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Take My Hand and Show Me the Way
Part One

By mel

 

21

JJ let out a small, contented sigh as she awoke late the next morning. The mid-morning sun was pouring through the large windows that lined the far end of Emily's bedroom, and she smiled as she felt the brunette's arm tighten around her waist to keep her from moving away.

As if she would ever want to.

She turned her head into her lover's chest and pressed a kiss to the gentle slope of Emily's breast that had served as her pillow the night before. She brushed her lips back and forth over the silky-soft skin, a contented smile tweaking her lips as Emily murmured incoherently beneath her. Her smile turned devious as her gaze zeroed in on the nipple that was mere inches in front of her face and her thoughts shifted from gentle and loving to playful in an instant.

It was just too tempting to pass up.

She leaned forward and took the flaccid nipple between her lips to suck against it softly, lightly circling the tip with her tongue before pulling back to blow a steady stream of air across it. Emily moaned softly at the sensation and she turned her head to see if the brunette had awoken or not, and she was pleased to see that Emily was still fast asleep. She smirked as she leaned in to recapture the nipple between her lips, this time sucking against it with a little more force, delighting in the soft sighs that fell from her slumbering lover's lips as she played at her breast. When she felt Emily's nipple grow to a hard point against her tongue, she released it and pushed herself up to be able to lean across the older woman's body to level the same amount of attention on the brunette's other breast.

"Good morning to you, too," Emily sleepy whisper broke the silence of the room as she reached up with her left hand to run her fingers through her lover's hair.

JJ looked up at the sound of Emily's voice and the feeling of the brunette's fingers combing through her hair, and smiled. "You're awake."

"Mmm." Emily nodded as she stretched, purposefully thrusting her chest up at JJ. "I am. But, please, don't let that stop you."

JJ chuckled and leaned in to lay a quick lick to the nipple she had been teasing. "You like this, huh?"

Emily grinned. "Who wouldn't? It's a great way to wake up," she answered as she ran her fingers down the blonde's spine.

"Well, I'm always happy to be of help," JJ quipped as she leaned in again to suck hungrily against Emily's nipple. She smiled as she felt Emily arch up into her and she shifted her weight so that she was holding herself more on her knees so she could run her right hand down the brunette's torso in a lazy, meandering path until she was gliding over dark curls.

"Jen," Emily rasped at the feeling of JJ's fingertips against her as she moved her left leg to the side, opening herself up for her lover even as she slipped her right hand under the blonde.

"Fuck, Em," JJ gasped as she felt Emily's fingers dip into her center, her hips rocking down into the brunette's touch and her head snapping up so she could look at her lover who was wearing a grin that even the Cheshire Cat would be proud of.

Emily hiked a brow challengingly. "What's good for the goose," she teased as she slid her fingers through JJ's lower lips, gathering the blonde's arousal on her fingertips before focusing her attention on JJ's clit.

JJ smiled and immediately copied Emily's movement, matching the movement of her fingers to that of those circling against her. "Is this going to become a competition, Agent Prentiss?"

Emily laughed and quickly slid her hand up to ease two fingers into her hovering lover. "I dunno," she teased as she began slowly thrusting into her. "Is it?"

JJ wanted to respond, but the feeling of Emily moving inside her made coherent thought impossible and the most she could come up with was an unintelligible mewl of pleasure.

"Cat got your tongue?" Emily taunted playfully.

JJ smiled as the brunette's seemingly innocent turn of phrase gave her an idea. "No," she murmured as she began turning her body as well as she could with Emily's fingers still slowly pumping into her, until her mouth was hovering above damp curls. "Not yet," she continued as she pulled her hand away so she could angle her head between her lover's legs.

Emily spread her legs open wider and groaned at the feeling of JJ's tongue against her, and the blonde's answering moan brought a flood of wetness pouring forth from both of them. Not to be outdone, she used her intimate hold on the blonde to try and urge her sideways, but JJ refused to move.

"Em?"

"Me too," Emily murmured, pulling out of JJ and resting her wet hand on the side of the blonde's hip, pressing lightly, trying to pull JJ over her.

JJ bit her lip and looked up at Emily. The brunette's face was still bruised, now more yellow and green than purple and blue, but she was still obviously injured. "Em, you're hurt."

"I'm fine," Emily argued gently as she again pressed lightly against the blonde's hip, silently urging her into motion.

"You'll tell me if I hurt you?"

Emily nodded. "Of course. But you won't, Jen. Just… please?"

It was the look of absolute, unfettered desire in Emily's dark brown eyes that convinced her to move. "Okay," JJ murmured as she shifted her weight once again, this time balancing herself on her hands as she carefully, so very carefully moved to straddle Emily's face.

Emily moaned at the sight of JJ's sex hovering above her and wasted no time grabbing hold of the blonde's hips and guiding her down to where she was able to lay a long, heavy lick through wet, swollen folds. "Mmm, Jennifer," she moaned at the feeling of the blonde's thighs upon her cheeks, the smell of her desire, the taste of her want, her need. She was surrounded by JJ, each and every one of her senses was focused on the blonde so that she was practically drowning in her, and it was glorious.

JJ groaned and her hips rocked back to meet Emily's mouth as she lowered herself to her elbows. Her eyes fluttered closed as she breathed in the intoxicating aroma of Emily's arousal before she dipped her mouth lower to suck the brunette's clit between her lips, lashing it lightly with her tongue as she slipped her hands under Emily's thighs, grasping at them to pull her open wider.

"Sweet Jesus," Emily whimpered into JJ's lower lips as she felt the blonde's teeth rake lightly over her.

The trembling waves of the brunette's voice cascading over her drew an answering cry from JJ's throat as she tightened her hold on Emily's thighs and began to match her touch to that of the mouth and tongue against her. Stroke for stroke, lick for lick, suck for suck, they pushed each other higher, their bodies falling into a perfectly synchronized rhythm against each other. Moans poured from hungry mouths to be swallowed by glistening lips as they soared higher and higher, each of their touches growing firmer, more determined as they both endeavored to push the other over the edge first.

JJ's hips began bucking out of rhythm against Emily's mouth as her impending climax neared, the tempo of her tongue also faltering as her body began to demand she focus on her own pleasure rather than her lover's. She moaned loudly against Emily, her breath, the vibrations of her stifled cry drawing a fresh flood of hot, liquid desire from the brunette as Emily's hands tightened on her hips, pulling her down harder as the brunette's tongue plunged into her.

JJ's head snapped up at the unexpected move and she was helpless to contain the cry of pleasure that tore from her throat. "Fuck! Em!" she screamed as her body instinctively ground itself down onto the brunette's mouth, seeking more of that touch, that pleasure.

Emily smiled and repeated the motion, again roughly thrusting her tongue as deep as she could into JJ even as she massaged her lover's hips gently, encouragingly.

Encouragement which JJ felt and accepted as she abandoned her own oral assault to lift herself straighter, to take the brunette deeper.

Emily moaned at the feeling of JJ's body shifting above her, at the feeling of JJ's hips rocking against her mouth, and she moaned loudly into her core when she felt the blonde's fingers rolling, pinching, and pulling against her clit. She tightened her hold on JJ's hips and began fucking the blonde with her tongue, determined to bring JJ to the edge and throw her over it.

And over it JJ flew, her hips stalling as a guttural scream tore from her throat. As her body tensed, her fingers pushed hard into Emily's sensitive point and she was aware enough to recognize the equally primal scream that flowed into her from her lover as she, too, shook with the force of her own orgasm.

JJ rolled off of her lover, somehow finding the coordination to turn herself back around to lie in Emily's arms even as her body continued to tremble with the aftereffects of her release, to hold the brunette close. "Jesus, Em," she murmured as she tipped her head up to kiss the brunette. "Mmm," she moaned at the taste of herself on Emily's tongue, a lower, more feral growl rumbling approvingly in her chest as she once again tasted the unique flavor that they created together.

Emily smiled and pulled back to lay a quick, playful kiss to the tip of JJ's nose. "Definitely a great way to wake up."

JJ shook her head and laughed. "Way to kill the mood, babe."

Emily winked and rolled them over so she was hovering above the blonde. "I dunno," she teased as she leaned close, feinting a kiss before pulling away. "Did I kill it completely?" she asked as she ran her right hand down JJ's side to cradle the blonde's left breast in her palm.

JJ smirked as she pretended to seriously think about it, her façade of contemplation crumbling as Emily's thumb brushed over her nipple and the brunette leaned in to kiss her hungrily. "I guess not," she conceded when Emily finally pulled away.

"Good," Emily grinned as she brushed her thumb over the nipple in her hand, her already dark eyes growing impossibly darker at the purr the touch drew from her lover.

The sound of a cell phone ringing out in the hall interrupted whatever Emily was going to say, or do, next.

"Is that the song from Star Wars?" JJ laughed.

Emily sighed and nodded. "It is, indeed. The Imperial March, to be more specific."

JJ pursed her lips thoughtfully as she listened to the tinny music pouring from the speaker of Emily's Blackberry. "That's the bad guy song."

Emily rolled her eyes. "Yes, I guess you could call it that."

JJ grinned. "Whose ringtone is it?"

Emily groaned and dropped her head to rest her forehead against JJ's. "My mother's."

"Well that kinda killed the mood," JJ grumbled.

"Yeah, she's rather good at that," Emily agreed as her cell phone stopped ringing. Only to be promptly followed by the ringing of the handheld unit on the brunette's bedside table.

"Do you think you should get that?" JJ asked as she ran her hands over the brunette's back.

Emily shook her head. "She can leave a message," she replied as she tipped her chin up to claim JJ's lips in a slow, deep, lingering kiss that she hoped would help them recapture their earlier mood.

JJ responded to Emily's kiss eagerly, tangling her fingers in the brunette's hair and drawing her in closer as she arched into her lover's hand. They were well on their way to achieving Emily's goal when the voice of Elizabeth Prentiss cackled through the house.

