“I have a plan,” Lucas admits. “But you’re not going to like it.”
I love this one. Let me know what you think. And I feel that I should prepare your hearts some way for what is coming.
Lucas waits well until after lunch to divulge his intentions. He waits until they’re parked in the parking garage beneath AeroTech’s building and Alaine only has about five minutes to make it back into her office. That she won’t have as much time to argue or talk him out of this insane idea he’d hatched.
And just as he anticipated, she hates his plan.
As a matter of fact, Alaine protests vehemently while Lucas wishes he’d kept true to his oath not to share it with her.
“Tell me you’re joking,” she demands while staring at him with a wild, frantic look in her eyes searching his face. “You can’t do that, Lucas,” she commands. “I forbid you.”
“Alaine,” Lucas responds.
He takes the liberty holding her cheeks between his palms to center her focus on him and try to calm her rising hysteria. “This can work. It has to. Tawny and Seth are in agreement.”
Alaine snatches her face away from him and glares Seth into withering in a corner in the driver’s seat.
“You’re seriously letting him do this?” she accuses, her eyes wide with panic. “You can’t.”
“Ali,” Seth starts to explain.
“Well, I say no,” she interrupts and crosses her arms firmly over her chest.
Lucas chuckles at her flare of defiance.
“No, Lucas” she says in a pleading tone that is far more effective than her initial emotional outburst. The vulnerability that she exposes in her quivering lips and the water collecting in her eyes, blurring her vision turns him into a puddle so her turns to her again.
“You’re scared,” Lucas says.
“Of course, I’m scared,” she snips at him. “I’m terrified.”
“And I understand that. Which is exactly why I can’t have this guy out there threatening you, baby. I can’t sit idly by and let him torment you. I have to do something.”
“That’s what the police are for,” she argues. ”They have to do something about it. Not you.”
“It’s a solid plan, Ali,” Seth interrupts from the front seat. “And both Tawny and I will be there. Nothing will happen to him.”
“You don’t know that,” she charges Seth. “Can you guarantee me without a shred of doubt?”
Neither one of them says a word.
Alaine looks between both men like they’d just started sprouting a second head. And she can’t understand how they can appear so relaxed about this when Lucas’ plan fills her with dread; icy fear that makes her hands clammy and tremulous.
“See?” she cries. "Neither of you can.”
Lucas reaches for her fingers and squeezes gently.
“If he accepts the bait,” he says. “Then we get him off the streets. That’s the goal here, baby. And if he doesn’t work, then I am in no more danger than I am sitting right here, right now. But I need this to end so we can get on with our lives.”
“And what if something goes wrong? Have you told the police about this madness?” Alaine continues, cutting off his chance to answer her first question. “Do they agree with your assessment? Are they providing back up?”
Lucas sighs and looks to Seth for help. All he finds in the rearview mirror is a look that says, I told you to keep your mouth shut. Seeing that he’s on his own, he presses on.
“No, we’re keeping the lid on this one, babe,” Lucaas explains. “Only Seth, Tawny, myself, Louise from personnel and now you know about it. The less people who know that it’s just a ploy to get him into the office, the less likely it is that he will suspect that something. I need the opportunity to look legitimate to him. I don’t think he will resist the chance.”
“Lucas,” Alaine pleads again. “Don’t do this. I’ll leave the state with you if you want," she says with desperation in her voice. "You can’t use yourself as bait. Please, don't."
Unable to resist any further, Lucas pulls Alaine to his chest and encloses her there against his heavily pounding heart. She clings to him and whispers into his jacket, “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“I’ll do what I have to do to keep you safe, Ali,” he answers. "That's all that matters to me."
She looks up at him. Lucas swallows. With his eyes, he begs her permission because he still doesn’t know exactly where they stand. If he's learned anything about their relationship in the last week it's that, nothing is set in stone and he doesn’t know what will happen today or tomorrow or the day after or whenever this inevitable square off with Angus takes place.
She leans closer, removing the space between their lips. When they touch, it’s infinitesimal, barely noticeable but Lucas drags in a length of air into his lungs. It feels like the first time he’s really breathed freely, without any strain sitting on his chest, in five days. He pulls her closer, holds her tighter and weaves his fingers through the hair at the back of her neck.
