This chapter has a huge time jump because I needed to move the plot along. I hope that you guys enjoy it. I certainly enjoyed writing it. Don't forget to leave a comment if you feel like it. I love to hear from you guys.
Lucas sits on the single-seater leather sofa in Dr. Caddie’s office. That’s still the most comfortable he’s willing to get when they’re closed behind her doors, although, this is his eighteenth visit. Per his request, the heavy, light blue drapes are drawn, darkening the room a bit so that the sessions feel a little less invasive. It goes without saying that he doesn’t enjoy coming here. Throughout the years, he’s perfected presenting his brave face to the world. No one knows that he isn’t dauntless and that’s the way he likes it. Everyone except Alaine, maybe, believes that he’s mastered the art of living. So many want to be him. Every time he attends these hour-long sessions, he puts his entire carefully crafted image at risk.
The doctor knows to keep some space between them. Rather than coming around her mahogany desk to occupy the chair directly opposite him, she remains firmly seated there in her office chair, where Lucas prefers her. Sitting directly across from her unnerves him the worst way and lying on her sofa is completely out of the question. From the moment she’d suggested it during his first visit, he’d turned her down and nothing will change his mind about putting himself in such a vulnerable and trusting position. Besides, the only reason he’s enduring this is for Alaine. For what they have together.
He holds true to that unspoken promise to love her with a fierce, unconditional love. Part of that is keeping his word about seeing a shrink to deal with the effects of what happened. So he sticks with it, participating and allowing his mind and emotions to be probed by a stranger, no matter how detestable he finds the entire experience. Hopefully, the doctor understands confidentiality and the lawsuit that will follow if she breaks their agreement. She’ll be in need of therapy herself by the time he’s done with her. He’s made that abundantly clear from the onset.
The only thing he hates more than spending an hour here with this psychologist is the twenty minutes or so he has to give his physician - Dion. Just because both these appointments are necessary doesn’t mean he won’t sulk at each.
The sessions aren’t a complete waste if he has to be honest. He’s learned that he blames his father, partially, for his inadvertent involvement in his childhood sufferings. If Arlington hadn’t left Claudia to start another family and subsequently, Lucas in her care, none of it would have happened. Unsurprisingly, he harbors an unadulterated hatred for Kurt but the biggest shock was finding out how truly hurt he is over Claudia’s negligence and how much he truly resents her for it. He’d honestly convinced himself, that he’d grown indifferent to Claudia’s treatment.
These are things that he needs to deal with, Dr. Caddie tells him.
In turn, he’s told her that he doesn’t want to deal with them any differently than he already has. At least not now. One mountain at a time is all he can handle. The one more important than any other is getting through recovery without destroying his relationship with Alaine.
He’s never tried to escape his issues. He’s handled them in the best way he knows now. They’re bottled, he always carries them with him, though hidden beneath the veneer of success, good looks, and charm, instead of substance abuse and other harmful habits. Committing to Alaine has also proven that he is not the lecher he once thought himself to be.
All in all, he’s fine, he thinks. Alaine is the sole reason he opens himself up to this sort of prodding, that strips him bare.
“You see yourself as weak, Lucas,” the doctor says in that soft voice that he hates, yet, always compels a response from him. “Why is that?” she asks.
“Because I am,” he responds simply.
“That can’t be all,” she presses. “If you’re angry, there’s a reason behind it. If you’re sad, there’s a reason behind it. If you say you’re weak, there must be a reason behind it.”
Lucas takes a deep breath. He already knows the answer to her question but that doesn’t mean he wants to admit it out loud. Doing so just makes him too vulnerable. Yet, he says, “It’s my identity. It’s the reason I push myself to succeed.”
“That’s a good start,” the doctor tells him. “Do you want to tell me more?”
She knows he doesn’t but he finds himself answering anyway. “I was at the mercy of others for so long,” he admits. “I was at Angus’ mercy too and there was nothing I could do about it. I almost lost her, Dr. Caddie,” he explains. “If I was stronger, better, then I would have done a better job of protecting her. If I was strong, those things would not have happened to me. I let them happen to me.”