"Emily, this is your mother."

"Heh, no shit," Emily muttered as she closed her eyes, trying to drown out her mother's voice as she dipped her head down to suck against JJ's pulse point.

"I spoke with Section Chief Strauss this morning, and she informed me that you and your team have the weekend off. I would like you to come to the house tomorrow for dinner."

"Sorry, mom," Emily replied, as if her mother could actually hear her. "Can't make it. I have a date with a hot blonde."

"No need to dress for it, we'll keep things casual. I'd just like to see you before I head overseas again."

JJ laughed, the happy sound morphing into a growl as Emily nipped at her collarbone. "A hot blonde, eh?"

"I'll speak with you later," the Ambassador announced before there was a loud hum of a dial tone and then the machine grew silent.

Emily nodded against JJ's neck and pressed a lazy kiss to the hollow of the blonde's throat. "The most beautiful woman I've ever laid eyes on. Definitely can't cancel on her, it'd be incredibly rude," she murmured between kisses

JJ blushed at the playful compliment. "We can go out tonight instead," she offered.

"Nope," Emily hummed. "Everything is already set up for tomorrow. No way to reschedule anything."

"So call her back and tell her you can meet her for dinner tonight or Sunday instead."

Emily buried her face in the crook of JJ's neck and frowned. She had been looking forward to three days alone with the beautiful blonde in her arms. Alone, being the key word. But, her mother was leaving for London next week, and she had to admit that she should probably see the Ambassador before she left.

"What are you thinking about?" JJ murmured.

"Will you go with me?"

JJ's eyes widened with surprise. "You want me to meet your mother?"

"You've already met her," Emily chuckled at the obvious surprise in JJ's voice. "But, if you'd rather not meet her as my girlfriend, I understand," she said softly as she looked up to let her eyes show JJ that she meant it. "I had been hoping to spend our entire time off with you, and I would like my mother to know how incredibly happy you make me – but if you're not comfortable with the idea…"

JJ pressed a finger to Emily's lips, effectively silencing her. "Call your mother. I'll go with you."

Emily's eyes widened. "You will?"

"Yes. I meant what I said last night. Although it may be early in our relationship, I do know that I love you. That I want a lifetime with you. So, since it's gonna have to happen sooner or later, I may as well get it out of the way now."

Emily smiled and leaned in to kiss JJ hungrily. "Seriously, Jennifer, you blow me away," she muttered between kisses.

"What about your mother?" JJ gasped as she felt Emily's hand leave her breast to begin sliding down her stomach.

"She can wait. I need to show you how much I love you right now." She dipped her hand between JJ's legs, wasting no time on pretenses as she deftly slipped two fingers deep into the blonde.


Several hours later, JJ came down the stairs from showering to find Emily standing in front of the windows in the living room, her posture stiff as she massaged her forehead with her left hand. The cause of the brunette's tension was immediately obvious as well; the phone in her right hand meant that she was finally getting back to the Ambassador.

"No, mother. I have already made reservations for tomorrow and I cannot rearrange them on such short notice," Emily stated, her syntax formal, her tone final.

JJ frowned as she turned the corner of the stairs and went into the kitchen to give Emily some semblance of privacy, even if the open layout of the condo didn't technically provide it.

"Yes, mother. … Sunday would be fine. … I understand. … Yes, JJ will be coming as well. … Of course. Casual dress for dinner? … Good. Five? … Excellent. We'll see you then, mother." Emily disconnected the call and slid the cell into her pocket.

JJ leaned back against the center island and sipped her coffee as she watched the determined, almost defensive set of Emily's shoulders ease until the brunette looked much more like the relaxed, playful Emily she had come to know over the last week. She wanted to ask about dinner with the Ambassador, but she knew that particular topic of conversation would be best approached later, after Emily had had time to process her conversation with her mother.

"So, what would you like to do today?" Emily asked as she slowly turned to face her lover, desperately wanting to just get back to the warm, intimate blanket of familiarity they'd been wrapped in before her mother had managed to rip it from them.

JJ smiled over the rim of her mug and shrugged. "You."

Emily laughed and shook her head as she rounded the side of the couch and made her way across the small space into the kitchen. Still chuckling, she gently took the cup of coffee out of JJ's hands and set it onto the counter behind the blonde as she leaned in and kissed her softly. "We can do that again later," she murmured as she reached up to cradle JJ's face between her hands, brushing the pads of her thumbs over the blonde's cheeks as she watched her bright blue eyes darken.

JJ licked her lips as she reached up to wrap her hands around Emily's wrists. "Promise?"

Emily smirked as she dipped her head to kiss JJ again, this time not as softly, not as gently, pushing her tongue between already parted lips to dance and stroke against the blonde's. When their dual need for air forced them apart, she rested her forehead against JJ's and whispered, "Forever."

JJ smiled as her heart skipped a beat in her chest before it seemed to soar up into her throat. "I love you."

"I love you too, Jennifer," Emily murmured, laying one last quick kiss to the blonde's lips before she pulled away. "It looks nice out – you want to just walk around the Mall, take in the Cherry Blossom Festival, and maybe hit a museum or something?"

"Sounds perfect," JJ replied as she released her hold on Emily's wrists. "But, first – coffee."

Emily laughed. "Of course. I wouldn't dare deprive you of your caffeine fix. Would you like some breakfast to go with it?"

"Depends," JJ drawled as she turned enough to pick up her mug. "Whatcha making?"

Emily frowned thoughtfully. That was a very good question. "Let me see what I have," she said as she rounded the island to open the fridge. "I have a couple of english muffins, eggs, cheese… wait," she pulled it out, JJ assumed to check for mold, "yeah, I have cheese. Oh, and some bacon left over from when you cooked dinner last week. You want a breakfast sandwich?"

JJ's stomached answered with a loud growl before the blonde could even formulate a verbal response.

Emily laughed. "I take it that's a yes. There should be a paper on the mat outside the door, why don't you go get it and then take that cute little ass of yours over to the couch to relax while I make us some breakfast."

"If you insist," JJ replied with a smile as she set her cup down once again so that way she could go retrieve the paper. She came back to the kitchen to pick up her coffee and smiled at the sight of Emily moving easily around the kitchen as she started to prepare their food. "You want me to put on some music?"

Emily turned and smiled. "If you want."

"In the mood for anything in particular?" JJ asked as she took the paper and her mug over to the coffee table before making her way over to the entertainment center where Emily's iPod was docked.

"Nope," Emily replied as she cracked an egg into a ramekin. "Just pick out whatever you'd like."

JJ smiled as she found a familiar name in the list of Emily's playlists. She set it to play and stopped to look out the window at the Capital Building as a familiar piano melody poured soulfully from the speakers and she automatically started singing along, not even thinking about what she was doing. "Something always brings me back to you. It never takes too long. No matter what I say or do, I'll still feel you here, 'til the moment I'm gone."

Emily looked up from what she was doing at the familiar tune and smiled as she heard JJ's sweet voice singing along with the music. Forgetting her preparations, she set her hands on the counter and just watched the way JJ's hips began to sway slightly with the beat as the blonde sang along.

JJ turned from the stereo to find Emily watching her intently, and she felt an embarrassed blush creep up into her cheeks as she stopped singing and shrugged. "I've always loved this song."

"Me too." Emily winked as she returned to her task. She picked the fork and muffin she'd set down moments before and quickly split the muffin over the sink before setting the two halves into the toaster and pushing both paddles down.

"You have, huh?" JJ asked as she ignored the paper she'd set on the table and walked around the couch, taking up a position at the bar opposite where Emily was working.

Emily licked her lips and nodded. "Yeah."

"Hmm," JJ hummed, her head bobbing with the beat. "Speaking of music…"

"What an smooth transition there, Jareau," Emily chuckled.

JJ stuck her tongue out at the brunette. "Anyways, do you have a special ringtone for everybody in your contact list, or only your mother?"

Emily blushed and looked down at the eggs she'd cracked earlier, pretending to look for bits of shell floating around in the clear membrane surrounding the yolk. "Some are personalized, some are generic," she answered vaguely, hoping JJ would let it drop but know that there was no chance of it happening.

JJ grinned, correctly reading Emily's hesitance as confirmation that she had a special song dedicated to her on the brunette's phone. "What's Morgan's?"

Emily laughed and chanted, "I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt…"

JJ chuckled. "Yeah, that's just too easy. Okay. Reid?"

"The theme from the original Star Trek television show."

JJ nodded approvingly. "Nice. But, again, too easy. Penelope?"

Emily smirked. "Talk Dirty to Me."

JJ let loose a bark of laughter. "Should I be jealous?"

Emily shook her head, an easy grin lifting her lips as she winked at the beautiful blonde. "I think you know the answer to that one by now. She likes to answer my calls with that line every now and again and it never fails to surprise me. So, it seemed fitting."

"What's mine?" JJ asked curiously.

Emily blushed. "Call Me."

JJ grinned and started to sing, "Call me, call me, anytime… call me my love, you can call me any day or night, call me. Cover me with kisses…"

"Yes! That one!" Emily interrupted, her face now feeling as if it were on fire.

"Nice choice," JJ noted, her grin easing into a warm, loving smile. "Want to know yours?" she asked, figuring the least she could do was share with the obviously mortified brunette.

Emily looked up, supremely interested. "I would."

Again, JJ started to sing, "I try to discover… a little something to make me sweeter… oh baby refrain, from breaking my heart… I'm so in love with you, I'll be forever blue, that you give me no reason…"

Emily, still flushed, began to sing along, "Why you making me work so hard? That you give me no, that you give me no, that you give me no, that you give me no soul… I hear you calling, oh baby please… give a little respect, to-ooh-ooh-ooh me."

JJ laughed as they finished their impromptu duet. "Yeah. That one."

"Okay, now I have to ask how you know that one – you were like, what, ten when that song came out?"

