A/N – This was supposed to be just a brief, fluffy conversation/flirtation between Sarah and Sky in the car on the way to the airport after their wedding, but once Sarah started reflecting, she just kept going on and on and on, so this chapter ended up being a lot longer than I originally planned!


Sergeant Sarah Brown may have counted herself among God's elect, but she was not a fragile flower of femininity that wilted in the presence of sin. Though she did have a rather sheltered upbringing and experienced a few rude awakenings after she had reached the age of majority and embarked on missionary work, the things she had seen over the course of her career cured her of her childish illusions of a chaste and pristine world. She had witnessed the wretchedness and despair of sheep gone astray from the Good Shepherd's keeping, but she had also seen their great joy and redemption each time a lost soul found their way back to the Lord's fold. And as she personally had a hand in the saving of several of these souls, her conviction that she was doing God's work only increased over the years.

Her one regret was that she had never found a partner with whom she could share this holy vocation. Not that she was actively looking for a husband – Providence would lead her to a suitable match in due course, if it was His will. But the closer she got to her thirtieth birthday, the more Sarah wondered if marriage was another childish dream she was just going to have to put away. She had no living relatives except for her Uncle Arvide Abernathy – she was an only child, and her parents had died not long after she'd joined the Save-a-Soul mission – and as much as she loved and esteemed her dear uncle, she wished for the opportunity to build a family of her own.

While Sarah was not unaware of her own beauty and had never lacked for prospective suitors, she refused to glory in this vanity of vanities – being beautiful had only ever attracted the wrong kind of male, who wanted her for the all the wrong reasons! She had quickly learned not to flinch at the hoots and catcalls of the uncouth men who leered at her as she preached in the streets, and also grew quite skilled at rebuffing their vulgar offers with sharp-tongued rebukes. But because the Prince of Darkness was an insidious foe, she also had to deal with a spate of cunning Lotharios who were only pretending to repent in order to get close enough to seduce her. Discovering that more than a few of the newly converted brothers – men she had counted among her trusted friends – were merely plotting to have an affair with her stung a lot more, so she eventually began to maintain a scrupulous distance even from men whose intentions seemed honorable enough. However, while her belief in the redemptability of mankind wavered at times, her faith in the Lord was never shaken. Refusing to let Satan's machinations rob her of hope, Sarah read dense scientific treatises on psychology alongside the Bible, wanting to have all manner of ammunition at her disposal in order to fend off devious manipulators as she waited for the moral, upright and decent man she would know was the one for her.

So when Obadiah "Sky" Masterson sauntered into the Save-a-Soul mission wearing a stylish, expensive suit and claiming to be an unhappy sinner, Sergeant Sarah Brown immediately surmised he was up to no good. Her nerves frayed by her failure to make any progress whatsoever with the sinners in New York City, she could barely contain her irritation as she went through the motions of polite conversation with her latest would-be seducer.

But for the first time in her life, she felt something more than aversion, a feeling deep down in the pit of her stomach that she didn't dare name even in her own mind – at least, she didn't dare when the man who'd caused this alarming disturbance in her equilibrium was looming right over her shoulder! Still, even in such close quarters, she couldn't help inwardly acknowledging that it felt exactly like the butterflies she got whenever she contemplated meeting the man who would be her husband.

And that wasn't the worst of it: Sky Masterson, who oozed every bit of the suave confidence and charm of the successful seducer, quickly grasped just how unsettled she was in his presence. Naturally, he took full advantage of her discomfort at every opportunity, openly deriding her attempts to put him off with pamphlets and her sudden urge for a cup of coffee. He never gave her so much as an inch to retreat and regroup – why in heaven's name had Uncle Arvide left her alone with him? He had always served as her chaperone and protector in the past, never hesitating to safeguard her honor whenever they were in the presence of rowdier men who might view her staunch refusals as merely a challenge to spur them on. But not long after Sky Masterson walked through the door, Uncle Arvide hastened to excuse himself from the room – though he did linger long enough to refasten the button on her crimson jacket that she'd unthinkingly fiddled with and left undone. It was a silly, nervous habit that she had struggled with all her life, but in the presence of the wrong man, it was a dangerous gesture that would be seen as a glaring invitation. Did he want his niece to join the ranks of the world's fallen women?

