Chapter Fifty-four (Round Trip Ticket)

"So…" Charles Edwards reluctantly moved back a fraction, having broken the kiss. This last hour in Grace's presence had been the best damned hour of his entire life but he knew he had to end the session before it ended him.

Grace gazed up at him in that special way, making his dick ache even more poignantly than it had been for the past few minutes under her particular type of 'torture'.

"..So." she echoed his refrain, a gentle smile accompanying the word and those eyes continued to promise him all sorts of wondrous things...things the woman had been delivering for quite some time now.

"..It's getting late and I know you're probably exhausted." He hadn't realized how damned hard leaving her would be, having stalled now for a goodly while. In the past few minutes, the woman had shared more of herself with him than she had in all their acquaintanceship.

"I'm not tired, Charlie." Grace moved closer, were that possible, for he held her encompassed in his embrace, snugged together on an already small space. The cushioned-covered bench which served as a repository for luggage had turned into a most inviting settee. "Really, I'm not."

The man laughed hollowly, her words affecting him more than he cared admit. "God,'re killing me here." He tried to make light of the matter. "I'm trying to make as discrete an exit as I can...considering."

Grace's face fell and she moved a fraction away from his chest area. "You don't want to...stay with me, Charlie?" She blinked a languid stare up at the man, her manner fretfully anxious.

"Don't give me the 'face.'" The man cocked his head to one side, chastising the move. He gently moved a stray strand of the red fluff from her temple. "You know I want to stay."


"Honey, several people saw me come in here.." he motioned with his head to the outside world beyond the closed door of her sleeper car. "And while they are willing to make allowances for the newly engaged couple, they will patiently be waiting and wondering...and watching that door like hawks."

Grace frowned hard at the door.

"Besides, I know how your mind works." He explained his true reason for having to leave. "That ring means nothing to you without the rest of the trappings which I cannot provide until we arrive in Chicago."

Grace gasped, moving up and out of his embrace. "It most certainly does!" she held her ring finger protectively shielded. "I don't need the 'rest'...not at all!" she informed him most indignantly.

"Well, I do." He grumbled, arising reluctant to leave the inviting place he had meticulously created for them. He towered above the shorter female, his look a sternly set one. "When I take you to my bed.." he held his smile for the slight rush of color that tinted her cheeks. "And By God, Grace...I intend to take you to my bed as fast as humanly possible.."

"It's 'possible' now!" she reminded peevishly. "You're just like you're mother!"

"Now, you're just being a shithead." Charles was relatively sure, he held his amusement. "I love it that you get all desperate when you need to be laid."

The woman's look turned glacial. "Excuse me?"

"You have agreed to my terms and there is no turning back." He reminded. "When we reach Chicago, we find a damned Justice of the Peace. No 'ifs' ands or buts', woman!"

"I wouldn't marry you if you were the.."

"Oh, you'll marry me." The man scoffed at such a misdirected statement. "This is one battle you will lose, little girlie."

"I will not!" Grace seemed pretty sure of her beliefs at this stage, but then the sparkle of her ring caught her eye and she changed her tune mid-thought..

"Charlie!" Grace wailed her desolation. "I don't want to 'battle' with you!" she went into his arms, burying her face into his neckline, her breath warm and tantalizing on the man's exposed flesh. "..I want to sit next to we were.." she nuzzled his lope lovingly. "I want to kiss you and .."

"I'll just bet you do and the next thing I know.." he leaned his head to give her better access to ...well, any place on his person she so wished..., his eyes closed to the ecstasy of the heated lips on his flesh. "..I wake up in the A.M. minus one crazy, messed up dame."

Grace's mouth stopped it's excruciatingly sensual path..

"I don't think so, little Missy!" he hadn't been born yesterday, after all. "You're not pulling that one on me, Sister!"

Grace pushed away, her expression an annoyed, set one. "Have you been drinking?" she demanded to know.

"I wish to hell I could knock back a few stiff belts." The man wiped his hand over his face. "Anything to tide me over until this mess is finished."

