Bright Knight:Goddess

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The realization that he'd made a mistake hangs like a ghost around Lucas where he stands at the opened door. Not one second after Alaine leaves him there, a keen sense of loss and the general wrongness of being separated from her seems to suck the levity right out the morning. While he watches the car that she and Aurora drive away in rumble down the long dirt road towards the gate, it feels like a part of him has been ripped out. Only by sheer force of will is he able to withstand the urge to call Alaine back and insist that she cannot go without him.
Fighting against the primal instincts that come with being a man in love for the first time, Lucas steps backwards into the house. He closes the door before the car disappears from his view, just to prove to himself that he is still in possession of at least a miniscule amount self-control. Very briefly, he remains there leaning his head against the dark wood and closes his eyes to take a breath long enough to convince himself that Alaine will fine without him for a few hours.
There are a few pressing matters that can no longer simmer on the back burner so with a tremendous amount of effort, he pushes away from his resting place. The despondency taking up lodging in his spirit leaden each of his footsteps as he trundles along to the staircase. Each footfall echoes the emptiness in not just the house but inside him. Because of Alaine, the saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' is finally relatable and Lucas finds himself searching for comfort in it's meaning.
By now, his grandparents have already left for their daily trip to Claudia's side. That's one of the reasons he had to find a way to distract Alaine. Not too long from now, he'll have to go as well and a meeting between her and Kurt is something he would prefer to avoid. However, there was no way to have foreseen that not having her here would cause him such misery.
For the first hour of the morning after Alaine leaves, Lucas defies the need to contact her. Determined to get some work done, he hunkers down in his office to review long overdue reports. In spite of the disquiet disrupting his usual blind focus, he's mostly successful even if his thoughts keep wondering where exactly the two women had gone.
Aurora is somewhat of a venturesome and spontaneous spirit to Alaine's more self-contained and methodical nature. Notwithstanding that Alaine has come quite a ways out of her shell since their first meeting, she's still pretty toned down when it comes to adventure seeking. He'd thought that while they are here, she wouldn't mind a new adventure -- the kind that she could never find within the city limits of New York. With him stuck in his office clamouring to get up to date on the areas where he's lagged behind, she will never be able to fully enjoy the Italian experience while tied to him. That's the other reason he'd tasked his old friend with entertaining her while he is otherwise engaged -- but within boundaries, of course.
He'd been very specific in apprising Rory of Alaine's Do's and Don'ts list. Plus, he'd added a few of his own just for his peace of mind. He'd gotten her to give him her word that she would not, under any circumstances, stray beyond the stipulated margin nor violate the freedom he'd given her to show Alaine a 'good time'.
He's known Aurora almost all his life and sometimes her adventures are known to get a little out of hand. That's why he congratulates himself for holding out a full hour and a half before giving in to the need for contact with Alaine.
He just wants to check in to see if she's having fun. Or such is the excuse he gives himself when he picks up his phone. A quiet part of him -- which he refuses to give any credence whatsoever -- hopes that she's having a miserable go of it and that she needs him to play rescuer. It might be a just a little bit egocentric and maybe a tad insane but he enjoys the role of being her knight of sorts. It makes him feel indispensable.
Not willing to risk appearing as the overbearing boyfriend, he opts out of calling Alaine. While thinking long and hard about the right words to put in a text message -- something that will show that he isn't trying to hover over her shoulder or play her shadow -- he toys with the device in his hand.
All he sends's it going? And waits expectantly for a reply. The responding 'awesome' and thumbs up emoji that she replies with has Lucas scowling down at the screen.
That's all he gets?
Her reply doesn't even provide context to interpret. He was hoping for more than that. Specifically, he'd hoped that she would tell him exactly where they are and what they're doing. He starts typing out another message to ask but discards it then he silences the ringer. With an exasperated huff, he tosses the phone aside.
That's what he's supposed to be doing.
When he decides that his eyes are in need of a break three hours later, Lucas picks up the phone with the expectation of seeing a few messages or missed calls from Alaine. He scrolls through the list of notifications which accumulated while he was occupied. The lack of communication on her part builds a ripple of frown lines on his forehead.
Disappointed and a little hurt that she hadn't thought to reach out to him, Lucas commands the phone to call Alaine. Those frown lines shift into lines of worry when the call rings out.
On normal occasions, he would have no reason to contact Aurora. Theirs isn't that kind of friendship. On the off chance that he did have a reason to do so, her not responding would be of no consequence. This time, when Lucas tries his friend's number and he is answered by her voicemail, he loses the sense of calm he'd forced on himself all morning.
For hours he tries and fails to reach either one of them while trying to prevent his mind from assuming the worst. A buffet of emotions from rage to fear and everything in between stacks up inside up on his insides making it impossible to think about anything else. As the shadows outside begin to lengthen so does his worry and the more his hold on his composure unhinges.
He scrolls through online news sites checking for any accidents or incidents that might involve Alaine and feels a measure of relief, however briefly, when his search turns up empty. That relief gives way for regret to settle like a weight on Lucas' chest.
He'd brought Alaine all the way here only to leave her on her own while he tended to Claudia's issues. The very next day, he'd dumped her on his friend so he could hole himself up in his office.
If anything happens to her...
He closes the pathway to those thoughts but it makes no difference. His composure unravels further with each passing moment.
Now pacing back and forth across the hardwood floor with his phone clutched in his hand, he mumbles to himself, "she's fine."
He can't bring himself to imagine that she's not. It is highly improbable that Angus would find them here and yet...
What if something truly happened? What if Alaine had been right and he'd been too arrogant in assuming that their getaway had gone undetected?