"I'll have you know I remember it from being on the radio, but I kind of forgot about it until I watched DEBS with Garcia not long after you'd joined the team," JJ answered unashamedly. "And, you can't tell me you and Morgan aren't totally Lucy and Scud."

Emily chuckled and shook her head, easily picturing herself and her partner in those roles. "So, if I'm Lucy and Morgan's Scud, I take it that makes you Amy Bradshaw?"

JJ laughed and shrugged, pleased that Emily knew exactly what she was alluding to. "Well, you know – I am blonde… and a secret agent."

Emily smirked. "And what I wouldn't give to see you strutting around in a little plaid skirt."

"I happen to have one of those," JJ shared with a playful wink as she turned away from the counter, leaving Emily slack-jawed and staring as she sashayed back to the couch with an extra swing in her hips. "Now, make me breakfast, Ms. Diamond. I'm hungry," she called imperiously over her shoulder, giving Emily a sultry smile before she picked up the sports page and dropped down onto the couch to read.

 

22

Emily smiled into the sun as she strolled hand-in-hand with JJ under the boughs of bright pink cherry blossoms. The sun was warm on their skin, a perfect balance to the chilly wind blowing in at them off the Potomac. All in all, the day was a picture-perfect early spring day in the nation's capital and she felt blessed to be able to spend it with the beautiful woman at her side. She looked over at her lover and let her eyes drink in the beauty afforded to her. JJ's honeyed skin seemed to glow in the warm late day sun, her flowing blonde hair was shimmering like the finest spun gold, and her cheeks were slightly flushed from their walk, the warmth of the sun, and the slight breeze blowing in off the Potomac. But what was, perhaps, the younger woman's most striking feature was the enigmatic smile tweaking her perfectly kissable lips. She reminded Emily of the Mona Lisa, smirking at something that only she could understand while the rest of the world was left to wonder what it was that she found so amusing.

She squeezed JJ's hand, drawing the blonde's attention away from a group of kids who were entertaining themselves by running through a small copse of cherry trees in what looked to be a game of tag. "Whatcha smiling about?" she asked, needing to know what it was that made the other woman smile that way.

JJ's grin widened and she squeezed Emily's hand as she leaned in closer so that they were walking shoulder-to-shoulder, their hands pressed together between their legs as they walked. "I dunno. I'm just happy."

Emily felt her own smile grow in response to JJ's simple statement. "I am too," she said, the warm tone of her voice conveying better than the simple words she'd spoken how truly happy she was. They had spent a good portion of the day perusing the halls of the National Gallery of Art before they'd taken to just walking around the grounds, enjoying the warm weather and each other.

JJ lifted their joined hands to her lips and pressed a soft kiss to the back of Emily's knuckles. "This was a lot of fun," she said, resting her head on the brunette's shoulder. "Thank you for suggesting it."

Emily turned her head enough to be able to press a kiss to the crown of JJ's head. "My pleasure," she murmured into blonde silk, closing her eyes and breathing in JJ's scent.

JJ smiled into the embrace and released her hold on Emily's hand so she could slip her arm around the brunette's waist, drawing the older woman closer. "So, what else do you have planned for this perfect afternoon?"

Emily chuckled. "Um, I don't really have anything else in mind. Dinner, perhaps? What would you like to do?"

"I still stand by my earlier suggestion," JJ replied.

"And that was, what, exactly?"

JJ slipped her hand down off of Emily's hip to squeeze her ass playfully. "You."

"Oh, yes. I remember you saying something about that," Emily teased as she felt JJ's hand slide into the back pocket of her jeans.

JJ squeezed the muscle under her hand again as she turned her head to press a soft kiss to the brunette's jaw. "So, whatcha think?"

Emily grinned. "I think we should eat dinner so that way we have plenty of energy for later."

"Do you, now?"

"Mmm." Emily nodded. "I do. So, what sounds good? And, don't say me. Real food, Jareau."

JJ huffed playfully at the brunette's stipulation. "Fine. What's around your place so that way we can just stop in on the way home?"

"Um, pizza, Chinese, there's a little sushi bar right around the corner from my building that isn't bad, a little mom and pop Italian place a few blocks down, a couple of sports bars," Emily replied. "Or, we can stop at the market and pick up something to cook. Whichever you'd prefer."

JJ mulled over the options. "Cooking would take too long, and I have no intention of wasting precious minutes preparing anything when I could be spending quality time with your naked body," she teased, giving Emily an absolutely lecherous grin as she quite obviously ran her eyes up and down lover's body. "So, that leaves going out. We had Thai two nights ago and bar food last night… sushi?"

"I can do sushi," Emily agreed as she led them down the steps to the Orange Line that would take them back toward her place.

JJ smiled softly to herself as she allowed Emily to guide her through the turnstiles first, and she made sure to sit extra close to the brunette once they were aboard the train. She hummed contentedly when she felt Emily's arm wrap around her shoulders and she relaxed into the touch, smiling sweetly at the man sitting across from them as she leaned in to rest her head on Emily's shoulder. She bit her lip to keep from laughing out loud when the old man gave her a playful smirk in response, and she really had to fight to keep from giggling when she saw that same old man give Emily a knowing wink and two thumbs up when they stood as the train neared their stop.

Emily somehow managed to just nod politely at the man as she followed JJ off the train, her laughter only spilling forth as they set foot on the platform and quickly turning into raucous, full-bellied laughs as they ascended the stairs to street level. "Oh my god," Emily gasped. "That dirty old man totally winked at me!"

"Gave you two thumbs up as well," JJ added, slipping her hand into the brunette's as they turned down the sidewalk toward the restaurant.

Emily grinned. "Well, yeah. I mean, look at you – you're absolutely gorgeous."

"Panty dropper," JJ teased, a pleased blush tinting her cheeks as she turned toward Emily to press a soft kiss to the brunette's smiling lips.

"I speak only the truth," Emily replied, holding her hand up as if she were taking an oath.

"Mmm," JJ hummed. "You're not so bad yourself, Prentiss."

Now it was Emily's turn to blush as she felt the heavy weight of the blonde's stare upon her and she let out a loud breath as she spied the glowing neon sign for the sushi bar. "There it is," she said, pointing at the façade.

"You're changing the subject," JJ teased.

"I am," Emily agreed as they neared the shiny red lacquer front door and used the oversized aged brass handle to pull it open. "After you, my lady."

JJ batted her eyelashes at the brunette as she passed, putting on an affected air and a grandiose Southern accent as she replied, "Mah hero."

Emily laughed and shook her head at the blonde's antics as she followed her across the restaurant to the polished mahogany bar along the side wall. She smiled at the sushi chef as they sat, recognizing him from previous trips to the restaurant. "So, do you want to see a menu or do you pretty much know what you'd like?"

"Do they have any house specials?" JJ asked as she looked at the plates of the people around them.

"I like the Albacore Special," Emily said. "But, here-" she half stood and grabbed a folded menu that had been left two seats down from her. "Have a look."

"What's the Albacore Special?" JJ asked as she opened the menu and began looking over the pictures and descriptions of the different rolls the restaurant had.

"Good," Emily sighed, already deciding that she would have to get one. "Crab on the inside and then avocado and albacore on the top with this great little sauce poured all over it."

JJ pursed her lips and nodded. "Okay," she hummed as she folded the menu and lifted her gaze to her companion. "Sounds good, I'll have to try it. You know what you're going to get?"

Emily nodded and waved the sushi chef over so they could place their orders, thinking that there was a definite perk to eating an early dinner on a Friday night – you didn't have to wait for the chef's attention. She looked at JJ, waving at her to order first.

"Hi." JJ smiled at the young man. "Could I have an Albacore Special and a Spicy Tuna roll, please?"

Emily grinned. "Make that two of each."

"Oh!" JJ interjected. "And could I please get some extra ginger?"

"Of course," the chef replied as he waved a waitress over. "Would you two like something to drink?"

Emily arched a questioning brow at JJ as the waitress stopped between them, pen at the ready. "You feeling adventurous?"

JJ winked. "If you only knew," she drawled in a low, sexy voice.

Emily groaned. "Should have known better," she muttered under her breath before she turned her attention to the woman standing behind them. "Two bottles of Hitachino Nest."

JJ arched a questioning brow at the brunette as the waitress hurried over to a refrigerator on the other side of the bar. "What did you just order?"

"It's a craft brew from Japan," Emily answered. "Quite good, actually. Jimmy, one of the chefs that works here on the weekends, put me onto it the first time I came in with Morgan," she elaborated as two bottles were set down in front of them.

JJ hummed as she reached for the bottle and took a cautious sip, letting out a soft sound of surprise as the smooth ale slid down her throat. "I like it," she said as she set her bottle back down onto the bar.

"I thought you might." Emily grinned as she lifted her own bottle to her lips and took a sip.

"Cocky much?" JJ teased as she paid careful attention to the way the brunette's tongue slipped out to lick her lips.

Emily shook her head and chuckled. "Maybe someday, if you'd like," she teased with an exaggerated wink.

JJ moaned at the very idea of Emily wearing something like that and felt her mouth go dry as all the moisture in her body flowed south. "I… I… ahem," she stuttered as she fought to find a coherent thought, her frustration growing as she watched Emily's grin widen and the brunette's eyes darken. Words continued to evade her, causing her cheeks to flame with embarrassment as she gave a small nod and began toying with the label on her bottle.

Emily's grin softened as she watched JJ struggle for words and she discretely placed a reassuring hand on the younger woman's thigh as the sushi chef set a plate down in front of each of them with a flourish before backing away with a small bow. "Jennifer?" she asked softly. "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable."

JJ looked up into Emily's soft eyes and gave the brunette a small smile. "You didn't," she murmured. "Well, you kind of did, but not in the way you're afraid of," she admitted quietly, shifting a little in her seat as her eyes darted down to her plate.

