Haunted Prey Ch. 06bypurefire©
Alauria looked down at herself as she struggled to calm her breathing. She was nervous, and wasn't sure if she was doing the right thing. After receiving a call from Dr. Monroe that she was, in fact a match for her sister, Alauria knew that she had to meet her. It wasn't enough knowing that she was saving the life of someone who shared her blood; she had to see the face of the young woman. The picture that Lindsay had given her of her sister touched her, called out to her. Other than the fact that their skin tones were shades apart, they had the same face. What other similarities did they share? How did she feel about their father?
She probably loved the man. Daniel did, after all, stick around to raise and love her. Brittania didn't have to deal with feelings of insecurity and abandonment. She never had to think about what she did wrong to push her father away. Most importantly, she never had to lay awake at night and listen to her mother's sobs of despair because the man she loved didn't return her feelings anymore. As much as she wanted to dislike the teenager for her simpler life, Alauria only felt protective of her. Brittania was sick, and she needed support, not a half crazed sister hell bent on revenge.
Alauria smoothed her hands over clothes and took a deep breath before she knocked on the hospital room door. She didn't wait for an invitation and simply walked into the room. Brittania, who looked miserable confined to her hospital bed, shifted her attention from the television to her visitor. Both women stared at each other for a moment, each unsure of what to do or say. Alauria closed the door behind her and leaned against it. She wasn't sure if Brittania wanted her to come closer or even if she knew about her. Upsetting the sick young woman would not be beneficial to everyone. "Hi."
Brittania looked at the woman standing in front of her, and had she the energy, she would have hugged her. "Daddy didn't think you'd come to see me."
Alauria blinked back her surprise as she looked at her sister. "You know about me?"
"All my life."
Alauria didn't know what to say to that. She could have raged and thrown a fit, knowing that the teenager in front of her wasn't to blame. That wasn't exactly her style, and based on the way her sister blushed and barely made eye contact, this moment was just as awkward for her. "I would say that I wonder why it took him so long to find a reason for us to meet..."
"You still hate him."
The disappointed look in her sister's eyes made her stomp the urge to reveal how she really felt about their father. "What I feel for him isn't the issue right now. I came here because I wanted to know the young woman I'm helping."
Brittania nodded in agreement but for the life of her could think of nothing to say. For years, she'd imagined this moment in her mind, the moment when she would meet her accomplished pianist sister. The sister who knew nothing about her. The sister who hated their father for what he did to her mother. "I like to write stories."
Brittania felt her face flush and stared down at her clasped hands as she said, "It usually depends on my mood, really. The story I'm working on right now is about a girl trying to fit in."
"Fit into what?"
"Anything that looks like it'll fit."
Alauria took a small step forward in her interest. "So she's all alone in the world?"
"She has her family, and while there is lots of love, there isn't much understanding."
That told Alauria everything she needed to know. "Sometimes it just feels like the people you love don't understand you because they're trying so hard to make sure that they do."
"Is that why you refused to talk to Daddy until he cornered you?" Brittania felt her face flame dangerously at the incredulous look on her sister's face. "I'm sorry, that's none of my-"
"I'm sure you know what happened to make me dislike him. He never tried to understand. He gave up on us, and now he has to deal with the consequences."
"Do you love him?"
"This visit is supposed to be about us, remember?"
Brittania nodded slowly, thoroughly chastised. "I don't know what to say to you."
"At least we're on the same page when it comes to something." Alauria found herself looking around the small hospital room. The dozens of daisies that lined the table surfaces and window ledges told her what her sister's favorite flower was. Had Brittania not told her that she liked to write, Alauria would have figured it out; there was a small stack of notebooks by the bed, and on top of them was a sheet of paper that looked like notes for whatever she was working on. Other than that, there wasn't much else for her to figure out on her own. Brittania seemed shy, but that simply could have been because of the awkward situation they were in.
"We had a brother."
Brittania nodded as she said, "He was a year younger than me. Christopher Haedyn."
Alauria said nothing to trend of their rhyming middle names as she was too taken in by the look of hurt in Brittania's eyes. "What happened to him?"
