Bright Knight:Goddess

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strictly Business

I have worked and reworked this bad boy over the last week and still, I couldn't successfully tweak it the way I wanted to without bringing the word count to about ten thousand. Alaine and Lucas have to have a very important discussion concerning their pasts and the parents and some new year's resolutions. I had inserted it into an earlier chapter but did not like the flow. I'm trying to work it in somewhere else but so far no dice. Anyway, I hope to have better luck in the next one.

Have a good read, guys! Don't forget to leave a comment, if it pleases you.

“You scared me,” Alaine whispers.

Still not fully emerged from beneath the surface of awareness as yet, Lucas questions, “hmm?”

“Your eyes rolled back, Lucas,” she informs him. “All I could see were the white parts of your eyes. You lost consciousness, I think.”

He chuckles in response, a brief weak sound that speaks of how utterly spent he is and of the effect of her soothing touch lulling him into relaxation. His eyes remain half-closed and with his chest still heaving, Lucas calls on his energy reserve to lift his head off its perch on Alaine’s shoulder only to continue laving kisses across every part of exposed flesh he can reach.

“I’m fine,” he mumbles against her skin.

He may say so, but Alaine’s skepticism persists. Seeing him that way, his features scrunched up and twisted so tightly one second before going completely lax the next had terrified her. For a moment, she’d honestly thought that she’d killed him. Only his hands had proven otherwise. Somehow, while she’d thrashed around trying to get off him, his hands had kept their bodies firmly joined together with an almost painful grip on her hip and breast. She’s certain that the place where he’d held her will produce a fresh set of bruises by morning -- not that she minds.

“I thought I killed you,” she grumbles.

He laughs louder this time, a deep rumbling sound that tickles her skin and fans the loose tendrils of hair hanging around her neck.

“But what a way to go,” he jokes.

Pulling back, Alaine hits him on his chest with her wet palm. In the quietness of the bathroom, the impact is sharp and loud. It doesn’t hurt him, however. Lucas rubs the spot playfully and grins at her.

“It’s not funny, Lucas,” Alaine sniffles.

He chuckles again and says, “I know. I’m sorry,” but his grey eyes still flash with mirth.

Raising a hand, he caresses her cheek with his thumb. The smile pulling his lips softens and the look in his eyes transforms into something intense, yet gentle and captivating. “I’ve never been more alive,” Lucas says, his tone hushed. Then using his hold, he guides her lips to his once more.

When he kisses her this way -- with this odd combination of sensations that is equal parts heat and tenderness, eroticism and love and a slew of other emotions dissolved together to create this tantalizing potion, he could probably get Alaine to give in to anything. Those kisses are as manipulative to her mind and body as a drug. Before Alaine knows it, her concerns about the state of Lucas’s health are being driven to the back of her mind.

He glides his hands over her slick body again, like he’d done a short while ago -- palming her breasts, circling her waist then sliding down over her hips, thighs, and calves. He follows the same path back up her body but makes a detour to squeeze the round cheeks of her butt.

She glories in his ministrations, sighing and moaning into his mouth while his tongue plays a game of seduction with hers. By the time they separate, both their eyes are glazed over with lust, their lips swollen and ripe for more kisses, and Lucas is already almost fully aroused again and notching himself at her entrance.

Fear of hurting him penetrates their little paradise of pleasure enough to keep Alaine alert. She frowns down at him and says, “maybe we shouldn’t?”

“Why not? I think we should,” he tries to cajole while nipping at her bottom lip. “I think we should do this, again and again, to make up for lost times.”

Although she doesn’t disagree, Alaine gives him a conciliatory smile. “I’m really happy that after so long, you still have the hots for me, but I really want to see what else you have in store for the evening,” she says smartly.

Lucas gives her a knowing look with his eyebrows drawn in, his eyes slightly narrowed and his lips flattened in a grim line. He knows exactly what she’s trying to do. He opens his mouth to argue but the genuine concern for his well-being shining back at him through her eyes, makes him relent.

“This isn’t over,” he warns.

Looking down at the discarded appetizers on the floor, Lucas shakes his head with another chuckle.

“You’ve blown my plans to bits,” he tells her. “Right now, I’ve only got one thing on my mind,” he adds and trails his finger through her sex.

“Later. Please?” she requests. “Let’s just enjoy this.”

“By the time we’re done, dinner will be too cold to eat,” Lucas warns.

