To First Dates and Kisses
So this is it! Another very roughly edited chapter. I'm aware that it needs work, but the time it takes to get them to something I am completely satisfied with is just too long and I lose readers.
When Alaine suggested that they work at seeming natural, sharing a kiss is far from what she had in mind. Taking into account the way the petitioner has conducted himself thus far for the evening, it also beats her wildest expectations.
Up until now, Lucas has been nothing short of cold. This sudden change to his demeanor and his forwardness leave Alaine reeling. Yet, she makes no attempt to widen the mere inches of space between her lips and his.
As she ponders on his shocking request, trying to discern whether or not he is serious and whether or not she should agree, Alaine tucks her lower lip between her teeth. As innocent as the action is, Lucas’ imagination and his body’s reaction to it are anything but. All he wants is to close the short distance and learn the feel of her in his mouth.
“You do that a lot,” he says, filling the silence with the words Alaine used on him just a few moments ago.
“What?” she asks only to bring her lip back into her mouth again.
“This,” Lucas responds before taking the liberty of reaching out with his thumb to tug it free. As her easy blush becomes apparent, he doesn’t tell her how unbelievably tempting such a simple act is.
“I do?” she questions.
“Mhmm,” Lucas replies and leans in so close, his breath fans her lips and chin. “It’s very…distracting,” he confesses in a deeply seductive whisper.
Alaine’s heart flails around in her chest. The overexertion and sudden rush of blood strain her lungs, causing her breathing to accelerate. It’s an invitation for Lucas to drop his eyes very briefly to her parted mouth. Another request that this time remains unspoken before he returns to her eyes once more.
The seconds that follow pass in painful slowness – each one more laden with anticipation and fear than the last. Her lack of acknowledgment filters unease into Lucas. The wait for Alaine’s response and the silence his hastiness has wrought starts to resonate the gravity of what he’s just done. It is the most disquieting absence of sound he has ever experienced.
Other than the steady hum of the plane’s engines, it is eerily quiet inside the cabin. The crew is sequestered in their respective stations and Seth occupies a seat somewhere near the rear exit. For now, there is only Lucas and Alaine and the undeniable flame of attraction burning the oxygen from the tiny pocket of air they share.
Given the unexpectedness of his request and Alaine’s skittish nature, it is not surprising that she is unable to give a prompt response. If he has to be honest, he’s even more surprised that she didn’t immediately shut him down. Somehow, Lucas believes that would be more preferable than just sitting here waiting.
He’s just laid himself bare and what does she give in return? Three meaningless words, a blush and nothing more. Meanwhile, all the years spent fashioning the Lucas Bright the world is acquainted with feels undone. Of all the people in his life, he’s chosen a woman who is practically a stranger with whom to let his guard down. And for what? A kiss? For her? It’s ludicrous and agitating.
As easy as he made it seem, asking her for a kiss is the most difficult thing he’s ever done. It’s not something Lucas Bright would do – ever. Yet, he’d done it. Never has he felt this vulnerable and exposed. Her silence keeps him at her mercy and that is not a feeling he enjoys. The most confounding thing of all is that while he wishes that he did not want her kiss – that he could somehow turn back the clock to a few seconds ago – he still hopes that she grants his request.
Under Alaine’s careful scrutiny, Lucas begins to squirm. Suddenly his seat becomes uncomfortable and the air grows too warm and stuffy to breathe.
The worst of it is not necessarily that he’s broken every sacred rule since meeting Alaine. It’s the not knowing what her response will be that upsets him even more. Her answer still straddles a fence. It’s holding him hostage. While she continues the staring, a carnival of scenarios plays in Lucas’ mind.
Since she had been ready to give in to the kiss fate stole from them that night on her landing, there is every possibility that Alaine will say yes. The adverse is also possible. Since she’s taken so long, the answer could very well be, no. Worse yet, she could break down into hysterics, end their affiliation before they’ve even attended the dinner and demand that the plane is turned around on the premise that he’s just violated the terms of their agreement. It’s supposed to be strictly business. Alaine citing this exact thing is not beyond the realm of possibility since she’s done it before. Just yesterday, in fact. If she does, he’ll have no choice but to acquiesce to her request.
Only one of these scenarios will see his ego still intact by the end of the night.
The unexpectedness of what he’s asked of her means that no matter what she says or does he can lay no blame on her shoulders. But the longer she remains in indecision the greater the burn of mortification grows in Lucas. Although no one but the two of them will know, it feels very much like the entire world stands to witness her rejection.
