Liana curled tighter around the body pillow, pushing her face into the blue plush snowflake blankets keeping her warm. While the swelling on her face had gone down over the last two weeks, the bruises all over her body still made it difficult to find a comfortable position in which to fall asleep. When Liana did find rest, usually it was in short spurts or it happened because she was too exhausted to keep her eyes open.
She shifted a bit more, finding a good spot and sighing blissfully. Liana felt fingertips running through her hair, and her own traced the slender side of the body beneath her. Jolting awake, Liana pulled up on one elbow to find Mare lying beneath her. Tears glossed Mare’s clear blue eyes as she reached a shaking hand up to cup Liana’s cheek, her voice hoarse, “I’m so, so sorry! I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to just come home to you—”
“You’re okay, sweetie—”
Mare shook her head, bringing a light kiss to Liana’s lips. “No, I’m not. Hadley had it right when she jumped on the very next plane out, and I’m sure I’ll catch a deserved hell from her, but I wanted to make sure that when I made it right, I made it wholly right.”
“I don’t understand.” Liana sank down to fully rest on Mare’s soft chest, holding the woman’s intense gaze. “Made it wholly right?”
“Baby, I mean that I didn’t want us to have to be parted anymore. I didn’t want us to subsist on phone calls, so I tied up loose ends in Hollyweird and put my house on the market and all my stuff in a storage facility in Henderson.” Her fingertips on Liana’s scalp sent waves of drowsiness through Liana’s body. “So I’m here with you, and when you’re ready, we’ll go home. I know you and Hadley are tight, I know it’s a package deal, but when we go home, we’ll go home together.”
Tears broke the dam of her eyelids and slipped down Liana’s cheeks. “I can’t believe this is happening. Stuff like this never happens to me. Ever—”
In a single fluid motion, Mare sat them up, holding Liana carefully in her arms, supporting her fully as she shifted so Liana rested comfortably in her lap. “It is now. I know that we happened fast, but the rest of the time we have together, in this life and all those that follow, I want to savor each moment. That means, Liana, that I’m not willing to spend another moment without you. Yeah, I know that work will part us temporarily each day, but maybe we can put our desks at least in the same room or something?”
Liana laughed through the tears falling steadily down her face. “You… gods, woman, you mean—” Liana shifted in Mare’s lap, wrapping her legs around Mare’s hips as she tried to get closer to the woman. A broken little laugh tumbled over Liana’s lips as their gazes locked in the bluish light of the moon pouring in through the window. “At risk of sounding completely stupid, dear lady, I’ve been waiting for this day, waiting for the day that someone would claim me.”
Mare giggled, leaning her forehead to Liana’s. “Consider yourself claimed, my lady.”
Liana pressed a kiss to Mare’s mouth. “What if—”
Mare shook her head. “We already know it’ll work and, ye gods, we’re so much alike, Liana! We’re old enough to recognize that a relationship cannot function on chemistry alone, and we’re wise enough to know that yeah, we’re going to have to put some work into us to keep us working.” Mare’s smooth hands gently framed Liana’s face. “And I already know that you’ve been through hell, so I want to be close. I want to stay by your side. Please allow me to do so.”
“What if one day… you decide you… love… someone more than me?” Liana whispered, almost afraid to lift her gaze to the woman she’d fallen for the instant she’d run into her in the airport now almost three weeks ago.
A single tear slipped down Mare’s cheek. “Oh, girl… that’s not ever gonna happen. Here… I’ll make this easy for you, okay?” At Liana’s nod, she continued. “In the Kennedy novel of our life, you’d be the Nico and I’d be the Caleb.”
“You read Safe?” Liana’s eyes flew open wide.
“On the plane ride to Texas. You said it was one of your favorites, so I read it.” Mare’s thumb passed over Liana’s lower lip. “And I’m never going to let someone hurt you again. Ever. I love you. Admittedly, there’s no logic to me knowing it, but neither you nor I are logical creatures. I’m also admitting that I’ve always believed in love at first sight—”
“In our case, love at first crash,” Liana joked.
“Right?!” Mare searched Liana’s eyes. “What I’m trying to say is fine, okay, let people say we’re moving too fast. I don’t care. What I care about is you and me and how we feel. Do you—”
“Yes!” Liana’s lips spread in a brilliant smile as she nodded. “Yes! I do! I mean, yes, I love you, Mare!”
“That’s all I need to know, then.” Mare tugged Liana closer still as her lips lifted to the kiss Liana gave—
Mare and Liana returned with Hadley to Henderson after New Year’s. Liana didn’t end up returning to her day job at the pizza shop for long. She went back to work for a month in order to train her replacement, but Mare wanted Liana to focus on her writing, so after the replacement was trained, Liana locked up after herself for the last time and finally moved on to what she had always dreamed of: being a stay-at-home author. The first day of waking up to a brand new life coincided with the first day of being pain free, which meant Liana was free to be herself entirely!
Rolling onto her side, Liana slid her hand over Mare’s collarbone. “Mornin’, beautiful lady.”
Mare’s hand slipped over the side of Liana’s neck, fingers burying in warm blonde hair as she pulled Liana into a sweet kiss. “Now it is.”
Liana smiled sleepily at her lady, falling back onto her back and tugging Mare along with her. Mare giggled, tossing her hair over her shoulder as she leaned down to press another kiss to Liana’s mouth, asking, “Writing on the boys today?”