Why else would Alaine not contact him?

Lucas glances at the time and runs both hands through his hair to expend some of the frustration bottled up inside him. His stomach is twisting into tight knots. There is only one course of action that he can take. From the moment he asked Seth to do it, he'd promised himself that he wouldn't invade Alaine's privacy this way. Not unless it was absolutely necessary. Deciding to give her another hour before resorting to that, he dials her number again.

Once more the automated sound of her voice messaging service has him swearing under his breath and when he speaks his voice sounds gruff and angry even in his own ears.

“Alaine,” Lucas growls into the phone. “Call me or I swear," he threatens.

Something breaks inside him when he remembers the last time he'd called her. The anger dissipates so quickly, Lucas feels deflated so he drops onto the sofa in his office.

"Just please, okay?" he begs in a much gentler tone. "I need to know that you're okay. I'm going crazy here. Please," he sighs. "Call me back when you get these. I love you, Ali."

Unable to sit still any longer, he hustles out of the office to grab his car keys. Shortly after that, Lucas tears out of the garage attached to his wing of the house with no particular destination in mind.

Dogged by worry, he's surprised to find himself driving into the hospital's parking lot. He'd put off visiting Claudia for the entire day because he'd wanted to be there in case Alaine returned. For a little while Lucas sits in the idling car wondering what it was that directed him here of all places. Still, he shuts of the engine and makes his way to his mother's room.

Thankfully, it's a weekend so Kurt is not there. Lucas occupies one side of the sofa in the corner by the window. It's always hard to see Claudia lying there so lifeless. If nothing else, his mother is a vivacious and outgoing woman. She shouldn't be reduced to this. For a while, he remains there his foot tapping his anxiousness in a steady, rapid pulse on the floor and counts down the hour.

When the clock strikes nine, it will be twelve hours since he'd last seen Alaine and about ten since he last heard from her. He's not above begging so silently, Lucas bows his head in his hands and pleads for her safety.

"Please, please, please," he repeats softly.

At the end of the waiting period he'd assigned himself, he fishes his phone out of his pocket to call Seth.