“So we’ll reheat it,” she shrugs.

“Good thing sushi isn’t on the menu, then,” he says.

Once again, Alaine settles back into the water with her back resting against Lucas’s chest. While she enjoys chocolate covered strawberries and the apple cider he’s provided, his fingers never cease trailing over her body, neither are his lips ever far away from her ear and neck. They nip and suck at her glossy skin constantly, keeping her right there on the edge of desire.

“The water’s getting cold,” he says while nuzzling her hair.

“I’m so comfortable,” she sighs.

“We won’t be for much longer,” he murmurs. “Plus I’m ready to get all the other stuff out of the way so I can take you to bed.”

“How romantic,” Alaine chuckles.

“I had planned a romantic evening, remember?” Lucas reminds her.

They bicker about it playfully -- about whose fault it is that his plans are falling into place in reverse order.

“You’re the one who teased me into playing your little game,” Lucas reminds Alaine. “You’re also the one who turned it dirty, rubbing your semi-naked self all over me. I’m a man with a weakness for this body, and you know this,” he declares and runs his hands all over her curves, just to prove his point. “I think that absolves me of all responsibility.”

All Alaine can do is laugh. “Okay, you win,” she concedes. “I did know that and I played to your weakness to get exactly what I wanted,” she says and pulls herself out of the water with no regard for her nakedness.

Lucas admires her boldness and the view with a little smile still in place on his lips.

“Are you coming?” she asks.

They towel off together, continuing in their playful banter. Alaine is the first to step out of their bathroom and into his bedroom. The scene she meets there is not much different than the one in the bathroom, just a lot more elaborate and she wonders if this is the same room she’s slept in so many times.

There’s a canopy surrounding the bed now, draped in a light see-through material glowing with fairy lights. During the time they’d spent in the bathroom, the sun had disappeared completely, taking all its light and warmth with it. Outside is dark, twinkling with lights from the surrounding buildings. Inside their little romantic haven, only those fairy lights and candles set the room aglow but Alaine can make out the petals spread over white silk sheets.

“Wow,” she breathes softly. “You did all of this for me?” she turns around to ask Lucas.

“This is nothing,” Lucas promises. “As I said, everything I have is yours, starting with my heart,” he stares down into her eyes to say.

Her own heart flutters inside her chest while she returns his soft gaze and links their fingers together. Some months ago, she hadn’t been certain where they were heading as a couple, now they have this.

Lucas carries their joined hands to his lips, kissing her fingers and then the inside of her palm.

“I have something for you. Come on,” he beckons softly as he walks to his closet. “This is for you,” he says reaching out to pull a garment bag off the rack. Then he points to a shoebox and appropriate jewelry sitting on one of the shelves. “Get dressed and meet me downstairs.”

After that, he turns on his heels, quite unceremoniously, to head down to the guest bedroom with the fierce look of determination in his eyes.

He is going to see this through. Alaine might have thrown things off course with her little seductive game but every item on the agenda tonight is going to happen.

After getting dressed in the guest bedroom, Lucas goes into the kitchen to reheat their meal as Alaine suggested. He frowns at the microwave and the oven, squinting in the semi-darkness to make out the buttons and knobs and glowing LED displays, muttering to himself.

Eventually, he’s going to have to develop some type of relationship with the appliances in his home.

The realization that he’s running out of time has him rushing to find his phone where he’d left it in the gym to fire off a quick text to Alaine.

Lucas: Houston, we have a problem. Don’t worry, I’ll get it all under control. No, I do not need your help. Please, stay in the bedroom until I call you.

Alaine: Houston, we also have a problem up here. The dress is lovely. So is the jewelry. I can’t zip myself up all the way up my back and my hair’s a little wet. It’s limp. I probably do need your help.

Lucas chuckles.

Lucas: I’ll zip you up when things are ready down here. I’m not sure that I can be of any help with your hair but Jackie bought a ton of implements you might find useful. They’re in the bathroom...I think.

When that conversation ends, he calls Jackie.

“Why are you calling me?” she scolds. “You should be...”

“I know exactly what I should be doing,” Lucas grumbles. Maybe if he were talking to Dion or Carter, he might have added, Alaine is being difficult. Since this is his housekeeper, though she possesses the sensibilities of a stripper and not a soon to be grandmother, he doesn’t want to cross that line.

