Heeled Like A Damned Pup
This is a long one -- 4933 words. I haven't gone over it with a fine tooth comb as yet so it may be riddled with little errors like the last few I posted. Editing is painstaking and it takes me much longer to post when I try to get knock off all of them. I like the flow of this one, so I'm posting. I really hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think in the comments.
The door to Lucas’ office opens with such caution, being immersed as he is in the computer screens in front of him, he doesn’t notice at first. It’s not until there’s a little creak in the hinges as the crack in the door widens that he lifts his head to see her standing there.
He feels his heart lurch in an unfamiliar way but keeps his face an unreadable mask when Aurora hesitates in the door way.
“You came after all,” Lucas notes.
She keeps her face downcast so he can’t see what’s written on her features. That leads him to speculate whether this new version of her -- this seeming act of contrition -- a side of her he’s never seen before, is genuine.
When he says nothing more neither invites her further in but rather simply shifts his eyes back to what he is working on, she sighs and strides confidently towards his desk.
He does study her surreptitiously while she moves forward with an extra swing to her hips though. All the while as she approaches him, he wonders if there was ever a time he’d felt anything other than friendship for her.
Just like last night, he does note that she is attractive, provocative even, in her low cut dress. He'd have to be a blind man to not notice. Yet, her looks don’t sway him in the slightest. They never have. Whereas, when his thoughts drift to Alaine sleeping in his bed three doors down and how she’d begged him to make love to her last night, he feels that familiar awakening in his loins. Looking at Aurora only returns his anger over what she’d stolen from him last night.
The truth is, he’d grow bored of a woman like her very quickly. He would never take it there with her because of his own personal reasons, but he just knows that once the novelty of new sex wore off, he’d have no interest in taking it further.
“Well, you did command me here,” she says. “And we both know that I have never been able to deny you anything.”
At that, Lucas’ eyebrows quirk up and he finally gives her a long look.
"What the hell does that mean?" he queries in a tone that oozes irritation.
Aurora waves her hand in a dismissive gesture.
“Where is she? Your girlfriend?” she continues like she hadn’t just released a stink bomb in the room. “I thought she’d be in here with you since you do keep her on a leash.”
Though, Lucas clenches his jaws, he knows not to rise to the bait. Calmly, he answers, “sleeping off the hangover that you incited. She doesn’t drink. I told you so. Furthermore, she told you so.”
“I didn’t force her,” Aurora scoffs. With a careless shrug, she says, “she is a woman, is she not? But then again...” she tries to continue but already upset with her and disturbed by her earlier comment, Lucas straightens in his seat and slams his palm against the top of his desk achieving the desired effect when she holds her tongue.
“We’ve been friends a long time, Rory,” he states. “But you’ve already crossed too many lines. Henceforth, I strongly suggest that you reconsider whatever it is coming out of your mouth. I do not appreciate what it is that you are implying.”
Her eyes widen at the austerity in not just his tone but his whole demeanor. Realizing that goading him is counterproductive, she sighs, “Okay. I’m sorry,” though only half meaning it.
Lucas nods his acceptance of her peace offering and shuts the laptop screen then turns off the desktop as well so that he doesn’t become sidetracked during their conversation.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” he asks in a tone still brimming with anger.
“I should apologize to you, Lucas," she starts to say.
"Hmm," he agrees. "You should and you will apologize to Alaine," he adds while looking at her expecting her to submit to his demands.
"Aurora Sinatra apologizes to no one," she seethes. "So your commoner will get nothing from me."
Lucas drops his eyes to his desk and nods is head while considering her words. She sounds so much like his Claudia it makes him sick. Rather than engage her in the obvious fight that she's itching for he says under his breath, "get out."
"Lucas, just hear me out," she pleads.
"No," he answers calmly. "You've said what you had to say. I'm not going to listen to you debase a woman whom you don't even know. You don't know the depth of her character. You don't know her life and yet, you cast judgement. Why? Because you have wealth? By insulting Alaine, you insult me and unless you can apologize sincerely, we having nothing more to say to each other. Leave," he orders.
Shocked by that, Aurora almost does turn around to sulk her way out of his office. But she straightens her spine to stare him down.
"You will hear, me," she states. "Or do you not think our relationship is worth it. You would allow woman you've known for such little time come between us."
"I am not allowing anything," Lucas snaps. "You the one who has come here hurling insults and interfering in things that you have no clue about. Leave Aurora, while I our friendship can still be salvaged," he orders.
