It's a little long but other than that, please share your thoughts in the comment section. Sorry for taking so long. I am committing to getting the next one up tonight once I get my kids to bed.
The low hum from an approaching vehicle has Angus anxiously shifting aside the curtain inside Alaine’s second-floor apartment again – just to a small degree. Small enough that he can peer through the window down at the street below yet remain hidden from view.
Shortly after her sister and the little girl left early this morning, he climbed up the fire escape outside her bedroom window, broke in and has been there ever since.
Alaine’s bedroom, unfortunately, is no longer of particular interest to him. It’s lost its sense of appeal. Formerly, it was the mainstay for his visits – Alaine’s personal space. Somehow, that was the only area in the entire apartment where he felt closest to her. Today, when he stood in the small square, he’d been confused. He couldn’t get a feel of Alaine anywhere even if most of her belongings are still there.
The room, the bed – nothing held her sweet fragrance anymore. It was the stench of strangers that filled his nostrils so he’d moved on to the living room; the small sofa that he knows she sleeps on to be exact. He allowed himself to stretch out across it, his head and legs dangling over the sides. With his eyes closed, he simply breathed in her familiar scent and imagined her there with him. It was soothing, distracting him from his agitation at least for a little while.
It’s been too many days since he’s last seen Alaine. He can no longer stomach it. The last time he saw her was the night of the fire, in fact, and her absence has him on edge.
Not once had she slept anywhere but in this apartment, since the day he first saw her and tailed her all the way home.
Where is she now? What could she be doing? Who could she be with?
He doesn’t need to think about it too hard. He has a pretty good idea what – or rather who – the answer to all those questions is.
This isn’t the first time he’s snuck in here and no one needs to tell him that it’s a breach of trust. He knows that it is but he only comes to feel closer to her. As far as he is concerned it’s a legitimate excuse since they belong to each other. She belongs to him.
Usually, he never tarries this long. He normally hovers for a few minutes before making a quick exit. This time it’s different. He’s been too long without her presence, without seeing her – her smile.
It’s risky lingering for all these hours, just waiting and hoping that she comes home. What other choice is there? He misses her. It's been days.
Every time an engine rumbles by, his heart rate spikes with hope and fear – hope that she’s returned to him and fear that he will be discovered lurking inside her apartment. The latter can’t happen. Not as yet. As much as he wants her, it’s too soon for his plans for her to be revealed. She’s not ready for it.
How understanding will Alaine be if she finds him invading her home with his heart in his hands and a declaration of love pouring from his lips? He likes to envision that she accepts him immediately.
Because he knows better, Angus scoffs at the thought.
Different scenarios of Alaine’s reaction, should she find out that he’s broken into her apartment and rifled through her personal belongings several times, run through his mind. None of them feature her walking into his arms to embrace, kissing him and confessing that she loves him too.
She won’t listen to what he has to say, he thinks with another scoff. She’ll probably become hysterical. She’ll accuse him. She’ll think that he’s some kind of pervert. She’ll probably try to run. She’ll probably try to call the cops. Far worse, she may try to call Lucas Bright.
A fresh wave of anger makes him tremble. The mere thought of Lucas Bright is enough to throw him into a jealous fit and stir his wrath.
If Alaine finds him here after being with him– if that’s what it comes to – he’ll have no choice but to hurt her and that’s not something he wants to do.
The fire was a fluke. He hadn’t meant for her to get hurt.
There’s no mistaking that he’d meant to set it. He’d meant to burn the place to the ground with the owner inside. He liked Mona well enough when he thought she was on his side. He liked her until she thrust the girl he loves onto the first pretty face with deep pockets who walked into her shop. Obviously, Mona must think that he isn’t good enough for Alaine. Why else would she do it?
Getting rid of her was and still is the only way to end her influence over Alaine. He’d wanted to end her life. He’d meant to erase the memory of the place where he’d witnessed Alaine’s enamored gaze directed at another man.
But the girl he loves? He’d never hurt her. She wasn’t supposed to be there. He’d waited until she left. Instead of following after her like he normally does, he’d made a beeline for the back of the building and then sat back to watch it burn.
How was he supposed to know that she would come back? She's never done that before.
When he saw her return and open the door to rush into the fiery trap, his heart had all but stopped. There would be no forgiveness for him if anything happened to her.