Because the moment she saw that handsome face and those undeniably magnetic brown eyes, Sarah knew from those traitorous stirrings in her heart that she had finally met her Waterloo in Sky Masterson. Still, she attempted to persevere, keeping the gambler at bay as best she could as he continued to pursue her even after her first rejection; she fought his advances all the way up to the point when she found herself sitting with him in a small Havana café while he ordered her that first, fateful coconut full of dulce de leche. As much as Sarah wanted to blame the Bacardi for her subsequent lascivious and disorderly behavior, she knew deep down that the alcohol had only made it that much easier for her to overcome her inhibitions about succumbing to Mr. Masterson's charms. She had prayed very hard for the Lord to take away her desire for him – he was nothing at all like the virtuous man she was waiting for, so why on earth did she kiss him back when he cornered her in the mission? Even if it was only for the briefest of moments before Sarah recovered her senses and slapped him for his impudence, the way Sky had insolently smiled as he bade her farewell indicated that he knew the score just as well as she did: He had won, and it was only a matter of time before she'd be allowing him to kiss her without having to "turn the other cheek." (And the fact that this degenerate gambler not only knew the Bible just as well as she did, but was also able to point out a glaring citation error that she should never have made only added insult to injury!)

But as firmly resolved as Sarah was to resist this new and frightening temptation she had never before experienced, it seemed that Providence had other ideas. Somehow, Sergeant Brown found herself in the ludicrous position of losing her mission entirely unless she made a Faustian bargain with the one man who excelled at sidestepping all her defenses. When she agreed to travel alone with Sky Masterson to Cuba, her fate was sealed. Although Sarah tried to convince herself that she was going on this trip for the noblest of reasons, she knew even as she boarded the plane that there was only so long she could hide behind her bland guidebook and tedious tours of ancient churches before she was irrevocably lost to the bright moonlight, sultry music, and an attraction that she was getting tired of fighting.

Fortunately, the Lord hadn't completely abandoned her, even when she was reveling in the throes of her own weakness. Intoxicated not just by the rum but also by the heady sense of freedom, Sarah had brazenly thrown herself at Sky. And she had done this more than once! Amazingly, he'd refrained from taking her up on these invitations. So while she might have lost both her heart and her self-control, she'd surrendered them to a man who could not – or perhaps just would not – press his advantage. To her surprise (and admittedly, annoyance), he had actually looked after her, buttoning her jacket closed after she'd confessed her feelings and kissed him, making sure she ate enough dinner to mitigate the effects of the alcohol coursing through her system, insisting she stick to her coffee when she attempted to steal a few more sips of his dulce de leche, carrying her out of the brawl that resulted after that disgraceful Cuban hussy so rudely tried to seduce him away from her, telling her after a kiss he'd enthusiastically participated in that she'd regret her actions in the morning if she went too far with him.

But it was after Sky had gently kissed her on the nose and guiltily confessed that he'd only taken her to Havana to win a bet that she really fell in love with him. Even as the effects of the dulce de leche gradually wore off during their flight back to New York, Sarah continued to feel that strange and wonderful sense of exhilaration, which only deepened each time Sky saw to her comfort, ensuring that she had a blanket when she was cold and crackers to eat when she was hungry and ginger ale to drink when her stomach was unsettled after a rough patch of turbulence. Though her mind was reeling from the unexpected direction their jaunt to Cuba had taken – how could such an unrepentant gambler be such a decent and considerate gentleman? – her heart was certain that Obadiah Masterson was the salt-of-the-earth man she had been waiting for. And from the spellbound look on Sky's face whenever he looked at her, she knew he was experiencing the same revelation.

