Emily read the same passage again. She'd found that the ability to concentrate had left her. Her mind kept playing back how Lucas leered at her and how her skin crawled by his touch. Usually, she would have been uspet by Tommy's need to take control of the situation, but this time, she was glad he'd been there. Lucas gave her the creeps and even hours later, the thought of him still worried her.
"Emily? Sweetheart, what's wrong?" Nikolas asked, covering her hand with his. She'd been distant most of the evening and he was concerned. Maybe the idea of their talking about sex scared her. He wanted to make her understand that if she wasn't ready, he'd be willing to wait, but how could tell her if she was afraid to listen.
"Did you say something?" she asked, closing her textbook as she looked at him. "You're not leaving, are you?"
"Not unless you want me to," he said. "Do you want me to?"
"No, of course not," she said, linking her fingers with his. She smiled as she looked at how intimately their fingers were locked. She'd wanted this...*him*...for so long. And, now, he was here. She couldn't let her worries about Lucas mess things up before they'd even gotten started.
"Well, what's wrong?" he asked. "Did the dinner with your mother go okay?"
"It was fine," she reassured him. "We had our discussion about the birds and bees, the pill, condoms, abstinence, STDs... You name it, Mom brought it up. It really wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. Maybe it had something to do with knowing that you weren't on the other side of the door and could be busted at any minute."
"Maybe so," he said. His fears lessened as she laughed and he knew that it was genuine. But still, he sensed that something more was bothering her, and he had to know what it was. "Emily, there's something else going on. Does it have to do with the talk about sex we're supposed to have? When I came over, I was determined that we'd discuss it and get it out of the way, but if you're uncomfortable, we don't have to talk about it. It's not like it's an issue anyway."
"Not now, it isn't, but maybe in the future," she said softly with longing in her voice. Nikolas smiled at her and she returned the gesture. "You're right about there being something bothering me. I had a run-in with Lucas today. It wasn't pretty."
"Lucas? Bobbie's son?" he asked. When she nodded, he said, "What do you mean by 'run-in'?"
"I mean, that he just appeared like he always seems to do and it frightened me. Tommy came along and made him leave me alone, but this time, I was really kind of scared of him."
"You've never told me this before," Nikolas said, shaken by the fear he saw in her eyes and heard in her voice. "Lucas bothers you? How long has this been going on?"
"He doesn't really *bother* me. It's just that he has a crush on me. I've tried to tell him in a nice way that I'm not interested, but he refuses to listen. He's been like this for a few years now. He backed off a little when I was seeing Tommy, but when we broke up, he came back on full force. He just refuses to understand that I don't feel the same way. I guess now I know how you felt when I had a crush on you," she said.
"Hey, now," he said, caressing her face. "I was flattered that you cared about me, and I valued our friendship. I'm just sorry that I didn't show just how much I valued it. If I had half a brain, I wouldn't have been so blind to your charms."
Emily smiled. "So, what you're telling me is that maybe I shouldn't be so harsh because in the future I may realize that I was dumb to have been so blind?"
Nikolas laughed. "Okay. Yeah, I was dumb. But, no, I'm not telling you to be less harsh with him. If he's coming on too strong and it's making you nervous...well, you have to follow your instincts. And, while you're following your instincts, Lucas and I will have a little talk"
"But, Nikolas, I don't want you to fight my battles for me. Let me deal with Lucas," she said.
"You just said that you were glad that Tommy was there for you, but you don't want me to do the same?" he asked, his feelings hurt as the green-eyed monster came and sat down beside him on the Quartermaine sofa.
"Don't," she said, shaking her head. "This isn't a competition between you and Tommy. Tommy was there at a specific moment in time when I was afraid and I was glad that he was there. But for you to go to Lucas, after the fact... Nikolas, in order for Lucas to get this loud and clear, he has to get it from me. Tommy has tried and I don't think your attempt would produce a different outcome. I think if I sit down and talk to him and explain things, he'll leave me alone."
"Well, I can see that you feel strongly about this. I won't press it, but if you need me, you can come to me. Lucas and I used to be close and I think he would listen to me. But, if you don't want me to interfere, I won't."
"I don't," she said, "but thanks all the same."
She released his hand and raised her hand to the back of his head. Her fingers brushed against the silkiness of his hair as she lowered his head to hers. No further words were necessary as they conversed in silence and allowed their lips, tongues and sighs of enjoyment speak for them.
"Hi, Maxie!" Lucas called as entered Kelly's Diner. The bell tinkled behind him as the door swung shut.
"Lucas," she smiled. She brushed a strand of white blonde hair behind her ear as she finished wiping the counter down. At the age of fifteen, she was the picture image of her mother, Felicia Scorpio-Jones. There were many boys who came into the diner which was now co-owned by Felicia to ogle Maxie, but she was oblivious. She only had eyes for one person and he now stood in front of her. "Hi."
"How's it going?" he asked, taking a seat at the counter. He smiled when she set a root beer in front of him. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," she said. She stole a glance behind her into kitchen. Her mother's partner, V Garcia, was in the back preparing a dinner and was too distracted to notice that Maxie had decided to take a short break. She leaned against the corner and began to play with the napkin which was neatly folded beside Lucas' hand. "So, what brings you by tonight?"