The appearance of a dark blue sedan pulls him out of his thoughts. It drives past the apartment building and disappears down the road. The tightness in his chest releases slowly, allowing him to relax. Just as he is about to set the curtain back to rights a familiar dark SUV comes into view as it turns around the corner.
So his suspicions were correct, Angus thinks with a sneer. She was with Lucas Bright. She has been with him since the night of the fire. That’s almost four days.
The rich bastard must have lied to her, the voice in his head growls. He’d shown up at the scene playing the knight in shining armor when it should have been his shoulders there for Alaine to cry on.
Lucas must have told her that he was the one who’d risked his life to save hers. Why else would Alaine go with him?
The lying prick! Angus’ mind hisses with white-hot rage.
It’s the shop keeper’s fault. The firefighters should have left her to burn along with the building?
“I saved your life, Alaine,” he spits between his clenched jaws. “Me!”
Without a proper outlet to vent his anger and frustration, he squeezes his hands into fists. The salmon-coloured lace underwear he’d pilfered from Alaine’s underwear drawer bunches in his hand. The soft material tickles his palm, reminding him that it’s there.
A picture of her wearing nothing but that appears in his mind distracting him from his rage. He brings the material to his face, rubbing it against his cheek. Closing his eyes, he takes a long sniff and feels himself harden. He always stiffens to painful proportions all at once when he thinks of Alaine.
Angus opens his eyes and tries to see through the windows of his enemy’s car. He needs to know what's going on inside. What are they are doing? Why is it taking them so long to step outside?
The heavy tint of the windows makes it impossible to see. All he has is the wavy picture of the neighbourhood reflected in the dark glass and glossy exterior.
“Get out, Alaine,” he mutters to the quiet room while his mind conjures an image of her leaning down to pleasure Lucas with her mouth.
Strangely, the thought is more erotic than it is an annoyance. Usually, when he thinks of her with any other man a cold, anger and jealousy consumes him. He’s seen her smiling at her male customers before. It took all his self-control not to follow those covetous bastards and drown them in the Hudson.
Now, his anger is camouflaged by lust. Angus pulls down his waistband to free himself. He wraps the turgid length of his erection in Alaine’s undergarment, forming a tight sheath with his fingers and replaces the image of Lucas with himself.
It’s so vivid, he can almost feel the slide of her plump lips and soft tongue over him. All the while, he keeps his eyes on the unmoving vehicle. With each stroke of his hand, his thoughts turn more graphic, more violent because that’s the way he likes it – rough. He handles himself with a punishing pace and fills the apartment with the sounds of his pleasure. He’ll be sensitive for the rest of the day but he doesn’t mind. That will just keep reminding him of his goal.
She belongs to him.
It never takes long to find release when he thinks about her. A few more quick pumps and he moans Alaine’s name loudly. The pleasure builds inside him and he braces his free hand against the wall for support as it finds its escapes as he empties himself in her delicate underwear.
After using the same to wipe himself clean, he rights his clothing, rests his forehead against the wall and waits for his breathing to slow down.
Shifting the curtain aside again, he continues to watch the SUV while hoping that by the sheer force of his will, he can compel Alaine to get out of it.
One day she will be his. One day he will sample her goods. When he’s done with her Lucas Bright won’t want her.
A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth.
He could just wait here for her. He has the element of surprise. Given her size, it will be easy to overpower her.
No, Angus tells himself as he takes a calming breath. He really doesn’t want to hurt her. Alaine has to come to him willingly and she will. It’s just that...his patience is wearing thin.
The stickiness between his fingers brings him out of his musings and he looks down at the mess he’s made. At first, he intended to pocket the little scrap of cloth to use for his pleasure back in his apartment.
After taking a whiff of his scent mingled with the soft fragrance of her laundry detergent, he lets the thin lace material flutter to the floor.
Had he thought about it earlier, he’d have done it on the air bed Lucas gave her.
There’s always next time.
He continues watching the vehicle. Even as the doors open and Lucas and Alaine step out into the afternoon sunlight, he can’t bring himself to move even if he knows that he should.
He watches as she rounds the vehicle and Lucas stretches out his hand. She takes it with a glowing smile.
A growl leaves his throat when Lucas uses his hold to pull Alaine closer and she goes willingly into his arms.