When twin tear drops leave slow streaks down on either side of her cheeks, Lucas clenches his jaws tight to smother the need to say more.
"I am sorry," she says. "But not for what I did. For that, I will not apologize."
Scowling at her, Lucas clips, "then I don't understand why you bothered to come."
He leans back in his seat and crosses his arms over his muscled chest. With her eyes , Aurora tracks the movement before finding his again.
Seeing that Lucas has given her an opening, she rushes on to say, “I apologize for the way I did it. That was wrong especially since you told me that you have a girlfriend. In that, I admit, I overstepped. But I want you to know that if things had gone differently, if you had wanted it, if they can still go differently, then I would not be sorry at all. I should not have waited so long to tell you this but...”
Reading the surprise on Lucas's face, she uses his moment of stupefaction to come around to stand beside him and perches her butt right on the edge of his desk.
Everything that she'd just revealed comes so far out of left field that for a moment, Lucas is tongue tied and speechless.
The last thing he wants to do is hurt Aurora hence the reason he'd given her the option to leave rather than throwing her out but he doesn’t want to encourage whatever this is either.
Settling for the truth and directness, he says, “I love her, Rory. I have never felt anything remotely close to the way I feel about Alaine for any other woman.”
His eyebrows dip down into a frown while she shakes her head at him.
“You’ve known her for less than two months, Lucas,” she reminds him, both her tone and eyes beseeching.
“Exactly,” Lucas states softly.
For the first time he recognizes an emotion beyond friendship in the twin blue orbs looking back at him. Hit by the force of guilt, he remains there in a state of suspension and at a complete loss as to what he can say to Aurora to remove the look of hurt in her eyes.
He will agree with her that he’s only known Alaine for a short while, but his heart, his mind, his soul, his entire being protests against the idea of not being with her. She has sated a deep longing inside him. A longing he hadn’t been aware existed until that night three years ago when he saw her for the first time. Now she is the most important part of him, not just his life.
“This is the first time you’ve shown me this,” he says to Aurora. “Why? Why now?”
“You think so?” she asks with a bitter laugh. “I never came out and told you directly because you never seemed interested in anything more with anybody. And now you have more and it’s not with me, it hurts. You fooled around and I fooled around but I always hoped that when you were ready it would be you and me. I have loved you since we were children, Lucas. Why can’t you choose me?”
Lucas opens his mouth but no words come out. He unlocks his arms and runs a hand over his face while his brain tries to compute what is happening.
Aurora dives for the opportunity to take his hand in hers and locks their fingers together. Because he is already afraid of hurting her, Lucas doesn’t pull away even if he knows that he should and he should not be encouraging this.
The differences between Alaine and Aurora have never been more plain than they are now. So is the reason that he loves Alaine so fiercely. She hadn’t waited for him to be ready. Despite all his flaws, she’d seen the good in him. She’d challenged and dared him into giving and wanting the same more that Aurora speaks of. Knowing all that she knows about him, Alaine had let go of her ways for him and he’d been willing to do the same for her.
Before he can put those thoughts into words. Before he can explain to Aurora how Alaine saw more in him than he ever saw in himself. Before he can tell her how inappropriate she is being or how he doesn’t appreciate the way she is trying to insert herself in his relationship. Before he can extract his hand from hers, the door opens quietly again.
“Ali,” Lucas says softly when he looks up to see her standing there. He can read precisely what she is assuming in her features.
From the doorway she swallows. Her eyes full of shock, then hurt, move between Lucas and Aurora then down to their joined hands.
Knowing exactly how this must appear to her after what she’d seen last night, Lucas finally tries to free himself of Aurora’s grip but her hold on him tightens.
“I was just bringing you these,” Alaine says as she drops the parcels she’d spent hours waiting for in the cold by the door. “I’ll just leave them here. I’m sorry to interrupt,” she says.
With pain tightening her throat, twisting in her chest and stomach and quickly diffusing to the rest of her body, she turns around and closes the door behind in her with a barely audible click.
It’s that little sound that bolts Lucas into action. He pushes his chair back with Aurora still grasping his hand. He stares down at his longtime friend knowing that walking out on her will probably be the end of their relationship. The sorrowful way she looks at him, the plea in her eyes when she breathes his name softly may break his heart but he can’t stay here to console her. Not when the woman who means everything to him looked so stricken. The fact that he is the one responsible for putting the hurt there in her eyes again is inexcusable this time. As tactfully as possible, he pries his hand out of Aurora’s death grip.
