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Artistic Differences 


Chapter 7

As soon as they'd walked through the door they'd begun stripping, hurrying to shower and dress for the evening. She put on her make-up while he shaved. Dried her hair while he picked up their discarded clothes, and checked the mail. Uncertain what to wear, she had stood on her closet sorting through clothes, rejecting one outfit after another for whatever reason. Took a brief moment to marvel that she had such a selection to choose from...had never dreamed she would have so much.

Daniel pulled his trousers on...not an easy feat when he was busy watching Casey slide her skirt up over her legs and hips. It was the same black skirt with the back pleat that she had worn to dinner the night she had met Mike. The way it fit her hips had him thinking about sliding it right back off her slender body!

She tugged the brand new silk cami over her shoulders. The color was a soft tangerine...not exactly one of her favorites, but the beadwork had been what had drawn her attention. Now she wasn’t so sure about all of the tiny, iridescent beads. "Is this beading too much?"

Why do women ask questions like that? he wondered briefly. He had no idea about women’s fashions, what was popular or what was not, what was ‘in’ and what was ‘out’. He only knew what he liked. He had a fifty-fifty chance of guessing correctly. "I think it looks nice," he replied.

Casey tossed a smile in his direction. "Then I guess it’s not too much."

"Define too much," he said.

"It’s not too...ostentatious? I’m not sure how one dresses for an art exhibit."

"You’re beautiful, Angel," he murmured.

"You’re just slightly prejudiced in my favor," she smiled.

"Just telling you the truth." He held the matching cropped cardigan sweater as she pushed her arms into the sleeves, the bead work on the bodice of the cami and matching design on the front of the sweater catching the light. Leaned forward and nuzzled her cheek. "You look amazing."

"Thank you," she whispered, snuggling back against him.

"We have to get a move on, Angel," Daniel said, glancing at his watch. "Don’t want to be late."

"Right." She took a deep breath. It was one thing to pose for portraits that would hang in her own bedroom, where no one else would see them. It was something entirely different to pose for a portrait that would hang in an art gallery. Who knew how many people would be there for the judging of the contest?

Dropping a kiss on the tip of her nose, Daniel led the way to the back door, and out to the Jeep. Within a matter of minutes they were on North Interstate 25, heading to Denver. She wasn’t sure whether she should feel excited, or nervous. She decided on a healthy dose of both.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Being Saturday night, traffic into the city was heavy, and it took longer to find the gallery than they had anticipated. The doors had been open a full thirty minutes by the time they found a parking spot. Through that magical SG-1 connection, Jack managed to pull into an open spot three cars away from them just as they were crossing the street. Daniel pointed to the gallery, receiving a nod from Jack. The team would meet up inside.

"Good evening," a young woman smiled in greeting. "Would you like a printed guide? It offers the names of the artists competing, and their work, as well as where each piece is located."

"Yes, thank you," Daniel smiled, accepting copies for both of them, handing one to Casey.

Fairly bouncing by now, Casey looked through the guide. Found Tiesha’s name, and the room where the portrait was being displayed.

Her excitement brought a smile to his face. "Go find it. I’ll wait for Jack, Sam, and Teal’c. We’ll catch up with you in a few minutes."

Her smile lit her face, caught the attention of several people around them; a fact of which she was totally oblivious. With a squeeze to his arm, she hurried deeper into the gallery. Followed the directions within the very helpful guide. Nearly ran into the room. Stopped suddenly, staring at the most unexpected sight that greeted her.

Casey stared in horror at the portrait...no, not a portrait. That was not a black and white photo! It was a painting. A very large painting. Of her. She was practically naked! Okay, she hadn’t been unaware of that fact during the time Tiesha had been taking the pictures. She had stood there, wearing...well, wearing sea shells. But it was supposed to be black and white. The portrait Tie had shown her had been...acceptable. The shadows had been intriguing. And it had been much smaller. Not like...this! This thing was...it was...huge! The damned thing was at least ten feet high, and almost as wide. She backed away, turned and fled from the room, back into the main section of the gallery. No...no way! She couldn’t let him see it! She looked around, spotted her husband and friends near the center of the gallery. Daniel was leading Sam, Jack and Teal’c toward her.

"Did you find it?" Daniel asked with a smile.

"Um...yeah. It’s very nice. Did you see the paintings over here..." She tried to turn him in the opposite direction.

