It’s Friday evening and for those of you who have nothing to do, here is a rare weekday treat -- a long chapter just for you. Don’t forget to leave a comment. I still rely on them to stroke my fragile writer’s ego.
Lucas’ eyes flit open. Wherever he is, it’s dark except for a small concentration of yellow light a few feet away from him. His eyelids are too heavy to remain open long enough to truly get a feel of his environment, however.
He would like to keep them open but they sink close on their own accord and after that, it’s hard to pull them apart again. Plus, he can already feel himself tumbling willingly back into the pleasant nothingness of the abyss he’s been floating in for the past few hours.
There’s something niggling at the back of his mind though-- something important he should be focusing on but his foggy brain won’t allow him to put a finger on it. Even with his eyes closed and sleep beckoning him, he knows he should be worried about something.
Forcing his eyelids apart one more time, he lets out a groggy moan. They sting. His eyes are dry and uncomfortable and feel like they’ve been replaced with sandpaper.
He’s pretty sure he hadn’t been drinking but trying to lift his head is reminiscent of that one and only time he’d drank enough to wake up with a mild-ish hangover. He’s dizzy and sporting a headache and another swift glance at the light emanating from his desk is similar to glaring straight into the sun.
His eyes smart and tear. He squeezes them shut against the awful brightness and shakes his head as if doing so might help to throw off the haziness.
After a few more seconds, recognition starts to trickle in. His mind finally forms it’s first lucid thought since he floated up to the surface. Alaine. That’s when he remembers that he fell asleep with her in his office in the middle of the afternoon.
Fear skitters down his spine once he notices that the spot she occupied in front of him is empty. Before his brain can tell him that she is safe, that there’s no way Angus can get to her here hundreds of feet above the ground, he bolts upright and immediately regrets it.
The room starts to spin exacerbating the pounding behind his eyeballs. Lucas clutches his head and groans again.
Just how long had he slept?
He has no idea what time of day it is but judging by his surroundings, it must well into the night. He squints in the direction of the large windows behind his desk and finds the blinds closed.
Taking a chance with his feet, he stands slowly and shuffles toward the door -- one hand rubbing over his gritty eyes and the other pressed to his temple to contain his headache.
As soon as he pushes the door open and steps into the equally dark hallway, he croaks in a sleep-roughened voice, “Alaine?”
Although he is already convinced that she is fine, the answering silence is still unnerving. He hastens his footsteps down the walkway calling for her a second time.
“I’m here,” she answers with a soft, sad sigh tacked to the end.
Lucas stops walking and turns his head in the direction of her voice to see her tucked in the corner of the sofa in the living room.
“What are you doing in the dark by yourself?” he asks as he crosses the floor to meet her.
“Brooding,” she replies. “You looked so peaceful, I hadn’t the heart to wake you.”
She pats the cushion beside her in invitation. Not that he needed it. Without hesitation, Lucas stretches out on the sectional and places his ailing head in her lap.
“That reminds me, I need to put the feature to control the lights on your phone. Once we find it,” he adds. “Did Seth come by?”
“He did,” Alaine confirms while she runs her fingers through his overgrown curls.
She doesn’t elaborate on her response and Lucas doesn’t press for more. He gets it. She let him sleep and he appreciates that she did. It did him a world of good. Even if he is in pain, his body feels lighter and his mind calmer.
Besides, he’d rather sit here and enjoy her soothing touch and her quiet company for a little while longer before having to go back to dealing with those real-life problems stacked up against him.
“Thank God you’re okay, Alaine,” he says after a few minutes.
He turns his face into her stomach to place a soft kiss there.
What if the test she took today had been wrong? he thinks. What if the pill doesn’t work? What if...
Closing his mind to those thoughts, he continues to say, “I was so scared listening on the phone and knowing that I couldn’t do anything to save you. Now I know the true meaning of impotence.”
