saga/title/fandom: Adagio chapter 17 (A Man Apart)

author: Rae/Celtia/Celtiareborn

rating/genre: (NC-17) - Romance/Crime Drama

warnings: het, language, violence, and graphic sexual content

summary: Officer Sean Vetter, formerly of the DEA, tries to rebuild his life in Chicago after losing his wife in a botched assassination attempt on his own life. Joining the Chicago Special Tactics Unit, Vetterís bitterness toward life and sullen determination not to care for anyone makes him a nightmare of potential partners, until a stubborn Irish woman named Kate Shea decides she isnít going to let Vetter chase her away Ė from his career or his life. (Sean/OFC)

comments/disclaimers: My summary and first chapter pretty well give away the plot of the movie, so if you haven't seen it yet you might want to wait to read this until you have. FEEDBACK: Two conditions: Please talk to me, not at me; Please do not rewrite my stuff and send it to me the way you would do it. Otherwise have at it. Thanks. ARCHIVE: A qualified yes Ė I would not like the story to appear anywhere else without the person discussing it with me first. NOTES: The story does involve a stalker. Also, there is some violence stemming from Vetter and Kateís jobs as undercover officers. NOTE II: There is some Russian used in the story but I try to explain it unless it explains itself.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Kate lay staring out the window of the bedroom. Vetterís broad expanse of chest stretched before her at the bottom of her vision, an unbroken plain of muscles and smooth skin. She gazed past it, beautiful as it was, because when she told him their sleeping together was not about sex she meant it.

The sun cast a faint glow across the room. She stared at the soft gold beam, visually tracing its path as it fell over the bed. Vetterís face was caught in it: half light, half shadow. She studied him while he slept. Looking at him then she could not imagine how she managed to control her lust for himÖso close, so perfect. The feral part of her psyche wanted to eat him like candy. Yet far more entrancing to her was the sweet, innocent picture of his face. For the first time she noticed just how much like a child he looked when the cares of his world left him. Katie looked like that when she slept. Kate could sit in her daughterís room for hours watching that serene expression. She felt the same thing when she observed it on Vetter.

She brushed her fingers against his cheek. The softness of his beard gratified her touch. She recalled how it felt against her mouth, sighed quietly at the memory of that fleeting, desperate pleasure. As erotic as her evening with Kafelnikov was, the desire Vetter caused in her simply by being in her presence outshone it.

She wondered what he thought about the surveillance tape. Iíll wait for youÖand a few hours later she lay moaning quietly as another man aroused her. Vetter would not understand that she only responded to him as she did because Vetter got her so excited when he began to make love to her. She couldnít explain that when the Russian brought his mouth to her breast she imagined it was Vetterís tongue that danced upon her skin. Iíll wait for youÖKate prayed he would still believe it.

The phone rang. She lifted the receiver off the extension on the nightstand and choked out a hello.

"Did you sleep well, Katya?"

Kate somehow controlled the annoyance she felt at Kafelnikovís intrusion into her life after his promise to leave her alone until the evening. "Yes, Grigori."

"I have a surprise lined up for you this evening, a very special restaurant. I hope youíll enjoy it."

"Iím sure I will. I need to get ready for work now. Iíll see you tonight at seven."

Before she could hang up he told her, "Wear something black this evening, elegant. Your red hair must look beautiful against black."

She stiffened as resentment at what seemed like a command surged through her. "Iíll see you tonight."

She hung up, then picked up the receiver again to keep the phone from ringing anymore. Vetter stirred beside her, turned and buried his face in the space between her neck and shoulder. The hot kiss of his breath sent a shudder through her. Should she move him? He slept too soundly to know that he pushed himself against her body and she felt it obscene not to spare him the potential embarrassment of waking up in this intimate position with her. But she could not make herself push him away. He felt too good against her, the massive body of flesh and perfect muscle, for her to banish him to his own side of the bed just yet. She wanted him next to her, wanted his skin touching hers and the silken fringe of his beard on her shoulder. This was a little gift she could give herself for telling him she would be there when Ė if Ė he decided he could love again.