She scribbles in her little book. From day one, Lucas has wanted to know what it is she’s constantly writing. Her notes are about him, he should be entitled to see it. What does she think of him? That he’s some sniveling little rich boy suffering from first world problems, no doubt. He wants to demand that she show him but doesn’t want to come off as some petulant, entitled ass like Dion has accused him of sometimes being.
“Let them?” she looks up from her writing to ask. “How old were you when your stepfather first hit you?”
“Six,” Lucas answers. Automatically, his tongue traces over the spot on his lip that had been split open by the ring on Kurt’s finger.
“And what do you think you could have done then to stop him?” she presses.
To that, Lucas says nothing because even then, he’d known that there had been nothing that he could have done.
Dr. Caddie looks at him and nods. “Have you ever considered that you may have another identity? I don’t think you’re weak. The fact that you’re here and talking is a sign of courage,” she suggests and he as no idea what the hell she means by that. “Maybe you should start seeing yourself as a victim, instead of weak.”
He begins the makings of a protest and the doctor does something she seldom does. She stops him. “You’re a victim and a survivor, Lucas,” she tells him. “To come back from your experiences as successfully and with the determination you have takes strength. To open yourself to the love of one woman the way you have is a remarkable achievement for someone who’s suffered as much as you have. Your experiences didn’t make you weak. They’ve made you stronger. You just need to believe it. And your fear of losing Alaine is legitimate. Whether it is to time or violence, sickness, a freak accident, the fear of losing what we hold dearest, is something we all experience. That doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human.”
It’s not without incident that he travails over the next six months. Some days were good. Some days he’d felt as if he could still conquer the world and the path to the future he wanted for himself with Alaine was certain and laid out in front of him. On other days, however, he’d felt battered and bruised - sometimes literally when he’d pushed himself too hard during his personal workouts outside the help of his physical therapists. He’d come away with patches of purple and blue and black on his back and hips, sometimes his face, from the few times he’d fallen. His over-ambition had left him writhing and groaning in pain on the floor. Sometimes, he’d cried real tears because it hurt so much. On those days, he’d just wanted to be left alone. On those days, he’d wanted it to end. Now in hindsight, he’s glad no one had listened to him. He’s especially glad that Alaine hadn’t quailed beneath his foul moods.
Six months of recovery and almost nine months of loving her later, she’s still by his side.
Lucas feels that familiar flip flop, from his chest to the pit of his stomach, when she enters his apartment for their dinner plans. To think when he’d met her he’d thought of those sensations, the little butterflies fluttering around in his stomach, as a bane. After accepting them for what they are, the first sign of being in love, he’d thought they would fizzle out with time. They haven’t and he wouldn’t have it any other way. They are a reminder of what she means to him and what he’s fighting for.
As always, he is eager for her company, so meets her with a ready smile at the doors to the elevator leading into his apartment. He sweeps his eyes over her face, always searching for a sign that nothing’s changed. When she returns his happy grin, he trails a quick path south to appreciate her little figure. She is exquisite.
Leaning down, Lucas gladly receives the small kiss she allows him. When it comes to his health Alaine is rigorous. Her efforts are as endearing as they are frustrating, since, she barely lets him touch her and that’s all he wants to do.
For two weeks now, he’s been harbouring a secret. He’d been asleep, dreaming a particularly sultry dream. In it, he’d been camped out in a little hut on a remote island somewhere in the ocean. All around him was blue sky, warm seawater, and white sand. The sound of the wind and waves and birds had swarmed his senses. He was aroused but incredibly lonely. Then she appeared - Alaine. Her lips were painted red and she wore a sheer little number that skimmed the tops of her thighs and hid absolutely nothing from his rapt perusal. Underneath she wore only her skin. Her hips and breasts swayed while she walked towards him, inviting him to mark her every step like a starving predator and reach out to her the moment she was within touching distance. She’d given him a smile that said, I know what you want and I’m here to give to you. Just that alone had nearly brought him to his knees. In short order, they were naked, she was kneeling at his feet and her red lips were wrapped around him.