“But you did do something,” Alaine corrects. Her fingers combing through his hair still as she looks down at him. “You saved me, Lucas,” she says. “If it weren’t for you, there is no way I would have...I never thought I would be so happy to see Seth,” she adds with a chuckle.
Lucas nods. The measure of gratitude he now harbors for his driver is the lifelong kind. He owes Seth a debt that he will never be able to repay. With that thought, he considers the current standings between the girl he loves and the man who saved her life.
“I wanted to kill him after what you told me,” Lucas speaks thoughtfully. “I spoke to him about it.”
Alaine doesn’t give a reaction to either of his statements. She simply resumes her gentle stroking through his hair.
“Do you want to know what he said?” Lucas presses.
Understandably, another long period of silence passes between them before she asks, “what did he say?”
“He said that he did not dress you to cover for his father,” Lucas starts to explain.
At the sound of Alaine’s contemptive scoff, he says, “just hear me out. He said that he did not want anybody else to see you that way and that’s why he dressed you. He also said that he couldn’t leave you alone with his father long enough to get you something to wear. He was afraid that once he left you alone with him, he would kill you. That’s why he told him to leave.”
Again, Alaine says nothing. All the years of pent up anger and aggression towards her cousin suddenly makes no sense. She blinks in confusion, trying to wrap her mind around this new piece of information.
She’s never come outright and told Seth that she hated him or that she always felt him party to what happened to her but she also never made a secret of it either. It was pretty clear every time she openly scorned him. She doesn’t know any other way to deal with him. She can hardly remember the time when she thought of Seth as an older brother.
Now Lucas tells her this?
What is she supposed to do with this revelation? Suddenly forget the past eight years? Act like things between her and Seth are normal?
“Babe, isn’t that what he did with Angus?” Lucas questions. “He got away because Seth went to cover you first,” he tells her. “Maybe it’s his protective instinct. Ali?” he calls again to her continued silence. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know,” she answers and sniffles her tears away. “I used to follow that idiot everywhere,” she confesses as the pleasant memories of Seth start rolling in. “He never turned me away. I interrupted so many of his dates so he could take me to the movies or something. He picked me up from school every day when my own parents and my sister wouldn’t. You think I was unfair to him, don’t you?” she rambles on, more to herself than Lucas. “I’ve blamed him for so long, what am I supposed to do now? Apologize and it all goes away? Does that mean that everything is fine between us now? I don’t know.”
“Hey,” Lucas says, reaching out to touch her cheek. “You don’t have to figure it out right now. I understand why you’ve been angry,” he tells her. “I think he understands as well and I don’t think he’s blameless. He could have told the truth but...”
“You’re defending Seth?” Alaine asks. “I thought you hated him.”
“Hate is a strong word,” Lucas muses. “Now, I owe the man everything,” he says placing a light kiss against the back of her hand.
The weight of his words hangs in the hush returning between them each one soaking up its meaning.
“My first instinct was to fire him,” Lucas begins again. “I didn’t. But if it has been uncomfortable for you to be in his company and if it is going to remain uncomfortable, say the word and he is gone,” he assures her. “However, before you do, I want you to know, that I trust him with you.”
Alaine cocks her head to the side and looks at him quizzically. So far, every word he’s spoken is loaded with a plethora of ‘read between the lines’ opportunities. Each one is an inadvertent declaration of what has already blossomed between them and she knows it.
Why else would he put Seth’s fate in her hands?
That’s why she makes the decision. She’ll bite the bullet and tell him how she feels now.
She opens her mouth to say, “Lu...” but he misinterprets her lengthy silence.
“You don’t have to decide tonight,” he says. “But there is one more thing. I know I was a bit rough with you earlier and I’m sorry. But you have to understand why I don’t want you out on the streets right now, right?” he asks.
“I do,” she answers honestly. “I’m not sure I want to be on the streets either but I can’t be locked in here forever, Lucas. What if,” she continues when he is about to object. “What if you or Seth go with me if I need to go out. I have to work. He can drop me off and pick me up.”
