper. The thing that struck him first was his own features staring back at him. Next he noticed the well-worn creases, as if the paper had been folded and unfolded, taken out to display and then put away for safekeeping too many times to count, like a favorite photograph of a baby in a wallet. Then there was the scariest part of all, the date, carefully engraved on the bottom of the sketch, the impossibility of it striking Zane at the same instant he realized Nova had captured his likeness before she'd ever met him.
The sketch was so accurate it was uncanny, as if he'd posed for it but had forgotten. He could have been staring into a mirror, one that showed him as he looked a few years ago--slightly longer hair, light beard and mustache--instead of the fairly clean-cut guy he was now.
Zane glanced up and saw Nova wringing her hands, and her anxiety and confusion began to suffuse him.
"I was going to tell you."
"Tell me what?" He still didn't understand what the picture meant. Or maybe he didn't want to understand. That she was what, a stalker? That she had known about him for years, examining him and his life from afar when he wasn't aware, lying in wait before making contact? Or that Leary's suspicions had been on point and Nova was some sort of serial killer?
He didn't know which scenario was scarier. He swallowed hard before whispering, "Why?"
"It's not what you're thinking."
"How do you know what I'm thinking?"
"I'm not sure, but I can guess."
"Then you're further ahead in the game than I am."
"Zane..." She sat down beside him, her tension drifting out to him in waves so strong, he moved over to get some space between them. He was starting to feel incredibly claustrophobic, and strangely betrayed.
"This..." He held up the picture, waved it as if it were a red cape. "It's me, isn't it?"
"How did you get this?"
"I didn't get it, I ... I drew it."
"You drew it?" This was getting better and better every second.
Nova nodded, put a hand over his and stared at him as if trying to convey her trustworthiness to him with just a glance, just a touch.
Zane lurched to his feet, the sketch tightly clutched in his hand. "You knew about me before we even met? Knew of me before Ransom mugged you?"
"Not exactly. Either you did or you didn't." His eyes widened as a thought occurred to him. "Did you set that up? The mugging?"
"No, of course not! How could I?"
"I don't know, Nova. I don't know anything at all when it comes to you."
"You know that's not true. You know me better than you think. Better than I know myself." She stood, taking several tentative steps towards him before he flinched away from her. "Zane, please don't..."
He watched as she choked back a sob, so tempted to go to her, to wrap his arms around her and feel the pliant, welcoming curves of her body next to his. It took everything in him to resist that urge. She seemed to steel herself against his rejection, and that show of strength made him want to touch and soothe her even more.
"You weren't supposed to find out like this," she murmured as if to herself.
His heart thudded with all the possibilities. "Find out what?"
"That I'm ... I'm different."
"I see things--people, situations--things that haven't happened yet ... remote viewing..."
Okay, now they were wading into dangerous Sixth Sense waters he was sure he didn't want to explore.
How did we go from a perfect sensual idyll in the shower to the Twilight Zone in the bedroom in no time flat?
But didn't what she was saying about herself explain why he felt so connected to her, why they meshed so well?
The thought should have comforted him, but it didn't.
"Please don't look at me like that, Zane."
He could only imagine. "Like what?"
"Like I'm some wacko," she whispered. "I know this is all coming out of left field for you, but I've been living with it for a long time. And it's something I can't do anything about."
Zane sidled toward the bedroom door. "Can't do anything about these visions?"
"Yes, exactly." She searched his face. For what, he didn't know, but whatever it was, she must not have found it. Her shoulders slumped in defeat and she sauntered towards him, portfolio under her arm. "I should go, give you some time to think."
Her words were so anticlimactic, Zane didn't know how to respond. He finally just settled for silence.
"May I?" She reached for the sketch in his hand and Zane hesitated, on the verge of asking her why when she said, "I just want to have something ... something of you..."
He handed it over with some reservations, still numb with disbelief and shock as he took one last glance at the details--his face, the date--and thought for the first time about the quality of the art. It reminded him of some of Sinny's paintings. "It's your picture."
"Yes it is." Nova headed for the living room, Zane close on her heels as she grabbed her coat from the pegboard and turned back to him. There was urgency in her tone when she said, "I never meant to hurt you, Zane. You have to believe that."
And just as she reached for the door to leave, Ransom unlocked it with his key and entered the apartment. "Hey!"
Ransom frowned. "What's up?"
"I'll let your uncle speak to you about it." She squeezed by and glanced back to address the teen one last time. "Go easy on him, Ran-man." She leaned in to peck his cheek, then left.
Zane could hear the recriminations loud and clear before Ransom even opened his mouth, the boy's look of accusation was so sharp.
"You sent her away?"
"Ransom, there are things that go on between adults you can't understand."
"Sure I can. You sent her away."