"Hey, guys," Catherine said as she saw Nick and Warrick standing on her front step, as she walked down the hall to put her shoes in the closet. "Come on in and make yourselves at home."
Since the swing shift would be merged with the grave shift again, Catherine had decided to invite the guys over for a little celebration---of their successes---and a little mourning---of their independence from their colleagues. Lindsey had been excited about the idea---but she had disappeared to her room hours ago, leaving Catherine to finish putting the food and beverages together on the patio.
"Thanks, Cath," Nick said with an easy grin as he opened the screen door and stepped into her home. "Wow... haven't been here in a while. Looks great."
Catherine smiled back at him. "Thanks, Nicky," she replied. She walked over to him and kissed his cheek as she hugged him. "It's good to see you."
"Likewise," he replied before kissing her cheek.
"Oh, c'mon, don't I get a little play?" Warrick asked teasingly.
Catherine laughed softly and kissed Warrick's cheek, too. She hesitated when she met his eyes; being so close to him, after their slip up weeks before, was a little difficult. When she swallowed hard and tried to say something, he smiled a little and she sensed that he was thinking similar thoughts.
"Better, man?" Nick asked, breaking into their private moment.
"Yeah," Warrick said with a little chuckle as Catherine stepped away from him.
They took their shoes off, leaving them on the welcome mat, and Catherine invited them further into her home. She walked them through the kitchen, the sliding door, and onto the shaded deck that overlooked their backyard.
"Perfect," Warrick said quietly as he eased himself down into a chair, "this is where I want to spend my day off."
The strawberry blonde laughed and reached into the cooler for three bottles of beer. "Yeah," she murmured as she passed the drinks out. "I'm glad you guys could come over."
"Swing shift's gotta stick together," Nick pointed out, grinning again.
"Especially when the drinks are on me?" Catherine teased.
"Exactly," he said before gulping down some of his beer.
Catherine laughed until the phone started ringing. She leaned forward, as if to run inside to answer the phone, but the ringing stopped. She eased back down in her chair and started to talk with the guys about random work-related topics.
Then, Lindsey came to the sliding screen door. "Mom?"
"Hey, Linds," Warrick said with a little wave.
The young girl's face melted into a softer expression. "Oh... hi, Warrick. Hi, Nick," she said in an almost dreamy tone of voice.
Catherine smothered a little laugh as the men talked to her daughter. When they were finished, she looked at her teenager and said, "Is the phone for me?"
"Yeah, it's Uncle Gil. He wants to know if---"
"Tell him I'll call him back," Catherine interrupted, trying to keep her voice pleasant.
Warrick's eyebrows jumped up. "You can go talk to him if you want, Catherine," he said. "We don't mind holding the fort down."
She felt a frown forming on her face and she struggled against letting it show to the men. She didn't want to talk to Gil. Ever since Nick had been rescued, her relationship with Gil had been on uneven ground. She couldn't handle being a dirty little secret again, after she had been his partner, his girlfriend, and she wasn't sure she wanted to be that secret again.
She loved Gil---so much that it hurt, sometimes---and she had never been more comfortable with another man. But, she knew she deserved more than clandestine meetings. And Gil didn't want to talk about their situation, which made matters worse.
With a shake of her head, she looked at Lindsey. "Tell him I'll call him back," she repeated.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah," she murmured, giving her daughter a reassuring smile.
"Oookay." She put the phone to her ear. "Uncle Gil? Mom says she'll call you back, okay?"
Catherine turned back to her guests. "He probably wants me to come into the lab and help him with his paperwork," she explained, ignoring Warrick's pointed stare. "And I am enjoying a beautiful day with friends."
Nick smiled and raised his beer bottle. "I'd like to propose a toast."
"Yeah?" Catherine asked as she held her bottle up to mirror his position.
"To our boss lady," he said, "for doing an awesome job on swing shift. And, to the swing shift team... may we whip grave shift into shape."
"Here, here," Catherine replied, gently tapping her bottle against Nick's bottle. Then, they both clinked their bottles together with Warrick's and they all drank together.
"Mom? He says he needs to talk to you now."
Catherine rolled her eyes and reached out of the phone. "Thanks, baby," she murmured, smiling at her daughter. She sighed and put the phone to her ear. "Gil?"
"Why don't you want to talk to me?" Gil asked, without any preamble.
