It was almost midnight when Harm drove Laura back to her sponsor’s
house. After everything they had discussed that night, Harm thought
there was nothing more that could make him uncomfortable around her, and
yet, she managed to throw him a curveball in the car.
There was something she’d been thinking about since that horrible night,
but, until now, there hadn’t been anyone she could talk to about it. She
wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to ask the commander, but, she was too
curious to stop herself. And, after tonight, she knew the commander
would be nothing less than totally honest with her.
“Sir?” she began. “Um…I’ve been wondering about something.”
“Go ahead,” Harm encouraged, his eyes focused on the road.
“Well…I just…it isn’t always like that, is it?”
Harm’s eyes narrowed, as he tried to guess what she was asking about.
“Being…with someone, sir,” Laura clarified.
“No,” Harm answered firmly, understanding her meaning. “Of course not.”
It seemed there was, indeed, something he felt awkward talking about; he
was grateful to have driving as a minor distraction. “The first time is
always a little painful for women, I think, but, not anything like what
you went through.” Harm knew he couldn’t back away. This devastated girl
needed answers, and right now, only he could provide them. Steeling
himself to his purpose, he continued on. “But, after that, when you’re
with someone you love, someone you trust to be safe with you – with your
body and your heart – then, it’s beautiful. Physical intimacy is
special, but it doesn’t hold a candle to physical intimacy attached to
emotional intimacy. And, you know what? It only took me forty years to
figure that out.”
Harm’s last comment made Laura smile, even if just a tiny bit. When they
pulled up at the correct house, they were both relieved to see Laura’s
sponsor’s car in the driveway.
“I don’t know what to say, sir,” Laura said. “’Thank you’ hardly seems
“It’s more than enough,” Harm assured her. “I’m glad I was home when you
called, and I’m glad we talked.”
“Me too, sir.”
“Will you do something for me, Laura?” Harm asked. “Will you promise me
you’ll think about what I said earlier, about pressing charges?” Laura
sighed. “Please,” Harm said. “It’s important.”
Laura nodded. “I will, sir. But, I’m not promising that I’ll do it, sir;
only that I’ll think about it.”
“That’s good enough for me,” Harm said. “Try and get a good night’s
“I will, sir,” she replied, and as she got out of the car, she found
herself thinking – for the first time in a long time – that it might
TWO WEEKS LATER
Terri had agreed to give Harm the time he needed, and, for the next few
days, they carried on as they had before Harm had found out about Laura
– with the exception of making love. Harm still wasn’t eating very much,
but he and Terri managed to share a few dinners together, and they still
occupied each other’s bed, albeit in a completely innocent way.
Harm seemed to be more relaxed, so Terri tried to use the opportunity to
recapture a little of their previous spark. They were in Harm’s bed, and
Terri started with the same tactics she had used a few night before –
slow, soft caresses along Harm’s back and arms. Harm was unresponsive,
so she moved closer, to whisper in his ear. “Haaaarm,” she purred,
continuing to tickle his skin, “I’m wide awaaaake…” she sang, her tone
rising in invitation.
“Well, I don’t know any bedtime stories,” Harm snapped. Remembering when
Mac had said the same thing to him, during their investigation on the
submarine, Watertown, only made him even angrier. They were supposed to
have been friends, but Mac had blocked him at every turn, waiting until
Chief Hodge had smashed his larynx, before she would give his suspicions
any credence. All Mac had ever done was push him away, and now, it
seemed all Terri wanted to do was pull him closer. Well, not tonight.
Not for a long time, if the way he was feeling was any indication.
Terri sighed loudly. She turned on the bedside lamp, and sat up in the
bed. “Harm,” she said, “I love you, but if you don’t love me, just tell
me, and I’ll pack my things and be out of here in fifteen minutes.”
“What?” Harm said, sitting up quickly. “You know I don’t want you to
“Do I? All I know is, it doesn’t seem like you want me to stay, either.”
“Why? Just because I don’t feel like doing that tonight?”
“You haven’t felt like ‘doing that’ in ages, Harm. If I did something
wrong, tell me what it was, so I can fix it. Otherwise, I’m going to get
dressed and be gone, because having me in your bed is obviously not
something you enjoy.”
“Terri, stop it,” Harm said firmly. “You don’t know what you’re talking
“Don’t I, Harm? Harm, we can’t go on like this. Whether it’s because of
something I did, or something I didn’t do, things haven’t been the same
between me and you since you started worrying about this student of
yours. I don’t know who she is, or what she did, but Harm, she’s
destroying you. You’re not sleeping or eating enough, and you’ve been
ignoring everyone else around you, and I don’t know what to do anymore.”
After her last words, she gathered her clothing and started to get
“Terri,” Harm said, coming over to the other side of the bed, where she
was putting on her shoes. “You’re talking crazy,” he said, reaching out
to put his arm around her.
“Don’t, Harm,” Terri said. “If you don’t want me touching you, then I
don’t think you should bother touching me.”
“Terri, what are you really trying to do here?”
“What am I trying to do? Harm, for God’s sake, I’m trying to get you to
see what’s happening to you! To us! We can’t go on like this, Harm.”