The betrayal he feels stabs deep in his heart, as Lucas leans down and Alaine allows him to kiss her right there in the middle of the street.
Alaine pulls away from Lucas’ kiss to try to get a quick look around the quiet neighbourhood to ensure that they themselves are not being surveilled. First, her eyes make a swift run up the empty street then she throws cursory glances at the windows of the apartment buildings lining the sidewalks behind him.
As she expected, nobody is about. That’s the one thing she likes about this area. It’s completely residential. There are no shops or stores, no food carts or trucks, no bus stops, no business places of any kind, so no one really loiters.
The sidewalks are usually always empty except for a few persons who take advantage of the cool evenings during summer and sit out on their stoops. Right now it’s winter so it’s an entirely different story. On account of the lake not too far away, this part of Far Rockaway is exceedingly frigid during the cold months. Residents seek warmth inside their apartments when they are home rather than lingering in the streets. That, however, doesn’t mean that the nosier ones don’t pay close attention to their neightbourhood from the comfort of their homes.
At this time of day, the coast is unsurprisingly clear since most people have gone off to either work or school. Still, she can’t shake the sinister chill that comes with the sensation of being watched. It’s not the first time she’s felt it either.
A scowl cinches her brows together as she tries to pinpoint the direction it’s coming from.
Before she can turn around to complete her search for the source of this niggling feeling, Lucas redirects her attention to him. He places a finger beneath Alaine’s chin to guide her face back to his. The touch of his soft lips on hers brushes the unpleasant sense to the back of her subconscious. Her eyelids flutter to a close as she wraps her arms around his neck and pulls herself up on the tips of her toes accepting wantonly the glide of his tongue into her parted mouth. Lucas slides his hands down her trim waist before wrapping his arms around her. His hold tightens, disappearing any space between their bodies.
Seduced by the way he awakens her arousal, Alaine searches for more of him. She pushes her hips against his and Lucas makes a little sound into her mouth – a growl? a groan? A moan? A grunt? – something that is a telltale sign of what he wants. It makes Alaine smile against his lips as he nips at her with his teeth.
She pulls back, not because she wants to and not far enough to fully sever their connection. Lost in their kiss, Lucas follows her immediately, seeking more. She giggles and breathes a reminder against his lips.
“We’re out in public,” Alaine whispers.
“I know,” Lucas answers, his breath shaky. “But I can’t seem to let you go. Are you sure you can’t come home with me?” he asks.
Alaine nods her response when he drops his head to rest his forehead against hers while his arms remain snaked around her waist. She keeps her eyes closed both to savour the feel of him and because she doesn’t want to risk him seeing the signs of her falling for him.
Soon, he will walk away. According to his Calendar, there are no other public functions they are to attend together for another three weeks. When will she seem him again? Will he want to see her before that time?
“Delah should be picking Isabella up from school right now. Then she has her interview and night classes she signed up for,” she explains. “I’m on babysitting duty for the rest of the day,” she continues with a soft, regretful sigh.
“Okay,” Lucas agrees as he pulls back to look down at her. He chuckles disbelievingly at himself. Lucas Bright begging for a woman’s company. It’s unheard of and is still inexplicable.
“What?” Alaine asks him with a smile still playing on her rosy lips as she finally opens her eyes to look at him.
He pulls in a sharp breath at the impact of those green eyes with the sunburst of gold and replies, “nothing. I’ll walk you up.”
They cross the streets with their fingers intertwined, enter the building and climb the steps to her landing. Lucas releases her long enough so she can fish her keys out of her little purse. As soon as she pushes the door open, he pins her against the door frame.
“I can wait with you,” he offers.
It’s a tempting offer that she wants to accept. However, she cannot risk the chance of Delah and certainly not Isabella walking in on them doing...stuff because by the look in Lucas’ eyes, the same look he had the night of the fire and in the hotel room they shared, that’s exactly what they will be doing.
“I can’t,” she tells him then adds quickly in the face of the glint of disappointment that he does his best to hide, “it’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just I know what I’ll want to do if you come in and even if I lock the door, Delah has a key. They would walk in on us...”
Lucas’ wide grin distracts her from her rambling. “What?" she asks him again.