"I... it's not a good time," she said diplomatically as she watched Lindsey disappear into the house. "Warrick and Nick are here."
Gil asked, "How's Nick?" at the same time Nick said, "If he asks, I'm fine."
Catherine chuckled. "He's fine. I think he's getting sick of hearing that question."
Nick saluted Catherine with his beer and then turned to talk to Warrick, who---while talking animatedly with Nick---still had one eye on Catherine.
"And how are you?" Gil asked Catherine.
"That's a loaded question," Catherine admitted. "Am I going to see you tonight?"
"I have to go to the lab," he reminded her. "Not everyone has the day off."
Catherine sighed again. "Right."
"Cath, I didn't have a---"
"Don't," she interrupted. "Don't tell me that. You did, you do... and... and I don't want to hear your rationale."
"Are you mad at me because I couldn't take work off?" he asked.
She frowned. "No. I'm just tired, Gil."
"Well, you're never home," Gil said quietly. "Every time I call, you're out and Lily's there. Maybe if you sat still long enough... rested a little... you wouldn't be so tired."
Catherine resisted the impulse to tell him that he was one of the reasons she was so tired, that their clandestine relationship was what made her so tired, that she screened her calls and when he called, she avoided the phone or pretended not to be home.
Instead, she sighed and said, "Yeah."
"You want me to come over before work?" he asked. "I could cook dinner for you and Lindsey."
Catherine frowned again. She wasn't sure how she felt about Gil spending time with Lindsey, even though he was practically family in the teenager's eyes. "I don't think that'll be necessary," she replied in a quiet voice. "Lindsey has dance class tonight. And I'll probably stay and watch."
"I... I, uh, gotta go," she said quickly before ending the call. She put the phone down on the table and then picked it back up again. She turned it on, so the dial tone could be heard, and then she turned the volume on the handset down.
"Don't want to talk to Grissom?" Warrick asked.
Catherine smiled a little. "I think he is trying to rope me into working," she lied.
"Alright," Warrick told her in a tone of voice that told her he didn't buy her excuse.
Nick cleared his throat. "So... since you're not going into the lab... any chance I could get started on that barbeque?" he asked, smiling.
"Yeah," Catherine murmured as she stood up. "I'll just go in and get the steaks and stuff."
"Excellent," Nick said before rubbing his hands together.
"You have two new messages.
First message. Sent today at seven forty-two.
'Hi, Catherine. It's me. Gil. I... well, I haven't seen you in a while. I know, you're probably at dance class with Lindsey, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm around... if you want to talk... or hang out... or whatever. Okay. Talk to you later.'
End of message.
Second message. Sent today at nine eleven.
'Catherine? I... it's me again. I... call me, okay? I miss spending time with you.'
End of message."
Cath? Slw nt. Thnkg abt lvng early. Wnt 2 mt up?
Fr: Gil Cell
Where R U?
Fr: Gil Cell
Catherine looked up when she heard a knocking on her office door. Gil was standing there, holding an assignment slip.
"Hey," she murmured.
She smiled. "Where else would I be?"
"I don't know," he replied as he stepped inside. "Why don't you tell me? You never seem to be in the same place for more than an hour. If that."
Her smile faltered. She knew she had been avoiding Gil. And know she knew that he knew she was avoiding him. She had just wanted to give herself some time to think, some time to process everything that had happened in their relationship---or lack thereof.
"I know this is hard," he said quietly. "You were the boss and now you're not... but... we do work well together."
"Yeah," she agreed in a similarly quiet voice.
"I'm looking forward to working a case with you again," he admitted. "Officially."
"Well, it will be nice to have the team together again," she conceded. "More resources... less to process---"
"Maybe we'll be able to start spending more time together," Gil said very quietly as he closed the office door and walked towards her desk. "I don't know if you got my messages---"
Catherine snorted softly. "Yeah, I got your messages," she interrupted. "You'd think I was MIA or something, Gil. I told you I was with Lindsey."
"Sleeping?" she said, tilting her head and looking up at him. "Gil, I don't have to explain myself."
"Gil... I'm not seeing anyone else... I'm just... I need some time to think."
He frowned. "About us?"
"About life," she replied as she stood up. She put a file in the filing cabinet and then walked around her desk. Before she could control the impulse, she reached out and touched his chest with one of her hands. "I miss you, too," she admitted. "But, things aren't so easy anymore... especially now that we're all together again."