“You’re going crazy because we haven’t made love recently?! Jesus,
Terri, it’s not that easy, y’know. Just because I’m a man doesn’t mean
I’ll always jump at the chance to hop into bed! Women aren’t the only
ones who don’t feel up to it when there’s something big on their mind!
This has nothing to do with you! Or is that just the way you think –
that everything’s always about you?!”
Terri ran out of the bedroom, tears stinging her eyes. She gathered her
purse and her jacket, and was nearly to the door when Harm shouted to
“Terri, come back here!” Harm ordered. “You’re not getting on the road
“Like what?!” Terri snapped.
“As angry as you are! Whether you believe it or not, I care about you,
damn it, and I’m not gonna let you storm out of here and get into an
“Stop treating me like a child, Harm! I’m forty years old, damn it! I
know there’s evil in the world! You don’t have to shield me from every
bad thing that ever happens! I may not know what the hell is going on
with you and that girl right now, but I can damn well drive myself
home!” With that, Terri grabbed her car keys and ran out the door,
slamming it shut loudly behind her.
“Damn it!” Harm, yelled to no one. He picked up a glass vase and threw
it against the wall, shattering it into countless pieces.
LATER THAT NIGHT
OUTSIDE TERRI’S CONDO
Arriving home after her fight with Harm, Terri had prepared a nice,
comforting bath for herself. The hour-long soak in hot water and
soothing eucalyptus spearmint bath salts she’d treated herself to had
gone a long way toward relaxing her, but part of her was still on edge.
She was torn between feeling livid at Harm, or feeling proud of his
relentlessness when it comes to truth and justice. It was one of the
things she loved about him, but that was before it had interfered with
their relationship, before it threatened the happiness they’d found in
each other – happiness that both of them had all but given up on ever
His passion for the truth was one of the many things that had attracted
her to him, even from their first meeting, during the investigation of
the remains of the Native American naval hero, Jimmy Blackhorse. He’d
proven himself an even stronger crusader for justice in the aftermath of
the nightmarish murder of Annie Lewis. Harmon Rabb, Jr., was in a class
by himself when it came to honor, integrity, and loyalty, and Terri
loved him for that. He had never intended to be anyone’s hero, and yet,
there was an endless list of people for whom he had become exactly that.
He hadn’t done any of it for the accolades, or for the attention. It had
simply been the right thing to do, and Harmon Rabb, Junior, was one of
the last souls left in the world who did just that, every time, without
fail. He was larger than life, and he was the only person in the world
who didn’t see it.
Terri had known all along it would be a challenge to love him. She had
seen his single-mindedness in action when he’d stopped at nothing to
uncover the truth behind Annie’s murder. Everything in his life had
taken a distant second place in priority behind finding justice for that
sweet little girl. At the time, she used to imagine how incredible it
would be to be part of his world, and what it would take to captivate
him – to catch the attention of a man who worked miracles on a regular
basis. But that was years ago, when they were just friends. Now, their
relationship was quite different, and those fundamental qualities of his
were affecting that relationship.
Terri felt very low for thinking such a thought, but she wasn’t sure she
could accept taking a backseat to every “cause” Harm would take up.
Terri had always been a confident woman, but now, she found herself
questioning her sense of self-worth. She’d always been proud of her
intellect, and even of her body, although, like most women, she’d
struggled for a long time with accepting the fact that she simply wasn’t
built like a supermodel. She had plenty of other qualities that made her
desirable, and there was nothing wrong with being sure of herself. In
fact, without that self confidence, it would have been difficult, if not
impossible, for her to have gotten as far as she had in the Navy.
And yet, now, because of a man, Terri began doubting herself. Damn him,
she thought. No, she corrected herself: the Harmon Rabb she’d fought
with earlier was simply not the same one she’d fallen in love with. Damn
whatever this is that’s making him act this way. Damn this for
jeopardizing the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Wrapped in a thick, soft terrycloth robe, Terri sat at her vanity table
and slowly combed her still-wet hair. Her bedside lamp, and a large
rose-scented pillar candle were the only sources of light in the room.
She took her time with her hair, wishing she could untie the knots in
her heart as easily as they slipped out of the long, golden strands.
When she was finished, she reached for a small bottle of relaxing
aromatherapy oil. She dabbed a drop on her neck, and was about to rub
some onto her wrists, when a sound from outside caught her attention.
Someone was strumming something pretty on a guitar. Terri went to the
window to see who it was.
Pulling back the sheer, cream colored curtains, she looked down to the
courtyard. The sight before her took her breath away. Harm was standing
there, in full, regal-looking mess dress, looking up at the window as he
played. His guitar case was at his feet, laying flat on the grass, being
used as a table for the bottle of wine and single red rose he had
brought with him.
When he saw the curtain drawn back, he waited for Terri to meet his
eyes, and then he began to sing.
In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along
I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense
And every time I’ve held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
An so will you soon I suppose
But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break
And this is why my eyes are closed
It’s just as well for all I’ve seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows
So I would choose to be with you
That’s if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows…
By the time Harm had finished the song, tears were falling freely down
Terri’s face. God, she loved him.
She went downstairs and out the back door, walking slowly toward Harm.