Emily chuckled and squeezed the thigh under her hand as she leaned in and brushed her lips over the line of JJ's jaw, ending the caress with a soft kiss just in front of the blonde's ear. "I love you," she whispered, nuzzling JJ's cheek softly as she ghosted her lips over the blonde's ear, letting the declaration and the gentle caress convey to her lover that she was very much willing to follow through with her teasing promise and that she found the younger woman's reaction to be absolutely adorable.

"Em," JJ whimpered pleadingly as Emily's proximity and the feeling of the brunette's breath dancing over her ear sent familiar tingling waves coursing through her body.

Emily chuckled again even as she obligingly pulled away. "Dinner?"

"Yes." JJ nodded jerkily. "Thank you."

"No problem."

JJ tipped her head in thanks as she lifted a piece of her Albacore Special roll to her lips. A low, appreciative moan rumbled in her throat at the taste and she blushed when she noticed Emily watching her intently. "What?"

"I think I'm mildly jealous of your food." Emily grinned.

"Shut up," JJ chuckled.

"What?"

JJ just shook her head and took a small sip from her beer. "So, dinner with your mother on Sunday, huh?"

Emily sucked her lower lip between her teeth and nodded. "Yeah."

"And… she's okay with my being there as well?"

"Yes," Emily murmured as she dipped a piece of spicy-tuna in her little bowl of soy sauce. "She actually seemed pleased that you would be coming with me – once she got over the fact that I wasn't going to bend to her timetable and do it tomorrow like she wanted."

"And she, uhm-" JJ cleared her throat "-she's okay with the fact that we're, ahm…"

Emily laughed. "You are just so freaking adorable sometimes, Jayj. Yes, she knows that you are my girlfriend. God, I feel like such a teenager when I say that," she noted absently. "She found out I was gay when I was in college, so the fact that I'm dating a woman isn't too big of a shocker for her."

"And she's okay with it? Really?"

"It's not like it's something she can change," Emily replied with a shrug. "She just asks that I remain discrete, which I am, so there really isn't a problem. Her biggest concern is that whomever I bring home is good for me – and you are. So you have nothing to worry about."

JJ frowned thoughtfully. From the way Emily spoke of her mother, she expected the brunette's answer to be something distinctly more ominous. "Really?"

"Are you questioning whether or not you're good for me, or if she really is okay with this?" Emily asked, watching JJ out of the corner of her eye as she leaned over her plate and took a bite of Albacore.

"I hope I'm good for you," JJ answered softly, a hint of insecurity in her voice. "But I was referring more to your mother."

Emily sighed and turned to face JJ more fully. She smiled softly as she reached out to run her fingers lovingly over the blonde's brow and down the line of her jaw. "Jennifer, you are perfect for me. Please don't ever doubt that," she murmured. "And, as for the Ambassador – she'll probably start off a little brusque and standoffish, but if you just think of her as a rabid reporter, and treat her accordingly, you'll be fine. I wouldn't let you near her if I didn't think you could handle her. It'll be fine, Jen, I won't leave your side the whole night."

JJ took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay."

"Good." Emily grinned. "Now, can we go back to ignoring my mother's existence until Sunday? I've been quite enjoying being the center of your attention."

"Em, you've always been front and center in my mind – whether you knew it or not."

"And you call me the panty dropper," Emily chuckled, smirking as she leaned in and dropped a soft kiss to JJ's cheek. "I love you, Jennifer Jareau."

JJ blushed and looked down at her plate for a moment, suddenly overwhelmed by the fact that Emily really was hers and that they were really happening. "I love you too, Em," she whispered, looking up through her lashes into Emily's playful brown eyes.


JJ let out a soft sigh as she settled into the steaming bath Emily had drawn for them in her oversized two-person tub. She smiled to herself, looking around the otherwise empty room, as she waited for the brunette to return with whatever 'necessity' it was that she claimed to have forgotten. Her eyes drank in the understated elegance of the room, brushing over the already familiar travertine tile floor, rich cherry cabinets, and uncluttered marble vanity. The materials, much like the condominium itself, were of high quality and obviously expensive, but instead of making her feel uncomfortably by being surrounded by such extravagance, she found herself soothed by the warmth and casual elegance surrounding her.

"Comfy?" Emily asked as she eased back into the bathroom holding a bottle of wine in one hand and two empty glasses in the other.

JJ looked up at Emily and shrugged, her shoulders bobbing above the surface of the water for a moment before sinking back out of sight. "Could be better," she replied teasingly.

Emily chuckled as she sat on the edge of the sunken tub to pour a generous serving of wine into each of the glasses before setting the bottle down at the back of the tub surround near the wall where it would be out of the way enough to not accidentally knock over but close enough to reach should either of them require a refill while they were soaking. "Is there something I could do to help?" she asked as she handed JJ a glass.

JJ arched a brow suggestively as she took a sip of her wine. "Mmm, this is good," she muttered as she set the glass down on the marble surround. "However," she drawled as she turned her attention back to Emily, "yes, there is, in fact, something you could do to help." She reached out to run a finger over the tie holding the brunette's short robe closed.

Emily groaned as she watched JJ's nimble fingers deftly untie the sash keeping her covered, and was unable to keep from moaning loudly when those fingers slipped beneath the smooth fabric. "What?" she asked roughly.

JJ smiled victoriously as she eased the two halves of Emily's robe apart. "You can get in. Here. With me."

Emily licked her lips and nodded as she stood and slid her robe off of her shoulders. She smiled at the feeling of JJ's hungry gaze lazily running down her body and waved a hand at the younger woman to scoot forward. "Let me in?"

JJ shook her head, unwilling to concede her position. "There's plenty of room right here," she replied, lifting an arm out of the water to wave at the space in front of her.

Emily arched a brow in surprise at JJ's refusal, but obligingly climbed into the tub, settling herself between the blonde's legs and leaning back against the younger woman. She hummed appreciatively at the feeling of JJ's breasts pressing into her back and moaned loudly when she felt two hands slide around her waist to hold her. "Mmm, this is nice," she murmured as she leaned her head back onto JJ's shoulder.

JJ hummed her agreement as she turned her head to lay a lingering kiss to the sensitive spot below Emily's ear. She smiled into the kiss as she felt the woman in her arms shudder, and wasted no time deepening the caress, sucking hard and causing Emily to writhe against her. She loved that she knew of this little erogenous zone on the brunette's body, loved that she knew exactly how much her paying attention to this particular spot drove the profiler wild. "It is very nice," she agreed, nipping gently at the spot as her hands began to wander over the brunette's body.

"Jennifer," Emily groaned as she felt her lover's hands slide up over her breasts, causing her breath to hitch in her throat and her nipples to grow hard with her rising desire.

"What do you need, baby?" JJ asked, punctuating her question by squeezing the mounds under her hands.

Emily licked her lips, amazed at how just the feeling of JJ's hands and mouth upon her body caused her to become this ready, this quickly. "You," she whispered softly.

JJ moaned as the silken timbre of Emily's voice sent a jolt of arousal through her. She gave the nipple under her right hand one last pinch before she slid her hand down the flat of the brunette's stomach to dip between already parted, waiting legs. She met Emily's mouth in a deep, hungry kiss as she ran her index finger back and forth through her lover's folds. "You feel so good," she murmured against Emily's lips as she traced the perimeter of the hood hiding the brunette's clit, teasing the sensitive area but never directly touching the bundle of nerves.

Emily groaned and reached back to tangle her hand in JJ's hair as the blonde's finger again circled around where she so desperately needed her. "Jennifer," she husked, her hips rolling forward in search of the contact she craved.

"Like a dream," JJ sighed as she dipped her fingers back down to tease Emily's opening.

"Fuck," Emily grunted as JJ's fingers dipped down to her opening and push into her lightly before pulling away to resume those teasing circles around her clit. "Better than a dream, baby," she gasped as JJ's fingers finally pressed against her. "So good."

JJ smiled as she felt Emily's grip on her hair tighten. "You dreamed of this?" she asked, laying a light, playful lick to the brunette's lips as she began pressing slow circles into the bundle under her fingertips. "Of me touching you like this?"

Emily bit her lip and nodded. "Yes."

JJ's smile turned wolfish as her fingers slowed. "I dreamed of this too," she murmured, raking her teeth over the column of Emily's throat in a way that she knew the brunette loved. "What did you imagine me doing? How did you imagine I'd touch you?" she asked, stopping her fingers completely as she waited for Emily's answer.

Emily whimpered, rocking her hips against JJ's hand, which the blonde stubbornly refused to move. "Baby."

"Em," JJ hummed against the brunette's neck.

"Jennifer," Emily pleaded softly, hoping her lover would take pity on her.

"Tell me," JJ cajoled gently.

"You," Emily groaned as her body overrode her hesitancy and her mouth began spilling all of her deepest held secrets, "you'd start at my breasts, like you already did," she added, wanting to make sure that the hand between her legs stayed where it was, "and then you'd slide one hand down to tease my clit."

"Mmm," JJ hummed encouragingly. "Did I touch you hard or soft? Fast or slow?"

Emily grunted. "Soft. Slow," she whispered as she allowed herself to slip into one of her favorite fantasies. "So good," she sighed as JJ's fingers began moving exactly that way against her.

JJ closed her eyes and gave herself over to Emily's voice, all cognizant thought abandoned as she allowed the brunette's thoughts to become her own. She gave herself over to the sensation of Emily's soft skin gliding under her fingertips, to the sounds spilling from Emily's lips, to the feeling of Emily's body rocking, pressing, moving against her.

Emily moaned and slipped her right hand out of the water to grasp the edge of the tub as she became more and more sensitive to JJ's touch. "So good, baby," she murmured. "Faster," she urged quietly, a guttural moan rumbling in her throat as she felt JJ respond.

JJ whimpered at the sounds of Emily's cries and slipped her fingers down to gather more of the brunette's arousal, a low groan rumbling in her throat at the amount she found waiting for her. "Em," she husked.

"Christ, baby, please," Emily whimpered. "Inside, Jen," she pleaded, rocking her hips up to meet the blonde's fingers.

