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After the Kiss

Chapter 21

Lesly did not know how to face him in the morning. They were supposed to have breakfast together. This was their usual routine since the incident. However, this morning was different. She was not sure she could eat anything and pretend that nothing happened the night before. She did not even have an appetite. Her eyes burned with exhaustion because she did not get a wink of sleep. It was ironic in a way. She had gone to the kitchen the night before to fix herself a drink that could help her sleep, and she ended up making a fool of herself and giving her brain more reasons to get worked up. She spent the entire night replaying the scene over and over in her head. Why did she have to kiss him? Why couldn’t she push him back? And damn it why did the mere memory of the way he kissed her made her so rattled? She tried to force her mind to think of a way she could handle seeing him in the morning, but her mind was so focused on all the things he made her feel that it refused to cooperate.

The best solution her uncooperative brain could muster was for her to stay in her room until they had to leave for work. If asked why she was late, she could blurt out an excuse that she had missed her alarm. She planned to do exactly that and tried to walk into the open kitchen as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. She found Alec sitting at the kitchen counter and checking something on his phone with a cup of coffee in front of him. Lesly thought she blurted out a good morning to him, but she was not really sure until he said it back. Her eyes tried to steal glances at him as she grabbed her travel mug and tried to pour the contents of the coffee pot into it. Normally, he would follow Michaela’s example and start reprimanding her about skipping breakfast and going straight for coffee, but he did not say anything. He silently continued to scroll through his phone until she was done with whatever task she came into the kitchen for. When she grabbed the purse that she had placed on the couch earlier, he took her action as a sign that she was ready to leave and grabbed his car keys. He put his coat on, walked out the door and waited for her to follow him before he locked it.

The drive to her office was a silent one. She was thankful for that because if he had spoken to her normally, she was not sure she could put the same act. This would have led her to make an even bigger fool of herself. When they reached her office, he asked her the same usual question. When was she going to be done? She answered the same way she always did and told him that he could come pick her up at six sharp. If something were to come up, she would let him know. He nodded in acknowledgement and remained there until he made sure that she had walked into the building. Then he drove away.

This was the new routine they followed for the next few days. He did try to talk to her a couple of times to loosen the awkward silence that came to dominate most of the time they found themselves in each other’s company, but she did not know what to say. By the fourth day, Alec had decided that he had had enough. She noticed that on their drive to and back from her office. He did everything he could do to provoke her into losing her temper. He drove slowly in the morning and waited for her to complain that she might be late to work. He drove fast on the way back home in an attempt to get her to snap at him for being reckless. He rolled down all the windows in the freezing cold weather before giving in and rolling the windows back up again. He turned the heater setting in the car up and waited for her to demand that he set it back to normal. She put up with everything he did with patience she did not know she possessed. By the time they got to the building, she was seething. This did not last, though, because she knew that he had had enough and that he was surely going to bring the matter up.

When Lesly walked into the apartment, she tried to use the same excuse she had been using for the past three days to avoid working with him. She told him that she was tired and that they could work on the case separately whenever they found the time and email each other what they had found out. He had another plan in mind. Before she could get to her room, he gently held her arm and pulled her towards him. Her heart started beating frantically the moment she was face to face with him.

“We need to talk.”

“About what?”

“You’ve been avoiding me for the last couple of days.”

“I have a lot on my mind,” she blatantly lied without a hint of shame.

“Lesly,” he said in exasperation.

“I’m sorry. I just don’t know what to say.”

“What is there to say?”

Lesly tried to give him an explanation, but she did not know exactly how to phrase it. She could try, but she was not sure she could form a coherent sentence. Alec had an expectant look on his face. His hands were in the pockets of his coat as he waited for her to tell him what was on her mind.

She nervously tucked a strand behind her ear and began explaining, “I told you over and again that I wanted to keep things professional. Then I went ahead and… It was never my intention to mislead you or to …I’m not like that. I need you to know that I’d never intentionally...”

Alec patiently waited for her to finish, but when he realized she had nothing more to say, he sought to assure her, “I know.”

“I’m still not ready for anything of that sort. It was totally unfair of me to do that to you.”

Did she just paint him as a helpless dupe who had been taken advantage of? Alec could not believe what he was hearing. He suddenly had the urge to yell some sense into her.

“You seem to be forgetting something. I kissed you back,” he reminded her with exasperation evident in his voice.

“Yes, but you wouldn’t have if I hadn’t kissed you first. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I was grateful for everything you have done for me. I still am.”

He stared at her for a moment. Then he sighed loudly. She did not know what to make if it. Was he annoyed, vexed, frustrated, sorry? He did not give her time to think. He took a step forward, pulled her over to him and before she had a chance to object, his mouth covered hers. It was not a carnal passionate kiss like the one they shared before, but a sweet and tender one. His thumb nudged her chin down so he could get his tongue to taste her. Then his hand sled over her cheek and into her lustrous dark locks. She did not resist him. Her hands grabbed the front of his coat as she kissed him back.