When she reached him, she took the guitar from him, setting it down
gingerly on the grass. Standing up straight again, she looked into
Harm’s eyes for several seconds before finally wrapping her arms around
Responding in kind, Harm embraced her as well, burying his face in her
sweet-smelling hair. “I’m sorry, baby,” he whispered in a trembling
“Shhh,” Terri said.
Harm obliged her, and they stood there, just holding each other, for
long minutes. Finally, Harm could stand it no longer; he broke the
silence. Pulling away just enough to look at Terri, he said,
“I love you, Teresa.” He saw tears on her face, and he knew they matched
the ones on his own.
“I love you too, Harm.”
Harm reached down for the rose on his guitar case, and passed it to her.
“Come inside,” Terri told him. She took the bottle of wine, and Harm
followed behind her, after putting his guitar away.
Once they were inside Terri’s condo, Harm stood his guitar case against
the wall near the door. “I know how much you love me in this getup,” he
said, indicating the extremely sexy, yet terribly uncomfortable mess
dress uniform, “but, would you mind if I changed into something else?”
Terri threw him a pouting face for a second, but she granted his
request. “Go ahead,” she said, “but, I’ll tell you one thing: anyone
who’s ever claimed a white uniform and gold wings are overrated, is
clearly out of their mind.”
Harm smiled brightly, but offered no verbal reply. Instead, as he
carried his overnight bag into Terri’s bedroom to change, he thought of
the one person he distinctly remembered making such a comment, many
years earlier. Yes, he thought, Mac had clearly been out of her mind.
When he returned to the living room, Terri had uncorked the wine, and
had arranged a selection of fine cheeses on a smooth, wood board, to go
“What’s the occasion?” Harm asked.
Shrugging slightly, Terri replied, “I think we deserve it, after what we
put each other through, earlier.”
“You mean, what *I* put *you* through,” Harm said, regretfully.
“It takes two to tango, Harm,” Terri said.
“Tangoing?” Harm, chuckled. “Is that what they call it these days?”
Terri shrugged. “No,” she said. “I guess I just prefer the idea of us
tangoing, rather than fighting.”
Harm smiled. “Well, I can’t argue with you there.”
“Come on,” Terri said, taking Harm’s hand, and leading him to the couch.
“There’s a perfectly good bottle of wine going to waste over here.”
An hour and a half later, the bottle was nearly empty, and with it had
also gone the underlying, persistent tension that had been with them
since before their fight. They were both on the borderline of a buzz,
and it was enough to make Terri attempt to get Harm to make love to her,
despite the fact that it was the very thing that had caused their fight.
She began by getting up from her chair, and proceeding to sit in Harm’s
lap. Placing her hands on either side of his face, she looked deeply
into his eyes, and said, “I’m sorry, Harm. I didn’t mean to talk to you
that way.” Then, she captured his lips with hers, kissing him softly,
and holding it for several seconds. “I love you. You know that, right?”
Returning her gaze with equal intensity, Harm nodded slowly. “I know. I
love you, too. I’ve just had a hard time of showing it lately, and, for
that, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to hurt you, Teresa.” While he spoke, he
ran his hands over her hips, squeezing gently. “You’re the best thing in
my life; it would never be my intention to make you feel like anything
“And still, I feel I’ve said too much; my silence is my self defense,”
Terri said, echoing the song Harm had sung. “That’s a beautiful line,
Harm. Who wrote it?”
“Billy Joel,” Harm chuckled.
“Is it true?” Terri whispered. “Is that why you’re not telling me what’s
going on – to protect yourself?”
“No,” Harm said immediately. “If anything, I’m protecting *you,*
sweetheart. I wish there was some way I could make you see that.”
“So do I,” Terri said quietly. “I’m so afraid of losing you,” she
“That’s not going to happen,” Harm told her. “I promise.”
“I wish I could believe you.”
“Then, let me prove it to you, baby,” Harm said.
Terri nodded slowly. She slid off his lap, took his hand, and led him
toward her bedroom. She was momentarily disappointed when Harm walked
away from her, but she quickly felt better when she saw what he was
doing: Being familiar with her condo, Harm busied himself gathering
candles, setting them on her dresser, and on the bedside table, and
lighting them as he went. The room was bathed in the soft light, and
Terri watched as Harm approached her slowly, his face a mask of
intensity like she hadn’t seen in weeks. She didn’t know exactly what he
was going to do, but as her mind raced with the possibilities, she felt
every nerve in her body come alive, and he hadn’t even touched her yet.
When Harm was finally standing before her, he reached up and cupped her
face in his hand, sweeping his thumb slowly along her jaw, as he gazed
into her blue eyes, which were growing darker, under the low light, and
the heat of her growing desire. For several long seconds, that’s all
Harm did, caressing her face, marveling at the softness of her skin, and
marveling even more at how he could have possibly kept himself away from
the feeling of being with this woman.
He had never been very good at putting his personal feelings into words.