"Is this about---" Gil stopped short and frowned more. "I don't like going back into the closet, either, Catherine. Believe me... I was looking forward to being with you more. In the open. Always."
Catherine felt her cheeks flush a little. "You were?"
"Yes," he said in confirmation. He put his hand over hers and squeezed it a little. "I really miss you," he whispered.
His earnest eyes and adorable pouting lower lip melted her defenses. She leaned up and kissed the corner of his mouth, briefly.
"I miss seeing you," she whispered as she leaned away from him. "But, it's weird. We were together... and now... are we together? Are we... what are we? Friends with benefits, again?"
"We're us," he murmured as he put his free hand on her waist. "I guess that'd be the best way to describe it."
She smiled a little and pressed her body against his. She could admit to herself that it felt good to be pressed against him; he was warm and solid, and just a little soft.
Catherine indulged in the comfort he offered her for a moment and then she stepped away. "You got an assignment for the team?" she asked.
"Oh... um... yeah."
"What is it?"
She motioned towards the door. "Shouldn't we be going?"
"They're still putting wet stuff on the red stuff," he told her as he walked towards her.
"Gil, we have to go to work," she said firmly. "You need to march your cute little butt out of here. You need to round up the rest of the team, and---"
He sighed. "I miss you," he whispered, putting his hands on her hips and drawing her close to his body.
Catherine found herself torn between burying herself in his embrace and running away from him. She could never think clearly around him, when he was affectionate. When their relationship changed, yet again, she felt that she needed to be able to think clearly; but, having him in front of her, holding her, wasn't helping.
"Gil... we need to get to work."
"Can I see you later?" he asked quietly. "Maybe after you take Lindsey to school?"
"Maybe," she whispered.
Warrick looked down at the mess at their feet and he sighed. Catherine nudged him gently and then crouched down to begin processing. Warrick followed suit.
"How's it going?" he asked quietly.
Catherine smiled at Warrick. "It's fine."
"Yeah... I don't buy that," he said, nudging Catherine in a similar fashion. "Tell me what's up with you two."
She chuckled quietly and shook her head. "Why are you so curious?"
"Because I was there when he called the other day."
Catherine rolled her eyes a little. "Warrick, that was---"
She sighed and looked at her colleague and friend. "Warrick... we were... before Nicky... we were actually together," she said in a quiet voice. "Like together. In public. And it was going really well." She sighed again and looked down at the evidence she had been processing. "When we went to the hospital, Gil told Ecklie he wanted the team back. And that was it."
"Without telling you."
"Without asking me," Catherine corrected. "Maybe I would have rather kept my position and..." she trailed off and sighed. "I don't know. I just... that night, it was like flicking a switch for him. No problem to go back to... nevermind."
"How are you holding up?" he asked.
Catherine frowned. "I never let us spend time together anymore. That should be an indication, shouldn't it?"
Warrick sighed. "Cath... I'm sorry things aren't going so hot."
"It's my own fault, Warrick," she mumbled. She forced herself to smile a little and then she said, "C'mon, let's get back to work."
"Just like that, huh?" he asked teasingly.
She smiled at him. "I'm glad to have you in my life," she admitted. "You're a good friend, Warrick. But right now, we need to start processing."
"Later, then," he agreed.
They worked together, processing debris, until she heard her phone ring.
"Yeah?" she asked, answering it.
Grissom's voice came out over the phone's speaker. "Catherine, we have a four-nineteen off Industrial. Would you like to handle it?"
She fought the urge to roll her eyes. "So, you get the team back together only to break us apart again," she said in response. "What kind of a perverse game are you playing here, Gil?"
"I'm not a pervert," he replied.
"Yeah, I'll cover it," she said, not touching his claim. "I'm taking Warrick."
When she ended the call, Warrick looked at her. "What about asking first?" he asked, humour sparkling in his eyes.
Catherine laughed quietly. "Sorry about that," she murmured as they straightened into standing positions.
"Nah," Warrick told her with a smirk. "Don't worry about it. You're the boss and I know what side my toast is buttered on."
After leaving the guys in the locker room, Catherine went home and made breakfast for her daughter and then she took the teenager to school.
As she drove, Lindsey asked questions about her latest case. Catherine told her what she could, about the housewife who wanted to try being a stripper and about the exercise classes, and after she did, she immediately regretted it.