He’s missed this -- every part of being with Alaine. Though he wants to make up for the loss of her absence, he doesn’t keep the kiss longer than he needs to, because over lunch he’d promised her slow and steady, not hot and heavy like he’d done at the start of their relationship.
It takes a few more seconds before he lets her go, however, since, whatever happens with his plan, if something truly does happen to him, then he wants as much of her as he can get.
Regretfully, he lets his arms drop away and reminds her, “it’s time to get back to work. You don’t want to be late.”
On his order, Seth drives to the front of the building so that Alaine can get out safely. While she’s hopping off onto the sidewalk, Lucas snags her hand to stop her.
“Let me know if Ian tries anything,” he says.
She chuckles softly but nods. “What will you do if he does?”
He looks at her thoughtfully then runs a finger along her neck, devoid of his marks of possession. “I’ll have to go back to marking my territory,” he says.
Though she shivers and gravitates towards his touch, Alaine makes a sound of disapproval.
“Don’t you dare,” she warns.
Lucas laughs and gives her a chaste kiss on her cheek.
“I have missed you, goddess,” he admits.
“I missed you too, Adonis,” she replies.
Lucas throws his head back and laughs again. “You do know that guy dies a gruesome death right?”
Once the words leave his mouth, he snaps it shut wishing he could take them back when he sees the look of horror on Alaine’s face. To make up for his blunder, he slides out of the vehicle after her to accompany her up the steps all the way to the elevators and making small talk along the way.
“I’ll pick you up?” he questions as he pushes the button for AeroTech’s Tech department.
“I’d like it if you did,” she answers.
“I will be here at five to collect you,” he says as she walks into the opened car.
As the doors close her in, Alaine stares at him. Something about Lucas standing there all on his own breaks her heart. Rather than racing out of the elevator and back in his arms like she wants to do, she takes a deep breath and offers him a little wave before the doors seal him out of view.
How she functions for the rest of the day, since Lucas revealed his plan, Alaine doesn’t know. Added to that had been her eagerness to see him again and those two things in her head, along with the glare of her screen had thrown her on the cusp of a headache.
She'd dove into his arms when he'd met her by the elevators, promptly, at 5, just as he'd promised. Some of the tension had leeched out of her then.
Now, as soon as she steps into her new apartment, with Lucas following her inside, she kicks off her heels at the door and sighs while wiggling her bare toes on the hardwood floor.
“Why do you wear them?” Lucas asks. "I've always thought of these things as a hazard."
"They are," Alaine agrees.
She follows her nose to the kitchen and kisses Isabella’s hair where she’s sitting at the counter. Delah’s eyebrows quirk up at their company and she doesn’t try to hide her smile.
“Nice to see you again, Mr. Bright,” she greets. “Also, thanks for the new digs.” Then she grabs her daughter and says, “come on, baby. Let's give Aunt Ali and the very nice man some privacy.”
She comes to fake placing a kiss Alaine’s cheek and whispers, “Make up sex is awesome, if you haven’t done it yet.”
Alaine turns crimson and the red shade to her skin heightens just a bit more when her sister gives Lucas a suggestive wink before sauntering off as if she’d done her good deed for humanity for the day.
“I won’t stay,” Lucas assures Alaine. “That’s not why I came,” he explains, confirming that Delah hadn’t been as secretive as she’d thought.
“I just wanted to see what you’ve done with the place and I see not much,” he reprimands with a scowl. “There’s scarcely any furniture in here, Ali,” he notes.
He strides forward, studying the environment with Alaine following behind him.
“Most of it is my old stuff,” she explains. “And I got a new, well actually,” she corrects. “It’s a used table and set of chairs for the dining room. They’ve been refurbished quite nicely.”
Lucas scoffs at her.
“I contacted an interior designer for you,” he admits. “She was supposed to have taken you furniture shopping but...” he starts to say. Afraid to ruin their limited time together by addressing their short break up, he lets his sentence drop. “When you’re ready, I’m sure we can reschedule.”
