Their first real kiss was in the truck in the parking lot of her apartment complex. Sandor shut off the engine, and Sansa unwrapped herself from her seatbelt and lunged over the center console. She dragged her hands through his hair, tugging at the long, silky strands, undoing knots where the champagne had tangled them up. Her kiss was close mouthed even while her fingernails raked the back of his head. She stopped to study his face, needing to be sure he was as enthusiastic as she was, and he closed his eyes and kissed her again. This kiss was longer, slower, and she tasted the heat inside him on his lips. He groaned and pulled her closer.
“Inside,” she whispered into his mouth. “Upstairs.”
They barely made it to her second-floor apartment. On the stairs, she wanted to get above him, lean down, and nibble on his lips. He smelled fabulous, like fancy hotel air mixed with champagne and something more masculine underneath. He ran his large, capable hand over the back of her dress, lingering on her butt and her thighs. She had to keep breaking contact to remember where they were. She fumbled with her key, taking three attempts to get the door opened while he buried his face in her hair and she felt his hot breath on her neck. Finally, she kicked the door open and led him inside.
“Are you sure?” His voice, Gods, his voice was so gravelly and low pitched.
She locked onto his gaze. “I am so sure.”
She toed off her shoes, lost her balance, and collapsed on the loveseat. He stood over her uncertainly, so she spread her arms wide and gave him a pleading look, trying to draw him to her. He fell on his knees in front of her and pushed between her legs. Good, she could reach his hair again. His deep humming exhale inflamed her, and her kiss this time was ravenous, coaxing his mouth open, tasting the tip of his tongue. He broke the kiss, and she went back for another. His hands came up to caress her shoulders. She kissed him yet again, pushing her lips hard against his, feeling the crackled skin on the left side of his mouth where his lips had burn scars. The roughness of his skin there tickled her receptive nerve endings. She realized she was making a high-pitched mewling sound, something she’d never done before. She licked the corner of his mouth, wanting to feel him against her tongue, and he stopped her. It was almost painful, that stop, the distance he created between them.
“Is everything okay?” she asked. Her eyelids were heavy. Her shoulders were cold where his hands had left her. Oh, please, let everything be okay.
“It’s just a lot,” he said. He ran a finger gently down her jaw. His pupils were wide, and his voice was so tender. “It’s a lot of kissing.”
Oh, hells, she’d just gotten started. “What do you mean?”
He dropped his gaze as if he was afraid to look at her. “I don’t know what I’m … done everything else before, but nobody ever wanted … fuck, I’m not saying this right.”
But she thought she understood a little bit. Life had been hard on him, people had been hard on him, and she wanted to cherish him, to show him how much he made her feel safe and cherished.
“Would you come sit next to me?” she said softly.
He nodded, and she sensed his hesitation, his fear that she’d turn on him. She’d have to slow down a little, but that was fine. That was great, really, and her anticipation to do this with more care surprised her.
When he sat on the loveseat, she straddled his lap, not kissing him yet, just studying his face. “Is this okay?”
“Of course it’s okay.” He explored her hips and her thighs, pushing up the hem of her dress. “You are so fucking hot.”
“Well, if you’re going to talk like that, now I have to kiss you.”
She kissed him lightly on the lips. He tried to deepen the kiss, but she pulled away to slow things down. She kissed him tenderly on each corner of his lips, tasting his saliva. She kissed his smooth cheek, and then she kissed his scarred cheek, feeling out the rough edges with her mouth. He closed his eyes, so she kissed each of his eyelids. She kissed him on the lips again, this time opening her mouth, touching their tongues together and enjoying the thrill it sent through her.
He rested his forehead on hers, breathing heavily. “Fuck, you’re amazing.”
Her pulse was wildly out of control. “Nobody’s ever said anything like that to me before.”
“How is that possible?” He pulled her closer, his right hand trailing down her leg, leaving tingles where he touched her.
He was going to think she was obsessed if she kept playing with his hair. This was another fetish she should’ve realized she had a long time ago. She tilted forward, putting her forearms on the cushion behind his head, and leaned in for a slow, exploratory kiss. As soon as he groaned, she wrapped his hair around her fingers, unable to resist any longer. His arms encircled her waist, bringing them closer together. Hot arousal pulsed through her, and she rubbed herself against his groin, and this was not at all going slow, how had they gotten here already?
