One True Pairing
Here is your new chapter as promised. Don't forget to show the love for this story in the comments section below or with a vote or like or hitting the supportme button. Happy reading to all.
Lucas pushes through the front door of his parents' home, his hands loaded with shopping bags and steps aside to allow Alaine entry into the spacious foyer.
A wall of glass windows permits golden sunlight an uninhibited pathway to illuminate the room and create a gleam on the recently polished dark hardwood floor. The tall ceiling lends an airiness to the atmosphere and the smell of lemon tickles Alaine's nostrils. It's an impressive space -- a bright and clean space -- that lets her know the caliber of people entertaining her.
Intimidation sets in the pit of her stomach increasing to near debilitating proportions the deeper she enters her surroundings. It's like a giant's lair; every item within of grandiose proportions.
"The kitchen is that way," Lucas says with a jerk of his head.
Each step she makes is timid and unsure but she follows Lucas' directions with his warm body at her back the only source of comfort and familiarity in this strange environment.
When she steps into the kitchen, it’s easy to see the way the trio posed in a huddle around the grand island work to suppress the looks of pity in their eyes. It's also obvious that she was the topic of discussion but Alaine works just as hard at trying to ignore the temptation to run away surging inside her.
If it wasn't for Lucas standing so close behind her blocking her way, she might have done just that. Putting on her brave face she steps over the threshold offering them a wavering smile that helps to ease some of the tension building in the room.
“Have a sit,” Shanice offers her voice cutting away the rest of the awkwardness as the gang becomes reanimated, their voices suddenly tripping over each other in conversation.
Shanice grabs a pair of fruit bowls from the fridge, setting them on the counter in front of Alaine while Lucas unloads his arms beside her.
"We try to encourage this one to eat healthily," Shanice says pointing at her daughter. "It's not much but lunch will be served not too long from now. Lucas, why don't you take the bags to your room," she suggests.
A glimmer of triumph flashes in his bright gray eyes as he turns them on Alaine just as her attention snaps to his face.
"Did you hear that?" he teases close to her ear so only she can hear. "She said my room. I told you, they wouldn't mind."
Her eyes narrow in response as he steps away but Lucas, too delighted to care, only smiles at her.
"I'd be happy to, Shanice," he gloats as he gathers up his load once again and walks out of the kitchen to the stairs.
Sometimes when he comes here, no matter how hard he tries, he can't help but take a time machine back to his youth. The family photos lining the walls and end tables and mantle facilitate his trip down memory lane; not that he needs the visual.
His mind is like a vault all on its own and each photograph simply triggers a replay of the events that happened on the days he was privileged to be around for them.
When he gets to the top of the third-floor landing, he lingers at his bedroom door just staring at the doorknob. He hasn't set foot in this room going on nearly nine years now. The last time he slept in there was the summer before his great escape to the United Kingdom under the guise of pursuing higher education. Really, he'd just wanted to escape it all and by the time he came back home he had his own money to afford his own place. Now, he only visits when time affords him a chance.
Claudia's home in Vegas, he avoids like it's radioactive for obvious reasons. Interactions with his mother have been reduced -- for his sanity sake -- to bi-annual lunches and phone calls. All efforts to keep a semblance of a relationship between them alive are made form his end in an attempt to fulfill his role as her son. Unless she wants something from him, that is, then his mother knows exactly how to find him.
While he does visit his father's home for family occasions or from time to time to seek business advice from his father, it still doesn't hold all pleasant memories. No one ever hit him here but he still had to witness Arlington's happiness with his new family as a child. Not to mention the thought of going back to his mother's to be violated always cast a dark cloud over his the time he spent here.
So many times he'd wanted to beg his father not to send him back; to promise that he'd be good and he'd make him proud if he just gave him the chance -- if he only kept him. On nights when he woke up sweating and afraid and he was certain he saw Kurt looming over his bed, he'd wanted to run down the stairs to Arlington's bedroom and climb in with him. So many times he'd come close to telling his father the ugly truth but fear had kept his mouth padlocked. The fear of being rejected and called a liar like Claudia swore Arlington would see him as and fear that Kurt would do the things he promised to do to his father and his siblings -- to his mother -- had ensured his silence.
And then, there's this. Somehow, Claudia’s words that he was unloved always made sense when he climbed these three flights of stairs to the only bedroom on the third floor of his father's mansion. His bedroom. Even now, in adulthood, it still hurts sometimes despite logic and fact dictating he is a welcomed member of the family.
When he finally opens the door to his old bedroom it's like opening up a time capsule. Except for a different sheet set covering the bed, everything is exactly how he left it. The only evidence that anyone has been in here is the fact that it's clean and dust free.