JJ's eyes snapped shut at the request and she wasted no time following the brunette's instructions, easily sliding her ring and middle fingers deep into hot, clinging velvet. She curled her fingers as she pulled out slowly, so slowly, making sure to massage the ribbed patch at the front of Emily's channel, wanting to feel the brunette's body jump in her arms, needing to hear the strangled cries of pleasure she knew the touch would coax from Emily's lips.

"Jayj," Emily moaned as lights exploded behind her lids and her body pulsed with desire.

"Tell me."

"Mmm. Just like that," Emily whispered, her tongue darting out to wet her lips as JJ obliged her request and began slowly pumping her fingers into her. She spread her legs wider, welcoming the invading digits deeper as she gave herself over to her lover's touch.

JJ groaned as Emily's movement allowed her to readjust herself behind the brunette so that the knobs of the older woman's spine were pressed against her center. She bit back a moan as she rocked her hips, massaging her clit against the brunette's back in time with each of her slow, steady thrusts. "Fuck, Em," she grunted as she felt her lover's walls begin to grow tighter around her fingers.

"Please, Jennifer," Emily whimpered, her hips rocking madly against JJ's hand. "Please make me come."

JJ licked her lips and pushed as deep into Emily as she could, leaving her fingers sheathed as she began rolling the heel of her hand against the brunette's clit. "Mmm, that's it," she murmured encouragingly as she felt Emily arch into her hands. "You feel so good, Em," she breathed as she began laying hot, heavy kisses to the sensitive hollow beneath Emily's ear.

Emily groaned as the movement of her hips sped until, with one last, frantic rock, her entire body tensed, the coiled energy low in her hips snapping, coursing through her in waves of euphoric bliss.

JJ moaned at the feeling of Emily's walls clamping down around her fingers and found herself falling over the edge after her lover, their releases flowing through them in soothing waves as they gasped and moaned together, their breaths a ragged harmony as they came down from their high.

"Holy fuck," Emily groaned as she relaxed her grip on the tub and moved her hand back under the water to cover JJ's, which was still pressed so intimately against her. "Christ, Jen."

JJ smiled and nodded. "I know."

"Did you…"

"Mmm," JJ hummed, dropping a slow, lingering kiss to the brunette's shoulder. "I did."

"Good," Emily murmured.

"Very good," JJ agreed, playfully raking her teeth over the curve of Emily's shoulder.

Emily smiled and lifted JJ's hand out of the water, drawing the blonde's fingers up to her mouth where she cleaned them with slow, decadent licks before she turned around to face her lover. She leaned in, resting her hands on the edge of the tub on either side of JJ's shoulders as she dipped her head to claim the younger woman's lips in a slow, deep, languid kiss. "I love you," she said softly as she pulled away.

"I love you," JJ whispered, reaching up out of the water to tangle her fingers in dark silk and pull her hovering lover back down to her.

"You are so much better than my fantasies," Emily murmured between kisses.

JJ smiled. "As you are to mine," she said softly, her right hand massaging the nape of Emily's neck while her left stroked up and down the brunette's back. She smiled as she watched a light blush tint Emily's cheeks.

"You fantasized about me?"

"I did."

"Really?"

JJ shook her head. "Yes, really. Quite often. And not just sexually," she felt compelled to add, seeing this as the moment she'd been waiting for to address the events of a week ago. "I know we've managed to artfully avoid the topic of your confabulation, but I want you to know that everything you thought was real at the time, I'd dreamed of sharing with you. I wasn't just being nice when I told you that I thought you would be good with kids after Carrie; I just left out the fact that I would like for those kids to be ours. Emily, when you referred to me as your wife… when you mentioned our kids…" her voice trailed off.

Emily tilted her head to the side and waited for JJ to find whatever words she needed.

"I want that," JJ whispered. "I've wanted that for so, so long now that I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't. So, please, just know that if you've thought of it, or dreamed about it, or fantasized about it, odds are I have too."

Emily smiled and her eyes filled with tears as she pressed in to kiss JJ softly, slowly, tenderly. Not realizing until that moment how much she had needed to hear those words. "You are amazing," she husked as she pulled back.

JJ tightened her hold on Emily's neck and drew their lips together. "You are amazing," she murmured.

"God I love you," Emily breathed.

JJ smiled and kissed Emily again. "I love you. Now, kiss me."

Emily chuckled. "Yes, ma'am," she drawled with a smirk as she leaned in and covered JJ's lips with her own, knowing from the way the blonde arched into her that the night was anything but finished.

 

23

Saturday afternoon found JJ standing in her own bedroom, her brow furrowed in concentration as she studied her reflection in the mirror, her eyes focused on the fit of her dress, analyzing the way the shimmering cerulean blue fabric molded to her curves, questioning whether the cut of the neckline revealed too much cleavage… or not enough. The bed behind her was covered in her castoffs, outfits that she had tried on and deemed either entirely too casual for the date, or else just wrong. The rational part of her brain realized that she was being silly, that though this was her first real date with Emily they were far from strangers, but the profiler's words from earlier, telling her that she wanted to 'do this right' and therefore 'needed' to pick her up at her house for the date, had her on edge.

"Damn you for making me nervous, Emily Prentiss," she muttered under her breath as she smoothed her hands over her hips. She licked her lips and nodded as she decided that this was the dress. A glance at the clock told her that she'd made a good decision – Emily was due back to pick her up in about fifteen minutes.

She turned away from the mirror, purposefully not looking at the mess she'd made, and crossed the room to her closet. She stood on her tiptoes to pull the box containing the heels that went with the dress off of the top shelf, and hooked the pair onto the ring and middle fingers of her left hand so she could slide the box back into place with her right. A hand braced on the doorframe helped her keep her balance as she slipped the shoes onto her feet, before she pulled the dress' matching wrap off of its hanger to take downstairs. The weather outside was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and highs in the mid 60s with no wind to speak of, but if they were to be outside after dark later she knew she'd need something to help her keep warm.

Another glance at the clock showed her that she still had eleven minutes until Emily arrived.

"Dammit," she growled at the otherwise empty room. "Now what am I supposed to do to keep from going crazy?"

Little did she realize that Emily was already parked in her driveway, fighting a similar battle with her nerves as she tried to keep from running up to the blonde's front door. "God, another ten minutes?" she groaned as she glanced at the clock on the car's radio. And then her watch, to see if the radio time was correct, and then her cell just to make sure that the other two timepieces weren't mistaken.

They weren't.

"Dammit," she muttered as she tossed her cell into one of the cup holders in the center console. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the head-rest, silently willing time to pass more quickly until she could go retrieve JJ without being too early.

Contrary to her, and JJ's, wishes, time did not fly but rather crawled forward, leaving each of them to suffer in their self-imposed solitude until finally Emily gave up on waiting, pulled her keys from the ignition and reached for the handle to open her car door. "Fuck it," she muttered under her breath. "Five minutes isn't too early," she declared as she grabbed the bouquet of flowers she'd stopped to pick up on the way over to JJ's house up off of the passenger's seat and climbed out of her SUV.

She ran her free hand over the thighs of her slacks, smoothing away any creases or wrinkles that may have developed during her drive back out to the blonde's house, and made her way up the short walk to the front door. She glanced at her watch one last time, more out of habit than anything else, before raising a hand to level three rapid knocks to the door. She smiled at just the thought of seeing JJ again as she took a small step back, long engrained rules of propriety dictating that she not be standing on top of the door once it was opened, to wait for her date.

JJ, who had been pacing back and forth across the narrow runner that lined the foyer, jumped at the sound of Emily's knock. She bit her lip to keep from laughing at herself as she turned to the door, her heart skipping a beat in anticipation of the prospect of finally seeing the brunette again. They'd only been apart for a few short hours, but she found herself positively giddy knowing that their separation was over. She smoothed her hands over her dress one last time, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves before she reached out to open the door and greet her guest.

Emily's expectant smile disappeared once the door was finally opened, only a few seconds after she'd knocked, because her jaw fell open in awe. JJ was stunning. No, strike that. Gorgeous. No, that wasn't right either. The blonde was beyond stunning, she was the most exquisite sight Emily had ever been blessed to lay eyes on.

JJ smiled under the brunette's gaze, pleased by the reaction her appearance garnered. I knew this was the dress, she thought to herself as she watched Emily's eyes slide so incredibly slowly over her body. "Hello," she murmured, her quiet greeting serving to break the spell that had befallen the brunette.

Emily blinked and smiled sheepishly, a light blush tinting her cheeks as she realized that she'd been caught staring. "I'm sorry," she apologized automatically. "You're just… wow, Jennifer," she murmured, licking her lips as she let her eyes rake up and down the blonde's body.

"Thank you. You're looking beautiful as well," JJ replied, letting her eyes drink in the sight of her date, dressed perfectly in tailored black slacks and a fitted crimson blouse. "Are those for me?" she asked, motioning with a nod of her head at the gorgeous bouquet of tulips in the profiler's hand.

"Yes," Emily answered automatically as she held the tulips out for JJ. She cringed internally at her bumbling awkwardness, but her mind had yet to catch up to her body's reaction to JJ in that dress. "I thought tulips would be appropriate," she explained as she laid the two dozen red tulips in the younger woman's outstretched hands.

"They're beautiful," JJ assured her as she lifted the flowers to her nose to smell them. "And I love you too," she said, referring to the meaning of this particular flower which she'd learned from the last bouquet the brunette had given her. She took a small step forward to kiss Emily softly, before pulling away with a smile. "Let me just put them in water?"

"Of course," Emily replied genially. "Should I wait out here?"

JJ smiled and tilted her head toward the foyer. "Nonsense. Come on in. I'll just be a minute," she said as she turned from the door and made her way down the short hall to the kitchen. "So, are you going to tell me where we're going yet?" she asked over her shoulder as she laid the bouquet on the counter next to the sink.