Tonight, he could only pray that his gentle touch, and the intensity of
his eyes, would convey all he longed to say to Terri. He watched her
lips become darker, and then, finally, he lowered his mouth to hers,
starting with the simplest, most innocent kind of kiss. Pulling away
just a tiny bit, he rubbed his lips against hers for a second, before
opening his mouth wider over hers, making a tight seal for the kind of
kiss he’d denied her – denied himself, for far too long. Feeling Terri
open to his demand, he slipped his tongue into her mouth, tasting the
sweetness only she could give him. The kiss was slow, long, and deep,
their tongues sliding against each other, mating sensuously, offering
just a hint of the long night of slow lovemaking Harm had in store for
All the while, Harm’s other hand grasped Terri’s hip, pulling her close
to him, allowing her to feel the proof that she wasn’t the only one who
had missed their intimacy. Terri whimpered, and Harm pulled away, a sly
grin on his face, because he knew this was only the beginning. Terri
reached out to touch Harm’s chest, but Harm took her hand and returned
it to her side. Tonight would be about her, and only her.
“Do you trust me?” Harm asked her.
“Yes,” Terri whispered.
“Then just let me…do this, okay?”
Terri tried to respond, but all she could do was nod. The feel of Harm’s
warm lips on her neck had stolen away any words she might have said. He
kissed her languidly, taking his time to reacquaint himself with the
taste of her skin, the sensation of merely being near her this way. He
cursed Laura’s attackers, and their connections, over and over again,
for putting this feeling in jeopardy, for robbing him of his ability to
be with Terri like this. Too many people had already suffered far too
much at their hands, both directly and indirectly; he would be damned if
he was going to add Terri’s name, and his relationship with her, to that
Tonight, he would do anything and everything he could, to erase all
doubts from Terri’s mind. She had been unknowingly caught up in this web
of malevolence, and Harm was determined to pull her loose from it.
Taking her hand in his, and putting his other hand at the small of her
back, he led her to her bed, where he laid her down on her back.
Confusion on her face, Terri looked at him, as if about to question his
action, but Harm shook his head. “Shhh,” he assured her. He sat down at
the foot of her bed, and tenderly took hold of her ankle. Leaning down,
he placed a kiss on the outside, just the first of a trail of tiny,
quiet kisses he would forge as he made his way toward her thigh. He
stopped when he reached the hem of her bathrobe, starting again at the
bottom, with her other ankle.
Terri had half a mind to protest, and tell him to pick up the pace, but
she could tell he had no intention of doing so. Something about his eyes
told her she was in for a very long, very erotic night. All Harm had
done was kiss her legs, but she could already feel the heat gathering
between her legs. Even the thick material of her bathrobe couldn’t hide
her nipples, swollen almost painfully from the slow, exquisite torture.
“Harm, please,” she whispered. Even she wasn’t sure what she wanted, but
she knew she couldn’t stand much more of this denial.
A deep, masculine chuckle escaped Harm’s lips. Deciding to give Terri a
tiny respite, he took her hand, helping her to sit up, and then stand.
Her senses on overdrive, every sensation was heightened, from the scent
of the jasmine candles, to the soft feel of the plush carpet beneath her
feet. It occurred to her that, in this state, depending on what Harm did
during the next little while, she might go over the edge and never come
Keeping a little bit of distance between them, Harm reached out to untie
the belt on Terri’s robe. When the two ends fell loosely to her sides,
the robe opened a little, exposing just a hint of Terri’s voluptuous
body to Harm’s hungry eyes. Harm reached inside, pushing the robe over
her shoulders, and down her arms, until it slipped off, landing in a
pool at the floor.
God, she was exquisite. Harm’s eyes drank in every inch of her, from her
long, golden hair, to her shapely, womanly curves. Curves that he could
not wait to run his hands over. The very thought of doing just that was
arousing him even more, but he refused to give in to his own need too
quickly. This was for her, he kept reminding himself.
He reached out and placed his hand on her waist, while his other hand
explored her shoulder, her arm, until finally he landed his hand on her
face again, drawing her to him for another torrid kiss. If not for
Harm’s hand on her body, Terri was certain her knees would have buckled,
and she would have melted into a puddle on the floor. God, it was
incredible, being with him like this again, the feel of his hands
roaming her body, the cool, masculine scent of him intoxicating her to a
place outside herself.
Listening to Terri whimper every few seconds only spurred Harm on, made
him more certain than ever that this was the right thing to do – to
erase any doubt from her mind that he was anything but completely,
fundamentally in love with her. Through sighs and moans, Terri
practically begged Harm to touch her, and, finally, he told himself it
was okay to move to the next step. Keeping one hand on her waist, he
moved the other to her breast, cupping it so gently, sweeping his thumb
over the hardened, straining bud that ached for his attention.
“Mmmmhh…” Terri moaned. Harm froze when he saw a lone tear travel down
“Terri?” he whispered, wondering if he had hurt her.
More tears fell from Terri’s eyes, and she nodded, as she bit her lower
lip. “It’s fine, Harm,” she whispered, her voice trembling. “I just…I’ve
Harm moved his hands to either side of her face. He looked deeply into
her eyes. “Me too, baby. I’m so sorry.” With that, he kissed both of her
eyes, then moved lower, covering her mouth again, trying to convey all
the love and reassurance he could in a simple kiss.
By now, Terri was aroused to a fever pitch. She could feel the wetness
gathering at her core, feel her insides quivering with anticipation.
“Harm, please, make love to me,” she invited.
Harm shook his head, causing Terri to panic for just a second, before
Harm smiled, and said, “Not yet, beautiful. Not yet.”
