Crossing Palms

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Seventeen

Mark had pulled away just enough to check the message on his phone, then held the screen where Raysia could see it too. It was Matthew complaining that Kitty had drug him along on her shopping spree with Adina and that he officially hated the color pink. Mark set it back on the table and snuggled her closer. This was his new happy place. Holding Raysia. Mark could have stayed like this forever.

"Ray, I won't force you to do anything or be any where you don't want to be. That includes being with me. But as long as you'll let me I'm here for you. I'll protect you to the best of my abilities. I have my own skeletons in the closet. I understand not wanting to place that burdon on another and all I'm asking is that you give me a chance to be on your team. Please. ", His heart wrenched at the pain he could feel radiating from her as he whispered through her hair. Her grip on him grew tighter, like she was holding on for dear life. But she didn't say a word.

Mark thought for a moment, trying to find the words to express his hopes for her, for them. But exhaustion was setting in and the harder her tried to fight it the heavier his eyes became. He slid an arm under her legs and stood up in one fluid motion. Carrying her through the house to the second floor. He stopped at the top of the steps and set her down gently. Raysia looked up at him, her face full of sadness and her eyes red from the tears she'd been trying to hide. This woman was filling him full of love while simultaneously breaking his heart. He just wanted her to know that he was in her corner. That he had her back no matter what, but he knew words would only get him so far. Mark wasn't sure how, but he would find a way to prove himself. He extended a hand out to her, and she took it. Her tiny fingers entwining themselves with his.

"We both need some sleep. I'll show you where your new room is.", He started to walk forward down the hall until he felt a tug at his arm and realised Raysia hadn't moved. A new expression replaced the sadness that had been there only moments before. Her eye brow was raised, he could feel her defiance. Then a surge passed from her into him, a twinge of fear that was almost drowning in what he could only describe as bravado or a challenge.
"So I'm in my own room?", Her words echoed his suspicion. She was challenging him. Problem was he didn't know the right answer. Continue to offer her a space of her own or...
"You're welcome to come to my room. I just didn't want to assume anything. Didn't want you to think that you had... ", His words were cut off as she jumped into his arms, wraping her legs around his middle. Her lips feverish and frantic against his. Holding her to him, his hands roaming of their own accord, he let her lead. Not wanting to push her too far. She broke her lips away from his, breathing heavily and running her hand across his chest and collar bone while holding on to him with the other. Her eyes flicked open, staring straight into his. "Your room." Her words sent a shiver up his spine, his chivalry dissolving as an animalistic need grew in his groin, spreading through his body.

He carried her down the hall to his room and fumbled with the door handle for a second as her lips found his again and made it hard to focus. Once inside he sat down at the edge of the bed with Raysia still in his arms. He could feel her body heat rising. Her hands clutching at his shoulders and hair as though they couldn't decide where they wanted to be. She pressed her body into his, taking his cue from her, Mark slowly leaned back. Raysia planted her hands on his chest and pushed herself back up, pulling her shirt over her head and then dove back in. Her mouth coming down around his ear lobe, her teeth gently tugging before making her way down the side of his neck. A groan escaped from somewhere deep in his chest, his hands found their way into her hair, trying to hold her to the spot she'd found. He hadn't known this feeling was possible, she was quickly becoming an addiction for him. Her teeth nipped at him, making him groan again. A soft giggle sounded in his ears.

"Oh yeah?", He whispered, grabbing her by the hips and flipping her over so that she was under him causing Raysia to squeal. Mark dove for the same spot she'd found on him, curious if it had the same effect for her. Letting his lips trail kisses down her jaw to her neck. His hands had gone back to roaming on their own and found the tie at the top or her pajama pants, his fingers slowly pulled the strings apart. His hand sliding just in the top of the waist band to wrap itself around her hip.

Raysia's body suddenly went ridged, her chest heaving. Her head began to shake from side to side and tears streamed her face. Mark immediately let go of her hip and sat her up, holding her against him so that he could rub her back. He felt foolish, letting things move too quickly. He recognized the panic attack as soon as it started, one of his sister's was prone to them. He did his best to comfort her as her breathing slowed and became more regulated, mentally kicking himself for not having more self control. She'd been through so much. He knew from his line of work that she would have some degree of trauma.
"I'm sorry.", She said, her body still shaking from the anxiety flowing through her veins. Mark kissed her forehead and reached over to where her shirt had landed on the bed. He pulled the shirt over her head and held it so that she could slide her arms in.

"How about we just take a nap, no need to rush anything. No need to apologise. I told you I'm not going anywhere unless you want me to." He said as he pulled the blankets down from the pillows and she crawled in, then tucked it around her. Then grabbed the afghan from foot of the bed and covered himself.
"You aren't getting under the blankets?" Raysia asked, disappointment clear in her voice. Mark shook his head no. But tried to smile. "I'm still a man, but I'm trying to be a gentleman. I want to take things at your pace and I don't want my body to ruin that for me while I sleep.", His tone was soft, and she nodded, grabbing his hand she pulled his arm over her and laid her face in his palm. "Is this ok?", She asked as her eyes slowly closed, her lids becoming too heavy to hold open. He relaxed into her, snuggling as close as he could with the security of the blankets keeping his body in check.
"It's prefect.", He whispered, resting his head against hers as they both drifted off.
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