“I’m afraid our dinner’s grown cold and I have no clue what to do about it. There’s not enough time for me to figure out how to use these appliances on my own,” he explains.

Jackie rattles off the information that he requires. In just about fifteen minutes, Lucas has two courses warmed to the perfect degrees and Jackie had informed him that dessert has to be kept refrigerated. After replating everything, he surveys his handiwork with satisfaction. Reheating food without diluting the flavor and texture is more delicate work than he’d imagined. He can’t fathom what it must take to actually put a meal like this together.

He carries their first course back to the table and traps the warmth by placing a silver plate serving cover over them. Then, he sends a final text to Alaine.

Lucas: This night should have gone off without a hitch. I’m sorry. Next time it will be better. How is the hair coming?

Alaine: Thank god for the internet and Delah. I’m mostly done. I wrestled the zipper up all the way, by the way. Also, tonight has been absolutely perfect but I don’t want there to be a ‘next time’.

Immediately, Lucas understands what the last part of her reply means and he feels his heart clench. It was him getting shot which has led them to where they are tonight. Yet, he says...

There will be many more nights like this in our future. Hopefully, without hitting any snags.

Half an hour after coming downstairs, Lucas stands at the foot of the stairs and waits. Tonight, he’d gone for a semi-formal look himself, with a conservative dark suit and dress shirt, minus the tie. Alaine appears there above him dressed in a peach knee-length ensemble made of the softest material, looking all feminine and beautiful. She’d gathered all her hair up in a high, tight ponytail atop her head, sending the loose strands cascading down her back. The high neckline of her dress accentuates her slender neck but hides the soft skin that not too long ago had been the recipient of so much of his attention. The bodice, on the other hand, is another story with way the gathered, pleated design reveals the shape of her breasts and their sway as they move with each step she takes.

God help him, but he wants her. The time in the tub hadn’t been enough to sate his desires.

He’s not sure if those feelings he has for her will ever change. Will his heart ever not miss a few beats when he sees her? Will he ever lose the nervousness that comes with his eagerness to please her and not mess this -- what is between them -- up? Will he ever feel like he deserves the attention of this goddess? The answer to all of these questions is likely no. Maybe as time passes those yearnings he has will only increase and why shouldn’t they? Even while he was in recovery and shutting her out or pushing her away, he’d felt this way. He’d never once doubted that he loves her with everything he has.

Pulling in a deep breath does nothing to loosen the ball of emotions swelling in his gut but at least, his heart picks up a regular rhythm again.

“I don’t know why I think that it’s impossible for you to get any more beautiful,” he says as she walks down to meet him. “But you do every time I see you.”

“Well, I have to keep up,” Alaine says and even if her tone is joking the sincerity in her words shine through the look in her eyes. “You’re a hard act to follow.”

Lucas laughs a full-bellied laugh with his head thrown back in pleasure. “May I have the honor of taking you to your table, my lady?” he offers as he loops her arm through his to guide her across to the little nook Jackie prepared for them.

More candles and flowers litter the apartment. Alaine can scarcely believe it. The first time she’d entered Lucas’s home, she’d noticed his preference for functionality and hard angles. It’s a large apartment, yes, but very utilitarian in its presentation, just like his office. There is no more color than needs be. No additional or extra pieces of furniture or decoration than necessary. There was no feminine touch added either and yet tonight, she is standing in a different world.

“Jackie must be some kind of Houdini,” Alaine marvels.

Lucas has to agree. What his housekeeper has done is above and beyond what he’d expected. Then he dismisses that thought and smirks to himself. It’s Jackie. She’s wanted this kind of life for him more than he’d wanted it for himself. It’s quite possible that she’s had this plan sitting at the back of her mind for some time now. Of course, she’d pull out all the stops.

Once they’re done admiring the decor, Lucas pulls out Alaine’s chair for her before rounding the table to take his seat opposite her.

For the most part, they enjoy their meal in silence. After the first course, Lucas gets the second from the kitchen but that’s as far as they get.

“I can’t eat another thing,” Alaine says with regret in her voice. “You ruined my dinner with chocolate but this was delicious. Give my compliments to the chef.”

“You can give your compliments to me as well,” he states while setting down his fork. “I reheated everything without charring anything.”

Alaine chuckles. “I thought there was dancing on the cards tonight.”

“There is,” Lucas confirms.