“Harm,” Terri said, through the haze of her overwhelming desire, “I know
what you’re doing. You don’t have to…”
“Yes, I do,” Harm insisted. “For all the times I haven’t. I love you,
honey, and I want to show you.” He caressed her cheek with his thumb.
“Do you think you can let me do that?”
Terri nodded, one final tear of pure joy and relief falling from her
eye. “I love you, Harm.”
Harm leaned in to kiss her again, more forcefully this time, his tongue
exploring her welcoming mouth, feeling like if he kissed her for a
thousand years, it wouldn’t be enough time. Unfortunately, the part of
his mind that was still capable of conscious thought, told him that if
he was ever going to get to the other places on her glorious,
irresistible body, then he would have to pull away from her soft, sweet
He finally broke the kiss, and led Terri back to the bed. He undressed
himself slowly, watching her curvaceous form the whole time, wondering
how on earth he was going to resist plunging himself into her, in order
to give her the kind of loving she deserved.
Watching the scene before her, Terri grew more aroused than she ever
imagined possible. She was convinced if Harm so much as said her name
again, she would feel the waves of pleasure pass through her, and it
would all be over. Her whole body begged to feel him inside her, to feel
his weight above her, protecting her, driving her to heights she hadn’t
known existed before being with this incredible man.
Harm joined her on the bed, stretching out beside her. He gently rolled
her onto her back. Lowering himself to her, he took one of her cinnamon
nipples into his mouth, circling his tongue around the straining peak.
Terri writhed in pleasure from the contact, the moans she was unable to
control driving Harm on even further. Continuing to lavish her breast
with the attention it had been denied for so long, Harm’s hand found her
other breast, his thumb and forefinger rolling the hardened nipple,
causing Terri to cry out in even more ecstasy.
Harm’s erection was harder and heavier than he’d ever thought possible,
and yet, he was still determined to postpone his own release, in order
to prove to Terri, once and for all, that no matter what else was going
on in his life, he loved her, and nothing would ever change that. He
refused to let himself climax before her. He was so turned on; he knew
that once he came, he would collapse for the night, and there was a lot
more he wanted Terri to feel before the night was over.
“Harm, please,” Terri begged. She was unconsciously rubbing herself
against him, desperately seeking some kind of release from the sweet
agony she was in.
“Please, what?” Harm whispered, just before he kissed her again. “Please
touch you?” he asked, running his big hand down her side, resting it on
her warm mound.
“Mmmhh,” Terri moaned. She bucked at the contact, so close to her
“Please do this?” Harm asked. He ran the soft tip of his middle finger
along her soaking wet folds, whispering his touch over her swollen
clitoris. Terri cried out; she was convinced Harm had transported her to
somewhere else, some other-worldly universe, where nothing existed but
the two of them, and the intensity of the heat between them.
“Or maybe you meant this,” Harm pondered aloud. He slipped a long finger
inside her, the burning heat warming his whole hand.
“All of it,” Terri panted, “I meant all of it.” Harm slowly slid his
finger out of her body, deciding he preferred her reaction when he
stroked her fully, his finger making the barest contact with her hard
clit. Terri’s hips took on a will all their own, rubbing her center
against Harm’s hand, her every thought going to the way it felt to lose
herself in this man’s arms, and how she ever could have thought for even
one second that he had stopped loving her.
Terri’s cries grew louder and more frequent, and Harm knew she was close
to climaxing – the first of many he had in store for her that night.
“Don’t fight it,” he told her. “Let it come, baby. We’re not done yet, I
With that encouragement, Terri bucked harder and faster against Harm’s
hand, digging her nails into the skin of his back, trying to latch onto
something, to keep herself rooted to this exquisite moment. Her whole
body tensed as the orgasm washed over her, her sex pulsating with each
wave of pleasure that hit her.
Harm watched closely as Terri experienced the high, and then came down
from it. He was addicted to the very sight of her: her flushed skin, her
lips, dark and swollen with arousal, parted now, as she gasped for air,
breathing through the most stunning orgasm she’d ever had. Harm couldn’t
help but think that Terri’s breasts had been neglected for the last few
minutes, so, as soon as Terri had regained her equilibrium, he lowered
his face to her torso once more, one hand kneading her hip, while the
other massaged her breast, making sure he didn’t give her nipple a
chance to return to its usual softness. Satisfied that he had
accomplished that goal, he switched to the other breast, savoring the
feel of the pebbly nipple with his tongue.
Terri was panting, still not fully recovered from her violent climax.
“Harm,” she choked out, “you have to stop…I can’t…”
“Sure, you can,” Harm chuckled. “I’ll help you.” With that, Harm started
at her lips, and kissed a trail of fire down her neck, down through the
valley between her breasts, past her navel, until he arrived at the
delicious destination between Terri’s thighs. He used his hands to coax
her legs apart, then positioned himself between them. His senses were
instantly intoxicated by the scent of sex. The scent of her womanly
arousal. The scent of how much she loved him.
“I’m not stopping anything,” Harm told her, as he tickled the curls
covering her mound. “In fact, I’m just getting started.” Those were his
last words to her before he lowered his mouth to her apex, reaching his
tongue out to taste her treasure. His tongue followed the same path his
finger had, moving in long, slow swipes, along the length of her folds,
pausing for just a second when it reached her clit. He could taste her
juices; nothing had ever nourished him the way she had.
