When You Dance With the Devil

© by J. 'Harley' Elmore, 2003 - 2004



 See disclaimers in Chapter One

Chapter Six

The closer Rhian got to home, the more rapidly her anticipation turned into apprehension.  Uncertain of what kind of reception she was going to get from the martial artist, she purposefully slowed the truck and took her time maneuvering it up the long driveway.  Several doubts still lingered in her mind as to how much the earlier altercation might have damaged their developing relationship, and she hoped that Deven would be receptive to what she had to say.

No sooner had she stepped out of the cab then she found herself engulfed in a Deven sized hug, effectively decimating her uncertainty.  It felt so good that she leaned into the strong body and sighed with contentment.  Inhaling deeply, the scent of her companion filled her nose and tickled her senses.  "You smell good," she whispered against the taller woman's neck. 

The martial artist didn't utter a word.  She didn't know what to say or if her voice would remain steady should she attempt to speak, and so she just held onto the woman in her arms, silently grateful to have the opportunity to do this once again.  Reluctantly, she stepped back and reaching up, brushed Rhian's cheek with her fingertips. 

There was so much left unsaid.  Misgivings lingered around them - indescribable, felt but unseen, and leaving them both unsure.

"Hang on a minute," Rhian said before reaching back inside the vehicle. 

As the landscaper bent forward into the cab and began wrestling with something behind the driver's seat, Deven's focus narrowed to her backside.  An unexpected spark of lust flared up in her belly and eased southward, leaving her confused by the unanticipated intensity of desire given the strain between them.  That is the last thing you should be thinking about, Masterson!  She quickly stuffed her hands into the pockets of her shorts before her lascivious thoughts pushed her to grope the woman right there in front of the neighbors. 

Turning back around with Kate's package in her hands, Rhian stopped.  The expression of desire on her lover's face was easily recognizable, but it wasn't that that gave it pause.  It was when the woman turned away as if embarrassed that she felt how shaky their bond had become.  "Here," she said as she passed Deven the paper sack containing their dinner.  "Let's go inside." 

Deeply troubled by the apparent awkwardness between them, Rhian pivoted and headed for the door with the martial artist close on her heels.  She waited until the package was placed on the counter and then reaching a hand up behind Deven's head, she pulled the woman forward until their lips met.

Deven moaned at the exquisite pressure and her emotional needs sought to take physical form, causing her to deepen the contact.  With barely restrained longing, she took possession of the younger woman's lips and mouth, seeking to express that which she couldn't voice until a thought intruded, effectively dissipating the sensual haze.  She pulled back abruptly.  "Where are the kids?"

"Hmm," Rhian hummed.  "With my folks.  Mom thought we could use some time alone."

"Be sure to thank her for me."

Rhian snickered.  "You can do that yourself. I think you've become her favorite."

"Favorite what?"

"Daughter, I guess. Just like that," Rhian said while snapping her fingers, "Nicole and I have been replaced."

"How...how can that be?" Deven stammered.

"Well, I don't mean to imply that you aren't in a whole heap of trouble, because you are. I hope you have a taste for soap because when my mother finishes with you, I don't think you'll ever swear again.  Unfortunately, after she finishes scrubbing your mouth out, I don't think I'll want to kiss you for awhile."

Rhian nearly doubled over with laughter at the look of horror on her lover's face.  "It won't hurt for long," she managed to say though it didn't appear to appease the martial artist.  Pushing slightly against the woman's shoulders, she guided Deven to sit down on one of the stools by the breakfast bar.  "We had a really good talk."  She watched the skin around her friend's eyes tense. "Relax.  It turns out that my mother is pretty smart when it comes to this relationship stuff.  She gave us some good advice and helped me to see that I owe you a big apology."

"I don't think so," Deven replied softly. "I owe you."

"Well, you do owe one to the kids.  But, Deven, I am so sorry.  So much of this whole thing is my fault because I wasn't fair to you."

The look of remorse on the young woman's face poked against Deven's already raw feelings, making it harder to maintain a pretense of emotional equilibrium.  "I don't understand."

"When I moved in here, I just took you, us, for granted.  I never asked what you wanted. I never asked your opinion. I just assumed that I knew and because of that, I hurt you." 

"Rhian, I." Deven began but was silenced as Rhian placed a finger against her lips.

