The Good Way
Whenever I post, I feel both nervous and excited. Thank you guys for reading. Don’t forget, if you feel inclined, leave a comment or a review. I do enjoy reading them.
Lucas’ cool demeanor isn’t giving much away. Not enough for Alaine to measure how he truly feels if it turns out this is a time when can become pregnant. As a confirmed bachelor who may still have no intention of being tied down, she can’t help but think that adding a kid to the midst spells disaster.
The fleeting fancy she experienced over the thought of two of them being a family with their child was just that -- a fleeting fancy and the sooner she recognizes that the better.
Alaine looks across at Lucas and feels those butterflies frolicking in her stomach. Her racing heartbeat is no longer solely associated with how breathtaking and beautiful he is. She loves him. That’s the main reason her heart is trying to break out of her chest now.
She almost told him earlier but now that they’re probably on the cusp of a possibly disastrous shift in their fledgling relationship, she doesn’t dare say anything.
Instead of voicing what her heart is screaming at her, she shakes the box in her hand.
“How accurate are these things anyway?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” Lucas admits taking it from her to give it a once over. “It says 99% and if Shanice bought it then, I guess it’s good. She’s a professional,” he adds to convince both of them. “She knows what she’s doing.”
Still his forehead creases in a deep scowl that makes Alaine even more anxious.
“Did she say anything about the plan B pill?” she asks.
“She did, in fact,” Lucas confesses. “If you’re already...ovulating,” he explains reluctantly. “It might not work.”
Eyes large and luminous, Alaine responds, “oh,” in a voice so soft it’s barely audible.
“That’s why we’re using this,” he says and hands her the ovulation kit.
His discomfort with the current topic of discussion begins to surface so he runs his nervous fingers through his hair.
“If you’re not ovulating,” he breathes. “Then the emergency contraception should work. Ready to retire the topic he orders, “just take the test,” before leaning in the place a kiss on her bruised cheek.
“I also brought lunch,” he informs her. “Since you’re here, I gave Jackie a few days off. I thought you might like some privacy and I couldn’t cook a meal if my life depended on it.”
That makes her chuckle.
Melting a little over his thoughtfulness, Alaine eases up onto her knees to place a kiss on his receptive lips. She is well aware of how tired and maybe overwhelmed he must be but whatever he’s feeling, he’s set it aside to take care of her. That’s enough for him to win her whole heart.
He moans a little into her mouth making her smile as he happily traps her between his arms. He pulls Alaine to him, then shifts her weight to press her back into the bed beneath him.
When he hooks his hand beneath her knee to gain access to her, he groans against her lips. A loud growl from her stomach makes him pull back to look down at her.
“Let’s get you fed,” he says with a chuckle.
“This first,” Alaine says reminding him of the test. “I can’t eat with all this pressure on me. Can I maybe do some research on it first?”
“Sure,” Lucas replies. “You can research and eat. I’ll have Seth check for your phone. In the meanwhile, we can do that in my office,” he offers and grabs her lunch.
While trying to maintain the illusion of calm, Lucas is practically a bundle of nerves as they walk downstairs to use his laptop.
What if Alaine does get pregnant?
That question has been pinging around in his head since last night. However, panicking is not what she needs and it certainly isn’t going to change anything.
Normally, when he looks at her, he enjoys the way her hips sway but his overactive imagination conjures a clear image of her swollen and waddling beside him.
Lucas blinks to clear his vision.
Boy, had he mucked this up, he thinks as his feet hit the bottom of the stairs.
Though this is uncharted territory for both of them, he knows he has to man up and be what Alaine needs.
“When this is done, I thought we can do something to take your mind off things,” he suggests.
“Something like what?” Alaine asks.
“Follow me,” he states.
When he enters his office, Lucas walks straight for the shelf. He pulls out a novel from a neat row of books and hands it to her.
“I thought we could read,” he suggests while wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
Alaine looks at the novel her sister had given her to read. For Love or Money. She shakes her head at him with an incredulous laugh.
“You can’t be serious,” she tells him.
“I’m very serious,” he answers with an expression that matches his tone.
The smile Alaine wears widens.
Every time she does that -- smile -- her bruised cheeks pulls and tightens becoming more pronounced and causes a surge of emotions to well and bubble over inside him. Palming her face, he takes a step closer to her.
“Ali,” he whispers. “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”
She turns into his touch to kiss the inside of his hand.
“It seems you need the distraction more than I do,” she tries to joke.