“God, Harm, oh, God!” Terri cried, overcome with pleasure, as Harm used
his mouth to work her into a frenzy, alternately nibbling and
languishing his tongue soothingly over her tight button of pleasure.
“Don’t stop,” she begged, even as she felt another climax tear through
her. “Please, don’t stop.”
Harm needed no such instruction; he had no intention of stopping – not
when he was making Terri feel every bit the beautiful, beloved woman she
was to him. Not when she was grinding herself against his face, reveling
in every second of gluttonous pleasure he was giving her.
A third orgasm hit Terri on the tail end of the second, and she moaned
and screamed over the duration of the intensity. It took several
seconds, but when she was finally able to open her eyes, she saw Harm
hovering over her, just watching her.
“Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” he said, his voice
unsteady. He brushed a few strands of hair off her sweaty forehead.
Terri’s response was not in words, but in action. Reaching up, she
pulled Harm down toward her, fusing their mouths together, and thrusting
her tongue into his mouth. She could taste herself on him, and it made
her want to please him even more. She didn’t care if Harm had intended
for this to be “her night.” She was going to make sure he enjoyed
himself, too. While they were still kissing, she snaked her hand between
them, reaching for Harm’s long-neglected penis. She wrapped her hand
around the engorged shaft, rubbing slowly up and down, swirling her
thumb over the straining head.
“Aaaah, Terri, God…” Harm gasped, throwing his head back. Terri
continued working her ministrations, alternating hard, fast pressure,
with long, slow motions. She worked Harm into a frenzy like he had never
known before. He was convinced he would shatter into a million pieces if
he wasn’t inside her soon. Even so, a part of him was reluctant to take
her. This was supposed to be about her – her pleasure, her feelings –
but Harm was so aroused, he knew he wouldn’t be able to take it slow. He
needed release, and he needed it quickly. He wanted to be inside Terri
when he came, but he didn’t want to hurt her, and he didn’t want to seem
How, he didn’t know, but Terri seemed to sense what he was thinking.
“Take me, Harm,” she told him. “I want you inside me. I need you.”
Harm shook his head. “Baby, I can’t be gentle…I don’t want you to feel…”
Terri took Harm’s hands in hers, lacing their fingers together tightly.
“Do it, Harm. Do whatever you need to; I’m with you. It’s okay.”
The weight of a thousand emotions threatened to crush Harm. “I love you
so much,” he said, before pulling her in for a kiss. As soon as they
separated, he offered her his hand, to pull her up. He turned her
around, so her back was to him. Taking her wrists in his, he brought her
hands to the headboard, and she followed his unspoken request to grab
hold of the brass. He had one hand on her hip, and, one last time, he
whispered in her ear, “Are you sure?” Terri nodded immediately. Harm
guided his painfully throbbing erection to her opening, entering her
from behind. He grabbed her hips, gripping them tightly, guiding the
pace as he slid effortlessly into her. Her wet heat enveloped him,
welcoming him home. His movements grew more frenzied, his thrusts harder
and faster, as he drove into her again and again, her inner walls tight
around him. Knowing he was close, he reached around to the front of
Terri’s body, his fingers seeking her throbbing apex. Finding her
swollen clit, he massaged the tender bundle of nerves until Terri’s
moans and squeals reached a high again.
“Now, Harm!” Terri cried. “Now, come with me,” she panted.
Harm’s grip tightened on Terri’s hips. He thrust up once, twice, three
more times, and then his body froze. The only thing he was conscious of
was the absolute, overwhelming ecstasy of relief, as it passed through
him, the pulsations of Terri’s body drawing his seed deep into her core.
Both of them satisfied and utterly exhausted, they collapsed next to
each other, and drifted into restful, dreamless sleep.
THE FOLLOWING MORNING
Harm had gotten up to use the bathroom. When he returned to the bedroom,
the bed was empty. He followed the scent of freshly brewing coffee to
the kitchen, where a satin nightgown-clad Terri was reaching into the
refrigerator for a French vanilla creamer.
Harm walked up to her quietly, doing his best not to alert her to his
presence, until he surprised her by wrapping his arms around her from
She gasped, but immediately relaxed in his arms. “I’ve missed you,” she
Harm smiled, and leaned over to kiss her bare shoulder. “I was only gone
a few minutes.”
“Minty fresh,” Terri said, smiling.
“I brushed my teeth, since I was in there, anyway.”
Terri nodded. She didn’t say anything, but Harm picked up on something
in her eyes. “Missing me…” he said tentatively. “You’re talking about
more than just now,” he theorized aloud. Terri nodded, then looked away.
Hooking his finger under her chin, Harm coaxed her gaze back to his.
“I’ve missed you, too, Terri. I don’t know how many times I can say it,
before you’ll believe me.”
“Why did this happen, Harm? How did we get to that point, and, more
importantly, what can I do to make sure we never get there again?”
Harm sighed. Not again. He thought his session of practically
worshipping her would finally erase any doubts she might still have.
Clearly, she was harboring more than just some surface fears. Something
much deeper was going on inside her. The question was, would she tell
him what it was?
“There’s something big on my mind, Terri. You know that; I’ve been
telling you about it for weeks.”
