Title: "Affair"
A Erotic Series Chapter (5/6)
Written by: Shawn

Summary: The last day of Tommy and Kimberly's affair...

Rating: M for variety of adult content. Very sexual adult content.
Category: Erotica/Romance Timeline/Spoilers: Everything up to and including the Dino Thunder finale is canon - After that its my AU.

Characters: Tommy and Kim

Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with PR and won't make a cent off of this.

Authors Notes 1: If you're in the mood for something grown, sexy, flirtatious, salacious, blush inducing, and romantic then this is for you.

Authors Notes 2: There will be six chapters now. Hey, the story is writing itself. I'm just along for the ride.

Dedicated to: The Grown and Sexy - Lovers of TK - and everyone at the Perfect Chemistry Tommy/Kim, Sky/Syd forum.

Authors Notes: I apologize for the very, very long time in between updates. I promise the last chapter will arrive before February.

Extra thanks to: Liz for her amazing artwork that accompanies this story.

"You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present."
~~ Jan Glidewell

(Day 3)

The Capri Drive-In Theater

Inside Tommy's rented black 2008 Grand Cherokee

3723 Verdon Lane Cabin #3

Monday, December 6, 2008 9:45 PM

South Lake Tahoe, CA

While Kim found herself immensely looking forward to a very date-esq evening with her ex-honey, his theatrical choice garnered her teasing commentary as soon as the featured film's billboard came into view. "Okay, you mean to tell me Saw 5 is the absolute most romantic movie you could come up with for us to see tonight?"

Pulling into the Capri Drive-In theater's not-to-busy Monday night lot, Tommy gave a modest shrug, clearly amused. "Nothing says 'I love you' like seeing someone getting cut in half."

"So dismemberment sounds amorous to you?"

"I'm a guy, remember." He wiggled his brows at her, to which she rolled her eyes in mock reply, smiling.

"What happened to your formal education in woman-courting?"

"I saw no reason to continue those classes when I had no one to court. Besides, after you dumped me I was too busy saving the world."

"Hey, I used to save the world too. And I did it in a little pink skirt, Mr Greatest-Ranger-of-All-Time."

"I could have too!"

Kim blinked. "You didn't really think about that before you said it, did you?"

Tommy could literally feel the triumphant tone of her voice. "... uhm."

"Thought so."

Kim's bewitching sarcasm was another aspect of her quirky personality Tommy found so irresistible. She was strangely, uniquely wonderful in his eyes. A pain in the butt at times, but even when she infuriated him he wanted her around. He spared her a loving sideways glance while negotiating the car into the "Saw 5" lane to pay for their tickets. She looked so casually beautiful tonight, especially wearing that cute skull cap. "I seem to remember you telling me just a little while ago that you weren't in the mood for a chick-flick tonight."

Hand coming to rest over her chest while mocking a heart attack, Kim joked, "You remembered something?"

"So not funny, Kim."

"Well its a good thing you love me so," she playfully taunted. "And yes, I'm not in the mood for a chick-flick tonight. Besides, I think you'd cut your eyes out before taking me to see the 'Sex in the City' movie."

"With a rusty, poison-dipped sword."

"Precisely." When he smirked the muscle in his cheek that twitched was so cute to her for some reason. She realized she was in that very happy place girl's fall into at times where every little thing "their" guy does makes them smile. Kim felt giddy tonight, out on the town with Tommy. It felt very much like a date. Going to a drive-in theater with popcorn and snacks and just the whole old-school romance atmosphere of being young and in love left her grinning from ear to ear.

When past loves had so disappointed her to the degree that she sometimes felt old before she even reached age thirty, tonight she felt so young again.

Rolling down his window, Tommy paid the booth attendant for their tickets while joking with her that she better keep warm as the temperatures were falling. The kindly older woman lifted her steaming coffee, thanked him for his concern and then sweetly shooed him off, pointing towards the lane he needed to be in. "So when was the last time you've been to a drive-in?"

"Wow, uhm," Kim thought it over. "I would have to say eight years at least. The last time was when I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest in Tampa."

"Was it a date?"

"Yep." She watched him navigate the illuminated markers towards the back area of the lot where the larger vehicles needed to be parked. Light snowflakes began to slowly fall from the sky. For once the weatherman was right, she mused with a smile. "His name was Gabe and it was our second... yeah, second date."

"Did you make out with him?"

"Isn't that that reason for taking your date to the drive-in?" Kim was being cheeky and she knew it. Gently poking around for just a wee bit of his jealousy. It was all part of their game. "I mean, if you don't fog up the windows at the drive-in theater then what's the purpose of going?"

Gritting his teeth, Tommy took the bait. "That's not an answer, Kim."

Her eyes widened in reply. "Ouch, you called me Kim. I guess I'm not 'Beautiful' tonight." He tried in vain to scowl, but the expression just wouldn't form. Instead he shook his head, laughing at the way she effortlessly toyed with him. "No, I didn't make out with him. I'm not a 'Backseat queen'. I was raised to be a lady."

"And yet I remember us making out in the back seat a few times," Tommy fired back as the towering, brightly-lit movie screen came into view. Previews were airing as people exited their cars towards the concession station for snacks and drinks. A gorgeous night sky greeted them as snow flakes descended from the heavens. Without a doubt he didn't want to be anywhere else in the world other than with Kim. "Maybe you were a 'Back-seat' princess?"

Kim winked at him. "More like a Back-seat handmaiden. Remember, you never saw so much as a boob back then."

"Yeah, thanks for reminding me," Tommy sing-songed snarky enough while shutting off the engine and exiting the car. He came around and gave Kim a gentlemanly bow before opening the passenger door for her. When she climbed out she gave him a little curtsy, and then giggled as snow fell fell between them, darting on top of her skull cap. She was backed against the car door when he closed in on her, gently painting a blush over her cheeks. "I might have taken a night class or two in woman-courting."

Her chin lifted all high and mighty-like. "But did you get an A?"

"In kissing, yes." Tommy gave her slender waist a squeeze, and then closed his eyes and inhaled the light perfume she wore and the warm whisper of her breath.

"Okay, that was sexy," she complimented softly with a little nibble of her bottom lip.

"I studied extra hard in the 'How To Be Sexy' class."

"What are we, an episode of 'Friends'? Will you shut up and just kiss me already." A soft hum escaped her lips before his mouth firmly covered hers, his arms closing warmly around her in a loving embrace. The soothing heat generated from their kiss batted away the mildly chilly temperatures. For a brief, timeless moment they held each other and thought of nothing more than being together. When they finally parted she rested her head over his chest, nestling as close as she could get to him. Even then it wasn't close enough. "Do you know something so silly I used to think about?"

"Tell me?" he asked while pressing his lips to her temple.

"I used to imagine if I stayed in Angel Grove instead of going to train in Florida, and if you actually played high school sports instead of your very brief football stint, I would have gotten to wear your letter jacket." She felt his laughter lift through his body as it tickled over her ear. His hold tightened affectionately, as did her own around him. "I would have slept in that jacket," she laughed at herself, lifting her brown eyes to his. "And yes, I know how silly that sounds."

Tommy lowered his voice in her ear. "Would you have worn my class ring?"

"Around my neck on a little silver chain everyday, yes." She licked her lips, smiling brightly.

"And if I asked you to the Prom?"

"I'd probably give you a answer in a day or so," she laughed, flashing her teeth. "Gotta make you work for it, you know. Then I would say yes and pick out the suit I wanted you to wear and the appropriate corsage you would buy for me. Then I would instruct you on the limousine I wanted you to rent and how to wear your hair that night."

Tommy coughed a "Bossy," under his breath.

"Yeah, and now your Boss wants chili-cheese nachos and a hot dog. Let's go." Curling her gloved hand around his, she leaned in for another kiss, and then they were off to the concessions station. She simply could not stop smiling to save her life while holding his hand as they walked across the long movie lot, weaving between the cars. This was the date she'd always wanted to have with him. One where they were finally over their insecurities and inexperience. They were infinitely comfortable with each other now, something she'd always longed for in their relationship. She adored his company and felt so safe with him that it scared her to think in just over twenty-four hours she'd have to say goodbye.

For now she pushed that sad, utterly depressing thought completely out of her mind.

Tommy held the concession station door open for her, and then followed close behind. The expansive interior was brightly lit, filled with a 1950's diner decor of old wall posters, date booths, and spinning ceiling mobiles. Arcade games and ATM's lined the side of one wall as the only evidence you weren't walking through the past. There were only three couples in line in front of them as Monday's were the worst work days of the week, so the theater was pretty empty.