Just in the event that she is going to turn him down, Lucas makes up his mind to save face and get ahead of her. “I’m sorry,” he says to quickly withdraw the request. Leaning back fully into his seat, he shuts his eyes against the brutal blow of embarrassment. “I should not have asked that of you. I’m fully aware of how inappropriate and tactless it was. It’s also a breach of contract. I’m sorry.”
The second he pulls away, Alaine realizes that life hasn’t gifted her with many great memorable moments. Whenever one comes around, she tries her best to latch on to it with a firm grip. This – Lucas Bright wanting to kiss her – feels like one of those few great moments. Maybe it’s even precious.
Yes, she is staggered that he’s actually voiced the desire but now that she’s lost his nearness and the tickling warmth of his minty breath on her lips, it’s clear what she’s passing up.
They will never be more than what they are now. They’ve both made that abundantly clear so it’s fine. It will be nothing more than a kiss. Her first. There’s nothing wrong with that. It has to happen at some point. Why not with Lucas Bright?
At twenty-one, her lack of experience may render her incapable and to the man before her, a consummate flirt and confessed libertine, it may be comical. Her first kiss could be disastrous and he could yuk it up with his billionaire buddies later on. Either way, she isn’t going to turn him down. Consequences be damned.
"Yes," she says.
The single word is spoken so softly, Lucas isn't sure he heard correctly. His heart seems to stop, then hammers erratically against his diaphragm.
“I want you to kiss me,” she adds.
Lucas sets aside the nervousness and warning bells. Without any more preamble, without giving her time to think it over and change her mind, without hesitation, he presses his lips tentatively to Alaine’s in a chaste, unpracticed kiss as her eyes, like his sink close.
Initially, there is only the physicality of it while he tries to teach himself what to do. This is after all his first kiss and he doesn’t want to make a complete idiot of himself. So he doesn’t simply take the plunge like an eager schoolboy. For now, Lucas is content with taking the time to learn what she feels like. The first thing he notes is how soft her lips are, how easily – with only minimal pressure applied – they meld to his.
Before long their kiss develops a taste – a special brand made by the mingling of the spice of apple cider still clinging to Alaine’s lips and the sweet fragrance of her lipstick and perfume. In the midst of that is her own unique flavor. Lucas wasn’t aware that his taste buds were susceptible to purity and innocence, but he can taste them in Alaine.
He never imagined that either could be a feeling or a person. Alaine is the embodiment of both and he wants them all. He wants everything she has to give including her purity and innocence. He wants her to surround him, fill every cell in his body with her essence to replace the man he is and make him better. If she doesn’t succeed in saving him, as he begs in his dreams, maybe he will be the one to taint her. The thought is a scary one that forces him to rein himself in. He doesn't want her blemished by his past. He needs her just like this – sweet and unspoiled.
The taste of her, the feel, the scent coalesce into a heavenly combination that transcends his first kiss from just physical and into something magical – something otherworldly.
Because he doesn’t want to disappoint Alaine, Lucas summons every memory of kissing scenes in movies, of his parents on the days they had seemed happy and prays he doesn’t appear as virginal as he feels.
When he takes her bottom lip between his, she gasps. It’s all the confidence boost he needs. He only just manages to curtail his own sounds of pleasure at the feel of her in his mouth. He sucks lightly and brings his palm up to cup her cheek. His large hand spans the side of her face, weaving into the curls falling behind her ear and he uses his hold to draw her closer. With a feather light touch, he runs his mouth side to side over hers, hoping to tease her into a response.
Despite her delayed reaction, everything in Alaine melts when his tongue sweeps across her bottom lip and his attention shifts to the upper. The sensation leaves her dizzy. Lucas feels her light swallow but at least now she leans into him ever so slightly. So far that’s her only reaction to his gentle probing. It acts like a stop sign. Regretfully, he ends their kiss, pulls back a small inch and looks at her.
“Is this your first kiss, Alaine?” Lucas enquires.
A little embarrassed that he can tell, Alaine keeps her eyes closed. Lucas uses the moment to study her features up close. His thumb grazes lightly over her high cheekbones. She is so exquisite in her beauty, his chest hurts.
Finally, Alaine takes a deep breath before opening her eyes. She’s not yet ready to meet his warm gaze directly, so she keeps them trained on his lips.