Lucas sighs at her stubbornness. “I hardly think it’s wise for you to work those night shifts, babe,” he states. “At least until Angus is no longer a threat, take some time off for post-traumatic stress or something,” he suggests.
“Lucas, I have to work,” Alaine responds.
“You don’t,” he snaps to the defiance in her voice.
She scoffs at him. “So I’m supposed to live off you? Sleep with you and get paid for it? No thanks,” she mutters.
“That’s not what I mean,” he defends.
“Then what do you mean?” she demands.
Already growing weary and feeling the tension returning in his muscles, Lucas sighs his resignation. “I don’t want to fight, Alaine,” he says. “I meant that you can take some time off for now. Please, Ali, I am begging you.”
Sitting up, he takes her face in his palms so she can see the pleading in his bloodshot eyes.
“Do this for me. Quit the job. It’s dangerous,” he begs. “The last time we were there, you said you thought you were being watched. Maybe you were right,” he hustles to say. “Maybe he was watching. He won’t stop, baby. Please.”
Forcing herself to see things his way, Alaine relents. “Okay,” she agrees. “But I’m not quitting that job until I get something better. I’ll take some time off.
Resuming his position lying on her thighs, Lucas says, “Thank you. You know you can come work for me,” he adds as an afterthought.
“No,” Alaine answers immediately and though Lucas sighs, he doesn’t argue any further.
“Are you okay, Ali, really?” he asks instead. “You should have woken me up.”
“Are you?” she responds her features mirroring concern etched in his features. “I know that the past two weeks can’t have been easy for you with your mom. Now, this happened. I know you’re tired.”
“It hasn’t been easy,” he admits softly. “And I am tired, but I’m used to things happening. I’m used to dealing.”
“Seems like I only keep adding to your troubles,” she voices, each word an indictment against her own conscience.
“What? No, no baby,” he tells her quickly. “This -- us -- you’re good for me and I enjoy you.”
She gives him a little smile before leaning down. Lucas accepts her kiss with hunger, shifting suddenly so she ends up beneath him with her back dipping into the pillowy cushions.
The little giggle that leaves her throat makes his spirit soar. It’s a delightful sound. He loves it. He loves that he can make her laugh -- that he can make her happy -- even after this horrible thing she endured.
“How do you do that?” she asks before pressing her lips to his again.
“It helps that you’re miniature,” Lucas breathes, moaning from the exquisite sensation of her soft lips moving against his.
A slow exploration of bodies begins, with hands and lips and tongue until the incessant rumbling in his stomach disrupts their passion.
She giggles again and asks, “hungry? I made dinner.”
“Good, I’m starving,” Lucas replies.
She runs her fingers once more through his sleep-mussed hair.
“I must look a mess,” Lucas ponders.
“A hot mess,” she replies running playful hands across his chest and down to his waistband to prove her point. Patting his sides, she commands, “up.”
Following the order, Lucas sits up and rolls his neck while kneading his fingers into the burning muscle in his shoulder.
Alaine’s guilt flowers into pity as she looks at him.
“You sit here,” she commands again. “I will set your dinner. Then you are going to take a hot shower and I will give you a massage. Tonight it’s my turn to take care of you,” she offers.
“I like the sound of that,” he agrees.
When their quiet dinner is over, Lucas pushes himself off the stool at the kitchen counter.
“Thanks,” he tells Alaine again. “It was great.”
“Bathroom,” she commands leaning into the kiss he places on her cheek.
Smiling to herself, she watches him go before turning her attention to clearing the dishes and tidying the kitchen. When she is done, she quickly follows his path to the bedroom.
The idea of taking care of Lucas is as thrilling until she steps into the bedroom and the excitement is overrun by nerves.
She can hear the shower running through the opened bathroom door and wonders if he left it that way on purpose. An invitation...maybe.