By the time the taxi let them off at the curb a couple of blocks away from the Save-a-Soul mission, Sarah was exhausted but sober – and still very much in love as the music of Havana continued to reverberate through her soul. Wanting to prolong her time with Sky as much as possible even though her sense of propriety was now reasserting itself and cautioning her that she ought to say goodnight before she got herself into real trouble, she invited him in for coffee. But once again, Sky did not take her up on such a dangerous invitation. However, he couldn't resist pointing out why she was so eager to find excuses for him not to leave. But when she retorted that he was just as in love with her as she was with him, he didn't deny it. Instead, he took her in his arms and crushed his mouth against hers, as if he'd been waiting far too long for permission to do that. As Sky kissed her far more passionately and ravenously than he had dared to embrace her when they were alone together in Havana, Sarah opened herself completely to him, her body and lips clinging to his just as fiercely and desperately.

But all too quickly, elation had turned to fury when a horde of gamblers raced out of the mission door as the police approached. Yet even at the peak of her righteous indignation – how dare that trash hold a filthy crap game in the mission while everyone was gone! – it broke Sarah's heart to see the profound look of hurt in Sky's eyes when she immediately accused him of being in on the gamblers' despicable scheme. However, his defense of not just his own character, but hers as well, only made her even angrier. Why did he have to insist on being so decent – and so unnervingly honest in his assessments of both her and their situation? Sarah had called him mixed up earlier that evening, but now it was her conscience that was in a terrible jumble. Life was so simple and orderly before she met Sky, and he'd gone and made everything so uncomfortably complicated. She did not want to be in love with a gambler, no matter how handsome, decent, honest and good of a man he was!

However, once again, the Lord in His infinite mercy and wisdom refused to abandon her to her own folly. Determined to forget all about Sky Masterson and overcome that terrible, gnawing emptiness in her heart whenever she contemplated a life without him in it, Sarah was able to rebuff Uncle Arvide's eloquent urging not to let the man she loved slip through her fingers out of a sense of wounded pride. But she could not so easily ignore the inclination to surrender to her feelings when those same gamblers who'd encroached on the sanctity of the mission the previous evening streamed sheepishly through the door to attend the midnight prayer meeting. Even after she publicly insulted his honor, Sky Masterson had lived up to his end of the bargain; just as promised, he singlehandedly saved the Save-a-Soul mission. Not only that, he had lied to Nathan Detroit, the ringleader of all those wretched gamblers, about whether he had won their bet, after all. Once she found out exactly what Sky had done, courtesy of Mr. Detroit's genuinely apologetic confession at the prayer meeting, Sergeant Sarah Brown's heart finally won out over her pride.

Every day, Sarah would thank the Lord for guiding her to her husband at last, even though she had been a blind and stubborn fool all along the way. And it seemed like the whole city rejoiced right along with her as she married Sky in a double wedding with Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit. The sheer amount of people who gathered to witness the occasion in Times Square was unbelievable; after Uncle Arvide pronounced each couple man and wife, Sarah had barely gotten to kiss her new husband when friends and strangers alike swarmed upon them, eager to offer their congratulations. Thank heavens for Sky's strong, steady arm surrounding her waist as he guided her smoothly and quickly to their "getaway" car!

Even as they shut the world out of their little haven, so many people continued to mill around the automobile that Sarah wondered if even this imposing police car with its sirens blaring would be enough to extricate them from the tightly-packed crowd, but not two minutes had passed when the throngs surrounding them finally eased and they attracted no further attention from the New Yorkers. Now they were just another pair of travelers amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big City – albeit in a police car, as Lieutenant Brannigan had insisted on providing each couple with an official escort, perhaps to make sure they didn't get "lost" on the way to their respective honeymoons. Although Sarah appreciated this courtesy, she couldn't help suspecting that the hapless lieutenant was probably far more concerned about ensuring Nathan Detroit's safe departure to Niagara Falls than Sky Masterson's exodus to Cuba, as he'd insisted on driving Mr. and Mrs. Detroit's car to the train station himself.

