Forgiven

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It's a Date

Chapter 70:

She thought she heard him wrong, but when she texted him to confirm, it turned out that it was exactly what she heard the first time. He was asking her out on a date. He really did want to take her to a restaurant, not bring the restaurant to her like they have always done. It should not be a big deal. After all, they have been together for months. However, before now, not once was he able to take her out given the circumstances back then. This new development added to the fact that they were still testing the waters after she had decided to give him a second chance made her feel a bit nervous.

She thought about canceling on him more than once, especially since he did not give her enough time to think the matter through, but eventually, she decided to go for it. After all, she was the one who was constantly bothered by his reserved behavior towards her in the last couple of weeks. Now that he had made the effort to take things one step ahead, she should do the same and really get to know him. There were a number of things she wanted to ask him, but she could not do so for fear of stepping into a landmine so soon after mending their relationship.

Finding a suitable outfit to wear on such short notice was definitely a problem that became much more complex the moment Michaela became involved in the process. Every time Lesly picked an outfit, the redhead would discourage her from wearing it for one reason or another. According to Michaela, this was technically Lesly’s first night out with Alec. As such, she needed to put a little more effort into dressing up, something which she did not do the first time she decided to meet him at a bar. Lesly rolled her eyes at her friend, but she eventually gave in because she knew deep down that her friend was right.

Finally, they settled on a dark green dress which they have dug out from one of the boxes that Lesly did not unpack yet. It stood out in the pile of black outfits that Lesly came to prefer to purchase since they were much more practical than any other colorful options. Still, she was glad that she had bought it at some point because it was the one outfit that made Michaela stop whining about the depressive gothic vibe she was getting from her closet. The dress had thin straps, a low cut back and a fitted bodice that accentuated her tiny waist. Trying it on made her feel a tad bit strange, considering how long it had been since she last wore something colourful and for a date no less. However, Michaela could not stop gushing over it. It was the only outfit in her opinion that brought out the colour of her eyes and really toned down her pale complexion.

Alec showed up at eight, just like he said he would. He picked her up and drove her to the restaurant he told her about. Once there, they were guided to the table he booked before they were presented with the menus. Then they ordered a couple of dishes which they enjoyed while they chatted casually about work once more. She was thankful for that because talking about work was the only thing she felt comfortable handling in her state of nervousness. She prayed that he would not notice how anxious she was, but she was almost sure that he already knew. If he could not figure it out from the look in her eyes, he would surely know the moment she decided to get her wine glass refilled.

It did not make sense to her why she would feel this anxious around him. Michaela told her that it was just her usual case of fear, but it did not seem likely. It was worse this time around, and the more she thought about it, the more worried she became. The food looked heavenly, yet she could not even taste it. It made her feel queasy. Eventually, she had to excuse herself and go to the bathroom because she was beginning to feel flushed as well.

After taking a moment to recollect herself, she came back only to find Alec talking to a woman she had never met before. Judging by the look on his face, he seemed to know her quite well. She eventually bid him farewell and left the restaurant with the man whom Lesly assumed to be her date. The smile on Alec’s face turned into a look of concern the second he saw her walking back to their table. She smiled at him to make him believe that everything was fine before seating herself, but he was still worried.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You look a little flushed,” he commented before he pressed the back of his hand to her cheek.

“It’s nothing. I just feel a bit hot. That’s all.”

Alec found her answer a little puzzling. The temperature was fine. In fact, it was more cold than warm.

“Are you not feeling well? We can leave if you want.”

“I’m fine Alec,” she replied emphatically. “Who is the woman you were just talking to?” She asked in an attempt to change the subject.

“Just someone I know,” he replied dismissively.

“An ex?”

“You can say that.”

“Really?” Lesly beamed with curiosity. “Tell me more.” She tried to look in the direction of the exit in hopes of getting one final look at the woman, but she was gone.

“There’s really nothing else to say here,” he answered uncomfortably.

