Preference vs Principle
This chapter hasn't been heavily edited by I like the content. I'm so excited to post it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you like this episode of Lucas and Alaine, please leave a comment below. Don't forget guys, this is my very first story, so please be patient with me.
Now that he's finally wrapped up his business with Seth in the guest house, Lucas glances at the clock on the wall with a sigh. It's almost 9 p.m. He hadn't noticed darkness had fallen until now.
He walks out into the night behind Seth shivering in the cold air and locks the door behind him before starting a hasty trek back up to the main house.
Alaine must be wondering about him.
"I'll need you to pick us up in the morning," he says to his driver.
"I'll be here at sunrise," Seth assures him.
Lucas nods his approval.
Silently, he wonders why he ever found fault in the man in the first place. His bodyguard is efficient, if not anything else and while at first glance, his appearance might not be what Lucas would call menacing, there is something that warns of danger lying beneath the surface. Something he now realizes always makes him feel at ease in Seth's company.
He looks across at Seth completing his assessment. Even in the dim light from the lamp posts illuminating the pathway, his resemblance to Alaine is striking. It's remarkable really that cousins can look so much alike.
First cousins, Lucas reminds himself but still.
Add in the green eyes to Seth's silhouetted profile and he'd swear the two are siblings.
The thought of Alaine has him quickening his pace.
She's been on his mind all freaking afternoon. Since he left her in the kitchen with Shanice in fact. He's wondered how she's faired with his family and worried about her the entire time.
He would have preferred to have her with him but in this circumstance, isolating himself from her was necessary. It wasn't possible to be with her while handling this situation with Angus. He doesn't want any aspect of that to touch her and it's not an item that he can put on the back burner.
As much as he hates the separation, keeping her safe is his top priority. While he relished devising Angus' downfall, it doesn't mean he enjoyed one second of being apart from Alaine. Being away from her while his concentration had to be tied to a man he literally despises more than he does his stepfather has him in a piss poor mood as a matter of fact.
Nevermind that, he tells himself to shake off the glum. He still has the rest of the evening to compensate for it.
Seth bids him goodnight at the front door leaving him to enter his parents' home alone. Immediately, Lucas notes the quiet. Everywhere within his line of sight is empty so he trudges deeper into the extensive house with one goal in mind.
"Where is everyone?" he mutters to himself.
"Lucas," he hears behind him.
At the sound of his father's voice, he turns around to see Arlington exiting his office.
"Alaine?" Lucas questions.
The name brings a smile to his father's lips. Though there is this insightful gleam to his eyes that makes Lucas narrow his, Arlington keeps his lips locked against expressing just how deeply Alaine's hooks have sunken into his son. It's very apparent.
"The games room, I think," his father answers instead. "There was some talk about video games but you know me. I couldn't play those things to save my life. Your driver left?" he asks.
"Yes," Lucas informs him. "He had to get back to the city. Alaine's sister and niece are still there. But he'll be back in the morning. Can we talk later?"
"I see your heart is calling you," Arlington offers with a snicker.
Before Lucas can retort, he holds up his hands in surrender and says, "withdrawn. Go get the girl, my boy."
Lucas shakes his head but doesn't turn back when he hears his father chuckling behind him.
The games room is in an uproar. Lucas hears the commotion long before he gets to the open doorway. He hangs there for a while taking in the scene in shock and awe and a bit of despondency.
This person in front of him now, he's never met her before. He has to blink a few times as he watches Alaine fight to follow the steps in one of Shernie's dance video games. Could it be that she is really that uncoordinated?
He dismisses the question quickly. She's not, he remembers. The night they danced together at the charity event, she'd blended in with him effortlessly. So that can't be it.
What really catches his eye is the uncontrollable laughter rolling out of her. That's what cripples her ability to move in time with the beat.
He notes the flush in her skin as well -- a ruddiness he imagines comes from both the exertion and her merriment. Suddenly she shoves his younger brother competing against her to disrupt his flow.
Honestly, it stuns him because except for a few brief moments, Alaine is mostly introverted when she's around him. She's never let loose this way and the knowledge rubs him the wrong way.
A part of him wants to intrude. To step into the room, toss her over his shoulder and declare to everyone 'she's mine'. And Carter reaching across to try to tickle her only amplifies the urge.
Lucas stays the compulsion to charge his younger brother and walks quietly away from the door as he hears another peel of laughter from Alaine.