“Lucas,” she pleads again.
But he walks to the door only pausing there for a second to say, “you’ll see yourself out, Rory,” then leaves her standing there looking at him as he walks out.
Lengthening his stride to catch up with Alaine, Lucas’ footsteps eat up the distance between his office and the bedroom where he expects her to be. He opens the door with an urgency to find her that he’s only experienced one other time in his life -- that night he’d listened to Angus attacking her.
The immediate bedroom is empty so he hustles to the bathroom then the closet but finds her in neither room. The last place he moves towards in the terrace. Lucas pulls the double doors and steps out into the afternoon sunlight. As soon as he does, he gets a glimpse of Alaine marching across the yard in clothing not suited for the weather. It may be sunny but winter is taking it’s time to loosen it’s hold for the changing season. He grabs her coat before bolting from the room down the hall and stairs to get to her.
The air around her is nippy but Alaine is flushed. There is a burning in her chest clawing its way down to her stomach and making her unnaturally hot. It’s like a weird fever caused by the conflict between hurt and betrayal and her love for the man who inflicted them both upon her.
Since her arrival, she hasn’t had the opportunity to tour the property. She has no idea where she is going but her feet refuse to stop moving. Maybe her brain is transmitting a signal that she needs to run; to get away so they obey to whisk her to somewhere -- anywhere that isn’t here.
“Ali,” she hears behind her but ignores the sound of her name and the pleading it comes with.
“Ali wait. Please,” Lucas calls again.
Instead of stopping or slowing down so that he can catch up to her, she quickens her pace to escape from him. After that, he says nothing. But for the crunch of his long strides obviously gaining on her, Alaine would have thought that he’d given up the chase to go back to his willing Italian.
She doesn’t want to face Lucas with those tears spilling uncontrollably down her cheeks. She hates to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he'd made her cry. So even if her limbs are going numb from exertion and the cold, she maintains her hectic footsteps with the intention of making him work for it.
She just needs a few minutes to get herself together. She’s done it all her life. As soon as she’s rebuilt those walls around her heart that he’d decimated, then she will be able to stand in his presence and maybe flip him off like he hadn’t just pulverized everything inside her. Then she will have no choice but to take her sister’s advice. She will have to call it life experience and try not to hate herself for being foolish enough to fall in love with a man who’d warned her against doing just that in the first place.
Just this morning he’d said that kiss meant nothing. Now this? Alaine doesn’t understand.
She’d sat up in that bedroom with her blood simmering about it. But she’d taken the time to look at the entire situation and had just decided to forgive him. That’s why she’d gone to meet him in his office -- to let him know that. And to apologize for the distress she'd caused him by disappearing without a trace. Like an idiot, she’d actually put effort into making herself look nice and for what?
Alaine swipes at her cheeks while cursing her inability to stave off wave after wave of tears. If Lucas catches up with her, he’ll see them and that will leave her completely defenseless.
A logical or maybe it is the hopeful part of her mind pokes at her heart telling her to stop, to wait, to listen but her willful, wounded pride propels her forward.
Behind her, Lucas decides to give her the space she seems so desperately to be chasing. Eventually, either the cold or tiredness will compel her to stop. Whenever that happens, he will be there. For the time being, he permits her this moment to her thoughts while he tries to assemble his own.
Outwardly, he maintains the look of calm that he’s mastered over the years. On the inside though, he’s in turmoil. He's terrified of Alaine's skittish nature -- of losing her.
After a distance, she finally turns to glower at him over her shoulder. For some strange reason, Lucas chuckles. He actually laughs. That's when he realizes that he’s still happy. His little fairy is jealous and he’s glad to see it.
His mind turns to Aurora who is probably making her way out of his house. Presumably out of his life as well. He doesn’t exactly want to lose their friendship but doesn’t see a way out of this hole that she’s dug.
Alaine makes a right turn in the direction of the vineyard an comes to an abrupt halt at the scenery. Lucas smiles to himself. He'd meant to take her around the grounds but had thought that they would have enough time. In hind sight, he can see that he should have done that with her yesterday instead of making those disastrous plans with Aurora.
She remains there standing on the crest of the hill looking below and Lucas feels the bout of buoyancy he'd experienced only a short while ago vanish.
Maybe now, Alaine won't even want to stay.
