Stargate Aschen Unabridged
This is the MA-rated version of Chapter 33, and it contains adult language and sexual situations. If you’d rather read the PG-13 version, please head over the fanfiction.net and read the chapter there.
Petrichor, the fresh and earthy scent after the rain, permeated the air. Birds warbled a cheerful song, one chirping right in front of the open window. She turned her head when the curtain flapped in a stronger gust of wind.
Happiness surged through her at the memory of the previous night. She stretched, enjoying the relaxing pull in her muscles. What time was it? She turned her head to the window. If the sun was up that high…
It’d been a while since she’d slept that well. After another moment of reveling, she got up. The fresh breeze caressed her bare skin, leaving behind goose bumps. She hurried to pull on the shirt still lying on the chair in the corner.
The door of the bedroom creaked as she opened it. Sam peeked out into the living area, then walked barefooted across the wooden floor.
No answer. The house lay absolutely quiet. She wrapped her arms around herself against another shiver. The porch door stood open. He’d probably gone outside. Scratching through her tousled hair, she went into the bathroom to brush her teeth. There’d be time for a shower later, and right now she was starving. Food. And coffee.
In the kitchen, the scent of fresh coffee hung in the air. Sam looked around and spotted a glass pot on the table. The dark liquid steamed as she opened the lid.
Coffee. She inhaled with a happy smile.
What a perfect morning. How long hadn’t she taken the time to enjoy a relaxing morning coffee anymore? At camp, she hardly ever had time for more than a rushed breakfast and a quick shower. There was always a schedule to follow, always somebody standing outside the bathhouse waiting to use it.
She ran her hand through her tousled hair in another futile attempt at taming the strands.
Heart pounding, she spun around to the porch door. Jack gave her a warm smile, then closed the door behind him.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”
She gave up the fight with her hair and returned his smile. “Good morning.”
Damn, but he looked good. Unruly hair, tanned skin and just the hint of a five o’clock shadow. Stains of dirt darkened his grey shirt here and there. Was it just her imagination or did he look even more handsome this morning?
“Enjoying the view?” He nudged her as he passed her by and her cheeks heated. Very subtle, practically gaping at him.
She cleared her throat. “You made coffee. How long have you been awake?”
“Not long. I just did my morning round to check on the generator. Although Mrs. Williams fires it up occasionally, it tends to break down after the first night.” He leaned in for a long, lingering kiss, then winced and held up his dirty hands. The stinging smell of machine oil reached her nostrils. “Sorry, I should probably wash these first.”
As he went over to the sink, Sam turned to reach for two cups in the cupboard. She put them on the table and filled them both with coffee.
This was nice. Homey and so normal. As if they didn’t live most of the year in the wilderness in tents, but were a normal couple who’d settled in a normal little house. With a normal life. Her heart stung a little. She turned and handed one of the cups to him when he was done drying his hands.
“Thank you. Did you sleep well?”
“Very. And you?” She took a sip of her coffee while she held his gaze.
He moved in closer to pull her against him. “Best sleep in years.” Another lingering kiss. Then his face became serious as his hands caressed her hips and thighs. “Sore?”
She shook her head. “No. Just a bit sensitive.”
“Good.” He smiled, then nuzzled her neck in a ticklish caress. She laughed and hurried to put her cup down before she’d add coffee stains to the machine oil ones on his shirt. Then she wrapped her arms around him and ran her fingers through his ruffled hair.
His mouth tasted like fresh morning air, and coffee, and him. She hummed against his lips in appreciation. Would she ever get enough of him?
His hands roamed over her back and down to her behind, pulling her against him. She smiled when the growing bulge in his pants told her she wasn’t the only one getting excited. They both released a groan as they broke apart.
“I gotta take a shower first.” Jack brushed his hands along her cheeks. “There’s machine oil all over me.” He raised his eyebrows as he dropped his gaze. “I think I ruined your shirt.”
Sam looked down. Traces of black showed on the grey. She shrugged. “I like you dirty.”
Jack gave a silent cough and stared at her. Then a dark smirk pulled at his lips and he leaned in. “Careful there, unless you wanna find yourself bent over that kitchen counter.”
“Promise?” She grinned.
“Most definitely.” His fingers trailed under her shirt. She groaned. God, she should have put clothes on. Panties, or her tank top. He hummed against her neck and pulled her close. His hot palms sought out her bare skin, grazed her breasts. Fire ignited under her skin. At last, he released her with a chuckle. “How about some breakfast?”
“What about the counter?”
He brushed his nose against hers. “Probably not a good idea if you’re still sensitive from last night.” He pecked a kiss on the tip of her nose. “Wouldn’t want to have to cut you off for the next two days.”
She released a disappointed sigh. “Too bad.” Sam picked up her coffee and smiled at him from under her lashes.
“Oh, I fully intent to have you naked again very, very soon.” Laughing, she opened the fridge, but Jack stopped her. “I’ll make breakfast. Scrambled eggs and bacon.”
Steam fogged the small bathroom as Sam sneaked inside and closed the door. The coffee slowly began to take effect, and the delicious breakfast he’d served her had done the rest.
