This is just a short filler chapter to tie up some loose ends.I don't really have anything to say about it. If you do feel like commenting I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Stay away from Alaine. Stay away from me. Stay away from Claudia.
The terms of the deal of the temporary truce that Lucas had brokered with Kurt resonates in his head and heart as a terrible wrong. By doing so, he’d probably condemned many women to a life of sexual servitude and abuse for a while longer. But for now better can’t be done. What is of paramount importance to him is working to keep Alaine out of Angus’ hands and he can’t have his concentration split by adding Kurt to the number of things that he already has to juggle. So he made a deal with the devil, albeit, only to bide his time until he can find another way to unravel his stepfather’s life one silken thread at a time.
The most damnable thing of all is that in the smallest fraction possible, he’d also declared peace for the time being with his and his family’s best interest in mind. He hadn't done it solely because of Alaine.
His business and charities are both hinged on his image. His father’s dealings may also be affected by the fall out if the public got wind of his past misdeeds. Everything they’ve worked so hard for will suffer if Kurt releases those damning videos to the public. He just can’t let that happen. It might cost too much to place his faith in society and hope that it will see those tapes for what they truly are. A scared teenage boy being used in a world of depravity. Even if Alaine insists that he’d only been a youth and innocent, the rest of the world may see a willing participant and he will be crucified for it. The damage might be irreparable. Just look at the result of one photo taken out of context that was leaked to the press of another woman kissing him. There are calculated risks and then there are stupid risks. This one would fall in the category of the latter.
It would be his word against whose? Kurt’s?
Lucas scoffs at the idea.
His stepfather is a lot of things but a complete dolt is not one of them. Releasing the videos is nothing for Kurt to do. He’s been hanging them over Lucas’ head for years. What he doesn’t expect is for Kurt to implicate himself by taking credit for them. Obviously, if he does do it, and Lucas doesn't doubt that he will, he will do so anonymously.
So for the time being, those videos of the darkest moments of his life will remain exactly there; in the dark. In return, the evidence linking his stepfather to numerous criminal enterprises will remain there as well while he figures out the best way to move forward.
He’s not trying to fool himself into thinking he’d done the right thing by agreeing to Kurt's terms. He hadn’t. But what other choice was there? To keep Alaine out of another potentially dangerous situation, it was the right thing to do. To protect himself, his father and even Claudia from the blowback, he'd done the right thing.
The voice at the back of his mind, however, refuses to submit. It reminds him that he’s done something wrong. It reminds him that with time all the damage Kurt would have done by releasing his sins to the world would eventually fade.
Lucas swears softly to himself in his quiet office while his conscience beats at him for the betrayal. This is why he hadn't wanted to bring Alaine here. It was Angus who had forced his hand. Then he’d tried really hard to keep her out of Kurt’s path. Because of Aurora and the scandal, he'd found out that they were here.
Telling himself that he’d done the best with the hand he’d been dealt, Lucas shuts the computer screen that had become a blur beneath his fervent stare. He tries to override his thoughts with something more pleasant.
Today, he will make up for the disastrous outcome of their date by doing at least one or two of things on Alaine's list if time permits.. They'll have a good time and it will take his mind off everything else.
He prepares to leave his office but a loud squeal penetrating the empty house catapults him out of his seat towards the door. Already, Lucas mind conjures the worst possible scenarios as he races out into the hall. He flies into Alaine so the both of them crash into the wall on the opposite side.
"I'm sorry," he says while searching her face frantically and trying to keep her steady on her feet. "What's going on? Are you alright?" he asks as her lips spread into a wide smile.
Rather than giving him answer, she holds her phone up to his face and her childlike excitement is palpable.
Lucas focuses on the words of the email and chuckles with disbelief.
“This is it? This is why you’re trying to give me a heart attack?” he questions. “I thought something was wrong, Alaine. Jeez!” he says and hands back the phone.
“That’s not the only one,” she tells him and brushes past him to enter the office he'd just left.. “There is also a voice message from MasTech and Voluminos. I have three job interviews, Lucas,” she squeals again before throwing all her weight into his chest. “Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times thank you,” she says and plants her lips on his.
Amused, Lucas laughs again. “I’m sure I had nothing to do with it,” he responds, while closing his arms around her. “But I will take it.”
“You did,” Alaine replies, with her arms still wound around his neck and her face turned up to look at him. “You spoke to Ian Gaines and you gave me those references.”