She broke off for breath. “Okay,” she said. “I’m trying to slow down.”
“Are you?” Almost lazily, he circled her nipple over her dress with one finger. She bit her lip and tried to keep her eyes open, watching him. His thumb came up and he pinched her nipple, and she arched her back, her breath escaping in a hiss.
When she opened her eyes, he was giving her a self-satisfied grin.
“I can play that game, too,” she whispered in his ear.
She sucked on his earlobe as she undid the knot of his tie, loosening it and dropping it on the ground. Gods, did he still have his jacket on? She scooted down his thighs to give her room to push his jacket down his arms. Except slowly, she reminded herself. Like unwrapping a very special gift. She wanted her hands all over his chest muscles and his biceps, and she’d bet anything he had washboard abs. He tried to reel her closer in, but she shook her head and took her time unbuttoning his shirt while his hands worked their way up her legs, kneading and heating her skin. He wore an undershirt under his dress shirt.
“Gah, how many layers do you have on?”
He laughed his quiet, private laugh. “Didn’t you want me to look like a gentleman tonight?”
When she looked into his eyes, they were practically glowing. Overcome with the emotions bubbling up inside her, she wound her whole body around him, squeezing. He was so strong, she couldn’t hurt him like this in the slightest. She buried her face where his neck met his shoulder and nipped at the salty skin under the collar of his shirt. By the time she bared his muscles, she’d be grinding against him. So much for going slow.
Carefully, he lifted her up and settled her on the couch next to him. Then he dropped to the ground, back on his knees. He lifted one of her feet, running a finger along the arch, and slowly peeled off her thigh-high stocking. Inch by inch, with Sansa watching his muscles flex below his thin undershirt. His fingertips grazed the sensitive skin on the back of her knee, and she let out a sound that made him stop and give her another prideful grin. He traced her ankle bone with precision, as if they had all the time in the world. He was so careful, and repeatedly looked up at her to make sure she was still enjoying the sensations of being adored.
When he reached under her dress to unravel the second stocking, the feel of his rough hands on her thigh was almost too much, and she whimpered. She was getting wet with needing him, her hips rocking to try to get closer to his hands. She’d never wanted anyone this much, hadn’t even known she was capable of it.
“I don’t think I can go slower than this,” she said breathlessly.
He stripped off the stocking and leaned back on his heels. “Come here, little bird.”
She flew off the couch onto his lap and snuggled in his embrace. They stopped to kiss, and this time, she felt his hunger in it. His erection strained against her, and she pushed up against him as he explored her mouth.
She broke away long enough to ask, “You wanna take this to the bedroom?”
“Are you sure?” His voice – she loved his voice – it was deep and needy, and she wondered briefly if he could bring her to orgasm just by talking.
She stood and reached out her hand. “You could lose the shirt.”
He didn’t need to hold her hand to stand up, but he took it anyway. “Wait,” he said, “I’ve been wanting to do something.”
“Oh? Something we’re not doing?”
He slid her index finger in his mouth, suckled it and gave it a gentle bite. She had to wrap her arm around his waist to stay on her feet, and she pressed her face into his chest, inhaling him. He smelled clean but also musky, ready for her.
He licked her middle finger. “Been wanting that since you ordered that damn strawberry cheesecake.”
“That was …” She inhaled sharply. “Seductive.”
“Not as much as you eating cake.” He ran his fingers through her hair, and it tumbled out of the updo.
“Come on,” she whispered.
She’d never needed someone to touch her this much. Her body was responding to his smell, his voice, his tongue, oh definitely his tongue. Her panties were already soaked through. She led him to the short hall to her bedroom, where he pushed her against the wall, one thigh between her legs, the pressure making her arch into him. Not that she was planning to hump his leg, but if they didn’t get to the bedroom, that was where this was going. He stripped off his shirt – finally – and yes, washboard abs. She touched each ripple in the muscles. She wanted him on his back in her bed so she could explore those muscles with her mouth.
It took gigantic effort to squirm away so she could open her bedroom door. He followed her in, and she turned her back to him and lifted her hair off her neck.
“You’re going to have to unzip me,” she said in what she hoped was an alluring tone.
