Dinner and The View
Here it is guys! As always I'm so nervous about posting but for some reason you all are enjoying the story and so I have the drive to keep going. Don't forget to leave a comment or like or vote in the novel contest. It will mean a lot to me.
Waiting tables used to be easy work because it requires very little brain function. All Alaine really has to do is remember which order goes to what table.
Tonight, she has difficulty concentrating on anything but her memories of Lucas. His hair, his voice, his smile, his eyes, him inside her, the way he looks when he finds ultimate pleasure in her body -- these thoughts flood her mind.
God how she wants him.
If she didn’t need this job so desperately now, she would have accepted his invitation to stay with him.
The hour hand on the clock ticks slowly towards midnight. All she can think about is seeing him again. Will he really come to pick her up? Or will he send Seth?
She hopes he comes. What does it mean if he does?
A ghost of a smile lifts her lips while her mind follows wherever her daydreams about him lead.
The harsh voice snaps her back into the busy kitchen at the restaurant.
“Sorry,” Alaine says sheepishly.
She carries her tray out of the kitchen prepared to present table number one with its order. The string on her little apron springs from where she secured it in her waistband. With her head bent, she focuses on tucking it back it in place when a familiar voice skitters goosebumps along her skin.
“A table for one,” Lucas requests.
Alaine swivels around to see him smiling at her. To say her heart leaps would be an understatement. Tingles run up her spine and when he gives her a wink, heat curls in her womb and her legs turn to jelly.
He came. He came here!
She can’t believe it.
His eyes remain fixed on her as he responds to whatever the Maitre d’ whispers and Alaine’s feet stay planted in the same spot. What reminds her that she’s supposed to be working is the almost imperceptible jerk of Lucas' head to the tray hovering over her shoulder. And his knowing smile.
They jolt her out of stupefaction. With a self-conscious smile, she weaves around the room and sets the plates down on their designated table.
It’s impossible to remember who ordered what and the annoyed look she receives from her customers is an indication that she’d gotten it wrong.
“I apologize,” Alaine says as they swap plates.
On her way back to the kitchen, the Maitre d’ snaps his fingers to get her attention. Still blushing, she hurries to meet him at the entrance of the restaurant and is a little relieved that Lucas is no longer standing there.
It takes all her focus not to search him out in the dining area.
“Yes, Mr. O’Toole,” she says.
“Our guest has requested you personally as his server. You will make yourself available whenever he wants you," he explains.
“What?” she squeaks as her eyes snap to where the culprit is seating at a table in the poorly lit back corner. “He can’t do that,” she protests.
“Of course, he can,” the man tells her. “Now, get on with it," he instructs.
“I have two more orders already plated, can I do that first?” she asks. "I need the tips," she tells him.
The Maitre d’ sighs impatiently but nods his head. “I will let him know that you will be right with him,” he says and shuffles away quickly.
Alaine returns to the kitchen purposefully dragging her feet to allow herself some time to calm down. Lucas’ sudden appearance has her freaking out and he must know it too if his little smile is any indication.
She’s happy he’s here. Of course, she’s happy to see him. Seeing him threatened to burst her heart right out of her chest. She’s also annoyed because fewer tables mean fewer tips.
“Did Lucas Bright just wink at you?” one of the other girls on duty asks.
In spite of her mixed feelings, Alaine’s face splits into a smile.
“He did,” she confesses.
While she continues to work deliberately slow, Lucas peruses her in the same manner he did three years ago. He can’t keep his eyes off her. The difference is, this time, he knows her. He knows her intimately and this time she is not successful in feigning indifference.
How can she after the things they’ve done together?
He can tell she is affected by his presence. Whether that bodes well for him is harder to discern. Showing up at her workplace out of the blue could be something she doesn't like. Then she winks at him from across the room and bites her bottom lip sultrily laying all his worries to rest.
His heart lurches and he fails to conceal that he is equally affected by her attention. Shaking his head in obvious mirth, Lucas chuckles at her triumphant smile to his reaction.