Cozy in a way they both enjoyed.

Towering over Kim by his side, Tommy considered his options. The illuminated overhead menu featured big, clear pictures that had his mouth watering. "Okay, how about we forgo the chili-cheese nachos for the Grande Mexicana Feast?"

Her eyes widening, Kim stared at the delicious-looking pictures of the ginormous tray of fiesta nachos drowned in sour cream, fresh toppings, and cheesy goodness. The Feast also included four double-beef supreme burritos and a large fresh topping-covered bean bowl. "Tommy, lets make a run for the border."

He chuckled, squeezing her hand when they reached the front of the line. She leaned comfortably into his side, enjoying the affectionate feel of his arm around her waist. She might of swooned just a little, just to see if she was still capable of doing it. She let him order their drinks and a extra large, butter drowned popcorn because when you go to the movies you just have to have some. He paid and then they waited quietly to the side while the next couple made their order.

Kim laid her head against his shoulder and sighed happily. His arm curled lovingly around her, keeping her close. She soaked in his warmth, her hand playing with his fingers.

This was how it was supposed to be.

Them together. So at ease and peaceful. In love. Having fun. Teasing. Bantering. Making love until they were exhausted, only to enjoy a nap and then start all over again.

She's loved before. Even considered herself part of the "in love" bracket a few times. But never so loved well as Tommy. Never so deeply.

Kim found herself gazing at Tommy while he listened to a message on his cell phone, her face softening with tenderness. This vacation she so meticulously planned out in advance has turned into something monumental in her life. Her best laid plans fallen to ruin, replaced by yesterdays dreams sweetly laid at her feet in the present. Could they be tomorrow's promise? Could she allow herself to...

"I'm starving," Tommy breathed into her ear while grabbing the massive cardboard box that held their dinner. The scent was driving him crazy. "You grab the drinks and lets get back to the car. Hopefully I won't slip on a patch of ice and embarrass myself."

"Just walk slow and follow me."

"Yes, dear. Of course, I 'love' the view from behind."

His eye-brow wiggle wasn't nearly as sexy as it was silly. Kim snorted, laughing on the way to the door she held open for him. Never mind the gentle snowfall they were already having a ball and the movie hadn't even begun yet. They reached the S.U.V in no time flat, hopping in to get settled. Tommy turned up the heat while they removed their coats and gloves, then adjusted both of their seats as far back as they could go. Kim attuned the radio to the drive-in's frequency and all was right with the world as the movie was about to begin.

Unable to resist any longer, Kim popped a couple of cheesy-dripping, sour cream topped nachos in her mouth. Damn all the world's salads, diet drinks, calorie and taste deficient pastas, so called low-fat ice creams, and non-greasy meatless products. Sometimes you just had to eat the bad stuff. It always tasted better anyway. "These nachos are better than sex. And I mean that." Tommy was devouring a massive, stuffed burrito with gusto and made some sort of comment while chewing. It certainly wasn't to reject her claim. "This platter is made up of everything thats good in the world. Beans, sour cream, cheesy goodness, fat, cholesterol, sodium, thick salsa, and this to-die-for guacamole dip." She munched three more topping heavy nachos, and then wiped her mouth with a napkin.

Tommy knew all to well how unflattering it was for a man to talk to a woman with his mouth full. But that first double-stuffed supreme burrito he bit into was heaven on Earth. "I say when the movie's done we stop in that concession station again and order another Grande Mexicana Feast. We'll eat it for breakfast."

"The former Pink Ranger is in agreement.." They toasted their extra large Coke's to seal the seal. Kim spooned some of the bean bowl next. It was so thick with taste and everything bad for a woman that she fell in love with it. "So when was the last time you went to the drive-in?"

Swallowing, Tommy replied, "Just now."

Turning her head, Kim looked to him with surprise. "Really? This is your first one?" He nodded, smiling. "Yay. I got your drive-in virginity?"

"Yes, and you were very gentle and patient," he laughed at her giggle as the car warmed to a very comfortable state.

They conversated over friends for a while, noting who's talked to who recently and what everyone was up too. Aisha and Rocky were still circling each other, secretly dating off and on as they had for years. Kat was mildly driving Jason crazy with her wedding plans, though he didn't mind near as much as he complained while wearing a smile. Tommy was proud to note all of his Dino-Thunder team members were doing very well in college and that he was still in contact with all of them. Billy's approaching fatherhood was something that tickled Kim to no end. Not only was her childhood friend the first Ranger parent from the original group, but he was having the baby with his alien wife. She noted that they all left anything resembling normal behind so long ago she wasn't sure what it even looked like anymore.

After attacking another burrito, Tommy asked, "Do you remember the first time I took you to the movies?"

Briefly shutting her eyes, Kim was taken back to that crazy night in her mind's eye. "You were taking me to see 'True Lies,'" she fondly recalled. "I was a nervous wreck all day long. I remember walking out of school that day and I realized I didn't remember one single thing I did or learned. When I got home I must have tried on ten different outfits for our date and just about drove Trini nuts. I was running around my bedroom searching for the other shoe in the pair I wanted to wear and Trini told me I was holding it in my hand," she laughed at the memory. "I was such a dork."

"Thank God my dad stopped me at the front door when he smelled how much cologne I had on," Tommy laughed at the memory. "I dipped into his stash and didn't really know where to put it, so I kind of drenched myself in it. He said if anything remotely hot got near me I'd catch on fire." He shook his head at the innocence of it all. "He made me change my shirt and then told me a guy only needs to dab a little behind his ears and on his wrist. I must have poured half a bottle on my chest."

"I would have been coughing all night long sitting next to you."

"And I was so nervous when I picked you up my hands were shaking," Tommy recalled while they enjoyed their dinner. "I was trying to stay calm and be relaxed, but I was sweating like crazy."

"I thought you had a work-out just before our date," Kim noted with a laugh.

"Years later the truth comes out," Tommy said. "I was sure I was going to say something dumb or just not know what to say at all. I was so nervous, you just don't know. I wanted to impress you so bad."

"You did. Trust me, you did." Kim gazed his way, holding his eyes captive. "You were sweet and a gentleman. And when you held my hand I worried I would turn red from not breathing."

"I remember a piece of popcorn fell down your blouse and you caught me staring at your breasts."

"There wasn't much to stare at, so they were pretty happy for the attention."

"That was such a Kim-like thing to say."

"I shall take that as a compliment."

Murder and mayhem swept over the big screen in a carnage of blood and plot twists as they settled in after dinner while chatting over who the killer was this time. That led to a modest argument and a small bet where the winner could ask the loser for anything. Both had a wealth of ideas over that one.

Reaching between them, Tommy took her hand in his, returning the smile that she just graced him with. His complicated, strong-willed, infuriating, inhibition-less Crane. As long as she was his when this was over with he could deal with anything. Since his heart was so deeply involved in winning hers he planned carefully so that victory wasn't an option, but the only option. He was always a believer that sex without love was just aerobics. And though he's honest enough to admit having attended a few classes, what he felt for Kim was so much more than a way to keep his heart in shape.

He's fallen in love with her again.

It took three days. Such a short period of time. Her style and flair have left him breathless. He's forever laughing and smiling in her presence. His secrets, fears, and most deeply personal thoughts are respected and safe with her. Every single ugly thing that's happened to her hadn't tarnished her genuine, sincere spirit. She was emotionally bruised and scarred, but negativity had never set in. She soars in his eyes. Overly romantic, but she does. And when you're happy you can be overly romantic.

At the end of the day it was a wonderful feeling.

"What are you smiling about?" Kim inquired a bit bashfully as he was gazing at her. He gave her hand a squeeze. "Do I have a piece of nacho in my teeth or something?"

"You're amazing."

The soft tenor of his voice made her blush so fast she felt dizzy. She licked her lips, and then found the dearest love reflected in his eyes for her alone. She felt humbled and terrified at the same time. "How about we quit our jobs and go in together to buy your cabin? Then we'd never have to leave."

"So you never want to leave me?"

His smirk was to damn handsome for words. "I never said that."

"I assumed if 'we' bought the cabin and 'we' never had to leave then 'we' would be together."

"'You' assume to much."

"And you're a tease."

"Yo mama."

Tommy blinked, laughing. "That was random and did you just insult my mom?" Kim gave a shrug. "You know, playground rules dictate we have to fight now."