“How long have you been together?”

He was hesitant to reply, but he ended up giving her an evasive answer, “Just a couple of months.”

“She’s really pretty.”

Alec simply cleared his throat in an obvious sign of discomfort but did not say anything. This pushed Lesly to ask, “So what happened there? Why did you two break up?”

He shrugged, “We wanted different things.”

“Like?”

“Things don’t work out, Lesly. It happens.”

She refused to let the matter go, “What did she want that you couldn’t offer her?”

He ran a hand through his hair nervously, “Are you sure you wanna hear this?”

“Yes.”

“She wanted a relationship. I didn’t.”

Lesly leaned back in her seat and stared at him. It finally became clear to her why he was reluctant to discuss his past relationships with her, especially this soon after they almost broke up. This brought back the anxious feeling she had been struggling with since the beginning of their night out, and she knew from the look in his eyes that he could see it, too.

“How many purely physical relationships like this one did you have in the past?” She finally asked.

He gave her an honest answer, “A couple.”

“When was the last time you were in a serious relationship?”

She was venturing into a territory that neither she nor he were comfortable talking about, yet she could not keep herself from inquiring about his past.

Worried that the answer might upset her, Alec tried to get her to drop the topic altogether. “Lesly, I don’t think…”

“Come on,” she interrupted calmly. There was a smile on her face, but he could tell that she was anxious. “I told you about Henry, and knowing you, I’m sure you did your background check on the few men who were a part of my life at some point. It’s only fair that you get to tell me a little about your past relationships.”

He sighed in defeat, “Fine, I’ve only been in one serious relationship years ago.”

“Just one?”

“Yes.”

“How long did it last?”

“Two years.”

“How serious was it?”

“We considered moving in together, but then we thought we should postpone it.”

“Why?”

“I was focused on earning a law degree, and she was focused on her journalism career. We thought living together would be too distracting.”

“How did you two meet?” She asked.

“I beat her to the editor’s position for the college’s newspaper. There was some brewing hostility there. We fought with each other every chance we got until somebody pointed out that there was a lot of…,” he cleared his throat and looked at her nervously before he carried on, “sexual tension there.”

Lesly was still leaning back in her seat with her third wine glass in hand. Alec waited for her to say something, but she didn’t. She simply stared at him intently with an expressionless face. Eventually, she smiled, causing Alec to smile back nervously.

“What is it?” He asked.

“I can see a pattern. That’s all,” she simply answered.

“What sort of pattern?”

She leaned forward and rested her arms on the table. With the same smile on her face, she explained, “You like opinionated women who argue with you.”

“I do not,” he denied defensively.

“Yes, you do, and let me say I’m glad to know I’m not driving you insane.”

He thought she would find the way he talked about his ex distressing, but she seemed fine with it. In fact, her smile seemed more genuine now.

“Sweetheart, you do drive me insane, but it’s not just because you’re opinionated.”

“Yeah, the suicidal tendencies. I get it,” she narrowed her eyes at him. “You had that covered on more than one occasion.”

He almost laughed at her not-so-subtle way of warning him not to bring the matter up for discussion. Still, he could not resist teasing her.

“Well, that too, but I gotta say that there’s more to not being able to think straight when I’m around you than the occasional impulsive behaviour.”

She eyed him suspiciously, “I get the feeling that we’re not on the same page.”

He smiled seductively at her, “And I get the feeling that you’re finally catching my drift.”

She calmly cast a subtle glance at their surroundings before she redirected her attention back at him. “You have no problem acting on whatever thought that is brewing in your head at the moment, do you?”

“Well, I’ve never had a problem with public displays of affection.”

“Except it’s not just affection that you have on your mind right now.”

She still kept her composure, but he could see traces of a blush on her face. This made his smile deepen. He leaned forward and spoke in that deep low voice that he knew she loved so much, “You know me too well.”

Lesly kept her gaze locked with his for a few seconds. Her expression was unreadable. Eventually, she smiled, “Not well enough. I still don’t know why you’re one serious relationship ended.”