Alaine comes stand before him and places both hands on his torso. His eyes drop to her face. She looks up at him wondering how he can seem so calm when her heart is ready to pound it’s way up her throat.
“You’re too good to me, Lucas,” she tells him softly. “I know I hurt you with what I said about your mother and then leaving. I am so sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Lucas smooths her hair behind her ear and lets his fingers caress her jawline. To watch her lean into his touch and kiss his palm has his already frantic heart beat faltering.
“I don’t know when you will believe me, Alaine,” he tells her. “Being with you is all I want.”
He barely gets his entire sentence out. She swallows his words with a kiss -- a scorching kiss that zings his nerves and the need to be inside her to life. A growl rumbles from Lucas’ throat but he recalls Dion’s admonition. No sex, no matter how badly she wants it. And he can tell that Alaine is right there -- wanting it -- wanting him -- her need for him just as fevered as his need for her.
He whines in protest at the thought but walks back the desire to lift her up, wrap her legs around his hips and pin her to the nearest surface, like they both want.
“God, Ali,” he whispers into her mouth. “Slow and steady, remember? I can already tell it’s going to be hard but I want to try.
Her eyes, when she looks at him, are cloudy with lust and her lips a might fuller and pinker than they’d been mere moments ago.
“In time, we can arrange the nights I spend here with you and the nights we spend at my place and the nights where we talk on the phone,” he suggests.
“Wait,” Alaine tells him. “You’re not spending any nights here. House rules."
The confusion in Lucas' brain is reflected in the narrowing of his eyes and deep furrow in his brow. “I don’t...I thought we were...please explain that?” he stammers.
“I live here with my sister and a four year old,” Alaine obliges to his request. “I don’t think I want to have to explain to her why you are sleeping in my room.”
“Oh,” Lucas says visibly relaxing. “Understandable, I guess. But I can leave before the sun comes up. Never mind,” he adds when she scowls at him. “We’ll work it out.”
“So?” Delah questions right after Alaine closes the door behind Lucas. She doesn’t bother trying to fake hiding her excitement so Alaine tries to taper her own but keeping the grin off her face.
“Does this mean what I think it means?” Delah presses. “I’m pretty sure I heard some heavy moaning coming from behind your bedroom door.”
“You were listening?” Alaine scolds.
Heat rises to her cheeks so she palms them with her cold hands.
Unashamed, Delah continues, “I’m pretty sure that those weren’t the sounds of make-up sex. More like some seriously heavy petting but it’s progress.”
“I’m kicking you out,” Alaine threatens.
Ignoring the threat as if it never came, Delah pushes, “dish.”
“We’re taking it slow,” Alaine confesses. “He wants to take it slow and I don’t blame him. I hurt him and I guess I have to work to regain his trust.”
Delah’s excitement visibly crumbles in the wake of that admission. “I’m sorry, Ali,” she says.
“Me too,” she answers.
“On the Bright side,” her sister hums to make her feel better. “Some things appear to still be working,” she says and points to the faint mark near Alaine’s collar bone.
“He didn’t,” she gasps and runs to the nearest mirror. Strangely, instead of being upset, she smiles. Lucas had left his mark on her like he’d promised. It’s faint and can easily be covered up by a shirt with a collar. She’ll wear it proudly. Just beneath her clothes.
Later, when she gets to bed, sleep is elusive but for no other reason than being too happy about having Lucas back in her life. They may not be where they had been before her rash decision to run but it’s a start. Starting over, he’d called it and she's more than willing to do whatever he wants.
All in all, she’d had a good day. She’d started a new job and her heart is right back where it should be. For now, she’s content and sighs just so while she hopes that the man responsible for her happiness is just as happy as she is.
Unfortunately, her joyfulness doesn’t translate in her dreams. For in her slumber, blackness closes in on Alaine. It’s everywhere. All around her, all she can see is black. Her pounding, terrified heart beat is what jerks her awake and like she’s done every night, she immediately reaches out to feel for Lucas next to her. Remembering that he isn't there, she stalls mid-stretch. At least, this time, she doesn't break down into tears. She turns to her phone on her nightstand instead. At least, this time, she can call him.
