Forgiven

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A Friendly Dinner

Chapter 25:

Alec wanted to help. He really did. It was not like he had no cooking experience whatsoever, but Lesly would not let him. She told him she did not like it when somebody stepped into the kitchen with her. He was allowed to keep her company as long as he did not interfere. As such, he had no choice but to sit obediently at the kitchen counter while she prepared dinner. They each had a glass of wine in hand as they chatted casually about different topics, mainly movies. She wanted to talk about politics, but he told her he was worried they would both lose their appetite by the time the meal was served.

It was Alec who did most of the talking. Lesly was focused on prepping the ingredients and making sure she got the measurements right. The pasta was boiling in a pot. The chicken was sizzling in a skillet and most of the veggies were already chopped. Lesly fished the heavy cream out of the fridge and looked at Alec worriedly again. He was something of fanatic when it came to eating healthy. This perfectly showed in his physique. Of course, he rarely criticized her poor meal choices like Michaela, but she could see the disapproving looks he gave her whenever she opted for skipping meals or replacing them with coffee. Cooking was a hobby for her, but she tended to enjoy the process more than the end result. That was why she was thinner than she would have liked.

Lesly asked Alec one more time if it was okay for him to eat something so rich in carbs and fat like the dish she was making. It was not too late to think of something else to cook, but he assured her that it was okay since it was a once in a while thing. She wanted to ask him again to make sure, but before she got to the task, her phone began vibrating for the fifth time since she started cooking. Alec was used to the routine by now. Her phone was on the counter next to his and every time it vibrated, she asked if he could see the ID of the person who texted so she would know if it was a matter she had to take care of right away. She did not have to ask him to check this time. His eyes were instinctively drawn to the lit screen.

“It’s Henry again.” He announced without being prompted.

“I see.”

Alec waited for her to tell him who Henry could be, but she went right back to chopping. The look she gave him when he told her who it was piqued his curiosity.

“It’s not a work-related issue, is it?” He asked in an attempt to know more.

“No.”

“I thought as much.”

“How so?”

“I know most of the people who work on your floor. I’ve never come across a Henry.”

“How perceptive.”

There was a blank expression on her face as she took a sip of wine. She gave him nothing. He had to ask her directly.

“So who’s Henry?”

“My ex.”

That was easy, he thought. “You and your ex still text? You must’ve ended things on really good terms then.”

“Not really.” She shrugged.

“So what happened there?”

Lesly leaned against the cabinets with a wry smile on her face. She grabbed her wine glass and began swirling her drink slowly before she asked, “How badly do you want to know?”

“Bad enough to volunteer something personal in return.” He could not resist smiling back.

She arched an eyebrow in a clear sign of interest. Her smile deepened. He found it as mesmerizing as ever.

Lesly did not answer him right away. She placed the wine glass on the marble counter top and checked on the chicken in the skillet. Only her profile was visible to him, but he could see the traces of a seductive smile tugging at the corners of her lips. His eyes examined her from head to toe as she busied herself with the task at hand. He had never seen her in a skirt before. She always wore pants to work and this was one of the rare occasions when he got to see her long shapely legs. He remembered all too well how tightly they wrapped around him earlier this morning and how amazing the kisses they shared were. He was almost certain that she had no idea how much of an effect the mere sight of her had on him. If she did, she would have shown him some mercy.

Lesly directed her attention back at him once she made sure everything was in order. She walked over to where he was sitting, and crossed her arms over the counter before she began explaining.

“Henry is a friend of Michaela’s. He’s a cardiologist who used to work with her at the hospital. She was the one who set us up. We dated for like five months and then he ended it.”

“He ended it?”

“Yes.”

He studied her expression for a moment as he tried to connect all the dots. She stared right back at him.

“Let me guess.” He began. “He is the reason you think you’re not ready to be involved with anyone.”

Lesly did not know how he did it. She tried her best to keep that same blank expression plastered to her face, but she was not sure she could hide the truth from him. Was she being so obvious or was he simply gifted at reading people? She turned her back to him so she could busy herself with the task of prepping the meal in the hopes that he would not notice the change his comment brought to her face.

“You have got to stop doing that.” Her tone was neutral.

“Doing what?” He asked innocently.

“Trying to analyze me.”

He did not say anything. She went back to check on the skillet. Only her profile was visible to him. He waited for her to say something, but she did not. Obviously, he had struck a nerve, but he still could not resist asking her.

“So?”

“So what?”

“Am I right?”

“I’m not answering that question.” Her tone told him that she was not amused one bit.

“Fair enough.” He replied as he leaned forward on the counter. His eyes examined her profile one more time. Although she did not give him a direct answer, it was obvious that he guessed right.

“How come your ex is still texting you if things ended badly?” Alec realized that he sounded interrogative and hoped that she would not feel offended, but the curiosity was gnawing at him.

“You’ve never decided to remain friends with one of your exes?”

“Not really, no.”

“That’s encouraging.” Lesly said sarcastically.