Emily leaned against the edge of the counter as she watched the blonde lift herself up onto her toes to pull a vase out of the cupboard above the refrigerator. "Nope. It's a surprise."

JJ laughed softly. "Can't blame a girl for trying," she retorted as she set the vase down in the sink and turned on the water. She opened the junk drawer on the far end of the counter and pulled out a pair of pruning shears.

"You won't need those." Emily interrupted JJ's progress. "The florist trimmed them when I picked them up, they'll be fine to just put in the water."

JJ bit her lip and nodded, setting the shears down on the counter and hurrying back to the sink to turn off the water flowing out of the tap. She lifted the vase out of the basin and set it down on the small butcher block island in the center of the room before turning back to retrieve the flowers. She set them in the water and fiddled with the stalks, doing her best to make the arrangement look its best before she turned to find Emily watching her.

"What?" JJ asked.

Emily smiled and shook her head. "You are absolutely stunning."

JJ blushed and looked down at her shoes for a moment before lifting her eyes to meet the brunette's gaze. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Emily murmured. "So, ready to go?"

JJ nodded. "Yes. Just let me grab my wrap and lock up."

Emily followed JJ back down the hall to the foyer and chivalrously held the blonde's wrap aloft for her to slip in to. "M'lady," she teased, beating JJ to the punch of calling her a gentleman.

JJ grinned and leaned in to kiss Emily softly. "You're adorable," she whispered as she pulled away, taking the wrap into her hand. "But it's warm enough out that I don't need this just yet."

"Of course. Well, then, shall we?" Emily asked, opening the front door for JJ to exit before her.

JJ nodded and slipped past the brunette, stopping to the side of the door on the porch as she waited for Emily to exit as well. She felt the profiler's keen gaze running up and down her body as she locked up, and when she turned to face her, Emily's eyes were locked onto her own. She licked her lips at the heat she found in that gaze and reached out to take the brunette's hand into her own. "So, one little hint?" she asked.

"You're cute," Emily chuckled. "But the answer is still no."

"I'm so much more than cute," JJ retorted playfully as she allowed Emily to lead her down the path to the driveway.

Emily turned to look at the smiling blonde and nodded. "You're right. There are no words to adequately describe exactly how beautiful you are, Jennifer. Tonight, and every day," she said seriously as she opened the passenger side door to her car for JJ. She waited until the blushing blonde was situated in her seat before she gave her a soft smile and closed the door.

JJ was turned toward the driver's seat when Emily climbed into the car, and she wasted no time reaching out to wrap her hand around the back of the brunette's neck to pull the older woman in for a deep, unmistakably serious kiss. She licked her lips and sighed as the need for air forced them to separate. She openly appraised her flushed lover with a grin as she settled back into her seat. "Panty dropper."


JJ looked out the window at the rolling hills that were typical for northern Virginia and tried to figure out what, exactly, Emily had up her sleeve. She'd long since given up trying to pry the information out of the brunette, but their conversation did not suffer for it in the least – they talked about anything and everything and, when words failed to find them, they sat together, hands intertwined, in comfortable silence.

"We're almost there," Emily announced, squeezing JJ's hand gently.

JJ squinted her eyes behind her sunglasses as she studied the landscape more carefully. It was green, and beautiful, but so far as she could tell they were in the middle of nowhere. "We are?" she asked, her tone giving away her disbelief.

Emily grinned. "We are."

"Where are we?"

"Loudon County."

"Yeah," JJ chuckled. "That didn't really help, Em."

"I know," Emily retorted, lifting their joined hands to her lips so she could lay a soft kiss to the blonde's knuckles. She brushed her lips back and forth over the soft skin covering the back of JJ's hand, pressing one last lingering kiss to it before letting their joined hands fall back down between them.

JJ's eyes fluttered closed at the feeling of Emily's lips on her skin and she only forced them open when she felt the car begin to slow. She looked eagerly out the window, trying to find anything that would hint at where they were at, but the narrow gravel drive bore no such identifiers.

Emily smiled to herself as she drove, carefully watching both the road and JJ's reactions next to her. She'd struggled with ideas for their date, and she was a little nervous as to whether or not JJ would actually like what she'd decided on. "Almost there. Look out your window and you'll see it," she instructed as they crested the top of the drive.

JJ did as instructed and felt her jaw drop at the absolutely gorgeous Federal style mansion that anchored the large, sweeping drive. "Where are we?" she asked as she took in the sprawling red-brick building with its white trim and traditional black shutters.

Deciding that the time for subterfuge was past, Emily answered, "Stone Creek Winery."

"Well, it certainly is beautiful here," JJ observed.

"It is that," Emily agreed as she confidently drove past the house and around the side to where the tuck-under garage was hidden. "It is also the official opening of the vineyard for the season, which Charlie always starts off with a bang," she explained as she pulled to a stop next to a glistening silver Maybach 62S.

"Wow," JJ breathed as she ogled the sedan.

Emily chuckled and nodded. "Nice, huh?" she asked as she climbed out of the car and hurried around to open JJ's door for her.

JJ smiled at Emily, even taking the brunette's proffered hand as she slid out of the expensive SUV that looked like an old, beat-up Chevy next to the luxury sedan. She adjusted her grip on Emily's hand so that she was able to twine their fingers together as she leaned forward to look at the interior of the car through the driver's side window. "Damn," she murmured.

Emily silently nodded her agreement as she watched JJ ogle the car. It was nice, if not supremely ostentatious. She just couldn't fathom actually spending over four hundred thousand dollars on a car, but Charlie always had been more showy than her when it came to their vehicles. She gave JJ a few minutes to drool over the car before she gave the blonde's hand a gentle tug. "Ready to go?"

JJ looked up and nodded, her eyes a little wide with shock. "Where are we, Emily?"

"My friend Charlie's vineyard," Emily answered breezily, her tone even and relaxed, as if everybody had a friend who owns a vineyard.

JJ turned to look at Emily as they walked hand-in-hand down a winding brick path. "And how did you meet Charlie?"

"We were diplomatic brats together," Emily replied with a smile as she remembered some of the trouble they'd gotten into as children. "We'd run into each other every now and again when our parents were posted in neighboring countries growing up, and we just kind of stayed in touch over the years."

JJ frowned as she was suddenly hit with a pang of jealousy. "I see."

Emily laughed and pulled JJ in closer, releasing the blonde's hand to wrap her arm around the younger woman's shoulders. "Not like that, Jennifer," she chided playfully. "He's even gayer than I am."

JJ let out a bark of laughter at the profiler's words and clapped a hand over her mouth to quiet the outburst. "Okay, sorry. Was so not expecting that."

Emily grinned and kissed JJ's forehead affectionately. "I know, love. But he is. I think that's one of the reasons we've stayed in touch – it's one thing to grow up the only child of over-worked, distant diplomats; it's quite another to grow up that way knowing that you are also inherently different from everybody else. The seclusion that we felt only grew as we got older, and we turned to each other to work our way through coming to terms with who we were."

JJ wrapped her right arm around Emily's waist and leaned into her. "I'm glad you had somebody like that to talk to. I look forward to meeting him."

"I think you'll really like him. He's going to absolutely love you," Emily shared as they rounded the back corner of the house and the path spilled onto a large, terraced patio.

"Wow," JJ breathed, her step faltering as she took in the sight before them. The aged brick path bled into a matching patio that was broken up into different tiers, each littered with large, circular wooden tables that were surrounded by a bevy of chairs. Though it was still daylight, she could tell that the area would be lit to perfection at night by the candles on the tables and the lights that were strung around the perimeter. She had no doubt that in a few hours the area would be warm, intimate, and absolutely breathtaking.

"Yeah," Emily agreed as she watched JJ take it all in. The carefully manicured hedges lining each level of the patio provided a perfect visual barrier from one area to the next, and down the hill she saw the large wooden dance-floor that had become a staple at these kickoff parties. She couldn't wait for the sun to set so she could take JJ out onto the dance-floor and dance with her under the stars.

"Bitch!" A playful voice rang out from behind them, interrupting their moment of quiet introspection.

Emily turned with a grin to find her old friend standing at the edge of the patio, hands on his hips, wearing a giant shit-eating grin. "Whore," she laughed as she released her hold on JJ so she could embrace him warmly. "How are you Charlie? Thanks for adding us in at the last minute."

JJ couldn't help but smile as she watched Emily interact with her friend. He was certainly flamboyant, there was no doubt that he was 'even gayer' than Emily, she had to give him that, but he wore it well. His dirty blonde hair was short, styled loosely in a way that was meant to look careless but that most likely took quite a while to achieve, his smile was large and welcoming, and his clothes were obviously designer but without the flash of names or logos to give anything away. Based on her first impression of his appearance coupled with Emily's obvious affection for the man, she found herself instantly at ease around him. And, as she watched the two friends embrace again and rock back and forth happily, she had to admit that she found herself already liking the man. It was hard to dislike anyone who could make Emily smile like that.

"Not as well as you," Charlie replied as he looked at JJ. "My lord, Em, she is stunning!"

"And she is standing right there," she retorted in a mock whisper as she elbowed him in the ribs. "Put your manners on and treat her like the lady she is."

"Or what?" he teased, setting his hands on his hips defiantly as he arched a brow challengingly at the profiler.

"I'll kick your ass like the lady I'm not," Emily retorted as she turned back to JJ with a smile. "Jen, I'd like you to meet Charlie Stone."

JJ laughed as she reached for the man's outstretched hand. "Jennifer Jareau, pleased to meet you."

"The pleasure is all mine," he answered warmly, giving her a playful wink as he shook her hand. "So, what do you think?" he asked, waving a hand at the patio.

"It's gorgeous," JJ answered honestly.

"Where is everybody?" Emily asked, stealing a glance at her watch.

Charlie glanced at his own watch. "They should be here in about an hour and a half or so."

"So why did you tell me to come out now?" Emily asked.

"Because you've skipped out on the last two years worth of openings and I missed you," he answered in a sickly sweet voice. "My wittle Emmykins," he cooed, reaching out as if he were going to pinch her cheek.

