Part V

        Registration had gone smoothly, and Nikita looked about with awe at the immense Belle-Epoch style hotel.  The massive marble columns, lush greenery, and extremely well-heeled patrons that floated throughout the hotel made her feel like she was in a fairy tale.  Oh, she'd been in a palace or two, but missions didn't count.  She was here in a beautiful, romantic hotel...  with Michael, and that was all that counted.
        Michael's hand was placed protectively in the small of her back. They were led to the ornate, old-fashioned elevators by the bell hop who had procured their luggage from the back of the limousine.  Nikita wondered what was in the luggage.  As far as she knew, she had the clothes on her back.  Curiosity was beginning to gnaw at her.  How had Michael arranged all this in such a short time?

        The bellhop unlocked the door to their.... suite.  It was a suite, not merely a room with a bed, although that would have been fine.   Furnished in a soft pastel monochromatic color scheme of aqua, the room's appointments were elegant.  The room was paneled in white with ornate gilded moldings.  French doors opened on a small balcony, overlooking the Mediterranean.  Yes, she was Cinderella.  She turned to her handsome prince, who was in the process of  closing the door to their suite.  "Michael, it's beautiful.  This is heaven."  She spun around in joyous abandon.

        "Then this is where you belong, ma ange blanche," Michael replied, dropping into his native tongue, as he gathered her in his arms and carried her to the bed.

        The bed was covered in a down-filled comforter, which was stripped away in one swift motion.  Michael lay beside her, "Ma coeur. Tu es tres belle," he murmured in her ear, leaving a trail of maddening kisses down her neck and shoulder.  Nikita had a vague idea of his meaning, more than vague.  They were words of love, even if her French was inadequate for an exact translation.
        "Too many clothes," she managed to say, ripping at his shirt.  Buttons began to fly about the room to be lost forever.
        "Nikita, we have time.  Be patient."  Slowly and methodically, he unbuttoned her silk blouse revealing a lacy confection that was almost a bra.  He buried his face between her breasts, then moved to tease the straps off her shoulders with his teeth.  A quick movement in back, and Nikita's beauty was revealed.  Modest in size, but perfect in symmetry and style.  The rose-tipped nipples had already tightened into tiny nubs.  He  divested her of her jeans in a similar exquisite maneuver, using his teeth to ease down the zipper.

        Nikita's heart hammered in a staccato beat.  The more he touched her, the more pronounced the rhythm.  Then his mouth was on hers, his hands cupped her breasts, stroked her abdomen.  He caused havoc with her nervous system.  Something still was not right, but for the life of her, she could not think what it was.  His mouth was devouring hers, his tongue swept and battled with hers, for her soul or so it seemed.

        "Michael, now," she urged, grasping his... jeans.  He was still wearing his jeans!  She began tugging desperately at his belt.  She wanted to feel all of him next to her.  He never stopped kissing her as he stripped from his jeans. His manhood sprang free, and she heard him moan as its warm length nestled against her flat abdomen.  Finally, no more barriers, they were skin to skin...  and heart to heart.
        Michael parted her thighs with his knee, and felt to see if she were ready for him.  "Yes, now," she urged, guiding him to her feminine core.  Every sensation in her body was centered in that core.  Every nerve ending cried for his touch.

        Finesse and skill were mere tools for the expression of their passion.  It was a torturous and wondrous blending of male and female, yin and yang, night and day.  From the most primal expression of animality to the most spiritual of pleasures, they experienced them as they wrestled, thrust and loved.  Sensation banished their cares and memories until there was only one exultant cry from both.  First they were two, then they were one.

        Michael awakened to find Nikita unpacking-- in the nude.  She made an entrancing sight.  He watched her hold a long white beaded gown against her body, as she checked the effect in the mirror.  He had requested several selections from a certain French boutique, so that she might have a choice.  He continued to watch her through half-closed eyelids, not wanting to interrupt her fashion parade.  She was so lovely, it hurt.  He wished he had a lifetime with which to shower her with presents and love, instead of a mere forty-eight hours.

        Nikita caught a movement in the mirror and realized he was awake.  She whirled, "Ah ha!  Caught you watching me, didn't I?" she said in a voice made seductive by the aftermath of passion.

        "Guilty," he said, unable to keep his eyes from her long legs and beautiful rose-tipped breasts as she sashayed about the room.

        Nikita carefully laid a midnight blue gown across a chair, then flung herself onto the bed.  "When did you find time to do all this?  How did you know my size?"

        "Computers, and I have certain resources," he replied, and money, he added to himself.  All it took was money and a little time to think about what she would enjoy doing, besides the obvious.

        Michael leaned on his elbow and asked, "What do you want to do now?  Would you like go to the beach and get some sun?  I've rented a cabana for us."

        "And just what does one do in a cabana, Michael?" she teased.

        "One changes, one has sun screen applied.  There are all sorts of things one can do in a cabana, Nikita."  Michael arched an eyebrow, drinking her beauty with his eyes.

        Nikita rolled from the bed, wrapping a sheet around her, and wandered onto the balcony.  She looked at the beach scene below and exclaimed,  "Michael,  it's a topless beach!"

        "Of course,"  Michael said with a grin before adding, "there's plenty of sun  screen....SPF 45."
        "You expect me to take my top off, Michael?" she asked, pretending to be astonished.

        Michael joined her on the balcony.  He took her hand and pulled her back into their suite.  "You don't have to, Nikita,"  he said softly.

        "You want me to, though, don't you.  Come on, admit it," she teased, as she allowed him to take control.

        "Well, when in Rome... or Monaco..." he replied with a grin.  Michael thought Nikita would shuck her top at the first opportunity, or at least she would once she was on the beach and grew accustomed to the idea.  Europeans did not place much importance on keeping the female breast covered, but he would never force her to do anything that made her uncomfortable... away from Section One, that is.