He frowned. Something was wrong. She was acting nervous. Even a bit frightened. "Casey?"


She was still tugging on him, trying to pull him away from the room where Tiesha’s work was being displayed, according to the pamphlet they had received upon arrival. He pulled his arm toward his body, forcing her to step closer to him. He slid his arm around her waist. "What’s wrong?"

"Wrong? Nothing’s wrong! Why would you think something’s wrong? There’s nothing wrong! Everything is just peachy!"

Jack lifted one eyebrow. "Peachy?"

Sam frowned as well. "Casey, are you all right?"

She pulled her trembling lip between her teeth. Damned her eyes for filling with tears.

"I want to see this portrait," Daniel said firmly. He glanced at his teammates, and in doing so, completely missed the look of sheer panic that filled those green depths for a moment.

"No, you don’t," Casey whispered. She began to push down her emotions...all of them. Better not to feel anything at all, as to deal with the conglomerate of conflicting feelings that were assailing her at the moment.

"Angel, I know Tiesha worked hard on this. And I want to see my beautiful Wife as Venus."

His voice was soft, his eyes filled with love. And as soon as he saw that...that...that monstrosity, he was going to have a shit fit! There was no way to argue, or fight against him, especially when he was holding her so close to his side now. Not if she wasn’t willing to make a scene. Which she wasn’t.

"I too, wish to see this portrait." Teal’c said, wrapping his fingers around hers.

She closed her eyes. Wondered just how angry he would be. Shuddered imperceptibly when the thought that he might be upset enough to toss her out of the house, and his life, moved through her mind. The fears that had spurred that particular fleeting thought, she didn’t want to examine too closely.

"Come on, Radar, let’s have a look," Jack said, leading the way, his arm around Sam’s shoulders.

The team walked into the large room where the oversized gallery paintings were arranged. The program had described them as the ‘mural entries’. There were only six of them, two on each wall. And hers...Tiesha’s...just happened to be on the far wall...right in front of the door.

"Holy Hannah!"


It was obvious to her that Tiesha had used her image from the photograph. But that was the only thing she recognized from the black and white portrait that the lieutenant had shown her. Casey looked up at Daniel. His eyes were wide, and like the others, his mouth was hanging open. "I’m so sorry! It was only supposed to be a black and white photo! Not...that! I didn’t know it was going to be so big...or look like...like that!"

Daniel’s arm dropped from her waist, and he moved closer to the portrait. He turned around, looked at his Wife, his surprise preventing him from recognizing the signs of her distress. "Angel, it’s amazing!"

She barely suppressed a sob. "It is?"

"It looks...my god, it looks as if I could reach out and touch you! I can almost feel the spray from the waves!" Daniel declared.

"It is indeed most impressive," Teal’c said, standing with his hands behind his back, examining the giant portrait.

"It’s beautiful!" Sam said softly. "It looks like a painting, yet it has the quality of a photograph!"

Jack was trying not to acknowledge the fact that he was staring at a damned near naked Casey. Now, he had seen her au natural a time or two on missions. And granted, the...important parts...were covered. In fact, she wasn’t wearing much less in the painting than what he’d seen of her in her bikini. Which still left a whole lot of bare Casey to see. He had to admit, though, it was a very impressive painting.

She was breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. Daniel couldn’t help but smile. She looked exactly like Venus rising from the sea. The way she was standing, as if she was really walking in the foam of the surf that pounded the shore, the colors of the ocean in the background...and almost hidden in the clouds was the face of an older, bearded man, watching with what could only be described as a look of tenderness, all came together in such a way that left the observer breathless...feeling as if he...or she...was actually witnessing the event as it occurred.

"So," a voice asked from beside them, "what do you think?"

Everyone turned to acknowledge the presence of the artist herself. Tiesha stood radiating her pride, her every movement telegraphing her excitement.

"It’s so big," Casey whispered, shaking slightly. Daniel’s eyes had moved back to the painting; he was smiling, although she wasn’t sure if it was forced or not.

Tiesha nodded. "I was only going to do the standard fifteen by twenty black and white shot, but when I saw it in color..." She shrugged. "And then, I had this idea, for painting it...and when it was finished...well, I really wanted to enter it in the mural category...and, well, there it is," she said proudly.

"It’s amazing, Tie," Sam said, smiling at the young lieutenant.