“No, Harm,” Terri said. Knowing that they had traveled and re-traveled
this territory countless times, all to no avail, she tried to keep her
tone gentle and non-accusatory. “You haven’t. You’ve told me something’s
going on, but you’ve given me no clue as to what it is. At this point,
I’m not even asking for my sake, or our sake, anymore. I’m asking for
your sake. I’m worried about you.”
Harm smiled. He brought Terri’s hand to his lips and kissed the back of
it. “I know you are, sweetheart, and I love that you care so much. All I
can tell you is, it’s something disturbing, and it’s made me…well…making
love just can’t be my first priority right now, that’s all. It’s not
you, and it’s not us. That’s just the way things are now, but it’ll get
better eventually, sweetheart. I promise.”
“Making love isn’t supposed to be a chore,” Terri said.
“Exactly,” Harm replied. “It’s not supposed to be a challenge; it’s
supposed to be the most wonderful, passionate, natural thing in the
world, and that’s exactly why I haven’t been able to bring myself to
share it with you.”
A look of total confusion, and slight offense, marred Terri’s features,
and Harm knew at once that Terri had not understood him. He rushed to
quell any misconceptions she might have had. He took her hand in his,
and brought it to his chest, pressing it against his heart. “Teresa,
when I make love to you, I want to focus only on you. I don’t want
anything else clouding my mind. When two people make love, they deserve
each other’s full attention, and if I can’t give that to you, well, I
don’t want to fake it. I don’t want to just go through the motions; you
deserve more than that from me. I should be able to focus on you
exclusively, in and out of bed, and, lately, I haven’t been able to do
that. I do love you, Terri, but there’s something on my plate right now
that’s making it difficult for me to show it. It’s going to go away,
though. I can’t tell you how soon that’s going to happen, but it will
“I wish I could believe you,” Terri said.
“Why can’t you?” Harm asked.
“I’m just not wired that way, I suppose,” she answered, tentatively.
“Look at it from where I am, Harm: a man, a woman, a great relationship.
That adds up to something for me, but, if it doesn’t for you, then, I
“It means more than making love, Terri,” Harm said. “That’s part of the
equation, but not the whole thing. You have to know how much I love
making love with you, but it’s also not a cure-all for me. It never has
been. In fact, sometimes it just makes things worse,” he added,
“It takes my focus off of what’s important.”
“Are you saying making love with me isn’t important to you?”
“You know I’m not,” Harm insisted calmly. “It makes my thinking cloudy,”
he clarified. “Do you know how many times I’ve caught myself sitting at
my desk, while my students are working, and I’ll get to thinking about
you, and some of the incredible nights we’ve spent together. Well,
before I know it, I can’t stand up, because everyone will see the effect
the mere thought of making love to you has on me. I love you to the
point of distraction, sweetheart.”
Terri blushed at Harm’s confession, but she offered only a slight smile.
“That’s nice,” she said, half-heartedly.
Something in Terri’s tone made Harm uneasy. “But…”
“But it doesn’t make me feel much better,” Terri admitted, a deep sense
of regret evident in her voice.
Harm sighed. He knew he was hurting her, and he hated himself for it.
“It won’t always be like this, Terri; I promise. Someday, this will all
be behind us, and you and I will go back to what we had before.”
“Will we?” The doubt in Terri’s voice was overwhelming.
“Of course we will,” Harm said. “Nothing’s changed about the way I feel,
Terri. I love you; I’m just distracted right now, that’s all.”
“Is it all?” she prodded. “Sometimes I think…”
“What?” Harm asked, sensing that they were finally about to get to the
heart if things. For a while now, he had sensed there was more to
Terri’s fears about their relationship than just the fact that they
hadn’t made love like they used to in quite a while.
Terri shook her head. “Nothing. Never mind.”
“Terri, please,” Harm said, taking her hand in his. “Talk to me. Tell me
what’s going on in that head of yours.”
“If it means something to you, then it’s not silly.”
Terri sighed deeply. “I guess…I guess I’m just starting to wonder if
maybe you’ve finally seen what’s wrong with this picture.”
“What picture?” Harm asked, genuinely clueless as to what Terri was
“You and me,” Terri answered. “A tall, strong, sexy,
make-you-weak-in-the-knees man, with…me.”
Harm’s eyes narrowed. Terri had infused the word, “me,” with all the
revulsion a person might use when talking about raw sewage, or nuclear
waste, leaking into the groundwater supply. “What are you talking
about?” Harm pushed.
“Let’s face it, Harm,” Terri said, “I’m not exactly a supermodel. My
uniform pants aren’t the same size they were when I was fresh out of
ROTC. I can pass the Navy’s physical fitness test every year, Harm, but
I’m not in danger of winning any marathons, or any beauty contests, for
Stunned at hearing Terri talk this way about herself, Harm could only
stare at her, half shocked, half wanting to shake some sense into her.
“Mac may not be in your life anymore, Harm,” Terri continued, “but it
doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that, for a very long time, you
were in love with her. And who could blame you? She’s thin, she’s got
legs that go on for a mile, and she has that exotic heritage that comes
through just enough to make her gorgeous. You’d have to be blind not to
be attracted to her.”
“Terri,” Harm tried to interject, but Terri cut him off.