"Cranial bleed-out, the doctors said." Brittania shrugged as she fought back the tears that threatened to fall. "All I know is that is was trying some trick on his skateboard and he hit his head."
"How old was he?"
"This happened last year?" Alauria watched in horror as Brittania nodded. Her family had been through way too much in the past year. No wonder their father came looking for her. "I'm sorry." The two women remained silent for a long moment as there wasn't much else to say. Alauria took another step forward and placed her hand on the footboard of the hospital bed. It was the most comfort she could supply considering the circumstances. Had she known about her siblings, she would have been there for them, would have held her sister's hand while she grieved for their brother. As it was, Alauria didn't know her brother and she mourned his loss. "Christopher Haedyn. Brittania Raedyn." At least their father found one way to link his children together.
Hearing her name on her sister's lips forced Alauria to take a step back. "I should get going. I hope everything works out for you."
Brittania sat up at the abrupt exit. "Are you coming back?"
"I don't... I'm not sure..." Alauria took a breath to calm her racing thoughts. "Do you want me to come back?" At Brittania's nod, she dipped her head in compliance. "I'll come back then." Alauria didn't wait for her sister to respond; she simply walked out of the room and tried to calm her racing heart. She liked her sister. Despite the awkwardness and the hesitation, she really liked the young woman confined to the hospital bed. That wasn't something she was sure she could deal with. And that only added to the confusion Alauria felt about her family.
* * * * *
Alauria wasn't quite sure if she'd made the right decision when she agreed to another date. Based on her short and complicated history with Lindsay, she was doomed to be angry and humiliated once more. At least she'd be humiliated in the confines of her apartment; he'd informed her that he would pick her up this time. Good; this way, if he pulled his favorite trick again, she wouldn't have to answer the door.
She'd decided against straightening her curls this time. Alauria told herself that she'd be less disappointed if she didn't work so hard to impress him. She wore only the barest essentials of makeup; foundation to even out her complexion, eyeliner to emphasize her dark eyes, and mascara to give her an alert look. Tinted lip gloss completed the cosmetics and helped to emphasize the simple green halter dress she chose to wear. It wasn't until it was too late to change that she'd realized that the dress was the exact color of his eyes. Knowing Lindsay, he'd arrogantly assume that she'd chosen the dress specifically because of his eyes. Ass. Maybe if he wasn't such a jerk, she might let him go on believing that.
Alauria sat down on her couch in an effort to calm her racing heart. She shouldn't have been so nervous; she'd mentally prepared herself for any conceivable outcome down to what she would say in each situation. But it was easy to think of things to say when a person assumed that things would go exactly as they planned. Life was unpredictable. Confused and possibly emotionally stunted men, even more so. Who was to say that the unpredictable man wouldn't throw her for an even bigger loop than he already had? Based on her life this month, the scenario was quite possible.
For a moment, she wondered how her sister was faring. Alauria shook her head at the realization that she'd never get used to the title. She had a little sister. A sick little sister who was stuck in the hospital for a few more days. Did her mother know? She had to; it was the only reason for her constant pressure to talk to Daniel. Alauria made a mental note to call her in the morning. With everything that had been going on, there hadn't been much time to talk to the meddling woman. And of course she made no moves to contact her; Daniel probably kept her updated on what was going on. Yes, she would definitely have to talk to the woman in the morning.
The sound of the doorbell made her jump. From surprise or excitement that he actually showed up, Alauria wasn't sure. She took a deep breath, grabbed her purse and shawl, and headed down the stairs to meet her date. Before she opened the door, she told herself that she would be fine and took another breath.
Lindsay felt his breath catch in this throat at the sight of her. Perfection wasn't an adequate description for her; she was better than perfect. That dress... Compared to other dresses of the same style, the green satin covering Alauria's skin was modest and at the same time, entirely too enticing. The beauty mark on her shoulder made his cock harden. The condition only worsened when the sweet scent of pineapples wafted over him. "Hi."