Finding it difficult to breathe around the lump clogging his throat, Lucas swallows hard. He closes his eyes and struggles to pull in a deep breath. Alaine curls her fingers over the hand still resting on her sensitive cheek and brings it to her mouth to kiss his knuckles.
“You being here for me, means more than you know,” she says to him.
With his eyes still closed, Lucas gives his head a little shake. The comfort he finds in those few words and in her show of affection settles something inside him. He’d been really fearful that what happened to her would cause a rift to develop between them. Just the fact that she’s standing there as resolute as he’s ever seen her, lifts a burden off his chest. It shouldn’t be this way. He should be the one comforting her. But like a glutton, he laps up what she gives and pulls her ever closer in an attempt to receive more.
Now they just need to climb this next hurdle.
Keeping her hand in his, Lucas walks behind his desk, sits in his chair and pulls Alaine onto his lap before waking his laptop.
“What are we looking for exactly?” he asks as he pulls up the search engine.
In the meanwhile, she digs into the bag scenting the best burger she’s ever eaten.
“Fertility stuff?” Alaine replies with a clear amount of uncertainty as she stuffs a fry into her mouth.
“You’re going to have to be more specific than that,” Lucas tells her. “I understand a lot of things but the female reproductive system should be your area of expertise. I’m depending on your guidance.”
“Well, tough,” Alaine tells him before biting a chunk out of her lunch. “I don’t know what I’m looking for either.”
“Okay,” Lucas says. “I’ll just type in ovulation kits and see what pops up,” he mumbles while his fingers clack away at the keys.
It only takes a few minutes of reading for him to feel like he’s shortcircuiting form information and visual overload.
“Look at this,” he says after reading through another website and accepts another fry Alaine stuffs in his mouth. “It says here that women can tell physically if they’re ovulating. Do you? I mean does it feel different?” he asks awkwardly.
“What exactly is it?” Alaine questions with a bark of laughter. “I don’t know,” she replies to his seriousness which is the answer she’s given to almost every question he’s asked on the subject so far.
Finally growing weary and impatient, Lucas huffs and looks at her. “Nonsense, Ali,” he states. “You’re a woman. You’re supposed to know and pay attention to what is happening with your body.”
“I’ve never had cause to before now,” she snaps at him.
Guilt washes over Lucas since he’s the one who introduced her to the pleasures of the flesh in the first place.
“Fine,” he grumbles. “This is getting us nowhere. When you’re done, just go pee on the stick.”
She tries to get up but he tightens his arm around her. “You’re feeding me and I’m hungry, remember?”
Eventually, he allows her to slip off her perch on his thigh. Alaine grabs the box from where she rested it on his desk and walks out of the office. To avoid a collision with her sister, she bypasses the guest bedroom and heads for the bathroom in Lucas’ gym.
She opens the box, reads then rereads the instructions for good measure before doing what it says. Then she waits. At what she supposes is the three-minute mark, she looks at the digital display, sighs and waits a little longer just to be sure.
She throws the little stick back into the box along with the pamphlet it came with, crushes it up and wraps it in a wad of tissue just in case whoever throws the trash away gets snoopy.
When she returns to his office, she finds Lucas pacing, scowling and nibbling on his thumb-nail.
Alaine’s blank expression tells him nothing and immediately the thought of dirty diapers pops into his head making his stomach lurch.
“So?” he asks impatiently.
“I’m not ovulating,” she announces.
A relieved chuckle gurgles in Lucas’ throat and grates on her nerve.
“I’m finding a hard time placing any stock in that tiny piece of technology,” she admits. “What if it’s wrong?. Are you sure there isn’t a more effective way to do this?”
“Nothing short of going to a clinic. I asked,” he informs her. “So on to the next question,” he says urgently. “Do you want to take the plan B?”
Still unnerved by this entire conversation and the possibility of becoming a father, Lucas regards her and prays silently, please say yes. He knows well that if Alaine wants the opposite, the way he feels about her will make him accept her decision without a fight. He doesn’t want a baby. Not yet, anyway but if it’s what she wants...
“I can’t believe this,” he mutters before he can stop himself.
“I’m sorry, okay,” Alaine says jutting out her chin defensively. “I know this is my fault and whatever happens you are not obligated...”
“Stop,” Lucas commands. Annoyed he huffs, “in the little time we’ve known each other, I’ve only ever done right by you, Alaine. Give me a little credit, please.”
She snaps her mouth closed saying nothing in reply since he’s spoken the truth.
Gentling his tone, Lucas tells her, “whatever happens, we are in it together. If you want the plan B pill, I will get it right now and if you don’t then...”
