“Dara, c’mon,” Alex coaxed as he lay watching her hurriedly dress.
“No,” she said, tucking her blouse into her skirt. She looked around on the floor for more of her belongings. Her stockings were on the floor and she picked them up. Deciding not to bother with putting them back on, she stuffed them into her purse instead. She found one shoe and slipped her foot into it. She then limped around in search of the other one.
Watching her limp around brought a twinkle to Alex’s eyes and an amused smile on his face. Due to his prone position on the sofa, he saw her missing shoe underneath the coffee table. He debated with himself as to whether or not he should tell her. He decided not to, and instead, he reached out and picked it up.
“Have you seen my shoe?” she asked, exasperated. She was angry, upset and a little embarrassed. She wanted to get out there as soon as possible and leave Alex with his soulful brown eyes and amazing body.
“Do you mean this shoe?” he asked, his eyes shined with mischief. He held the shoe up but didn’t offer it to her.
“You know I do. Give it to me. Please,” she said, forcing her eyes to remain locked on his and not stray to gaze on his smooth, hard chest…firm hard thighs… Stop it, Dara, she thought as she mentally shook herself.
“Come and get it,” he said softly. He saw her perusal of him and he found himself becoming excited. Again.
“I don’t have time for games, Alex,” she quietly replied. Her eyes pleaded with him to understand the depth of her words. He did.
“Neither do I.” He paused for a moment and continued, “If I have something you want, all you have to do is take it. I can’t give it to you. You have to want it…and come and get it.”
He held her shoe out to her. Not too far away from him, but a little closer to her. Tentatively, she reached for it, but he didn’t let go. His fingers closed over hers. The touch of his fingers caused her to tingle all over. Alex was affected by their touch, too. He felt an electric current pass through him, but he didn’t move. All the while, their eyes remained glued to each other.
“You feel it, too. You can’t just run away from it,” he replied, his voice husky with emotion.
“Sex-“ she began.
“This is more than sex, and you know it,” he interrupted. “I care about you, Dara. Tonight happened a little too fast-“
“Tonight happened way too fast,” she interrupted.
"-but running away like a child won't solve anything," he continued. "You said you don't want to play games. Prove it."
"What do you want me to do?" she asked, her grip on the shoe loosened a little, but she didn't remove her hand. She was pleased by the sensation of his hand on hers and she didn't want to let go.
Alex reached out for her other hand and when she gave it to him, he released the breath he had been holding. He said, "Don't leave. Let's talk so we can figure out what's going on here."
Dara allowed his words to sink in. What they shared tonight had been unexpected and surprisingly amazing. She knew he was right. She felt something with him that she hadn't felt in a long time, if ever. She made up her mind.
"On one condition," she offered, a sly smile hinting at the corner of her lips.
"What's the condition?" he asked with a slight frown.
"That you put some clothes on," she sighed, as her eyes freely roamed over his naked body.
"Well, if you insist," Alex laughed. He relinquished his hold on the shoe. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, released it, and stood. Knowing that her eyes were on him, he slowly strutted out of the room.
Have mercy, Dara thought, as she watched his backside disappear around the corner.
"Okay, open up."
"What is it?" Dawn asked, her nose wrinkled as she frowned at Nikolas and his offering. She and Nikolas were sitting upstairs on the bed she had slept in a few nights ago. They had found a pair of Stefan's black silk pajamas in the closet. Dawn wore the top, while Nikolas wore the bottom.
"Why do you always ask that? It's food. You said you were hungry so I'm feeding you. Open up," he repeated, his eyes dancing.
"Uh-uh," she said, shaking her head.
"So basically what you're telling me is, you had me forage through the kitchen because you were hungry, but now you have no intention of eating what I brought you," he said, miraculously maintaining a straight face.
"Basically," she replied nodding her head. She was hungry after their glorious lovemaking which began before the fireplace and later extended to the upstairs bedroom, but she wasn’t that hungry.
"You know what this means, don't you?" he calmly asked, placing the food back onto the plate. He then placed the plate on the nightstand and turned back to face her again.
"Yeah," she nodded. "You're going back downstairs."
She laughed as he shook his head.
"What does it mean?" she asked, her eyes shining with humor.
"Another visit from the Tickle Monster," he laughed as he reached for her.
She squealed and tried to get away, but he was too quick for her. He grabbed her and began to tickle her unmercifully. She screamed with laughter and Nikolas laughed as well.
They soon became excited by their close proximity and the laughter died down as they began to kiss. The kiss was passionate and when it ended, they were breathless.
"I love you."
The three little words slipped out and time stood still. Their arms were still wrapped around each other and their eyes didn't waver from the other.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anyth-"
"Ssh," Dawn whispered. She gently cupped his face and lightly ran her thumb across his full lips. "Don't apologize. Please, don’t apologize."
"I didn't want to scare you," he said softly.
"You didn’t scare me. You made it easier for me."
"You made it easier for me to tell you that I love you, too," she answered. "I was hesitant about saying it because I thought that it may be too soon."
"I thought that, too. When I called you, I had wanted to talk to you about…us…but when I saw you…" he said, allowing the sentence to drift because he knew she understood.
"So did I. When you put your arms around me on the dock, I couldn't think of anything else," she said with a shy smile.
"Funny. The same thing happens to me, every time you put your arms around me," he said before he lowered his lips to hers. Nikolas placed his hand in her braids as she angled her head to deepen the kiss.
Dawn reluctantly pulled hers lips from his and rested her head against his chest. She listened to his heartbeat as his breathed slowed. She pressed herself against him as he pulled her closer. She said, "We'd better head back."
Nikolas sighed, "Yes," as he rested his chin on her head. He didn't want this night to end, but he knew she was right. There was no way either of them could justify spending the night together now. He promised himself that one night very soon, they would. He'd hold her close as she slept in his arms. He'd felt it once. He intended to feel it again.
"I wish we could stay here tonight. Together," she said softly, as moved out of his arms to look at him. Smiling, she lightly ran a finger across his brow. She found that she was compelled to touch him as much as possible. She couldn’t help herself.
Nikolas took her hand and laced their hands together. Rising from the bed, he pulled her with him and he said, "So do I. Soon. I promise."
She squeeze his hand and said, "Shower time."
"While you're in there, I'll do something with this food that you so adamantly dismissed," he said with a smile.
"I was thinking that maybe you'd like to join me," she offered shyly.
Nikolas blushed at her offer and laughed at himself. They'd just made love and told each other how they felt. He had no reason to be embarrassed. The blush faded as he said, "I thought you'd never ask."
Dawn laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck as he swung her into his arms and headed for the bathroom.