She pulled her shirt over her head and then opened the door of the small glass shower cubicle. Droplets of hot water hit her skin. Jack turned and her stomach tightened at her own boldness.
“Hi.” Her breath caught when he pulled her inside against his chest. The stream of water washed over her head, soaked her hair and skin. “I thought we might conserve water this way.”
He grinned. “Yeah, doubt that.” His breath washed warm across her lips.
She trailed her fingers over his cheek and chin. Smooth. Then continued her exploration down his chest and stomach, her fingers sliding with ease over his slippery skin. When she wrapped her arms around his neck, her nipples brushed up against his chest hair and she groaned at the sensation.
Jack spilled kisses down her neck, along her shoulders, exploring every inch, leaving her breathless and wired up. Desperate for more.
His lips took hers, his tongue tasting, demanding. When she broke the kiss, he raised his eyebrows. “Where’s your soap?”
She turned and picked up the bottle from the small shelf in the corner of the shower. He wrapped his arms around her and took it out of her hands, then turned off the water.
Was he gonna…? Sam held her breath when he dripped some of the body wash into his hands. His warm palms brushed over her stomach, rubbing gently, covering the skin with the white foam. Her breath hitched and she let her head fall back on his shoulder.
The circles he drew on her skin became wider, larger. Finally his palms cupped the mounds of her breasts, slipping over them with ease, teasing and kneading gently.
When he dropped kisses along her shoulder and then let his hand travel further south, she let her head fall back against his chest. A moan escaped her.
With ease, his fingers slipped between her legs, the soap softening his touch and reducing the friction.
“Mmmh?” He placed a kiss right under her ear, slow, teasing.
“What are you…” She hissed between her teeth and quivered when his finger slid over her clit. She squirmed in his embrace when his hand delved deeper between her folds. A hint of soreness still lingered, turning his touch borderline unpleasant. Sam grabbed his wrist and turned around to face him. “Last time I checked that wasn’t how you’re supposed to shower.”
“Well, maybe you checked the wrong sources then.” He smirked against her lips. Biting her lower lip, she trailed her fingers down his chest while he soaped her backside.
The muscles in his abdomen twitched slightly under her touch. She leaned against him, dropped kisses along his throat and over his collarbone. His low hum vibrated under her lips. God, he tasted good this morning. She locked her lips right above his jugular and sucked, prompting him to pull her hard against him.
When he reached behind her and turned the water back on, they sank into a hot kiss as the stream rinsed the foam off. As she wrapped her fingers around his growing arousal, he groaned low in his throat, the sound reverberating into the kiss.
So he liked that. Sam studied him as he leaned against the tiled wall. She trailed her index finger along his length, fascinated by his response. “Show me what you like.”
His eyes snapped open. She felt her cheeks burn. Damn, why did she have to be so inexperienced?
Jack covered her hand with his own, and she allowed him to guide her in stroking his silky length, increasing grip and speed, slowing down again. A playful game. When he grew rock hard in her hand, she leaned in to capture his lips.
His grip on her hand eased, and she took over, changing patterns on her own now. He groaned and leaned his head against the wall. Her understanding of his reactions grew with every stroke, every new caress. When she found one that made him grip her hip tighter, she kept it up for a few seconds, then alternated it again to find another one. Now and then, he helped her, showing her something new, where to touch.
Her satisfaction grew when he fisted his hands against the wall and gritted his teeth in an obvious attempt at maintaining his control.
Smiling, she nipped at his neck, then his earlobe. “Don’t hold back.” God, he tasted so good. Her tongue flicked out, teased a little more. “I want you to come on me.”
His hand gripped her shoulder, pulling her closer to him. He twitched in her hand, then he released a guttural moan. Sam’s breath hitched when his hot essence spilled over her abdomen, then she yelped when he pulled her close to claim her lips in a hard kiss.
He’d come on her. She’d made him come. With her hand. Euphoria flooded her, and she groaned into the kiss, her fingers raking through his damp hair.
“God. Sam.” He looked positively spent when he released her and leaned back against the wall, panting.
She smiled. “Good?”
“You kidding me?”
She stifled a giggle against his neck. “I thought it’d be a nice experiment.”
“Yeah, no kidding.” Still breathless. His eyes gleamed.
Sam looked down to her stomach, then lifted her hand to trace her fingers through the reminder of their steamy interlude. Warm, slippery. Fascinating.
Growling, Jack took a step towards her and pushed her up against the opposite wall. Air left her lungs when the hard planes of his chest crushed her.
“You’re mine.” His words washed hotly against her neck, stirring the hair right behind her ear.
Heat pooled between her legs. His. And he was hers. She let her head fell back and closed her eyes. “Yes.”
He nibbled a way down the side of her neck. “You’ll beg me to let you come later.”
Releasing a shaky laugh, she pushed him back to the opposite wall and met his dark gaze. “I don’t beg.” She gave his lower lip a challenging little nip.
His eyes blazed. “I remember you begging last night.”
“I’m sure you imagined that. I don’t beg. Any man. Ever.”