And as grateful as she was for such consideration, riding in a police car did diminish the romantic mood a little, even though Sky had given her that fabulously seductive smile of his not long after the car made it out of Times Square, before leaning in and kissing her. However, Sarah stifled her sense of discomfort and, wrapping her arms around her husband's neck, kissed him back just as eagerly. Even if they weren't quite alone together yet, this was no time to be prudish. Now that she was Mrs. Masterson, she was out of danger of becoming a fallen woman – now she unabashedly looked forward to the rum and the music and the long, hot nights that awaited her in Havana. If Sky Masterson could be a gambler and a gentleman, she didn't see why she couldn't be a missionary and a passionate lover. Intoxicated by the prospect of dulce de leches and lovemaking and freedom, Sarah soon forgot her uneasiness entirely, her hands avidly grasping at her husband's arms and shoulders and back, anxiously pulling him closer even as he impatiently pressed against her, threading his fingers feverishly through her dark curls and tilting her head so he could kiss her even more deeply.

But as ever, it was Sky who put an end to their embrace, bringing them back from the point of no return before it was too late. "We'd better slow things down," he said unsteadily as he gently but matter-of-factly slid her off his lap. "Otherwise we're not going to make it to the airport, let alone our hotel in Havana!"

Although Sarah had successfully trained herself not to blush at anything she saw or felt once she began her missionary work, she couldn't help doing so now. After years of maintaining a scrupulous regimen of self-discipline and mastery over herself, Sky had opened the floodgates within her – she could no longer control even her most basic physiological reactions, let alone her emotions, around him! "I feel like a fallen woman, even with my wedding ring," she admitted with a sheepish laugh.

Sky shook his head and lightly kissed the tip of her nose. "You're exactly what a woman in love should be."

Her conscience mollified by his encouragement of her feelings if not her actions, Sarah nevertheless let out a long sigh and fiddled with the gold band around her finger – Havana seemed awfully far away. To avoid falling into another charged silence that would inevitably lead to yet another round of heavy petting, she said the first thing that came into her mind: "Poor Adelaide – the man she loved kept her waiting fourteen years for her honeymoon." She raised an eyebrow at her husband. "We weren't engaged for so much as fourteen days before we got married!"

"You never thought it would happen this way, did you?" Sky asked wryly, pulling her hands to his lips so he could kiss her palms. "You had it all planned out: At the proper time, you would meet your Scarsdale Galahad. Once you meticulously checked off each of his characteristics on your list of must-haves, a proper courtship would ensue, spanning a length of time that was neither too absurdly stretched out nor too scandalously rushed. Then would come marriage: a proper ceremony held in a proper church, with him wearing a black tuxedo and you wearing a white gown and veil. And finally, after a sedate and tasteful honeymoon where you make love as quickly and quietly as possible beneath crisp linen sheets with all the lights in the room turned off, you'd go on to live a proper life of evangelizing sinners together."

Sarah Brown would have been furious at this casual mockery of her silly but sweet girlish dreams. Sarah Masterson, on the other hand, burst into laughter. "Oh my," she gasped, "that doesn't sound like a recipe for finding true love and happiness at all, does it?"

Sky laughed along with her before kissing her palms again, and then her wrists. "It certainly doesn't leave much room for romance. But a whirlwind courtship culminating in a double wedding in the center of Times Square, with me in my finest black suit and you in your red missionary dress – that will be a tale we can proudly tell our grandkids."

She smirked at him. "Will we also be serving them dulce de leche in order to get them to drink their milk?" Her smile faltered. "If we even make it as far as children, let alone grandchildren. They do say that those who marry in haste repent in leisure… "

"They say a lot of things," he replied with a lazy shrug – though she knew from the sudden, intense flash of emotion in his eyes that he was feeling anything but nonchalant. "Doesn't mean those things apply to everyone." His hands tightened around hers, and he leaned in to plant a soft kiss on the corner of her mouth. "If I thought I would regret this, I wouldn't have done it in the first place."

Sarah laughed again, but nervously this time, even though his mouth was now tenderly trailing more kisses along the line of her jaw. "Oh, I don't think many couples who are in love think they're going to regret getting married at the time they're actually exchanging the vows… although Mr. Detroit seems to have caught that nasty cold of Adelaide's."