"That's not fair," she says and he knows that she is addressing his brother. The one closer to her age. "I've never played before."
Not wanting to hear his brother's response lest he really loses it, he hastens his retreat.
Afraid to incite his father's curiosity, he avoids walking back the way he came. He won't go back to his room alone either. That will only encourage him to think more.
Feeling himself descending into an even darker mood, he grabs the box guitar sitting next to the piano in the family room before rejoining the night.
His liking for the cold is born out of habit than anything else these days. It does very little for him since meeting Alaine. The truth is, there isn't anything that can completely overwhelm his feelings for her enough to take her off his mind. None that he's discovered so far. No matter what he's doing or who he's with, she always finds a way to infiltrate his thoughts.
Today, he missed having her all to himself. Not that coming to New Jersey turned out to be a bad thing. What he witnessed a little while ago is proof that the trip has been beneficial for Alaine. That's the only reason he's not ruing the decision to bring her here. It's all he can do not to punch Carter for touching her.
Secretly, he'd dreaded Alaine meeting his family again so soon after Angus attacked her. He certainly wasn't ready for her to spend so much quality time with his brothers.
Upon encountering Dion and Carter when he and Alaine first arrived, it had taken every ounce of his will not to backpedal, put her in the car and drive away.
In an odd twist, they ended up being exactly what she needed. They turned out to be the perfect distraction. So perfect in fact, they've kept her occupied for most of the afternoon.
He's not jealous over the fact that she cries and seems so sad and subdued whenever he's around while she explores her free-spiritedness with his siblings. How can he be jealous of that? Isn't that why he brought her? To take her mind off everything else?
But he is jealous. He wants to be the one she comes to for what they're currently giving her in there. He wants to be the one she looks at with the light of joy on her face instead of those shadows constantly lurking in her eyes.
So yes, he'd been a mite envious of Carter and Dion and Shernie and Shanice that they can make the girl he loves happy when all she can do is cry around him. But that will never keep him from doing what was right for her. So he's left her to have uninhibited fun with them without his bad mood planted there like a stick in the mud.
He just misses her so fiercely. Strangely, a part of him enjoys it.
No, that’s not entirely accurate.
What he really enjoys is the knowledge that he has someone to miss. Someone who hopefully misses him in equal measure. It feels like a piece of him has been carved out whenever she isn't around. That piece he imagines Alaine carries around with her. It makes him ache for her. Surprisingly, the feeling is actually sweet.
With that thought, Lucas smiles and shakes his head as he settles into the hammock. It sways gently with his weight making him close his eyes briefly to give in to his feelings.
Will it always be like this with Alaine? he wonders. Whenever she's not with him, will he continue to experience this acute yearning for the sound of her voice and the touch of her hands? For the pleasure of her company?
At the end of lunch, he’d wanted to whisk her away but he had to deal with his sister’s errant ways first. By the time he was finished doling out a suitable punishment and he came to find her, Alaine was already deep in conversation with Shanice.
He hadn’t meant to hear their discussion. He hadn’t even expected them to be having one. He hadn’t meant to stand aside and listen either but he had. His mind had demanded that he move but his feet hadn’t obeyed. Now it’s impossible to ′unhear’ the things that she said.
It’s not anything he doesn’t already know. He never told anyone else that he was Alaine’s first. Knowing that he is, still makes him feel like a king. But hearing her confess to someone else did something to him.
In that instant, he felt flawed and guilty and dirty and unworthy just like he's always felt. For a while, he'd allowed himself to forget it. Hearing her say the words made him feel like he'd done her a great disservice or injustice. He'd joked about it with Alaine -- about him corrupting her. But that’s exactly what he’d done.
It’s stupid to feel that way. He knows that. Alaine is adult. He’d given her a choice. She’d chosen to be with him. Yet, he can’t help it. He can’t help feeling guilty about the whole Angus situation either.
Besides having to conference with Seth, that was one of the things governing his decision to keep his distance.
God, it was hard.
Staying away from Alaine was physically painful but he refused to tear himself away from the task. A lack of discipline cannot bode well for either of them in these tenuous circumstances.
From his position, Lucas glances up in time to see the lights in his old bedroom overlooking the back yard flicker on. He knows right away that it’s her up there.
More than anything, he wants to go to her. To talk to her. To make her laugh. To kiss her and love her.
He won’t. Not this time.