“Challenge accepted.” A dark rumble. She squirmed when his fingers found a ticklish spot at her waist.
The stream hitting her back grew cooler, then turned icy cold. She inhaled sharply and released an involuntary squeak, nearly stumbling against him.
Jack caught her in his arms, then reached around her and turned off the water. “Seems like we used up all the hot water.”
Her body shook when she hid her face in his neck, laughing. “I guess that rules out shower sex once we’re back at camp.”
He gave a soft cough and Sam looked up, her eyebrows raised. “Well, cold water? I don’t think so.”
“I’d be more concerned about the three-minute timeframe if I were you.”
“Technically, we’d be sharing a shower. That’d make six minutes.” She opened the glass door and stepped outside, shivering against the cooler air in the bathroom.
“Given that a bit of thought, have we?” He reached for one of the towels and wrapped it around her body from behind.
Grabbing the ends of it, Sam turned in his embrace and gave him a beaming smile. “And you haven’t?”
He gave her an almost awkward nod. “Yeah, well.”
Smiling, she ran the ends of the towel down his chest, then wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a languid kiss. Her bare breasts rubbed against his damp chest hair, her fingers tracing the scars covering his back.
She giggled when he lifted her to sit on the counter right next to the bathroom sink, putting her mouth at the same height as his.
“We’re gonna test that claim of yours.”
She raised her eyebrows, her fingers caressing his nape. “What claim?”
He gave her a dark smirk, and her stomach flip-flopped. “The one about not begging.” His hand pushed her back to lean against the cold tiles of the wall.
She held her breath. Oh, God, was he gonna… “Jack, wait.”
He chuckled. “I pride myself on stamina, but I’m not that fast in my recovery.” His eyes gleamed as he pressed a kiss on her navel. Then he unceremoniously dove right between her spread legs, and his lips wrapped around her clit.
She yelped and gripped his head as pleasure raced through her limbs. He wasn’t tender or gentle as he’d been last night. His tongue pushed her to the brink mercilessly, and the ease with which he managed to build her up staggered her.
Before long, she squirmed against his mouth, fingers fisting in his hair to bring his mouth closer. His tongue ran through her folds, hot and easy, then teased her entrance. Her initial discomfort faded when he pushed inside.
“Jack…” So damn good. How had she not done this earlier? If she’d known sex would be like this, no way would she have waited this long.
His tongue flicked the tip of her clit, then hooked under it and tortured relentlessly. She bucked against him and gritted her teeth against a scream. Pressure exploded in a wave of ecstasy that left her panting. Damn, so fast.
Her eyes fluttered open, and she stared at him as he leaned back up. Her legs trembled in the aftershock of her orgasm.
“I love tasting you.” He fisted his hand in her hair and pulled her into a deep kiss, his tongue darting deep inside. She groaned into his mouth as she tasted herself. When he straightened, her brain had turned to mush.
She gave him a breathless smile. “I didn’t beg.”
“Day isn’t over yet.” His eyes sparkled. “Wanna go outside so I can show you around a bit?”
Her face lit up. “I’d love that.”
“Great.” He pulled her down from the counter. “Wear something practical.”
Sam placed her palms on the sink to steady herself as Jack left the bathroom. Her legs still trembled, but who was she to complain? She turned and picked up the hair comb from in front of the mirror.
Wear something practical, he’d said. The only clothes she owned were her skirt and her black leather pants. Neither of them sounded particularly practical for the occasion. Sam sighed and studied her features in the mirror. Her face was flushed, her eyes sparkling. She smiled at herself, a tingly feeling spreading in her stomach.
It had been so long since she’d dated. So long since she’d worried about what clothes to wear. Maybe she should have bought some make-up in town.
Ten minutes later, she left the bathroom dressed in a fresh black shirt and her uniform khakis. Jack’s eyebrows climbed as he studied her, then he cleared his throat.
“You look like you’re getting ready to work at camp. Don’t get me wrong, the camp uniform looks really hot on you. But I kinda feel like I’m gonna be called to a meeting at any moment.”
“Sorry.” Her cheeks flushed, and she winced. “I don’t have any private clothing appropriate for a walk in the forest.”
“Ah.” He took her hand and laced their fingers. “Shall we?”
She smiled when he pulled her outside into the warm air. After he’d locked the door, they strolled hand in hand through the field next to the house, towards the edge of the forest.
“The lake isn’t far.” Jack looked at the tree line. “Just a few minutes through the forest.”
“It’s so beautiful here.” Sam closed her eyes and inhaled. The scent of wildflowers and grass pervaded the warm air. “Do you ever see any Aschen harvesters here?”
“We’re pretty far up in the mountains, and there’s no farmland close. Just forest areas and lakes. They’re not interested in these lands.”
The soft breeze became slightly cooler as they entered the shadows of the forest.
“Up here it’s almost as though they don’t exist. I can understand why you like it here so much.”
Jack gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “I still haven’t given up hope that we’ll get rid of them at some point in my lifetime.”
“What then, though?” Sam lifted her hand and blinked against the sun and the cobalt sky. When Jack looked at her with raised eyebrows, she shrugged. “Well, have you never thought about what’ll happen then? We don’t have a human government. We don’t even have scientists. Most of our people are farmers.”