"Honey, please let me finish.  I've been trying to understand why I acted the way I did, and I have some ideas."  She chewed on her lower lip for several seconds before speaking again, and then the words all came out in a rush.  "When I was married, I felt like I gave up so much to make him happy. To be the wife he wanted and sometimes demanded me to be. I didn't realize until I met you just how much of myself I gave up and how deeply I resented it." 

She watched Deven's features tense. There was a part of her that knew that had Sean still lived, the martial artist would have found a way to exact a payback of some sort. Rhian knew it was wrong, but she felt a guilty sort of pleasure knowing that this woman would have championed her.  "After he died, I didn't do anything except work and take care of my daughter.  That was my life.  I didn't go out unless it was with my family. I didn't date. The night we met was the first time I'd gone out since the accident. I'd gotten used to doing things a certain way, especially with Seana."

Rhian placed her hands on Deven's shoulders.  "It was a routine I felt comfortable with because I didn't feel like I was sacrificing any of myself.  As a result, I came in here and pretty much just took over.  I didn't ask you.  I didn't really include you in any of the decisions.  I didn't consider how you must feel about it all.  I guess a part of me was afraid that if I made any concessions to you, you'd try to rule me like he did."

"I don't want to rule you," Deven replied defensively.

"I know that, honey.  I do, but I think there's a part of me that still hasn't gotten rid of the resentment and disappointment from before.  I guess in some ways I'm still rebelling against it.  That wasn't fair to you or to me.  Or to the kids."

"Rhian, I'm so sorry if I made you feel that way."

"No. No. You didn't do that. I did. You've been so good to me."

Deven shook her head.  "Sadly, we both know that's not true."

"Okay, it was a little bumpy in the beginning but since then you have been.  You've made me feel good about myself.  You've helped me to feel better about who I am.  You always make me feel so loved."  Her throat constricted and her eyes filled with tears but she managed to hold herself together until she was gently tugged forward.  Stepping between the seated woman's long legs, Rhian wrapped her arms around Deven's neck and wept. "I'm sorry," she cried.

God, she's hurting so much. This isn't at all how things were supposed to go. She's supposed to be angry with me, and I'm supposed to be apologetic.  I'm supposed to be begging for her forgiveness and praying that she'll grant it.  I don't get this at all.  The martial artist closed her eyes and tightened her arms around the weeping woman, and held her while taking consolation that they were together even if she couldn't understand at the moment why that was. 

She held tight until she heard Rhian's breathing slow and even out and felt the grip the woman held on her ease slightly.  "What do you want?" Deven asked.

"What do you want?" Rhian sniffled.  "Do you want us to move out?"

"No. I want you to stay. But, Rhian?  I really miss you. You're here but in a lot of ways you're not. Not like before you moved in. We used to have time for us, and I began to feel like you were avoiding me."  She rested her cheek against the blonde head.  "Does any of this make sense?"

"Yeah, it does. I think I've been unconsciously keeping you at arm's length.  I want to stay.  I want to work through this with you.  And I really want you to talk to me.  I was so hurt and disappointed that you talked to Jay about what you were feeling instead of discussing it with me."

"I just didn't know what to say. How to explain it."

Rhian sighed, her breath lightly brushing Deven's hair.  "You found the words to talk to him."

"I didn't intend to talk to him.  I didn't intend to talk to anyone.  I thought I could just work through it, you know?  But then he was there and the next thing I know, I was just saying stuff.  I didn't have to worry about hurting his feelings.  I didn't have to worry about making him angry.  I didn't have to worry about him leaving me."

"Deven, we have got to get the communication thing under control."  She stepped back and wiped at her face with the palm of her hand.  "I'm not going to leave you because you tell me how you feel.  I'm not going to leave at all. Not unless you want me out."

"No! I want you here."  She reached up and wiped the remaining moisture off Rhian's face.  "Always."

Taking hold of Deven's hand, Rhian kissed the knuckles. As she pulled back, she saw the abrasions for the first time.  She grabbed the martial artist's other hand and examined them both.  "What did you do?"

"It's nothing."

Her eyes lifted and locked on Deven's face.  "What did you do?"

"I worked out on the bag downstairs," she answered sheepishly.

Rhian silently studied the bruises and broken skin.  "You didn't wear your gloves or wrap your hands.  Why?"

"I didn't think about it?"

Closing her eyes, Rhian shook her head.  "I can't leave you alone for a minute, can I?"

Deven chuckled at her friend's exasperated tone.  "Apparently not."

"We need to set some ground rules for us and the kids," Rhian said.