“May I take your order, sir?” she asks when she finally makes her way to his table. Then she adds, “what are you doing here?”
While he runs a long, appreciative glance up her frame, he replies, “I’m here for dinner and the view.”
“Stop it,” she hisses softly but a blush -- one that reveals how much she is enjoying the attention -- creeps up from under the collar of her white shirt. “People will know,” she tells him.
“Know what?” Lucas asks with feigned innocence.
“Please behave,” Alaine pleads. “I need this job for now.”
“Fine,” he grumbles and lifts the menu to inspect it. “You’re no fun when you’re at work. I’ll have your burger and fries.”
“No you won’t,” she commands and picks the menu out of his hand.
Stunned, Lucas glances up at her.
“You’ll eat your way to a heart attack before you're forty at the rate you’re going,” she cautions him.
A smile makes his gray eyes twinkle.
“It’s nice to know you care,” he says. “I will have whatever you think is good then,” he concedes.
Feeling like she's floating on a cloud of victory, Alaine turns to leave him.
“One more thing,” Lucas calls and motions her closer.
With a wary look in her eyes, she steps up near enough for him to touch her. Very stealthily, he eases his hand up her calf and says, “I want you for dessert.”
“Stop,” Alaine whispers but cracks a smile before stepping out of his reach.
Chuckling, Lucas tells her, “feed me, goddess.”
With that one little term goddess playing on repeat in her head, she walks away to fulfill his request. She likes the sound of the word. She likes it even more now that he's said it when they aren’t being influenced by the sweet poison of lust. At one point she thought he only meant that she was good in bed. Now, as ridiculous as it seems, she can’t help but feel like she has some kind of power over him.
Why else would he be here?
A girl can dream, she tells herself.
The hesitancy she experienced earlier when Lucas showed up has melted away but her excitement is bubbling over. Before walking back into the restaurant with his dinner, she takes a deep breath to compose herself and makes her way through the crowd of diners while trying to appear as calm as possible.
“You’re not mad I came, are you?” Lucas asks as soon as she gets to his table.
“I think it’s the sweetest thing you’ve done yet, Mr. Bright,” Alaine tells him.
He visibly relaxes.
“I hope you tip well,” she adds with a seductive wink.
For the entire time he sits there, Lucas watches her work. He just can’t help it. Where ever she goes, his eyes follow. She seems to be fairing no better than him with the way she glances in his direction all the time.
If he knew the layout of the place, he’d pull her aside for a clandestine meeting against a wall. But he'll just have to wait. Only twenty more minutes before her shift is up.
When he sees her approaching with his bill, Lucas straightens in his seat. He keeps his eyes on her as she places the paper down on the table.
"Your bill," she states and strolls away.
Looking down, he frowns at the folded piece of paper in front of him.
He opens it and reads:
BATHROOM. TWO MINUTES.
Then he reads it again to ensure that that's indeed what he read. It can't possibly mean what he thinks it means still, his heart rate spikes.
One glance at her and the coquettish look she throws him over his shoulder has him swallowing hard.
Lucas glances down at his watch to time his self and smiles.
The break room is opposite the men’s bathroom. Alaine has timed it perfectly. She'd worked through her break where everyone else had taken theirs. That leaves the room free for at least ten minutes if not until closing.
At the end of the two minute waiting period she'd given him, she peeps through the crack in the door and hopes Lucas understood her note.
That's what Bethany said about him three years ago. He isn't opposed to a tryst in a dark corner.
Just then he appears in the small hallway with an uncertain look on his face. Once he is within reaching distance, Alaine slips her hand out into the call and catches him by the arm to pull him into the room.
She locks the door, turns around to face him and asks, "dessert sir?" while she undoes the top three buttons on her shirt.
A deep sound rumbles in Lucas' throat as he captures her by the waist to drag her up against him. His lips come down on hers swift and demanding. She returns his ardor coming up on tiptoe to bridge the gap between them.
“Mmmm,” he moans as her mouth opens to allow his tongue entry.