Kim crossed her arms, diving head-first into a time honored tradition. "Your mama's so dumb that she went to the movies and it said 'Under 17 not admitted.' Then she went back home and got 16 of her friends."

"Your mama is so dumb that when your daddy said it was chilly outside she ran out with a spoon."

Chuckling softly, Kim fired back, "Your mama is so stupid, on her job application where it says 'Emergency contacts', she put 'None, I wear glasses."

In Tommy's eyes this meant war. "If brains were gas your mama wouldn't have enough to power a Smurf scooter around the inside of a Fruit Loop."

"Your mama is so stupid she thinks Christmas wrap is Snoop Dogg's holiday album."

"Your mama is so stupid she thinks Taco Bell is a Mexican phone company."

"Your mama's so stupid when she saw the choices under 'Sex' on a application she wrote in 'Sometimes Wednesday."

That she would go there was truly shocking. Tommy gave a nod, seeing this was gonna get ugly. "The worst six years of your mama's life was in the third grade."

"Your mama's so stupid she planted Cheerios in the ground so she could grow a donut tree."

"Your mama is so stupid she spent twenty minutes staring at a orange juice container because it said 'Concentrate'.'"

"That's it. You and me outside right now!" When Kim tried to open her passenger-side door while laughing her head off he playfully tugged her hand, and then gave a little head nod for her to come over. She graced him with a provocative smile before climbing into his lap, ever thankful for the expansive room of a S.U.V. His arms closed warm around her middle. Instinctively she rested her head over his shoulder, snuggling closer. When he pressed his lips to the base of her neck, his touch made her body tingle. She craved him. Want simply wasn't a strong enough word. "Don't you dare mistake this for some sort of victory."

"Oh how could I possibly see it that way?" he laughed before kissing her deeply, his right hand cupping her cheek while he plundered her soft, warm mouth. He swore she tasted sweeter each time his tongue glided over hers, or danced over the roof of her mouth. She was a spectacular kisser. One he'd love nothing more than to drown in for many, many years to come. "My Beautiful," he whispered possessively.

"Yes," she quietly announced, sensing no need to deny the obvious. "My Handsome."

"Always," he replied before sharing a softer kiss, lingering on and on until they were smiling around the kiss. "I love you." She repeated the endearment, gazing into his eyes with not a hint of doubt. Now still wasn't the time for the 'Big Talk,' but he at least felt confident enough that it would go well.

Suddenly Kim's eyes widened with a quirky sort of smile curling her lips. She laughed and then pointed to the four-door, dark blue Jeep parked on their right. The one with the foggy windows that was gently swaying. "Well, there's no doubt about the 'Back-seat Queen' in that car."

Tommy followed her line of vision and then laughed, shaking his head. "The car's not shaking that much."

"Every man doesn't have your Herculean stamina," she complimented beside a giggle when he attempted to poke his chest out with pride. "Tone it down." He smooched her again and then settled back to watch the movie, but found the shaking jeep a very compelling bit of entertainment.

The windows fogged up, especially in the back seat. They laughed when a foot banged against the window a couple of time. Staring was kinda naughty and an invasion of privacy, but hey. They probably weren't the only ones looking. Everyone looked at the drive-in.

That was until it the jeep stopped shaking after only five minutes.

Kim commented, "I doubt she's a very satisfied Queen."

"Hey!. He might of done his best."

"That's why us girls enjoy our battery-operated, secret, under the bed boyfriend's. To replace guys like the Jeep dude," Kim snickered before nuzzling the side of Tommy's neck. "Thank you for taking me to the movie's tonight."

"You're welcome." With his hand resting over her thigh, Tommy inhaled the chestnut tresses of her hair and sighed. The last thing he expected to find on this trip was love. But life's greatest surprises often came when you least expected them. "And for the record, I so won tonight."

"However did you arrive at that conclusion?"

Considering her cute perch on his lap, the way she was caressing his neck, smiling so lovely, he couldn't help adoring her. "Shut up and kiss me."

Kim grumbled a a little "Bossy," before doing as she was told.

(Day 4)

Tommy's cabin

3723 Verdon Lane Cabin #3

Tuesday, December 7, 2008 7:35 AM

South Lake Tahoe, CA

"Just do it," Kimberly poignantly ordered the bathroom mirror's reflection, her tone quiet and introspective as she stared back at herself. She sighed heavily, her head bowing once more as her legs refused to obey her command. Having repeated Nike's trademark for a third time already, she was no more closer to marching back to bed and telling Tommy she wanted... no, needed so much more than four days with him than proving that the moon was made of cheese.

Not only did common sense prove that it wasn't, but she'd actually been to the moon. Twice.

At least that made the mirror's reflection smile back at her, despite her dire fear of commitment yet again eating her up inside.

Ever the early bird, crane of course; she indulged her normal morning rituals. A trip to the bathroom, brushing her teeth, and her morning coffee were before 8:00 AM necessities. Tommy was still asleep when she fled the warmth of his body curled around hers for this time alone. Her first thought upon waking this morning was that it was the last one she'd be sharing with him. This was their last day together and the thought of it blindsided her with sorrow, so much so that she couldn't lie there beside him any longer.

Barefoot as she walked over the mildly cool hardwood floors, Kim put on a pot of coffee in the kitchen, lit the fire place in the living room, and then made her way to the bathroom. After peeing and brushing her teeth, she began conversing with the familiar girl in the mirror, typical Kim in that her personal therapist was herself. She mused that it probably explained why she made so many bad decisions she later regretted, but that wasn't entirely fair either. Being her own counsel hadn't always failed her. Only in matters of the heart did she wish she'd gone left a few times when she went right.

Standing here this morning on the cusp of age thirty, Kim closely regarded herself in the mirror, titling her head slightly for every angle. Thanks to the modern science of cosmetics and having inherited good skin from her mom, she didn't find any worry lines or wrinkles on her face. Her skin looked as soft and smooth as it had when she was in college, a fact she was most thankful for. No one would ever mistake her lips for Angelina Jolie's, but no guy she'd ever kissed had gone away disappointed. And while she'd always wanted larger breasts, the desire was never enough to do anything about it, surgically. "You got what you got," she grinned, repeating her mother's favorite line to her whenever she was caught appraising her looks as a teen.

She wouldn't honestly change anything about herself except her height if she could. And even then she made the most with what God had given her. Athletics kept her weight stable and her figure toned enough. She secretly loved her hair more often than not as well.

Alas, it was her internal struggles she wished she could come to grips with. Where her heart was concerned, she doubted herself and her ability to trust not only the men she gave it to, but the choices she made. She knew she was fractured in that regard, and also that she'd have to overcome it and let things go in order to be happy with someone. Her father's betrayal, her own with Tommy, and Dylan's left her unable to get over the fear that hurt was forever stalking her like a thief in the night where love was concerned.

That was why the blessing of this vacation had her so on edge. Her goal this weekend was to work on her music, enjoy a couple of stress-free days off work, and get some skiing in. Not meet up with her ex-boyfriend from high school, enjoy the hottest sex of her entire life, have the most fun she's had ever, and fall deeply in...

"Just do it," Kim muttered again, but with a greater sense of determination this time. She exhaled deeply, choosing to defy her fears instead of giving into them. She wanted to go to Tommy right now and tell him that they needed to work out a way to see each other more often and see what happens. That's what she knows she wants. Him. Only him. And to be perfectly honest, it's always been him. She no longer worried that it might always be him. Maybe that was life's point to her all along.

He's the one and now you have to show the courage to fight for the life you want despite your fears.

Of course, realizing he was the one after four days sounded crazy, but Kim was pretty sure over the course of time her opinion wouldn't change. At least if the course of time was allowed to happen, then at least she'd know for certain if she were right or not. The consequences were all her own either way.

So be it.

Caroline didn't raise a dainty little flower that wilted under a day's worth of scorching hot sun, but a bulldozer capable of roaring through anything in her path. Kim knew that she was a strong woman. Life had dealt her it's inevitable pains, but she was still here no worse for the wear. Nothing had crippled her spirit to the point of accepting less than what she deserved. Nothing was out of her ability to change if she wanted it badly enough. She didn't want to spend the rest of her life thinking about what was holding her back from being happy. She wanted to finally overcome it.

"Just do it," Kim noted to herself for the very last time before marching right out of the bathroom and back to the bedroom she shared with Tommy.