"That’s something, all right," Jack nodded. How much paint did she have to use to get that ocean just the right shade of blue-green? And how had she managed to make it look like water, and not just globs of blue-green paint? However she had managed the feat, it reminded him of the water off the beaches in Tahiti.

"Tiesha, it’s incredible," Daniel said.

The young woman’s smile widened. "Thank you! I had a very beautiful model to work with. I was a bit concerned, I thought you might be a bit upset. It is rather...revealing."

Daniel shook his head. "It’s beautifully done."

All eyes focused on Casey. She wet her lips nervously. "It’s so big," she repeated.

Another group of admirers approached, several women in their mid-to-late forties, and men who were apparently their husbands.

"Oh, my," one of the woman exclaimed, her eyes wide.

"Extraordinary!" one of the men declared.

Another of the women looked at the painting, at Casey, and back at the painting. She turned to the slender blonde. "Are you the model for this exquisite piece of work?"

It felt as if her face was on fire. She could barely nod. Speaking wasn’t an option, not with her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth.

"She is indeed," Tiesha said, stepping up beside her friend. "She’s a natural."

"She certainly is," the woman replied. "Am I to take it that you’re the artist?"

"Yes, I am."

"It’s just wonderful, my dear. I was afraid we were going to find far too many...modern...interpretations of the mythical gods and goddesses," the woman said, referring to the ‘theme’ of the gallery show, and contest. "But I have been so pleasantly surprised. And this...this is just...wonderful!"

"Thank you," Tiesha beamed, putting her arm around Casey’s shoulders. "I have to thank this beautiful lady for the inspiration."

"Very well done, very well done indeed," one of the other men of the group said.

With smiles and nods, the admiring art lovers moved to the next mural. Tiesha looked over at her friends. "Wow, imagine that!"

Sam smiled. "It’s beautiful, Tie! I can’t believe you did this!"

"Just where on earth did you do it?" Casey managed to ask. The canvas was far too large to have fit inside the lieutenant’s house. And it was one piece.

"In the garage. I had to angle it a bit to get it into place. I made a transparency of the photo, then used an overhead projector to project it onto the canvas," Tiesha explained. "I sketched the photo, then added the clouds, and him," she said, pointing to the face of the man who seemed to be watching Venus. "That’s supposed to be Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Zeus. Apparently Venus’s mother was really pissed off at him, cut his johnson off, tossed it into the ocean, and Venus walked out as a result."

Daniel smiled. "You did a bit of research."

"A bit," Tiesha smiled, blushing slightly.

"After her appearance on the beach, as she emerged from the water, she became the patron goddess of virgins. Even though she had numerous lovers," Daniel said.

Casey wasn’t listening. She was trying not to stare at that painting. And trying to just disappear from the room altogether. She moved closer to the wide doorway that led to the main gallery. There had been a bar set up on one of the corners. She could certainly use a drink right now!

As she made her way through the gallery, her back to the entrance that opened onto the street, she completely missed the familiar faces of a group of men as they walked in, looking around with interest. She located the bar. Almost ordered a nice shot of tequila. "Wine please," she said softly. "Merlot if you have any."

The bartender nodded and smiled, poured a glass of wine and handed it to her.

She took a sip, barely resisted the urge to gulp the contents of the glass. Tiesha was so proud...and apparently the painting was a hit among the art critics in the crowd. She was torn in two...part of her hoping that Tie would take a prize, simply because she had worked so hard...a painting of that size couldn’t have been easy to work on. Part of her wanted to scream and cry and demand how her friend could have betrayed her...exposed her...set her up like...that. No, it hadn’t been done with malice, she knew that. But still...Tiesha should have told her...asked her...warned her!




One of the guests at the show was admiring the painting in the ‘mural room’. It was magnificent. He had known men over the course of his...career...who considered themselves art connoisseurs. Had those fancy-shmancy paintings hanging in their homes...bragged endlessly about them. Well, not one of those bastards had a painting like this! And luckily for him, his new home, courtesy of his new employer, had an entry that would accommodate such a large piece. Let those assholes have their little pieces of shit...all lurid colors and odd shapes, he thought happily. This was art! He moved toward the table where the forms for the silent auction waited for potential buyers, glad that he had found the gallery open, and had stopped in to use the rest room. Sometimes, it was just Fate, he thought happily.




It was awesome. Breathtaking. It was just what he needed.