"If that's how you see 'this mess'.." she began, her hands going to slim hips, then she had a revelation, grasping hastily at the ring on her finger. Charles prevented the act, his own covering her hand in a firm grasp.

"That stays exactly where I put it until I replace it with the real thing!" he glowered down at her. "Don't you even think it!"

"I will think what I please!" Grace grappled with his strength. "and this IS the real thing, you idiot! You're hurting me!"

"Like hell." Charles rolled his eyes, but released a bit of the pressure his hand exerted all the same. "But I will, if you don't stop all this 'hold me in your arms, kiss me' shit!"

"What the hell are we supposed to be doing if not...that?!" the woman was beyond incensed.

"Kissing you leads to other things.." he stated emphatically. "So just sit down and read a magazine or something." He pointed to the 'love nest' the two had only just vacated, then hooked his thumb to the door. "I'm outta here!"

"Well, I hope you're happy." Grace turned her back, ignoring his advice. "You've spoiled everything."

"If you mean, I've seen through your 'act', then...yeah." he laughed derisively. "You're not moon-struck. You aren't a romantic.. " he disdained. "You're one cynical, jaded, not to mention, oft-time, warped individual, Grace Morgan. That's the woman I asked to be my wife and that's the one I intend to take to my bed. "

Grace threw him a caustic glance over her shoulder, the red hair swishing hypnotically with her movements. "Stop saying that!" she snapped. "I was happy! Genuinely happy!" she made mention. "And now...I am NOT!"

Charles took his time in calculating his next move for it would prove to be a most crucial one indeed, he knew.

Grace stood, arms crossed across that amble chest, her back to him, her expression boding ill for any and every person who might cross her path.

He hoped he hadn't over-played his hand with this little lunatic.

"And this is your way of protecting yourself." He had inhaled deeply, exhaling slowly before speaking, his gaze always on the pretty averted profile. "..You know what I think, Grace?"

"I don't care what you think." She answered moodily.

The words stung. Charles marched on, biting his tongue. He wanted to sooth her ire. He wanted to take her in his arms and pull her back onto that damned bench…

"I think.." he continued as if she hadn't spoken. "That you're running scared."

Grace's brow furrowed, as the words sunk in. She threw him a 'you've gone just about far enough' look.

"I think you're afraid of me, if you want the truth."

The red-head's temper flared as she turned to do battle. "And why, on God's green Earth, Charles Edwards!" she wanted to know. "Would I be afraid of you?"

"Because you do care for me!" he answered boldly, his manner more confident than he felt. "..A hell of a lot! More than you want to admit. And after what's happened to you in the past, that truth scares the hell out of you…"

Grace's features altered, taking on a guarded appearance.

"I let you get me into bed without a proper venue behind that ring and that lumps me with all the other bastards that did you the same injustice." Charles summed it up. "but you are beginning to sense I won't allow that and now you're running scared."

"I..I am n-not." Grace replied sullenly, but something was nagging at her insides. "I don't that." She hoped she didn't, at least. She truly hoped.

"Yeah, Grace." Charles corrected but more gently now. "you do, but it's ok." He dismissed. "It doesn't matter." He had her figured out.

Grace closed her eyes, a sinking feeling hitting her hard. "Of course it matters, Charlie!" she felt like crying suddenly. "I..I don't want to be like that with you." Her whisper was shaky and emotional.

Charles smiled. "I'm glad, Baby."

"I don't!" she insisted vehemently.

"I got it covered." He reassured patiently. "Don't worry, ok?" he smiled over at the troubled little features. "We're fine here."

Grace felt panicky. Things didn't feel 'fine' ..not at all.

"Grace.." Charles sensed her condition, leaning, catching her attention. "Look at me." He coaxed.

The emerald eyes misted over, darting frantically to his sedately calm ones.

"It's alright." The man said simply. "No matter what the subject matter what is going on with us at any given time? All you have to do is be upfront with me."

Grace clung to his stability, attempting to shut out all the voices screaming in her head.