Just thinking about it now and it takes all Lucas’ will not lift her against the wall right where they stand. That night two weeks ago, he’d learned in spectacular fashion that his body still functions. The last time he’d had a wet dream, he’d been sixteen years old and embarrassed and angry that he had no control over his body’s reaction to erotic stimuli. This one, however, he’d thoroughly enjoyed. Once he’d sheathed himself in Alaine’s wet warmth, it hadn’t taken long for his desire to spiral out of control. He’d pleaded and whimpered for her not to stop while she rode him. In the end, he’d come with a shout and had woken up too damn swiftly, sweating, breathing hard, gripping the sheets where in his dream he’d been squeezing her ass, with his body still spilling in ecstasy.
Keeping this a secret from her, especially when she walks around the apartment in her skimpy get-ups, is a trial by fire that grows more and more difficult to win each day. Not to mention, she’s throwing his mind and body into chaos and confusion after being so long in drought. It’s like being a damn teenager all over again with raging hormones. Maybe it wouldn’t be so terrible if Alaine was a little less strict. If she'd allowed him a little touch and offer a few in return, he probably wouldn't feel as if he was on the verge of exploding every second of every day.
Unfortunately, she is like a warden when it comes to his health. Until his physician gives the okay for him to resume sexual activities, he has to be content with keeping his progress to himself.
Considering Dion is his health practitioner, it’s not an appointment he’s looking forward to. The idea that his brother gets to sanction his sex life feels like a gross invasion of his and Alaine’s privacy. Lucas seriously regrets giving him the job. He can just imagine the inappropriate quips he’s likely to be subject to. Just thinking about it already has him wanting to punch his brother. The situation can’t be avoided. If he wants the go-ahead, he just has to clench his jaw and suffer through it.
He guides Alaine to the dinner laid out by candlelight in the dining area.
“Your table ma’am,” he says, making a grand show of pulling out her chair for her.
She smiles her pretty, sweet smile at him that makes his heart clench. It’s clear that she appreciates his ability to do those things for her now. Not too long ago, he could barely lift a spoon to feed himself. Where once she’d argue with his attempts to impress her by being a gentleman, now she just lets him. She’s no happier with his improvements than he is with them. A few months ago, he’d thought he’d never be able to have a normal life again.
Unable to resist, he leans down to kiss the top of her head with a dramatic smack. There was a time when he’d thought he’d never be able to do something like that again too.
“How’s work?” Lucas asks, after taking his seat.
By that, Alaine knows that he means, ’has Ian Gaines tried anything?’
“It’s fine,” she says. “Just like it was when you asked yesterday.”
“I still hate it,” Lucas grumbles. “He wants you.”
“But I don’t want him,” Alaine replies. “How can I when my boyfriend has been named the sexiest man alive and the world’s hottest under forty?” she asks, grinning at him.
She leans down and pulls two magazines out of her bag and presents them to him with a silly grin on her face. On the cover of the first one, she hands him is a picture of the two of them standing on the steps outside of his apartment building, him looking up at her while she smiles down at him. They’re both dressed in spring attire, holding hands and talking.
In the next, they’re occupying a bench after a run in Central Park. Alaine is perched on the backrest, he sits between her legs with his arms draped over her thighs and his face tilted up to receive the kiss she places on his forehead.
He remembers both those days. The first had been his first venture out on the streets of New York since the shooting. On account of how easily he tired back then, they hadn’t gone very far. In the second, he was stronger and quicker and suffered fewer muscle spasms.
He’s back on his feet again, one of the articles reads.
It still unnerves Lucas, more than it did in the past, that people follow his life so closely. Isn’t that what fueled the whole Angus Fiasco in the first place? How many others like Angus are out there?