"Well, I don't have so much as a sniffle," Sky averred, lifting his head from the crook of her neck and looking intently at her. "But these are awfully serious thoughts for a woman in love to be having on her way to her honeymoon – so serious that a man can't help but suspect that Nathan Detroit isn't the only one who's in danger of coming down with a chronic condition."

Sarah inwardly chided herself for her heavy-handedness – she'd only meant to diminish the romantic atmosphere, not destroy it completely! While she did admittedly have a few remaining qualms about the swiftness of their courtship, her certainty that she'd found the man she'd been waiting for all her life was unshakeable. And given that she had proven, time and again, that she no longer had the self-control to wait for Sky Masterson, it was far more prudent to marry him as quickly as they could arrange it, rather than to burn with passion.

Determined to lighten the mood again, Sarah gave her husband a coquettish grin and said, "Well… that wasn't the only thing I was thinking about."

Sky's penetrating gaze softened and he smiled at her in return, though the apprehension didn't entirely fade from his expression. "Is that so, Sister Sarah? What else were you thinking about?"

"How hard I'm trying not to kiss you," she said, being completely honest. Perhaps she had been a little too honest – getting that intent, to-hell-with-everything-else-but-you look in his eyes again, Sky leaned in.

But as much as Sarah wanted to flout propriety right along with him, she knew she should at least make the effort to resist temptation until they had reached the solitude of their hotel room. So just before his lips touched hers, she said, "I have a proposition to make."

If there was anything she could say to stop a Sky Masterson seduction in its tracks, that was it. Not only did the gambler freeze mid-pucker, his jaw dropped and he goggled at her.

"Not for money," she breezily assured him, quite enjoying the fact that she was the one holding all the cards, for once. "A nice, sociable bet."

Now Sky looked downright intrigued. "You, making a bet with me – just for fun?"

"That's right." Once again, Sarah regarded her befuddled husband with a coquettish grin. "I bet you can't guess where I'm trying not to kiss you."

He raised an eyebrow at her. "What do I win if I do?"

"I'll kiss you in that spot right here and now," she promised.

Now both of his eyes widened. "And if I guess wrong?"

She shrugged. "Then you'll have a delightful mystery to ponder during the long flight to Havana."

"So either way, I win?" Sky laughed. "I'll give you an A for effort, Sarah, but you still have a lot to learn when it comes to setting the stakes of a wager!"

Sarah gazed steadily at him. "The very, very long flight to Havana. And I never said I'd kiss you in that spot when we arrive."

His smile dulled a little as that look of sheer longing blazed in his eyes again. "Well, when you put it that way, it is definitely in my best interests to guess it right the first time!"

"It is," she primly agreed, quite enjoying their little game.

Sky's smile disappeared entirely and he gave her a measured, penetrating look that would have made her blush and avert her eyes if she hadn't been married to him. "I suppose I can rule out anywhere below the belt," he said pensively after a few moments of silence. An impish gleam entered his gaze. "Otherwise, you would never have offered to kiss me in that spot right here and now… "

"Certainly not!" she exclaimed in an affronted voice – although the giggle that subsequently sneaked out softened the effect of her admonishment.

Too deep in thought, Sky didn't even flinch at her rebuke. "The lips would be much too conventional, even for a missionary doll," he murmured aloud as he continued to look her up and down. "The forehead and cheeks are too unromantic, where an uncle would kiss his niece or a father his daughter. The hands are too genteel for a woman who's in deeply love and just married. Arms and torso wouldn't register for a dame who's never made love to a man before." He paused. "That leaves the neck. Not so improper that a missionary doll wouldn't dream of kissing her husband there while they were in public, but naughty enough to be exciting."

It was hard for Sarah to hold her laughter back – despite his cleverness, he'd completely missed the mark. "Is that your guess?" she coolly asked him.

He gave her a wry smile. "It's as good a guess as any."

"Well, you're wrong," she said smugly. "You're not even close!" Exhilarated by her triumph, she marshaled her wits to defend against the inevitable onslaught.