"I told you, remember?" he prompted. "That's how it's going to be with lies, no games.." he held her attention stubbornly. "I meant every word, Darling."

Every muscle in Grace's young body was tense and strained but as she continued to gaze into those warm, patient, understanding blue eyes with their confident air...the desperation began to subside.

Grace gulped for air, realizing, she had been holding her breath now for some few moments.

She closed her eyes, seeking the security that was Charles Edwards.

"Don't you know, little fool.." he held her tightly, murmuring against those red curls he so coveted. "I would wait for you forever. Don't even think I don't love every neurotic cell in that phenomenal body of yours."

He tipped her face upward, staring down into the green depths. "Because.." he kissed the tip of her nose. "I do...and matter what."

"…So." He sighed more than heavily. "On that cryptic note.." he reluctantly pushed her slightly away, planting a sedate kiss on her luscious mouth. "I guess I had better ..go."

"Whatever you think best." Grace sighed as well, then she lay her head on his shoulder, her fingers warm over the front of his sweater, laying against his heart.

"..Yeah." Charles traced a warm path of tiny, soft kisses along her temple unto her forehead. "Yeah, that."

The woman's mouth trailed a similar trek along his neckline, the warm, delicious breath tantalizing his senses no-end.

He swallowed hard. "Don' that, Grace."

She stopped instantly. "Whatever you think best, Charlie." She stayed ever so closely embraced in his arms, her own having lifted about his neckline, her fingers working wonders in the thickness of his hairline.

Grace moved...closer, lifting her countenance. "Will you kiss me goodnight?"

He brushed those incredulous lips fleetingly. "Goodnight, Baby." He murmured tightly, pushing from her vicinity. "I...have to go."

"I know." She smiled wistfully up at him.

"..So." he stalled, hating to end the session. God, how he hated it. Leaving her. "..The Porter turned down the berth and everything, right?" he glanced to the inviting structure to their left.

Grace's hands were linked primly before her as she glanced to his meaning. "Yes, he was very nice." She politely inquired of his own sleeping arrangements.

"Oh, yeah...right." the man threw her a cryptic glance. "Like I'm going to be doing a lot of sleeping this particular night."

She smiled sweetly over at him.

Charles examined the small compartment with a critical eye. The accommodations were the best the Line had to offer. They seemed somehow lacking at this exact moment. He crossed his burly arms, a set frown on his handsome face.

"..So." he nodded absently. "You should be comfortable then...I suppose."

"I will be very comfortable. I like the rumbling of the train." Grace could be polite if she really put her mind to it.

Charles brow was still furrowed deeply. "They will be expecting me to leave. It's past ten." He had crooked his head to 'outside' the small world they had created. Such an inviting world it had been too...for the man.

"I suppose they will." Grace nodded amiably.


Grace chuckled musically. "Get out of here, you dummy!" she pushed on his shoulder playfully. She opened the small door, and Charles reluctantly stepped through. Leaning to place a lingering kiss on her lips.

"Dream of me." He asked more than told, his look a melancholy one.

Grace kissed him passionately, mindless of the few other passengers who happened to be passing at the moment. She had intertwined her arms about the man's neck, her mouth flowering under his expert guidance for a brief moment of contact.

She pulled back chastely, whispering seductively for his ears alone. "I will unlock my side of the compartment, Charlie.."

She pulled back, demurely blinking up at the man's carefully composed features.

"You do what you think best, though." She smiled sweetly up at him. "I trust your judgment completely."

She batted those innocent little eyes at him and gently...closed the door in his face.

Charles eyes closed wearily and he pulled in an uneven breath.

It was going to be an endlessly long fucking night. Where he would find the strength to get through it...or if he would find the strength...was a question the man could not have answered at that point in time.

Charles lay his forehead on the closed door for a brief moment, praying for guidance and the ability to resist the fucking little tease inside that room.

He would so make her pay when it was his right to do so. God is his witness, he would.

