Ch 21 - Element Isn't So Stupid After All
Lane had been surprised when he came downstairs and found Winter sitting with me. He’d remembered seeing her at the ball, and when I mentioned that she was my sister and she’d come with Hartley and I to the ball, it all ‘made sense’ to him.
That was two days ago, two days before his next big event.
When he told me about the masquerade party, I wasn’t keen on going, simply because now that Winter had given me a heads up about the Cypher team, I wasn’t sure how I would handle that situation. I knew that my husband wouldn’t pitch up because of his connection to Lane.
But apparently I was wrong.
I felt his presence from the moment he walked in. In a room filled with hundreds of people, I knew it was him without a doubt. However his presence made me realize that there was something big happening if he risked being here.
So I followed him.
I know it’s wrong, but I was curious about why he was here to begin with, especially since the bartender was the one to tell him where he needed to be. The only time stuff like that happens, is if someone high profile is looking for you.
“You’re supposed to be dead. I watched you get shot,” I heard him say. I had planted a microphone on the door handle so that I wouldn’t be caught standing outside the room. I was instead in a room three doors down.
“No, you didn’t. You watched a man shoot a bullet where I was, but he didn’t actually shoot me. He shot next to me. I only went quiet because of the ringing in my ears. Someone came back for me later,” a young female voice replied.
“So what? You’ve been alive this whole time and you didn’t bother trying to find us?” I heard Thales ask.
“Find you and say what? Hi my name is Rose and I’m your little sister? Would you have believed me?” she asked.
What? Rose is alive?
I could remember Xander telling me about her on our first date and back at our apartment. She’s the reason why he’s got the tattoo of the Rose. Her full name is Rosalinda if I’m not mistaken. I can’t even imagine what must be going through his mind.
“Well no, but we could’ve run some DNA tests or whatever to find out,” my husband replied.
“Huh? I guess that makes sense. I’m curious about how you found me now though,” she commented.
“My search database recently picked up DNA results that matched mine and Xander’s too closely, so I ran some more tests and diagnostics until I was one hundred percent sure,” Thales explained.
He’s good like that.
“I had my blood drawn and tested at one of the most secret facilities in the world. You mean to tell me that your database hacked that place?” Rose asked disbelievingly. From the silence, I could only imagine that Thales shrugged.
Again, he’s good like that.
“How did youknow that we’d found you?” Xander asked her.
“They picked up a breach and traced it back to Los Angeles. We had to employ hackers to trace it back to you, which I’m guessing is what you were hoping for considering that we didn’t even encounter any firewalls and the likes to track you,” she said knowingly.
“I knew that if it was you, you were probably running in the wrong circles and would have enough power to pull off something like this meeting,” Thales explained.
“Power? This isn’t power and I’m not on the wrong side of things. I work for the CIA, or at least I’m a part of a CIA black ops off the books project. These guys are my security team,” she informed.
“What? What are you doing here then?” my husband asked her.
“I can’t share that information with you. Given what I know about the two of you, I don’t even know if I can trust you,” she said.
“We’re family Rose,” Thales argued.
“Are we? I’ve known you both all of ten minutes. Just because we share blood, doesn’t mean we’re family,” she replied.
I guess her point of view made sense.
“Let’s earn your trust then,” Xander offered.
“How do you hope to do that in the world that we live in?” she questioned.
“I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out if you give us a chance,” he responded.
There was some silence before she said anything else. “Just answer me one thing. Do you know about Judas?”
“We do,” the brothers replied.
Who the hell is Judas?
“Are we all on the same page with regards to that matter?” she asked.
“We find him and we tell no one,” the brothers once again said simultaneously.
What the hell are they on about?
“Well then brothers, I guess we can see about that family thing,” she said.
I realized that I had to get rid of my microphone before it got spotted. I couldn’t hear them anymore, but I could still see it on the door handle. I walked past and picked it off the handle before going back to the hall where the party was happening.
“Hey. Where’d you go?” Lane asked me when I returned.
“I just needed to breathe. It’s been a long time since I was around this many people,” I replied.
“Do you want to leave?” he panicked.
I laughed. “Calm down Lane. I’m fine now.”
“I can’t help that I worry,” he said sheepishly.
“I know you do. Thank you,” I said before kissing his cheek.