But Sky merely shrugged. "You win some, you lose some."

Disappointed, Sarah found herself protesting, "You're not going to wheedle the answer out of me?"

He regarded her with an amused expression. "Do you want me to?"

"You could try," she suggested, trying to affect a tone that was alluringly aloof instead of disgruntled, as even a woman as inexperienced with flirtation as she knew that pouting was not attractive.

But even as Sarah despondently reflected that her pitiful attempts at sensual repartee weren't likely to beguile a man as savvy as Sky, the amusement in his eyes turned to fondness, and he leaned in until his mouth was practically touching hers as he said in a low voice, "I certainly could try, and I'm guessing I would probably succeed if I did. But it never mattered to me whether I won or lost this particular bet, because I've already mapped out where and how I'm going to start kissing you as soon as we get to our hotel room in Havana."

Sarah's breath, which had been coming very rapidly as he spoke, now caught in her throat. "Oh? And where is that?"

Sky backed away from her just an inch, but in her smitten and frustrated state, he might as well have put a mile between them. "Now, why would I spoil such a wonderful surprise? It seems only fair that both of us will have a delightful mystery to ponder on the long flight to Havana." Before she could protest again, his wry smile broadened into a roguish grin. "But I'll make you a proposition: I'll reveal it to you right here and now if you can guess what Bible verse is running through my head."

"Bible verse?" The almost unbearable tension between them dissipated as Sarah burst into laughter at the incongruity of this man, the most unabashed high roller she'd ever met in her life, ruminating on scripture in between his kisses and caresses – even if the woman he was necking with was his wife!

Sky drew even further back from her. "Certainly, Bible verse," he said with the note of affronted pride that entered his tone whenever she called his principles into question. "Or should I, a wretched sinner, save all my thinking about the Scriptures for Sundays and other holy occasions?"

Sarah's eyes widened in alarm. "Oh no, by all means meditations on the Scriptures should be integrated into a person's daily existence," she assured him, the missionary in her always wanting to nurture wandering souls and guide them lovingly and patiently toward salvation. "But even if you were that immaculate Scarsdale Galahad, I would have been surprised at your thinking about Bible verses on the way to our honeymoon!"

"I don't suppose I can blame you for that," he conceded with a sheepish smile.

"And the Bible does talk beautifully about love in places; maybe it isn't so strange, after all." She regarded her husband with an arch smile, and made as good a guess as she could come up with: "Song of Solomon 8, verse 2: I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate." She cracked up again. "Or dulce de leche!"

Although Sky shook his head, he immediately recited the next verse: "His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me." And he held her exactly that way, his soft and serious voice making her heart flutter as he whispered into her ear, "That's a very good guess, Sarah, and you might have been right on the mark if we were playing this game all cozy in bed together at four a.m. in Havana. But right now, at this exact moment in time? You're not even close." Her heart beat even faster when he exhaled and pressed soft kisses against her neck as he said, "Proverbs 31, verses 10-12: Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."

Sarah felt tears come to her eyes. Although she believed that Sky loved her, she had not fully grasped the depth of his feelings until this moment. But she would atone for those lingering misgivings about their marriage not just by doing her utmost to live up to this godly ideal, but also by being the most warm and devoted wife she could be to him. "Obadiah," she sighed, in both awe and delight.

"Mmm," he sighed in return, his mouth pressing against a spot behind her ear that was unexpectedly, thrillingly sensitive, "that's exactly how I want you to say my name when I start kissing you in our hotel room… "

Then his mouth found hers for the longest, deepest and most unrestrained kiss that he had ever given her. Unable to fight temptation any longer, Sarah surrendered to her husband completely, kissing him just as thoroughly, eagerly and passionately. Although their embrace went on for quite a while before they finally had to come up for air, it somehow left her wanting more – much more. And judging from Sky's exhilarated but pained expression, he was experiencing the exact same frustration. Feeling as dazed and delighted as if she'd drank another half dozen dulce de leches, Sarah breathlessly entreated, "Couldn't you just kiss me that way now?"