He frowns and sets both magazines aside. Not wanting to put a damper on the evening before it’s even started, he keeps his misgivings to himself. “You’re proud of that aren’t you?” he says to Alaine.
“You’re my greatest accomplishment,” she replies, this time with a laugh at the ridiculousness of both articles. "Not my degree. Not that I'm starting my masters. Not surviving..." she says but stops when she sees the look on Lucas's face.
To distract her, he sets a small, white envelope on the table, slides it across the glossy surface with one finger, and stops in front of her. So simply, his mood shifts from troubled to nervous when she cocks her head to the side to give him a quizzical look.
“What’s this?” she asks, though she’s already picked it up and flipped the seal.
“I’m returning your key,” Lucas explains.
Alaine pulls out the rectangular strip of plastic. From her expression, Lucas can't tell what she's thinking but says quickly, "I’m not asking you to move in with me," just in case she still has her reservations about it. “But, we’ve been together for nine months now. You’ve stuck with me through the worst of everything. The night I told you about my past, I expected you to run for the hills. But you’re here. I thought I'd spend the rest of my life as an invalid and I thought you wouldn't want me because of it. What use would I be? But you're here and I am beyond happy that you are, Alaine - after all my lows and highs. And I know it wasn’t always easy. That just proves that you are a remarkable woman. That you were made for me. We were made for each other. I love you with all that I have, baby,” he softens his voice to say. “And I want to share my home with you. I want this to be our home when you're ready.”
A part of him fears that she will reject his carefully practiced offer. He’d recited this speech in the mirror a few times today. Regretfully, he’s missed a few important footnotes and it sounds so inadequate now that he’s said it out loud. But hope burns in his chest that she won’t dismiss him. He wants her to accept it for what it is. He may not have said it in so many words, but he wants her to accept this as an invitation to make their situation permanent. To his relief, she tucks the electronic key into the side pocket of her stylish shorts and smiles at him. It doesn’t mean that she is moving in just yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.
“Thank you,” she says and he exhales the breath he’s been holding.
“So tomorrow,” he says to quickly get off the topic. “If tomorrow is indeed my final appointment with Dion, I thought we might do something to celebrate.”
“Like what?” she asks.
“I have a few ideas,” Lucas says. “Keep your calendar open.”
The gleam in his eyes sets her stomach to dancing and her heart to fluttering. Should he get the all-clear tomorrow, it will be a relief. She’s lived every day up until this very moment in fear of the complications that could still arise because of his wound and multiple surgeries. He’s braved the worst and to know that he could have his full health back has her on the verge of tears. Now she is fully aware that each minute she gets with him is indeed miraculous. If he wants to celebrate, she’s all in for whatever he has in mind.
He’s recovered well. Better than expected, in fact. There’s no tremor in his hands and no limp in his gait. The only outward evidence of his incident and convalesce is the weight loss and the fading scars hiding beneath his clothing.
To the silent question in her eyes, as to just what he has planned, Lucas gives her a mysterious shrug. “Just pencil me in okay?”
That’s all he’s willing to give her. She requires no additional prompting to accept.
“Definitely,” she agrees.
They eat their meal as they normally do, picking food off each other's plates. When they're done, Lucas carries their dishes to the sink while Alaine selects something for them to either watch or read. She walks to meet him in the kitchen with a book in hand and her phone in the other.
"What will it be?" she asks.
His eyes jump from the screen to the book and back again. "Book," he decides. "You're reading."
Alaine accepts the role he's given her. She leaves him to the dishes to set up their little nest on the living room sofa. Lucas joins her a short while later. They cuddle up on the larger side of the sectional with her lying between his legs and her head nestled on his chest while she reads the first few chapters of the book.
"My voice is tired," she complains after awhile.
"It's pretty late," Lucas replies as he ruffles her hair softly with his chin and lips. "Are you staying over tonight?"
"I shouldn't," she says but she shifts around to hide her face in his shirt and snuggle closer. "Tawny will be on my back at five in the morning. She's like a fire breathing dragon if I'm late and the grim reaper if I miss a session. She scares me. What time should I come by tomorrow? I could come to your appointment with you."