Silence. He’d gone very still and very, very quiet. “Sandor?”
Her heart, already starved for oxygen, jumped into her throat. Something was wrong. She knew it was her fault. It was always her fault. Images of bad nights with Joffrey tried to creep into her head, and she battled them back. She had to stay in the present and put her full attention on Sandor so she could figure out what had happened.
He pointed to her bed. “What is that?”
“Oh. The tapestry.” That was awkward, but she could explain. “I thought I’d be finished today, but I got caught up looking for shoes for tonight. I’ve got about an hour left and then I can—"
“You fucking had it this whole time.” His jaw was locked and his breath was ragged.
“I’m … I’m just making a repair.”
Her voice shook. Her whole body trembled. It was too late. Everything was broken, and she couldn’t put this back together. It was obvious in his curled fists, in the fury that crackled around him like a red aura.
“Where was it when you were at the station?” He wouldn’t meet her eyes. He didn’t want to, he didn’t want her, and it was entirely her own fault.
“Please,” she said. “Don’t—"
“Where was it?” he yelled. The force of it made her close her eyes.
She didn’t want to answer him, but nothing in the world could have compelled her to lie to him. “It was under my shirt.”
His nostrils flared as he breathed in and out. “You fucking lied to me.”
She already knew there was no point in trying, but how could she not try? Even if she made a fool of herself, she had to make the attempt. Her heart, still in her throat, crumbled into pieces, and she had to croak around them. “I told you I was taking back—"
“This isn’t yours.” He gestured at the tapestry with a shaking arm, just as upset as she was. “You don’t own it. You stole it and you fucking lied to me.”
Her eyes overflowed, caking her mascara. Stupid, stupid Sansa, always putting herself in this position. “You don’t understand. Please just let me—"
“You don’t even own a dog,” he growled.
“What?” The unfairness of the accusation stung her out of her self-pity. “I do so!”
“Then where’s the dog, Sansa? Where’s the fucking dog?”
He ran his hands through his hair, disheveling it further, and she hated that she wanted to pet him while he was angry at her. She sucked in a breath, tried to ground herself. “I’m sorry, Joffrey, but—”
He froze, unnaturally still. “What did you just call me?”
Well, fuck. She’d just made everything a lot worse. She knew why she’d slipped. Just like Joffrey, he wouldn’t let her finish a sentence to defend herself. It wasn’t fair, but once the comparison had been made, she couldn’t unmake it.
“You’re supposed to be the detective!” Now her traitor nose was clogging. “Don’t you even know where the tapestry came from?”
“You know what, fuck this.”
He pushed her bedroom door out of his way, and it crashed against the wall. She followed him through the apartment, watching him pick up his clothes, her throat sealed up tight. At the front door, he stared into the middle distance, his gray eyes hazy.
“I can’t believe I trusted you,” he said, almost like he was talking to himself. “I can’t believe I thought …”
He wasn’t going to finish that sentence out loud. And why should she keep trying, really? He wouldn’t listen to her. He wouldn’t even look at her.
“Get out of my apartment,” she said, shocked at how wrecked she sounded. Her words were barely words, only broken syllables.
He understood, though. He didn’t look back. He just left.
How had this gone from the perfect romance to tragic disaster so quickly?
But she knew the answer. It stabbed at her gut. It was her, it was always her. She should’ve told him she was fixing the tapestry back when she was at his house. She’d been scared to tell him then, sure he wouldn’t like her anymore.
That instinct had been correct, hadn’t it? What had she expected, that he’d hear her out and take her side, defend her? That was ridiculous. Nobody was going to do that for her.
Her brain tried to argue with her, tell her that Sandor was different. No, he wasn’t different just because she wanted to sleep with him. No, it was more than sex between them, she knew it was. No, it had only seemed like more than sex because she couldn’t get over her romantic delusions. But it felt so real this time!
The direwolves on the tapestry stared at her accusingly. “Shut up,” she told them. “It’s your fault I screwed this up. I hate you.”
It wasn’t entirely her fault. He’d made the choice to leave without hearing her side of the story. He’d called her a fucking liar. So maybe it had just been about sex to him. There wasn’t much point in circling the thought over and over again, was there? Sandor was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.