It was to his advantage that all of the artists in the competition were unknown. Some bitch in the Air Force had done this particular portrait. He had overheard her talking, she had copied the thing from a photo she had taken. So it wasn’t like she’d actually painted it herself. She’d just colored in the lines, so to speak. A little tweaking...maybe toss in a few more of the gods, or a goddess looking on, and he could ship this to New York, and pass it off as his own.

Yep, this would be his ticket into the New York School of Visual Arts. He’d get a scholarship with this, no doubt about it. And the bimbo who had painted it would never know the difference. She’d already signed the contract, allowing the gallery to auction the piece off. There wouldn’t be many bids, it was just too big. He had a brand new credit card. Nice high credit limit. And he’d only had to pay fifty dollars for it. Yep, he’d make an anonymous bid, get the painting, and he’d be set!




It seemed to her that the evening would never end. After...admiring...that damned thing for far too long, the others had finally moved on to the other rooms of the gallery, examining all of the paintings and photographs that the event offered. She hadn’t wanted to stay for the judging, so torn over the entire thing, part of her wanting Tiesha to win...part of her mortified by the thought that she might. It had been damned near impossible to ignore the fact that so many people were looking at it...talking about it.

When the judges had announced the contest winner, Casey had pasted a smile on her face, and endured the congratulations from her friends, tried to be happy for Tiesha, and wished that the floor would open up and swallow her whole. For a moment, her eyes had locked with those of the lieutenant, and she was terrified that the woman was going to call her to the stage to join her in accepting the award, the check, and have her photo taken for the Lifestyles section of the Denver Post. Some small miracle had prevented that unbearable event from occurring. It might have been because she had dropped her gaze, turned toward Daniel, wanting to do nothing more than flee the gallery and all of the embarrassment.

After sharing a glass of champagne with Tiesha and the gallery owners, Casey had tried to subtly make her way toward the door. Fresh air...she'd been convinced that if she could just get outside long enough to catch her breath, she could deal with this. She had been so certain of that fact that she had damned near slipped away without telling anyone. However, her husband’s arm firmly circled her waist, preventing any escape. That he smiled and laughed, held her tightly, pressed kisses against the side of her face totally escaped her...so convinced was she that he was angry. She had nearly run from the gallery when Daniel suggested calling it a night and heading home.


A  A  A  A  A  A


She was quiet. After an evening like the one they had just experienced, she should be chattering about the gallery and the people, and the beautiful pieces of art they had examined. Although, now he thought about it, she’d been quiet at the gallery as well. He glanced over at her. Reached for her hand. Frowned when she pulled away from him, folding her arms around her waist, before relenting a moment later and slipping her fingers between his. Maybe she was just tired. They’d barely made it back home in time to shower and change and make the drive to Denver, arriving almost thirty minutes after the doors had opened for the gala. And their mission to Kelowna had been far from a success.

He knew that she'd been overwhelmed by the painting. A bit upset as well, although it had taken him time to figure that out. Maybe she was unhappy with Tiesha for not discussing the change with her, from the black and white photo to the painting, before she had entered it. He took a deep breath. "You’re quiet tonight," he said softly.

"I wasn’t sure you’d want to talk to me," she replied.

He knew the tone of voice well. Every syllable vibrated with worry, with fear. In her mind, something horrible had happened. Something that she had determined he would be upset about, or angry over. He counted to ten in an ancient dialect of Egyptian used only in rites performed in the temple of Ptah. He wasn’t angry with her. He was madder than hell at the bitch who had so negatively influenced her...left such scars on the heart of an innocent child. Scars that held hostage the woman she had grown into. "Just what would make you think that?"

When one shoulder moved up and then back down, he felt it rather than saw it.

He tightened his fingers around hers. Trying to send her his love through the touch of his hand. "Would you like to stop at IHOP on the way home? We didn’t have time to eat dinner, and I know you didn’t eat any of the hors d’ oeuvres that were being served."

"They were serving fish eggs! Who in their right mind eats fish eggs?" she demanded.

Daniel couldn’t help but chuckle. He'd never have to worry about breaking the bank to feed Casey. Her opinion of most ‘delicacies’ was less than stellar. "Are you hungry?"

"Maybe a little bit," she admitted.

"Gonna order something besides French toast?"

She couldn’t help but smile. He teased her about her apparent inability to order anything other than one of the varieties of French toast that the IHOP menu offered. It wasn’t her fault! She loved French toast...had from the moment it had been served for breakfast one of the first mornings she had eaten in the cafeteria at Western. She had never had it before that day. "Probably not."

