He allows her time to decide to come into his apartment, leaving the door open while he makes his way in. She doesn’t make a move to leave but when she shuts the door behind them, her soft push causes the door to meet the jamb with a small click.
The room is quiet enough. The world outside slowly and restlessly stirring awake, welcoming a new day. The street lights across the way are still bright. It won’t be long before they begin losing their own illumination against the colors in the sky.
She stands still in Sam’s foyer, her eyes focused on the empty hallway. She doesn’t see him but hears him shuffling about in his bedroom.
It takes her a moment to realize how nervous she is. She tries to find a diversion, hoping it would bring a kind of temporary peace to the growing anxiousness surrounding her. It only heightens when she hears the clock ticking above her, falling in rhythm to the sound of her heart beating against her chest.
She carefully drags her fingers along the wall, finding the touch of the rigid texture against her tips a welcome distraction as she makes her way toward the back end of his apartment.
When he sees her enter his bedroom, he stops what he’s doing and makes an attempt to cut his eyes away from her. He tries his best to hide his embarrassment by fidgeting, sputtering in incoherent sentences and focusing his eyes on anything but her. His hands move to and fro in low spoken conversation and for Caitriona, all she hears is white noise and his voice slurring.
He pulls back the black silk sheets and motions her to climb into bed. When he moves to leave, she suddenly grabs a hold of his arm. Caitriona blushes when he turns to meet her face, her eyes smiling under long lashes and flushed cheeks. She slowly follows the length of his arm with her hand and finds a place of comfort as it settles against his, palm to palm.
She doesn’t quite let go- her pinky finger hooking onto his pointer, finding a way to stay connected.
It’s a quiet question asking him where he was going, silently pleading for him to stay. He turns his body back toward her again and watches the shadows play across her face.
He moves forward and presses a small kiss against her temple, “I’m going to wash up and I’ll be back. I promise.”
She knows she’s tired but how tired she doesn’t realize until she’s underneath his sheets. Her body relaxes almost immediately when she feels the sleek fabric provide a cool touch against her skin. She revels in the soft and lush cushions behind her head, realizing it won’t be too long before she’ll be in a deep sleep.
She places her hands over her body, flattening down the sheets against her frame before moving onto her side. She watches the skies in the distance begin to change color; there’s a mixture of red, pink, and orange.
It doesn’t take long before she hears him enter the room. She turns over to watch him in the dark, her eyes adjusting to the white towel wrapped around his waist and wet hair, still damp from his shower. He rummages through the drawers of his dresser, looking for something to wear and when he brings a shirt over his head she can’t help but watch the muscles on his back ripple with every movement he makes.
It’s nothing new to her. She’s seen him in several states of undress before and yet it’s like she’s seeing him for the first time.
He moves next to the bed and presses his weight against it. The mattress sags underneath him and finds more than enough room below the covers. He reaches out for her hand and when he finds her, he tugs at her. He’s surprised enough to know how willingly she comes to him, pressing her lean frame against the length of his body, tangling her long legs with his.
When he turns over onto his side, he’s reminded of the night of the storm. He remembers vividly how intimacy won out within close quarters with nothing but the rhythmic sound of their bodies lying in wake in the dark together.
The sun begins to rise in the distance, the shadows on the walls moving as time passes on. Its rays slowly making their way through the sheer fabric of curtain, providing enough light for him to notice the little details of her face.
“Tell me,” he whispers, his thumb stroking her knuckle, finding the repetitive task a calming relief to him as it was to her.
“Tell you what?”
“Tell me what you’re thinking.”
It’s in that moment a ray of light settles over his hair and Caitriona can’t help noticing what she’s known for so long. She’s seen it many times, watching him in the morning light when filming started too early or lasted too long into dawn. She blushes, feeling self-conscious by the number of times she found herself staring, over the course of their relationship.
“Do you know your hair has this deeper color of red when the light touches it?”
She moves to touch his face, her fingers gingerly making their way down near his jawline.
“No, I didn’t,” he whispers in response. “Maybe it’s because it’s wet.”
She shakes her head, leaning closer, their faces only inches apart, “Your eyes are brighter and your lips. Your lips have this shine to them.”
She traces the lines of his lips, her fingers barely grazing, causing a trail of gooseflesh to form on his forearm.
“Lip balm,” he teases, his mouth forming into a smile.
She giggles at his response, ducking her head slightly before looking up again.
“Maybe. Your skin though. More bronze than before. Could it be from all that tanning?”
She’s teasing him, a small fit of laughter brewing in her chest.
“Pfft. Running, Balfe. All running.”
“Oh, I remember,” she laughs, recalling a conversation months before, “Running from your legions of fans.”
He pulls back slightly, making enough room between them. He brings up his hand and uses his fingers to brush her hair back.
“Do you remember what I told you then?” he asks her, moving closer, finally dipping his head to meet hers.
I could be chasing someone.