“Come on now, how many of your exes are you still friends with?”

“Just this one.”

“So you see my point.”

“Fine.” She shrugged. “Henry feels bad about the way things ended. I guess those friendly chats are his way of feeling less guilty about what happened.”

“What the hell did the bastard do to you?” Alec asked in a serious tone. His smile had turned into a frown.

“Nothing.” She answered with a sad smile on her face. “It’s been a long time ago anyways.”

“How long?”

“Four years ago.”

“Uh-huh.” Alec was deep in thought. His eyes were studying her closely. The look totally unnerved her. He was analyzing her again.

“What?” She asked in annoyance.

“Nothing.” He responded innocently.

“God you’re annoying when you do that.” She said to him before she dumped the strained pasta into the skillet.

It did not take her long to finish cooking the meal. She scooped the cooked pasta into two dishes and placed them on the counter. Then she brought the salad and the toasted bread. The two went back to their casual chat about movies while they ate and they took their time to finish their meal. When they were done, Alec took the empty dishes to the sink and began cleaning them. Lesly brought two bowls and began scooping the vanilla ice cream that she had placed on the counter top earlier so it would soften a little. She began adding caramel sauce to it along with toasted hazelnuts and crushed biscuits. Then she handed Alec who was done with cleaning the dishes a bowl. Alec stared at the bowl with a pained expression on his face, but did not say anything. He eventually gave in, dug his spoon into the catastrophic goodness, and crossed his legs in front of him as he leaned against the cabinets. She did the same.

“So it’s my turn now.” Lesly announced before taking a spoonful of ice-cream.

“Shoot.”

“How come you’re still single?”

“That’s a peculiar question.”

“I think it’s perfectly logical.”

“How so?”

“Most of the women working on my floor think you’re a catch.” She realized it was a mistake to say that the moment she saw the smug expression on his face.

“Did they tell you why?” He asked, smirking.

“They did. I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell you, though. Your ego is in danger of exploding as it is.”

“Now I’m more curious.” He said, chuckling.

“Well, the word ‘pretty’ was thrown about a lot.” She meant that as a joke. It was obvious, and she could tell from the way he was grinning that he got that. However, there was another reason behind her choice of the word. It was to soften the more graphic expressions some of her colleagues used to describe him or what they wished to do to him.

“Do you agree with them?” He asked expectantly. His mischievous grin did not disappear.

“Why does it matter what I think?” She inquired innocently as she took another spoonful of ice-cream.

She was messing with him. That much was clear. He decided that the best way to handle the situation was to take the conversation back to her original question and put her on the spot. After what happened between them this morning, he was determined to coax a response out of her regarding the two of them. If she still believed she was not ready to be involved with him or with anyone, he hoped that she would at least tell him why.

“If you must know,” Alec began explaining, “I haven’t been in a long-term relationship for quite some time now. I’ve been kinda hung up on someone.”

“Really?” Lesly was genuinely surprised. “Is she an ex-girlfriend?”

“No”

“When did you meet her?”

“During a trial.”

“Does she work with you?”

“Technically.”

“What’s she like?”

Alec straightened up and placed his bowl on the counter top as he addressed her question. “She’s very pretty. If she knew how captivating her smile is she would’ve smiled more. I find her eyes particularly mesmerizing. On top of that, she’s caring, compassionate and smart.” He took a few steps towards her, took the bowl from her hands and set it aside. Then he laid both hands on the counter behind her and trapped her as he leaned closer to her. “She can be difficult, stubborn and she does have quite a temper. I’ve had a crush on her for so long. No one seemed good enough when compared to her. That’s why I’m still single.”

Lesly did not know what to say. He did tell her before that he liked her for some time, but she did not think it was that serious. Her heart started hammering in her chest like crazy. She could hear the drumming sound in her ears and she hoped he did not notice. Of course, that was highly unlikely because the way she was struggling to breath must have exposed her.

Lesly did not look away. She kept her eyes locked with his as she spoke softly “Alec, I thought we discussed this before.”

“I know.” He whispered. His lips almost touched her. “I was hoping we could talk more about it.”

“I don’t have anything more to say.”

“I do. I know for a fact that I’m not in this alone. You have feelings for me too.”

“Even if I do, I…”

She could not finish her statement, not when he was staring at her like that. His eyes became fixed on her lips next.

Lesly knew what was coming. She could have put an end to it before it began, but she sat there and silently hoped that it would happen. She lifted her chin up when he leaned down, and met him half way. It began as a slow tender kiss. Alec was determined to keep it this way. However, the moment her tongue began stroking his, he lost control. The kiss grew deeper and more agonizing. Her palms slid up his hard chest and interlocked behind his neck. His caressed her bare arms down to her small waist before he lifted her up and put on her on the stool without breaking the kiss. She threaded her fingers into his hair and pulled him closer to her.