“Yes,” she answers, the shakiness in her voice an exact match to the nervous tremors making her hands unsteady.
A pleased smile pulls one corner of Lucas’ lips upwards as he marvels at her. He won’t admit that he’s also never been kissed before but, knowing that he is her first causes a sense of triumph to surge inside him. It feels like he’s conquered no man’s land and he wants to beat his chest to assert his claim. Her admission does succeed in multiplying the pressure he feels to get it right, however. Her first kiss should be absolutely perfect.
To bring her attention to him, Lucas takes her chin in his hand. As he leans in, he watches her reaction - the way her eyes glaze over with what he can only describe as desire, the way her breath expels in a huff when he moves in closer, the way he little body trembles for him. Yes, in a way, in this way, in spite of all the luxuries he owns, he is primitive. He is nothing more than a man who wants a woman - this woman.
“Then I want this to be good, for both us,” he whispers against her lips before he claims them again. This time his kiss is infused with passion. Unable to deny himself any more, Lucas kisses her languidly and full. Something close to possession takes over his actions now that he knows he is the only man she knows so intimately. He keeps her chin between his index finger and thumb, angling her head how he wants to tease her mouth open with his lips and tongue.
She pulls in a shuddery breath. A slight smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. Emboldened by that reaction he continues to meet his tongue with hers.
Needing more access to her, Lucas shifts the armrest separating them. In the absence of its support, Alaine presses her small hand into the firm wall of his chest. Just that feeling, that light pressure summons a low growl from Lucas’ throat. As she leans in further, positively melting against him when the heat coursing through her body turns all her bones liquid, Lucas' arm goes around her and his fingers press into the supple skin of her back.
Nothing has ever felt this good. She feels so good – so warm and soft and feminine. For some reason, Lucas finds her lack of response appealing. That is until she sighs into his mouth. He doesn’t know if it’s a symbol of surrender but now he craves a reaction. He wants her to answer, to kiss him back. Instinctively he reaches for it by running his fingers along her spine. A light tremor coasts through Alaine at the warm contact and ignites the same in Lucas.
All he can think is damn when just as he feels the barest of movement from her lips beneath his, the pilot’s voice announcing their imminent takeoff intrudes through the intercom.
Reluctantly, slowly, Lucas ends their kiss. Again, Alaine keeps her eyes closed so he revels in the signs that reveal what he’d just done. Her lips are mildly fuller. They glisten from his attentions. The pulse at her neck is jumping at a mile a minute and her exposed chest moves in tandem in an accelerated, enticing pattern. She has beautiful lips, beautiful eyes, beautiful skin, a beautiful face. Beautiful Alaine.
“You can open your eyes now,” Lucas tells her.
The green and gold-flecked gems flutter open but they are cloudy and unfocused. Lucas can’t help his smile, nor can he resist placing one last sweet kiss on her lips before easing back in his seat. Again, the pilot announces that their seatbelts should be fastened.
Automatically, Lucas leans over to clip hers in place. As he does it, Alaine notes the tremor in his hand. So does he.
“How was that?” he asks quickly to distract her.
Raising her jittery fingers to her tingling lips, Alaine responds softly, “I have nothing else to compare it to but it was sweet and not scary.”
“I suppose that is better than terrible,” Lucas responds, though he forces himself to retain a smile while trying to analyze her choice of words -- not scary?
“It wasn’t terrible,” Alaine immediately assures him. “I never thought of what kissing would feel like until I met you,” she tells him. It's an admission shakes Lucas to the core.
Alaine Knight is a dangerous woman. Dangerous in her innocence. She threatens everything he has lived by for the past decade or so. She has all the right words that a thirsting soul, lost in a desert for too long might need to inspire hope. Her guilelessness is hypnotizing. It beckons him out of darkness. It unsettles him. After kissing her, he’s no longer certain there is anything that can be done to fight it.
At least he is no longer governed by his melancholy brooding. Since his assault on her senses, Alaine can’t help but note that Lucas’ mood has perked up quite some.
“So I am thinking,” he tells her. “Even if we're still pretending, we should know some things about each other.”
“Things like what?” Alaine asks while trying to keep her eyes from straying back to his mouth.
“Basic things, I suppose,” he answers. “Like where you are from? Just things about you. I don’t know what passes as first date conversation,” he admits.