"Oh, cool! I wanna take those dance classes!"
Catherine rolled her eyes and looked back at her daughter, who was sitting in the back seat of her car. "You are not taking those classes, Lindsey."
"Why not?" the young teenager pushed. "It's probably good exercise, right?"
"You take ballet and that is very good exercise, too," Catherine pointed out.
"Maybe you could teach me," Lindsey suggested.
The strawberry blonde snorted and shook her head. "Lindsey, you are going to learn how to be a smart, young woman. You are going to graduate from high school and go to a great university. And you are going to be way more successful than your mother. Taking your clothes off... will never be a part of your job description."
"I'm serious, Lindsey," Catherine said in a firm, no-nonsense voice.
"Have you forgotten it all?" Lindsey asked.
Catherine laughed softly. "God, I wish I have," she replied honestly as she parked the car in front of the school. "You have your lunch?"
"And your homework?"
Lindsey nodded. "Yep." She unbuckled her seatbelt and leaned forward. After kissing her mother's cheek, she said, "I'll get the bus home."
"Alright," Catherine murmured. "Have a good day, okay?"
"I will," Lindsey said before she opened the back door and crawled out of the car.
Catherine watched her daughter rush across the schoolyard, and then she put her vehicle into gear and drove away.
Gil sipped his beer and looked over at Warrick. They were the only two left at the impromptu celebration, but neither of them was making a move to leave.
"Glad to have the team back together?" Warrick asked.
The lab supervisor looked at the younger man. "I think we all work well together," Gil said honestly. "And when Ecklie divided us up, it didn't feel right."
Warrick shrugged and nodded. "Yeah, I know what you mean," he said.
The younger man shrugged again. "Nick, Catherine, and I were getting it done. We had a routine... we were getting it done."
"I'm sure you were," Gil said in response. "You're all very skilled criminalists."
"Does Catherine know why you wanted the team back together?" Warrick asked.
Gil hesitated. He was certain that they had talked about it all, during their brief vacation. However, when Warrick asked him that question, he wasn't sure anymore if he had explained his reasoning.
He didn't want anyone to be left behind, to be unprotected; Nick's kidnapping had made him worry about everyone in the lab, especially 'his' team. He felt incredibly responsible for what happened and he wanted to do his best to protect them---Catherine, most of all. The thought of Catherine being kidnapped and tortured the way Nick had been was almost too much for him to process. If he could, he would keep Catherine---and the others---safe.
"Well, does she?" Warrick pushed.
"I thought... I thought we talked about it," Gil mumbled.
Warrick sipped his beer before saying: "Yeah, well, I'd make sure she knows your intentions."
"You think she's mad?"
"Do you?" Warrick asked.
Gil frowned. "Sort of."
With a chuckle, Warrick leaned back in his chair. "Man, you two drive me insane sometimes," he admitted. "You're together, you're not together, you're sort of together... and neither of you seem to be great at being straight with each other."
"I know, it's tricky since you guys work together... but you guys can't talk anymore? C'mon, Grissom," Wattick interrupted. "You just have to let her into what you're thinking. She'll know where she stands, then."
Gil sighed. Warrick made a good point.
"So, you and your wife communicate well?" Gil asked, smiling a little.
Warrick smiled, too. "Most of the time."
"I'm happy you found someone," Gil told his colleague. "We all deserve to be happy... and with our job, sometimes it's hard to find that happiness."
Mom--going to Cdy's aftr dnc. Sleepover. Will call.
Fr: Lindsey Cell
C: meet @ Plaza Hotel. Room #1204. ASAP. SVP. oxo, G.
Fr: Gil Cell
The instant Catherine walked into the hotel room, Gil wrapped his arm around her waist and pinned her to the door---once it was closed. The bag she had been carrying fell to the floor with a loud 'thud.'
She gasped and started to lecture Gil on scaring her, but he covered her mouth with his and kissed her deeply. It only took her a few seconds, in which she seemed to be dazed by his actions, but then she recovered and kissed him back with all the enthusiasm he was bestowing upon her.
"Gil?" she whispered when he pulled back and looked at her. "What's going on?"
"We need to spend some time together," he murmured. "And I need to tell you something."
"Okay, but you could've called," Catherine said, putting her hands on his chest. "I have a phone---"
"And you never answer it," he interrupted.
