With a cool breeze on his face and an open road before him, Jason's restless spirit found solace. The vapid persona known as Jason Morgan was nearly non-existent as his Harley took him home. He paused at a stop sign and straight ahead of him the Ward House came into view. His breath quickened. He knew that his soul's restoration was only an embrace away.
His heart raced in anticipation of Keesha…her scent, her touch and her love. The time in her arms would erase Moreno's lifeless image from his mind. He never doubted the power her love and strength held over him. He knew with full certainty that Keesha was a phenomenal woman capable of impossible feats, including making horrible mistakes vanish into thin air. He shifted gears and increased the Harley's speed. He couldn't wait a moment longer to be enveloped by her.
Not wanting to bother with the garage, Jason parked his bike in the carport. Hopping off the motorcycle, his expectation fueled him. He roughly pulled at his helmet. The clasp refused to budge and Jason pulled harder. Distracted, he didn't notice the lone figure who stepped off his porch and accidentally bumped into him.
The uncooperative helmet was forgotten as he grabbed the unknown person by the collar. Shaking the man violently, Jason barked, "WHO SENT YOU?"
"Jason! Let go, man! It's me, Tommy!"
Jason pulled Tommy away from the bushes and closer to the sidewalk. Under the moon's glow, he could clearly see the face of his friend. He released him and said, "Dammit, Tommy! What the hell are you doing? You could have gotten yourself killed!"
"By waiting for you on your front porch?" Tommy asked, as he readjusted his clothing. He drew a long breath as he noted Jason's labored breathing and obvious agitation. "What's going on? Why did you attack me?"
"Nothing's going on," Jason countered. "I didn't recognize you. You were in front of my house where my family's unprotected inside. It wasn't personal, but I'd attack anyone who posed a threat to my family."
"Jason, I was just standing here," Tommy explained. A frown creased his brow as he stared at his friend. "Did someone threaten Keesha and the kids? Did Moreno-"
"No," Jason quickly answered. "I'm just jumpy that's all. Reynaldo's death, you know… He was a good friend."
"Yeah, I know. If you need anything…"
Jason shook his head. "I'm fine, but I could use some help with this helmet."
Tommy laughed softly and then helped his friend with the clasp. After a slight struggle, the clasp broke free and Jason removed the helmet. "Thanks," he said. "Um…Tommy? Why are you here so late?"
"I was kinda looking for Gina," Tommy mumbled.
"Over here?" Jason asked. "At this hour? What happened? Another fight?"
"Not exactly a fight. A misunderstanding."
"Oh," Jason nodded, understandingly, "one of those. I've been there. So did you work it out? I don't see her car so I guess…"
"Nah, it's… I don't know what it is. She wasn't here, so I don't know what's going on." Tommy's voice was quiet with despair. He backed away from Jason and said, "I'm sorry about scaring you before. I know that Keesha's waiting up for you. I'll see you later."
"Yo, Tommy, wait!" Jason called as he jogged to catch up with his friend. "You don't have to leave. If you wanna talk…"
"Nah, that's okay. I've taken up enough of your time. Good night, Jason."
"Tommy, wait!" Jason said a bit more forcefully. He planted a firm hand on the younger man's shoulder, forcing Tommy to turn around and face him. "Are you walking? Is that how you came over here?"
"Yeah," Tommy said with a shrug. "So?"
"So," Jason repeated, "I'm giving you a ride home. On the way, you can tell me what's up. By the way, I'm not in the mood to take no for an answer so come on!"
"Yes, sir!" Tommy replied with half sarcasm and half relief. He followed Jason's retreating figure back up the driveway, mentally preparing himself to pour out his heart and soul to his close friend.
She had driven aimlessly for hours. Her thoughts were scrambled, and her heart pounded wildly in protest. Tommy had asked her to marry him. And, she had told him no.
"Gina!" she groaned as her fingers gripped the steering wheel, "why did you tell him no?"
The traffic light switched to green and she pressed down on the accelerator. Her hand reached blindly for the radio dial as she cruised through the dark city. Port Charles at night was quiet and soothing. The lack of traffic gave her mind the time it needed to face up to the accusations of her heart.
Why did you tell him no?
At the time, her answer had made perfect sense. He needed to broaden his horizons. She needed to be fair and give him the opportunity to do just that. Didn't Sting have a song about that? If you loved someone, you set him free. Wouldn't turning down Tommy's proposal be better for him in the long run?
"Bullshit!" Gina muttered, brushing her flaxen hair from her face. "Only a truly pathetic woman lied to herself," she muttered.
Her heart and mind met on common ground as she silently admitted the truth to herself. She had refused Tommy's proposal out of fear, and she ran out of the apartment because she was a coward.