He glanced about the empty corridor. He could simply open that damned door and reenter that the little bitch what he was made of..

Yeah, he could do that, right enough.

She hadn't bothered to lock this fucking door either. Not yet, at any rate. He would have heard the latch slip into place.

He stared at the closed entranceway moodily.

Charles could just...go back in there.

Or...he could wait and enter discretely...later, by the other door.

Why the fuck did Elliot book adjoining berths.

He walked slowly away, his steps leading him to his own compartment.

Once inside he sat on the bed, staring at the other side of the wall.

He could hear Grace moving around.

She was humming to herself.

The bitch!

She expected that little parting remark to break him.

That's exactly what she expected.

Well, he would show her. Charles Edwards didn't break so damned easi…

The shower water came on in the next compartment.

All sorts of nice visions came into his head as he visualized a wet, soapy Grace Morgan inches away from his touch.

Edwards groaned brokenly, laying back heavily on the berth.

He pulled the pillow over his head, squishing out the sounds coming from the next room and began mentally reciting a quote that had often helped him through difficult times in the past…

Be of good cheer, do not think of today's failures, but of the

Success that may come tomorrow…

Yes, tomorrow...think of tomorrow when he opened that damned door and saw that smartass little shit on the other side, all morose and ill-tempered when she hadn't gotten her way…

You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you

persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles.

Joy? Yeah, he would find joy in showing the little shithead that she couldn't wrap him around her little finger like she had the others.

Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful

is ever lost…

Something beautiful.

The man eased the pillow back, allowing himself the luxury of listening to the shower run in the adjoining compartment.

Yes..Grace was 'something beautiful' indeed and in a few hours, they would be arriving in Chicago and then, she would be his.

A few short hours.

He could wait.

And in the meantime, he could listen and envision and...jack himself off.

A smile touched Charles' lips.

Grace was humming softly. He could see her small hands moving over that silken flesh, cleansing...filtering bubbles aside.

He could visualize that red hair all wet and fragrant, flowing down the soft plains of her back, suds cascading over the swell of her buttocks, swirling around the lithe calves and pooling at her tiny feet.

She would be lifting her breasts, her fingers easing over the stiff little peaks of her nipples, soap bubbles making her touch slippery. God, he wished it was his hands touching her body.

The man groaned his misery and for a second, the humming stopped.

He stifled the sound, his hand covering his mouth. The humming resumed.

Charles reached, touching his stiff rod, easing it into a more comfortable position but he could find none. He allowed his imagination free reign, and in seconds, his hardness was cupped in a capable embrace and he was mentally with Grace.

It was going to be a long night a moment, some of his pent-up tension would be released.

He briefly wondered if Grace would take the same route, to get her through.

The thought thrilled the man and fired his imaginings. Charles remembered to keep his responses low and for his ears alone. It was the most difficult thing he had yet to accomplish to date, for his body was fueled by an underlying fire that could only be quenched by the ownership of a tight little cunt.

A sweet, succulent cavern that he had dreamed of conquering for ages now.

And in the end, he was able to find a release of sorts...he was even able to fall into a fitful sleep.

Edwardes could not wait for the morning for he knew, somewhere deep within the recesses of his troubled, feverish mind, that this would be the last night he would have to suffer such emotional turmoil.

The nights beyond would be filled with Grace Morgan and that wondrous body of hers.

He could not wait to begin their life together. He welcomed a future that held joy and excitement with a woman beside him that understood every facet of what he was...Grace didn't know the depth of her qualities as yet but he would explain them slowly...carefully, in the upcoming years.

He would make her happiness and she his. He had waited a lifetime. It was worth every crummy minute.

It was worth...every ..crummy...second! He had won and the others had lost. He had come away with the prize. He had figured it all out. He would find his reward in the exquisite beauty that was Grace Morgan.

That thought allowed Charles to drift into sleep.

Grace belonged to him and not even J.D. McGinnis could take her away now. The man could not wait for the first rays of the sun to stream through his fully opened window sash.

He could not wait for his new life to begin…