“Well you’re welcome, babe,” Lucas says. “But I’m sure you would have gotten those interviews without my interference. You’re brilliant all on your own. When are these interviews? Do we have to cut our trip short?” he asks leading her to the sofa.
“Maybe by a day or two,” she replies. “I'm sorry," she sighs. "I don’t want you to think you have to come back with me, Lucas. I know your mom...”
“I’m not letting you go back to New York on your own, Ali," he interrupts in a firm tone." Claudia is getting better. We’ll go," he says with a shrug. "I’ll make the arrangements and talk to my grandparents okay? I'll talk to Seth to let him know. We're prepared for our return, baby," he says to calm both the fear he can see in her eyes and his own anxieties. "We can leave on Wednesday evening and make it back on Thursday.”
She nods and leans to kiss him with gratitude. “I honestly have no idea what I would do with you,” Alaine tells him.
“I love to make you happy Ali,” Lucas confesses in return. “There is a lot in me that you have to contend with,” he admits. “I know you said it doesn’t bother you but I still wish I was different, less tainted for you.”
“Good thing I’m a fighter then,” she says. “I'm good at contending. And you’re not tainted. I think I’ve told you that your past doesn’t define you. What you do now, especially in my eyes, that’s what defines you to me. Right now you are my best friend. My hero, my lover. My everything. And we will deal with whatever your stepfather does. Together,” she reminds him.
"Together," Lucas repeats to himself with a rueful shake of his head. "I've taken care of Kurt temporarily," he admits and she gives him a wary look. "Don't worry," he assures her. "He will get his just desserts. Just...I can only deal with one threat at a time. Now we only have two more days here," he adds to distract her. "What would you like to do?"
Still wearing a frown, her eyes stray from his face to the items sticking out near the arm of the sofa behind him.
“You haven’t opened your gift,” she scolds.
“I haven't really had the time," Lucas notes. "Also, I thought you would want to be here when I did so that I may properly thank you."
Turning around he drags both packages up and says, "I have no idea how gift giving works in a romantic relationship but I have to say that I'm excited to see what's in here."
“You’ve never bought a woman a gift? Or received one?” Alaine asks.
“Nope,” Lucas answers with no qualm whatsoever. After he thinks about it he correctss, “Well, I have been offered gifts before, but I've always politely declined each one."
Alaine snorts. “That’s cold, Lucas. Not even for Valentine’s Day or birthdays?”
“No,” he responds with a scoff. “When I told you I don’t do romance or relationships Alaine, I was serious,” he explains. "And I wouldn't want to feel beholden to anyone."
“I thought you were exaggerating,” she mumbles.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” he shrugs. “Buying a gift -- accepting one -- would send the wrong message. I didn’t want to deceive anyone by raising false hopes.”
“But you risked giving me false hopes,” she reminds him. “Three days after you met me, you bought me two gifts and gave me a flower,” she recounts accurately.
Lucas becomes thoughtful. Though a novice in romance, he knows some things are best kept secret. So he doesn’t divulge the true intent behind those items -- that they had merely been a precursor to getting her in his bed. He couldn’t very well voice that.
“Things with us were different, babe,” he offers instead. “Still is different. I have never done anything like this. I’ve never wanted to before you. I mean look where you are, Alaine.”
To put a full stop at the end of this conversation, he rips uncaringly through the decorative covering.
“I think part of the gift is the care taken to wrap it,” Alaine mutters.
Lucas stops to look at her with wide eyes. “Oh,” he says. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
Because t’s too late to salvage the wrapping paper he continues and smiles a soft smile.
“This is a perfect gift,” he says. “And you got two?”
“The other is for me,” Alaine explains. “I couldn’t think of what else to get a billionaire and I wanted it to be something meaningful, I guess.”
“Thank you, Ali. I absolutely love that you want to memorialize our relationship,” he says. “And I have the perfect place for it.”
Carefully, Lucas sets the black and white drawing of him and Alaine aside and leans forward to offer his gratitude.
“I do not regret the day you walked into my office, Alaine Knight,” he whispers against her lips. “You’ve made me exceedingly happy. Today we are going to do whatever you want to do. So let’s take a look at that list of yours.”
If only momentarily, Lucas sets aside his anxieties. Thoughts of Kurt and Angus, worry over his mother and everything else that could be unraveling in his life are forced into a compartment at the back of his mind until such a time that he has to revisit them.
He plans on giving Alaine a proper Italian experience. One that doesn’t involve wine tasting, neon alcoholic drinks, paraphernalia and orgies.