“We got people like you and McKay. And we have the Ministry officials like your dad versed in politics. I think we’ll manage.”
“Still.” How had she never thought about that when she’d set out to fight the Aschen? All she’d wanted was to go through the Stargate someday. Her dream had come true. Yes, of course, she wanted the Aschen off Earth, but that day seemed so far in the future.
He smirked. “Hey, I’m not saying we wouldn’t face problems. I just think we should cross that bridge when we come to it.”
So him, the lightness and simplicity with which he discarded worries. And yet, when faced with existing problems, he solved them with such integrity, such calm. They were so different… Tenderly, Sam drew him closer, and he wrapped his arm around her, pressing a kiss against her temple.
In the distance, the sparkling sunlight reflecting on the surface of the lake leaked through the trees. The air became cooler in the shadows, smelling of damp earth and moss. When they stepped out of the forest, Sam held her breath.
A wide lake stretched out in front of her, the water so clear she could see the bottom with its algae, fine grain sand and a scattering of rocks. Sunlight and wind created an entrancing dance on the small ripples that formed on the water’s surface.
“Oh my God. I’ve never seen a lake this clear.” She stepped towards the water. Soft waves lapped lazily onto the rocky shore. To the left, a wooden gangway led out onto the water.
“Ours in Antarctica is pretty clear too.” He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind.
“Yes, but it’s small and so deep you can’t see the bottom.”
He smirked. “I told you, you can swim in it when I invited you here for polar night.”
He had. And if she’d known he was inviting her to paradise… She leaned her head back against his shoulder. A group of wild geese landed on the water in the distance. Rocks and forests framed the shore on the other side, stretching up the side of a small mountain.
“Why did you invite me?” When he raised his eyebrows, Sam cleared her throat. “During polar night. Why did you invite me all of a sudden?”
He shrugged. “I hadn’t heard from your father regarding the marriage for over eight months. I thought the contract wouldn’t be valid. You were the woman I wanted to be with, so…” He cleared his throat.
She held her breath as her insides fluttered with happiness. She was the woman he’d wanted to be with. Even back then. He’d actually wanted her before the marriage contract came up.
“What?” Jack brushed her cheek with his nose.
“Nothing.” She smiled, then turned her head to capture his lips with hers. “I wanted to be with you, too. Which is the reason I didn’t come. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to resist the temptation.”
“Ah.” He grinned. “I am pretty hard to resist, aren’t I?”
She laughed. “Smug bastard.” When his tongue darted into her mouth, her whisper turned into a shaky sigh.
“You know…” Jack nipped her lower lip. There’s a hidden raised hide where you can look over the entire landscape, including parts of the lake. It’s gonna be a bit of a walk through the forest, though.”
Being able to view this entire landscape? Her heart quickened. “Let’s go.”
Sam couldn’t believe places like this existed on Earth.
Lush forests with different kinds of Aspen, fir, and spruce trees. Clearings filled with wildflowers. Butterflies dancing on the beams of sunlight breaking through the tree crowns. Wild apples and berries. And except for them, no soul around to disturb the peaceful calm.
In the Powhatan area, all land was cultivated. Most of it was used for farming, so while there was lots of landscape, it didn’t compare to the sublime wilderness she was looking at now.
They crossed a little stream, picked a few apples, and found a clearing filled with tame wild bunnies. By the time they reached a vast clearing on a hill, Sam had to remind herself they were still on Earth, not some exotic alien planet.
On the peak of the hill, somebody had built a tree stand up against a thick old oak tree. A ladder led up to a thick platform in the tree’s crown. Sturdy and apparently well-maintained, despite its obvious age.
They climbed up the steps of the ladder. Once they reached the top, her breath caught. A makeshift banister surrounded the platform. A few of the upper branches of the tree had been cut back to allow for a full panoramic view. Forests stretched out to the horizon.
“This is spectacular.” She put her palms on the banister to look out over the treetops to the mountains and hills in the distance.
Jack placed his hands on either side of her, and she leaned back against him when he nuzzled her neck.
“Is all of this land uninhabited?”
“Not all of it. There are a few cabins here and there. Most people live in town and use them as weekend or vacation homes. A few hunters are usually around in the forests, but you could walk for miles without running into another person.” He placed a soft kiss on her neck and strolled along the platform around the thick tree trunk, over to the other side. Sam drew her eyes away from the landscape to follow him.
On the other side, the surface of the lake sparkled in the distance as if somebody had spread thousands of little crystals on it.
“Somewhere over there is our cabin.” He pointed to the distance.
Wow. Had they really walked that far? It hadn’t seemed like it. She breathed in the scent of pines and resin carried on the wind. Down on the ground at the far edge of the field, two fawns grazed peacefully, and slowly moved along the tree line. Now and then, they lifted their heads and stilled, as though ready to jump back into hiding at any moment.
How many more places like these had existed before the Aschen had turned them all into farmlands? What if, someday, they’d do the same to these forests? A chill ran through her and she wrapped her arms around herself.