"Like what?" Deven asked warily.

"For starters, no punching the bag without protecting your hands.  I happen to be rather fond of them," she said, earning a raised eyebrow from her lover.  "Seriously, we should have done this at the beginning.  Basic stuff.  Like your office is off limits unless you say otherwise.  No more kids sleeping in our bed unless there are extenuating circumstances.  Like they're sick or having nightmares or something like that.  I'll still probably allow them to hang out there sometimes until you get home, but after that they go to their own rooms.  Like we look at our schedules and come up with an equitable way of taking care of them and us.  Like you and I get at least one date night a week. "

"I like that," Deven responded happily. 

"I'm looking forward to it," Rhian concurred. "I know you probably don't believe this, but I've missed spending time alone with you." 

"Rhian?"  She gazed openly into her love's eyes fully aware that she was exposing her heart but making no effort to conceal it.  "I don't ever want to go through something like this again.  It hurts too much."

The vulnerable honesty was almost painful to see, but Rhian acknowledge the gift with a soft kiss.  "I know.  We have just got to communicate better.  You need to talk to me when things bother you, Deven.  Don't hold them in until you blow up. You hold onto everything until you're so angry you explode.  That isn't healthy for you. Not to mention it scares the crud out of people."

"It's hard for me.  I never really learned to discuss things like that. My mother never gave a damn about my feelings.  My father was selective about it.  I wasn't allowed to feel anything when training or competing.  Otherwise, if he were in the right mood he'd ask me how I felt about things.  I don't know if he actually listened, but he gave me the impression that he was.  Until."

"Until he betrayed you," Rhian finished for her. "Oh, sweetheart. I would never do that. I want to know how you feel.  I need to know how you feel.  How can we possibly move forward otherwise?  And I think it will get easier with time and practice. At least that's my mother's theory.  She said my father was pretty tightlipped about his feelings, but I guess she finally wore him down." 

"So, you're saying that there may be hope for me." Leaning forward, Deven nibbled on Rhian's lower lip.  "What else?"

The landscaper chose her next words carefully.  "I was thinking that I'd like to go with you to see Dr. Martin."

Deven jerked back.  "What? Why?"`

"Before you completely panic, because I think that she might be able to help us work on communicating.  If you really don't want me to, I won't.  But I don't think it would be such a bad idea for us to talk to someone who isn't biased. Our friends and family may mean well, but I think in some ways they're too close to us.  Just think about it okay?"

"Okay," she answered and then quickly added, "I'll think about it."

"Thank you."  Rhian wrapped her arms around the martial artist's shoulders and hugged her. "I would like for you to try and interact more with the children.  You know, if they do something wrong, tell them.  Correct them.  We are their parents, Deven.  Like it or not, that's our job, and we may not agree on everything when it comes to raising them but we still have to be a team about it."

"I think I figured something out today," Deven said pensively.


"I thought about it a lot, in fact.  I'm really worried that I'm going to screw them up.  If I ever turned out to be like my mother I'd have to shoot myself."

"That is not going to happen," Rhian said with assurance, and then a thought occurred to her and she leaned back slightly.  "Do you own a gun?"  Deven nodded.  "Oh, we have got to talk about that."  Realizing she'd interrupted the woman's train of thought she added, "Sorry.  We'll deal with that later.  What were you saying?"

"What if I turn out to be like my father?"

"That's not going to happen either."

"We don't know that."

"Oh, you are so wrong.  I know it."  Rhian searched Deven's face.  "I don't believe it's in you and even if it is, I won't let you take that path." 

"I don't want to hurt them, Rhian."

"I know.  And you won't.  Not anymore than any normal parent does. You spend so much time trying to not do the bad things that you completely miss out on the good.  No one is perfect, my love. Never in the history of the world has there been a perfect parent.  We do the best we can.  We raise them to be good people.  We love them.  We cherish their time with us.  We take pride in their accomplishments.  We punish them when they disobey.  We teach them right from wrong.  And we pray that everything we do helps them to succeed."

"You make it sound so simple."

"No. It isn't simple. And it isn't without a lot of heartache. Your parents sucked, Deven.  Why they did the things they did is beyond me.  But you are not them. I know this in my heart. I wouldn't have exposed Seana to you if I believed otherwise. I have entrusted you with the most precious thing I have. My child."

Deven's pursed her lips to hold in the emotion and pulling Rhian forward, she hugged her hard. "I don't deserve that trust."