Wearing a deep frown, he walks up behind her, slides the warm coat over her shoulders and wraps her in it with his arms closing around her. Pleasantly surprised that she doesn't pull away, Lucas uses the liberty she's permitted and pulls her back against him.
During the time he'd spent trying to catch up with her, he hadn't figured out what he should say. How should he start?
I can explain. It’s not what you think. I’m sorry? All of these seem like the words of a guilty conscience.
“You walk really quickly,” he says instead.
“I chase trains and buses,” she replies stonily.
“Not anymore, princess,” he tells her with confidence. “You’re freezing. Let’s go back to the house.”
Suddenly her frame goes taut and she struggles her way out of his hold. She whips around with the intention of shoving him away or slapping him but the look on his face reminds her why she shouldn't. Unable to look at him, she drops her eyes and keeps them plastered to the ground between their feet.
“Ali,” Lucas beseeches. “Look at me," he urges. Then he says really something stupid. "I don’t get why you’re mad, baby."
Alaine looks at him with her mouth so wide, a marching band could slide through unnoticed. The initial shock at his seeming ignorance wears of quickly, however and fire leaps into her eyes.
"I told you last night that she’s my friend. That’s all," Lucas explains.
Although she is seething, hurt slithers into Alaine's posture outgrowing the fight inside her and seeps into her voice when she says, "then why were you holding her hand the morning after she kissed you. A kiss you said meant nothing."
Then she looks away from him again.
"And I meant it," Lucas tells her with all the earnestness he has. "It meant nothing to me, Ali. Please, baby? Look at me."
Realizing that he is getting nowhere, Lucas sighs and starts to explain what Alaine had seen. "She came to the house because, I invited her," he admits.
"Of course you did," Alaine says with a mirthless chortle.
"To talk," Lucas specifies. "That's all."
"And?" she presses when he doesn't continue. "How did she end up sitting on your desk with you holding her hand."
Lucas sighs and opens his mouth to say that he doesn't know and he doesn't want to continue this conversation. He's under enough strain as it is without adding this to it. But if there is one thing he's come to learn, not just from his time with Alaine but by observing others is that, relationships are complicated and when it's worth it, you fight for it.
So, he takes a deep breath and mumbles, "she said that she is in love with me."
"Big surprise," Alaine responds.
"I am not in love with her, Alaine," Lucas says and places a tentive hand on her shoulder. "I was trying not to hurt her feelings, baby. That's all that was."
At that, she saps her gaze to his and crosses her arms firmly over her chest to give him a pointed look.
"So it's okay to hurt mine instead?" she ask in disbelief.
"That's not..." Lucas starts to say. But he amends, "I thought you were sleeping."
For a second time, Alaine's stares with her mouth agape because of his statement. "So what would you have done if I hadn't come in? If I had been sleeping? Offer her a consolation prize? Maybe a hug and another kiss?
“Don’t be preposterous, Alaine. Of course not,” he snaps in response. “I don’t know how this works. I’ve never had to explain myself to anyone before so I am obviously floundering here. And don’t think one minute that I’ve forgotten that you attended an orgy, didn’t bother telling me and got yourself stupidly drunk in the process,” he retaliates.
Alaine opens her mouth to argue, sputters briefly and closes it again before arguing, "you're changing topics."
“No, I'm not. They’re one and the same sweetheart,” Lucas offers in return. “If you hadn’t gone, none of this would have happened and we wouldn’t be having this very pointless conversation. I told you she is a friend, nothing more... And,” he stresses to cut her off when she is about to interrupt. “I expect more from you, Alaine," he posits. "Especially after what you’ve been through. I also thought I had your trust,” he adds in a softer voice this time. “Isn’t all I have done, all that I am trying to do enough to let you know how I feel? Do you know how worried I was yesterday? Do you have any idea the things that went through my mind? You cannot begin to imagine how I love you, Alaine. Nor how much it hurts to have you accuse me of cheating.”
He stops and stares at her.
This time it’s hard for Alaine to deliver a snarky retort. He always has a way of deflating her upset. She tries to remember why she is and hold on to it. Everything they’ve endured together and shared begins to penetrate her anger.
“Me disappearing was wrong,” she concedes regretfully. “But for a while I felt free. I didn’t need to look over my shoulder. I wasn’t scared and I guess I got caught up in it. Plus, your Italian bae confiscated my phone,” she jabs at him.