This time she has to make the decision to want him all on her own without him there running interference.
Swallowed up by the night and unmindful of the chill, he reclines against the ropes of the hammock. He sets the guitar in his arms and moves his fingers around to reacquaint with the strings and chords. Soon, with muscle memory, he organizes a full bar of a song he hadn't even been thinking about.
The lyrics, he hadn't penned them but it's like the person who did must have had a window to his heart. The writer knows that that piece of muscle beating in his chest longer belongs to him. He doesn't even own it anymore.
Glancing up at the window again, he imagines Alaine in his bedroom and hopes that she misses him enough to come looking for him; hopes that she can feel him the way he feels her now.
Lucas shakes his head at his stupidity and looks down at his fingers moving deftly over the fingerboard. Strumming softly, he adds his voice to the melody, filling the darkness with words of love.
With each strain, the blackness is mood gets purged out of his system until all he feels is an overwhelming burst radiating from him. A tear slips out of the corner of his eye, rolls down his cheek to land on his arm.
He almost lost her.
He doesn't want to be without her.
The sound of his voice and the guitar carries on the breeze up his bedroom window. The music is muffled but Alaine shifts aside the curtain to peer out into the darkness. She can't pinpoint exactly where it's coming from but she knows that it's somewhere below her. Somehow she knows it's Lucas.
The thought of him makes her heartbeat falter. Without thinking it over or about the fact that it might not be him out there, she slips out of the bedroom, her small feet carrying her swiftly down the three flights of stairs.
The unfamiliarity with the layout of the house confuses her sense of direction but all she knows is that she has to find him. She missed him today.
It's already late in the night and the whole house has become quiet. The brothers have already said their goodnights and she has no idea if Seth is even still here. Everyone has retired to their own quarters and she'd been about to do the same.
As she climbed the stairs to his bedroom, she'd hoped to meet Lucas there waiting for her. Granted, she wasn't going to sleep with him there as he insisted but the fact that he wasn't there made a part of her crumble.
She'd all but given up on seeing him again. Honestly, it pissed her off a little that he brought her here only to abandon her. Her need for him far outweighed her irritation, however. It won't be quieted. It's only grown in his absence and now she's going to feed it. Nevermind that an exuberant sixteen-year-old is now waiting on her to fulfill the promise of a sleepover.
Shoeless, Alaine wanders onto the path outside. The cold skitters from the soles of her bare feet and up the spine in a tingle that makes her shiver. Undeterred, she steps onto the damp grass straining her ears to listen for the music that will direct her to him.
Her heartbeat quickens both out of fear from being out here in the dark on her own and in anticipation of seeing him.
Sticking close to the perimeter of the house, she rounds the building, hoping her sense of direction doesn't fail her. The melodic soundwaves pulsing through the air soon make her sigh with relief that she's no longer alone but the low timbre of Lucas' voice blending in with the music makes her stomach flutter.
With his head bent and her footfalls silent on the grass he doesn't notice her approach until she says, "I've been looking for you."
Startled by her sultry voice, Lucas whips his head up to see her striding towards him.
His heart somersaults and a slow smile breaks on his lips but he continues playing and singing softly all the while ensnared by ethereal beauty outlined by the dim glow suffusing the darkness from the fairy lights in the garden.
"All afternoon, in fact," she adds.
Cocking his head to the side he asks, "have you?"
"Mhmm," she replies.
Ducking his head to look at his fingers controlling the strings, he marks her slow approach surreptitiously.
"Why were you looking for me?" he questions.
He doesn't look up until she stands in front of him and touches his cheek with her cold fingers. Lucas' throat bobs up and down at the sight of her and the way.
The breeze toys with the strands of her loose her flowing around her. Though it's dark he can still distinguish the honeyed complexion of her skin. It makes him wonder about her heritage. It also makes him want to reach out and touch. Then there's her figure. His eyes rake down her form appreciating the way the white knitted sweater dress hugs every curve.
Unconsciously, Lucas' tongue glides over his bottom lip.
"I missed you," she confesses.
The admission draws his attention back to her face.
"I thought you might need a moment to yourself," he tells her. "And to other people. I've been hoggin' you for some time now."
"I like you hogging me," Alaine responds with a pouts.
The declaration makes Lucas chuckle.
"I'll keep that in mind next time," he answers.