I’d avoided kissing him or being intimate with him for the most part because I wanted to stay loyal to my husband, even if I’d technically already cheated on him. I knew he’d understand that it comes with the job, but that doesn’t mean I have to do it often.
“Have you had anything to eat?” Lane asked. We’d been mingling with people for a while, and I’d even noticed that Xander and Thales were back from their meeting, but I didn’t get to see Rose.
Not that I’d know what she looked like.
“Not yet,” I replied.
“I’ll get us some food while you head to our table,” he said.
I smiled. “I need to use the ladies first and then I’ll head to the table.”
“Whatever you want babe,” he said before kissing my cheek and walking away.
“Whatever you want babe,” my husband mocked as he walked beside me as I headed to the ladies.
I laughed. “What do you want?”
“Well I want to get you out of that dress more than anything, but since babeis arranging food for you, I guess I’ll have to settle for making out with you.”
I had no idea what he meant, until I found myself in a room he’d pushed me into, locking the door behind him. He took off his mask and he looked sexy as hell. My dress has a slit and he pushed past the slit so that he could pick me up and wrap my legs around his waist.
“Of all the missions, of all the people...” he trailed off, leaving kisses across my neck.
“He’s a valuable link to whatever’s about to go down and I want in,” I moaned.
He bit lightly on my throat. “You want in on the good or the bad?”
“Now where’s the fun in telling you that?” I taunted before I pulled him in for a kiss.
There’s nothing like kissing my husband.
I needed this kiss to remind me that. It was hot, sexy and passionate, and it very quickly made me realize that there was nothing between Lane and I, or at least what we have isn’t even a smidge close to what I share with my husband.
Xander ignites the whole fucking universe in me, and it’s the most amazing thing in the world. I was riding high as he placed me on the bed, his fingers travelling everywhere. There was just something rawabout him in that moment.
“Bond, are you ok?” I managed to ask in my pleasure.
“No, but you keep me sane, even if I worry that you’re going down a path I can’t save you from,” he murmured on my skin.
“I’m not the only one. Who’s Judas?” I asked.
He froze and looked up and me, before a slow smirk adorned his face. “Now where’s the fun in telling you that?”
He laughed before kissing me again, making me forget that I was even angry. Hell, I was forgetting that I had said I was going to the bathroom as I unbuttoned his shirt from him. The zip on my dress was already the whole way down, something I didn’t notice until it felt like my eyes would roll back from pleasure.
“Your sister is alive Bond,” I pointed out.
“My sister isn’t really who I want to think about when I’m looking to have sex with my wife,” he said, making me laugh a little.
“I’m supposed to be getting back,” I reminded.
“You don’t look like someone who would rather be out there than here with me,” he argued.
No argument there.
I didn’t fight anything as I gave into him. My dress was somewhere on the floor and I honestly didn’t care that I was taking time. I needed to be with my husband, and with how he was making love to me, it was obvious that he needed this too.
“Do you feel better now?” I asked him once we’d both reached our highs.
“Much, but I’m still not telling you about Judas, and neither are we discussing Rose. Your boyfriend is probably losing his mind,” he said blankly.
“Don’t be like that,” I told him.
He sighed as he got up to get dressed. “I’m sorry. This is just really hard for me, especially because it’s him of all people.”
“Is there an actual history between you guys?” I asked.
He nodded. “He was almost like my best friend before we screwed him over.”
“Which means you know his real name,” I realized.
“I’m not going to make your mission easy. There are things you are hiding from me, so I think it’s fair that I hide some things from you too,” he replied.
“Oh come on,” I whined as I put on my dress.
He chuckled as he helped me zip it up. “I’m not telling you anything blossom, so you may as well quit your whining now while you’re ahead.”
“I’m pretty sure this is not what I signed up for when I agreed to be your wife,” I commented as he wrapped his arms around me.
“Well Mrs Demetriou, tough luck. You should’ve read the terms and conditions before saying I do,” he teased before kissing me.
“We should really leave now. I don’t even know what excuse you’re going to tell him for taking so long,” he said when we both looked appropriate for the public eye.
“Leave it up to me. I’m more curious about something important,” I said as I put on my mask.
He raised an eyebrow. “And that is?”
“Does Lane know your real initials?” I questioned.
“No, why?” he asked as he put on his mask. I pointed to my ring finger and watched the light bulb turn on in his head.