Liana nodded. “Plan today was get up, take a shower—maybe with this beautiful lady I’m in love with—”
Mare laughed. “Would love to!”
“—go out to breakfast at this little place on Boulder Highway—”
A kiss to her chest above her heart. “Sounds like heaven.”
“Maybe dawdle around one of the two Psychic Eyes I like.” Liana arched her neck to the butterfly kisses dropped along the sensitive skin. Her hands buried in the thick sandy blonde hair she often buried her face in as she fell asleep, biting her lower lip as lithe hands slid under her tank top and up her sides.
“I’m good with that—” Liana’s words died on her lips as Mare crawled above her, an impish smile on her lips as she told Liana, “But first, my lady, you’re going to be made love to properly. No other way to start the first day of the rest of our lives than by joining our souls.”
Liana’s hands smoothed up Mare’s back, taking with them the black camisole she’d worn to bed. Mare smiled at her, sitting up on Liana’s hips. “Know that these last three months have been the best days of my life, that I wouldn’t change anything but what happened to you the first week we met.”
Removing her own top, Liana sat up, one hand cupping Mare’s jaw. “Not your fault.” Kiss. “It’s over.” Kiss. “It’s done and we’re here.” Heavy kiss, hands in each other’s hair. “And we’re together.”
Mare nodded, nipping at Liana’s lips. “We are.” Pushed closer to Liana. “Not letting you go.” Rock of her hips. “Ever!”
“Because I’d let you?” Liana rocked back, liking the friction of their curvy bodies. Her hands slid harshly over Mare’s full breasts. Her fingers pinched the taut, dusky nipples. “You’re mine—”
“Vixen!” Mare hissed, pushing Liana back onto the pillows, legs tangling in legs as Mare’s lips closed around the sensitive nipple of Liana’s left breast. Liana rocked, awash in the undertow of pleasure dragging her further and further out. Mare sped up the rhythm, her heat solid against Liana’s as she sat up once more, one hand on Liana’s bent knee. She tossed her head back, raining tousled gold over one shoulder, and Liana gasped at the sensual sight her lover made.
“Mare… gods, Mare—”
Hooded blue eyes trained on her face as Mare leaned forward, her hips quickening as Liana’s hands found home in Mare’s hair. Their mouths crashed together as Mare took them into the light—
Mare giggled, burying her face in Liana’s neck before whispering, “That was so very not how I wanted to make love to you, but Christ on a cross, woman—”
“Ye gods, Mare, don’t apologize!” Liana blushed, holding tighter to her lady. “That was singularly the sexiest thing that has ever happened to me. Baby, we didn’t even get our panties off!”
The laughter mingled into a tender kiss. Rolling to their sides, Liana pushed Mare’s hair over her shoulder, whispering, “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.”
“Being loved. Being adored. Being needed.” Mare smiled at her. “And so much more.” Her smiled widened. “Can’t believe I forgot to say the most important one.”
Liana nuzzled Mare’s face. “Because the others aren’t important enough?”
“Well… they go with this one, I suppose, so equally important, but yeah… this one is super-duper stupid important.” Mare cackled, stealing a kiss, her hands raking through Liana’s hair. “I love the streaks in your hair! You’re gorgeous, Liana! You’re a goddess—”
“That’s you, Mare.” Kiss. “Tell me the important one.”
“Right!” Mare kissed her tenderly. “You’re the stars, you know that?” As Liana’s cheeks filled with new color, Mare tipped up her chin, bringing their gazes together. “Which brings me to my confession.”
“Confession?” Liana asked, pulling up on one elbow.
“You said you didn’t know what you were doing. I confessed what I was doing. I am loving you. I am adoring you. I am needing you. And I’m going to create a verb from a noun for this next one.” Mare leaned on one elbow as she slid her free hand over Liana’s shoulder, fingers following the slope of Liana’s neck. “I am going to wife you.”
Liana blinked, one hand following Mare’s on her shoulder, fingers threading through Mare’s longer ones. “Wife?”
“Yeah.” Mare squeezed Liana’s hand. “What do you think?”
“Say it again!” Liana fired back. “Say it!”
“Be my wife.” Mare grinned. “Let’s do this the same way we’ve done it all.”
Liana couldn’t stop the joy flooding the banks of her soul. “Only if you’ll be my wife.”
“Because I could resist the sun that is you, Liana? You are a bright light. I know that touching you will burn, but I want to burn, want to shine, within you. Let me burn—”
Liana placed a lone fingertip to Mare’s lips, giving a slight shake of her head. “No… let us burn. Together.”
“Like Amy said in Angels Take Manhattan?” Mare suggested and Liana felt the tears slip down her cheeks at her lover’s remembrance of a beloved line.
“Exactly like Amy said. Together, or not at all!” Liana rasped, fingers trembling as they brought Mare’s palm to her lips. “And you truly are my Rory Williams.”
“And you, my beautiful, loud Scottish Amy Pond… and a soul so bright I could see it on the other side of the universe.” Mare laid Liana back on the bed again. “So let me love you the way I wanted to now… and we’ll make breakfast downtown, okay?”
Liana nodded, and she reached for Mare, knowing in that instant she would always reach for her, she would always hold her and need to be held by her, and that inside the haven of her embrace, she would always know a love brighter than any sun.