"Wanna pick up pizza after the meeting?" Paul said as Layla struggled with her seat belt, "That one place is open now. I don't know the name. Dante's or something?"
Layla huffed, the seat belt finally stretching over her to the buckle.
"Sure, yeah.." She nodded.
"If you don't want to just say so," Paul swerved to miss a pothole.
Layla sighed. She didn't want to entertain his mean side.
"I'm saying it's fine, Paul. You know I love pizza," Layla smiled.
Paul remained silent for the duration of the drive. He was so straight edge and stiff, but he hadn't been that way the entire time they were together. It had only been in the last few years that he was turning away from who he was at one time.
"So I'm going out with Gretchen this weekend,"Layla told him, "You didn't have plans did you?"
Paul shook his head, "Studying."
Of course, she thought. She knew he studied, but she knew he'd started attending frat parties and drinking more and hanging out with the sorority girls. It wouldn't have bothered her so much if Paul's attitude hadn't changed on a daily basis.
She'd confronted him about it one day and approached the subject of talking to someone, but he laughed and told her he didn't need a shrink and drugs weren't his thing–all while he was downing shots of tequila to "take the edge off."
"I don't know why we're even here. We're not farmers," He said, pulling into the parking lot of the city hall, "They can hold their own."
Layla glared at him. Once a warrior for the good cause, now a man with nothing to fight for.
"We're their allies, Paul. That's why we're here," She said, placing her hand on the door handle.
Paul grabbed her other arm and pulled her closer to him, "Don't forget who you belong to when we're in there. I know all those guys look at you."
She wiggled free, "What is wrong with you? Are you drunk?"
Layla glared at him until he got out of the car. Then there was that. The threats, the low key inappropriate touching, the breaking of random items throughout their apartment. She just figured he was stressed, but whenever she attempted to talk to him about it, he went into a rage.
Eventually, she'd have to leave him and that scared her, too. Paul was the first and only boyfriend she'd ever had.
"Wow," She said, stepping into the building and looking around, "I didn't think that many people would be here."
Paul nodded, "Nice turnout."
They made their way to a couple of empty seats as people filtered in. She knew a few of the farmers, but hesitated to wave because of Paul's presence.
She could feel his grip on her hand tighten, but she smiled, reassuring him that everything was all right.
Lucas stood in the back of the room and watched her. He already didn't like the punk ass sitting next to her. He'd seen this guy around and it shocked him that ole hippie chick was even involved with this ass hat. There was no way she knew what he was up to after hours.
He barely listened to the meeting after seeing them walk in. All he could do was picture Layla Potter back in his bedroom, tied up and ready to take his fat cock like a good girl. Damn he needed to get laid–and soon.
Meeting adjourned, Lucas made sure to watch them leave, Layla's body begging for attention. She didn't even notice when other men looked at her. She was a humble one.
"Well, I'm glad they're going against the condos," She sighed out her relief as Paul drove back to the pizza place, "I have to work tonight, but we can do brunch tomorrow before you go in? "
"No, I have to leave early to help with the research project for Professor Diggs," Paul told her.
He'd changed his major to law after almost three years of majoring in environmental engineering so Layla was going to graduate with her bachelor's in social work and a minor in psychology by the end of the year. She worked as a clerk in the psychology department at their school.
"Oh, well that's great! I'm glad he's taken a liking to you, " Layla said as they strolled into the restaurant.
"A liking?" Paul scoffed, his brown eyes blazing, "I'll be at the top of the class soon, Lay. He knows it."
Layla smiled. Paul had become ridiculously full of himself the last few years as well. Nothing added up with him anymore.
She sat down as Paul excused himself to use the restroom and caught the eye of Lucas Foster. He didn't even hide his gaze as he sat there chowing on a bread stick.
She waved, but he didn't reciprocate the gesture.
"Well, this is awkward," She thought, trying to look in every direction that wasn't his.
"Wanna share a pizza?" Paul asked as he sat down, his brown hair slicked back now as if he'd groomed while in the back, "The manager was saying their margherita pizza is good."
"Yeah and I need a tea," She stood up, "I'll be back."
She left Paul to order and headed to the restroom. Lucas had finally stopped staring at her and she was shocked to actually see him in public.
She thought she'd seen him at the meeting, but the crowd was thick and even though a 6'3 hunk of muscle would stand out, he didn't.
And then she ran right into the wall of steel.
"Oof!" Was all that escaped her as she collided with this behemoth. Before she was pushed into the floor, large, muscled arms wrapped themselves around her waist.
"Watch where you're going, hippie," He snarled, staring down at her.
She whipped her head up and pursed her lips, "Thanks… " Layla figured that was all and he'd let her go by, but he didn't. Lucas held her there for a moment, their bodies more than flush –they were practically on top of each other.
"C-can I go?" She whispered.
Lucas grinned and released his grip on her, stepping aside and waving her along.
Layla straightened up and, shakily, made her way back to the table.
"What took you so long?" Paul sneered.
"I,-" Layla started, knowing if there wasn't a good enough reason for her to be gone so long, she'd be in for trouble.
"She dropped this and was scouring the carpet for it," Lucas hovered over them, holding up an earring, "This it?"
Layla touched her ears and she had indeed lost an earring–no doubt when Lucas had plowed into her.
"Thank you," She said, taking the item. Their fingers brushed each other's softly and Lucas directed his attention to a nervous Paul.
"Don't I know you?" He asked him, smirking.
Paul wasn't from the area so Layla was curious.
"No," Paul stated, flatly.
Lucas leaned in, "I could have sworn you were at the titty club last week."
Layla's mouth dropped, "Where?"
"I was at my parent's house. I don't know what this beefcake is talking about," Paul said.
Lucas straightened up, "Nah, guess it wasn't you. You're a pipsqueak."
Layla frowned, "Thank you for finding my earring, "She said as Lucas took the queue.
She watched him walk away and could very well still feel his body against hers, smell his scent, see herself in his emerald eyes. As if he felt her watching him, Lucas turned to see her staring, crimson patches appearing on her cheeks as her embarrassment sizzled.
"What damage could a man like that do to me in bed?" She thought to herself, before snapping out of her daydream.
"Settle down, Layla," She meditated internally, "There's no room in your life for the crazy that is Lucas Foster."