Stopping upon reaching the doorway, Kim gazed at Tommy more fully, vastly appreciating the beloved sight of him. The former White Ranger sat up in bed, shirtless and oh so sexy. His pose was relaxed and lazy, enjoying a quiet morning while waiting for her to return. As pre-required by his male DNA, he was watching Sportscenter on ESPN, catching up on the latest happenings in the NFL and NBA. His immense interest in mixed martial arts had him waiting for the latest MMA report as well. He hadn't noticed her yet, and for that she was grateful. It gave her a brief time to appreciate the man she's fallen for again.

Tommy snored. Not so loud that she couldn't sleep, but just enough to know he wasn't as perfect as he seemed sometimes. He was short-tempered with slow drivers, no doubt a hold-over from his racing days. She actually found it cute for some strange reason. When the television remote was in his hand, he constantly flipped channels like it seemed all men had to do. He still maintained the gentleman-like manners that charmed her so when they were dating. She never opened a door when he was with her, and he always talked to her in a slightly softer, more personal tone of voice than anyone else. He shadowed her intimately, something she had always loved. And in a world full of the absolute worst examples of men, he stood as a shiny beacon that there were still some good guys out there.

Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Tommy loved her and had made no attempt to hide it in any way. Kim wasn't sure if he was in love, but he certainly wasn't opposed to it. He wanted more of her and was patiently waiting for her to catch up to the idea. She could always read him that well because he was so genuine he felt no need to hide how he felt about her. The man could thrill her body one moment, and then make her laugh her head off the next. He never complained about life, accepting every day as it came while maintaining the honest character he lived his life with. And every single mistake in life she had made and told him about, he listened with a non-judgmental tone, all the while reminding her wasn't anywhere near perfect either.

That was why he was perfect for her, Kim surmised. If only she could conquer her own fears...

Meanwhile, Tommy half-listened to ESPN's daily MMA report while keeping a careful watch out the corner of his eye on Kim standing quietly in the doorway. The tiny, pink "Hello Kitty" t-shirt and white pajama pants with pink flowers she wore were so cute he couldn't stand it. Sans shoes she seemed even shorter than usual, her hair pulled back in a messy pony tail that on her looked comfortably gorgeous. He could tell she was deep in thought, waiting for something. It wasn't for him to acknowledge her. Instead of calling her on it, as always, he gave her the space she needed to do things her way.

She was more than worth the wait.

While gently nibbling her bottom lip, Kim quietly entered the bedroom, her hands sort of fumbling before her in a slightly nervous way. She stopped before reaching the end of the bed, catching his loving gaze focused on her. The words were choked in the vicinity of her throat, somehow lodged there as she attempted to speak. If he wasn't the man for her, then who was? That question simmered in her heart. Why couldn't she tell him what she wanted to say? "This is our last day."

Her statement moved Tommy into action. He pushed aside the covers and crawled to the end of the bed, then sat there, his feet planted on the hardwood floor. His hand extended to her, motioning for her to come to him. She did so without saying a word, slipping her hand in his while standing in between his legs. The warmth of his skin seeped into her, seemingly drawing her out of this somber fog.

Tommy affectionately caressed her hand in his, so small and delicate in comparison to his own. And yet she was as strong a person as he had ever met. Here and now, she was vulnerable and scared. His proud,
fearless crane... it tore at his heart to see her this way. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Kim shut her eyes, sighing. "No."

"Yes, you do. But you're scared."

She nervously chewed her bottom lip. "Get outta my head."

"I'm trying to get into your heart."

She paused, her head dipping ever so. "You've always been there." He took her other hand, favoring her with the most adorable smile. It broke through to her big-time. "I'm missing you already."

"Is that really what you want to say?"

"You're free to tell me what you want to hear."

"This isn't the time for games, Kim." Tommy pulled her closer and then lifted her small hands to his face before kissing both. He felt her eyes upon him the entire time. "This vacation hasn't turned out how either of us thought it would. But I think that's a good thing. Sometimes the most unexpected surprises life throws our way turn out to be the best."

"My heart is..." Kim tried to say as her voice trembled. She centered herself after a pause, fighting the emotion sweeping over her. "My heart is involved in this now," she confessed at last.

"I have never broken it before."

"No, but I've broken yours."

"I'm not afraid of you."

"You should be." And she meant it, sadly enough.

"I've loved you roughly half my life. And I'd like to love you for the rest of it. But to see if that's even possible we have to see what this is. And it is most definitely not just an affair." Tommy watched her pale, and noted she was half a second away from bolting. Trouble was, she just didn't want too. And for once she didn't run. She stood her ground with tears glistening her eyes, appearing as lost as he had ever seen her before. "I can't fix you. But I do love you."

How could she not smile dearly? It was impossible, so she allowed him to see how happy he made her. Feeling a bit girlie, she calmly sat over his right leg, nestling close against him. Her eyes shut when he pressed his face to hers. His hands released hers so that his arms could curl around her, drawing them closer. "I love you too," she whispered warmly over his cheek, and then pressed her lips there. "I'm a girl with a lot of issues."

Tommy playfully nuzzled the side of her neck, brushing a kiss there. It drew the sweetest smile he had ever seen. "I'm a guy with a lot of patience."

Her hand cupped his cheek, and then she bent to claim his lips with a firm, loving kiss that saw them fall back onto the bed until she was giggling over his lips. All of a sudden she saw him reaching for the TV remote, so she leapt off of him after it. Unfortunately, his longer reach saw him reach the prize first. Even her tickling failed to make him relinquish his prize. "You cheated with your long arms and all."

"I win. Deal."

They crawled back up the bed, settling in side-by-side. Kim was still fuming, albeit smiling as well. "Jerk."

Shrugging, Tommy began past flipping channels, happy to have things a bit less serious between them for now. The important relationship talk they needed to have could wait until tonight over a romantic dinner.
They were already close to agreeing that they had to see each other again, so for now he wanted to enjoy her for one last carefree day before they had to make the real decisions that would define them. "Here's the Sci-Fi channel. Now that's cool."

Kim watched the Sci-Fi channel movie for all of six seconds before the half-shark, half-man ate three people in a forest, then dove back into a nearby lake. "That thing looked like one of Lord Zedd's old creatures. Only cheaper."

"I didn't think that was possible."

"Zedd's magic was powerful, but his budget was quite low," Kim snickered. "Change the channel before we see that Shark-guy again. I might just die laughing at it."

Tommy found one of the newest Harry Potter movies, but Kim shook her head. She'd seen enough real magic for a lifetime. When she suggested the Lifetime channel he reminded her he was a man and the "Scorned Woman Network" wasn't his cup of tea. When he stopped on the Spike channel Kim reminded him that she was a woman and the "Lonely, Still Living At Home With Mom Channel" wasn't a good time for her.

Finally, they settled on a show about murder, mystery, and overcoming the odds. It was a drama in the highest sense of the word and instantly reminded them of a more innocent time.

"Scooby Doo and Shaggy did drugs. They were stoners. I'm sure of it," Kim concluded while lying half on top of Tommy, her fingers tapping lazily over his belly. "I mean, come on. Shaggy was advertising his drug use. He had to be high. Where was all that smoke coming from in the back of that van? And he was always munching snacks."

Tommy stared at her briefly, and then shook his head. "Your mind goes to strange places."

"And Velma. Sweet and brilliant as she is, who told her to wear a thick, bright red turtleneck sweater in the summer time? She had to be high too. Plus, I'm willing to bet a month's pay she's playing for Ellen's team, if you catch my drift."

Tommy laughed, nodding. "I had a crush on Daphne when I was a kid. She had a great pair of legs."

"She was an animated character, Tommy."

"She was an animated character with great legs, Kim."

Kim knew the Y Chromosome was missing something. Scruples. Tommy was living proof. He just happened to be hot looking living proof. And while she added no more as the cartoon played, her hand resting over his belly slowly ventured lover, coming to rest on his cock. It soon began to stir beneath her fingers. She gave it a single, gentle squeeze, and then no more...

"You're so evil."

Speaking softly, her eyes bright with wickedness, she asked, "Would you rather I continue to regale you with my critique of Scooby Doo?"

By now he was so hard her fist was wrapped around him through his boxers. Her firm caress was sensational. "No, but I have a mystery I think we could solve together."

Oh yeah?" she smiled when he leaned down until his lips hovered over hers. "And what would that be?"

"The Mystery of the Screaming Orgasm."