"Are you going to talk to me?"

"About what?"

"Why you’re so quiet."

"What, you aren’t appreciating the break I’m giving you from my relentless chattering?"

There was an edge to her voice...her words. "I adore the way you chatter. Because you only chatter to me," he countered.


There was something there, something he couldn’t quite identify. Anger? Worry? "Okay, so you chatter to Teal’c, too. I happen to know that he enjoys it as well. He’s told me so."

"I’m sure he was just being polite."

Now that was a familiar tone. Timid. Fearful. Self-depreciating. He sighed. "Casey, what is wrong?"

She crossed her arms over her chest. "To be honest, I’m not sure how I’m feeling. Or maybe I’m feeling so damned much I can’t deal with it."

"I’m here, Angel," he said softly, wracking his brain to try to find a reason for her fears...a reason that would explain why she was so upset. "Let me help you."

"I don’t think there’s anything you can do," she confessed. "This is something I’m going to have to work out on my own."

"If you need to talk-"

"If I need to talk about it, I will." She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. The damned thing was so big! And she was so...naked! It just didn’t seem right, somehow. Maybe Daniel was still in shock as well. And when that shock wore off...

He heaved a silent sigh. It didn’t matter that the calamity that she was attempting to deal with was one only of her mind, her heart. Perceived because of the damage done to her very soul by a monster who had pretended to the world to be a mother. He tried to remember the last time she had closed herself away from him, had refused to talk to him. The last time she had been knocked so low that she didn’t seem able to get up again. Found that he couldn’t recall a time when she had so effectively turned away from him. He also found that he didn’t like it at all. It left him feeling cold...and worried.


A  A  A  A  A  A


It was nearly one a.m. when Daniel pulled the Jeep into the parking lot of the Silver Springs IHOP. He had thought Casey had fallen asleep, only to realize she was staring out the window into the night. He reached out to caress her cheek, his heart jumping with relief when she pressed against his hand. "Ready to eat?"

"I think so," she replied. Hoping that she wouldn’t be just wasting his money...that what she ate now wouldn’t be lost as soon as they returned home.

He caught her hand when she reached for the door handle. "Angel, I don’t know what has you so upset, or what you’re worried about...or frightened of. I love you, and I’m here for you. I won’t push, but please, babe, don’t shut me out."

Tears gathered behind her lashes. "I won’t, I promise. I...I just need time," she whispered.

He watched her for a moment, the misery in her face cutting him to the quick. He wanted to find the dragon that tormented her, slay it, promise her that never again would that fear, or whatever it was, bother her. "I’m here whenever you’re ready," he said softly.

The restaurant was completely empty when they walked in. One of the waitresses hurried over, a smile on her face. Led them to a corner booth, then promised to return with the requested coffee.

Daniel watched as she stirred cream into the cup of steaming black liquid. Not even when they'd had dinner together for the first time, two strangers who were about to spend the night together, two people reaching out to accept what Fate had decreed for them, had she been this quiet. She had giggled and talked and asked questions and answered his questions, giving him a glimpse of her life...she had been...well, Casey. This was a side of her he'd never seen before. Not even when she had been taken prisoner by Ba’al, abused, tortured, raped had she closed herself off from him...she had opened up to him, cried in his arms, railed against what had happened to her, to both of them. He wasn’t accustomed to this quiet, almost sullen woman. His Wife was full of life and sunshine and smiles...what in the world could be bothering her so much that she wouldn’t even make eye contact with him?

He understood that she had been surprised...and upset, by the painting. What he couldn’t figure out was why. Surely the fact that Tiesha had changed her mind about what she was going to enter wasn’t the reason for Casey’s silence. After all, she'd been adamant all along that it was Tiesha’s project, that the SF was the artist, she was just the model. "So, what are you having?" he asked, hoping to start some sort of a conversation with her.

"I don’t know," she sighed, flipping open the menu that had lain face down on the table in front of her. She hadn’t even realized it was there, all she could see was that damned painting. And Tiesha’s tears of joy when she had been declared the winner of the contest.

"How about getting a sandwich?"

"Too heavy."


"Doesn’t sound good."

"French toast?" He forced a smile to his face.

She glanced up. Met blue eyes full of worry...concern. "Well, it does sound good," she replied, hoping that she was smiling. She was fairly certain that her brain had sent the message. She just didn’t know if her lips had received it.