The phone resting on Lucas' desk vibrates loudly in his quiet home office. He glances at the clock on his computer screen before reaching for it. Whenever he receives a call at these late hours, his mind always imagines the worse. At the time when he hadn’t known Alaine, his first worry had always been for Claudia -- that she’d done something really stupid or even worse, Kurt had done some terrible damage. These days however, his first thoughts are always Alaine.
When he looks down at the screen, her name blinking at him makes his heart lurch in panic.
“Babe?” he questions answering immediately. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?
“I,” she begins in a voice that sounds far too weak for his liking. Then she pauses, causing Lucas to sit up with worry. He’s ready to get dressed, to go to her if need be.
“Baby, talk to me,” he demands as he pushes his chair away from the desk.
“I had a bad dream,” she finally says.
Relief makes him sink back down in his chair.
“I’m sorry," she says softly. "Did I wake you? I feel like I might have woken you. It’s so late. I probably shouldn't have called."
“No,” Lucas reassures her quickly. “Not at all. I'm glad that you did. I was just sitting here. It’s really so quiet and lonely since you left,” he admits. “What was it? Your dream? Are you having a lot of those?” he asks as he settles his head against back rest.
He closes his eyes and tries to imagine her there with him.
“We were getting married,” she begins to explain.
“I’m confused,” Lucas tells her. “You said it was a bad dream. How is that...marrying me is terrifying to you?”
Alaine finds herself chuckling. “No dummy,” she says. “But everyone was dressed in black. Everything was black and dried up and dying. My wedding gown was black, the flowers, just everything and I couldn’t find you. I tried to. I searched and cried and called your name but...
“I see,” Lucas tells her and he scratches his chin thoughtfully.
He really shouldn’t have told her about his plan to draw Angus out in the open.
“You know they’re just dreams, right?” he says. “They can’t hurt you. They’re projections of how you feel and what you’ve experienced; as well as what you hope for.”
“I know but they feel real so real,” Alaine explains.
“Right now your scared, Ali,” Lucas tells her. “What scares you most?” he asks softly.
“That you’ll get hurt,” she replies. “And the worst part is that now when I wake, you’re not here,” she admits.
That confession makes Lucas smile. “You can call. I’ll always be here for you if you let me. And I think you’re just missing me,” he jokes to lighten the mood.
Alaine leans back on to her pillow, growing comfortable again as the terror that has haunted her begins to fade quicker than it has over the last few nights. She laughs at Lucas’ last statement but doesn’t refute it. “I do,” she agrees.
“I have a temporary solution,” Lucas tells her. “I am willing to pick you up for work in the morning.”
Incredulous, Alaine states, “that’s a half hour detour and that’s if traffic is kind.”
“Then I’ll start my day forty-five minutes earlier,” he shrugs like she can see him. “I do have some pull with the boss. I’ll pick you up for lunch and then take you home after work. That way even if we are not together, you get to spend as much time as you can with me during the day. What do you think?”
“I’d like that,” Alaine drawls as his lulling tone, drives her once more toward sleep.
“You would?” he asks softly. “I do have a question, Alaine.”
“Hmm?” she hums.
“Does this mean I’m your boyfriend again?”
She chuckles sleepily. “Do you want to be?”
“Yes,” Lucas replies. “I’ll stay on the line until you’re asleep.”
“I wish you I were with you.”
“Me too, baby.”
The realization that he can do better than just imagine her makes Lucas' eyes snap open. He pulls the phone away from his ear to enable his link to the devices in her apartment. The camera set up in her bedroom fills his screen and sends a soft love song to play through the speaker sitting on her beside table.
"I'm looking at you," he confesses. "Where did you get my shirt?"
"I feel safer already," she replies. "And that shirt is the only thing that's kept me alive this week."
"Sleep," Lucas commands softly.
Alaine smiles as the refrain fills the room and she hums along into the phone when the singer’s voice joins the melody. The sound of it is smooth, seducing her into closing her eyes to imagine that Lucas is lying next to her, just as the lyrics says.
“I love you, Lucas,” she tells him.