It doesn’t take much to picture him naked beneath the spray of the water. Her runaway imagination ignites her desire anew.
She could strip and join him. It wouldn’t be the first time. That debate on whether or not she should goes on for the few seconds it takes her to forage around his personal items for something to use as a massage lotion.
She strikes gold and stands by the bed for a little while still contemplating pulling his t-shirt over her head.
Decision made, she takes a deep breath trying to mentally calm her flailing heart and zinging nerves.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Alaine,” she mutters to herself. “You can’t be a prude after he’s seen and touched everything. There’s no point in being shy now.”
With that pep talk egging her on, she removes his t-shirt and boxers and steps into the bathroom. The glass enclosure around the shower leaves him completely open to her scrutiny so she drinks her fill.
Rivulets of water roll, contouring to every line on his lean muscled back. His taut stance and the way his forehead and palms are pressed against the tiled walls, split her decision to join him in two.
Maybe he wants this time alone.
Before she can lose her nerve, Alaine draws the glass door aside and steps in. A loud gasp tears from her throat when the icy cold water stabs at her skin. Something tells her that he needs this. Why else would he endure this kind of torture? Swallowing her complaint, she wraps her arms around him and presses her trembling body to his back.
Feeling her curved against him, Lucas inhales deeply and allows his body to relax in her embrace. A groan - part distress, part pleasure -- escapes from deep within him.
On impulse, he turns around so their roles are reversed. It’s his arms around her pulling her closer giving him the perfect vantage point to plunder her mouth.
Alaine returns his ardor despite the way her body shivers and shakes both from the icy water and the artful, confident way he kisses her.
“Sorry,” he mumbles against her lips.
Without pulling away from her, he uncurls one of his arms around her to adjust the water to a more bearable lukewarm.
Then he stretches her up on the tips of her toes and uses his body to press her into the glass shower wall.
Remembering her injury, a picture of her young and broken flickers across his mind making him hurt anew. He lifts her to ease the strain off her legs and she instinctively wraps them around him.
To deny himself the pleasure of sating his desire while she is so open to him is a kind of sweet torture. She’s a temptation like he’s never experienced before but he will not be a neanderthal with her. Not like last night.
So he loves her silently with his kisses and his gentle hold. When she squirms, fitting herself over his growing erection, Lucas stills her, finally breaking their kiss. He looks into her beautiful eyes glazed over with passion for him.
“Not tonight, goddess,” he says. “Just this. I love kissing you.”
How long do they spend in the shower just kissing? Neither one can guess but it’s calm and happiness. They’ve reached their personal nirvana.
Lucas particularly doesn’t want to stop. How else can he forget what happened to her? Unless she’s distracting him like this, it’s always there in his mind. Still, he shuts off the water.
“As much as I am enjoying this,” he says stepping out of the bathroom with her still clinging to him. He walks across to the bed, drops her, wet and cold on to the sheet and flops down on his stomach beside her. “You promised me a massage.”
“We’re wet and naked,” Alaine protests.
“Even better. No, baby. Get on top of me,” he tells her when she kneels beside him to begin kneading his shoulders.
After a moment’s hesitation, she gathers her nerve and does as he requests
“So I found something,” she tells him.
Craning his neck to look at her, he asks, “what’s that?”
She presents him with a bottle of massage oil and he groans in embarrassment.
“I told you, Ali. I was no virgin,” he reminds her.
“I know, but this is from before me,” she says with a shrug. “I don’t really care. All I see are the possibilities.”
Bewildered amusement flashes in Lucas’ eyes. “Then I think I’ve achieved my purpose,” he responds rolling his eyes. “You are properly corrupted. I actually got this the day you appeared in my office wet and so tempting,” he admits with a laugh.
“No,” Alaine gasps.
“Yes,” Lucas answers shamelessly. “Good thing I did. Now get to rubbing.”
“It’s warm,” she announces after squeezing a small amount into her hand.