“I need you to find Alaine for me, now,” he orders without greeting. “As exact a location as you can pin."

Incredulous, Seth responds, "you lost her?"

“Just do it!” Lucas snaps.

Without another word, he hangs up to continue waiting.

In the meantime, he walks across the quiet room to look down at his mother's ghostly, pale feature and takes her hand in his. According to the doctors, she is not out of the woods yet and she probably won't be the same if she does wake up. At least, for the moment death’s shadow hangs back.

The dread he feels over Alaine retreats just long enough to make him feel hopeful that Claudia will live. He wants her to. There will come a time when he will introduce her to the woman he intends to marry. It might not happen right this minute but that's his endgame with Alaine.

Panic of a different kind starts suffocating him because of that thought. What if he'd rushed Alaine and pushed her too far? Maybe he'd been too quick to express his feelings and threatening her into admitting her own had been a mistake. Maybe she wasn't ready for that level of commitment and the pressure she felt is what caused her to hide from him today.

If that is the case, he'll take all of the above if he just knows that she is okay. Once he has that assurance, that crushing weight on his chest should lift and they can deal with everything else together.

Growing impatient, he looks down at the black screen on his phone and reins in the temptation to smash it into a wall. Just when he thinks that he is about to lose the match for self-control, the phone rings loudly in his palm.

"Tell me," Lucas says as soon as he puts it to his ear.

"I'm gonna need some finer details from you," Seth says. "And before you lose it," he adds when a growl rumbles in his ear. "I need to know something -- anything -- that will help me narrow the search. I've got a general location pinging off a few towers in the area but it's too wide. You know how this works."

Unable to keep the irritation out of his voice, Lucas answers, "I don't know, Seth. She went on tour with a friend...It's been twelve hours and I have no idea...

"There you go," Seth interrupts. "That's a detail. Just calm down and think, man. Who's the friend? What does the friend do? Is there something the friend likes? Places that they might frequent? Stuff like that. I can do some digging. Check to see if there's anywhere that they like to visit...that kinda thing."

"Her name is Aurora Sinatra," Lucas offers. "She's a dancer, model and actress here in Italy. She attends events, clubs and parties like any other star, I suppose. I wouldn't know where..." he sighs. "Just find Alaine, Seth."

"I'm on it," Seth assures him. "At least her phone isn't switched off," he says to try infusing some hope into Lucas. "The tracker's still working so that's something."

A short while later, he says, "so I've narrowed it down quite a bit. Your friend is pretty popular...and hot. There are a few night clubs in the area but a football player's girlfriend is having a birthday bash. Paparazzi is camped outside the house. The girl's name is Katerina..."

"What?" Lucas hisses in disbelief.

"Yeah," Seth tells him. "She seems real chummy with your girl. They're all over each other's social media pages."

Clenching his teeth together to prevent the string of swear words lining his tongue from flying out of his mouth, Lucas listens to the address Seth rattles off.

He's heard about Katerina Ivanov's parties. And he'd warned Aurora about keeping Alaine away from the close circuitof friends she keeps. Images of Alaine lost and scared amidst neon strobe lights flashing in the dark in a crowd of gyrating, sweat soaked, scantily clad bodies immediately pop into his mind.

A rough mental calculation puts her at least seven hours away from where he is, if not more, so he finally lets loose a harsh curse and wipes his hand across his forehead.

Had Aurora told him of her plans to attend a birthday part with the likes of Katerina Ivanov, he would have stressed that under circumstances should she drag Alaine along with her. As a matter of fact, he wouldn't have arranged for them to go out in the first place.

He can see it in his mind -- the drugs, the drinking, hands groping at Alaine.

"I am going to send you the address now," Seth says. "Just in case you need it."

Anything on Angus?” Lucas asks.

“No, but somehow I don’t think he’s in Italy. Let the girl have some fun," Seth replies.

