So, this one is a little short, but that happens sometimes. I spent a long time debating over how explicit I wanted this interaction to be, and eventually decided that it would be better for the story as it has so far been written to sort of hand wave the sex and talk more about the emotions.
The Arms of the Ocean
As Rilla disappeared through the door, Marius took a breath and ran a hand through his hair. He heard her exclaim in surprise over something, and he laughed a little. It had to seem absurdly indulgent to her. Looking around the room, he considered making different adjustments to the lights, the blinds, finding music, and dismissed each idea in turn. He was nervous. That made him laugh again, and shake his head. Had it really been that long. He stripped off his sweater and his gloves, setting them aside. It was dark enough in here, he wasn’t worried about her noticing his coloring. He still wore a t-shirt and his jeans, and decided to keep those on for the moment. He laughed a third time as he realized there was not a condom to be had in the house. Why would there be? He had never brought a woman into his home, and on top of that his condition rendered him completely sterile. He heard the door open behind him and decided to worry about all that in a minute.
“You’re lucky I came back out,” Rilla said with a playful smile. She had taken off her jewelry, unpinned her hair, and lost her leggings, now just wearing her soft gray dress. “Your bathtub was making a most convincing argument for me to stay.”
“That must have taken an iron will, it’s a very seductive bath tub,” Marius responded with a laugh, stepping up close to Rilla. He reached up to cup her face, and smiled again as he watched her eyes grow wide when she realized she was feeling the skin of his hands, not his gloves. He stroked her cheeks, and down her neck. She was so soft. Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her in to kiss her again, his hands moving down over the almost velveteen material of her dress.
“I feel like I need to warn you,” he said after a minute, pulling back to look into her eyes, feeling a little embarrassed. “It’s been…a very long time. I…I really haven’t been with anyone since I left the navy. And that was quite a while ago.”
Laughing softly, Rilla reached up and cupped his face. “And here I was going to tell you I was nervous for the same reasons. I think we’ll be fine. It might be an old dance, but I think we can remember the steps.”
Smiling again, Marius nodded, and leaned in for another kiss. They took their time with it. Yes, they wanted each other, but they wanted all of each other. Marius explored every inch of Rilla, doing his best to memorize every curve and freckle, remembering what it felt like to hold someone and also savoring what he hoped would be the first of many nights together. The Song trembled at the edges of Rilla’s voice with each gasp and cry, and through it Marius could hear not just what was exciting her physically but how she adored him, and how quickly she was losing her heart to him. It was strange and unsettling but also beautiful and moving. He had never experienced anything like it, and he wondered if she felt anything in return from him. He told her she was beautiful, how she felt perfect in his arms, how she was everything he’d ever wanted, and hoped she heard the truth in it.
Hours later, as a blissful and exhausted Rilla dozed beside him, Marius held her and looked out the windows at the water. It was too soon to call it love. It was too soon to call it anything other than attraction and fascination. He knew, though, that it didn’t make much of a difference. Whatever it was that he did or did not feel, right now he would do anything for her. And whatever plans or machinations Janus had in mind would take a back seat to her safety. Marius ran a hand gently down her side and she murmured in her sleep, a soft smile hovering on her lips. There was a selfish aspect to it as well. Not only did he need to make sure she was safe, he needed to make sure nothing Janus did would jeopardize what he had just found.
Marius bowed his head and kissed Rilla’s shoulder. She let out a drowsy murmur and rolled towards him, surprising him by pulling him in for a fuller kiss, her hands sleepily caressing him. Settling in next to her, they kissed and caressed and eventually passed completely into sleep, tangled up in the sheets and each other.