"I was thirsty," he shrugged. When she leaned away from him and averted his eyes, he reached for her hand. "I was teasing, Maxie. Actually, I came by to see you. Want to go to a movie sometime?"
"You want to go to a movie? With me?" she asked, her eyes wide in surprise.
"Yeah," he said, nodding after he took a sip of his root beer. "I think it would be fun, don't you?"
"Yeah. I'll just have to ask my mom, but I'm sure she'll say yes," she smiled.
Maxie looked away from Lucas' piercing blue eyes to glare at annoyed brown ones. "What, Greg?" she asked.
Gregory Garcia, V's nephew by marriage, glared back at Maxie and said, "I know I'm *only* the delivery person, but would you mind tearing yourself away for a moment to clarify this order?"
"Excuse me," she smiled at Lucas. She moved to the other end of the counter where Greg waited for her. She opened the white plastic bag he was referring to and frowned as she looked inside. "It's fine. Tommy always orders a pastrami sandwich with cole slaw. What's *your* problem?"
"My problem is that when I took the order there were *two* orders and not *one*! There's only ONE order in here, Maxine. That's the problem," he told her.
"I told you. Don't call me Maxine!" she said, snatching the order form from his hand. She stormed into the kitchen and Greg followed her, mumbling, "Maxine's your name and that's what I'm going to call ya."
Lucas placed his almost empty glass of root beer on the counter. "Perfect," he whispered as Maxie and Greg disappeared into the kitchen and the door swung shut behind them. If he had known it would be that easy, he wouldn't have bothered himself by asking her out. Oh well, he thought as he took out a small plastic bag, he could always cancel later.
He rose from his stool and opened the bag which had been left on the counter. He glanced around him to make sure that no one was paying attention to him. No one was and he busied himself with his special surprise for one Thomas Hardy, Junior.
"Are we done, yet?"
"Stop your complaining!" Dawn scolded Tommy. He groaned and rolled his eyes in reply. She kicked his foot underneath the table and said, "Pay attention. You might learn something!"
"I am paying attention," he said, rubbing his face. He had been paying close attention and he was tired. He hated talking about himself and writing about himself was even worse. Whoever came up with personal statements was a sadist, he decided, with no life.
"Hello??" she said, kicking him again.
Tommy rolled his eyes and remained silent. If she kicked him again, he'd have a special surprise for her. Dammit! She did it again! Just as she went for his leg a fourth time, he moved quickly and grabbed her ankle. His hand closed around the delicate flesh and his earlier decision to pull her from the chair was soon forgotten as his hand became captivated by the softness of her skin.
"Tommy..." she began as his thumb brushed the inside of her ankle with slight, gentle strokes.
"Hmm?" he murmured. His eyes sparkled with desire as both his hands held her ankle. One hand slid inside the pants' leg of her jeans. He heard her gasp as he lightly squeezed her supple, well-toned leg.
Just pull away, a distant voice was trying to tell her leg, but her leg didn't want to listen. What Tommy was doing felt too good to end so soon. She pressed her leg closer to him and a deep sigh escaped her when he pulled off her Keds and began to massage her foot. Her eyes closed, her head fell back against the chair and her hands clutched the seat as every nerve ending in her body tingled from Tommy's hands on her sock-covered foot.
Tommy's breath became ragged as he watched her. Her full lips parted slightly, and he had the strongest urge to flip the table over which separated them and kiss her like he'd done in so many of his dreams. But, he didn't move. Except to continue massaging her leg, ankle, foot and toes. Common sense told him that he should stop and put an end to the physical contact, but his hands weren't listening. They enjoyed touching her and they were determined that they would take the moment while it lasted.
The moment ended sooner than either of them wanted when a knock sounded on the outer doors of the gym. Tommy released her leg and stood. "Must be dinner," he mumbled before he left her in the office.
Dawn took the time alone to bring herself back to reality. She rose from her chair and went to the other side of the table. She kicked her shoe out and bent over to pick it up. Moving back around to the other side of the table, she untied the shoe and then stuck her foot inside. After she sat down, she tied the shoe. By the time Tommy returned, her breathing was back to normal.
"Dinner is served," he said, resting the plastic bag on the square card table. He pulled the styrofoam plates, plastic utensils and napkins. After the table was set, he went into the back and brought out their soft drinks, a Coke for him and a Diet Sprite for her.
"How much was it?" she asked, rising to get her purse.
"Don't worry about it. It's my treat for helping me, remember? Now, sit down and eat," he said. He grinned at her in the hopes that whatever happened between them earlier wouldn't be held against him. His libido got a little out of control, he knew, but he was determined that it would never happen again. Ever.
"Okay," she shrugged. She sat down and reached for a styrofoam plate. She raised the lid and she smiled at what she saw inside. "Yum!"
Tommy looked at her over the raised lid of his plate. He knew he didn't order what was in front of him. He always got pastrami, but judging from the way Dawn's eyes were devouring *his* pastrami sandwich, he'd let her have it. *This* time.