Those emerald green eyes would have seen through her refusal. He would have looked deep within her soul just like he always did and he would have known. And, then, in his quiet, charismatic, sexy way, he would have convinced her that she was the woman for him. He didn't need to wait to be sure of that. Her promises of someday would have been kissed away and before she knew it, they would have been husband and wife.
And, what would be so wrong with that? her tenacious heart queried.
"Absolutely nothing," she mumbled under her breath. The best moments in her life had been with Tommy. The quiet, passionate moments when they held and kissed each other… The fiery, heated moments when their disagreements escalated to astronomical proportions… Those moments helped her forget the three years of pain and sorrow. One look into Tommy's beautiful eyes and she knew what true love felt like. Only a fool would throw that away.
Was Gina Cates a fool as well as a coward?
One glance at her hazel eyes in the reflection of the rearview mirror gave Gina her answer. She made an illegal U-turn in the middle of the street and headed back towards the neighborhood she'd been circling around for most of the night.
"So, she didn't say yes," Jason said, sitting on his motorcycle as he looked up at Tommy, "what's next? UCLA?"
"Aw, Jason," Tommy said, shaking his head. "You know me better than that. I'm staying here. She said no tonight, but she also said someday, too. I'll go to PCU and make someday happen."
"What about that Forensic Science program?" Jason asked, quietly. "PCU's program isn't nearly as good as UCLA's."
Tommy shrugged. "It doesn't matter. Gina is more important to me than school-"
"Tommy, c'mon on," Jason interjected. "I'm not one to tell you what to do-"
"-but even so," Jason continued as if Tommy hadn't spoken, "are you sure you want to put it on hold like that? Maybe Gina's right. Maybe you should wait and weigh your options-"
"Weigh my options?" Tommy asked, irritated. "What options? I only have one option: spending the rest of my life with Gina. Whose side are you on anyway? I thought you were my friend."
"I am your friend," Jason said, rising from the motorcycle. "I'm on your both of your sides. You're in love with Gina and you want the world to know. There's nothing wrong with that, but have you thought about what she wants? Or how she feels?"
"Gina loves me," Tommy said after a moment of hesitation. He swallowed hard as he thought about Jason's words. "Do you think she doesn't love me? Is that why she turned me down?"
Jason moved to stand beside his friend. He gently patted Tommy's back as he said, "I think you two should talk, and I mean really talk…about everything. UCLA, your sudden proposal, and Gina's opt for someday. Don't be in such rush and listen to each other. Now, before I wear out my welcome, I'm going home. Keesha's waiting for me."
The love in Jason's voice as he said Keesha's name caused Tommy to release a wistful sigh. He wanted to be as committed to Gina as Jason was to Keesha and as Nikolas was to Dawn. He wanted the woman he loved to know that his feelings for her were forever. He wanted their bond to be made before God and man. But, Jason was right. Just because he wanted those things didn't mean that Gina wanted them, too. He hadn't been fair to her…keeping the application to UCLA a secret and then springing the proposal on her. If he wanted her to believe in them, he'd have to be honest with her. And, he'd have to listen to her.
"Good luck, Tommy!" Jason said, pulling his helmet onto his head.
"Thanks. Goodnight." Tommy waved as Jason road off into the night. He turned to go to upstairs to his apartment, but the flash of a pair of familiar headlights caught his eye. He bit back a smile as Gina's Escort pulled into his grandmother's carport and he waited patiently for her to exit the car. The nightlight that illuminated the carport revealed Gina's smiling face. Tommy released the air he had been holding and raced to pull her within the circle of his arms.
"First of all, you're not putting UCLA on hold-"
"Wait a minute." Her hazel eyes glared at him. "I'm not done. You've got shelves and shelves of books about investigative techniques and wonders of forensics. You're not letting your love for that to go to waste at PCU. I won't let you-"
"And, another thing," she said, pointing at him, "I'm going to LA with you. I bet there are over a hundred Lynns out there just waiting to get their hands on you. I'm not gonna let that happen-"
"Gina?" he said, softly, with a grin on his face.
"That's right, Thomas Hardy, Jr. I'm going with you," she said, her voice softening as she went to him. "If your offer still stands, someday can happen as soon as you want it to. This weekend…next weekend…or after you finish school. I-I want to be your wife, Tommy."
"I want that, too, Gina," he said, hoarsely. His large, bronze hands tenderly cupped her face, lifting it so that their eyes met. "I want to marry you, but we should be sure that it's something you want. Are you ready to marry me? If you're not ready, I can wait until you are. I was kinda pushy before. I should have waited, but it just popped out. I didn't mean to rush you or scare you. I-"
"Ssh," she said, pressing her fingers against his soft lips. "You didn't scare me or rush me. After three years, you should know by now that I trust you with all of me. I…um… Well, to be honest, I scared myself. I was afraid that one day you'd look at me and resent me. You'd realize that you didn't love me, and that you only felt sorry for me…for what happened."