"Oh, I like that one."

With her slim figure arched over him like a panther on the prowl, Kimberly's hands were filled with the throbbing length of him. Slick from her own saliva, she deftly stroked the hard flesh with both fists, all the while panting from the duel sensations of the strong hands firmly kneading her backside and the voracious tongue dragging softly over her swollen clit. That agile, glistening serpent of his slowly lapped the slick outer lips of her sex, causing her hips to quiver, grinding over the warm mouth devouring her.

Overcome by the feminine scent of her aroused state, Tommy held his love tightly in place, drowning himself in the heady taste of her. From the first taste of her skin, his appetite was insatiable. The long, shaky breaths escaping her lungs were eloquent music to his ears. He focused on gently suckling her clit until one of her small hands left his cock to grab at the bed sheets, struggling to hold herself upright. The other hand still gripped him firmly, stroking at the base of his hard cock. Soft, moist sounds sang the erotic tune of his powerful need to sexually consume her alive... until her warm mouth engulfed the head of his cock. He gasped loudly from the pleasure, his eyes rolling back as she began steadily bobbing her head over his lap, drawing deeply on his length, her cheeks hollowing to increase the sweet pressure. He swore in the back of his throat, "Evil girl."

"Your girl," Kim panted before swirling her tongue over the head of his cock until he squirmed beneath her, shaking wildly. "That's what you get for biting my ass a minute ago." He laughed for less than a heartbeat until her soft lips began sliding smoothly up and down his hard flesh, robbing him of any semblance of coherent thought. She felt his stomach muscles clench and tremble beneath her every time she took him deep inside her mouth, as far as she could comfortably take him. She paused, panting hotly over him, her face straining pleasurably from the way his tongue fluttered all around her clit. And then dove inside her, effectively fucking her with it. "Awww...god... Tommy, please... "

Locked in a wickedly erotic 69, they were one body of moaning, trembling, needy flesh.

Tommy loved the feel of her small, round backside in his hands. Squeezing them to his heart's content, his mouth began sucking on her fully, his tongue lashing rapidly over her clit. His lips were sealed over her, his neck arched high enough to not let up for a second. At the same time the incredible pleasure he was experiencing felt like an out of body experience. He was absolutely rigid inside the humid confines of her suctioning mouth. She nursed the tip so sensuously he couldn't keep his focus on what he was doing. To that end his mouth pressed wet kisses along her damp inner thighs. "You're... you're incredible."

"Right back atcha." With a dangling string of saliva connecting her lips to his cock, she swallowed him again... and again, reveling in the harsh gasps coming from between her legs. She frantically bobbed her head, sucking on him so devilishly that he might never compare another woman to her. His shivers of pleasure were her reward, but not the most grand she sought. She wanted him out of his mind with lust.
but could barely finish the job with the mouth suckling her clit, forcing her to grind vigorously over his mouth.

When he dipped a long, middle finger inside her, she almost came that very second! It surged into her deeply, her sex tightly clenching around it while his tongue flickered over and over and around her clit until she couldn't take it anymore.

"Ahh...god...ahhhh," Kim moaned loudly, her head bowed over his thigh, bursting wetly over his tongue. Her brown eyes clamped shut as surge after rumbling surge of pulse-pounding pleasure shot through her like wildfire. She slumped forward, quivering, the bedspread now clutched tightly in her fists. Her heart beat a primal drum inside her chest, her lungs drawing powerfully for air. Throughout her torrid climax, he softly feasted on her, trapping her against his mouth with his hands gripping her backside until at last she rolled off him, gasping... throughly sated, but beaten as well. Defeated and put away wet. Her legs were still shaking from such a hot orgasm. "Fine, you won."

Lazily rolling his tongue around the stickiness surrounding of his lips, Tommy exhaled deeply. His mouth curled in the most triumphant of smiles. "Told you so," he half-laughed, lifting his head enough to plant a open-mouth kiss over the right cheek of her backside. She giggled in response, pulling away and around from him. "You lost, Beautiful."

Maneuvering onto her back, Kim gritted her teeth, forever hating that she'd relinquished the upper hand. Her toes bit at the sheets in defiance. Giving a little nod, she sat up, her fair skin flushed beautifully from head to toe. A light sheen of perspiration faintly ghosted her face and neck, glistening in the warm light cascading through the bedroom's window shades. She favored him with a naughty pout. "I hate you."

"No," he replied in a playful tone while watching her seductively slide over his body, straddling his lap. "You love me, don't you?" Never one to give in a inch, Kim gave a little cute shrug, her arms crossing her bare chest. He rose to meet her, twining his strong arms around her slender waist, and leaned in oh so close. "Admit it?"

"No, I don't love you." Chocolate eyes fell shut when his mouth covered hers briefly, but firm enough to make her ache between her thighs to be filled. "You're just my good friend." Her conclusion saw him deeply claim her lips, delving his tongue alongside hers, urgently gliding their mouths from side-to side in a lust-filled kiss. She tasted herself on his lips, loving the way his hand cupped the back of her head. Their mouths parted with a gasp. "As brother's go, you're pretty nice."

He fucked her mouth with his for the next twenty beats of her heart until she could barely breathe and couldn't think straight. She gave as good as she got, sucking strongly on his tongue while holding him so tightly, as if she never wanted to let him go. That was the dearest truth that lived in her heart.

"Yes, I love you," Kim gasped heavily, blushing and so damn hot for him. They sought another kiss... and then another, unable to resist. Her sweaty palms pressed to his hard chest, pushing him back down on the bed. Reaching between her legs, her fingers wrapped around the hard stalk of flesh throbbing against her thigh.

"I love you, Beautiful." As if gazing upon her while in a pleasure-induced trance, the expression of pure longing that swept over Kimberly's face when she sank him slowly inside her tore the very air from his lungs. She took him until her backside settled over his upper thighs, as if she couldn't bare the tiniest separation. His chest heaved in response. Her sex molded around him, held tight within the moist heat of her body. Her bottom lip was caught between her white teeth, eyes shut, her head thrown back while his hands filled with the supple curves of her ass. And when she began to rock over him, the world faded to black as he was lost in the aching desire he felt for her. "I've always loved you."

His declaration swept the sweetest emotion over Kim. Her mouth descended over his with a soulfully intense kiss that they refused to break for the longest time. Her slender hips began rolling back and forth, aided by the hands on her backside rocking her into his smooth counter thrusts. Her face twisted into a series of passion-induced grimaces while her body drew around him as if they were made for each other. She knew that they were because nothing had ever felt as good as him inside her, throbbing and thick, filling her like no man had done before.

Skin to skin, Tommy gazed into her warm brown eyes as she moved above her. Her lips hovered a breaths distance from his, her hips churning low and away, flexing him inside her. His hands settled on her hips,
guiding her rhythmic movements as they stared into each others souls... mating. "My Beautiful," he whispered possessively, smiling at her while she rode him.

"Yes," she whimpered, burying her face in the side of his neck, kissing him there. "My Handsome."

"Yes, always." The sensual feel of her warm mouth sucking on his neck while she rode him with the most decadent rhythm he'd ever felt was intoxicating. She was so small and tight, squeezing around him, her small breasts swaying hypnotically. He slipped one arm around her waist, sitting up just enough to draw a pebbled nipple in his mouth, gently biting before nursing the tip.

"You... you drive me so crazy," Kim groaned. When he sat up, her back arched enough to give him room. But not for a second did her lower body halt the grinding ride she was throughly enjoying. Her sex clenched strongly around the hard flesh delving inside her. Never had she felt so full of a man, or so ripe and greedy for making love. He was a true force of nature, and when he repositioned them, settling her down on her back her eyes pleaded with him. "Make me cum... do it... please make me cum..."

Biting over the pulse of her neck, Tommy fucked the tight depths of her with intense urgency. Holding back for dear life as long as he could, he was at the edge of even his restraint. But here, now, he could claim her... Make her his. She bucked hard, twisting beneath him, her eyes squeezed shut. Her nails clawed over his shoulders and back while full-length strokes rattled her teeth with exquisite pleasure. The bedsprings creaked their approval while the headboard rattled against the wall.

Kim grabbed his bare ass while he claimed her, their torsos' mating aggressively. They were a gasping, writhing entity of ecstasy until at last, they came together. Muffled groans of pleasure escaped the deeply erotic kiss they shared when they came as Tommy surged inside her time after time, her sex draining every drop from him until he was completely spent. They held onto each other tightly, trembling as one, their chests heaving for air.