“I didn’t even think about that, but it’s a good thing he doesn’t then,” he said as we walked out of the room. The last two people I expected to find there were Carter and Thales.
“The two of you are clearly adamant on ruining everything for all of us,” Carter commented.
“I needed to be with my wife,” Xander said unapologetically.
“Wife?” Carter said incredulously.
I laughed nervously. “Surprise?”
“I don’t even, I can’t, what?” Carter rambled.
“Carter can’t find the words, but I can. Lane is out there looking for you. The story is that your dearest husband Hartley lost his mother, and you were comforting him, which explains why you took so long,” Thales told me.
“You told him?” I asked Carter.
“Technically Winter told him when we realized that the two of you had been gone for a while. We knew we had to rope him in and come up with an excuse. However, the two of you really need to not be together during counter missions. It’s common sense guys,” Carter pointed out.
“We know,” my husband and I mumbled.
“We need to go. The E’s don’t know that we’re here, and I’d like to keep things that way,” Thales told his brother. My husband nodded before turning to me.
“Se agapóánthosmou,” my husband told me in his home language before kissing me.
He’d only called me his blossom once before in his home language.
I smiled, blushing. “I love you too Bond.”
He and Thales left, and I needed a moment to get back into the character of Dr Elizabeth McFarland. We heard Winter’s voice heading towards us, and she was saying something about hearing someone say they saw me coming this way, so Carter hugged me.
“You’re going to be ok Elle. I know its hard being away from Xander, but you can do this,” he whispered in my ear.
“I know,” I whispered back.
“Ellie?” Lane called.
I pulled back from Carter and turned to face Lane. “Hey.”
“What’s going on here?” he asked, scowling.
“I’m flying to London now. Will you be joining me?” Carter asked me, ignoring him.
“I’ll think about it,” I replied. He looked ‘forlorn’ but he nodded and walked away.
“I’m going to head back to the party,” Winter excused herself.
It was clear that Lane was upset once it was just the two of us left. “What was that about? I thought you were giving us a chance.”
“It’s not what it looked like Lane,” I said softly.
“Then tell me what it was,” he requested.
Fake tears rushed to my eyes and his reaction was instant as he kicked into panic mode. “Hey, I’m sorry. What’s going on?”
“I was comforting him Lane. My mother in law died last night,” I lied.
He gathered me in his arms and I had to fake sob. There was even a point where I rolled my eyes at his words of comfort, before I found myself feeling sorry for him once again, especially once I realized that I was doing to him, exactly what my husband had done.
We’re terrible people who deserve each other.
“Do you want to leave?” he asked after a while.
“We can’t leave. You’re the host,” I pointed out.
“Which means I make my own rules,” he countered.
I cupped his cheek. “I’ll be fine Lane, or at least I’ll be strong enough to see the party through.”
“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to put you in an awkward position,” he stressed.
“I’ll be fine Lane. Thank you,” I said before kissing his cheek.
I wasn’t about to kiss him on the lips after having kissed my husband just minutes before.
“Are you going to London?” he asked as we walked back to the party.
“I don’t know. I’ll think about it because she meant something to me, despite what I feel about her son,” I replied before we were engulfed by people seeking his attention.
The party carried on well into the following morning, until it was announced that people had to leave. My feet were sore and I was sitting alone at a table, watching as Lane bid farewell to some of his most important clients and investors.
“I’m sorry about that,” he said once everyone was gone.
I smiled. “It’s ok Lane. It was the whole point of this party.”
“Actually, not exactly,” he said.
“What do you mean by not exactly?” I questioned, eyebrow raised.
“You said that you’re a physicist right?” he asked.
I nodded. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well you see, I’m working on something huge, but there’s just something that I’m not getting right, and I was wondering if you’d be my second pair of eyes on it,” he requested.
“No,” I said blankly.
He frowned. “You didn’t even think about it.”
“I don’t need to. Whatever it is you’re doing doesn’t need to involve me Lane. I’m willing to give our relationship a try, but that’s as far as it goes,” I replied.
And there’s also that all important point to remember- I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT PHYSICS.
Ok, well maybe not nothing since I’m pretty much a genius, but numbers are more my thing. Physics bores me, but the twins are fascinated by it. They took after our mother, while I, as much as it pains me to say this, took after our father.