He hesitated and took a moment to look over her appearance. She was wearing gym clothes; her hair was tied back and there was some evidence of sweat in her bangs. She looked very attractive and he had to put his hands on either side of her, against the wall, to keep himself from grabbing her and taking her to the queen-sized bed.
She smiled. "Like how I look?"
"Uh... yeah." He licked his lips and then asked, "Were you working out?"
"I was," she admitted.
"One of those gyms that offers stripping classes," she replied. She reached up and put her hands on his wrists, arching her back a little. "My stiletto shoes are in the bag," she added. "I could put them on for you... give you a little demo of what I learned---"
Gil cut her off with a kiss and then smiled at her. "I doubt they could teach you anything," he said in a quiet voice. "I'd be surprised if the teacher wasn't amazed with how graceful you move."
He took delight in the way Catherine's cheeks flushed at his words. "Y'know, if anyone else commented on me stripping, or dancing like a stripper, I'd probably smack them six ways to Sunday," she conceded. "But, you can pull it off, Dr. Grissom."
"I'm glad," he murmured before leaning in and brushing his nose against hers.
"Don't tease me," she whispered.
"I didn't invite you here to tease you."
Catherine snorted. "No, you ordered me!" she exclaimed, laughing a little. "I mean, you put a french 'please' in there, but not before your A-S-A-P. There was no invitation, Gil... there was a demand. An order."
"But, you came anyway."
"Didn't want you to put out an APB for me," she whispered, arching her back more, so her hips could press against his. "All I've heard from you lately is that I'm never around."
"I miss you," he whispered. "And I need to tell you---"
"No," he said firmly, "you're going to stand right there and you're going to listen to it."
He swallowed hard and then said, "I wanted the team together because I didn't feel like I had done enough to protect Nick... Warrick... you." He closed his eyes and leaned into her, letting his forehead barely touch hers. "And if anything happens to you, Catherine... I'd go crazy. I can't let anything happen to you."
"So you brought us all back," she said quietly.
"Part of me wants to hit you and part of me wants to kiss you," she admitted.
Gil opened his eyes and looked into hers. "Might I suggest the latter option?"
His chest didn't feel so tight when she smiled a little. She tilted her head to one side and said, "What do I get out of the deal?"
Catherine's cheeks flushed a bit. "Okay. Let me get a shower first---"
Her eyes widened. "No?"
Gil shook his head. He didn't know if it was her natural scent or the fact that she had been exercising, but something about the way she looked in that moment was too good to change. He didn't want her to shower and change her appearance. He wanted her just the way she was.
She licked her lips and nodded---all the encouragement that Gil needed.
He pounced, kissing her while holding her against the wall with his body. His hands didn't move from either side of her head; she used his wrists for leverage so she could move her body against his.
When he did move his hands, he slid them down to the backs of her thighs so he could cup her body to his; their kisses never faltered throughout those moments. Catherine made a quiet noise in her throat as she finally yielded to him and granted him all the access and affection he craved.
Her legs wrapped around his waist. He moved, as if to take them to the bed; but she flexed her hips and distracted him.
He only made it to the dresser, setting her down on it before she started unbuttoning his off-white shirt. Catherine nipped at his lower lip before kissing him more deeply; as their kisses intensified, she pushed his light brown jacket and his shirt over his shoulders. Then, she stopped kissing his mouth so she could explore his neck and shoulders and back and chest.
"God, Cath, slow down," he whispered.
"Nuh uh," she protested against his torso.
"We have all day," he insisted. "Or, until Lindsey has to be picked up, and---"
"She has a sleepover," Catherine whispered between kisses to his collarbone, making him feel things he hadn't felt in a little while.
"Then, we do have all day," he said, sliding his hands into her hair so he could ease her head away from his body. "Cath, c'mon... let's slow down."
"No," she whispered, moving her hands from his shoulders to his cheeks. "Let's speed up."
He allowed himself to be seduced by her smile and her charms. She stroked her fingers through his beard as they resumed kissing, before trailing them down his chest to his waist; then, she opened his belt and pants and teased him manually while he worked at undressing her.
Catherine tugged his pants off, using her legs to push them down his own legs. Gil made quick work of her sweater and sports bra, but he took his time removing her shorts and underwear. She kicked her sandals off and then wrapped her legs around his waist again.
"Catherine... maybe we should go to the bed---"
She wrapped her hand around his growing erection and stroked it, taking advantage of his weak nerves and sensitive skin.