There was a time for sexy banter, cute one-liners, and deeply emotional declarations. And then there was the quiet. A tender place where two people simply knew that what they shared didn't require anything more than a soft smile and a gentle kiss.

Tommy kissed Kim slowly and deeply, having nothing at all that he wanted to say. Neither did she. Falling in love wasn't part of any plan they devised upon planning this vacation.

Nonetheless, it happened.

And now they'd have to find a way to make it work. But for now, a long, lazy nap was in order.

Eight hours later

"Okay, here's the plan." As thick puffs of cool air blustered from her softly parted lips, Kimberly braced her back to the side of the cabin while keeping a lookout around the corner. Tommy kept watch on their blind side as they were throughly surrounded by their enemies. After well over a decade they were a team again, so she knew she had to trust in her partner's skills just as he trusted in hers. "You take out the Barbie twins. I'll get Freckles."

Twisting his cap over his ears to ward off the chill, Tommy then clutched a trash can lid in one black gloved hand while a snowball settled in the other. "That's not a plan. That's a designation of attack orders."

"Would you rather I draw stick figures in the snow and point to the one I want you to go after?"

"Always with the sarcasm." She poked his side just cause, making him wonder how she ever got so snarky. "I think Freckles likes you."

Kim arched a brow. "Oh, so now you're jealous of a teenager?"

"No way," Tommy quickly noted, brushing aside the claim.

"Good, cause you know I don't care for red-heads. Plus he's what, thirteen? I don't rob the cradle," she winked at her ex-honey. Maybe not so ex-anymore, but she was still trying to sort that out in her head. His smirk made her want to kiss it from his lips, but she shoved aside the urge for later. This was war and Kimberly Hart played to win. "The others are still out there. At least five of them scattered about."

"Yeah, but they aren't bold like the older ones. They'll lay low until we're out in the open and then go for a sneak attack. We'll need to take out Freckles and the Barbies first. Then the rest will come to us." Kim nodded while adjusting her scarf around her neck as the temperatures were frigid. Upon finishing she extended two fingers, pointing them towards the other side of the cabin across the street from them. She pointed to her eyes and then made a circular motion before pointing to the cabin they were braced against. Befuddled, Tommy's eyes narrowed as if he didn't have a clue what she was suggesting. "I didn't know you knew sign language."

Rolling her honey-brown eyes, Kim took on a exasperated pose. "How you were ever the leader for so long boggles my mind."

Grinning, Tommy leaned in and firm brushed a kiss across her lips, lingering until her hand swatted his chest. "Go ahead. Insult your partner. But when you're eating a snowball sandwich we'll see who's laughing then."

"You've already been hit three times?" Kim pointed out, holding up three fingers.

Tommy stood defiant. "Twice."

"Three times. I counted! Ha!"

Kim, beautiful as she was, infuriated him. Standing so tall when she was so short. Still, he loved her to no end. "Okay, who's gonna be the decoy?"

Finishing up a new snowball, she asserted, "You're taller and make a better target."

"Yeah, but Freckles likes you. He'd come out if you do. Then I'll nail him."

"And here I thought you just wanted to 'nail' me." Her high and mighty taunt saw him lean in to kiss her again, but she gave a seductive little head shake, pursing her lips. "Later, Handsome. For now I'll be the decoy."

"Then go," Tommy laughed as he pointed across the frozen street. "Decoy."

"Jerk," she snickered, lifting a frozen rock into her free hand from the ground. Out the corner of her eye she sensed movement around the front of the cabin. She tossed the rock at a metal garbage can on the front porch, loudly knocking it over. The sounds of feet shuffling told her someone was near by. She darted out in pursuit. "Here goes nothing."

'Freckles' aka Jimmy Clemons hadn't expected to engage in anything resembling a snowball fight with a girl as beautiful as the one who hit him in the face not ten minutes ago. For him it was love at first sight. Being the oldest of several siblings, a friendly snowball fight with the couple down the road had started innocently enough... but once he saw her... wow, brunette tresses peaking out from under a black skull cap. Wearing a devilish smile that erased the face of every girl he'd ever dreamed about, and the way she called him 'cutie-pie' after making sure he was alright made his heart aflutter. Plus, he tagged her boyfriend good in the back of the head. That was the icing on the cake.

Now if he could just... and then there she was, sneaking out from behind one of the cabins wearing those gorgeously tight blue jeans. It was almost a shame to hit her with a snowball. She was just so darn pretty to him. But he was thirteen and this was as close to a girl... no, scratch that, a woman as he'd ever gotten. Plus she'd called him 'cutie-pie'. That made his day. Week. Month. Year. Life so far. Afterwards his smile was bright enough to light up midnight itself.

Moving stealthily from his hiding position, Jimmy came from behind a huge frosted-over tree to get a good shot at her. And then he threw his snowball as hard as he could. As if she had eyes in the back of her head she deftly cart-wheeled out of the way and then returned fire, nearly nailing him in the face. The tree ate her assault, but the game was on. He was so happy he couldn't think straight. God, she was pretty. His hands didn't even register the cold as he quickly prepared another snowball.

Kim peeked from behind a large blue trash pin, catching flash of auburn hair . It was Freckles alright. "Come'on cutie pie," she shouted. "You're not gonna hide from a little girl, are ya?"

She was taunting him and he knew he didn't have anything resembling a witty reply. And he knew if he came out from behind this tree the boyfriend was probably waiting to nail him. Still, this was the most excitement he'd had since... ever. His heart was pounding "I'm... I'm gonna win." It was lame as replies went and he knew it. But he was thirteen, so...

Covering her hand over her mouth, Kimberly chuckled under her breath. Her opponent was crushing on her big-time, which was pretty darn sweet. "Cutie-pie, I thought we were making a connection. Don't you wanna play?"

She was gonna fill every fantasy he'd have about a girl for the next six months. Maybe six years. Jimmy couldn't believe how much he liked her. "I... I play to win." Lame again. Oh well. It was the best he had.

Suddenly the giggling sounds of his twin blond sisters Beth and Blair was heard as they rounded the cabin nearest to Jimmy, being chased by 'the boyfriend' who was just throwing snowballs over their heads for fun. They were having a ball. That was when the rest of the Clemons clan unloaded on 'the boyfriend' with a steady stream of snowballs that saw him duck, tumble, and roll behind a parked truck while playfully begging for mercy. Jimmy shouted, "Get'em!"

"Oh, now that wasn't nice," Kim teased from behind the tree, two snowballs hidden behind her back. "He's not so bad once you get past his lack of memory, big ego, and morning breath." She quickly evaded a sudden snowball, shielding her face from the icy splat on the trash bin's closed lid. "You got pretty close there, cutie-pie."

"I play baseball back home," he replied, grinning wildly.

Deciding a different tactic, Kim carefully sauntered out from behind the trash bin. She raised her hands in defeat, dropping both snowballs, smiling cutely at the young man who now seemed a bit stunned at the way she was staring at him so intently at him. Like right at him. She had him and she knew it. "I think you and me can make a deal."

Jimmy blinked as she approached him. "Wha... what kind of deal?"

"Well, cutie-pie," Kim salaciously allowed the words to drip from her lips while enjoying the innocent blush upon his fair skin. His freckles were cute indeed. "If you put that snowball down I just might give you a little kiss. But if you don't I'll remove your dick before your brain gets the message it's missing."

Jimmy gulped. Had she said what he just thought she said? When she was close enough so that he could see the soft shade of her lip gloss he did what any young teenage boy would do when faced with the offer of a lifetime. He swallowed really hard and then dropped his snowball. His feet shuffled a little as he tried to stand up straight when Kim walked right up to him...

...and gave him his very first kiss. Three seconds in total on the lips. When she pulled away his smile was so wide she saw nothing but white teeth white teeth. Kim tilted her head, having just now noticed his green eyes. If he remained a gentleman he was gonna be a lady-killer. And his innocent blush warmed her heart. "You're a good kisser."

"Really? She nodded. Jimmy knew this day would live with him forever. Or at least until his next kiss. Nah, forever. Shyly, he ducked his head, and then offered in a quiet voice, "So are you."

"Thanks cutie-pie." Never let it be said that the former Pink Ranger was not at least a little bit evil. While Freckles basked in the first kiss glow, she quickly scooped up enough snow for one ball and hit him in the chest. His gaze appeared shocked and then he laughed. "Gotcha."