I wouldn’t be able to offer Lane the kind of physics intel he needs.
“Ok, fair enough. I still want to show you what I’m working on though,” he said.
“Right now?” I asked.
He nodded. “Do you mind?”
“Do I have to wear my heels?” I joked.
I squealed when he scooped me up. “Nah. I’ll carry you.”
I laughed the whole way as he ran with me to the car. He wouldn’t put me down until he’d placed me inside the car. He told his driver where to take us, and I was shocked to find that it was almost four in the morning.
“What’s with the look on your face?” he asked, massaging my feet.
“It’s almost four in the morning,” I commented.
“Oh, this was one of the earlier parties to end. Normally these people move the party to another place and keep partying until almost noon,” he informed.
“That’s insane. Don’t they have jobs to get to?” I asked.
“Remember that these are rich people. To them, fun means everything simply because they can do whatever they want while their money continues to make itself. With other people working for them, there’s no need for them to then not enjoy their money,” he explained.
“You say their like you’re not a part of them,” I noted.
“Most of the time I don’t consider myself to be. I’ve only recently joined these circles, and while I have a reputation of throwing some extravagant and memorable parties, I feel like there’s more to life than constantly spending money,” he replied.
It’s responses like this that confuse me when it comes to this man. He speaks like such a wise person, and yet I fail to understand how he finds himself on this side of life. Granted my husband is greatly to blame, it still baffles me.
“And what exactly do you believe is this more?” I questioned.
He shot me a dazzling smile. “You’ll see.”
I didn’t bother saying anything after that. He continued to massage my feet as we made our way to his headquarters. We finally arrived outside the huge building and I couldn’t help but be curious about what it is exactly that was on the inside.
My thoughts also travelled to the last time my husband was here.
He was shot, though it was never really explained to me whether he was shot here or not. All I know is that he was shot saving my brother’s life, and I realized then that we hadn’t truly spent any time together since that incident.
All I knew was that he was still recovering from that shot.
I’d seen the wound when we were doing the deed back at the hotel, but of course my husband refuses to let pain get him down, so it wasn’t even an issue. I don’t think he even remembers that he’d been shot.
“Ellie,” Lane brought me out of thought.
“Hmm?” I replied.
He chuckled. “You haven’t heard a single word I’ve said, have you?”
“I’m sorry. I’m just tired,” I confessed.
“It’s ok. We’re going home as soon as we leave here,” he said before turning to the security guard.
I learnt that even though he owns the building and they know who he is, he has to go through security like everyone else. In fact, the security measures he has to go through are even more than anyone else’s.
Which is why he is renowned for having the best security systems in the world.
After two scans, three security protocols, a key card scan and a pin entry, we were finally into his office. He told me that he just needed to fetch the keys for the lab, which I found out stay in a safe in his office.
Lane Mason is the most careful person I know.
Seriously, the man doesn’t leave anything to chance. The whole time he was educating me about the security in his building. I was honestly intrigued, and I was further surprised when he told me that he wanted to add my biometrics to his system so that I could be one of the people with access to the place.
That’s when suspicion descended on me for the first time since the night of the ball.
There was something slightly off about this situation. For someone as untrusting as Lane, he was too trusting of me, regardless of what he thought he was feeling. I was starting to feel like this was some kind of trap that I was about to get myself into.
And I wasn’t sure how I would get out of it.
“You need to understand that what I’m about to show you is super confidential. Not even the government knows about this project,” he told me when we reached the titanium doors.
“So why show me?” I asked.
“You’re special to me Ellie, as short a time as it has been,” he replied.
“You do realize why I’m calling bullshit right? You’re the most secretive and paranoid person and according to your associates, everyone understands that much. There’s no way that you could be letting me in on so much based off of a two minute relationship,” I pointed out, discreetly pushing the gem on my diamond bracelet.
I could only hope to God that my husband would receive my distress signal.
A slow smirk overtook Lane’s features, and it was almost as though I was staring at a different man; the man everyone knows as Lane Mason, as the titanium door opened. “Well what do you know? The legendary Element isn’t so stupid after all.”
If I thought his words to me were shocking, then I wasn’t ready for what faced me once the door was fully opened. “Oh my God.”
“Hello Noelle. It’s been a while.”