“Possibilities,” Lucas repeats.
She kneads into the muscles in his shoulders, her little hands deft and nimble. A deep, appreciative sound rumbles in Lucas’ chest.
Closing his eyes, he whispers, “this is nice.”
Alaine smiles her enjoyment to his response and keeps working silently.
“You’re really good at this,” Lucas tells her, his voice developing a slur.
“When I came here from Idaho, I took up yoga to help with my lingering pain,” she explains as she moves down his body to settle over the base of his spine.
Concentrating her efforts on his back muscles now, she says, “it really helped a lot and everything is on the internet. I learned to massage myself.”
“That sounds incredibly hot,” Lucas chuckles.
The dreaminess in his voice makes her smile again.
“Usually, I do it every morning before I start my day,” she continues. “That morning I came to your office, I didn’t get the chance to.”
“Why didn’t you?” Lucas asks.
“I was late for an interview with someone I really wanted to work for,” she admits.
That feeling returns. The one that says he is a scoundrel for what he’s done to her. She wanted a real job and he’d given her this. He’d taken her virginity. His interference in her life has almost gotten her killed...twice. Yet here she is rubbing kinks out of his muscle like he’s the one who is the victim.
“I haven’t really done it since that day,” she says with a little laugh. “Strangely, I think all I needed was good sex because I haven’t felt a lick of pain since we started this.”
Beneath her, his body quakes with laughter. He glances back at her with a look that holds both amusement and incredulity.
“You’re welcome then,” Lucas tells her. “Now I don’t feel so much of a cad for deflowering you.”
“You’re not a cad, Lucas. I came to you willingly,” she reminds him. “And you’ve treated me better than every other person in my life. I wish you would stop saying those things about yourself. It hurts me when you do,” she says softly.
After a moment in thoughtfulness, he goes back to resting his head on his arms and answers just as softly, “okay, baby.”
“It was Mona’s idea to get into yoga,” she says. “She actually paid for my first month. Other than you, she has always been so good to me.”
Alaine shifts down his legs, looking at the taut muscles of his backside.
When she says nothing after that, he turns to look at her and finds her frowning.
“What is it, love?” he questions.
“Angus, he hurt Mona because of me,” she answers.
“Angus hurt Mona because of Angus,” he corrects firmly. Mentally he adds, “and me.”
He won’t say that though.
Keeping his burdensome worries to himself, he tells her, “I don’t want you to think that way. None of what happened to you is your fault. Tomorrow, I was thinking we could get out of the apartment,” he says to distract her. “We could go by my parents’ house in New Jersey if you’re up to it. We can spend a quiet day away from the city, stay the night if you want. Shanice invited us.”
“What about your mom, Lucas?” Alaine questions. “Claudia?” she specifies.
Reaching behind him, Lucas pulls her from her perch on his back to lie beside him.
“My mom is hooked up to machines that are keeping her alive and that is regretful,” he tells her. “But I highly doubt she knows I’m not there. I know I have to go back. I just intended...” he starts to explain then trails off.
When he thinks about it, he doesn’t know what he truly intended when he snuck back to New York like a love-sick puppy.
At the time, all he knew was that being holed up in a hospital room with his mother who will probably never awaken had been overwhelming. What was worse was having to witness Kurt pretending to be the loving husband and stepfather. If it wasn’t for thoughts of Alaine, and the knowledge that she was waiting for him, he might have gone insane.
So far he’d been successful in keeping the idea of leaving her to go back at bay. Now that she’s brought up, he knows that it is impossible. He can’t leave her here; not for anything. Not for anyone.
“Come with me,” he requests softly.
“To New Jersey?” Alaine asks.
“No, well yes, to New Jersey,” he assents. “But to Italy as well.”
“Lucas,” Alaine says and her tone makes his insides sink.
“Don’t say no, Alaine,” he tells her. “At least say you’ll think about it.”