"Watch it, you." Emily laughed as she batted his hand away. "And I told you, the last couple of years I'd been working."

"Yes," Charlie sighed rather dramatically. "Working. Like the grown-up you swore you'd never become."

"I was ten when I said that," Emily argued.

"And such a little spit-fire." He winked.

"Really?" JJ laughed, arching a playful brow at her lover. "I think I need to hear some of these stories."

Charlie grinned and reached out to pull JJ away from his friend. "Honey, the stories I could tell you," he drawled, wrapping a familiar arm around the blonde's thin shoulders and turning them toward the cellar, "would blow your ever-loving mind. Why don't I give you a tour of the property while I share?"

JJ looked over her shoulder at Emily who was laughing softly and shaking her head. "Em?"

"I'll be right behind you." Emily waved the two blondes on. "Just, please remember that our dear Charlie here makes a living telling stories – not everything he says is true."

"Ah, but you've fast become a fan favorite, my dear," Charlie retorted.

JJ shook her head and laughed. "I'm missing something, I think."

Emily sighed and nodded. "Charlie's an author, he publishes under the pen name of Mitch O'Conner."

JJ stopped to look at the man beside her. "The Erin Halsted series?"

"Ach, be still my heart," Charlie cried theatrically. "Another fan!"

JJ looked from Charlie to Emily, who was now flushed scarlet. "You based the heroine off of Emily?"

"I did," he answered, giving JJ a playful wink. "A little tweak here and there, a fake name, and . voilà! She lives on in infamy!"

"You're killing me," Emily growled with a roll of her eyes. "Just shut up and tell her about the time we got caught trying to toilet paper the embassy."

"That is a good one," Charlie agreed as he pulled JJ into step beside him. "We were eight, my father was the Ambassador to Germany and Emily's mother was stationed in Belgium. Anywho, there was some big diplomatic shindig that we quite easily snuck out of because our parents were too busy schmoozing with the European leaders to pay attention to us, and we ended up running wildly around Brussels as our protective details tried to keep up with us."

"That was a fun night," Emily said as she followed Charlie and JJ down into the cellar that she knew was used to age the wines.

"It was," Charlie agreed.

"And how did this end up with you getting caught toilet-papering the embassy?" JJ asked with a laugh as she looked over the rows of wine barrels that were lined up across the space, four high, on wooden shelves.

Charlie looked over his shoulder at Emily. "Do you want to tell her?"

Emily shook her head. "How about you give her back to me and I'll let you share?"

Charlie grinned and nodded, leaning in to drop a quick kiss to a surprised JJ's cheek. "Deal."

JJ blushed at the unexpected kiss and returned to Emily's side, relaxing into the brunette's side as a protective arm was wrapped around her waist.

"Oooh!" Charlie cried excitedly as he looked around the room. "I tried something new with the Pinot this year, you gotta try it," he announced as he took off down between two rows of casks. "Stay right there, I'll be right back with a bottle."

Emily laughed and took advantage of the moment to pull JJ into a light hug. "And that's why we called him 'shiny' as kids," she chuckled. "He is a walking, talking, billboard for ADD."

"I see that." JJ grinned.

"I love you," Emily murmured, tipping her head to kiss the blonde softly.

"I love you," JJ whispered adoringly.

"I am sorry for this, he told me that the party started at four," Emily apologized.

JJ wrapped her arms around Emily's neck. "Don't be silly. This isn't quite what I was expecting, but I'm having a good time. You were right, by the way."

"I usually am." Emily smirked. "But about what, exactly."

"I do like him," JJ shared.

"Of course you do. The little bastard just has this way of making everybody love him. He's developed it into something of an art-form."

"Developed what into an art-form?" Charlie asked as he returned to the front of the room where he'd left the two women.

"Sucking up and making people like you," Emily shared as she pressed a kiss to JJ's brow before pulling away and taking the blonde's hand in her own.

"Pish-tosh," Charlie retorted in an affected tone. "You're just jealous. Now, let's go this way," he hiked a thumb over his shoulder toward a different row of wine barrels than he'd disappeared down moments before, "and I can give you the nickel tour on the way to the tasting room. Once you've seen one wine barrel you've seen them all, and I really want to know what you think of this new vintage."

 

24

JJ had never been wine tasting before and she had to admit that it was an experience she would love to repeat. She found the process absolutely enthralling and, as Charlie was a natural storyteller, the little sidebars he threw in were equally amusing. It became blatantly obvious after the first glass that she didn't know a whole lot about wine beyond the fact that she liked it, and Charlie took it upon himself to teach her the differences between the different types of wines and the grapes used to produce them.

"That's it, she's a natural," Charlie announced with a grin as he set the bottle of Cabernet he had been holding down onto the bar.

Emily smiled and nodded, reaching out with her right arm to pull JJ in closer. "She's perfect."

JJ blushed and turned to hide her face in the crook of Emily's neck and laughed as she heard Charlie drawl, "Oh, knock it off you annoyingly cutesy couple you."

"You're just jealous," Emily retorted, holding his eye as she pressed her lips to the crown of JJ's head.

Charlie shook his head. "I'm happy for you," he answered genuinely. "Really, Em. I was getting worried about you."

Emily shrugged. "I had my work. I was content," she argued as she felt JJ pull back.

"Yes, but now you're happy," Charlie pointed out. "And, speaking of work, I was trying to be polite and everything – but what the hell happened to your face?!"

Emily shrugged. "An unsub hit me with a two-by-four."

"Jesus fucking Christ!" Charlie winced as he motioned her closer so he could have a better look. "Seriously?"

"Seriously," JJ answered as she reached up to run a soft hand over the delicate yellow and green bruise tinting Emily's cheek.

"Good thing you've always been a hardheaded little bastard. Did you at least shoot him?"

"No," Emily scoffed.

"She was unconscious," JJ explained. "Had she been conscious after that hit, I'm willing to bet that she would have seriously considered it. Morgan did make sure to get a few extra little jabs in on him though – all in the name of apprehending him, of course."

"Good," Charlie muttered as the phone in his pocket beeped.

"What's that?" Emily asked.

"Alarm to tell me to get my ass outside and ready to host this shindig."

"We'll see you out there?" Emily asked as she set her glass down on the bar and gathered JJ's hand in her own.

"Hopefully," Charlie answered distractedly as he took their dirty glasses and tucked them into a crate under the bar to be washed later. "You two get going – the most private table is on the edge of the lowest tier. It's tucked off the corner of the dance floor in a little grotto of trees. I made sure to stick a card with your name on it so that nobody else would take it."

"Thanks Chuck." Emily grinned.

"No problem, Peppermint Patty," he laughed. "Now, you two girls go have fun. I have some schmoozing to do."

Emily tipped her head in thanks and lead JJ out of the tasting room back onto the large patio. She smiled as she felt JJ's hand slip around her arm as they started down the stone steps, feeling every bit the gentleman JJ always teased her of being.

JJ sighed contentedly as she held onto Emily's arm, her eyes taking in the beauty of the scenery surrounding them and the soft jazz music that was being played by the seven-piece band up on a small stage at the end of the dance floor. The hanging lights had been lit in deference to the impending twilight and the multiple wick candles on each of the tables were now all aglow, giving the outdoor space warmth and intimacy.

"Now this," Emily declared as she selected a table next to the dance floor and pulled out a chair that was directly under one of the many outdoor heaters that dotted the area for JJ, "is more of what I had in mind for the evening."

JJ smiled demurely and smoothed her dress down over the back of her thighs as she sat down in the chair Emily was holding for her. "It's beautiful. Didn't you enjoy seeing your friend?"

"I did," Emily answered softly as she pulled a chair over so she could sit next to JJ instead of across from her. "But I didn't choose this as our first date so I could catch up with old friends, I chose it because…" her voice trailed off as she tried to find the words to explain her thinking.

JJ smiled and reached out to place her hand on Emily's thigh, giving the brunette time to formulate her thoughts.

Emily turned to face JJ, placing her hand on top of the blonde's that was on her leg and squeezing it gently. "I wanted our first date to be something special. Romantic, intimate, yet simple. Nothing too fancy, certainly nothing ostentatious; just something that we could do that would allow us to enjoy each other's company. Then I remembered the opening for the winery was coming around and I thought – perfect. Good wine, good food, good music, and some dancing all under the stars."

JJ bit her lip and leaned in to kiss Emily softly. "It is perfect," she murmured between kisses that were slow and languid, and full of love and affection.

Emily gave herself over to the touch, reaching up with her right hand to cradle JJ's face in her palm, holding the blonde to her as they kissed. A low moan spilled from her lips when she felt JJ pull away and she opened her eyes to find warm, loving blue ones looking back at her. "I love you," she whispered, her eyes darting over JJ's face, watching the way the younger woman reacted to her words.

JJ smiled and looked down at their still joined hands for a moment before looking back up at Emily through her eyelashes. "I love you too, Emily Prentiss."

Emily lifted their hands to her lips so she could kiss the back of JJ's knuckles. "Have you enjoyed yourself so far?"

"I have," JJ murmured as she leaned back in her seat. "And, you even managed to score a couple cases of wine out of the deal."

Emily laughed and nodded. She had to admit that it was pretty nice of Charlie to give her not just a couple bottles of each of their favorite wines from their private tasting, but a case of each; the back of her SUV was packed full. "I'm probably going to have to call Morgan over to get them up to my condo," she mused thoughtfully.

"Just don't give him any of the Cabernet as payment," JJ warned. "I really liked that one."

Emily tipped her head and smiled. "As you wish."

JJ shook her head and chuckled as she looked around them at the people, obviously extremely wealthy people, who were beginning to filter in. "So, who all will be here tonight?"