He pulled away moments later. His thumb stroked her cheek as he said to her in a whisper, “We’re even.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You kissed me after you said you weren’t ready to be involved with anyone. I kissed you after I gave you my word that I wouldn’t bring the matter up.”

“That’s not the point.”

“I’m making it the point.”

He kissed her on the forehead. Then he caressed the side of her cheek with the back of his hand.

“Good night, Lesly.” He whispered to her before he went into his room.

Lesly took a moment to calm herself down after what had just happened. Her heart was still drumming in her chest. It was unfair how he was very casual about the whole thing while she needed time to gather her wits. She eventually took her coat off, hung it by the door, and then marched to her room. Her eyes tried to steal a glance at him when she passed by his room on the way to hers, but the door was ajar. She went into her room, shut the door and took her work clothes off before she stepped into the shower. When she was done, she slipped into her comfortable pajamas and tried to get some work done on her laptop. Hunger eventually got to her an hour later, so she went into the kitchen to find something to eat. Alec was still in his room. That was a relief because she still was not ready to talk to him normally. She hastily made herself a sandwich and marched back into her room. After she ate it, she tried to get more work done, but sleep overpowered her. She decided to go to bed early and get the rest she needed. It was a Friday night which meant that she could catch up on all the work she had delayed due to her sick leave on her day off and not worry about cases piling up. With that thought in mind, Lesly put her laptop and papers away and tried to sleep.

Alec was trying to go over the statements he collected so far, but his mind was replaying the words Lesly said to him a while ago. Did she tell him that she was grateful for everything he did? It was difficult for him to process that because he firmly believed that he was the one who should be grateful. He would not be alive if it were not for her. She protected him, kept him from bleeding to death and even resuscitated him when his heart stopped beating. Of course, she did not know that. She did not know that he owed her a great debt that he could never repay. When he first met her after the incident two years ago, that was the extent of his knowledge, that she had simply saved his life and that she was not retaliated against in any way. Even with those thoughts in his head, he felt that he owed her. Now that he had learned the full truth, he vowed that he would stop at nothing to keep her safe. Of course, in order for him to accomplish that goal, it was necessary not to tell her who he was. It was too late at this point anyway. Telling her would only make a mess of things.

Alec’s mind took him to the time he first met her again after the incident two years ago. He recognized her instantly, but she did not seem to recognize him at all. It was possibly because of the fact that she had first met him in a dark hallway when his face was so covered with cuts and bruises that it was virtually unrecognizable. It was a relief in a sense. If she had known who he was, he would have never stood a chance to win her over. The favors he did her in the past two years were favors done in an attempt to pay her back. She was reluctant to accept any help he offered. Of course, she had every reason to be distrustful of him. If she had known the real reason behind his offers to help, she would not have been so hesitant to take him up on them. However, that was a risk he was unwilling to take.

To her recollection, she first met him when she went against him in court. She totally annihilated him that day. They had had a couple of more encounters after that. He won some cases. She won others. After that, he tried to get on her good side by choosing to settle outside of court. He found her insanely beautiful and he had been attracted to her ever since. He knew everything about her beforehand because he was interested in the person who saved his life. Meeting her in person, though, was a different experience all together. She was more beautiful in person than in the pictures he had seen. Her grey eyes looked brighter; her lips were fuller. Her dark lustrous hair was longer back then. She had this nervous habit of running her hand through it and bringing it to one side. It was the cutest most feminine thing he had ever seen. Now she tucked her hair behind her ear whenever she was nervous. He preferred the way she looked with long hair, but there were moments when her shorter shoulder length locks highlighted her features in ways he had never noticed before. She was much thinner back then than she was now. Obviously she was still struggling with the trauma back then. Her personality was a different thing all together. She was vicious at first. Her no-nonsense attitude combined with her temper, inflexibility and sarcasm had turned her into something of a villain. Everyone around him thought of her as the devil. He found her insanely captivating. He flirted with her every chance he got. Then he decided to keep things professional for fear that things might develop into something he could not handle.

For two years, he had a crush on her and could not do anything about it. He tried to get over his crush, but no one seemed good enough when compared to her. His best friend Greg agreed with Alec that she was pretty, but he insisted that Alec felt this way about her because she was the one who saved his life. He told Alec that he would get over his feelings for her sooner or later, but nothing of the sort happened. It did not help that she was an incredibly selfless and caring person. He admired the hell out of her. If he had met her under different circumstances, it would have been the same. He would have still fallen for her. The saddest part was that he could never tell her any of this, at least not for now.

With a sigh of sadness, Alec realized that it was useless to get any work done now. It was impossible to focus when he could still vividly remember the taste and feel of her soft lips against his. He decided to take a cold shower to jolt himself back into reality and get back to the cases he had on hand. With that thought in mind, he took his clothes off, stepped into the shower and hoped that he would shake those thoughts that kept on clouding his judgement. When he stepped out, he slipped into a pair of sweatpants, but kept the t-shirt on the bed for later.

Alec was drying his hair with a towel when he heard a gentle knock on the door. Before he could answer, Lesly walked in with a concerned look on her face.

“Alec, something happened. I need to step out, now.”

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