"Guess not," he said after gulping quietly.
The strawberry blonde chuckled and kissed his neck, below his beard.
Gil groaned and closed his eyes. He missed being intimate with her; since they started working together again, she hadn't slowed down enough for them to have any private moments. Having her around him felt like heaven and he didn't want to ever be without her again.
When he finally pushed his body inside of hers, he let out a low groan and dropped his head to her shoulder.
Catherine scratched his back, spurring him into action. He growled and sucked on her neck and then wrapped his arms around her as they moved together. He tried to get them to the bed; Catherine distracted him so they landed on the desk in front of the window.
"Missed you," Gil mumbled into her hair.
She turned her head and caught his lips in a rough kiss as she scratched her nails over his shoulders. She was making his blood boil and he was helpless to fight against it---but he didn't mind at all.
"Did you miss my tush?" she asked teasingly, batting her lashes at him when she leaned back to catch her breath.
Gil smirked and slid his hands along her thighs, until he touched what they were talking about. He squeezed his hands into her flesh and grinned when her eyelids fluttered shut.
"You have no idea," he whispered, leaning in to brush his lips over hers.
Catherine rocked against his body, drawing him into the movements of the rhythm they were so good at creating and maintaining.
Her scent was heavy in the air and it wrapped around his senses. If he buried his face in her neck, he knew he would smell the perfume in her shampoo---faint but spicy---along with her sweat and something soothing he had always associated with Catherine's skin. He indulged himself, inhaling deeply, and then he opened his mouth and licked along the column of her neck---as if he could ingest her somehow.
His tongue made Catherine moan. She tilted her head and granted him more access, but not before she dug her nails into his back. She raked her nails against him and he was sure she was breaking the skin and drawing blood; however, Gil wasn't disturbed by that idea, those sensations. He growled and bit her neck; he savoured the squeal that escaped her mouth.
Somehow, Gil summoned the strength to attempt another journey to the bed. But, Catherine, again, prevented him successfully making that trip.
She tightened her legs around his waist and her hidden muscles around his erection. He staggered, almost fell, and then managed to prop themselves up against the window. It wasn't his ideal place to finish what they had started, but he could barely think straight with Catherine wrapped around and writhing against him.
Minutes later, Catherine tipped her head back against the glass and let out a low moan. Gil could feel her body tensing; he shifted his weight and moved one hand up to one of her breasts to tease her a little more.
He cupped her breast first, kneading and squeezing it, but then he caught her nipple between his thumb and forefinger. He pinched; she cried out. He twisted; she bucked and moaned.
Gil waited until she stopped wriggling around, until her hidden muscles stopped driving him to madness, and then he successfully made the journey from the window to the bed.
She fell with a little laugh and Gil followed her, still buried inside her body. He used the mattress and his knees for leverage and thrust repeatedly, with more strength than he could muster while standing up.
Catherine let a shrill cry escape her lips; she arched her body and gripped the comforter underneath her with her hands. Gil waited until she stopped making desperate noises and then he kissed her.
They were like that when Gil felt his climax building. His body warmed and his pulse quickened and before he knew it, he was losing himself in Catherine's body.
Catherine pillowed her head on Gil's chest and brushed her fingers over his stomach. She smiled and sighed when she felt Gil's hand in her hair, toying with the wavy tresses.
It had been wrong to avoid him. Even though they were having problems, even though she wasn't sure their relationship was in the best place, she knew that they made each other feel better.
"So... you want to protect me?" she asked quietly.
"If you'll let me," he whispered, sliding his fingers from her hair to the middle of her back.
"I want a raise and a title bump," she stipulated.
Gil chuckled. "And then we'll be okay?" he inquired.
She felt him curl up a bit; then, she felt his lips against the top of her head. "I'm glad I finally pinned you down," he murmured. "And I think I can give you that raise and title bump. How does co-supervisor sound?"
Catherine smiled and turned her head. She lifted her upper body up and leaned towards him. "I don't think you can swing it, without giving Ecklie enough ammunition to fry us both," she whispered, before stealing a kiss from his swollen lips. "But, I'll take something close to that."
"Right hand? Left hand? Both hands?"
She giggled, feeling lighthearted after their coupling and cuddling. "How about just the raise?"
Gil tugged her down for another kiss. Catherine grinned against his mouth before committing herself to the embrace he initiated.