He pushes his chair back to walk to her side and offers her a hand. “I should have done this three years ago,” he says softly as she puts her fingers in his. “That first night I saw you, I should have walked over, introduced myself, and asked you to dance.”

Alaine allows him to draw her up from her seat. Her eyes are locked on his. For some reason, his words make her breathing accelerate slightly. Or it could be the way he’s watching her with genuine wonder in his eyes of what might have been if either one of them had been brave enough to approach the other that night.

“I was a waitress,” she says in an incredulous, yet quiet tone, her voice a little breathy. “I wasn’t there to dance.”

“Still,” Lucas says. “I should have. What would you have done?”

“Probably puke,” Alaine chuckles again. “Lucas Bright asking me to dance? I kept it cool that night but I probably would have puked.”

Lucas laughs. “Now that is surprising. I thought you probably would have scratched my eyes out.”

The musical introduction of a song pours softly from the surround sound system before the melody is accompanied by the smooth voice of the vocalist. Lucas pulls Alaine closer, pressing her body as close as she can be.

“Seriously, Alaine, I let you walk away because I was too scared to want something different and at the most unexpected moments, over the course of three years, I would think about the exact time you looked at me across that room and wonder what if I had done something differently,” Lucas whispers as they move across the floor together. “Do you know that when the night was over, I was actually afraid that I would never see you again?”

“I didn’t know that,” she answers and rests her head over his strong, steady heartbeat. The sound of it thumping beneath her ears makes her eyes drift close on a silent prayer of thanks. “I thought you had forgotten about me. But I never forgot you.”

“I never forgot you, baby. I couldn’t.”

Alaine kisses him them. She lifts her head off his chest and fuses her lips to his in a kiss that steals his breath. Lucas hesitates for a moment. Not too long ago, she’d been reluctant to make love to him again but her lips against his say something different this time. At first, he returns her kiss tentatively, giving her a chance to pull away. When she doesn’t, he wraps both hands around her waist, tightening his hold on her body and delves his tongue into her mouth.

They stagger up the stairs toward the bedroom, lips connected, and hands groping at clothing to get each other undressed. Lucas gets to the door first. He shoulders his way inside, dragging Alaine with him and pins her against the wall beside the door frame. With patience that he doesn’t possess at the moment, he releases her from the bodice of her dress. The cinched waist prevents the material from slithering to the floor. Rather it collects around her waist making him growl in frustration.

On her own, she wraps one of her legs over his hips while her nimble fingers finish undoing the buttons on his shirt. Lucas wants to run his hands up those smooth thighs but somehow, in the haste of trying to remove his jacket, his arms become tangled at his back. Their uncoordinated, eager movements are hardly suited to the romantic picture in the room, meant for finesse and synchrony. Neither one of them cares. All they can manage is this desperation to remove the barriers out of the way.

Alaine grinds herself against the front of his trousers. Lucas’s head swims when a fresh rush of blood travels south to remind him what he should be doing. If he was certain that his legs wouldn’t turn to jelly, he would take her right there. Instead, he pulls away with a growl and fights his way out of his jacket. Forgetting about his opened shirt, he lowers himself on his haunches to relieve Alaine of her dress and underwear. Once she’s naked in front of him, he peppers her flesh with kisses, causing her to sigh and then gasp when his mouth closes over that sensitive bundle of nerves between her legs. The taste of her arousal on his tongue sends a surge of wanting through Lucas’s gut.

Abruptly, he abandons her little pleasure spot and stands to ravage her mouth with kisses again.

“I can’t,” he says between kisses. “I can’t wait. I need to be inside you.”

His eagerness for her makes Alaine dizzy but she nods and moans as one of his fingers finds her and slips inside her body.

“You’re always so ready for me, aren’t you, sweetheart?” he teases.

They stumble over to the bed and without delay tumble onto the soft surface, perfumed with the sweet smell of roses, in a tangled heap.

This should have been slow but both their desire has been fanned to a fever pitch and neither wants to wait. Lucas wants to keep touching Alaine, stroking her to prepare her for the urgency with which he’s going to be thrusting inside her. At the same time, he wants to get out of his damn pants. He divides his attention, keeping one hand on her breasts, pinching her nipples and sliding down her body to enter her again. With the other, he fumbles with the belt buckle, button, and zipper keeping his aching flesh imprisoned inside his pants. It takes some doing but when his efforts are finally successful and he’s holding his throbbing member in his hand, Lucas breathes with relief.