Rhian kissed the woman's head just behind the ear and then returned the embrace.  "Well, lucky for me that is one decision I get to make without your input."


The kisses were almost tentative, mere whispers as their lips met.  And then like lovers sharing in the pleasure of their first intimate contact, they leisurely explored each other; tongues brushing and dipping in a slow dance as their bodies came together in a loving embrace. 

But they weren't new lovers on the road to discovery, and Rhian quickly found she wanted more.  Deven excited her in ways she never dreamed possible.  The woman had awakened a carnality that Rhian had no desire to deny much less ignore, but she could sense that Deven was holding back, keeping a tight rein on her passion.

The past few hours had contained a profusion of emotions for both of them, and she thought it was perhaps Deven's attempts to control that facet of herself that was impeding their current bonding. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing," Deven replied.

"Uh huh."   Rhian didn't like the invisible barriers her companion had a tendency to erect between them. In most instances, she suspected that they weren't placed there intentionally but were in all likelihood the product of an unconscious mechanism.  Still, that insight didn't make them any easier to accept.  She resented them more than most of the aspects of Deven's past or present, including the women.  A person was a tangible thing she could face.  This was more like a specter that couldn't be touched much less told to drop dead.  "Would you rather we not, you know?" 

Deven smiled tenderly at her. "You still can't just come out and say it."  She brushed her fingers through the fair hair, the soft tendrils trailing though her fingers.  "You know I always love being with you."

Grasping the waistband of Deven's shorts, Rhian pulled the martial artist to her feet.  "I don't have to say it. Come on."  She led the laughing woman to the living room and stopped in front of the sofa. "Strip."

"All right." Deven reached out towards the landscaper but found her hands deflected. 

"No," Rhian said.


"You. Clothes off. Now."

Deven smirked.  "Okay."  She pulled her shirt up over her head while her lover assisted in the disrobing by slipping off her shorts and underwear. 

"You know, I really like it when you don't wear a bra," Rhian said as she slowly ran a finger down the center of the woman's chest. "It makes things so much easier."

"That's because you still haven't grasped the one handed unhook technique." 

"No, it's because you usually wear sports bras."

"Ah. True. It goes with the occupation," Deven said as she moved once again to unbutton Rhian's blouse.

The landscaper grasped both hands firmly before they could reach their target.  "No."

"Why not?"

Darkened green eyes trailed over the naked woman.  "You will do as I say."  The martial artist started to laugh but halted abruptly as teeth nibbled the flesh between her breasts.  "It's simple," Rhian said between soft nips.  "It's my way or no way. Now, lie down."

Deven regarded the younger woman speculatively for several seconds.  "You know, I've noticed you're getting mighty brazen and demanding lately."

"That's your fault. Now lie down."

Placing her hands on her hips, the martial artist assumed a defiant stance.  "And if I say no?"

"Okay. Never mind."  Rhian pivoted and started towards the kitchen.

Reaching out, Deven grabbed the retreating woman's upper arm.  "Wait. Where are you going?"

Turning back around, Rhian smiled sweetly.  "You aren't grasping this, honey. If you want some, you'll do as I say. Lie down or don't. It's up to you."

Deven cocked her head and contemplated the situation. Her mind struggled with the possible implications and tried to come to terms with what was so bothersome about this scenario.  You're blowing this way out of proportion and being rather stupid. You just don't want to submit to anyone for any reason. You can't seem to get past the idea of someone else having some control even if it's only in their mind. Yeah? Yeah, you dim wit.

Taking the initiative once more, Rhian reached a hand up behind Deven's head and pulled her forward before kissing her hard, enflaming her own passion. Her free hand took hold of the bemused woman's exposed breast and squeezed, gradually increasing the pressure until she received a deep moan in response.  This little game was causing her own desire to grow so rapidly, Rhian wasn't certain what she was going to do if Deven refused. Pleading would be a place to start.  Pushing against the woman's shoulders, she gently guided her to sit down on the edge of the sofa. "Lie down," she commanded softly. 

Deven lifted an eyebrow as she studied the other woman. That her lover was aroused was evident, and she carefully considered what her response should be. This daring and playfulness Rhian was exhibiting wasn't something she wanted to risk damaging. They had come such a long way in their relationship, but Rhian still seemed to have a difficult time embracing her desires without becoming self-conscious about them.  "On my stomach, back or side?"

