Carlotta awoke to the unfamiliar, but welcome feel of a male arm across her waist. Looking down sleepily, she smiled at the sight of Stefan's hand placed possessively upon her stomach. Even in sleep, he branded her as his woman.
The contrast of their skin tones was beautiful to her. Carlotta knew that there were people who would find the sight distressing, but they did not matter to her. All that mattered was the two of them.
Shiftly slightly so that she could see him better, Carlotta angled her head his way. The tiny movement was enough to disturb his sleep, and his arm tightened convulsively against her.
'Carlotta', he growled in his sleep.
She flushed from the heat of remembered passion. Last night, they had made love against the door, before the fireplace, and in the shower, before falling exhausted into bed. 'What was it about this man that excited her to such passion?'
Fondly, she smiled as she watched him sleep. His hair was tousled, like a little boy's, and his face was angelic in sleep. But Stefan Cassadine was neither little boy nor angel. That much she knew. And she had a sweet tenderness between her thighs to prove it.
Unable to resist her impulse, Carlotta slowly reached over to move an errant lock of hair from his forehead. Careful though she was not to wake him, Stefan's eyes fluttered open at her touch.
His beautiful green eyes looked at her with such love that she was overwhelmed. Unbidden, tears began to form in the corners of her eyes. His expression one of understanding, Stefan reached out and gathered her wordlessly to him. He pressed his lips to her forehead and kissed her tenderly.
Gently nuzzling her face, he placed tiny kisses all over her face. Softly, his lips removed the tears which threatened to roll down her beautiful countenance.
His warm hands moved slowly, lazily up and down her back. To Carlotta, it seemed as though there was not an inch of flesh that he did not caress.
After what seemed a lifetime, he opened his mouth to hers. Slowly, his tongue explored her mouth. Stefan felt her mouth curve into a smile beneath his. He broke the kiss to look into her eyes. The love he found there was a reflection of his own.
Without haste, he shifted them until Carlotta lay beneath him. Taking some of his weight upon his elbows, he let her feel the comforting weight of his body as it covered hers. Once more he engaged her in a slow, passionate kiss.
Almost as an afterthought, he parted her thighs and settled between them.
Carlotta was wet with wanting him. But there was none of the haste they'd felt the night before. No urgent, hurried coupling, no frantic, furious thrusting. Only rightness, as Stefan reached down between them and guided himself home.
To the hilt he buried himself within her. Slowly, he withdrew fully- only to thrust again.
Exquisite torture. It was the thought that ran through both their minds.
Carlotta felt the hard, hot length of him as he moved within her. It was all she could do not vocalize the strength of her feelings at that moment.
Stefan understood that all too clearly. The cords of his neck stood out with the effort to contain the sounds of his passions as each thrust drove him closer to the brink of release.
There was no room for even thought between them, so tightly were they wrapped in each others arms. And the only movement in the room was the constant give and take of their lower bodies.
As Stefan felt his control wane, his thrusts became more powerful. Grinding himself into Carlotta, he silently communicated to her his nearness to completion.
Even as he fought for control, he felt her body clutch and release him. The pull of her body against his was too much, and with one final thrust, he found his release. For what seemed endless moments, Stefan remained thrust within Carlotta as his very soul emptied into her.
At last, boneless and weary, his body relaxed atop her. He kissed her gently and withdrew from her. Carefully easing down beside her, he gathered her to him once more. With a trembling hand, he caressed her cheek. "I know that I have asked this before," he said, his voice gravelly. "Marry me."
Carlotta smiled a weary smile. "I've already said yes, Stefan."
"I mean, today."