Jack sat down on a makeshift bench fixed against the tree trunk. She strolled over to him and joined him. When he pulled her legs to lie across his hips, she lay back on the bench and stared up into the tree crown. Wind rustled the leaves, making them dance in slow, chaotic rhythms. Her eyes closed as a soft, warm breeze caressed her skin.
How would this landscape would look at night with the full moon on the horizon? She imagined the cloud of the Milky Way stretched out above them. “I bet you can see every single star from up here.”
“You can.” He ran his palms along her thighs. “Although the leaves ruin the view a little.”
She caught his hand and entwined their fingers. How could it be that they’d only dated for a few days, and yet she felt as though she’d know him her whole life? How could she be so comfortable with him?
Granted, it had been almost a year since they had first met in the barn, but most of that time he’d been her commanding officer. She hadn’t allowed herself any feelings that ran deeper than their professional relationship.
“Thank you.” Squeezing his hand, she smiled at him.
“I wouldn’t be here without you. I wouldn’t even be in the resistance without you. I owe you so much and…” She sat up and steadied herself. “I wasn’t very fair to you at times, and I’m sorry.”
“Sam…” He cupped her cheek and brushed his thumb over her lower lip. “You owe me nothing. And if you ever did, you repaid your dues with your work in our resistance. Besides…” He chuckled and playfully evaded her mouth. “I was a jerk, too. And chances are, I will be again in the future.”
She laughed and brushed her lips over his. “I think I can handle you being a jerk. And we could have solved a lot of our problems if we’d talked to each other.”
He raised his eyebrows.
She swallowed hard. “I mean, think about it. If you’d cleared up the misunderstanding after O’Malley’s and told me about your—about our—marriage. Or if I’d told you the truth about where I was from. Or that I saw my father on the mission to Powhatan—“
“That.” He chuckled. “That you could have done, especially after I gave you that speech about lying to me.”
“I wanted to tell you the truth, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t want to lose your trust and respect,” she said, thoughtful. “And how was I supposed to know my father’s one of the highest ranking resistance members? For all I knew, you’d have considered me the daughter of a collaborator.”
His eyes sparkled. “Ya know, the irony is, I was actually scheduled to meet him that day. At the Aschen fair.”
Her chest shook with laughter and she covered her face with her hands. “God, we’re such idiots aren’t we?”
“Well…” He shrugged with a hint of awkwardness on his face. “We’ve had better moments. But come to think of it, many of our problems could’ve been prevented.”
Shifting her position, she leaned into him to rest her head against his chest while they both looked out over the vast landscape in front of them. Somewhere above them, a bald eagle released a whistling screech. Jack’s hands roamed down over her body, stroking lazy circles on her back while he stretched out his legs and leaned back against the tree.
I don’t want this moment to end. She closed her eyes. The wind brushing through the leaves, the serene silence, the warmth from the sun. She wanted to absorb it all and never forget. If she could choose one moment to live in for the rest of her life, this one would be it…
A low, distant rumble rolled across the wide landscape. Sam sat up from the bench up on the tree platform and raised her eyebrows at Jack. “What was that?”
“There’s a thunderstorm coming in.”
“Oh.” She looked around. The sky was still cloudless, although the sun sat considerably lower now. They’d spent most of the afternoon chatting, eating apples, and teasing each other. The day was almost over. How could time fly by so fast?
“We should probably start heading back to the cabin.” He stretched and then got up from the bench. They walked along the platform, around the tree trunk to the ladder, and climbed back down to the ground.
“Do we have enough time until it starts raining?” Sam picked a twig out of her hair.
“Not sure. Rain clouds move in faster up here, so we might not make it back before it starts.”
“Ah well.” She gave him a beaming smile. “It’s a warm day. It’ll be refreshing.”
He chuckled and caught her wrists behind her back, rendering her helpless against his chest. “Not to mention very hot to see that shirt of yours get soaked.”
“Jack.” She giggled against his mouth. “It’s black, so it still won’t show anything.”
“No, but it’ll still cling to you like a second skin.”
“No more than when it rains down in Antarctica during training.”
“Why do you think I’m always around to watch?”
She stared at him, then gasped in mock-shock. “I can’t believe you. And here I was thinking your reasons for watching my training were of a professional nature.”
“They are.” He inched closer. “Mostly.”
“You’re a bad liar.” Her breath caught when his lips played with hers. They’d touched and caressed each other all afternoon, and she wanted more. How was that possible? How could she be so addicted to a man’s touch, his closeness?
She let her tongue dart out, teased his lips. Kisses… such a sweet torment. So searing. She smiled into the kiss. “Next time I have a close combat lesson scheduled when it’s raining, I expect you to teach me.”
He smirked, and his eyes blazed. “Oh, I can teach you alright.”
Her cheeks warmed, but she gave him a cheeky grin. “I can’t wait.” She writhed out of his grip and turned to walk back along the small path through the high grass, towards the forest. Forget the rain, now all she wanted was to get home and take him up on his promise.