She leans her hip against the hammock pushing it into a light sway. Intending to make room for her beside him, it's only then that Lucas stills his hand on the guitar so he can adjust his position.
"Don't stop on my account," she encourages. "I heard you from the room."
“I haven’t played in so long,” he says. Unexpectedly he adds, "you’re very beautiful Alaine,” and reaches out to touch her bruised cheek. “You take my breath away.”
Running a hand through the tangled strands of her hair, she answers, "I'm a mess right now," though his compliment sends a flood of warmth coursing through her veins.
“You're perfect," Lucas counters. "Come here.”
Setting the guitar down, he wraps an arm around her waist and pulls up easily into the hammock. Needing no further prompting, she makes herself comfortable by snuggling up by his side.
For a moment, they lie there silently looking up at the sky and the few dots of light twinkling against the vast blanket of darkness.
One of Lucas' arms remains wrapped around her and his fingers begin a pattern of movement along her arm. She enjoys the dance of his fingers against her skin. Generally, she just enjoys his touch.
Alaine shuffles a bit to set her head against his chest right of her heart.
The moment she lifts her eyes to look at his face he looks down at her. Both wear a goofy grin. Neither one of them can deny what exists between them now. Not anymore. Not when it's this strong. It's there. Though they have not yet spoken the words, neither one of them tries to resist it either.
Lucas kisses her forehead and says, "if you come to Italy with me, I'll you somewhere that when you look up at the sky at night, all you can see are stars. Come with me, Ali," he requests softly.
That all too familiar dejection flares inside him when she doesn't respond. Giving up with a sigh, he asks, "so how was your day?"
“Aside from you hiding from me, you mean?” she accuses softly.
“I wasn’t hiding, Alaine," Lucas replies.
“Then what were you doing?" she asks. "I feel like you were avoiding me."
Instead of asking him why he did it like she wants to, she says, "if you were, it’s okay. I mean, I get it. This is a lot for you. And if it is too much then...”
Not knowing what else to do, Lucas places his lips on hers to silence her with a slow, lingering kiss.
Touching his forehead to hers to begs, "don't say it, please. "Don't tell me I can walk away from you because I can't," he confesses. "And my being here has nothing to do with Angus," he adds before she says anything else. "You're right, it's a lot but baby, I'm here for you. You just don't get it," he says with a frustrated sigh. "Today, I just wanted to give you your life again. Before all this but I've been here, Alaine. If you needed me, I was here."
Satisfied with his answer, she rests her chin on his chest to peer up at him. Even if it's too dark to see his eyes clearly, she can feel the warmth in his gaze. She breaks eye contact first when she tucks her chin down to place a kiss right on the spot above his heart.
"Okay," she tells him.
Lucas rolls his eyes at the inarticulate response but doesn't complain about it. Truthfully, his heart can't take more of her rejection, if that's what this is. He goes back to staring at the sky between the canopy of leaves above them.
“Can I ask you a question?” Alaine asks.
“Anything," he answers.
"Your brother thought you hit me," she notes.
"That's not a question," Lucas states and winces at the way his irritation coats each word. "He knows about Kurt, I think," he recovers quickly. "I think he figured it out after seeing bruises on me one day. I fabricated a story about a bully at school and got him to promise not to tell anyone. I'm not sure he ever believed me. But I would never, Ali," he assures her. "I will never hurt you. Not in any way."
“I know,” she tells him.
Hating the way their conversation has suddenly become weighted, she says, "I did your sister's homework for her," to change the topic.
“Shernie has enough people spoiling her already. Please don’t add yourself to the mix," he scolds. "I’m still pissed at her for showing you those pictures.”
"She told me you've ruined her birthday plans because of it," Alaine says with a chuckle. “I understand why you didn't tell me. But I would prefer if you not keep things from me."
She feels his nod against the top of her head as he agrees, "okay."
"Anyway I like your sister," she informs him. "And I promised her that I would try to talk you into giving her back those backstage passes for her friends. They're already..."
"Nope," Lucas cuts her off. "Absolutely not and that is non-negotiable so you can just go back and tell her that you failed."
"Hmmm," Alaine hums thoughtfully. "Are you sure I can't convince you?" she asks as she walks her fingers down to his waistband.
"You probably could get anything out of me when you do that," he groans. "So please don't," he requests.
"Fine, I'll tell her I tried," she concedes. Continuing her debrief on how her day went she says, "your stepmom gave me a lecture on birth control and unplanned pregnancies."