Because of the urgency riding him to rescue Alaine, Lucas doesn't take the time to explain the situation. Since it's only after nine, a party of that type is still in it's early stages so the real vice most likely hasn't started as yet. At least he hopes not."

Lucas checks his pockets for his car keys but stops at Claudia's bed for a second more. He gives her cheek a gentle touch with the back of his hand and whispers, "I can't stay mom. I have to find her," just in case Claudia can hear him.

Travelling by air shaves five hours off the trip. Throughout, Lucas' mind teleports across a range of emotions; worry, fear, anger and the love that already has him forgiving Alaine for her carelessness. He's not sure which one of the two women he should blame for the stress he's been under for the entire day. What he still can't understand is why Alaine never tried to contact him. Trying to figure it out is driving him crazy.

The taxi he'd taken from the airport stops along the private roadside outside the footballer's mansion. The heavy bass from the music pumping inside travels through the raised windows. There's no guarantee that this is where Alaine is, but Lucas keeps his fingers crossed.

A mob of photographers ambushes the car almost immediately. With their cameras pressed against the glass, they flash blindly in the hopes of capturing whoever is inside. With no other choice and ill-equipped to deal with the rabid persistence of the people in this profession, Lucas reaches for the door and tries to get it open.

The group backs up enough to let him out but that's the only space they're willing to give him. As usual, he pays their questions no mind but can do nothing about the lights flooding his vision.

They close in on him boxing him against the trunk of the car and leaving no room for him to escape. To his relief, the driver, a man on the larger side, gets out from behind the wheel and barrels his way though the melee to rescue him.

Lucas feels a large hand grip him by the shoulder dragging him onto the sidewalk towards the gate. These types of parties are invitation only but once the guard recognizes him, he calls up to the house and a short while later a troop appears to keep the eager members of the press from following when they let him in.

"Thanks," Lucas tells the driver once he is safe inside.

Despite the eagerness propelling him forward, he walks up to the entrance of the house with smooth strides. The front door stands wide open so Lucas steps through and has to keep his temper in check. As he'd expected a concentration of writhing and gyrating bodies covered in neon paint pack the dark doorway.

In the two months he's known Alaine, not once had she ever mentioned wanting to party. The sordid scene of near naked bodies, the pungent odour of alcohol in the air and the general atmosphere contradicts all the rules Alaine has laid out for herself. If they are here, then Aurora had completely ignored his explicit instructions and Alaine has a lot of explaining to do.

Those thoughts about her hard limits increase the urgency to find her. He pushes his way through the poor lit room. The shifting neon lights disrupts his ability to focus his vision so he can hardly make out features on faces. However, he is only searching for one and he knows every angle of her face and her body by now.

Hands grab at his body and jacket, pulling him in different directions. At one point a bold set of arms close around him but without looking, Lucas feels and knows that they are not Alaine's. He extracts himself from the drunken grip without losing a step and keeps pressing through the crowd while his eyes dart over the revelers.

It takes a few minutes to locate Aurora. When he sees her sitting with her back towards him in the VIP area sectioned off by a rope, Lucas sags with relief. The little alcove is not much better lit than the rest of the house but it's easy to make her out in her white minnie dress. Purposeful strides carry Lucas over the distance. His need to find Alaine trumps the inclination he feels to let loose the rebuke on his tongue so he pushes his way through her entourage to grab her by the elbow.

“Where is she?” Lucas leans down to shout close to her ear.

Startled, Aurora gasps and turns around. She leans into Lucas while he continues to scan his surroundings.

"How did you find us?" she shouts back to him.

Instead of answering her, Lucas demands again, "where is Alaine?"

Not bothering to contain her displeasure, she replies with a shrug, "she said she was going to the bathroom. Is she not a grown woman Lucas? Why do you need to look for her? Come. Dance with me," she says.

Without warning, she wraps her arms over the back of his neck while pushing her body up to his. Because he doesn't want to leave this spot to find a more quiet corner, Lucas maintains their proximity so he won't have to continue shouting above the music.