“You’re so perfect,” he whispers, taking a second to admire her in all her naked glory. Then he’s poised above her and placing the head of his thick erection at her entrance.

Her readiness pulls a ragged breath from Lucas, makes his stomach muscles spasm, and his flesh weep in desperation to be inside her.

He’d honestly planned to take this slow. Maybe sometime in the very near future, when he no longer feels as if he will die if he can’t get inside her, he’ll make amends. For now, he thrusts all the way inside her in one greedy move, like his life depends on it and groans, long, low, and deep.

Since they’ve already done this once before, he’s not sure how long he will last this time around. He moves against Alaine's walls slowly, maintaining that even pace for as long as he can, hoping to take Alaine to the stars with him. He uses his kisses on her lips and her neck, his fingers along her skin, and a slew of dirty words to coax her there.

“Oh god,” she gasps when his fingers massage the little pulse beating just above the spot where their bodies are joined.

“That’s it, baby,” Lucas gasps. “You’re right there. I feel you. God, Ali, I feel you.”

And he does. He truly does. Every nerve in his body feels charged and sensitive and with her warmth snug around him, those sensations are so magnified, it makes him tremble and shiver.

It only takes a few more thrusts from him and even fewer strokes of his fingers before her muscles tighten. Her tight walls close even tighter around him, pulling a strangled cry from Lucas’s throat. She weeps his name and shudders with a burst of ecstasy vibrating from her core all the way to the tips of her extremities. For the first time in her life, Alaine loses herself completely and swears softly.

It sounds so foreign and wrong coming from her, Lucas's chest rumbles with laughter -- laughter that transforms into a pitiful moan then a whimper.

He looks up into her bewildered eyes and sees the already pink flush in her skin glow brighter.

“That good?” he breathes.

Not once, does his hips stop driving into her. Watching her unravel beneath him is its own aphrodisiac stimulating the tingling in his spine.

Lucas he holds off for as long as he can, his stomach muscles spasming with the effort and all the while gritting his teeth in determination. Then it’s like a rocket goes off and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

The cords in his neck stretch taut. It feels like every muscle in his body contracts painfully. Inside her, his already engorged tumescence inflates further and he hangs on the edge of the precipice. The moment her eyes meet his, he lets go and falls for what feels like forever.

Nothing has ever been more beautiful to Alaine, than witnessing this -- Lucas in the throes of ecstasy.

When it finally feels that this unnatural desire has been exorcised from his body, Lucas hides his face in her shoulder, sucking in lungfuls of air.

"I already want to do this again," he sighs placing soft kisses there. "I'll never have enough of you."

As if to prove it, he starts kissing her again. This time, he takes it slow and every time, Alaine tries to control the rhythm of his shallow thrusts inside her, he reminds her, "slow, baby."

His deep, husky voice in her ear seems to have a direct connection to her core. Whatever he says to her causes her walls to clasp tighter around his length inside her. It's a delicious feeling that Lucas can't get enough of so every now and then, he encourages her with a word that sends her crazy.

He uses the mastery he’s learned through years of debauchery to take them to the crest, multiple times, only to hurtle them back down, leaving Alaine frustrated and needy.

“Please,” she begs eventually.

Lucas shifts their position so she is on top to give her control, even if it’s only for a little while. Seeing her above him is a breathtaking sight. Unable to resist he sits up, paying homage to the smooth, sleek skin, salted with her sweat, and takes the chance of scattering little purple marks against her skin, placing one in a location that Ian Gaines and anyone else interested won’t miss it. She is his and his alone. She will always be his.

All the while, her hips work continuously, rolling over him in a sensuous rhythm. Lucas grunts and groans encouraging her to keep going.

While his lips are attached to her neck, she shudders so he knows how close she is. He wants to hold her back a little longer but it’s such a delectable feeling the way she flutters around him, taking the plunge becomes irresistible.

“Please,” she breathes against his ear. “Don’t stop."

That desperate plea pulls more acquiescence from him. How can he ignore such a heartfelt request? He can’t. It’s impossible.

"Okay, baby," he moans.

Lucas tightens his grip on her hips and surrenders. He hisses through clenched teeth trying to hold on his own release while hers barrels through her body to claim him.

Soon, she is the one who has him weeping her name. To keep his shout of ecstasy from climbing to embarrassing decibels, he smothers the sound pressing his lips to Alaine's so all he does is groan.