"What?!" he exclaimed. He didn't know what bothered him more—her lack of faith in him or herself. "I wouldn't resent being married to you. I see other girls, Gina, but I'm not… I don't feel… They don't affect me the way you do. I've never mentioned this to you before, but I had a little crush on Dawn-"
"You didn't have to mention it. I noticed it."
"Oh," he said, a faint blush painted his cheeks a dusty crimson. "I… Well, it was just a crush, you know. She was cute and nice. She had that cute little giggle, too-"
"Are you going somewhere with this?" Gina asked, arching an eyebrow in mock sarcasm.
He grinned at the sudden green tint in her eyes. "As I was saying, she was adorable. She is adorable, but she's not the woman for me. She's a great friend, whom I love very much, but she doesn't set me on fire with a glare or a glance or a giggle. She might make me laugh, but she doesn't take my breath away the way you do. Gina, there are a lot of women out there, and I know that some guys would want to get to know as many of them as they can before settling down…but I'm not like those guys. I'm not like other guys. I don't need to search and play stupid little games to discover what's truly important in life. I already know. Those six years of hell taught me that you shouldn't take things for granted. I don't take my love for you for granted. I don't take what we have for granted. I don't want anyone else, Gina. I want you."
Tears began to fall down her cheeks and he lovingly brushed them aside. "I see you as a beautiful, stubborn, opinionated, intelligent and caring woman. It breaks my heart that you don't see yourself the same way. What happened to you and Mama and the other women was deplorable, but it doesn't diminish who you are. Nothing ever could. Gina, are you listening to me? I mean really listening? You are so beautiful to me in every way imaginable."
"Oh, Tommy," she said, burying her face in her hands. He pulled her against him and her face rested on his strong shoulder. "Sometimes, I see myself as the woman you described, but then there are times…" Her emotions overwhelmed her and she drew a deep breath before she began again. "I wish that once and for all, I could keep that vision of myself in my mind. I wish I could believe in it…believe in me…the way that you do."
Tommy's hands slid up her back to raise her head from his shoulder. He thumbed away her tears slowly and with much tenderness. His deep voice was quiet and husky as he spoke to her. "I know how to make you believe me."
His mouth touched the corner of her mouth and Gina grew still. Time stood still and neither moved. The only sound in the otherwise quiet room was the rapid pounding of their hearts. Then, one of them moved. Their lips met and in that instant, Gina's fears were shattered.
Gina's soft mouth opened beneath his, desperate to taste him. Tommy eagerly put an end to her desperation. His tongue delved inside the warm, sweetness of her mouth. His muscular arms pulled her close against him, so close that nothing separated them. Not even air.
Her hands moved over him. His strong jaw line, his fine, wavy dark hair and the back of his neck were sensuously acquainted with her hands. Her mouth pulled away from his to trail light kisses against his mouth and chin. Tommy kept his eyes closed, enjoying the attention she gave him.
She smiled as she noticed the pleased grin on his lips. She brushed her lips against his for a brief moment and then she wrapped her arms around him, hugging him close to her.
Tommy was careful of her small bone structure as he returned her embrace. His hands slid over her arms, back and backside and back up again. He gasped softly as she trembled against him. "I love you, Gina," he murmured against her cheek. Her arms wrapped around his neck as he scooped her inside his arms. He carried her down the hall to his bedroom and kicked the door close behind them.
His desk lamp provided dim lighting for the young lovers. Tommy wondered if he should turn it off. He wanted to see her—all of her—but his want was outweighed by his need for her comfort. If the light made her uneasy, he didn't need it. He'd have the rest of their lives together to see her nude form. He reached for the switched to turn the light off.
"L-Leave it," Gina said, pulling his hand away from the switch. "I want to see you," she said, shyly biting her lower lip.
"I want to see you, too," he admitted, his voice a breathless whisper. He turned his back on the lamp and faced her. Her hazel eyes watched his every move and suddenly he felt nervous and unsure of himself. His face grew hot and he lowered his eyes to the floor. His breath lodged in his throat as Gina's hands came into view, reaching for and resting on his belt. He watched in silence as she pulled the belt free from his jeans. He drew in a sharp intake of air as her hands lightly grazed his erection. Her fingers shook as she undid the top button and slowly unzipped his pants. She took a deep breath as the white cotton boxer briefs left nothing to her imagination. Entranced, she slid her hand inside his jeans and he filled up the palm of her hand.
"Gina," he groaned. His eyes were glued to her hand as she stroked and squeezed him. He shivered slightly as she slid her other hand inside his pants. Both hands kneaded him gently, lovingly. He pressed himself against her as he moaned again.