She stepped over a large root sticking out of the ground, and wanted to pick up one of the wildflowers when her gaze landed on her leg. Her heart stopped, and she came to a halt, then stumbled when Jack ran into her from behind.
“Carter.” He grabbed her around the waist to prevent both of them from falling. She stared at her leg, her thoughts tumbling into a wild twister. Panic clenched her stomach. Spider. Huge, gigantic spider. Her brain short-circuited. “Oh God.”
“What’s wrong?” His voice reflected concern, then he half-turned her and followed her gaze to her pants. “Oy.”
She panted. The critter started moving, crawling up her pants, its furry black legs wriggling. Like the one in the cave. The one that had jumped on her, wrapped its legs around her, brushing her arm. Her breath sped up even more. “Get it off me.”
“It’s okay.” He squeezed her arm. “It’s just a wolf spider. They’re harmless unless you threaten them.”
“Get it off.” She closed her eyes, her body shaking violently. “Please. Get it off.”
“I will.” He pressed her hand. “Just relax and stay still.”
She opened her eyes and swallowed hard when he lured the animal onto his hand, then walked a few meters into the high grass and set it down on the ground. It had been on her. On her. She resisted the urge to shake herself, and wrapped her arms around her body. What the hell was wrong with her? The spider incident had happened two months ago. She should be over that by now.
Why couldn’t she shed that fear? And why did she always keep having those damn nightmares of spiders eating her alive? Jack straightened and held his hands up to her. “See? It’s gone. Crawling around happily a few meters back there.”
A few meters? Sam’s eyes darted around on the ground surrounding them. “It can’t jump, can it?”
She swallowed and narrowed her eyes at him. That hadn’t sounded convincing.
“Okay, it can, but I promise it won’t do anything to us. It’s just looking for food and a mate.” He pulled her close and Sam buried her face against his neck. This was ridiculous. She was a soldier. She shouldn’t get squeamish over a spider.
Scratching her arms, she shifted. “I’m…I’m sorry…”
“No need to apologize.” He kissed her forehead, then studied her.
Sam swallowed. “Ever since our mine accident… I was never afraid of spiders. I think something went wrong in my brain when that damn thing jumped on me in the mine.”
“Sounds like post-mission stress. Janet has some pills that help against the symptoms, you know? Get rid of nightmares. Stuff like that.”
He knew about the nightmares? She raised her eyebrows.
He shrugged. “I took them a coupla times. Back when I was still on solo missions.”
“Oh.” She lowered her head, then scanned the area at their feet again.
“I know it probably won’t help, but that thing just now was completely harmless. Cute even, if you look at it from a close angle. Big black puppy eyes, and fuzzy.” His voice carried a hint of humor and she gave him a weak smile.
“Eight eyes. I know they’re harmless. I read about Earth’s spiders. I thought it would help make the nightmares go away, but it just made them worse. I feel like it’s still on me, and—”
“It’s not. C’mere.” Jack pulled her into his arms and pressed a warm kiss against her neck. “I promise, it’s not on you. Let’s get you to a spider-free zone, okay?”
Like there was such a thing out here. Sam sighed as she followed him through the grass, her gaze now fixated on the ground. Her cheeks flared. She was behaving like a weak little girl.
“This is ridiculous.” She stopped and closed her eyes. “It’s just a spider. You must think I’m completely out of my—”
She gasped and opened her eyes when suddenly his fingers were on her lips. “Tell you a secret. I have a horrible fear of bugs.”
His sudden revelation dumbfounded her. “Bugs?”
“Yeah. The big black ones that can fly. Same reaction. I just don’t have the nightmares. And I’m lucky there aren’t any big ones down in the Antarctica region.”
“Have you ever seen one?” He was scared of bugs? Him?
“Oh, yeah. I worked near the Amazonas for a while. I’m telling you, they have bugs the size of your hand up there, probably bigger. Saw one of them lay eggs in the wound of one of my co-workers. Not a pretty sight.”
She flinched and her stomach turned. Maybe her fear wasn’t so ridiculous after all. And if somebody like him could talk so openly about it… “What happened?”
“He got a bad infection. Our doctor tried to clean the wound, but a coupla weeks later the little buggers crawled out of there. We had to get him to another camp to be able to treat him with Aschen medicine, since our camp didn’t have the technology. After that, I shot any bug I saw.”
“Yeah, so would I.” She shuddered.
Another rumble sounded from the sky. He looked up and smirked. “We’re not gonna make it before it starts raining.”
As though he was sorry for that. Smiling, she grabbed his hand.
When the first raindrops drizzled down on the leaves of the trees above, they broke into a run. After only a few minutes, the rain reached the forest floor, and big wet drops hit her arms and soaked her clothes.
By the time they reached the lakeshore, the rain ran in currents down their bodies. Laughing, they slowed to a walking pace. Couldn’t get more than wet, so what was the point in running?
Sam ran a few meters into the lake and splashed some water at Jack, laughing when he started toward her and caught her around the waist. She wriggled out of his grip and walked over the pebbles to the path leading back to their cabin. Thunder rolled above them, and lightening streaked across the sky.
When they reached the cabin, both panted with exhilaration.