Alauria found herself blushing at the hot look Lindsay gave her. She should have been used to that particular stare, but there was something new in his eyes, something soft and welcoming that threw her off. She liked it. She also liked his choice of attire for the evening; he opted for a black suit. With it, he wore a black shirt and a simple blue tie to add color. Lindsay slicked his hair back and the small change of hairstyle only emphasized those mesmerizing eyes of his. "Hello." She smiled at the small pot of orchids he handed her and gently placed them on the staircase leading to her apartment. "Thank you. I'll put them upstairs when I get back."
Lindsay nodded and felt his cock throb uncomfortably when she leaned over to place the flowers on the highest step she could reach. It took all of the self control in his body to keep from reaching for her and taker her right there on the stairs. He placed his hands in his pockets and took a step back to give her room to step outside. "You look good."
Alauria found herself smiling at the overly masculine compliment. "You look good too."
He only nodded in answer. The walk to his car was silent, primarily because he wasn't sure of what to say. He considered trying to make her laugh, but decided against it when he remembered that he didn't have a humorous bone in his body. Sure, he found things funny, but he couldn't tell a joke to save his life. His brother Draco would have been a godsend. No... She'd probably find him a better conversationalist than him. He really didn't want to have to go through the process of explaining Draco's death to Alexis. It was best if he remained silent.
Alauria felt her eyes go wide at the sight of the fire engine red Pagani Zonda C12 F parked near her building. The only reason she knew the particular model and make of the car was because one of her students was a car buff. In her mind, a car was a car. Expensive cars were potentially death traps as they rode low, went way too fast and had virtually no room in the cabin. "This is your car?" she asked as he approached it.
"One of them." Lindsay opened the passenger door for her and helped her settle herself in before moving to the driver's side. He heard her repeat his words as a question and smiled at the inflections in her voice. "I also have a truck and a Ferrari at my brothers' house." He said nothing more as he entered the car.
She only nodded slowly in response. She shouldn't have been surprised by his wealth, but it was difficult considering the things he'd shown her thus far. "Do I get to ask where we're going or should I be prepared to be surprised?"
Lindsay smiled at the question as he started the car. "We're going to the bay."
He only shook his head as he began the short drive to the bay. He remembered to adhere to the speed limits set by the town, though it killed him to go slowly. Lindsay stole glances at Alauria while he drove, and found himself smiling at the absent way she tapped her fingers against her thighs. She was obviously going over a piece in her head. He liked that she was too comfortable to be on guard. "You don't get motion sickness, do you?"
That was an odd question to ask. Alauria shook her head slowly and countered with a question of her own. "We're not going to be putting my life in danger, are we?"
Lindsay gripped the wheel tightly at the question. He hadn't yet dealt with Raife and that only put her life in even more danger as time went on.
"I'll keep you safe."
Alauria nodded and focused her attention on the docks. He said he was taking her to the bay and he wasn't lying. There was only one boat docked and the longer she looked at it, the more she realized that it wasn't a boat. It was a yacht. A beautifully lit yacht that looked as if it cost more than a private mansion. She looked over at Lindsay as he parked the car and felt her eyes widen at his pleased smile. "Yours?"
"My brother's." Because he was the only one who lived near a body of water large enough to hold the yacht, Rufus, the ever-rebellious brother left his precious boat with him. Lindsay was allowed to use the vessel, but never had because of a lack of opportunity. Until now. "Nice, isn't it?"
Nice? The thing looked better than most mansions she saw on television. Alauria only nodded but found the action useless as he'd already cut off the engine and exited the car. Within seconds, he was assisting her out and leading her toward the yacht. "This is where we're having our date?"
"Yes." He did not take offense strictly because of the wonder in her voice. She was simply impressed; Alauria was flattered that he deemed her important enough to board his brother's yacht. He took hold of her hand and tightened his grip when she instinctively jerked back. He'd shocked her again. "Come on."
Alauria followed quietly as he led her to the yacht. Icicle lights gave the outdoor deck a romantic glow that was only emphasized by the gentle breeze. As they approached, she saw the small table adorned with dinnerware and a bottle of wine already placed on ice. There were more orchids on the deck as well and the sweet scent of them made her close her eyes in pleasure. "You like orchids?" She gasped in surprise when he swept her up in his arms. He smelled like pine and rain; a deadly combination. She inhaled deeply as he quickly walked through the semi hazardous socks to get to the yacht. "You didn't have to carry me."