There was a barely noticeable shift at the corners of her mouth. But he wouldn’t call it a smile. And her eyes certainly weren’t smiling. He ached to help her, to be the one to destroy forever whatever monster had dared to raise its ugly head. To protect her from every hurtful thing she faced. "It’s been a long day."

She barely nodded.

"You know what sounds nice?"



For the first time since being confronted with the painting, she smiled. In his arms, nothing could ever hurt her. She had known that from the moment she had first met him. It was the one constant in her life. "Being held by you is what I live for," she replied softly, her heart taking comfort from the love that continued to burn in those cerulean blue depths.

"Being held by you is what I live for," he said, smiling at her. When he reached for her hand, she slid her fingers toward his, holding tightly as he wrapped his fingers around hers.

If she could get through this night, everything would be okay. She was certain of it. All she had to do was get through the night. She could do that...in his arms.

He relaxed slightly. She was smiling again. Her fingers were wrapped tightly around his. It was a step in the right direction. He continued to watch her eyes. Hoped to see that sadness, that wariness that had filled them replaced by the life and laughter that usually lit those emerald depths. Only then would he know that she was all right.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Daniel reached out and turned off the lamp. Felt Casey cuddle closer to his side. "You know, Ishtar was the ‘original’ goddess of love. From the Sumerian pantheon. The Babylonians called her ‘Istar’. The Greeks called her ‘Aphrodite’. The Romans called her ‘Venus’. Only the Romans were able to immortalize her in such a way that everyone remembers her name. The planet was named after her, because it’s the brightest star in the heavens. It’s both the morning and evening star." He nuzzled her cheek. "Just like you’re the brightest star in my sky."

Casey smiled, moved slightly so that their lips could meet. His kiss was soft, gentle, and hinted at so much more.

"You are so beautiful, I rather imagine that the goddess that the Romans worshipped, that they visualized, looked just like you."

"You’re just a wee bit prejudiced in my favor," she protested softly.

He rolled slightly, putting her on her back. He ran his finger over her jaw, traced her lips with just the tip. Smiled when she caught it and sucked gently on it. "You’re my goddess, Angel. Let me worship you," he whispered.

She shivered slightly at the promise held in those words. "I love you," she sighed.

"Love you, too." She still wasn’t chattering, their late meal had been eaten in near silence. But she had smiled, her eyes reflecting her love when she looked at him. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t come up with a plausible explanation for her reaction to the painting. He could only assume that it had been the shock of seeing the much larger, color painting, rather than the black and white portrait that Tiesha had originally intended to enter into the contest. Somehow, he knew there was more to the problem. He just couldn’t figure out what it was. And he knew, deep in his heart, that he should know...he could feel that as clearly as the worry about what was bothering her.

He kissed her, sending his love with every caress, doing his best to banish her worries and fears as he touched her, tasted her, stoked the embers that would soon be a raging inferno that would consume both of them. Her hesitant response worried him. Unwilling to force himself on her, he began to temper his kiss, prepared to settle back on the bed and simply snuggle with her. Until he felt her passion take over, and she returned the kiss with the same enthusiasm she always did, melting his brain and setting his body on fire.

The warmth of his hand as he moved it over her, up and down her arm, then gently caressing her side, her hip, was as comforting as it was arousing. There was nothing in his touch but love...desire...she could sense nothing but his passion and all that it encompassed as he began to knead her breasts, his fingers tugging at nipples that had hardened from his touch.

She couldn’t help but sigh when he slid down on the bed, settling himself over her, his mouth moving over her shoulders, to her collarbones, taking a minute to leave his mark on her throat before blazing a trail to her aching breasts.

His beauties...round, firm, soft, with nipples that turned to pearls against his tongue as he teased one, then the other; moving back and forth, until her body was arched off of the bed, and her breath was coming in soft gasps. It always turned him on to make love to those tantalizing curves, her sweet scent, the sweet taste of her skin sending so many messages to his brain that it was nearly overloaded with sensations.

He slid one hand down to toy with that tiny platinum ring, barely touching her as he ran his finger around that sexy little ‘inny’ bellybutton, then boldly diving in to tickle her. He couldn’t help but grin against her skin when she shivered, then moaned softly...letting him know that he was pleasing her. When his mouth replaced his fingers, she moaned again, her fingers curled tightly in his hair, he smiled against her skin. Soon, she would be tugging gently, her body undulating beneath him as he sent her soaring.