The things his tongue did to her mouth drove her crazy. She tried to control the way she was reacting to him, but he was not making it easy. His hand had pushed her skirt up and was intimately stroking her thigh. It sent shivers down her spine and made her gasp. He momentarily released her lips and stared deep into her eyes. The look he gave her told her how much he desired her. She thought he was done kissing her and knew that she failed miserably at hiding how disappointed she was that their intimate moment was over. It turned out, however, that he had other things in mind. His hand never left her thigh when he began placing light kisses on her neck. His mouth lingered on her pulse point before he found his way up to her ear. His teeth tugged on her earlobe before he began whispering fondly. His warm breath tickled her ear.

“I don’t know how much more of this I could take. You’re all I could think about.”

Her response was not something he expected. All signs of inhibition were gone when she cupped the sides of his face and kissed him just as possessively as he had kissed her earlier. She never kissed him like that before. There was always a little bit of reluctance or shyness in her responses. He liked having her in control. His deep growl of satisfaction must have told her as much. Still, as much as he tried, he could not leave her in control for long for he soon grew more demanding. Their kisses became more passionate, more carnal. He was almost certain in the haze of passion that she would finally overcome her reluctance and give in to him entirely.

Lesly could not think straight anymore. She never knew she had it in her to be so bold. Then again no one had ever made her feel the things Alec was making her feel. At that moment she was completely certain that whatever emotions she held towards him could not simply and superficially be explained away. Her intimate moments with him were not merely the result of a physical attraction or a momentary crush. She trusted him completely. She knew she could rely on him. He would never fail her, never turn his back on her. A guy as sweet, kind and gentle as him would never hurt her. She knew he cared deeply for her. She could see it in his eyes.

It was a miracle that she could hear the faint sound of a phone ringing in her dazed state. She pulled back; her misty eyes stared deep into his as she struggled to bring her breathing under control.

“I think it’s your phone.” She whispered, panting.

He did not care because he went right back to kissing her. His phone rang again. He ignored it. It rang one more time. She pulled back and tried to talk to him, but he would not let her. His mouth claimed hers every time she tried to speak.

“It seems…important.” She said breathlessly between kisses.

“Ignore it.” He commanded in a gruff whisper as he claimed her mouth for another passionate kiss.

The doorbell began ringing next. She pushed him back gently and tried to talk some sense into him.

“Someone is at the door. I’m guessing it’s the same person who is calling.”

Alec stared deep into her eyes. It took him a moment to comprehend what she was saying. His hands were on her waist. Her arms were wrapped around his neck. He lifted her up and brought her down from the stool. Then he took her arms from around his neck and placed light kisses on her wrists before he released them entirely.

“This discussion isn’t over.” He said breathlessly before he went to check on the door.

She followed behind him and hoped that her knees won’t give away any second and embarrass her.

Alec opened the door, and found none other than his friend Greg standing outside with his phone pressed to his ear.

“You’re dead to me.” Alec said to him with a frown on his face before Greg even had a chance to speak.

Greg blinked a couple of times. It was obvious that he was confused as to why Alec was annoyed. He looked from Alec to Lesly to Alec again before he asked the obvious question. “Did I interrupt something?”

Both Lesly and Alec answered at the same time. Lesly said no; Alec said yes. This made Lesly’s face turn crimson. Alec did not notice, but Greg did.

Alec invited his friend in and shut the door behind him.

“Lesly, allow me to introduce you to Greg Bernstein, a corporate lawyer, who up until a few minutes ago I used to consider a dear friend of mine.” Alec said sarcastically. His frown never left his face. He turned towards Greg then. “Greg, this is Lesly.”

“I’ve heard so much about you.” Greg said as he shook Lesly’s hand.

“Did you?” Lesly cast a suspicious glance at Alec who was still busy shooting daggers at his friend.

Greg wanted to chat with Lesly a bit more. The devilish grin he had, though, told Alec that it was better to get him away from Lesly as soon as possible.

“You know where the study is. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be with you in a minute.” Alec spoke to Greg before he could say anything to Lesly.

Greg obediently went into the study, but not before he told Lesly that he had an urgent matter to discuss with Alec and that perhaps he could drop by some other time when she was free so the three of them could get together for coffee. Lesly was open to the suggestion, but Alec was not amused one bit.

When the two of them were left alone in the hallway, Alec turned to Lesly and said apologetically, “I’m sorry dinner was interrupted.”

“Don’t be. It’s obviously an urgent matter.”

“Well, since he’s here in person, I’d say it is.”

“I have important things to take care of, too. I’ll see you later.”

Lesly tried to excuse herself and walk back to her room, but Alec stopped her. He pulled her towards him and kissed her tenderly. When he released her, she was so dazed that it took her a minuet to comprehend what was happening. She cleared her throat and walked towards her room leaving Alec in the hallway with an affectionate look on his face.

That look did not last for long when he remembered the friend who was waiting for him in the study. He did not know why Greg was here, but he could guess. His gut told him that he was not going to like hearing whatever Greg came to say.

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