The beautiful sound of her soft lyrical laughter burrows deep and finds a lodging place inside Lucas’ heart. If he could hear it every day then life would no longer appear a hopelessly dull gray. Just her company alone sparks buoyancy into his spirit and to think that he can put a smile on the face of someone like her, let alone make her laugh, well that alone is a major victory.
“I thought this wasn’t a date,” Alaine challenges him. “I am just accompanying you, remember? You were pretty adamant about that.”
“Well,” Lucas says as he tries to gather his thoughts. She’s right. He had been pretty precise about it. “I was also adamant about the nature of our relationship. I don’t want to be presumptuous,” he continues. “But I just kissed you so possibly it could be a date. Has the potential to be? If you want it to be, of course,” he adds. “Have you ever been on a date?”
“No,” Alaine answers. Feeling her cheeks flush with embarrassment, she adds, “I guess that’s weird for someone my age.”
“No weirder than not being kissed. I've never had one either,” Lucas assures her with a shrug. “And I would be honoured to be your first date, Alaine. If you think this can be a date.”
Silently cursing his uncertainty and insecurity that raises the hairs on his skin, Lucas finds himself waiting for a response from Alaine again.
“If I do consider it my first date, you have impressed me so far. Your jet is fantastic,” she quips. “I don’t know how many women can say their first date was in a private jet.”
Lucas laughs, releasing the breath he had not realized he’d been holding. Taking his half-empty flute of cider, he raises it to Alaine. “To first dates, then,” he toasts.
She smiles with him, so damn beautifully, his chest tightens and his gut twists uncomfortably.
“And first kisses,” Alaine blushes.
“And first kisses,” Lucas repeats, his smile still playing on his lips. He has a strong urge to kiss her again. Instead of following it, he sips from his glass. “So, date conversation,” he says after losing another moment just looking at her. “Tell me about you.”
“Hmmmm,” she responds thoughtfully. “I like to think of myself as a nobody from nowheresville in no hope Idaho,” she tells him. “Honestly, there really isn’t a lot of backstory here.”
“Nobody?” Lucas questions with his eyebrows quirked up at her. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
Sensing that if he leaves the direction of their conversation up to Alaine, he won't glean much from it, Lucas decides to steer the discussion. “Your cousin said you don’t have any other family here, but I met your sister and niece," he states.
“That’s because they showed up on my doorstep this week, very unexpectedly,” she explains. “It’s the reason I have to accept your proposal.”
“Ah,” Lucas responds while nodding his head. “I take that to mean you would not have been interested otherwise?”
Because he looks slighted by her words, Alaine immediately tries to appease him. “It’s not that,” she says. “I just meant that my job at the flower shop and weekend night shifts at a restaurant don’t pay enough to cater for them. You’ve done me a favour.”
“So you’re from Idaho,” Lucas continues and tries to ignore the way her words sting. “I had you pegged for California. Maybe Hawaii. Somewhere with year-round sunlight. Your skin glows. Why New York?”
“I just wanted to run from home I guess, as far as I could," she explains. "When I got the scholarship to Colombia, I felt I could start a new life and just leave everything behind. It’s what I did really. I actually got into a few schools on the east and west coast but something appealed to me here.”
“Why were you running?” Lucas probes after listening intently.
She takes a deep breath but evades the question. “Honestly, if I’m just a face do we really need the third degree?” Alaine asks.
“At the surface, I find you interesting," Lucas admits. "I’m curious as to how deep your water runs. I can tell you are no longer comfortable, so it’s your turn to ask me.”
“I wouldn’t know where to begin," Alaine says now that he's put her on the spot. "Your water must run way deeper than a girl from a Podunk town in Idaho.”
“Maybe we can find a topic of mutual interest then,” Lucas suggests. "The flight is an hour and a half," he explains. Although he can think of another way they can occupy the time, he asks instead, "Don't you think it would be odd to sit beside each other in complete silence all throughout?"
“You're very articulate,” Alaine notes. “You have a very faint accent too. It’s very nuanced. You roll your tongue on words with 'r' and 'l' but sometimes you also sound like a Brit."
"You're very observant," he says with a smile. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time abroad. I actually was not born in the US. Though my father is born and bred American, my mother is not. As for tertiary education, I completed my degrees in the UK. I'm well-traveled. I spent a year in Dubai after I graduated. See Ms. Knight, that wasn't hard. Now we know things about each other.”
“Degrees?" Alaine asks Incredulously. "How old were you when you went to the UK?”
