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         He sat down on the steps next to her.  He scanned the campus until he was satisfied that there was no threat and no humans nearby.  She was alone; the other students must have left long ago.  “Tell me, what’s wrong?”


            She looked up at him briefly before putting her head on her knees.  “It’s Grandma…  She’s in the hospital again and the doctors want her to have surgery.  But we don’t have the money.”  She sobbed quietly.


            “She’s all that I have.  My parents died in a skiing accident when I was 2 years old.”  He wouldn’t understand.  She felt so alone and scared.  What if Grandma didn’t make it?  She had no one else.  And where was she going to get the $75,000 for the surgery?   And they didn’t have any health insurance; her meager salary hardly covered the bills. She was going to night school on a scholarship and working during the day to support the two of them on her Administrative Assistant salary. 


            “Tell them to schedule the surgery for tomorrow.  Don’t worry about the money.”


            “Where will I get the money?  My job doesn’t pay that much?” She looked at him questioningly. 


            “Money is no object to me.  I will give you what you need.”  He was stubborn and matter of fact.  The seriousness of his face said that he wasn’t joking.  But still, it was too much money to take. 


            “But I can’t take your money.  We barely know each other.”  It was important for Grandma but she didn’t want to take that much money from a stranger.  He’s already helped me twice; I can’t be anymore indebted to him.


            “You won’t be.”  He said suddenly as if reading her thoughts.


            He lowered his mouth in a hungry and demanding kiss.  All objections were muffled and silenced.  The only thing I could focus on was his warmth, and the soft but insistent mouth of his on mine.  I clung to him, seeking comfort and something else.  He kissed me until I had no thought left in my mind.  He brushed my hair away from my face and dried all those tears with scorching kisses.  His lips were hard one moment, and softer a second later.  This man knew how to kiss, it made her dizzy and out of breath. 


            “I want you so badly but I can’t have you.”  His tormented whisper pierced right through her heart.  It was the same sadness she had sensed from before.


            “Why?  I have no entanglements.  I can be yours if you wish it.”  Kirsten didn’t understand what he meant.  Was he married?  Oh God, don’t let him be.  Please, anything but that.


            He chuckled.  He had read that last thought in her mind.  “I wish it was that simple.”


            “Tell me.  You can trust me.”  Was it something more serious?  Kirsten had no idea what it could be.  His face was all seriousness and his eyes grew dark.  She couldn’t even see the brown in them anymore.


            “Can I trust you?  I have trusted no one in my life.” 


            She didn’t doubt it.  He didn’t seem like the type to have many friends.  “Yes.  I will guard your secrets well.  I swear to God.”


            “There’s no need for that.  Oh…sweet, sweet Kirsten.  I know you would.”  He traced the sides of her face with his slender fingers and kissed her ear and face until he came back to her lips.  “I would tell you but I can’t.  You will have nothing to do with me if you knew.”  Michael ached and longed for Kirsten like he had never done before, not for any other woman.  She was sent to him when he was fed up with life and didn’t want to go through yet another meaningless night.  He admitted that he was selfish, but he didn’t want to lose her so soon.


            Now he had something to look forward to.  Someone to see and to protect, it was a first.  He didn’t want to tell her what he really was; it would scare her away too soon.  Not yet, not now.


            “Are you a convict?  You seem too kind to be anything like that.”  Kirsten couldn’t guess what it is that he was hiding.



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