She ran off as the chase began anew.

The snowball war erupted in earnest and Tommy and Kim battled the entire Clemons clan for the next hour, blasting snowballs all over the place in a vast display of fun and entertainment as afternoon gently faded into evening.

(Day 4)

Tommy's cabin

3723 Verdon Lane Cabin #3

Tuesday, December 7, 2008 6:20 PM

South Lake Tahoe, CA

Seated comfortably on the plush love seat, her hand warmed by the cup of hot cocoa Tommy just made for her, Kimberly wondered why he hadn't yet joined her to snuggle. Temperatures outside continued to fall and she missed the warming, affectionate feel of him resting against her. With this being their last night together she found herself craving his close proximity. "Do I have cooties?"

While pacing the living-room floor with his hands in his pockets, Tommy stopped cold, fixing a curious look at her. "Cooties?"

"Yep," she noted after a sip of cocoa, enjoying the delicious taste that warmed her insides. "I'm sitting over here all alone and you're pacing the floor like I have cooties. The female disease grade school boys say girls have before they hit puberty and realize they want nothing more in the whole world than to be close to a girl."

She was quirky and strange, but he loved her brand of uniqueness. It was exactly what his life had been missing. She's what his life had been missing. Tommy casually rubbed the back of his head. "I am in no way, shape, or form afraid of your cooties."

"Good," she winked. "Now get over here."

"No."

Genuinely surprised, Kimberly contemplated the stark seriousness written over his handsome features and felt a subtle tremor come over her. It was a familiar ache if she tried to describe it. Like a well-known fear, slow in growth, that began gripping her tightly. And what was worse, deep down she knew she had nothing to fear from him. Just what he represented. She tried to will the notion away. "Okay, so what's up?"

Tommy gazed at his love, summoning what he hoped were the right words to ease her mind and not scare her off. He was well aware of her wealth of insecurities and issues, ever thankful that she was open enough with him to share them. But sharing was one thing. Moving forward past them was quite another. He'd never been too lucky with love, but he'd be damned if he didn't give it his all this time. "This weekend... these past couple of days have been some of the most wonderful of my entire life," he began on one long breath of air, hands by his sides, eyes locked with hers. "That's the truth, Kim. I've had a incredible time with you. I feel like we've really connected again."

"And again... and again," she salaciously teased, nibbling her lip in a come hither fashion. But her seductive advances weren't working. He wanted something... and she was fairly certain of what it was. Her good mood began to gently fade into twilight. She hated that as she was sure what he was going to say was exactly what her heart wanted and more importantly needed to hear. Untucking her legs from beneath her, she sat up straight, giving him her undivided attention. "I'm sorry. I know you're being serious. So this is me shutting up now."

"Thank you," he said upon approaching her, hands nervously residing inside his pockets. "Kim, you make me laugh. You make me smile. You excite me. You're the best lover I've ever had. You make me feel like I could share anything with you... any part of me. Even the parts I don't care for very much. It feels like we've found something that was always there, but now its just a little deeper. A little older and I think a wiser. I feel like there's some real magic between us."

Her brown eyes followed him when he fell to a knee before her and then gently took the cup from her hand before replacing it with his own. His touch was just as warm and every bit as soothing. But there was still a gnawing coldness in her belly that refused to grasp this moment for what it truly was. A second chance at... Her throat constricted as she couldn't say a word. No matter the sincere conviction gracing his beloved brown eyes.

"I think we both have a pretty good idea of how the other lives their life. We mesh pretty well together and I think we could build upon that. Look, I know I'm not perfect," he laughed softly, caressing her hand. "I'm never going to be perfect. But I do love you. And I don't see you with rose colored glasses either. I'm perfectly fine with you not being perfect either. And I know I'm probably using the word perfect far to often, but I'm just trying to find a way to convey to you that I love the woman you are. That I understand your past relationships and the way they've shaped your outlook on all relationships. I'm a pretty patient guy if you give me the chance."

He was accepting her as she was. He didn't require she become someone else. There was such sincere love in that.

"Listen, I'm not asking you for anything," Tommy began his stretch run towards home. "I'm not asking to be your boyfriend. I'm not trying to go-steady, no matter how silly or juvenile that sounds," he chuckled. "I don't have any expectations from you. I'm not even going to ask you not to date other guys because we've only been together a few days. It's just..." he paused, gathering himself. For the woman he loved, who owned his heart, she deserved his very best. "I think we have such potential for much more than just friendship, Kim. I think that the past few days have, at the very least proven that there's still something between us. Again, I'm not asking you for anything more than a chance to spend more time with you when its convenient for you."

Wasn't that exactly what she wanted this morning? And what she wouldn't allow herself to ask for. Kim swallowed hard in the back of her throat as tears glistened her eyes. Her foot absently tapped the floor to give her something to do with all the confusing energy flowing through her body. She focused on where Tommy's warm hands held her own, seeking to break out of this shell she's built around herself since forever. He deserved better than this and she knew she wanted to give it to him. But could she get past her past to embrace a future with him? One that held no guarantees, but God, so much promise.

Tommy refused to gauge her reaction. He needed to just get through this. "I think we should see each other again, provided you want too." He wanted her to have all the power and patience she needed because he was well aware of her fear of feeling cornered. "I'm financially and professionally able to make trips to Florida when you have free time. Furthermore, I want too. I want us to spend more time together and see where this leads. Again, I'm not asking or demanding anything from you. I'm not gonna show up on your doorstep unannounced. I'm not going to make demands on you. I just feel like if I don't try I will regret this for the rest of my life. And I can't live with regrets. I have too many as it is. So all I'm pitching to you is that we see each other again when your schedule allows and give ourselves a chance. Passion like ours doesn't come around every day. Being able to share and trust and understand each other as well as we do is something very, very special."

Kimberly gave a slow nod, squeezing Tommy's hand as she had no defiance to his claims. She felt the exact same way, as though the last couple of days were far to meaningful to simply write off as a simple affair. Great sex was one thing, but holding him and kissing him and talking to him for hours created a bond between them. There was more than enough there for them to see where this might lead to later on down the road. With him, she knew that she could trust him with her heart.

But had she ever truly trusted herself? Her father's betrayal of her mother, her own of Tommy, and the recent relationships she's had felt as though they'd broken something in her that wasn't broken in other women. And for that she hated herself more than she'd ever hated another person.

She sensed a monumental shift taking place that offered her no peace of mind. Here was this wonderful man offering her his heart on any terms she would agree too. Whatever would make her happy and secure was what he was willing to give of himself. And suddenly the warm summer of their weekend together began to... alter. Become more and...different. She felt a pressure building within her that wasn't there before. One that she knew wasn't his fault, but all her own. A single tear descended her cheek.

With the pad of his thumb, Tommy softly brushed the tear aside. He knew this was alot to take in and he was dumping it all on her on the eve of their goodbye. But he couldn't imagine a better time to try and make his case for them. He loved her. Deeply. Soulfully. And he intended to fight for them. He felt that what he was asking for was reasonable. They see each other more and see where it led. No games. No rules. No expectations. No bullshit. Just more time together. And after sharing so many parts of their lives, so many painful experiences, and making love so many incredible times until he just couldn't remember other lovers... After all, he wasn't asking her to give up any freedom she had.

So with her small hands in his own, Tommy brought them to his lips. He tenderly kissed her knuckles, raising his eyes to meet hers. What he found was the most deeply emotional expression he'd ever seen her wear before. One that he wished he could read. She wasn't shocked or surprised by his offer. How could she be? She had to have seen it coming a mile away. But with a soul like Kim he understood that the best action was to tred softly and give her room to breathe. He was confident she felt the same way he did, but that she didn't come to monumental decisions the same way he found his own. So respectfully, he backed off. "Look, I need to start packing and I know you do too. How about you go back to your cabin to pack and rest for a bit and then I'll bring dinner over in say... two hours?"

"That... that would be fine. Sounds perfect." Her words escaped carefully. Her heart pounding. Breaking. Soaring. Lost... she wasn't sure what else she could say. She didn't like the way she felt. Didn't like that she couldn't give him right away what she could tell he so clearly wanted. Especially when a huge part of her wanted it too. But she needed too... she wasn't... "I'll see you..."