"Hmm, so many possibilities. But let's start with you on your back."  With a fluid grace, Deven did as she was directed and languidly stretched out her long limbs.  Reaching out, the landscaper ran her fingertips along the inside of a muscular thigh, across the patch of dark curls, stopping midway up the taut abdomen.  After kicking off her sandals, she stepped closer and then straddled the reclining woman's hips. "I want you, and I will have you. You're mine, and I'll do what I want with you."  She sealed her claim with a passionate kiss.

Pulling back, Rhian thought she saw something flicker in the depths of Deven's eyes, and it set off a warning in her gut. Given this woman's past, it occurred to her that Deven might have hidden issues with the idea of being taken even if it were merely an illusion.  She leaned forward, placed a small kiss on her lover's chin, and then stared into her eyes. "Maybe this was a bad idea," she whispered.  She started to push herself up but felt the martial artist's arms wrap around her body, holding her firmly in place. 

"No, it wasn't. Really."  Deven knew she could flip the smaller woman over without much effort. I could throw her across the room if I wanted to.  Not that I would ever want to.  And I know I could easily turn the tables on her. So, what is the big deal?  And then she gained an understanding of what was really at issue and returned the woman's steady gaze.  "I trust you."

Rhian kissed her again, softly. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Besides, I have to admit that this assertive side of yours is kind of exciting, and I'm real curious as to what you have in mind."  She smiled as the landscaper released a sigh of relief.  "What do you want me to do?"

Rhian returned the smile with an almost bashful one.  "Put your hands over your head and grasp the end of the sofa."  The martial artist slowly did as instructed.  "Don't move them unless I say so. Understand?"  Deven tried to appear serious as she nodded her head.  "I'll tie you down if I have to." 

Unable to hold it in, Deven laughed at the woman's bravado.  "You and what army?"

"Don't push me, Masterson," Rhian said in a decent imitation of the martial artist.

"Yes, ma'am."

Sitting up, the young woman gazed longingly at her lover.  The desire to continue the game was receding rapidly as her need to feel Deven's touch fought for supremacy, but she concentrated on why she'd started this in the first place.  

She was confident that she had Deven's love but there remained within her a nagging concern that she wasn't enough.  She couldn't quite dispel the fear that her inexperience and reticence would ultimately bore this woman, causing her to seek out pleasure elsewhere.  Perhaps it was her history with Sean that fed that fear.  She'd had a few dreams over the past months in which he'd appeared as mocking and demeaning, as he'd come to do in life. When that combined with her knowledge of Deven's past, Rhian often felt that her ability to keep the woman interested and satisfied wasn't possible.

Sean's voice suddenly filled her head. Rhian, you're about as exciting as a dead pike.  And if you were any more frigid, you'd give me frostbite.  She forced all thoughts of him from her head, and focused on the woman beneath her but not before Deven saw the hurt cross her face.


The landscaper tried to smile.  "Sorry. It's okay."

"No, it's not.  I know it's not."

Rhian moved her fingertips across Deven's skin, concentrating only on recapturing the lust that still glowed deep within her belly.  I won't let that bastard ruin what I feel for her. I won't give him that power.  "I'll tell you later.  Right now, I'm kind of busy." 

Refocused on her objective to seduce, she stripped off her blouse, prolonging the exercise as she watched Deven closely.  Not one to suppress or hide her excitement, the signs of the martial artist's arousal was evident and increasing, and fueled Rhian's desire to draw out the process. 

She wasn't certain how she was going to proceed or what she was actually going to do, but watching Deven's reaction - the flare of her nose, the darkening of her eyes, and the slight flush of her skin was heightening Rhian's audacity.  When their gazes met, a jolt shot straight to her groin from the longing in her companion's eyes. 

Slipping off her bra, she tossed it carelessly to the floor, and then lifting her hands she covered her own breasts.  Keeping her eyes locked on her lover, her fingers fondled the flesh until her nipples hardened and rose up. 

The sight was more exciting then Deven had expected and without thought she released her grasp of the sofa with the intention of replacing Rhian's hands with her own. 

"Stop!  Don't move. Put your hands back." 

"Are you trying to drive me insane?"

Rhian silenced her with a sensual kiss.  "No. I'm trying to turn you on."

"Well, hell, you did that a long time ago."

Standing back up, Rhian slowly and deliberately removed the remainder of her clothes, one article at a time.  Her skin tingled and warmed, and she swore she could actually feel Deven's eyes roaming over her.  As the last garment dropped to the floor, she straddled her lover once more.  Leaning her torso forward, she placed a hand on either side of Deven's head and began a slow lascivious rocking of her hips, brushing herself against the martial artist's lower belly.