"I will if you kiss me where you were going to, first," he offered, just as breathless.

Although they had reached the airport and the police car was slowing to a stop at the side of the curb, Sarah leaned in and kissed the tip of his nose. "It occurred to me that I haven't yet had the chance to reciprocate," she said shyly, praying that he wouldn't find her gesture childish. "Uncle Arvide wouldn't leave us alone together long enough after I brought you back from the airport."

Sky wasn't able to reply because the officer opened their door. But the fond, heated look he gave her just before helping her out of the car was worth a million words.

After indulging in a good stretch to work out the kinks in her cramped muscles, Sarah gazed dreamily upward as an airplane roared into the night sky, and she continued staring after it even after it disappeared into the horizon. Having spent most of her life in cities, it wasn't often she got the chance to see the stars.

"You're just in time to catch the last flight to Havana tonight; I made sure of it," the cop was saying to Sky as he set their suitcases on the sidewalk. He politely added, "I hope your ride here wasn't too bumpy."

"Not at all," Sky cheerfully replied. "In fact, it was the most fun I've ever had in the back of a police car in my whole life!"

Her reverie shattered by her husband's crude comment, Sarah whirled around. "Obadiah Masterson!" she scolded – but one again, the effect was spoiled by the huge grin she simply could not contain.

To her relief, the cop merely smiled and tipped his hat to the newlyweds in a courteous "bon voyage" before getting in his car and driving off.

Now that they were finally alone together, Sarah was prepared to read her husband the riot act for his uncouthness. Clearly anticipating this move, Sky quickly pulled her into his arms and covered her mouth with his. And not only did she melt into his embrace, after he finally let her go, she wistfully confessed, "I wish we were flying to Cuba on our own private plane."

Sky smiled sympathetically at her. "Chin up, kid," he encouraged, sounding just as wistful as he reluctantly let her go and picked up their suitcases. "It'll only be five more hours, maybe four if the plane catches a good wind. Then we can be as alone as we like, for as long as we like."

Sarah started to let out a long and weary sigh at the prospect of even more waiting – and then stopped mid-exhalation as an idea struck her. "Sky," she said coyly, "what if we missed the plane to Havana?"

Sky looked both perplexed and intrigued. "What do you mean, Sarah?"

Unable to bear her frustration for a moment longer, she let the words tumble out of her: "Five miserable hours of having to keep our hands off each other… and we're not likely to get a wink of sleep on the plane, especially if there's turbulence! By the time we reach Havana we'll be exhausted and hungry, so we'll have to spend at least another hour or two at a restaurant, if we can even find one that's open in the middle of the night. By the time we finally make it to our hotel room, we'll be too out of sorts to do anything but collapse into bed for a long sleep. And when we finally wake up, we'll be groggy and disheveled and hungry again, so we'll have to bathe and eat again, and at this rate it'll be at least another day before we're finally able to make love!"

Once again, she had managed to stun Sky so much that all he could do was stand there and gape at her. Normally, Sarah would have been so mortified by her brazen forwardness that she would have stopped talking, but the awed and elated look in her husband's eyes spurred her on even further.

"I'm merely being practical," she insisted with as much zeal as she had ever preached on a street corner. "We're in a city full of hotels, and you're a frequent visitor to New York, so you would know where to take us that was decent. So why do we need to wait for each other any longer? We can always catch another plane to Havana tomorrow morning… "

As she made her case, Sky was already turning away from the airport entrance and hailing a nearby taxi. After loading their luggage in the trunk, he turned to his wife and took her hands in his. "This is exactly why I took a gamble on you – I just knew that you were full of all kinds of wonderful surprises." He pressed heated kisses into her open palms. "And starting tonight, I'm going to spend the rest of my life teasing each and every one of them out of you… "

Feeling as if she'd finally come home at last, Sarah laughed and pulled her husband into one more kiss before they climbed into the cab together. "Darling," she assured Sky as she draped her arm around his shoulder and settled in for the mercifully short ride ahead of them, "you ain't seen nothin' yet!"