A long groan vibrates inside Lucas' chest beneath her ear making her chuckle.
"Dear God," he gripes. "I apologize," he says, his cheeks burning with mortification.
Laughing at his embarrassment, Alaine pats his side in consolation. “It actually wasn't that bad. It was useful information plus she gave me a shot so."
"And the night is looking up already," Lucas quips.
Alaine snorts and hits him playfully. "All in all, today was really nice," she tells him. "Except the part where you hid from me."
“You really did miss me?” Lucas questions.
“So much,” she admits.
In a bold move, she lifts herself up to sit astride his hips. The sudden movement sends the hammock swinging almost toppling them over. Her loud shriek colours the night as Lucas grabs on to her tightly while grappling to set them to right.
Once he does, his fingers palm her face tangling in her hair to swoop her down to his waiting lips.
I love you, he wants to breathe but says it with his kisses instead. "Then he tells her, "I love these kisses."
"Then do it again," Alaine orders.
She smiles as the corners of his lips turn up.
"Come and get it," he cajoles.
Holding his gaze captive, Alaine studies his expression as much as she can in the dark as their lips touch. When she lifts her eyes, she is surprised to find him watching her too. Soon the exquisiteness of her petal-soft lips against his and the way her hands slip under his shirt to graze his skin are his undoing.
Forgetting where they are, his soft moan tickles her mouth and is stolen away by the breeze as he shifts their bodies so she is almost beneath him.
Unfortunately, the hammock jolts almost capsizing them again. Their passionate embrace ends while Lucas again struggles to keep them both from tumbling onto the damp grass.
Alaine clings to him until the net holding them up settle into a gentle sway once more.
"I think that's as far as we go here," he tells her as he reaches for his guitar again.
"Play something for me," she requests.
He obliges her strumming and adding his voice to the quiet night while he sings the lyrics to a song that tells her just what she is to him.
Perfect in every way.
As he sings the final lyrics, he looks into her eyes and finds them glistening in the dark.
"Don't cry," Lucas urges her. "Why are you crying, Alaine?" he questions.
“That was beautiful,” she tells him. "Thank you."
Guessing that she liked his singing, he says, "I've never serenaded a girl before."
“That was for me?′ she jokes and he laughs.
“Yeah, you’re turning me into a sap," he replies.
Alaine laughs again and blushes. Then she drags in a deep breath and looks at Lucas. Pain spears her heart as she things of what has been bothering her for most of the day.
Slowly, she lets out a breath and whispers, "Lucas?"
“Yeah, babe," he answers.
“I’m worried about you."
Looking at her confused, he asks, "oh? Why?"
"Because, you're doing everything to protect me from Angus," she explains him. "What if he comes after you?"
Touched by her concern, Lucas sets down the guitar to pull her close. "I'll be fine," he determines. "I'm not about to let anything happen to me. I've got too much going for me now."
Though not nearly appeased by his declaration, she stays in the comfort of his embrace.
"I'll be fine baby," he tries to assure her. "It's chilly out here. We should head inside."
"Your sister is waiting for me to commence our sleepover," Alaine informs him.
"You can't be serious," Lucas huffs. "You prefer sleeping with her?"
“It’s not a preference,” she responds. “It’s a matter of principle."
“Principle?” Lucas questions with a scoffs. Then he laughs. "You must have forgotten. A few hours ago, Alaine Knight, you came on my tongue right in that room up there," he says with a quick glance at his bedroom window. "I can still taste your principle.”
When her jaws drop with a loud gasp, he laughs even harder.
“You haven’t heard anything as yet, goddess," he declares. "I can have you come by my words alone. That’s what you’ll be missing tonight.”
She clambers out of the hammock and bends at the waist to kiss him languidly, while her hand glides down his torso and over his zipper.
A low hiss from him as she begins to massage him makes Alaine smile. Just as he begins losing himself to her touch and lips, she pulls away.
“No,” Lucas whines in protests.
He stretches to reach for her but finds himself only catching air and almost falling out of the hammock in the process.
While he rearranges himself, mentally cursing whoever invented the infernal thing, she gives him a saucy smile.
“Maybe you’re the one who’ll do the missing,” she tells him.
Turning on her heels, she sashays away giving him a good few of her retreating, curvaceous rump in that white dress.
"Wait for me," Lucas calls behind her. "This discussion isn't over."