“I’ll take it,” she says to ease his mind.
“Are you certain?” Lucas questions. “I don’t want you to think that I...” he starts to explain but stops. “There’s no going back after that.”
“I know,” Alaine nods again. “It’s a big decision but...” she says shrugging and shaking her head to dismiss her doubts. “I’ll go with you to get it.”
Deliberately, he ignores her last statement.
“I was thinking about what you said earlier,” she continues as he guides her out of his office.
“I’ve said a lot,” Lucas informs her. “What exactly...”
“About me knowing when I’m ovulating. When I think about it, I probably shouldn’t be,” she explains.
Lucas pinches the bridge of his nose and huffs a sigh. “Okay, this is a pointless conversation,” he says when she looks up at him. “I’m just going to pick up the pills and no you are not coming,” he tells her firmly.
“What? Why not?” Alaine protests.
“Because there is a madman somewhere on the streets of New York with his sights set on you,” Lucas informs her. “I won’t have you hurt again. No arguing.”
“Then stay with me and have Delah go get it,” Alaine suggests stubbornly.
“Your sister doesn’t know Manhattan. Be reasonable,” Lucas argues. “I will run out to get it so you can take the damn thing and we can be done with this talk.”
His sudden outburst makes her flinch. Still emotional, tears build up in Alaine’s eyes and cling to Alaine’s lashes.
Stunned by his own harshness, Lucas takes a step toward her.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, baby,” he pleads. “I’m just on edge and I’m tired. I’m so tired,” he admits. “It’s been a long two weeks, an even longer night and the longest day. I’m not...I shouldn’t take it out on you. I’m sorry,” he says again.
“Okay,” Alaine whispers.
He has no idea what that okay means -- whether it’s a good okay or a bad okay. It all becomes clear when he reaches for her and she recoils then flees down the hall and upstairs the stairs.
“Alaine,” Lucas calls following her.
Her little feet carry her swiftly away from him.
“Baby,” he calls her again.
As he watches her go and ignore him, the heaviness that just left his spirit returns like an anchor.
Convinced that she needs anything or anyone other than him right now, he walks back to the kitchen counter where he left his phone.
So she takes the damn thing and without hesitation, just like he told her. As soon as Lucas hands Alaine the white pill she tosses it to the back of her throat, grabs the glass of water from his hand and chugs back its contents.
To flourish it, she opens her mouth to show him her tongue to prove that she swallowed it and that he has nothing to worry about.
However, once she gets a real good look at him standing in front of her the attitude disappears like smoke driven away by the wind.
He looks so forlorn her heart cracks. The sight of his unruly hair and the tightness pulling his features breaks her. She was hurt and embarrassed when he shouted at her. Those feelings eventually morphed into anger the longer she sat alone. He was the one who persued her. If it wasn’t for his persistence, they wouldn’t be in the situation in the first place.
She’d been prepared to give him a good tongue lashing about it too -- about never having to worry about getting pregnant until she met him.
All of those accusations evaporate now that she allows herself to really see how tired and beaten he looks.
The weariness in his soft gray eyes and the slump in his shoulders are unmistakable. Plus, he looks like a sorry puppy and his distress beckons her to soothe him.
Reaching out, Alaine smooths her fingers through his hair then lets her hand glide to his cheek in an attempt to convey that all is forgiven.
He leans into the display of tenderness his broken spirit craving more and gives her a smile that’s filled with regret.
Hoping to make him feel better, she says, “so I hear there’s a really good book we should be reading,” and steps out to meet him in the hall.
“I want to apologize, Ali,” he says dropping his eyes. “I shouldn’t have...”
“You did apologize,” Alaine reminds him. “And I understand. You’re overwhelmed. I’m sorry that I’m the cause of it.”
“But you’re not,” Lucas states urgently. “You are the brightest part of my day, Alaine. And yes I am pissed about what happened to you. I am pissed at myself for leaving, that I wasn’t there to stop him, to protect you. I am pissed about a lot of things, baby but not about you. Never about you,” he assures her and steps closer to take her face in his hands. “You overwhelm me, Alaine,” he adds with his eyes boring through her. “In a good way.”
Those words. Her heart.
Alaine finds that those tears she dammed up earlier come spilling down her cheeks as if the barrier broke.
Not understanding the meaning behind those tears, Lucas pleads again, “I’m sorry, Ali.”
“No, these are not...I’m crying because what you said was perfect,” she sniffles as she leans up to kiss him.
Feeling relieved, Lucas smiles down at her when she is no longer on tiptoe.