“Oh boy.” She looked down at herself, grinning. Well, at least he’d gotten his wish with the clingy t-shirt.
“Ah, come on, Carter.” He wrung a bit of water out of the edges of his shirt. “You’re not gonna get girlish about getting wet, are you?”
She folded her arms. “I’m not the one wringing out my shirt.”
He lifted his head, a dark, dangerous sparkle in his eyes. “Did you just call me girlish?”
“I didn’t, but if the shoe fits…” She yelped, when he grabbed her arm and pulled her out from under the protective porch into the pouring rain.
“Maybe I should remind exactly how much of a man I am.”
She caught her breath when he leaned in to trail teasing kisses down her neck, his hum reverberating against her skin, tickling her oversensitive nerves.
Her fingers tangled in his soaked shirt, and closing her eyes, she lifted her face up to the sky. Drops of warm summer rain hit her skin. The scent of petrichor surrounded them. The atmosphere charged with electricity of the storm. Another thunderclap broke through the constant pounding of raindrops on the ground, the roof, the trees.
Arousal hit her like a lightning bolt. She buried her face against Jack’s neck. His scent mixed with grass, nature, and just a hint of the aftershave he’d used that morning. Need stormed through her.
Her eyes closed, she touched, reached, and suddenly her lips were on his. Her hands slid under his shirt. The rain didn’t matter anymore. Breathless, she pulled him under the roof towards the wooden table on the porch.
“I want you.” Shakily, she fumbled with his belt. “Here. Now.”
He stared at her, surprise reflected in his eyes. Then his lips turned into a dangerous smirk. With ease, he undid the button of her pants.
His rasp sent a pleasant shudder through her and she hurried to kick her boots off, then dropped her pants. His fingers trailed along the sides of her shirt. Warm, humid air hit her bare legs. She moaned when he took her lips in a demanding kiss.
He tugged at the hem of her panties. “Those, too.”
Her breath hitched when she slid them down her legs. Naked. Outside, in the wilderness. A thrill pulsed through her. She took a step back and pulled herself up on the table, then drew Jack in between her legs.
With trembling hands, she opened his pants, and then squealed when he leaned in and his lips latched onto a spot on her neck.
Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. This morning she’d still been sore… Ah well, who cared? She wanted him. Needed him. She pulled the soaked shirt over his head. His skin heated under her touch.
This was so easy. Last night had been great, but so awkward at times, and now, suddenly, all her awkwardness was dissipating. She knew where to touch him, how to touch him, what to expect…
Her arms lifted almost automatically when he pulled her shirt over her head. The cool breeze hit her nipples. She moaned and lost herself in the sensations, his touch, the way he caressed her.
At last, when she guided him to her entrance, she didn’t give it a moment thought. She wanted him. Everything else was secondary.
His gaze locked with hers when he entered her in a firm thrust. She grunted and he slowed, making her feel every inch as he stretched her. So full, so hot. So good. Her eyes fell closed. She locked her legs around his hips, drawing him deeper.
Her muscles clenched around him in delicious protest. Groaning, he took her lips in a hard kiss. She yelped against his mouth when he gave her the first cautious thrust, then fell into a lazy rhythm.
He pulled her hips towards him and she lost balance, falling back onto the table. He bent over her, pulled her pelvis hard against his. No pain. No discomfort. Groaning, she clutched his arms, his shoulders, fisted his hair. His lips caught one of her nipples as he switched to a firm but gentle rhythm.
She hooked her leg around his hips. Her neck arched when he hit a spot inside her that sent jolts of pleasure through her abdomen. “Ah… Jack.”
“This what you had in mind?” His breath washed down her neck like a caress. His thrusts eased, then he gave her a hard one.
“Yes.” She fisted her hands on his back. “Oh, God. Yes…”
She gripped the table for support when he picked up his pace. Her other hand traced the muscles on his chest. He reached between them and found her clit. Pleasure raced through her and left her dizzy with its intensity.
It should disturb her, that he knew her so well already. That he knew just how and where to touch her, that her body so willingly reacted to him. Hazily she stared at him, writhing under his touch, thrusting back against him.
God, this was fast. So fast, but so good. The ease and power with which her body responded… The sweet friction…
And then he stilled, his length sheathed inside her. She gritted her teeth against a whimper, tried to coerce him into moving. So close. Damn. She panted. “Jack.”
He smirked, then pressed a hot kiss right under her ear. Remained still. Her fingers dug into his shoulder.
“Beg me.” A dark rasp against her ear.
What? Oh damn. She stared up into his darkened eyes, her head swimming. A smile pulled at her lips. “I never be—” The rest of her statement drowned in a moan when he gave her a quick, deep thrust, then stilled again.
He nipped her lower lip. “Beg me, and I’ll make you come so good, Sam.”
She grunted and arched her neck. “Jack…” Another futile attempt to thrust up against him. Then, through gritted teeth, “Please.”
God, she’d get him back for this. The smirk he gave her was way too cocky.
“Come on, you can do better than that.” Another deep thrust. His pelvis grazed against her clit.
Need took over. “Please make me come.” Breathless.