Lucas groans for two reasons. Primarily at the reminder that he’d upended her life. Meanwhile Seth back in New York still hasn’t unearthed Angus and it is frustrating that they might return to the city and he will still be on the loose. Secondly she just won’t let up on the Aurora fiasco.
“Is there an apology somewhere in there?” he asks with his own defiance.
“After you, Bright,” she demands stubbornly.
Obviously they are getting nowhere. Deciding to switch tactics, Lucas steps forward and alters his tone from annoyance to seductive. That usually works.
“I apologized last night, sweet girl,” he says forcing her with his nearness to look up at him. “Then you begged me to make love to you or do you not remember?"
A pleased smirk tilts one side of his lips at her sharp intake of breath. A breath to her that seems to be filled with more of his essence than oxygen. The glint of light in her eyes changes when he runs a finger over her luscious bottom lip.
As his cocksure smile grows wider, she grows infuriated and determined.
“That was before I saw you mating with Aurora in your office.”
Laughter rumbles from Lucas but not because he finds the situation the least bit funny. This makes no sense to him so accordingly, he loses his fighting spirit.
“I’m no relationship expert, babe,” he says. “However, I am sure I can say with a certain amount of certainty that holding a friend’s hand is not the equivalent of cheating."
“It is if she’s stuck her tongue down your throat," Alaine shouts at him.
“Oh my God Alaine,” Lucas groans. “Lower your voice," he orders. "And Fine, I apologize. Again.”
“That doesn’t even sound genuine,” she mutters
A tense silence settles between them. Alaine breaks it first.
“What if I had a good friend, Lucas who kissed me and the next morning you woke up and found me holding his hand sitting on his desk behind closed doors? What would you think? How would you feel?”
Without having to pause to think about it, he answers, "I think I'd want to kill someone."
Seeing his pensive scowl she continues, “I am sorry that I went and did not tell you. I am certainly sorry that I drank. They will never happen again. But I can’t be sorry about feeling hurt and betrayed and angry at you. I won’t be and I don’t care how sorry you look. You hurt me.”
Chastened, Lucas plants both his hands over her cheeks to keep her eyes on his as he declares, "You are the only woman for me, Alaine,” in a voice low and honest and dripping with honey. "You want to know the truth?" he questions. "Here's my truth. I'm Lucas Bright and you, Alaine Knight, a twenty-one-year-old innocent, beautiful girl has me heeled like a damned pup. That's the truth," he says and lets go of her.
“There is no one else,” he adds. “There is no one, baby," he stresses. "She kissed me and I am truly sorry for it. I was happy to say that your lips are the only ones I know. It made me feel like I maybe deserve you somehow and she took that from me. From both of us. And this morning honestly, I just didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I am sorry, baby. A million times sorry.”
Needing a break from the intensity in his eyes, Alaine sighs and turns back to look out over the vineyard.
“Mi sbagliavo, mia piccola fata,” he says while stepping closer to draw her back into his warmth.
Though she has no idea what he said, the words whispered softly against her skin wrap around Alaine like a warm blanket. Instead of resisting like she’d done earlier, she melts into his embrace and leans into his sturdy support.
“What does that mean?” she asks.
“I was wrong, my little fairy,” he translates. “You’re the only woman for me Ali,” he repeats. “Aurora is my oldest friend. She's always been outrageously flirtatious and not just with me. I never imagined that she felt anything more or considered me differently than her other male friends. But I promise you, I have never looked at her as more than that. I don’t love her. I love you, more than everything.”
Smiling, she admits, “I believe you do.” Then she places her hand over his where they are snaked around her waist. “I love you too, Lucas.”
“Are we okay?” he asks after a they take a soundless moment to enjoy their reconciliation. “Are you still mad?”
“I’ve been in better moods,” she admits. “ And I shouldn't have accused you. It was easier to be angry than think that I might lose you."
She turns around to wrap her arms over the back of his neck and says, "I'm so afraid of losing you."
"You won't," Lucas promises. "I'm here for the long haul. Now, why don't you take me inside so you can show me how truly sorry you are. You need to practice, you know being the diligent student that you are."
Alaine giggles but shakes her head at him. "I'm thinking that a tour of this place is long over due."
"Later," Lucas says before leading her back to the house.
I think Lucas and Alaine's fights are always cute. There are many directions this could have gone but I put myself in the shoes of those of you who are Lucaine fans. I simply could not destroy their relationship that way. To me, once trust is lost in a relationship, it's just too hard to regain and it will never be the same. I could not put Lucas and Alaine through that. So, there you have it.