"The planks aren't evenly spaced and since you're in heels, that isn't good." Lindsay effortlessly boarded the boat before setting her down. "They remind me of you."
Alauria frowned at the statement. "Excuse me?"
"The orchids. They remind me of you."
She almost laughed at the breezy way he complimented her. "Sure." She followed him to the table and watched as he poured them both glasses of rich, red wine. As she accepted her glass, she asked, "What do we toast to?"
The innocent sparkle in her eyes made his lips quirk up in a smile. "To an interesting evening."
"To an interesting evening," she repeated with a smile. After clinking glasses, Alauria took a sip of the heady wine and closed her eyes at the mouthwatering taste. Good Lord, the man didn't settle for anything below average. She took another sip and opened her eyes. He hadn't moved an inch, not even to sample the wine. "Aren't you going to have any?"
Lindsay's answer was to set his glass down before stepping forward to possess her mouth with his. He slanted his lips over hers slowly and licked her sweet lips to get a taste of the wine. He wanted more. He pulled her to him and coaxed her mouth open with his tongue, invading the intoxicating cavern as he swept his tongue inside to sample her sweetness. Her low moans and whimpers made him pull her closer and he was sure that she felt his obvious arousal against her lower stomach. Alauria's hand slowly began to drop and he took hold of her wine glass before she spilled any. He didn't stop kissing her; he couldn't when her arousing tongue mimicked his movements. Lindsay used his free hand to hold a fistful of her hair and the soft tresses only made him take more from her; it wasn't long before she was clinging to him for support.
It was when Alauria felt herself slipping into whatever spell he was casting on her that she pulled her mouth from his. "We should stop."
The almost panicked look in her eyes brought him to his senses. Lindsay placed one small kiss on her lips before murmuring, "You're right. Desert should come after dinner." Her wide-eyed expression made him smile. "Are you ready to eat?" Lindsay didn't wait for her to answer; he pulled Alauria to the table and sat her down before going to kitchen to retrieve their dinner. As he returned to the table, he smiled at her calm and adorable expression. "I made us my best dish."
Alauria found herself laughing loudly when the plate of macaroni and cheese was placed in front of her. "You're best dish, huh?"
Lindsay smiled at her amused expression as he sat down. It was nice to be free and easy with someone, even though he knew that he most likely had her in danger. He couldn't help himself; he couldn't seem to stay away from her. "It's about the only thing I can cook." He didn't need to learn how to make anything else; his dietary needs didn't require daily sustenance and as he tended to stick to what he liked, he chose to only eat the easy-to-make meal.
"I'm sure it'll be great." Alauria picked up a fork and took a bite. It was regular macaroni and cheese but because he'd taken the time to prepare it for them, she liked it better that five-star cuisine. "The best I've ever had."
"What every man likes to hear. "He felt his smile deepen at the small flush of her skin.
"What dirty things are you thinking about?"
"Nothing," she said too quickly. Another bite of food was the only diversion she could think of, so Alauria took a large bite of her meal. "This is really good."
Lindsay didn't say anything, but he knew she'd be saying the exact same thing he got his hands on her. "I'm glad you like it."
Alauria nodded slowly before taking a sip of wine. "So you take piano lessons, cook a mean mac-and-cheese, and like to brag about your brothers. What else do you like to do?"
"Are you finished with your dinner?"
"Sure." Alauria stared at Lindsay curiously as she said, "You barely touched your food."
"Same to you. But I'd like to answer your question before you forget you asked."
"Forget I asked what?"
Lindsay laughed as he stood and walked to a small control panel built into the wall. With the push of a button, Chopin's Prelude in E minor softly accented the atmosphere he'd created. He walked to her slowly and held his hand out to her. "Dance with me."
"This is what else you like to do?"
He said nothing; only smiled at her slowly. He sighed when she placed her smaller hand in his and made quick work of pulling her into his arms. He had to improvise as he never considered himself a dancer, but the fact that she didn't seem to mind eased any anxiety he might have had. Lindsay felt himself sighing again when Alauria placed her hand on his shoulder. The ease in which she melted into him arms created a surge of pleasure that touched the corners of his soul.