“Okay,” she agrees. “I will. Who would have thought we would become this?” she asks grinning up at him. “I’m so happy with you, Lucas. That night at the wedding I had to really concentrate just so I wouldn’t stare at you.”
“Ha!” he says, the triumphant expression startling Alaine.
“I knew it,” he declares with a gleam of victory in his eyes. “Finally! I know I’m just too damn sexy to resist.”
Alaine laughs loudly.
“So modest,” she quips. “Yes, Lucas,” she states. “You were irresistible. Though I suspect I’m going to regret telling you.”
“Modesty is for losers,” he jokes. “And what do you mean by, were?”
Still laughing, Alaine rolls her eyes at him. Then she says, “thank you, baby.”
“For what?” Lucas asks leaning up on his elbow to look down at her.
“For being here,” she responds. “You should be with your mom but you’re here with me.”
Pulling into the cradle of his arms, he says, “I told you, I’m exactly where I want to be.”
She snuggles closer into his firm body and smiles to herself.
Who knew that this with another human could be so meaningful and fulfilling? Even if she lived to be a hundred and three, she will never be able to repay him for what he’s done for her since they met.
Looking at him now, at the unmistakable emotions swirling in his bright gray eyes, she can tell he doesn’t want any kind of payment but she can certainly work to keep him happy and satisfied.
“I think it’s time to finish your massage,” she says suggestively. “Please, sir, will you lie on your back for me?”
That question and the coquettish look she gives him makes Lucas’ eyes pop wide. His heart rate kicks up a notch in acknowledgment to increase the blood flow to the parts of his body most interested in her request.
“Possibilities, baby,” she grins at him. “Tell me, are you into erotic massages?”
Lucas swallows hard and clears his throat. “I’ve never had one,” he admits. “But I think I can definitely get into it,” he says as he obeys her instructions.
She straddles his hips with her bare body first causing Lucas to swear under his breath when he feels his flesh leap in response. Then her nimble fingers caress his face and neck. They slide unrushed over his skin, stroking his chest and making his breathing short. His breath hitches as she goes lower across his abdomen and all the while she does this -- torture him so sweetly until he thinks he might explode from just that alone, she holds his gaze captive.
The only thing keeping him from easing inside her and taking his pleasure is the fear of an unwanted pregnancy. Doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy her hands. As a matter of fact, he’s already enjoying it a little too much as he feels his desire leaking out of him.
“My God, Ali,” he gasps when her slippery fingers trace ever lower coming in contact with his tumescence.
Once she locks him in her hand, she loses herself in the task. Every sound of pleasure he emits fuels her determined strokes up and down his turgid length.
Lucas twists and writhes beneath her. He clenches his jaws and throws an arm over his eyes as he arches of the bed.
“Don’t stop, baby,” he groans.
“I won’t,” she assures him.
From there on in, she has no idea what it is that he keeps mumbling under his breath. She’s certain he’s speaking another language and the fact that she has the power to make him come apart like that has joy bubbling inside her.
The last intelligible thing he mutters is a low curse when she feels him harden even more in her hand. She obeys his command to keep going. He lifts himself off the bed and pulls her to his chest so her hand gets traps between them. His body shudders and a deep groan rumbles from deep within him coming off as a hoarse cry as his essence begins to spill from him and onto her busy fingers. He tangles his fingers in the hair at the nape of her neck to drag her forward until their lips meet in a kiss that promises what is in his heart.
Silently he promises her forever.
A while later, lying atop him with her head nestled in his crook, Alaine voices the one thing that has been bugging her.
“Why the cold water?” she asks.
“Are you certain you want to know?” Lucas replies.
When he feels her nod, he says, “after Kurt hit me, or pushed me into something, or down the stairs; if the injury was not severe enough for Claudia to call their doctor, cold water had to substitute. Then it became a habit -- a way of numbing more than just the physical pain. I don’t feel anything but the cold. There’s no fear or anger. There’s just the cold.”