Tommy brought Kim her coat, hat, and gloves. He stood watching her by the door and then smiled when she pressed her lips firmly to his before ghosting by without another word. The next thing he realized was the sound of the door shutting. "Well, I did my best," he announced to himself, feeling quite pleased. He felt he was more than fair, open to anything she wanted to change, and that he wasn't pushing her. Two hours was enough time to mull over his offer and realize that seeing him again was obviously what they both wanted. If they didn't work out at least they could go on with their lives saying they tried. Wasn't that a far greater way to live than with what might of been?

Exhaling deeply, he walked towards his bedroom to begin packing. And then to decide what to do about dinner.

Two and a half hours later

The first thing Tommy noticed was that Kimberly's rental car was missing. Standing on his porch as thick snowflakes descended from the heavens, his mind ran through the possibilities of where she could have gone. She hadn't mentioned needing to make a run to the store, especially on the eve of them both leaving. He was bringing a tray of lasagna over for dinner, so food wasn't an issue. Reaching inside his jacket, he checked his cell phone. Upon checking he found no messages or missed calls. Shaking his head free of any doubts, he brushed it all aside. "Maybe she went to get another bottle of wine, was muttered through a swath of cold night air as he carefully descended the icy stairs and walked across the street to her cabin. He saw a single light on in her living-room, no doubt left on for him.

They'd exchanged their second set of cabin keys yesterday, so he let himself in and then hit the wall switch for the main lights. Let there be light, he mocked to himself wearing a grin that spoke of a last nights hot passion and the promise of so much more to come. Curiously enough, by the front door there were none of her suitcases nor her guitar. Strange. Maybe she'd already loaded her rental car. Kim always thought ahead, so he paid it no mind... despite the slight gnaw of tension he felt.

Walking into her kitchen, he sat the large tray down as a naughty grin settled over his face. Oh how he'd taken her over that kitchen table... Fuck, he could still hear her moaning for him and him alone. And while passion wasn't everything, he swore she had to be the one for him. She had him tied up in knots he couldn't begin to unravel. He'd never felt such raw desire or chemistry with a woman before as he did with his Beautiful.

Honestly, he knew he was in love with her. But with Kim you had to not push, so he was gonna take things as slow as she needed. They had to give this thing between them a chance to grow. Of that he was certain.

He'd have to be patient with her. He didn't mind. So she needed a little more space and understanding than most women. Again, she was worth it. And in the meantime of allowing her time to get used to them he would be working on himself as well. If things went as he hoped, they'd be in a seriously committed relationship hopefully within the next couple of months. Going from bachelorhood to that wasn't the easiest thing in the world for a guy, but he felt their potential and how much he loved her was worth it.

Walking back into the living-room while removing his coat and hat, his eyes suddenly fixated on something that stopped him dead in his tracks. Something that made no sense at all, and yet was darkly poetic in some way. Quickly, his mind surmised that the letter taped above the unlit fireplace was a sexy little note to tease about the past. That's all it could be. There was just no way... No, he wasn't even giving it a second thought.

Tommy walked over and took the letter, opening it to find a hand-written letter inside. From the moment he read the first words his stomach dropped. He felt ill...

'You're going to hate me for doing this.'

Reading no more, Tommy walked over to a chair and sat down, the letter dangling from his fingertips as he shook his head, praying he was wrong and jumping to conclusions. Then he began to read and all was made clear. Painfully clear.

'I'm emotionally broken, Tommy. There's something wrong with me that overwhelms me with fear of ever truly giving my all to someone. It terrifies me as I don't trust myself enough to put you through all the pain and misery of my issues. I know me taking the blame for this wont save you any hurt or anger tonight. I can only imagine how much you hate me now. Not more than I hate myself, but still. I just can't do this. What you want, I can't give. And rather than waste your time and hurt you more than I already have, I'm just going to go back to my life and let you do the same. This weekend was the best time of my entire life and I hate leaving you this way, but I'm a coward. I can't face you in person. I have to slip away and maybe find a way to fix whatever is wrong with me. Maybe someday... Because right now I'm just not in a good place and I know it. I'm so sorry. I don't know what else to say.

Love always,
Kim'

He had to be imagining this. It was a nightmare and any second he was gonna wake up and not be holding a second Dear John letter from the same girl. He wasn't going to feel more hurt than he had ever felt before because this wasn't happening... but it was. Days together where they shared everything and all he had asked for was a chance. One shot. Not a relationship. Not a commitment right now. He only wanted to date her and see where this amazing chemistry led them. Was that to much to ask for? Was he being so unreasonable? Was she that weak a person and he hadn't known?

Nice guys didn't just finish last. They got royally fucked.

Anger, rage, and utter despair crippled his thoughts. Tears wet his eyes, but he harshly brushed any aside long before they fell. "Damn you!" he swore out loud, crumpling the letter in his hands and then throwing it in the fireplace. The way she treated him was unacceptable. He deserved better and so did she. Why couldn't she give herself a shot at being happy? He just didn't know and gave up caring. Figuring out Kimberly Hart was gonna be some other suckers cross to bear.

He was done.

Beyond done.

And viciously heartbroken.

Tommy aimlessly walked outside into the blustering cold with his coat and hat under his arm, not giving a damn about the frigid temperatures. The only thing colder than the night was his heart.

United Flight 9913

Tuesday, December 7, 2008 10:30 PM

En route to Orlando, Florida

Kimberly was thankful for the dim, lonely shadows that bathed her window seat. The somber darkness welcomed her home, consuming her whole. Misery wouldn't be lonely tonight. She was perfect company.

Having cried until she had no more tears left to shed, shame ate her alive the last four hours after she broke the heart of the finest man she knew. The man she loved... Operating on autopilot through the airport check-in and security, she paid almost two hundred more dollars to grab this late night flight rather than stay behind and be forced to face Tommy with the shame of her fears. When his rational, mature speech should have been far more than enough to convince her to stay and fight for them, dread gripped its icy fist around her heart until she had to run in order to breathe again.

"Am I afraid of being happy?" she so softly asked herself, pleased that there wasn't a seat beside her. It made no sense to answer yes, and yet what other answer accompanied her actions? Tommy wanted more of her than she could give and she knew it. Rather than try and fail, she refused to put him through any more hurt than she'd already given him for one lifetime. He didn't deserve to be disappointed again. Never before had she felt more broken than right now, her eyes shut so tightly to ward off any more tears.

Sighing sadly, Kimberly felt no freedom or sense of relief for doing the right thing. That elemental emotion that, even though you did something you didn't want to do, deep down you knew it was the right thing to do. But not this night as she flew back to Florida and a empty home. Trying with Tommy meant effort she just didn't feel she had to give. And that made her sick to face such weakness within herself. That she was so lacking in emotional strength... so hurt and weighed down by past experiences she didn't trust her heart enough to fight for the love of it.

Certainly by now Tommy was cursing her name and very existence, a thought that broke her heart all over again. Mourning strickened her face as she cried against her arm, her hand balled into a fist of pure frustration with herself and her insecurities. What if Tommy was, after all and everything else, the one? The one person she was meant to be with. Life wasn't a fairy-tale or romantic novel, but it was factual that some people in this crazy world did indeed find that one person they loved above all others. She wondered what secret they had that she didn't concerning how to grow and nurture such love. Perhaps it required the one thing she couldn't give.

All of herself.

Tommy deserved that. And it was exactly what she wanted to give him and more. After all, he only asked for a chance to see where time spent together would take them. But she knew better. She was already in love with him again after four days. In four months she'd begin hating being apart from him. In a year she'd want to be his wife.

It was just too much.

Overwhelming.

Terrifying.

Heartsick as she had ever been, Kimberly gazed out the window at the clouds below, hating that Tommy now hated her. That he probably hoped he would never see her again. This would be the sin for which she would not be forgiven. What would their friends think of her when they learned what happened? How many would she lose over her actions? And what would this ultimately cost her? After all, if she couldn't trust her heart with Tommy, then who?

So many questions and she had no answers at all.

"What's done is done," she quietly spoke to herself, buried beneath the rubble of her fractured soul. Shaking her head, she knew one thing for certain. She needed help. This pattern of behavior had to stop as it was ruining her life. Before she could share her heart with anyone, she had to fix herself first. Had to find that inner strength that allowed change and faced it fearlessly.

Kimberly Hart knew she was a better woman than this. She had to be. She would be. Grief gave way to determination anew. Now began the hard journey to find her way back from being broken to becoming whole again.

This was the fight of her life...

The End

The Final Chapter: Fallout, Forgiveness, and Fate. Kimberly finds her way, but is it to late to make amends...