“I need to find her, Rory," he says with his face beside Aurora's. "Is she okay? Did she go on her own?"

"A friend took her," Aurora responds. "You're not that kind of boyfriend are you Lucas?" she questions. "Do you always keep track of your lovers?"

"No," Lucas answers in a matter-of-fact tone because it's the truth. He's never once kept close watch over a woman before and opens his mouth to tell her so. He wants to express that Alaine isn't merely a lover but opts out of that conversation to ponder Aurora's description of his hold on Alaine.

Maybe he is the overbearing boyfriend and that thought gives him pause. Since they met, Alaine has done little more than spend time with him -- in his bed mostly. Seth could be right. He should let her have some fun.

“Let’s dance,” Aurora says.

He looks down at her, at the splotches of paint on her face and bare arms and shakes his head. Even if he does want Alaine to have fun, this isn'ther scene.

“I don’t dance. I don’t do these types of parties, Rory. You know that,” Lucas tells her.

Grasping her wrists still binding his neck, he pulls to extricate himself from her hold and settles into one of the love seats beside a woman. All he plans to do is wait for Alaine and while doing he so, he concentrates on the semi-darkness to make her out when she appears.

He misses when Aurora jerks her head at the woman occupying the seat next to him. As soon as she leaves, she plants herself in the vacant spot.

“I know, Lucas,” she purrs softly while placing a small hand on his thigh. “But I hardly see you anymore and now that you have her, I probably won’t in a long time. One dance?

Already upset with her and growing more agitated by the second, Lucas shakes his head and says, "no."

No longer able to ignore his annoyance, he gives up on waiting and rises from his seat with the intention of expediting his and Alaine’s exit. He’ll find her and they’ll take their leave and then, she's going to explain to him just what the hell she was thinking coming here and not letting him know about it.

Before he can understand what is happening, Aurora hinders his path, presses her body close and is up on her toes with her hands pressed to his side. It feels so wrong because Alaine is the one who touches him that way. Taken aback, he looks down at her at the same time her face comes up to his. Her lips press against his -- a place on his body where only Alaine has the right to explore.

Everything about this is wrong and makes his skin crawl. Yet, stunned into immobility Lucas stands there with his eyes wide while his brain tries to catch up with what is happening.

Confusion caused by the loud music, dancing lights and the softness of her lips moving on his -- the immediate brush of tongue for entry -- has him gasping and then he feels it. Her tongue in his mouth.

Finally, Lucas responds.

His fingers cinch around her upper arms and squeeze tight. Using more force than he intended, he yanks himself away to put an arm's length of distance between their bodies the sudden motion causing Aurora to stumble

She doesn't miss when his features morph from shock to horror and at last to mirror the rage boiling inside him. Lucas keeps his hold on one of her arms to drag her into a place where she can explain herself but somehow across the sea of writhing bodies, he knows that Alaine is watching him.

His eyes snap away from Aurora's. The room seems to narrow and once again there is only her. Alaine. Immediately his vision collides with hers where she is standing at the foot of the stairs.

Like Aurora's skin sprouted spikes, Lucas releases her quickly and steps back at the same time he whispers, “Alaine,” like she could hear him over the pulsating rhythm.

Finding his feet, he tries to walk around Aurora but she grabs his hand and steps back into his path. It only takes one second for him to give her a puzzled look. But in that one second when he looks back to find Alaine, she is no longer there.

“Shit,” Lucas mutters. “Just stop,” he demands when Aurora’s fingers tighten around his.

Panic rises in his chest as chastises himself for not trying to find her as soon as he'd learned that she'd gone to the bathroom. Even in the darkness, he could see how beautiful she looks. In the second that he'd glimpsed her, she took is breath away again.

He continues to search the morphing crowd for the pixie wearing the tight dress conforming to her every curve but the little fairy has disappeared.

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