Emily pursed her lips and shrugged as she turned in her seat to see who had arrived already. "In the past it was kind of a different group every year, with a few commonalities. That guy there," she pointed and waved at an older gentleman, "is Charlie's literary agent. I want to say his name is Thomas Douglas, but I'm not entirely certain. So far, I don't recognize anybody else who's here. Normally the only person I really knew at these things was Charlie," she said with a shrug as she turned back around.

"He seemed pleased that you brought me here," JJ observed quietly.

"That would be because he was," Emily shared as she scooted her chair over until it was right next to JJ's and she was able to wrap her arm around the back of the blonde's shoulders. "I've never brought anyone to one of these things. I want to say the last actual girlfriend of mine that he had met was when I was in college. He was always worried about me being alone but I put all my energy into my work, to try and get to where I am now at the BAU, and then I met you…" her voice trailed off into a sigh as she pulled JJ in closer. "I met you and I had no interest in ever finding anyone else. Even if we had never gotten together, I was more than content in my life to just have you as my friend."

JJ smiled and turned to press a soft kiss to the line of Emily's jaw, slowly working her way toward the brunette's lips which she met in another kiss that was tender and sweet and full of affection; letting her actions convey her thoughts on what the brunette had just shared rather than detracting from the moment with words that she was certain would be woefully inadequate.


After dinner the band, which had been playing soft jazz-type numbers throughout the meal, came alive, the music spilling from their instruments becoming louder and more lively as twilight turned into night and some of the guests made their way out to the dance floor.

JJ looked around with something akin to pure wonder on her face as she took in the almost magical atmosphere that the hanging lights strung around the space and the small white Christmas lights that were wrapped around each branch of every tree that surrounded the patio created. The tables were aglow in warm, golden candlelight, giving each table that sense of intimacy that Emily had admitted to wanting.

Emily openly watched JJ as the blonde took her time observing their surroundings, now so very different from when they had arrived a few short hours ago. She smiled when JJ's eyes landed on hers and held out her hand as she stood. "Would you like to dance?"

JJ licked her lips and nodded as she reached for Emily's outstretched hand. "I should warn you," she said softly as she stood, waving her other hand at the couples on the dance floor that were spinning and twirling and looking as if they were contestants on that celebrity dancing show on television. "That I don't really know how to dance like that."

Emily smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry about it, Jennifer. Just follow my lead."

JJ turned her head to look at Emily as the brunette led them out onto the floor, her keen gaze busy scanning for an opening large enough for them to dance in. "You know how to dance like that?"

Emily nodded as she spun JJ into her arms. "You sound so surprised, Agent Jareau," she teased as she began leading them in a simple box step, surreptitiously gauging how well JJ followed her lead to see how fancy she should try and get.

JJ grinned. "Well, you know, you do tend to get hurt a lot. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence in your footwork."

Emily laughed and eased them into a simple turn as she felt JJ become more relaxed in her arms. "I get hit in the head a lot. That has nothing to do with my footwork," she corrected as she tightened her hold on JJ's hip and pulled her in a little closer.

"Well, that certainly must be true then," JJ admitted as Emily led her easily around the dance floor. "Because, my god Em, I know I can't dance like this on my own."

Emily smiled and dipped her head down to kiss JJ softly. "It's a simple waltz, Jen. Nothing fancy. And you move beautifully, don't ever doubt that," she murmured as she pulled away.

JJ blushed and nodded her thanks as Emily led them into another series of turns and spins that took them back across the floor toward where they started. The song ended and was replaced with one that was even faster, heavy on the horns, and distinctly Big Band.

"You know how to swing?" Emily asked with an excited smile.

JJ bit her lip and shook her head, hating herself for not knowing how because Emily looked so adorable in that moment. "Sorry."

Emily, however, was undeterred. "No problem," she said as she backed away, and adjusted her hold on the blonde. "Follow me," she instructed, looking down at her feet. "Quick, quick," she said as she stepped back with her left foot, rocking her weight on the ball of her foot for the briefest of moments before adjusting her weight to her right. "Slow, slow," she murmured as she shifted her left foot up to the side, balancing her weight there for a second before rolling back onto her right.

JJ nodded and mirrored the brunette's actions. "Like this?"

Emily nodded, a wide, happy smile on her face. "Exactly. Now, with me," she said as she took JJ's right hand into her left and wrapped her right hand around the blonde's waist. "Quick, quick, slow… slow; quick, quick, slow… slow. You got it."

JJ blushed and kept her focus on their feet as she tried to keep up. By the bouncing bodies around them, she knew that Emily had slowed the steps down considerably for her; but, for the life of her, she couldn't imagine ever being able to dance like that.

"You're doing great, Jayj," Emily encouraged as she watched JJ become more comfortable with the repetition. "Want to try a spin?" she asked, smiling when wide blue eyes looked up at her.

"Spin?"

"Yes, Jareau. A spin. On the next 'slow', I'm going to guide you through a simple spin. Just one time around and then we'll fall right back into this step. Ready?"

JJ bit her lip and nodded. "Okay."

"Excellent." Emily grinned. "Here we go: quick, quick, slow, spin, and you're back in my arms where you belong. Perfect."

JJ blushed, but appreciated the praise nonetheless. "Thank you. I had an excellent teacher."

"You did, huh?" Emily murmured as she kept them in place, moving with the simple four-part step.

"I did." JJ smiled, feeling herself relax at Emily's teasing. "You'd like her a lot, I think. She's incredibly smart, funny, and so beautiful that sometimes it just takes my breath away."

"And you say I'm the panty dropper," Emily whispered as she stopped dancing so she could pull the smiling blonde into a deep, serious kiss. "I love you," she murmured a little breathlessly when she pulled away.

"Mmm," JJ hummed happily as she rested her forehead against Emily's. "I love you."

"You ready to go?"

"If you are."

Emily nodded. "Let's go say goodbye to Charlie and get out of here," she said as she slid her left hand down JJ's arm to take the blonde's hand into her own. She led them off the dance floor to their table, holding JJ's wrap out for her to slip into so that the blonde would be warm once they left the heater warmed patio.

JJ gathered her clutch and looked back up at Emily, nodding that she was ready to go, but stopped when she saw a troupe of waiters in white shirts gracefully descending the stairs with trays full of dessert balanced easily on their hands. "Do you want to stay for dessert?" she asked Emily, knowing the brunette had a weakness for chocolate.

Emily grinned and shook her head. "I have dessert waiting for us back at my place."

"You do, do you?" JJ teased as she slipped her arm into Emily's.

"I do," Emily replied.

"Do I get to know what it is?"

"It's another surprise," Emily shared with a grin. "So… no. And, there's Charlie," she said, pointing up at her friend who was standing at the edge of the highest level of the patio watching the festivities happening below.

"You two heading out?" Charlie asked as the two women approached.

Emily nodded. "We are. Thanks again for adding us in at the last minute."

Charlie waved a hand dismissively. "It wasn't a big deal, and you know it. It was very nice to meet you, JJ."

JJ smiled and nodded. "And you."

Charlie tipped his head and smiled. "We'll have to try it again sometime," he said as he cast a mischievous glance at his old friend. "I do rent out the property for weddings, you know."

"Charlie!" Emily laughed, hitting him in the arm somewhat playfully.

Charlie rubbed his arm where Emily had hit him. "My god, Wonder Woman, watch it."

"Don't be such a queen," Emily retorted.

"Children!" JJ laughed.

"She started it," Charlie grumbled with a playful grin as he pulled Emily into a hug. "Don't be a stranger, Em," he said softly into her ear. "She's everything you said she was. I'm happy for you."

"Thanks," Emily murmured before she pulled away and turned back to her date. "So, Jennifer, ready?"

JJ nodded and took Emily's hand. "Thanks again, Charlie."

"The pleasure was all mine," Charlie assured her. "Next time you come out I'll tell you about the time I dared Emily to streak across the Champs de Mars in Paris. It was spectacular."

"I look forward to it," JJ assured him with a laugh as she allowed Emily to pull her toward the narrow path that would lead them to their car. "Streaking, huh?" she asked once they were out of Charlie's earshot.

"I plead the fifth." Emily laughed.

"I bet that would have been a sight to behold," JJ teased affectionately.

Emily shook her head as she opened JJ's car door. "It was most likely a sight, yes, but not one that I think anyone would want to behold. And, when I said 'I plead the fifth', I meant it. The only reason I agreed was because I'd consumed a fifth of Wild Turkey on a very empty… extremely underage stomach. And what Charlie neglected to mention was that he was running naked right alongside me."

JJ laughed and climbed into the car. "I still think it would have been a sight to behold."

"Well, Jennifer," Emily murmured as she leaned in and kissed to blonde quickly. "You're just going to have to use your imagination for that, because there is no way I'm doing that one ever again," she said as she pulled back and closed the laughing blonde's door.

"Seriously though, did you have fun?" Emily asked as she climbed into the car and settled into her seat.

JJ swallowed her laughter and nodded. "I did. Charlie is a riot. The wine was amazing, the food was absolutely delicious, and the dancing was a blast – even if I didn't know what I was doing."

Emily shook her head. "You did great, Jayj. Believe me. Nobody would have known you were a novice."

JJ blushed. "Somehow I doubt that, but thank you for the compliment."

"My pleasure," Emily replied, leaning in to kiss JJ softly.

"Dessert?" JJ asked quietly once their kiss broke.

Emily grinned rakishly as she backed away and pulled out her phone, shooting off an already prepared text before letting the handheld fall into a cup holder. "Mmm, yes. To tell you the truth, I've found myself unable to keep from thinking about it all day long."

"Is that so?" JJ asked as Emily twisted her key in the ignition, the V-8 under the hood coming to life with a quiet roar.

"It is," Emily assured her playfully as she backed out far enough to turn down the driveway. "And, no, I'm still not telling you what it is."

"Party-pooper," JJ grumbled huffily. "Fine, what if I guessed it?"

Emily laughed loudly and reached across the car to pat JJ's leg affectionately. "You are more than willing to try, Jennifer, but, you know, good things come to those who wait."

Part 25

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