He’s being serious now and Caitriona holds back her teasing. She nods instead and presses her lips together, the brisk and cold morning still rooted in memory. Her legs begin to move, her limbs riding against his, subconsciously looking for him to provide her warmth from the morning so long ago.
“Your turn,” Caitriona asks, “Tell me.”
She rests her hand on his chest, her eyes focusing on a spot where the tip of her finger continues to stroke.
He pulls back away from her face, forcing her to look up, allowing their eyes to meet. He swallows before speaking, already deciding on what he wants to tell her.
“This is where I want to be every morning,” he confesses, pulling on her waist and wrapping his arms tighter. “It has always been what I’ve wanted.”
He bites down on his lip, waiting for her to respond. He looks for it in her eyes, round and large with surprise. There’s something soft behind her light blue eyes and he’s locked on them. Her cheeks are slightly red, embarrassed by how much she longed to hear it and grateful for what he’s said. She moves her hands away from his chest, lingering slightly on his hips before pulling herself up against him.
She’s a natural fit to his larger body, the way her legs rest firmly on his. His hands move instinctually, finding their place around her small frame. Caitriona’s hand comes up to stroke his face, touching the soft skin with the back of her hand and following his jawline, listening to the friction of the bristles against her fingertips.
“Tell me another,” she whispers again, craning her head to hear him speak.
He stops and looks at her face, his eyes take notice of the way her pupils turn larger against the light.
“Have I ever told you how much you’re like the sun?”
Caitriona laughs at him, her eyes crinkling with amusement.
“No?” she says in half question, half statement.
“Hmmm…it’s the same every time I run in the morning,” he stalls before continuing again, “When the grass is still wet from the dew and the fog rolls through the valley, the sun warms my face when it starts to peek over the horizon. Then it rushes over me like a fever when it’s comes up completely. It’s the same with you. When I first see you, whether at work, somewhere, anywhere, there’s this subtle warmth. But when you walk toward me or stand close, it’s like I’m being consumed by this fire.”
She feels the tears wet against her cheeks but doesn’t move her hands away to wipe them. She sniffles slightly, her sob catching in the back of her throat and lets out a loud sigh. He lets go with one hand, gingerly moving his thumb across her face, removing the streaks that began to form.
He settles her underneath him, partially placing his weight on one elbow and looking down at her. Moments pass between them, the only sound in the room audible is their steady breathing, soft exhales escaping in hushed tones.
He smiles at her, one side of his mouth curling up before deciding himself to ask her, “Tell me.”
She stalls for a moment, her eyes slowly following the lines of his face to the base of his throat. She sees his pulse throbbing at the side of his neck and lets out a loud sigh before deciding on what to say. She slightly adjusts herself below him, embracing his weight pressed against her body.
“I’ve always loved you.”
He pulls back slightly, his emotions slowly catching up to what she’s confessed. He suddenly feels it in his heart- the immediate pull. There’s been only two other moments he’s felt it: the first day he met her and the second was the night of the storm.
Caitriona bites her lip, her eyes soft with worry, and waits for his reaction.
He moves his free hand and softly grazes his fingers against her collarbone. She closes her eyes at the sensation and waits. She only opens her eyes when he stops, his finger resting in the space above her chest. He adjusts himself again, this time his face completely over hers.
“Tell me again,” he asks.
“I’ve always lo--.”
He presses his lips against her mouth before she finishes. He tastes her words and delights in the feel of her hands reaching behind his head, pulling him against her. He smells of a clean shower and musk, all the while tasting remnants of toothpaste and a little bit of saltiness. She begins to lift her head away from the cushions behind her, eager to taste all of him and when they separate, he leaves her breathless and she him.
“Always?” he asks her for reassurance, his eyes closed shut and breathing ragged.
“Always have,” she whispers, grabbing his face with her hands. She strokes his jawline with her thumbs, rubbing his forehead with her own. “Maybe even before you.”
He laughs, the lines near his eyes, deep and plenty. “It’s always a competition with you, isn’t it?”
She smiles and nods, remembering his comment in an interview long ago.
“Only when you’re involved.”
“I guess that settles it then.”
“What do you have it mind?” she asks, her curiosity piqued.
“Perhaps a game…”
Caitriona cocks her head to the side, unsure of what Sam had in store.
“Let’s see who tires first,” he jokes, lifting his eyebrows in playful banter.
She lifts up and rolls over Sam, straddling her legs around his hips. “Well, we know who’ll win this one. After all, you did tell over a hundred thousand of your faithful, I have the stamina for everything.”
“Everything,” her words slur as she raises his hands to the area above his head.
“Well, I expect nothing less at this point. You did just ran a marathon.”
“I had a very good trainer.”
“You sure did,” he stalls for a moment before whispering her name, “Caitriona?”
She looks down and watches as the rays from the sun reach his face. His face is relaxed but the tone of his voice is serious.
“I love you too.”