When he settled between her thighs, she held her breath...waiting for that first intimate kiss, the first touch that would be the beginning of the incredible composition that he would conduct. The gasp that left her lips was accompanied by his soft moan as he began to lick her from top to bottom. She wiggled and writhed and squirmed as he made love to her...teasing her, tormenting her...building up such need that she ached with it, burned from it.

His hands were wrapped around her slender thighs, holding her in place as he continued to write stanza after stanza of Egyptian love poems...her skin the soft, precious parchment; the tip of his tongue the stylus to leave the impressions of each letter, of each word, of each line...


My heart flutters hastily,
When I think of my love of you;
It lets me not act sensibly,
It leaps from its place.

It is her love that gives me strength...
...I gaze at my heart's desire,
As she stands facing me...


"Please, please, please," she murmured, barely coherent from need, from pleasure so intense it was nearly painful, her fingers sliding toward that aching button at the top of her folds, desperate to find relief.

Oh, yeah, he thought, catching that wandering hand, sucking each fingertip gently. He loved it when she was out of control, begging so sweetly.

"Please...god, please..."

Triumphant, he laved her swollen clit with the flat of his tongue, couldn’t help but grin when her hips bucked upward, her hands tightened in his hair. The tip of his tongue moved over the nub, back and forth, up and down...first slowly, then as quickly as he could manage. Two fingers slid into her hot, wet well; he began stroking her, felt her hips react to each caress.

"Nngg...yes! Don’t stop!"

Time to sing, Angel...he sucked her tender flesh into his mouth, all concentration focused on his tongue, on sending her higher. She wrapped her legs around his shoulders, she was whimpering softly.

"Nngg...oh, god...please..."

That beautiful, special whimper filled her throat, built up as he continued to make love to her, until she was singing her love to him, her body vibrating, her well quivering around his fingers, her nectar flowing like water. Never willing to waste a drop of that sweet honey, he moved his mouth down, caught was much as he could, felt the jolt of pheromones as they hit his system.

She was still breathing hard when he moved up to her breasts, lavishing his attention on them once again. The room was too dark to see well, but he was certain there was a smile of satisfaction on her face. "Better?" he asked, barely moving his mouth from her skin.

"Absolutely incredible," she sighed. She was running her fingers through his hair, waiting for him to move up and kiss her...the beginning and end of each journey was always a kiss.

"My beautiful, sexy goddess," he whispered, just before his lips claimed hers. Within seconds she had taken control, letting him know with each touch that she was in charge now, and he was about to take his own flight. He sighed when he settled onto his back, her lips warm, her tongue tickling his skin as she moved over his jaw to his throat...to his collarbones. Hissed another sigh when she began to suckle at his nipples, first one, then the other, her fingers teasing as much as her mouth.

He was so hard, his manhood so hot...so soft...velvet covered steel. She stroked him gently, the pulsing of each throb alerting her to his need. In all honesty, she wanted to tease him, to take him to the brink of madness, just as he had done to her. But her need to taste him overrode her desire for revenge. She ran her tongue around the swollen, nearly purple head of his shaft.

She had a way of making love to him that made him believe she took as much pleasure from going down on him as he did. He supposed that it was possible, after all, he very much enjoyed feasting on her succulent little twat...and his addiction had nothing to do with that delight. Oh, god, that is just incredible!

Taking as much as she could, her hands working in concert with her mouth, she established a rhythm that had his body shaking, his hips greeting her each time she moved down. His breath was coming in hard, fast gasps, his belly was beginning to roll...too soon...it was much too soon...she needed more time to taste him, enjoy him...

The groan that rolled past his lips was one of protest when she moved away from him, trailing kisses along his thighs before she began to lick his balls. When that inquisitive finger began to gently caress his perineum, brushing occasionally against that puckered little opening, he was certain that she was going to drive him completely out of his mind. He didn’t know whether to be disappointed, or relieved, when both hands wrapped around his throbbing cock once again, and she began to suck on the tip. He settled on a bit of both, then promptly forgot everything he had been thinking when he felt his cock slide deeper, could feel the back of her throat rubbing against him.

Allowing her need to swallow to further stimulate him, her hands continued to stroke, moving faster, sucking as much as she could, swallowing...sucking...