Lucas chuckles at her description of Tawny. "I'd rather do this one alone, babe," he says in response to her offer to accompany him.
“It’s not that I wouldn’t want you to be there. I just...I don’t want to punch Dion for any of the inappropriate comments he makes when he clears us for...you know...to be intimate again,” he explains. “I’m already uncomfortable with the whole situation as it is. With you there it may just be weird, I think and I don’t want to resort to violence."
“Say no more,” Alaine responds. "I'll see you tomorrow okay."
The mere suggestion of being able to make love to Lucas again stirs a vicious longing in her loins. Looking at him, she can see the same desire plain on his face but doesn't want to jeopardize his health by doing something stupid. So she makes a move to leave quickly.
Lucas is hot on her trail. Before she can reach the elevator, he grabs her hand and spins her around to face him.
"Don't try to run from this," he says.
His voice sounds so growly, it's foreign to his own ears and before she can resist, he pulls her into his body and kisses her...hard. One second Alaine resists and in the next, she finds herself responding with the desperation and fire in his kisses. Her own hunger for him takes over and she climbs up on the tips of her toes, sinks her hands into his hair, and drags him closer to beg for more -- more that he is happily willing to give her.
He hadn't been certain that he wanted to reveal his secret about his ability to perform until Dion said that it was safe but it becomes difficult to hide the stretching in his pants, even when he shifts his lower body away from the magnetic warmth between Alaine's legs, caressing him.
Needing a break to come up for air, Lucas pulls back only to kiss his way down her neck.
"Christ, Ali," he breathes into her skin. "You smell good. I want you. I want you so much."
All he wants to do is push her against the wall, strip her from the waist down and sink his aching flesh into her body. It takes every ounce of strength he has not to do exactly that. She arches her neck for his tongue and lips so he trails back up giving her little nips and sucks, though not hard enough to mark her skin. When their eyes meet again, he sees the same desire he has for her looking back at him. Reason flees from Lucas's mind. He presses his body into her own and walks her back until the wall behind them stops her.
"This is how much I want you," he says as he grinds his erection against her body. "If you stay, we won't make it to the bedroom. I'll have you right here to start."
Stunned at the hardness prodding her, Alaine looks down between them. "You're..." she gasps.
Lucas gives her a wolfish grin. "Hard," he finishes for her. "I've been hard watching you flounce around here in your revealing outfits for two weeks now, baby. "
He frames her face in his hands. "You're driving me crazy," he admits. "I've never known lust like this. I've made love to you in every possible way in my dreams and in my fantasies," he confesses. "I come just thinking about you, Alaine -- making love to you."
He angles his head, leans down and sucks her lower lip into his mouth. The action is swift but erotic in a way that has Alaine moaning while wetness pools between her thighs. Lucas repeats the same action from the opposite direction but makes the kiss last longer this time.
"Tell me yes, baby," he asks softly. "Tell me you want me. I hurt with wanting you. Tell me yes, Ali," he begs before kissing her again and again.
"I want you," she responds.
"Say, yes and I'll know what you mean." He pulls back a little and looks down at her branding her thoughts with the heat in his eyes.
If he presses, Alaine will give herself to him but they both know that's not his way. He'll wait for the word from her and that's the only thing that saves them both from what could be a catastrophic mistake.
Alaine has to shake herself out of the lust induced spell he's put her under and takes a deep breath to slow her accelerated breathing.
"We can't," she opposes though her voice is as weak as her resolve. "Your doctor..."
"Can go hang himself," Lucas finishes for her. "I'm fine. I'll be fine."
Given the few seconds that pass, Alaine reins in her wild hormones and corrals them. She presses her hands to Lucas's chest to push him back so that she can step out of the prison of his arms.
"No," she says firmly. “Only if your doctor clears you tomorrow.”
"He'd better," Lucas grumbles.