Lesly woke up the next day before her alarm went off. She tried to get herself to go back to sleep, but all her tossing and turning yielded nothing. Eventually, she decided to get up and get ready for work. Showering came first on her list followed by her usual morning routine. Since it was still early, she decided to slip into a pair of grey sweatpants and a white cap-sleeved cotton t-shirt before she headed for the kitchen to find something edible to consume. When she left her room, she was greeted by a sweet scent that would have made her hungrier if she had an appetite.
When Lesly got to the kitchen, she found that Alec was up and busy preparing breakfast. It was normal for him to wake up early on certain days so he could get some workout done before he went to his office. Judging by his wet hair, he had already come back and showered after exercising in the gym downstairs. She could see that he was not dressed for work yet because he still had a pair of navy-blue shorts and a dark grey tank top on. Alec was oblivious to her presence in the living room. The frown on his face told her that he was processing something complicated in his head. He eventually realized that she was there when his eyes caught her approaching the kitchen. The frown disappeared when he saw her. A smile lit up his face instead.
“Hey.” She said softly as she smiled back.
“Take a seat. Breakfast will be ready in a minuet.”
She silently complied and sat down like he instructed. Her eyes examined him without really paying attention to what he was doing because her mind was fixated on the events of the night before. She had made a complete fool of herself. Not only did she show him that she was not comfortable with the thought of his seeing somebody else, but she also almost revealed her biggest insecurity to him. It was not something she wanted anyone to know. Even Michaela could not get it out of her, but Lesly knew that the fact that Michaela stopped asking her about it meant that she already figured it out. Alec was awfully perceptive. She hoped that he had not figured it out as well.
Lesly’s train of thoughts was interrupted when Alec placed a plate of hot steaming pancakes in front of her. He poured some syrup over it next and handed her a fork so she could dig in. He then brought the coffee pot over and filled her cup before he took a seat in front of her and filled his cup as well.
Lesly stared at her plate for a moment before glancing at his. He made her blueberry pancakes. His dish had them as well, but they did not look the same as hers. Judging by how much of a health fanatic he was, it seemed that he resorted to his earlier modified recipe which was more of a healthier spin on the classic dish. He poured honey over his rather than syrup. He must have figured out that she hated his modified version when he made it for her the first time. That was one reason why he went through the hassle of preparing two different batters. Another reason was probably his feelings of concern over what happened the night before.
“It’s a different recipe. I assure you.” He said to her when he noticed that she did not touch her pancakes.
“I can see that.” She said smiling.
“Now I understand what Michaela meant when she said that feeding you was going to be a chore.”
“You didn’t have to go through the trouble.” She giggled softly before she began digging into her dish.
“I don’t mind as long as it will get you to eat something. How much do you weigh anyways?”
“You never ask a woman that question. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that?” She warned, but he could see laughter in her eyes.
“You’re nothing but skin and bones for God’s sake. I’m worried if you skip any more meals you’ll disappear.”
“When did I skip meals?” She blinked in fake confusion.
“Almost every morning.” He held his fingers up to her and began listing her unhealthy habits. “You go straight for coffee. I don’t know what you have for lunch while you’re at work, but I’m guessing it’s something that does little to sustain you, and when you come back home, you dig into a bag of chips or devour a candy bar. I didn’t even have those things at home before you came along.”
“You’re too strict for you own good. Try something new. Dig into a bag of chips. Learn to live a little.” She said playfully as she took a bite of her breakfast.
“This sounds rich coming from you.”
She laughed and continued to eat her pancakes. Alec was done with his meal before her, but he stayed there and waited for her to finish as he drank his coffee. He wanted to ask her something, but he did not want to do it early on so she would not lose her appetite. When Lesly was done with her meal, she tried to get up and take the dishes to the sink, but Alec held her hand and asked her gently to sit.
“Are you okay?” He asked, concerned.
“I’m fine. Why are you asking?”
He took one long look at her slightly puffed eyes before he spoke, “I’m guessing you did not get much sleep last night.”
“Is it obvious?” She asked when she realized that he was referring to how her eyes looked after the crying she did the night before.
He did not answer her. Instead, he asked her a question. “How concerned are you with people noticing?”
“Then we need a cold compress,” he said before he got up and started looking for a washcloth.
“I can do it myself.”
She stood up and tried to follow him, but he stopped her. “Go lie down on the couch. I’ll bring it over.”
She hesitated to comply with his request, but she eventually gave in. She walked over to the cream-colored couch in the living room and sat down. Alec came over a moment later with a cold washcloth in his hand. He grabbed a small cushion, placed it on one end of the couch and instructed her to lay down. When she did, he sat next to her, braced one arm over the back of the couch and gently placed the cold compress over her swollen eyes.
For the next few minutes, neither one of them said a word to the other. Lesly could feel his presence next to hear. She could hear the sound of his even breathing, and she could feel his concerned gaze on her. She wanted to do something about the awkward silence, but he beat her to it.
“I’m sorry,” she heard him say in a low voice.
“Last night,” he explained. “I should have respected your wish to not talk about what was bothering you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she said softly.
He could tell that she was nervous. Her hands which were folded over her abdomen earlier were now gripping one another. His large hand covered her right one and he began to gently stroke it with his thumb in an attempt to calm her down. She relaxed a bit, but she was still eager to remove the washcloth from her eyes.
“How long do I have to keep the cold compress on?”
“Just a couple of more minutes,” he said tenderly before his hand left hers and began stroking her forehead.
Lesly felt Alec continue to gently caress her forehead with his thumb. She could not see how close he was to her, but she knew that he was very close because she could smell the masculine scent of his aftershave and feel his warm presence next to her. With her eyes shut, her feelings of vulnerability were slowly taking full control. The more they lingered, the more nervous she became; and the more her nervousness took over, the more her senses were roused to life. She hoped he would not notice how vulnerable she was.
A hint of relief claimed her when she felt his hand leave her forehead momentarily. She thought he was going to finally remove the cold compress, but nothing of the sort happened. She waited for a moment. Her lips parted to voice the question that was forming in her head. Then she felt his lips gently touch hers. At first, she froze. She did not know how to react. A few seconds later, however, she parted her lips further for him to invite him. His kisses turned from gentle caresses to lingering brushes. She felt his tongue teasing her lips before it sank deeper into her mouth. His teeth began to nibble lightly at her lower lip as his hand held her waist. Her top must have ridden up because she could feel his warm palm directly touching her skin.
Alec pulled back before he satisfied her desire for more. He removed the washcloth next and smiled down at her. Lesly felt the blood rushing to her face. No matter how many times he had kissed her, she still found it difficult to keep herself from blushing afterwards. He held his hand to her to help her sit up. She reached for it almost instinctively. Alec pulled her up. When she sat straight, she realized that getting up brought her face mere inches away from his. She thought he was going to kiss her again. No, she was certain that he would kiss and that this time, he would not be teasing her like he did before. He did not. He tucked her hair behind her ear and told her to get ready to leave for work.
She nodded, got off the couch and went to her room to get ready. The look on her face barely masked her disappointment.
He was all she could think about the entire time she was at work. She knew then that she was in too deep and that she had to pluck herself out somehow before she made a mess of things again. It was not too late. She could keep herself away, but she was not sure she would be able to resist his caresses or stop herself from responding to his kisses. He needed to keep his distance, too, and there was only way she could get the task done.