“You said she was gay!” He hikes up his brows.
“Why do you automatically assume that it’s the hatred of a former paramour?”
Remember how you decided to be reasonable, listen like a good girl, and not to overreact? Fuck this plan.
“Because whatever porky you’re trying to sell me here, she’s definitely manifesting the behaviour of a crazy ex. She learnt what coffee I drink!” He’s smiling in disbelief.
“She brought me coffee the other day. With precisely the four creams and the six sugars I put in it.”
He shakes his head. “How is your central nervous system still functional, Wren?”
Oh, don’t give me that smart arse tude, Dr. Grumpy! You bet in his medschool years he lived on caffeine and whatever they crazy kids took those days.
“It’s the proportion perfected over years. The large coffee from the coffee shop in the Arts library, four creams, six sugars. Keeps you going for six and a half hours without any sleep during the previous night.”
“Exactly how often do you skip goodnight sleep, Miss Leary?” Is his voice lower, or you’re overtired? Probably the latter.
“I’m in the Yamataki project. I do not remember what sleep is.” He chuckles.
The server brings your soupe au pistou and his bouillabaisse. It smells amazing, but the food is not at the top of your list of priorities right now.
“So, to what do I owe Maya’s fatal attraction spazzing?” He smiles into his spoon. “What? She does look a lot like Glenn Close!”
“I believe you can feel pretty safe taking a bath, Miss Leary. But just to be on the safe side, do you own a pet rabbit?” One of his thick black eyebrows hikes up sardonically.
You both grin, and you’re surprised to notice the shift in the dynamics between you too. Where does this come from?
There’s a bowl of olives in the middle of the table. You reach for one with a fork, while he just shamelessly stretches his hand towards them. It seems you both are aiming for the same one. Common, it is so glossy and plump! You slightly jab his finger with the fork. He gives out a fake yelp.
“Goodness, you are a delinquent indeed!” You laugh.
“I am not good at sharing, Dr. Thorington.” He snatches the olive and pops it in his mouth.
“Neither am I, Miss Leary.” This time, his voice is definitely lower.
Two things. You don’t feel tongue-tied and uncomfortable any more. Let’s face it, he’s openly flirting. Second thing, he’s doing it to distract you from your previous conversation. Well, quid pro quo then. You delicately pick up a spoonful of your soup and slowly envelop your lips around the utensil. You slowly pull it out, and his eyes are predictably on your mouth.
“So, sex or money?” you purr. He blinks and looks at you questioningly. “You and Maya. What was it? And Thrandon, for that matter. Money? Or sex?” You suggestively cock a brow. He chuckles.
“I don’t like blondes, Miss Leary.” You are studying him. He sighs. “Both. And neither. We were close friends at uni, it got ugly. Now we’re just trying to bugger up each other in every possible way.” Why, for the life of you, him using even mild swearing turns you on? Your childhood psychopathologist would probably have a lot to say about it.
“And how exactly do I fit into this mess?”
“When your proposal was discussed, I was asked for my opinion on your moral profile. Since you were often seen in the company of my kin.” Oh no, the thought of Phil makes you grab your glass and hide behind it. “I claimed that it would be a conflict of interest for me to comment on it, since you were romantically involved with my nephew, but assured the committee that I hold you in the highest regard.” All this has been pronounced in the most even, business like tone. Like a Cyberman. He then picks up his glass as well and takes a sip. Oh shite. Not going there, not thinking in what regard he holds you now. “I suppose something in what and how I said told Maya that I care… cared about your well-being.”
Does he realize that this is the second time he stumbles over this phrase?
“I wasn’t… romantically involved with Phil at that time.” He looks at you, surprised.
“You were. You were staying at the mansion and came with him to the swamp trip.”
“No, I was not. Why would I then spend the night with you?..” Blood rushes to your cheeks, and you drop your eyes to your plate. The silence stretches.
“I’m sorry, I had a wrong impression.” His tone is bleak.
So… He thought you were Phil’s girlfriend, when you shagged in his tent. He thought you jumped him in the office being Phil’s girlfriend. He thought you were a slut.
You raise your hand and beckon your server. “I’ll have a glass of red wine, please.” Tomorrow you’ll be sick but this hangover will be so worth it. It’ll be a blessing. Never was a hangover more welcome in the history of humanity and felt better. It’ll be hard to obsess over Dr. Dark and Sexy despising you when you’re vomiting.
You finally look at him. He is looking back at you, his face unreadable. The blue eyes are dark, lips are pressed together in a harsh line. You take another sip. The glass is actually empty. You put it down with a thud.
“I started dating Phil after I received the Yamataki grant. After I said ‘no’ to your second offer. Not before.”
Something changes in his eyes, and he gets up. He throws some cash on the table and stretches his hand towards you. You give him yours, and he pulls you up. Then he strides out of the cafe, and into the lobby of the hotel. You’re running after him, his steps so much longer than yours. Sometimes it feels that you’re levitating a bit between the steps, since he’s dragging you after him so fast.
He rushes to the stairs going up to the floors of the hotel, and for a second you don’t understand. Then he pulls a magnetic key from his pocket, and it dawns on you.
He’s running up the stairs, and you are following.
For a second it seems that his hands are shaking. He can’t get the card into the slot, but then the door bursts open, and he pulls you in. The light goes up, the door closes behind you. He turns around and kisses you. He presses you into the door, and his hands cup your face. Something explodes in your head, and you push your fingers into his hair.
He tastes like red wine. He tastes better than anything in your life. He tastes like life itself. And every cell in your body rejoices. An almost painful shiver runs through your core, electrical current is coursing through your spine, and your hands are shaking for certain. He is forceful, demanding, and you yield, drop your head back, let him domineer.
He suddenly slows down, switching to tender kisses, and his thumbs are stroking your jaw. His hands are so large that when his long fingers slide on your nape, the thumbs are caressing your cheeks all the way up to the cheekbones.
He has a peculiar manner of kissing. He’s caressing your upper lip, while most men go for the bottom one. The corners of his lips are pressed in almost a smile, tender brushes of his tongue on your lips almost demure. You peek. His eyes are closed, fluffy black lashes, and little crinkles in the corners of his eyes.
Fuck you, Wren, you are so in love with him…