He pulls back to look down at her with a ridiculous grin splitting his face. Her lips are already swollen and her eyes are heavy with lust. Lust for him.
God, this woman, he thinks. She's irresistible.
Something inside him softens. He drops his forehead to hers for a second and breathes in her tantalizing fragrance before returning to kiss her. This time he's more tempered and deliberate to relay all the emotions growing inside him.
Alaine cases his face in her palms. Then her fingers glide down his neck and over his chest. She slips them down his abdomen and then over the bulge in his pants.
“Baby,” Lucas says between kisses. “I want you, right here against this wall,” he says.
"What's stopping you?" she questions.
“Ali,” he groans in protest. “Don’t tempt me," he pleads. "I’m a rake. This is nothing for me to do," he says. "But you, my sweet girl," he continues as he palms her face. "I can only corrupt you so far.”
He leans in to kiss her again and although his rejection bites and she is confused by it, Alaine returns his kisses anyway.
She still has no idea why he thinks so little of himself. He's a rake, he's said. He's lived a sordid life. The first girl he'd been with he never knew her name.
But these things bear no significance when it comes to the way he treats her. They contradict the person she's been with for the last two weeks. Because of that, her lips on his have a new purpose. Her kisses are to let him know how she feels about him. They are to abort his self-doubt and recrimination. They are to show him that to her, he is good and worthy.
The way his breath catches in his throat, Alaine can't help but think that he finally understands.
Lucas clings to her like the lifeline she now represents to him and the word love circulates his mind and cements itself in his heart.
Voices in the hallway come as an unwelcome intrusion. Lucas wishes he didn't have to let her go. Knowing that he does, he leaves her in the breakroom with a tender kiss on her forehead that breaks her heart momentarily and seems to put it right back together.
She peeks at him from the doorway and he turns around at the end of the all with a fleeting smile before disappearing the way he came.
Since it's the end of her shift, Alaine makes haste in putting her belongings together. She changes out of her uniform more quickly than she's ever done before.
“Ready babe?” he asks when she appears by his side.
“Babe?” one of her coworkers mouths to her.
Smiling, Alaine responds, "I'm ready."
Lucas holds out his hand to her and together they step out into the chilly night.
“Where’s Seth?” Alaine asks when she notices the SUV isn't parked anywhere within view.
“He’ll be here soon,” he responds. “Someone distracted me when I should have been calling him,” he jokes.
When he doesn't get a response from her like he was expecting, Lucas glances down to see Alaine still looking around.
"Is everything okay?" he asks.
She gives him a little distracted nod and answer "mhmm," but keeps searching around the dark street."
"Are you expecting someone?" Lucas questions.
Taking a deep breath the try to calm the anxiety spreading inside her, Alaine says, "no. It's stupid really."
"No, tell me," Lucas says and turns to face her.
"You'll think I'm crazy," she tells him with a nervous laugh. “Okay,” she relents when he keeps watching her expectantly. “Sometimes, I get this feeling like someone's watching me. Or following me? I don't know," she says with a shrug to try to play off the genuine worry and fright she feels.
"It's just a feeling," she adds when he continues to look at her in silence. "It's nothing."
Mentally, Lucas tries to decide whether he should disclose his suspicions about Angus. He doesn't have any proof but the envelope...After the way Angus behaved at dinner, who else could it be from?
Worried by his silence, Alaine says, "I told you, it's crazy. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said it and...
“No,” Lucas assures her. “I was just thinking. There's Seth," he says as he begins to hurry them down the front steps of the restaurant.
If Angus or someone is really somewhere watching her, he needs her off the streets.
Should he tell her? Should he show her the contents of the envelope?
He'd shown them to Seth because they struck fear in him and he didn't feel like he had any other choice.
None of the naked pictures of the woman superimposed on a fake background had Alaine's face. But there is no mistaking that it's her body. He knows her body. Those two little freckles -- one above her right breast and the other just below -- had been the object of his attention while they made love. He'd had to scan the photos to his computer and work magic to get a clear look at them, but they were a dead giveaway that he was looking at Alaine.