“How about that book?” he asks right before he lifts her up and tosses her over his shoulder carrying her all the way downstairs to his office.
He walks to his desk and turns for her to reach for the book he left lying beside his computer then sets her down on the leather sofa.
Lucas stretches out across the chair then pats the empty spot in front of him. Alaine settles there with his arms around her and his chin resting on her shoulder.
“You read,” he states.
Barely ten minutes into her reading, he interrupts.
“This is dumb,” Lucas says. “Skip to the good part.”
“And just what are the good parts?” Alaine laughs. “The book is ruined if I skip ahead.”
He nudges her again and whispers in her ear, “come on, baby.”
Finding it hard not to indulge him when he seems so much brighter and he sounds so content and relaxed lying there while she reads a cheesy romance novel, she caves, stating, “fine.”
Paging until she gets to the fifth chapter, she finds a naughty scene that turns her cheeks red. A tiny, red-headed heroine -- one Erika Schultz -- surrenders her innocence to a handsome billionaire.
“I think I finally understand why my sister gave this to me,” Alaine wonders out loud. “And it turns out we’re a cliche.”
“Keep reading,” Lucas scolds behind her.
Each line, each detailed description of the fictional character’s experimental methods of copulation, deepens her flush and that isn’t her body’s only reaction to the scene on the page in front of her.
Her mind begins to envisage, Lucas and her within the script. This is her first time reading an erotic novel. As a matter of fact, she is not much of a reader, at all. But, damn.
At her back, she feels Lucas’ own reaction as his hand slips up along her thigh and over her hips. His fingers climb slowly up her ribcage under his t-shirt she is wearing.
“I can’t imagine what you’re thinking, that has you panting so much already,” Lucas’ husky voice whispers in her ear.
Pushing her butt back against him, she counters, “must be whatever has you this hard.”
She keeps massaging him with her behind. Lucas moans into her hair as he breathes in the fragrant strands.
“If you keep this up,” he warns. Changing his mind he says, “this book is giving me some very wicked ideas. I think we should skip ahead to see what else it has to offer.”
He tweaks her stiff nipple making her whimper but those light touches aren’t nearly enough. The more he toys with her breasts, the shakier her breathing becomes and the more she presses back against him in a silent plea for more.
“I know what you need,” he teases his voice husky. “Don’t stop, baby. Read to me,” he says as his other hand slips into her underwear where the telltale sign of her arousal immediately coats his fingers. “Read to me,” he urges again.
Fervently, she does try to continue. On the other hand, his purposeful teasing and stroking make it impossible. As the heroine reaches her own climax, Alaine cries out and Lucas growls low in his throat.
“Don’t stop reading,” he encourages through gritted teeth when she picks up a gyrating rhythm against him.
“It’s impossible,” Alaine gasps. “I can’t see the words anymore.”
His low chuckle against her neck travels to every receptor in her body. She can tell how pleased he is with himself, but she can’t be bothered with his smugness. Not now when she is so close.
“Oh God,” she whines.
Forgetting the story, Lucas uses his hold on her to pull her closer to that part of his body that is straining for release. Then he reaches for her chin to turn her face to his to kiss her deeply. It’s every bit as lewd as what he’s doing to her as his tongue begins an erotic dance with hers. He revels in her muffled cries and the shudders that begin to rock her body as she rides the crest of wave after wave of her release.
The book tumbles out of her hand onto the hardwood floor with a soft thud but Lucas doesn’t ease up. Not until she goes limp for him.
“So sweet,” he whispers.
Alaine turns in his arms to face him. Once they are at eye level, she glides her hand down his torso to his waistband but is surprised when he stops her.
“What about you?” she asks.
“We should probably wait until you’re on some kind of birth control,” he suggests. Hoping for her understanding, he explains, “I know what it’s like to come inside you now. It feels...I want to do it again. If you put your hands on me now, I’m not sure I’ll have what it takes to keep myself from...”
Alaine nods her head. “Okay,” she says. “Can I ask you a question?”
With his eyes closed and his forehead resting on hers, he replies, “sure.”
“Do you want children?”
“Honestly, I’ve never thought about it,” he answers. “And even after this, I still don’t know. I could...maybe eventually. What about you?”
Alaine shrugs. “I never thought about either.”
“And now?” Lucas presses.
Instead of answering she asks, “what would you have done if I had been ovulating?”
“I think the point is that you’re not. That’s a dangerous question, Ali and I don’t think I want to tread there,” he answers. “We’re good and I don’t want to ruin what is shaping into a great afternoon.”