"I love you," he murmurs against her mouth. "God, how I love you," he repeats as he crumbles beneath the intensity of the waves of passion rolling through his body.

Breathless, sweaty, and weak from their loving, they remain that way, sitting in the middle of the bed, with Alaine’s legs and arms surrounding him. She presses a kiss to his forehead and trails down across his cheekbones and nose, while they try to return their breathing to normal.

“I’ve missed this,” Alaine admits against his lips.

“Hmmm,” Lucas hums.

Both lethargic, every muscle in their body well-used and rubbery by now, the two of them fall onto their pillows. Neither one moves for a moment while they lie in the silent afterglow, watching the flickering firelight of a hundred candles.

“We should blow these out,” Lucas suggests but remains where he is. He musters up the strength to use his hands to drag Alaine across the few inches between them so she rests snugly in his arms.

“We should,” she hums in reply but makes no attempt to shift from the warmth of his embrace. Enjoying their first step in the return to normalcy, Lucas smiles and nuzzles her neck.

“I don’t want to leave here,” he confesses.

She turns to look at him over her shoulder to see a scowl set in his forehead.

“I just...Now that we have this again, I feel like once we leave here, life is going to try to steal it from me again. Steal you from me," he admits.

Her heart clenches at his words. Unsure of what to say to offer him assurances, Alaine turns her body around in his arms to give herself a chance to think. She places her palm against his cheek and rests her forehead against his.

“I don’t know what happens when we leave this love nest, but, when we do, it will be together," she assures him. "We are going to continue living as us. We enjoy life, together,” she tells him. “And if things get bad, we remember that we’ve already survived worse and we're going to face whatever it is together.”

“Okay,” Lucas agrees on a shuddery breath. He closes his eyes ensuring the intimacy and familiarity of how they're positioned.

To have found such a woman, he has to be the luckiest man alive. She's beautiful both in body and spirit, wise beyond her years and stronger than anyone he's ever known.

“I want to take a vacation,” he blurts out.

“Oh,” Alaine says.

Lucas feels her forehead shift into a scowl against his.

“I distinctly remember you telling me that you don’t take vacations,” she reminds him.

“I know but maybe I should start,” Lucas replies, looking down at her. “It will be cold soon. There’s the promise of a harsh winter this year. I want to spend part of it somewhere warm, with a beach,” he explains.

“Oh,” Alaine says again while trying to gather her fraying thoughts and emotions and contain the sadness splitting her heart.

She's not exactly surprised that Lucas needs a break. What’s shocking is the selfishness rising inside her, wanting her to demand that he has to stay with her. That she needs him here; by her side.

“Do you know where you want to go or when you want to leave?” she asks instead, trying to keep the cracking out her voice.

Lucas frowns at her.

“I think you deserve a vacation,” she offers with as much resolution as she can muster injected into her voice. “You need a break. Don’t worry, this time, I am willing to house sit.”

Lucas lies back against the pillows, feeling the shift in the atmosphere. Whatever bubble they had fashioned around themselves over the last couple of hours, he feels it explode. It's not like he hadn't expected that. Alaine is Alaine and that's exactly why he'd waited until now to bring it up.

He wasn’t asking her permission. More like declaring his intent. Of course, she would say no and he doesn’t want an argument. The fact that she doesn’t seem to know that he obviously wants to take her with him is a sign that there might be one. It coils his gut with nervous tension.

“Come with me,” Lucas whispers to end the silence settled between them. “I want us to take a vacation together.”

She looks up at him with wide eyes.

“Come with me, Ali” he repeats while stretching over her to retrieve a box from the drawer in his bedside table.

Alaine accepts it when he hands it to her and lifts the lid to see two pairs of slippers with their names written in calligraphy across the soles.

“I have to work,” she says, her voice low and distant, like she’s disappearing inside her thoughts. Her fingers trace over her name in one of the soft white shoes. She looks up at him, stupor in her eyes. “I can’t take a vacation now, Lucas.”

“So quit,” he tells her. "That should simplify things."

The suggestion earns him a scoff. He expected nothing else.

Stiffly, she replaces the lid over the box and hands it to him. “I like my job,” she counters. “If this is about Ian...”

“It has nothing to do with Ian,” Lucas interrupts and that is the truth. “I trust you. It's him I do not trust and still, it has nothing to do with him."