Alec’s smile dropped. He sighed and leaned back in his seat. “You’re not gonna let this matter go, are you?”

“Not yet, no,” she answered innocently.

He said nothing, so she tried to encourage him to speak, “So why did two you breakup?”

He gave her a straight answer, “She was offered a job in another city. I was tied to Coaling and couldn’t leave. We tried the long-distance thing. It didn’t work out, so we decided to break up.”

She arched an eyebrow in interest, “And you’ve never been in a serious relationship since?”

“No.”

“But you have been in casual relationships with other women?”

“Yes.”

“It never backfired?”

“I told them from the get-go that I wasn’t looking for anything serious.”

“And you’ve never considered it?” she asked.

He was clearly uncomfortable, but he answered her question, “It became more complicated after the incident. I was dealing with a lot back then. Settling down was the last thing on my mind.”

“I see,” she responded before she took a sip of her drink.

Alec noticed that she was deep in thought, but he could not tell what she was thinking. In an effort to find out how much of what he revealed to her troubled her, he asked, “You’re not bothered by all this, are you?”

“No,” she smiled at him. “It’s nice to finally know a little more about you.”

Her answer made him feel a bit relieved, but that relief was short-lived. His phone began vibrating. Alec picked it up and read the message he just received with a frown.

“What is it?” Lesly asked.

“I called someone earlier about discussing a case,” he spoke while writing a reply to the text. “He just said he could only meet me tomorrow. It’s going to be a bit tricky since I’m already tied up.”

“Family dinner, right?”

He paused and looked at her in confusion. “Yeah, how did you know?”

“Your father told me,” Lesly answered straight away.

Alec was not sure that he heard her right, so he tried to confirm, “My old man?”

“Yes.”

“He called you?”

“Yes.”

“He called you himself?”

“Yes.”

“Why? What did he want?” He inquired with a hint of anger in his voice.

“He wanted to invite me.”

“He didn’t say anything to me.”

“He said you’d throw a fit if he talked to you about it.”

Alec rolled his eyes, “Good God!”

She could not help but giggle, “He told me you were going to arrive a bit late because that’s what you usually do, so he’s going to send a car over to pick me up.”

“And you agreed?!” He exclaimed in disbelief.

“Why would I say no?”

“It doesn’t bother you that he put you on the spot like that?” He asked angrily.

Lesly shook her head in confusion, “Nothing of the sort happened. He was actually very diplomatic about it and told me that I don’t have to think of it as a one-night trip. He could arrange for someone to drive me back whenever.”

“He asked you to spend the night at the lake house?!” He inquired once more in a tone that was getting more exasperated with every passing second.

“Well, it’s going to be a long drive,” She explained. “According to him, it would be better if I arrive early, get some rest, have dinner with the family, and then spend the night before having someone drive me back in the morning.”

“The hell is that old man thinking?!!”

At this point, it was clear that Alec was livid. Lesly did not quite understand why he was this angry, so she asked, “Isn’t this how those family meetings of yours usually go?”

“Yes, but I never stayed. I was usually the last person in and the first one out.”

“Why?”

“Because that old man is insufferable. The only reason I went to those family dinners of his was because I didn’t want to leave Emma alone.”

Lesly found his reply puzzling. “He was actually very sweet on the phone.”

“Well, you’re in for a real surprise. You think Michaela’s problem with boundaries is bad? Wait until you meet him.”

She totally did not expect him to be this angry about the invitation. In an attempt to calm him down, she covered his hand with hers and squeezed it, “You shouldn’t worry. I’m used to it.”

He took a deep breath to calm himself and began messaging his temples, “Are you sure you wanna do this?”

“Yes, Alec. It’s really not that big of a deal.”

He stared at her. She smiled and continued to caress his hand. He shut his eyes and took another deep breath, but the words he spoke next told her that he was far from letting go.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

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