“I think your lack of an answer is an answer,” she tells him before turning around in his arms to pick up the book.
Pushing her butt back against the heavy erection still poking her, she smiles. “I thought this talk of babies would take care of that,” she teases. “You’re still really...does it hurt?”
“I’ll be fine, sweet girl,” Lucas answers. “I think I will just lie here a while and hold you.”
Trying to set aside every negative emotion, Lucas focuses on the positive side of things. It is turning into a perfect afternoon. Yesterday could have turned out so differently. Alaine could have been raped or killed.
They’ve been given another chance and he is not about to squander it.
Whatever prompts her to turn around to face him again, he is grateful as she begins to trace his cheekbone, his jaw and his lips with her delicate fingers.
Lucas’ eyes flutter closed. Under her tender ministrations, he drifts into sleep.
Like he’s done to her many times, Alaine takes the moment to study his resting features. He’s a beautiful specimen indeed. She’s encountered handsome men before. None of them ever caught her attention or held it like this man. Nor her heart.
There are dark circles under his eyes. He’s told her that he’s always had difficulty sleeping but she’s never seen those before. The last two weeks have definitely taken a toll on him -- more specifically what happened to her yesterday.
He looks younger too so vulnerable when he sleeps. It awakens something inside her -- a need to keep him safe like he’s done for her.
She kisses his forehead and whispers, “I’m so sorry,” feeling shame that she has yet to ask him how he is doing. She’s not even inquired about his mother.
“I’ll be better,” she promises. Then she mouths, “I love you, Lucas.”
Maybe he hears her. His body wraps more tightly around hers. Alaine smiles as she suspects that although he hasn’t said it directly, she’s probably won the love of this man.
For a long while, she remains there fighting the urge to close her eyes. Whenever her she does, images of Angus attacking her in her apartment run rampant -- no matter how hard she tries to distract herself.
Going around the temptation to wake Lucas is a struggle but she does it. Those dark, heavy splotches under his eyes are a big enough deterrent.
She eases herself out of the web of his arms and legs trapping her to him and leaves the office to find him a blanket. When she returns, she fits it over him and closes the blinds manually turning the room dark. Remembering his stories about night terrors, she switches on the small desk lamp, in case it makes a difference then walks back outside and down the hall.
After sitting alone in the lifeless apartment for a bit with nothing but her thoughts for company, the elevator’s doors open, startling Alaine.
She jumps off the sofa with a yelp but calms when she sees Seth stepping out.
“The boss?” he questions securing the envelope in his hand behind his back.
“Sleeping. Don’t wake him,” Alaine requests. “He’s...I’m sure whatever it is can wait.”
His agreement is not verbal. Alaine reads understanding in Seth’s eyes.
“What about you?” he asks. “You okay?”
“He’s really good at taking care of me,” she admits.
“That’s good,” Seth tells her.
They both hear Isabella’s tapping feet before she appears in their midst.
“Uncle Seth,” she squeals launching herself into his arms. “I missed you.”
“Didn’t you miss me?” Alaine asks.
“You didn’t go anywhere,” the little girl answers.
When Seth leaves, Alaine resettles on the sofa this time with her staying with her.
“My daddy does that to my mommy and me,” she says pointing at the bruise on Alaine’s face. “He’s a bad man. Is Uncle Lucas a bad man?”
“No sweetie,” Alaine says to her quickly.
Isabella looks at her aunt with so much skepticism in her wide, blue eyes it crushes Alaine. Her heart breaks because the perception the little girl built of Lucas after he offered them a home in the days following the fire has been so marred by the actions of another person. It makes her angry.
She has no idea what to say to her niece. How does she explain to a four-year-old that she was attacked and almost raped and killed in her own home?
“Lucas would never hurt me, or you or your mom,” she says instead. “He lo...he cares about us,” she amends. “Someone tried to hurt me and we’re here because he wants to protect me -- to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” she tries to explain.
At least, her explanation -- though she’s not sure it was correct -- seems to appease her niece. Before she has the chance to ask Isabella what she thinks of Lucas, Delah walks into the living room.
“It’s bath time, Izzy,” she says.
“I’m sorry you got hurt,” Isabella whispers.
“It’s not Lucas’ fault,” Alaine reminds her. “You don’t need to be afraid of him.”
After they leave her alone, Alaine again considers waking Lucas. He has this way of making everything seem hopeful and better. Determined to let him get some much-needed rest, she trudges up the stairs to his bedroom. There, she curls herself around the pillows he used the night before wishing that they were him instead.