“There we go.” He held her gaze as he started up again, fast, almost hard.
Heat coiled in her core. She parted her lips, brushing them against his. His rhythm quickened. Her mind blanked when pleasure exploded through her, making her body arch. Wave after wave rolled over her, each one leaving her breathless and making her toes curl.
He groaned against her cheek, his hand fisting in her hair. His thrusts became frenzied, catching her on her downswing and pushing her right back up, drawing out her ecstasy. He muffled a deep groan in her neck, then his forehead sank against her shoulder, his chest heaving.
She nuzzled his cheek with her nose in a weak caress, trying to catch her breath.
The rain pounded down hard now, cold splashes hitting the side of her naked body closest to the end of the roof. Her fingers loosened around the edge of the table and she released a shaky breath.
Moisture dripped from Jack’s hair, his skin slippery. She buried her fingers in the wet strands. When he pulled back to look at her, she leaned up to kiss him.
Sam gave a throaty laugh. “Oh yeah.”
“Anytime you feel like repeating this, let me know.” His lips seared her neck.
Giggling, she buried her face against his shoulder. Damn, had she really just initiated fast, hot sex in the rain? Her stomach fluttered.
He cleared his throat. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the slowness. But this just now was… Wow.”
Sam grinned at his mischievous gaze. How had this happened? She traced her fingers along the line of his cheek, and studied him, thoughtful. “You know, I think I’m in serious trouble.”
“Oh?” He raised his eyebrows.
“I think I’m falling for you.” Barely a rasp.
He looked at her, face blank. “Ah.” He nodded. “You’re right. You’re screwed.”
She burst out laughing and pulled him down into a deep kiss. Actually, falling for him was probably an understatement. She’d fallen for him that first night at O’Malley’s. Now she was well past that. Was it a fling? Infatuation? Affection? Or actual love? It was probably still too early in their relationship to think about something so profound.
Especially when she didn’t have any idea yet whether they’d work out at all.
When they finally broke the kiss, all humor had left Jack’s eyes. “If it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen for you, too.”
Her heart sped up. A tingle of happiness fluttered in her stomach. Maybe she could rule out a fling at least, and possibly infatuation. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a warm hug.
“How about we get inside and snuggle up in front of the fireplace?” He flicked her earlobe tenderly with his tongue.
Fireplace… warmth… Great idea. The air around them had cooled considerably. When Jack pushed himself up and straightened, she shivered against the cold raindrops.
She slid down from the table and gasped when her legs gave out under her. Smirking, Jack caught her and leaned in to her ear.
“Managed to make you go weak in the knees, did I?” Before she could think of an adequate comeback, he picked her up in his arms. “Let’s get you inside.”
Laughing, she fought against his hold. “Jack, what are you doing?”
“Carrying you over the threshold?” He grinned.
She froze and stared at him, her smile fading. Was he aware of the old Earth custom? The age-old tradition of carrying a bride over the threshold as a good luck charm for a successful marriage?
He stopped at the front door and then cleared his throat awkwardly. “Kinda should have thought this through before. Sam, could you…um…”
“Open the door?” She giggled against his neck before she reached over to turn the doorknob and unlock the door. It swung open. “Teamwork.”
He smiled at her, then carried her inside. She closed her eyes and relaxed in his arms. Hadn’t she always hated the thought of being treated like this? Of being protected? Like a weak woman?
Why didn’t his action make her feel weak? She’d worked so hard to become a capable soldier. Now she’d almost forgotten what it was like to be herself. Maybe she could be both, a soldier and a woman.
When he set her down on the soft rug in front of the fireplace, an awareness of her body and the pleasure she’d found tingled through her, a low, satisfied warmth.
“I’ll get us some blankets and start a fire.” He rubbed her arms when she shivered. A few moments later, he placed one of the thick woolen blankets he’d brought from camp around her shoulders.
She wrung some of the water out of her hair, while Jack arranged firewood in the middle of the stone fireplace. After a moment, flames flickered up, immersing the room in a soft orange glow. Sam rubbed her arms, and slid closer to the crackling fire.
Jack took one of the bottles from the stone frame of the fireplace and poured the contents into two glasses. Then he handed one to her.
“This’ll warm you up in no time.” His naked chest grazed her back as he sat behind her, then pulled her back to lean against him. Sam took a sip of the drink and grimaced when the strong alcohol burned down her throat. Warmth spread through her stomach.
He unfolded one of the blankets in front of the fireplace, then placed a few pillows on it. “C’mere.”
She snuggled up to him, resting her head on the pillow, her front facing the fireplace. Curling into his warmth, she pulled the blanket up and gazed into the calmly dancing flames. His lips dropped kisses on her shoulder, warm, teasing.
“Mmm.” Sam sighed and ran her hand through his hair. “Shouldn’t we get our wet clothes from the porch?”
“They’ll still be there when the rain stops.”
A loud crash of thunder broke the silence, and the rain pelted down hard on the roof, against the windows.
Drowsy, she closed her eyes. So warm. So comfortable. If only she could stay like this forever. Up here at the cabin. With him.