The moist warmth pressing against her skin created a mirrored response in her own body, and Deven groaned as her groin tightened. Oh, God. She is going to kill me!  She's going to get me so turned on that I explode. She's mad at me about this morning and this is my punishment.  She's going to kill with arousal.  Any minute now she's going to just get up and walk away.

Lowering further still, Rhian brought their bodies together, sighing as flesh touched flesh and her breasts pressed against Deven's.  Torn between the need that was building within her and her desire to love this woman, she deliberately began a slow assault of her lover's neck and chest.  Her tongue and lips brushed the flesh leaving a trail of heat in their wake, and her teeth nipped the sensitive skin on Deven's breasts.  Alternating between tender touch and passionate consumption, she kept the woman off balance and then without warning, she bit down fully intent on leaving a mark.

"Damn!" Deven said as her lower body bucked upwards in response. 

Lifting her head, Rhian studied her handy work.  "Hmm."  Her eyes locked on Deven's.  "You're mine, you know?" She didn't wait for a confirmation.  At that moment, she didn't need it.  Her hands and mouth moved boldly over the woman's flesh, claiming that which was hers.  "Mine," she murmured against the underside of a breast.  

In her present position with her lover straddling her hips, Deven was growing more frustrated as she couldn't get any release.  She moved her hips, seeking that touch that eluded her but it didn't help her aching flesh.  "Rhian, please."

"Hush, my love," the landscaper whispered.  Sitting back up, she rocked her hips, pressing her sex against Deven's body.  Her hands returned to her own breasts, massaging them and teasing the nipples.  A multitude of sensation moved through her, and she forgot why she was touching herself.  Her eyes drifted shut and stayed that way until she felt the martial artist's low snarl vibrate where their flesh touched.  

The desire and frustration were evident in Deven's eyes, and the cords of muscle in her arms stood out as she gripped the end of the sofa. "Rhian, please let me touch you."

As hard as it was to not give in, she answered, "Not yet."  Her hands continued to move over her own body.  "Do you like this?"

The martial artist's voice came out low and husky.  "I'd like it a whole lot more if you'd let me do it."

"That doesn't answer the question. Yes or no."

"Yes," she rasped.

Grinding harder as Deven lifted her hips upwards, Rhian sought to increase the contact.  Slowly, she trailed her hand down her stomach to between her legs.  "Do you like this?"

"Yes."  Deven had become mesmerized by the vision before her.  She'd come to know this woman's body so well that she could see and feel everything clearly in her mind as if it were her hand between Rhian's legs.  The damp curls.  The wetness as it flowed freely, coating the soft flesh, and the folds of skin as they parted to reveal the swollen clitoris. 

The evening sun spilled through the window, bathing Rhian in resplendent light.  The small beads of sweat on her skin glistened and the highlights in her hair shimmered.  The whole effect was dazzling and made it appear that the woman was glowing. "God, you are so beautiful," Deven said softly, her voice filled with wonder. 

She watched Rhian's eyes close and heard her breath shorten to soft pants.  Nothing in her past liaisons came close to how completely arousing this woman could be.  Her sex throbbed painfully, and she pressed her legs tighter together trying to create some friction as her hips lifted in rhythm to Rhian's fingers.  "Rhian."


"Look at me."

The landscaper's eyes fluttered open revealing irises that were now a deep emerald.  As Rhian's focus cleared and settled on Deven, she was pulled into the depth of emotion she saw there - an intoxicating blend of love and lust. 

"That's it," Deven said. "Look at me. I want to see you."

"Hmm."  The game completely forgotten for the moment, Rhian focused on Deven's face and increased the pressure of her fingers.  She didn't care how shameless she was behaving or about modesty.  All she cared about was basking in the depth of her love and feeling the love that only this woman could give her.  For all her talk earlier, there remained within her a seed of doubt that she might have truly ruined something between them, that she might have hurt Deven badly enough to have damaged their relationship.  "I love you," she whispered. 

To the martial artist, the quiet declaration sounded strangely like a plea, and it bothered her.  Staring into Rhian's eyes, she willed her soul to open and show the depth of her feelings.  "I love you, too." 

It was enough to send Rhian spiraling downward to where her orgasm began and then as it spread outwards, she felt herself lifted back up to the pinnacle of release.  Her legs tightened and squeezed against Deven's hips causing the martial artist's groin to constrict in sympathy, and then she stilled for a spectacular moment as the pulses of her climax moved throughout her system.    