Her heart pounding with sheer delight, she took everything he gave her as his body shook, his cock throbbed, his chest heaved as he took flight. When he'd finished, and she'd licked him clean, she slid up his body, leaving kisses on his sweat dampened skin as she did so. Smiled when his arms locked around her, holding her close. His kiss was filled with love...and gratitude.

"How was that?"

"I’ll let you know as soon as I can uncurl my toes," he replied.

She giggled. "That good, huh?"

"As always."

"Making love can-"

He frowned when she broke off suddenly; her body had tensed at the same time. He let his hands drift up and down her back, slowly, gently. Felt her slowly relax. "Making love can what?"

Her head was on his shoulder. One finger began to draw a tattoo on the other.

His frown deepened as he waited for her to respond. "Casey?"


"Making love can what?"

She took a deep breath. "Can make me forget anything that’s bothering me."

On one hand, that was a good thing. After all, hadn’t that been his intention, to banish whatever was bothering her from her thoughts? On the other, he began to worry that whatever demon she was battling wouldn’t be so easily defeated, that when the passion of the night had ended, it would haunt her once again. "I’m glad," he said softly.

"When you hold me, nothing can hurt me. When we make love, it as if there’s nothing else in the world, just you and me."

He tightened his arms around her. "When we make love, there is nothing...no one...else in the world. Just you and me," he replied. He was about to ask her if she wanted to talk, when her curt comment earlier, as they rode in the night back to Silver Springs, echoed in his ears...

"This is something I’m going to have to work out on my own."

As much as he wanted to help her, this was one time when he was going to have to stand back, and let her deal with...whatever...on her own. Not because it was the best thing for her. Not because he wanted to. But because she’d left him with no choice...had offered no clues, said nothing that gave him even a hint of what was going on in her mind...in her heart. He had learned very soon after meeting her, that anything that bothered Casey was usually as emotional a thing as it was mental. He hated not knowing...hated not being able to help her...not being able to soothe away her worries, her fears. He hated feeling shut out.



"I need you...I need to feel you inside me," she whispered.

In spite of the fact that her voice was so soft he could barely hear her, the hesitancy, her sudden timidness was there, loud and clear. "I need that, too," he whispered in reply. His body reacted to her touch, he hardened almost instantly as she began to gently caress him, her hand moving slowly along the length of his shaft.

She could feel the veins of his shaft as she gently began to stroke him, felt him swell and throb. Rising up, one hand on his shoulder to steady herself, the other still working that masculine part of him, she straddled his hips, and slowly lowered herself, taking him into her body inch by delicious inch.

"Sweet Jesus!" Every time he entered her well, it was the most amazing thing he had ever experienced. Soft, hot, tight...she was the perfect fit, and had been from the first time to this very moment. His hands went to her hips automatically as she began to slide back and forth on him, going up and down as well.

"I love that feeling," she said breathlessly, her hands around his wrists as he held her, preventing her from moving too quickly, even as her need began to build.

"Me, too, Angel," he replied, his own voice breathless as she began to work those inner muscles around his throbbing flesh.

In this moment, there was nothing to fear. Nothing to worry about. Nothing but love...and the pleasure that their bodies were experiencing...together. Only with Daniel would she ever feel this free...only with Daniel was she ever this happy...this content.

They moved together, each step of their dance of love moving them higher up the side of the mountain. When her soft moans began to come more frequently, when her body began to tremble once again, he pulled her close, rolled over, and began to thrust hard and deep, her hips meeting his each time he plunged into her.

Her arms had locked around his shoulders, her legs were around his waist, holding him close, clinging to him. He supported his weight on his forearms, claimed her lips in a kiss, his tongue diving into her mouth, tasting her, taking from her all that she offered, sending every emotion that raced through him...love, need, desire, happiness...with every caress.

That sweet song of love began to echo around them, and he rose up, driving his body deeper and harder with each thrust of his hips, until his own cry of release bounced off of the night-darkened walls.

He dropped down, out of breath, his body still soaring among the stars, hers still wrapped tightly around him. "I love you, Casey," he whispered.

"I love you, too, Daniel," she murmured in his ear.

With the last of his strength, he rolled over, felt her settle against him. Knew when she had fallen asleep by the way her body relaxed, the soft, even breaths she took. Everything would be okay now. He was certain of it. She knew that he loved her. Knew that there was nothing he wouldn’t do for her. That he was right there for her. Everything would be okay, now.

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