“But now you’re with me, and I just can’t figure it out. How can you go
from a Porsche to a Honda? From the Waldorf-Astoria to a roadside Motel
6? From lobster and truffles to 2-day old, cold pizza?”
“What?” Harm finally said. “Where on earth is this coming from, Terri?
And how could you possibly compare yourself to those things? You are a
beautiful, intelligent woman, and I love you. I love your heart, your
soul, and I love your mind. And, despite what you seem to think about
your body, it is gorgeous, and I love that, too. Every single soft,
curvy inch of it.”
“Then I suppose that’s why we’ve been having such a hard time lately?”
Terri said, with sarcasm. “You love me so much, you can’t even touch me?
Harm, just tell me the truth. If you’ve changed your mind about us, and
you think I’m unattractive, just tell me. I know you’re trying to do the
gentlemanly thing, but, really, I’d rather you just cut me loose, if you
don’t want to be with me anymore. I understand completely, Harm, believe
me. Do you think I look in the mirror every day, and I’m happy with what
I see? You want someone prettier, someone thinner, and I’m just trying
to let you know that I understand, and I don’t expect you to stay with
me out of some…I don’t know…misguided sense of nobility.”
“What the hell are you talking about?!” Harm said, exasperated. “Terri,
I fell in love with you because you’re everything so many other women
aren’t: confident, independent, strong-willed, logical, enchanting,
sexy, beautiful, mesmerizing…do I need to go on? And now, you’re talking
about yourself like you’re nothing, like you have nothing to offer.”
“Well, I don’t.”
“Jesus,” Harm whispered. Did *I* do this to her? He wondered. Had all
these weeks of his being distracted actually caused Terri to honestly
believe these things about herself? God damn it, he was going to wipe
the floor with every last one of those sons of bitches at the Academy,
if it was the last thing he ever did. “Terri, I don’t know how many
different ways I can say it, and make it get through to you. I love you,
and you need to know that when you talk that way about yourself, it
hurts me. It hurts me because I love you. Do you understand that when
you say those things, you’re insulting the most important person in my
life? Plus, you’re insulting me, because you’re saying I’m wasting my
time loving someone who’s so terribly undeserving of love. And I don’t
know why you’re thinking those things.”
“I’ve thought them for a while, Harm,” Terri confessed. “But it’s been
getting worse and worse. I mean, when I can’t hold your attention in bed
anymore, what am I supposed to think?”
“You’re supposed to think that something’s going on at the Academy right
now, and that it’s in your best interest to know as little about it as
possible. You’re supposed to think that I’m trying to keep you out of
it, because it’s snowballing, and pretty soon, it’s going to be an
all-out avalanche, and I’m doing my damndest to keep you out of its
“Then, why is it so much easier for me to think of the other possibility
– that you’ve finally realized you could have Helen of Troy on your arm,
and instead, you’ve wasted the past six months being with me?”
“I…I wish I knew where this was coming from, Terri. You’ve never talked
about yourself that way before. I mean, I never knew you felt that way.”
“I don’t, usually. But things are different now.”
“Well, for one thing, you and I are together.”
“So? What does that have to do with it?”
Terri looked away from him and smiled. “I just…I feel like people will
look at us, at you and me, and wonder what someone who looks like you is
doing with someone who looks like me.”
Harm looked at her as if she were speaking Chinese. “Are you crazy?
Terri, you’re incredibly beautiful. Don’t you know that? “What people
will *really* be thinking is, ‘What on earth is that incredibly
intelligent, talented, and utterly stunning woman, doing with that
washed-up, middle-aged, completely unremarkable man?”
“Middle-aged, huh?” Terri teased, feeling a little bit better.
Harm offered a sly smile. “That doesn’t mean I couldn’t give a younger
guy a run for his money.”
“I think I might need a little convincing,” Terri intimated. Cupping
Harm’s face in her hand, she ran her thumb along Harm’s lips.
“What the heck was that all about, anyway?” he asked her.
Blushing, Terri offered a slight shrug. “Temporary insanity?”
“You’ve got that right,” Harm said, pulling Terri close to him, his
hands resting on her hips through the satin of the nightgown she put on
when she had awoken during the night. “Because you’d have to be insane
to feel that way about yourself.”
Terri smiled. “Well, I think you did a very good job of convincing me of
Harm chuckled. “Your ‘merits,’ huh?” he teased, running his hands slowly
up her torso, resting them on her breasts. “Then how come every time I
think about your ‘merits,’ all I want to do is turn you into a bad
Terri chuckled. “I was wondering…”
“Yes?” Harm asked, his tone rising.
“Do you think this coffee would taste better in the bedroom?”
Terri could feel Harm smile against the back of her neck, his warm
breath fanning her exposed skin. “I think it warrants further study,
Commander,” he said. “Let’s go find out.”
“You’re not too tired? You worked pretty hard last night, sailor.”
Harm’s eyes flashed with a devilish glint that Terri had not seen in
weeks – with the exception of last night, of course. “I was just getting
warmed up.” With that, he grabbed Terri, settled her comfortably in his
arms, and headed out of the kitchen, toward the bedroom.
“What about the coffee?” Terri reminded him.
“Forget the coffee,” Harm told her. “I promise, I’ll wake you up in a
much more…interesting way than caffeine ever could.”