Removing her hand from between their bodies, Rhian lay down on her lover.  "Don't move yet," she managed to gasp out.  She relaxed completely against the woman's warm body, waiting for her breathing to return to normal and when it finally did, she said, "Okay, now we can get started."  She felt as well as heard Deven chuckle. "What's so funny?"

"I could have sworn you just started without me."

"Yeah, well, for some reason when I get around you, I seem to lose my mind."

"Is that a bad thing?"

A small smile tugged at the younger woman's lips.  "No.  Anyway, that wasn't what I had figured would happen."

Deven turned her head slightly and placed a small kiss on her lover's forehead.  "Planned or not, it was amazingly erotic."

"It was?" Rhian asked tentatively.

"Definitely. You are so beautiful anyway, but when you're aroused," she sighed, "you're breathtaking."

Rhian felt the sudden urge to cry and before she could stop herself, the words tumbled out.  "Sean didn't think so. He was just grateful I wasn't ugly."  She regretted having spoken the thought aloud even before she felt the stiffening of Deven's body.  Lifting her head, she kissed her lover.  She kissed her again and again trying to dispel her words from the woman's mind and re-ignite the desire. 

Deven hated that Rhian felt the way she did and was infuriated by the man's part in it.  Her anger and desire merged, and it took all her self-control to remain lying on her back and keep her hands where they were.  Her passion pushed her to take back control and show Rhian just how wrong the woman was about herself.  How wrong Sean had been.  But she managed to keep her hands in place while still pressing to dominate their kisses.  Each of her attempts was easily thwarted though as Rhian would simply pull away.

An unseen energy seemed to radiate up out of the woman beneath her, and unconscientiously Rhian absorbed it.  Her oral assault became more fervent. Each taste, each inhalation of Deven's scent, fueled a deepening ardor, and her focus became to make this woman feel how much she was loved and wanted. 

There was no more thought as Rhian simply acted upon the passion.  She touched and tasted everywhere she could reach, purposefully avoiding the most sensitive of spots at first before focusing completely on the things she knew Deven liked.  She put everything she could into making love to her woman. 

Shifting her body, she coaxed Deven to open for her and trailed her fingertips up the inside of a sensitive thigh.  Her hand slowed as it neared its destination, drawing out the exquisite torture.  The martial artist lifted her hips in an effort to capture the touch that continued to evade her, but Rhian pulled back just out of her reach.  "Not until I say so." 

Deven's face was flushed, and her irises had become a deep indigo from the unfulfilled desire.  Bringing her hand once more between the martial artist's strong legs, Rhian traced the soft skin, dipping into the warm space between the folds.  "Don't move or I'll stop," she ordered.  Her fingertip caressed the inflamed flesh, purposefully rousing Deven's excitement. 

A deep growl rose up out of the frustrated woman.  "In about two seconds, I'm going to take matters into my own hands."

Rhian stared at her and smiled.  "No, you're not."  She stopped the motion of her finger and poised, ready to consummate this joining.  "I love you," she said and without any further hesitation, she entered her lover.   

"Oh, God. Yes!" the martial artist gasped.

With an upward thrust, Deven pulled Rhian in deeply and they quickly settled into a rhythm.  The more the martial artist responded the more Rhian found herself nearly obsessed with possessing her.  Everything centered on the fervor that was building between them, and all too soon she felt Deven rushing toward the brink of her climax.  She struggled with whether or not she should back off to slow the outcome, but even as she considered it, her own hunger pressed to release the woman.  This was an act of intimacy that belonged to her and her alone.  No one had ever known Deven like this and no one ever would.  This was a gift she'd been given and one she promised herself she would never take for granted.   

The muscles in Deven's arms were incredibly taut as her fingers dug into the soft leather, and her whole body grew rigid as the sensation began low in her groin and fanned outward to her buttocks, hips and thighs.  Her belly filled with flowing warmth that rose up to her chest and she felt the moan building in conjunction with her orgasm.  Every muscle in her body seemed to constrict at once, and her back arched, lifting them both up off the surface of the sofa. 

They froze for heartbeats before the tension ebbed out of Deven's body and she fell back against the leather.  Sighing, Rhian rested her head on her lover's shoulder, and they quietly lazed in the emotional intimacy. 

"Can I move my arms now?" Deven asked.