That's what brought him here tonight. How would Angus or anyone have gotten naked pictures of Alaine? The answer is a frightening one and he has no clue what to do about it.
Tell her and scare her? Or don't tell her and let her continue to live oblivious to the possible danger right in her apartment.
Why else would the person who sent them have scrubbed out the background? It has to be because those pictures were taken inside her home.
"I told you it was crazy," Alaine says as they ride with Lucas held in pensive silence. "Forget I said anything."
"It's not crazy," he tells her.
But that's all he says. To distract them both he raises the privacy glass and pulls Alaine onto his lap.
"I love kissing you," he admits before his lips close over hers. "Come home with me," he requests.
"Okay," Alaine answers without hesitation and lays her head on his shoulder.
"I like having you with me," he says.
And she replies, "it's a mutual feeling."
After riding a distance in silence where Alaine allows her anxiety to fade and Lucas continues to contemplate the seriousness of her situation, he asks, "Ali, when did you start feeling like you were being watched?"
"I don't know," she answers. "It's been happening for a while but...I just tell myself it's paranoia or something since it never amounts to anything. I've thought of going to the police," she continues. "But what would I say?"
“Someone burned down the building where you work, babe," he reminds her. “Have you ever thought of why?”
“I have,” she responds while she busies her fingers with toying with the top button on his shirt. “But nothing comes to mind. That doesn’t mean they wanted to hurt me specifically," she surmises. "I mean whoever set the fire did it when I wasn't there."
Lucas sighs and leans his head against hers. "I still don't like it," he says even if what he wants to do is tell her all about Angus and the pictures. “And from now on, if you insist on working these late shifts, I want to be there to pick you up.”
Alaine smiles again and sighs her happiness. “My Knight in expensive suits," she muses.
“And you are just my Knight,” he tells her softly.
After that statement, she can’t not kiss him. Their lips lock in slow synchrony.
Lucas ignores the low hum of his phone in his pocket.
“Your phone,” Alaine manages to tear her lips away from his to say.
“I’m busy,” he grumbles, returning to his new favourite pass time.
The buzzing ends and starts again, an incessant, vibrating against her hip.
Again Lucas ignores it.
When it starts up for the third time, Alaine pulls away from him and says, "that could be important."
With a frustrated sigh, Lucas reaches for the phone and frowns at the screen.
“What’s wrong?” Alaine asks.
“It’s my dad," he answers. "He says it’s urgent.”
A deep, sinking feeling hollows out his gut as he places the call and puts the phone to his ear. When Alaine tries to scoot off his legs to give him some privacy he tightens his arm around her waist.
The SUV turns into the underground garage of his building and the bright lights filter in through the tinted windows. Alaine can hear his father's deep voice but cannot make out what is being said. Whatever it is is nothing good since Lucas' grip becomes near punishing and his features crumble.
“What is it?” she asks when she feels the tremors runing through his body.
“Claudia,” he says so softly she almost doesn't hear it. “She was in an accident in Italy. She’s in critical condition. They don't know if she'll make it through the night. I wasn’t even aware that she’d gone," he continues as guilt washes over him. "What kind of son doesn't know..." he begins to say. Then he looks down at Alaine and shakes his head. "I have to go. Ali,” he tells her with a silent plea for her to understand. "I have to go to Italy."
“Yes, of course,” she responds while trying to reign in her own overwhelming sense of sadness.
Lucas opens the car door and she follows behind him with leaden footsteps. For the first time in a long time, he doesn't try to take her hand.
Suddenly he stops and turns back to her. "I don't want to leave you but..." he begins to say.
“I get it, Lucas,” Alaine assures him. “You have to go to your mom. I really understand. And if you need me here tonight, I’ll be here. If you need me to go, I’ll go."
“Stay with me, baby,” Lucas requests as he pulls her into his arms. "Don't go."
“Okay," she agrees. "You've got me," she says as his hold on her tightens.