"Then what..."

"I think you’ll like it even better if you work for me,” he offers plainly. “I almost died Alaine. A few times,” he reminds her.

It might be a low tactic to bring up his near-death experience, but it achieves its purpose as some of the fight is visibly knocked out of her.

“I want to start living. Hear me out, okay?” he petitions now that he has a window. “I’ve been thinking about it and I really think you should come work for me,” Lucas says preparing himself for a rebuttal.

Surprisingly, all she asks is, “Why?”

Eager to make his point, Lucas props himself up on his elbow and rests a hand on her bare hip to keep them connected.

"Okay," he says. “I do not believe in nepotism but that is not what this is. The moment I saw your resume, my first thought was how you were overlooked. I would have hired you Alaine and I don’t think you should be robbed of the experience of working with my company just because I am in love with you. It’s not fair,” he explains.

Proud of his argument so far and pleased with the way her eyes narrow thoughtfully, he keeps going. “You once told me you wanted to work for me -- with my company. It was your dream even before we met. Is that what you still want?"

"Of course, it is," she answers.

"Here’s your opportunity, Alaine," Lucas tells her. "And I'm not handing it to you because you're my girlfriend. Not even because of how I feel about you. You’ve worked hard for this. Don’t you think you deserve it? I would have hired you, Alaine. I still want to.”

As his presentation sinks in, Lucas watches the thoughts swimming across Alaine’s face.

“And I’m not ready to go back to work,” he admits, his confession gaining him her full attention. “Someone within my company worked with a psychopath to kill me and have you kidnapped,” he continues embarrassed of the fear in his voice. “That person is still there and the fact that Angus hasn’t given up his accomplice tells me that this might not be over. I just want to get away,” he pushes. “I’m going crazy being in this apartment all the time. I'm going crazy when we're you're out on your own. Let's go somewhere...just the two of us for a while."

“Still no leads?” Alaine asks.

“Nothing concrete,” he admits. “Though, we’re working on a hunch. But you get my point, right?”

Silence and indecision hover between them, making Lucas tense and Alaine wary about not thinking things through properly. She doesn’t want to regret anything. The hopefulness in Lucas's eyes, coupled with his admission of his unpreparedness to step back into the place where he was shot, where a hostile enemy could be lying in wait tips the scale of her decision. She will do what is right for Lucas. If the roles were reversed, he’d do the same for her.

The moment that the matter settles in her mind is so familiar to Lucas, he holds his breath and waits. Resolve is clearly written in her eyes. It’s textbook Alaine but he waits with his breath stuck in his throat because he has no idea on which side the coin will fall.

“I’m not going to be your P.A if that’s what you’re thinking,” she tells him seriously. “You’re not bending me over any desk like those women in the books you have me reading.”

The seriousness of their discussion falls apart after she huffs and folds her arms. Lucas laughs loudly. Taking her terms as acceptance of his offer, he leans over her body. “I bet I could,” he says in a sultry tone. “I bet I could get you to sit on my desk,” he adds, sweeping his tongue over his lips, hovering a few millimeters from hers. “I could get you to spread your legs,” he continues, while his hand disappears between them.

“You probably could,” Alaine agrees giving in to the sensuousness of his tongue in her mouth and his fingers working through her flesh. “But you’re not helping your case,” she says when they separate.

Lucas scoffs and chuckles. “Duly noted. Strictly business then,” he agrees. “It’s your brain I’m after during working hours anyway. Will you agree to work for me if I promise to keep my hands and every other body part to myself while we're at the office? Unless you are unopposed to office sex with your incredibly sexy boyfriend.”

Alaine narrows her eyes to slits and purses her lips together, trying to focus while Lucas entertains himself, teasing her body with his. “What if we don’t work out?” she asks. “Then what?”

He stills his slow entry into her to look down at her face. “I can no longer imagine life without you, little fairy,” he confesses before pressing home and sealing their lips with a kiss.

"And by the way," he murmurs. "Once we step out of the office together, I'm no longer your boss. Whether it's the hour that we'll spend together at lunch, after work or before. All bets are off. I may not be able to do what I want with you in my office but the car is fair game."

Long minutes later, when they're once again gathering their strength, Lucas's eyes widen. "Are you still on birth control?"

Alaine wants to lie to him. Just to see what his reaction will be but a goofy smile is already spreading her mouth.

"Now you're asking?" she questions.

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