Lucas smiles at the cabinet of glimmering academic trophies that he always brought his father to prove to him that he was a good boy and worthy of his affection. There's another cabinet just like this one in Arlington's office to display the other trophies and awards he's amassed over the last decade or so. It just made more sense to keep them here. Claudia was certainly never involved or interested in his achievements. The symbols of his accomplishments never held pride of place in any part of her house. As a matter of fact, the few times he'd brought them home to her all wide and excited and craving her approval, the maid ended up fishing them out of the trash.
He sets down the bags beside the showcase and pulls open the glass doors to lift the first of many science fair trophies he'd won over the years.
"Taking a trip down memory lane?" a voice questions from the doorway.
Lucas swivels around to see his stepbrother standing there. "What are you doing here?" he asks his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"I need a reason to visit my parents?" Dion asks stepping further into the room.
A heavy silence permeated with the truth hangs in the air around them making Lucas wince. In moments like these, he's certain his stepbrother knows exactly what he's hiding.
Per Lucas' request, Dion never did report to Arlington or Shanice the bruises he'd seen on Lucas' body and all these years he's kept true to his word. It's a secret they'd shared many awkward glances over across the dinner table as teenagers and he can't imagine the burden it must have put on Dion to keep it.
Sure, Lucas had told him a tale about a school bully but it was clear Dion had his doubts about that story. He never asked Lucas for details of the marks -- stale and fresh -- marring his flesh and Lucas was content not to offer them but he's certain that Dion knows his account of how he got them was a lie.
"I guess not," he answers and clears his throat. "It's just curious you're here on the day I bring Alaine here," he decides.
"What?" Dion asks feigning innocence. "Your girlfriend is here?"
Laughing at his brother's antics, Lucas sets the trophy back in its designated spot and closes the cabinet door.
"I should probably rescue her from dad," he says moving towards the hall and pauses when he sees his younger brother standing out in the hallway as well. "Great," he mutters. "The entire gang is here."
Deep masculine voices -- the sound of friendly banter and laughter -- and heavy thumping footsteps on the stairs and across the wood floors announce the brothers' trek from Lucas' upstairs bedroom to the kitchen. The nearer they draw, the greater Alaine feels the urge to hide.
She'd just started getting comfortable with being on her own in Lucas' parents' company, now her eyes widen as she draws in a panicked breath.
Lucas is the first to emerge in the kitchen wearing a look of disapproval leveled at his parents as he walks to meet Alaine sitting on one of the stools around the island.
"It's a family reunion," he announces as he drops a hand on her shoulder. "When I called yesterday, I am certain I emphasized quiet," he scolds.
"It was him," Shanice says pointing at her husband. "And these two promised to behave," she adds with a pointed look at her two sons.
"I promised no such thing," Shernie chimes in but wilts under Lucas' glower.
"When I heard that my future sister-in-law would be making an appearance," Dion starts to say with a teasing look in his eyes directed at Lucas. "I just couldn't stay away. Welcome to the family," he says to Alaine.
He crosses the distance separating them to pull her out of Lucas' hold and trap her by his arm.
Hoping for rescue, Alaine lifts her face to search for Lucas around his stepbrother's sturdy frame but her movement exposes her injured face to his scrutiny.
"What's this?" Dion asks and turns a puzzled gaze to Lucas. "Did you do this?" he questions. "If you did, I'm kicking your ass," he threatens but the confusion in his eyes quickly changes to a plea. One Alaine can read begs, please tell me you didn't do this, of Lucas.
"He didn't," she interjects quickly to defend Lucas. "He wouldn't," she assures everyone again.
"Back off," Lucas warns Dion.
Unsure of just what is happening between the three of them, the other people in the room stand staring in confusion.
"Did I miss something?" Shernie asks.
Too preoccupied with the relief he feels over Alaine standing up for him and her obvious faith that he would never hurt her, Lucas moves to remove her from his brother side.
"I'll never hurt you," he assures while willing her to feel the truth in that promise.
Taking the seat next to her, he tugs Alaine against him and secures her body between his legs with her back towards him. Then he looks at his brother and explains, "she has a stalker."
The room continues is stunned silence as Lucas nuzzles Alaine's neck placing soft kisses across her shoulder blades.
"I see staring is everyone's new favorite hobby," he says rolling his eyes. Then he turns Alaine around to face him. "Let's just pretend they're not here," he tells her.
The look in his eyes already pronounces his intention and while she's not an exhibitionist, Alaine finds her resistance evaporates when Lucas kisses her. It's not that she wants to give anyone a show. It's just how strongly the connection with him is at the moment. She could feel his gratitude, his deep sense of sorrow, his anger, his love. Everything he feels came off him in these rolling waves, slithered inside her heart to convince her that he needs this. So she surrenders to his expert lips. His kisses start off slow and sweet but run away from them both as he stands and presses her back into the counter with his possessive hold squeezing her waist between his fingers.
It's Shernie's ecstatic squeak and someone clearing their throat that breaks them apart.
Ignoring their audience, Lucas settles his forehead against hers and whispers, “I hope this removes all doubt of where you will be sleeping tonight."