She heard him muttering softly to himself in a sleep-tinged voice. Then he pressed his face farther against her shoulder. He spoke again, longer this time, and placed his mouth on her throat. StaceyÖHe kissed Kateís neck and said the name again, worshipfully, like a penitent at a shrine. In a moment he climbed atop her and began to make love to her.

Kate lay beneath him, mind racing between desire and the shame she felt at taking advantage of Vetterís love for his dead wife for her own pleasure. In his world of half-waking he would not know Kate was not the woman he loved for so much of his life. He would shower her body with the caresses and passion Stacey created in him, thinking she lay with him again in their bed, in their beach house in California where they lived before death came.

Kate bit her lip, savoring one last moment of Vetterís touch, then gently rolled him back over to the other side of the bed. He sighed heavily but did not wake. She did not permit herself to lie with him any longer: she stood in the bathroom with the shower running five seconds after bolting from the bedroom.

When she came back into the bedroom half an hour later she found Vetter still in bed, awake and staring at the ceiling. He heard her footsteps and turned to look at her as she stood in the doorway. She tried to judge what he felt from his expression but beyond the sense of loss she observed when he showed up at the house that morning she could discern nothing. She remembered to smile at him as she approached the bed.

"You slept pretty well," she said, wrapping her robe tightly around her. "Iím glad. I think you needed it."

He gazed at her steadily, dark eyes like those of a frightened child. "Did you sleep okay?"

"Beautifully. It is nice to have someone close by." She walked to the dresser, hoping that mundane actions on her part might put him at ease. "Feel like some breakfast? Iím in the mood for pancakes myself."

He didnít answer so she turned toward him. He held his hand out to her. She crossed tentatively toward the bed and took hold of his fingers, letting hers drape loosely over them.

"Thank you for letting me stay with you last night," he said quietly.

"No problem, Vetter. I told you I like the company."

"I feel like I betrayed your trust. Iím sorry."

She stared at him, taken aback by the words. "How could you have betrayed me?" she asked.

"By not being more careful with you. I shouldnít have kissed you yesterday -"

"Thatís okay," she cut in quickly, seized by a sudden wave of panic about what he was about to say. "I know it didnít mean anything. Itís forgotten. Iíll go put on some coffee."

She tried to pull away from him but he refused to let her go. "You didnít let me finish," he said. "I was going to say that I shouldnít have kissed you and stopped like I did. I embarrassed you and I embarrassed myself. Please forgive me, Kate."

She had no idea what to say to him. What was he telling her? That he regretted the kiss or the failure to make love to her? When he pulled her down beside him on the bed she felt as if some part of her life was about to shatter into a handful of dust.

He took her in his arms. "I donít know what to do," he confessed, so much like a little boy that her heart ached for him. "I canít stop thinking about you but thereís something inside me that wonít let go of Stacey. I feel so fucking helpless. You must think Iím a complete asshole for what Iím doing to you."

"Youíre not doing anything to me. Iím a grown up. I made the decision to wait until you can make up your mind about what you feel for me all on my own. Donít imagine that I donít know what Iím doing," she said. She stroked his cheek, smiled gently at him. "You have so much resistance to believing that you could be worthy of being loved again. But you are, Vetter. More worthy of it than anyone I know."

"Stacey died because of me -"

"Stacey died because a sociopathic drug dealer who never gave a damn about anyone but himself thought he was God and could kill whomever he wanted. You need to realize that."

"But I couldnít protect her. She put her trust in me and I failed her."

"No. She put her trust in you and you loved her until the last second of her life, even beyond it. No woman can ask for more than that from the man she loves," Kate insisted. She made sure she held his eyes before she spoke again. "Bad things happen in life, Vetter. Let yourself off the hook."

She clutched his hand briefly, then pulled herself off the bed. After fetching clothes from the dresser she slipped back into the bathroom to dress.


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