        Nikita came to stand with her body close to his.  Her roseate nipples puckered as they brushed his chest, and she slipped her arms around his neck.  She rubbed her naked body against his.  He could feel her pelvic bones as they jutted from her taut abdomen, and he could feel her nest of blonde curls brush against his arousal.  She was intoxicating, vibrant and totally female.  She made his head whirl, his heart race, and his lungs burn with the need to breathe.  He cupped her buttocks with shaking hands and pulled her closer still.
        "Don't you want to get some sun," he asked, his voice so soft it became a whisper.  She was driving him wild, with her need for him.   He felt he might burst from the mere excitation of being near her.  His desire for her was so intense, he could not restrain his body from shivering.

        "Come here, cabana boy," Nikita said softly, pulling him toward the bed.  "I need some sun screen applied."   Nikita lay upon the wide bed and unabashedly opened herself to him.  He felt as if his heart would stop.

        "Ahh," Michael uttered incoherently as he sank into her warmth and took her... took them both... to ecstasy.  It was a union, sublime and mystical, as only two who are meant for each other can experience.

        A sweet and untroubled sleep overtook them.  Exhausted from their efforts of trying to compress a lifetime of loving and longing into forty-eight hours.  Arms, legs entwined.  It was impossible to tell where one of them began and the other ended. Physically, they breathed as one.  Emotionally, bonded as never before.

        When Michael awoke, he listened to the soft music of Nikita's breathing at his side, in his arms.  Her body was warm, pliant, yet toned and a perfect match to his own.  He took in her scent, always fresh and clean with a hint of something he could only name as essence of Nikita.

        If only...  there were so many if onlies that it hurt Michael to put them into thought.  Starting with if only they were free to spend their lives together, ending with if only he'd not been forced to ruin two innocent lives with his deceptions.  He didn't want to think of Adam and Elena now, not here, with Nikita lying in his arms, but he could not escape the fact that the one love precluded the expression of the other.   Adam and Elena were lost to him forever, but Nikita was not.

        Michael was not settling for love with Nikita because he could no longer be Elena's husband.  It was more the other way around.  Elena had been his refuge from Section One.  He had come to love her for her sweetness and gentle nature, and in turn she had worshipped the man she thought he was.

        Initially, Nikita had kept him sane in Section One, while conversely driving him crazy at the same time.  Stubborn, temperamental, scared, she was unaware of the beauty and goodness that she generously shared with everyone she met.  Section One no longer clicked along at the same frenetic, uncaring pace.  Nikita's interjection into the Section equation had left it off kilter, and the equation no longer progressed to its natural solution in the same way it had before.  Whether by accident or design, Section One had recruited an innocent instead of a cold-blooded killer in the blonde beauty that lay in his arms.

        If only she could be free of Section, of the lies and manipulations, of him.  He had let her go once, but she had come back because of him.  They had not been able to sever the bond, nor had Section.  Only death could separate them, and death was always an imminent possibility in their line of work. It was too real a possibility to imagine, his being without her.  He'd suffered too many losses in his lifetime.  He didn't know if he could survive the loss of his soul mate.

        Until now, Adam's loss had been the worst.  Worse than losing his parents, his old life, Simone or  even a semi-normal life with Elena, for Adam had been his heart and his future.  A gift of life and claim on the future.. his love for Adam was immutable and unending.
        He had wanted to die those first weeks after the successful end of the Vacek mission had separated him from his only child.  He'd been careless, neglectful of his own safety, and distraught.  Nikita had saved him in more ways than one.  First of all, she had remained his friend.  His four years of deception had not crushed her feelings for him.  Once Nikita had realized the depth of Section One's control over his life, it had forged a deeper bond of understanding between them.  She finally understood that in spite of his higher rank, he was still as much a pawn for Section's manipulations as she had been.  She had guarded him when he would not take the simplest of precautions to protect himself.  He wasn't sure when he'd first become aware of her extracurricular sessions outside his loft.  It was more that he sensed her being near him.

        Nikita's being taken by Mihai Brevich had served as the stimulus to shake him from the depression that had sapped his energy and soul.  He wondered if Nikita had been aware of the mission's ultimate profile.  Had Operations simply gambled on his response and his arriving in time to save her?  Would Nikita have willingly gambled her life to save his?  She probably would have, but Michael doubted that Operations had taken that factor into consideration.  Once again, Operations would have decided that Nikita didn't ‘need to know' and made a perfect pawn.

        Michael watched Nikita sleep.  She slept deeply and soundly like a child, molded to his side.  He wished he could express the love he felt for her.  The words had never been spoken between them.  Until lately, he had not been free to say them, and he still felt that she deserved so much more than his love.  But love her he did.  He knew she would awaken eventually, and he knew he had to banish any trace of his post-coital angst.  He wanted nothing to cast a shadow over this time with her.  This might be the only time they would have like this.  He wanted her to enjoy it, revel in it, and forget Section One, if only for a day or two.

        He felt Nikita shift into a lighter stage of sleep.  She began to move closer to him, if possible.  Her eyelids fluttered. A barely audible sigh escaped her lovely mouth.  He stroked her eyelids with a gentle movement of his thumb and traced the angle of her sculptured cheekbones.  Her eyelids fluttered open.

        "Wha--, M-Michael,"  she looked about in momentary confusion.  "I forgot where I was.  Is this for real?"

        "Oui. You're here with me, ma chère," he murmured as he began to nibble her delicate ear lobes.  "It is very real."  Michael only knew one way to banish his pain.  Nikita was more than an antidote, she was his heart and soul, and losing himself in her was the sheerest heaven he knew.

Part VI