His husky timbre makes Alaine shiver and she colors a bright shade of red all the way to her scalp as four pairs of eyes blinking at them in stupefaction.
Her hope that no one heard his declaration dies quickly when Shernie offers, "you can sleep in my room. It will be like a sleepover."
Though Alaine answers in the affirmative, she reacts with a little wince to challenge in Lucas' eyes.
Content that his message has been received, he releases her just so she can be carted off by his sister once more.
"Let me give you the official tour," Shernie offers. "It's a lot of ground to cover and you'll want to do that with someone fun," she says to the room.
Alaine acquiesces but moves from the kitchen only after Lucas gives her nod of approval.
Three floors, twenty-two rooms, and an attic later, she descends the stairs to the second floor still attached to Shernie's arm.
“I saved the best for last," the teenager explains. "This is my private space. The best room in the house,” she declares as she pushes the door open to a lavish bedroom. “I’m sure you can tell that I'm obsessed with the colour pink in all shades. Have a seat on any surface.”
She flounces onto the fluffy bedspread covering her queen-sized mattress and grabs cell phone resting on the bedside table.
“So, this photo has been shared and liked over two million times," she says as she swipes her way to her social media page.
“Oh my God!” Alaine gasps, quickly taking the phone from Shernie's hand.
Oblivious to the fear clawing its way up Alaine's throat threatening to cut off her ability to breathe, Shernie squeals, "I know. It’s amazing and this one from the country club isn’t all there is. There is a whole host of them. Each shared, liked, and commented on millions of times. Most of the comments are good but I haven’t been able to keep up. I told you you’d be trending.”
All Alaine can do is gape at the many photos taken of Lucas and her on different occasions; the most recent one from this morning while they were shopping.
How could she not know about this? she questions herself. How does Lucas not know about this?
Just as quickly as that last thought forms, she shakes it away. As a man who enjoys his privacy, there's no way Lucas isn't aware of the public's interest in their relationship. That's an even more worrying prospect since he's made no mention of it to her. He can't be pleased with this sudden intense scrutiny into his private life since he's expressed on more than one occasion that he guards it intently.
That particular panicked notion is quickly debunked while she studies the picture taken in the parking lot at the country club. Lucas has her pinned against his SUV while they share an impassioned kiss.
"Oh my god," Alaine groans.
“Oh my god is right," Shernie agrees wistfully. "LaLaine is a hot topic on social media and other forums, including certain talk shows. Lucas didn’t mention this? I’m surprised," she rattles on without a care.
“He knows? He didn’t," Alaine confirms. "LaLaine?” she questions.
“You really are a unicorn," Shernie quips. "It’s kind of like your OTP or something.”
Alaine continues to look at her with a vacant look in her eyes awaiting an explanation. “OTP?" she queries. "What’s that?”
“How old are you?" Shernie chuckles incredulously. "One True Pairing. It's your ship name and you guys have been shipped," she assures. "Almost everyone is rooting for you and Lucas. They're already voting on when you all will get married and what your kids' names will be. So they've taken the first letter of Lucas' name and added it to Alaine. That makes you guys Lalaine. Like Brangelina. There was a poll taken on what it should be and Lalaine won by a landslide."
“People obviously have too much time on their hands,” Alaine muses out loud.
“Oh, there’s more,” Shernie informs her as she bounces off the bed.
On her trip back from her work desk, she returns with a scrapbook clutched to her chest and hands it to Alaine.
As they page through a plethora of images and headlines, from ′Billionaire Bachelor Bagged’, to ′America’s own royal couple?’, Alaine’s mind takes a fearful path, causing her to tremble.
Frowning furiously, she rises from the bed, grasping the teenager’s prized possession, which she clearly spent quite a bit of time formatting, to her breasts.
“Do you mind if I borrow this for a bit?" she asks.
Oblivious to Alaine’s discomfiture, Shernie shrugs in response. “Protect it with your life," she warns with the kind of carefree spirit that only a teenager can possess. "It is going to be featured at you guys’ wedding. I predict this.”
Barely hearing a word of what Shernie is rambling above the sound of her own terror-stricken thoughts, Alaine nods her head and walks to the door.
"Where might I find Lucas?" she asks.
“Whenever he visits he’s usually holed up in my dad’s study. I don’t know, it’s a big house. Oh and Lucas tells me you are some kind of computer genius," Shernie rattles. "I need help with my homework.”
"Sure," Alaine replies as she slips into the hall closing the door behind her.
She tiptoes around the massive house, poking her head cautiously to examine each room in her quest to find Lucas. It takes a while to finally come across Shanice lounging in the sunroom reading a book.
“Have you seen Lucas?” she asks unable to keep the timidity out of her voice.
"His driver came by not too long ago," Shanice tells her. "They went through the kitchen door. There's a path that leads to the guest and pool house back there."
“Thanks," Alaine answers while her mind tries to come up with any other reason that Seth made this trip after all. Any other reason than the most obvious one.