Gina moved to stand closer to Tommy. Her hands continued to hold and she marveled at how good he felt. Touching him always felt so very good, but now… The effect she had on him—his magnificent hardness—enthralled her. His manhood twitched in her hand, causing her to moan. His erotic response to her gentle caresses aroused her, and she trembled in her need to see more of him. She slowly removed her hands from his pants and then tugged on his black jeans, pulling on them until they fell in a heap at his ankles.
Tommy wasted no time in stepping out of his shoes and kicking his pants away. He ripped his T-shirt over his head. He threw the cotton material in the direction of his jeans before he looked at Gina again. His hands moved to undo the buttons of her yellow summer dress. She closed her hands over his, stopping him before he had unbuttoned the first button.
"Wait," she whispered. "I just want to look at you." She moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue as her eyes traveled over him. His strong legs, hard thighs, heavy erection and solid, bronze chest were beautiful to her. She breathed, "God, Tommy, you're so beautiful." Her fingers traced an outline of his lips. She smiled as he kissed her fingertips.
"So are you," he told her. His fingers shook slightly as he undid the tiny buttons. Button by button, her soft, tan flesh was revealed to his greedy emerald eyes. He swallowed hard as he undid the final button and pushed her dress off her shoulders. Her days at the beach had darkened her skin slightly and the contrast of her white underwear against her flesh was breathtaking.
Starting at the base of her throat, he trailed his fingers down her body. He lightly caressed the swell of her breasts and then the valley between them. His fingers moved lower over her flat belly, encircled her navel and then lower to the waistband of her panties. He paused for a moment to look into her hazel eyes. Their eyes locked and then his fingers slid down lower. Through her damp, cotton panties, he discovered her moist center. He began to caress her there just as thoroughly as she had caressed him.
Her fingers dug into his arms as his inquisitive fingers found her tiny pearl. The friction of her underwear against her sensitive skin sent shivers through her again. She moaned, "Tommy," as she became dizzy and rested her head against his chest.
With reluctance, Tommy removed his hand. He guided her towards his bed and carefully lowered her down. His mouth closed over hers again, and parting her lips, he moved his tongue inside. Still kissing her, he slid over her until he was on top of her. His weight rested on his forearms and elbows as he eased his lower body between her parted legs. He pressed intimately against her. Her hands glided down his perspiration slick back to cup his behind. Her legs wrapped around his as she pressed him closer against her. Tommy whimpered as his body molded to hers.
"Gina," he moaned. "I'm not sure if I can… God, Gina, I feel like I'm about to explode."
"It's okay," she reassured him. Her lips grazed his neck. Her tongue laved his erratic pulse points. He moaned into her hair, begging her to slow down just a little bit. "We don't have to, love."
"Please, Gina," he said, groaning again as she pressed her pelvis against his. "Oh, God."
She wanted to do as he asked, but he felt so good. His body was so hard, and she had no choice but to rub against him. She tugged on his underpants, pulling them down his thighs. Her hand closed over him once again, reveling in the heat from his body.
Fearful that his body would betray him, Tommy rolled away from her. He pushed his boxer briefs off of him and onto the floor. He turned back to her and quickly helped her removed her panties. Breathing heavily, they stared each other's nude form. Soon, looking gave way to touching and they were pressed together again.
Their bodies' secret pleasures were discovered and given their proper due. Tommy's hot mouth slid over Gina's body, worshipping her with his attentiveness. Gina returned the favor, kissing and nibbling him everywhere. They loved each other with words and action. Their sometimes teasing, but always passionate caresses inflamed them until neither could take the torture any more. With a guiding hand from Gina, Tommy entered her.
He moved carefully against her. His thrusts were slow and deep as their bodies adjusted to each other. Gina's back arched in anticipation of his movement. Her hands slid down to his lower back as her hips pressed against his. Her voice breathed into his ear, "Faster, Tommy. Please. Oh, Tommy…harder…"
Her thighs tightened around him as he obeyed her command. He shuddered on top of her as the first spasm overtook him. "Gina, I-"
"Sweetie, it's okay," she whispered. "Just keep going. Don't stop. Please, don't stop now."
He slid in deeper inside her as his manhood erupted. She accepted his deeper movements and then, suddenly her body became taut. As her release swept over her, she moaned his name, telling him repeatedly how much she loved and adored him.
They rode the last moments of their climax together. In time, their breathing returned to normal. Tommy's arms held Gina close to him. Her head rested on his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart. She sighed softly as his fingers played with her hair. With a smile on her face, she closed her eyes and fell asleep. Visions of wedding gowns and tuxes filled her dreams as they did his. Their lovemaking erased their painful memories and they shared their first night of truly restful slumber within each other's arms.
Go to Epilogue.