"If you think you can" Rhian answered against her neck.

"Good point."  Slowly releasing her grasp, Deven flexed her fingers, flinching as they cramped in protest.  "Ow!"  Extending her arms towards the ceiling she stretched, working to return the circulation to the overtaxed muscles.  It took a few minutes, but the ache subsided and she lowered them to settle around the woman nestled on top of her. 

She'd gone to a place she'd never been before in allowing Rhian to have her way.  The woman had made love to her in the past but never had Deven allowed her to think she was in charge.  It was all a head game and meant nothing, and she knew that.  But it didn't dispel the enormity of what it was representative of for her.  And it bothers you. A lot.

From the day she'd told Rhian the truth about her past, she'd found herself propelled down a path that was such an antithesis of her prior life.  Despite all her reservations, she hadn't been able to stop the journey.  The very core of her being, that had driven her all these years to never relinquish anything to anyone, had been forced to the background amid the confusion of having this woman and their children a constant in her life.  Some days the loss was so subtle, she didn't even notice it until much later.  Other days she felt Rhian take control right from her hands and seemed completely helpless to stop it. 

It's like I'm losing myself, and I can't stop it. You haven't really tried, now have you? Maybe you don't want to stop it?  It isn't as if I'm miserable. I'm not.  It's just that my life is changing so much. I'm changing. But that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Does it?  I don't know.  I know that many of my perceptions are different.  I don't see things the same. That's not bad. And she makes me feel things I never knew I was capable of and keeps me honest about them. I don't suppose that's bad, at least most of the time.

So what the hell is wrong with me?  Why do I feel like I want to get the hell out of here?  It doesn't make sense.  No?  Okay, Deven, how about this?  How about the part where she can hurt you more deeply then anyone in your life? How about the fact that she holds that power?  And how about the fact that she can steal your breath away with the intensity of her love but also has the power to knock you to your emotional knees? How about the part where she holds your heart in her hands and you know she can break it with just a word or a look? Is it bad? It scares the hell out of me!

She tightened her hold on the woman slightly.  And the alternative?  You dodged another bullet today, Deven.  What if she'd actually left you? What then? She could have easily walked out that door and never looked back.  I do not want to think about that! And it doesn't matter anyway, because she didn't. She's here, and I have another chance to do things right. True, you emotional moron, but what happens when you run out of chances?  Oh, shut up!  She placed a gentle kiss on Rhian's head and murmured, "I love you." 

"Deven, I could spend the rest of my life telling you that I love you and somehow it just doesn't truly express the depth of my feelings for you. I do, you know?  Love you.  All of you."

The martial artist sighed while pushing her dark thoughts to recede.  "I feel the same way."  Her hands moved idly across the skin on Rhian's back, lightly rubbing the muscles.  "I'm really sorry about today."

"Me, too.  We can't let things get like that again."

They fell silent for several minutes, just relaxing in the comfort they found in each other.  "I have a new ground rule," Deven said.

"Oh yeah?  What's that?"

"We need to make love in every room in this house."

Rhian laughed.  "Not every room."

"Why not?"

Lifting her head, the landscaper gazed at her lover.  "I am not having sex in the kids' rooms."

"Why not?" Deven asked.  "I mean think about it.  Every time I have to spend time in one of their rooms, I can remember what we did in there."

Rhian started laughing uncontrollably.  "You are so warped."

"Why?  It's not like we'd do it with them in the room, although that would give a whole new meaning to sex education." 

"I do not intend to teach our children the details of making love. It would bend their little psyches.  It's enough for me that they grow up knowing that we love each other and them."

"All right," the martial artist agreed.  "But that still doesn't negate my rule."

"Deven, you can't really expect me to do this in their rooms."

"Yes, I can. And I do."

Rhian shook her head.  "I'll tell you what.  I'll consider it."

A smile of triumph appeared.  "Uh huh," Deven said as her hands began a slow exploration, touching and caressing her lover.  With each pass over the warm skin, her hands drifted lower until they settled on the woman's backside, rubbing, lifting and parting the firm flesh.  Whether of its own accord or because of the increasing beat of Rhian's heart against her chest, Deven felt her own heart rate rise, seemingly to stay in synchronization.  


"Yes?" she purred.

"Touch me." 

No further invitation was required.  Sitting up, Deven wrapped her arms around the woman and pulled their bodies firmly together as she whispered, "As you wish."

To Be Continued in Chapter Seven

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