“And what exactly is that you want to do, Ms. Knight?” he asks knowingly. “This?” he questions as he places a kiss on her cheek and trails his lips down her neck. “Or this?” he asks, tracing his hands over her pronounced hip all the way down the hem of her dress.
“Yes,” Alaine admits breathlessly when his hand inches up her bare thigh but she stops him. “But we’re in the hallway and you’re making this so much harder.”
The resolve in her voice makes Lucas drop his hand and step back immediately. “I’m sorry,” he says, mentally scolding himself for his persistence.
“No, don’t be...”
“Will you pencil me in for tomorrow?” he interrupts, hopefully.
“What time?” Alaine asks, happy that he’s laid her worry about when she will see him again to rest.
“Whenever you want me,” Lucas answers.
After he leaves her standing there in the doorway, Alaine listens to the sound of his footsteps until they fade. She enters the apartment with the same face-splitting grin he left her with when he leaned down to claim one final kiss from her and sags against the door after closing it behind her.
How did this happen?
She never had a man of her dreams before and without even knowing that she had the criteria hidden somewhere at the back of her mind, Lucas fits them all. When she looks at him now all she can think is what she hopes they can become.
Their relationship has no definition other than the arrangement they entered and the fact that he doesn’t want to fight it anymore as he said. Whatever is between them seems to have taken wings.
What does he really want? She doesn’t know exactly. However, she knows what he doesn’t want and that is a real relationship.
“I can do this,” Alaine whispers to herself.
All she has to do is keep her heart to herself. She has to find a way to separate her budding feelings from the physical attraction. In order to do that she just has to keep reminding herself that they are no more than a six-month agreement.
Turning around, she locks the front door, wishing that it was just as easy to do the same to her heart.
Still analyzing and trying to figure out how she can continue to enjoy his masterful lips and fingers and keep her feelings to herself, Alaine takes two steps into the apartment and halts.
The wistful smile on her lips dips into a frown. The little hairs on the back of her neck begin to prickle again causing her to slow her advance into the living room. She can’t shake the distinct feeling that she not alone. A chill skitters down her spine.
“Delah?” Alaine calls in a shaky voice but refuses to move forward.
The truth is, like the sensation of being watched, this isn’t first time she’s felt like someone – a stranger – has been in her apartment. She knows Delah’s presence by now and this isn’t it. If Delah was here, there would be music playing or the television would be on. Besides, her sister should be picking Isabella up from school anyway. She wouldn’t be home before then.
No, this is an intruder’s presence and she feels it more strongly than any other time.
Her first thought is to call Lucas, ask him to come back. She could run from the apartment and into the safety she feels whenever she is in his arms. As quickly as the idea forms, she dismisses it. What would he say if he finds out she suffers from paranoia? He’ll probably think she is a crazy person.
“Who’s there?” she calls, the tremor in her voice audible as she backs up to curl her fingers around the baseball bat she keeps by the door.
Inching closer on tiptoe after stepping out of her heels, she does a sweep of the small living room and stares curiously at the scrap of lace underwear lying on the floor beneath the window.
Setting that aside for the time, she does the same to the small kitchen, even opening the small cupboards to check inside. Finding nothing, she moves on to the little bathroom and does the same. The last place she creeps into is the bedroom. Nothing.
She lets out a breath, hoping to calm her thumping heartbeat. A thin film of sweat coats her skin as she steps fully into the room. She walks across to the window and huffs. Delah left the window open again. Fearing any other thought, Alaine accepts that as the source of the chill she felt when she first entered the apartment. Thinking anything else is too scary.
“You’re fine, Alaine,” she mutters as she tugs the window down.
Tonight, she’ll talk to Delah about her carelessness. Her sister needs to understand that this isn’t a small town. If she isn’t more careful, someone is going to climb through this window and rob them blind.
Trying to convince herself that her worry about an intruder is unfounded, Alaine undresses. If she calls the police, what is she going to tell them? I think someone came into my apartment but nothing was stolen? The police have enough on their hands as it is.
She allows thoughts of Lucas to replace the worry and lingering fear she feels. Tomorrow she will see him again.
With a smile, she picks up her phone she sends him a quick message.
Alaine: I don’t want to fight anymore either.
His response comes a hot second later.
Lucas: Good. Someone broke my tail light on your street by the way. And I got ticket for it.