“Just shy of seventeen," Lucas answers. "By twenty-two, I'd completed my masters and was already on the fast track in the tech industry," he says with a proud smile. "Though I wish I had done all of that by age eighteen. I could have but..." he says and shakes his head. "I didn’t bother with the PhD. I don’t need it. Some university will gift it to me, eventually.”
Finding his cockiness amusing, Alaine laughs and rolls her eyes at him playfully so he breaks into a chuckle. At least his arrogance is over something of substance and not the colour of his eyes and his perfect face and physique and strong arms that she can still feel around her.
“Why didn’t you complete it at eighteen?” she presses.
“The conditions were not conducive," he answers softly.
Whatever those conditions were, Alaine can tell they had caused him sorrow. There is a sadness to him now. Although she has no idea what his troubles were or might still be, she can sympathize with Lucas. If anyone knows about painful pasts, it's her. She wants to ask what it was that hurt him but by doing so she may have to reciprocate and that is not an option. But she likes talking to him. The sound of his voice and that little accent sets her heart skipping. She enjoys them too much to simply let the conversation die.
“Your parents just let you up and go to the UK at seventeen?” she asks. “And your masters at twenty-three,” she continues. “Whatever you may think, that is impressive.”
“Yours let you up and go to New York, of all places,” Lucas counters with a shrug.
“They didn’t really care,” Alaine admits absently.
The maudlin turn in the discussion casts a pall over the evening. Their best efforts at friendliness have been defeated by the burdens they both carry.
Lucas descends into deep thought aimed at trying to figure her out. He can't understand how anybody could be put something so beautiful on this earth and not care. It all has something to do with her old injury. He's certain about it. Following the trajectory of his thoughts, he turns around in his seat to look at his bodyguard.
Beside him, Alaine stares out the window chastising herself for the mistakes of the night. There's a long list of them starting with the dress she's wearing and the strappy shoes pinching the skin of her feet. The mention of her time in Idaho and bringing up his past were also colossal mistakes. It's sucked the hopefulness right out of the evening. Oddly, the most pressing thing on her mind is why she hadn't kissed him back. She huffs to herself. Her date must think that she is broken somehow. She wants to kiss him back but dares not say the words.
“A penny for your thoughts?” Lucas asks drawing her attention away from their ascent into the night’s sky.
Her eyebrows crease together, her mouth working as if she is not sure what she should say.
“Tell me,” he encourages gently. "Honesty, remember?"
“I didn’t kiss you back,” Alaine confesses.
“That’s alright," Lucas says with a chuckle. "I intend to kiss you a lot more if you let me,” he says softly. “I find I like doing it," he admits.
The promise of his words gathers warmth and wetness in the secret place between Alaine's thighs. Her cheeks heat with it and the pulse at her neck picks up again. His eyes move over her face holding no secret about what he wants from her.
An awareness awakens in Alaine. She feels it in her eyes just as clearly as Lucas can see the dilation of her pupils. She has no intentions of turning away from the heat in his gray eyes. She wants this, more than she's ever wanted anything. Her body must know it too. As if drawn by a puppeteer's strings, she leans into Lucas, hoping he will take advantage of what she is offering.
He was about to until the stewardess chose that moment to appear - her presence severing their connection.
Alaine doesn’t hear the words they exchange as her mind works double time to decipher Lucas Bright. She's not sure what's happening. This is supposed to be an arrangement, that’s all. They discussed this already -- stick to the parameters of the arrangement. Why is he deviating? Better yet, why is she?
Glad for the interruption, Alaine uses the moment to regroup. She is well aware that they should display some level of affection in public, hence the reason for her suggestion that led to his wonderful kiss. Right now, they are in the privacy of his airplane. There was no need for it.
Chancing a glance at Lucas, Alaine sees that he's reclined in his seat with his eyes closed. A soft smile plays on his lips. She's clueless as to why. The comments he made about his many consorts return to mind. It could be something the stewardess said that is responsible for his happiness.
Sensing her agitation, Lucas reaches across to take her hand in his. He runs his hand soothingly over the skin at her wrist and gives her a fleeting glance.
"Thank you," Lucas tells her before closing his eyes again.
Like she's done a few times already, Alaine looks down at where their hands are joined. Could Lucas Bright really want her or is he just priming her up for their coming out later this evening?
I don't know why but I simply love the idea of this being Lucas' first kiss. Let me know what you think in the comment section below. Thank you guys for reading.