Riding the Red Ch. 07byvampwrrr©
Adrienne opened her eyes, realizing that she had been moving restlessly for a while, now. She sighed and sat up in bed. She ran her hands through her hair, and over her face. She knew that she wanted Lucas, but she wasn't sure of the wisdom of that decision. All she knew right now was that she was so frustrated that she could scream. It felt like her blood was racing in her veins, and cold trickles were dancing just under her skin. She had never felt like this before, this antsy and unsettled, and furthermore, she wasn't sure if she were offended by his actions last night, or upset that he didn't take things further. Adrienne pulled at her hair, exhaling sharply, and buried her face in her hands.
Then, brightening, she realized that she could always take matters into hand, so to speak. That should take off some of the edge. She lay back down, closed her eyes, and thought about Lucas. She thought about his mouth, about his eyes. She thought about how his muscles moved under his warm skin. Thought about the veins in his strong hands, and how they wended their way up his strong forearms. Thought about how it would feel to finally be kissed by him. About how he would hold her.
Would he be insistent, or gentle? Would he cover her with that delicious scent? Would he hold her or hold her down? She shivered, restlessly rubbing together her legs. She used her fingertips to slowly trace the planes of her face, imagining that her hands were his. She traced down to her collarbones, lightly grazing her fingers over her warm skin. She felt a sense of power remembering his face the previous night. He had wanted her. She sighed, sliding her hands down her ribs, over her hipbones, to caress her thighs. Her eyes were closed as she imagined the warmth of his breath on her face, the softness of that beautiful mouth on her skin, the thrill of his hands sliding over her body.
She wanted him on top of her, crushing her into the bed, surrounding her, covering her with his scent. Her fingers moved restlessly over her body, teasing, arousing, exciting. One hand slid slowly into her panties, and she bit back a whimpering sigh as her questing fingers found their goal...
Lucas ran steadily on the treadmill. His ribs worked like bellows as he pushed his way through his 10th mile. Eyes forward, breath even, mind focused, until something caused him to clumsily break stride. Overcompensating, moved to the other side, and almost flew off of the treadmill. Gripping the bars, he used his upper body to lever himself up and off of the infernal machine, too distracted to even turn it off properly.
His head whipped around as a sweet, unmistakable scent wafted past his face. He closed his eyes, his mouth open slightly as he scented the air. Groaning, he rubbed his hands down his whiskery cheeks. Was she trying to kill him? He began to pace. Suddenly, on the very edge of hearing, there was a soft, needy whimper. Lucas whined. He started toward the door, then took control of himself and forced himself back onto the treadmill. A few strides told him that that wasn't a good idea, either, as he had begun to pant, which only caused more of the elusive scent to surround his senses. Growling, he leapt off of the treadmill and turned it off. His pupils were fully dilated now, with only a sliver of gold around the black. Almost against his will, he slowly stalked from the room.
Her scent swirled around his head, and settled on his tongue. He could hear her rustling softly, and he imagined her tangled in the sheets, legs moving restlessly. He found himself in front of her room with no idea how he got there. He could hear her more clearly now, so quiet and soft. He could tell from the strengthening of her scent that she was close. He started into the room, but his arms snapped up, hands gripping onto the lintels of her doorway. Lucas was trembling from the effort of holding himself back, and as he heard her fall over the edge, he fell soundlessly to his knees, his head hanging. His breath was ragged as he knelt at her door, hands wrapped fast around her door lintels. He could hear himself rasping as he panted, every breath a torture. He lifted his head when heard her stirring as she came back down to earth...
Adrienne lay in a tangle of warm, soft sheets, moving restlessly as she came back to herself. She opened heavy-lidded eyes and smiled. All of the tension in the house for the past couple of days had made for an explosive experience. She sighed a satisfied sigh to herself, when she heard a slow scraping noise outside her door. She went to the bureau, found something to cover herself, and then edged cautiously to the door, and put her ear against it. Nothing. She opened the door and looked around, but all was quiet. She turned back into her room, closing the door and heading for the bathroom.
She didn't notice the 10 deep gouges biting in the wood of her door lintel, about three feet off of the ground.
Lucas sighed in relief as he smelled the pervasive aroma of jasmine bath bubbles being to cover Adrienne's fading scent. He slowly unfurled himself from where he had been sitting in the armchair in his room, and opened a window. He smiled grimly to himself. It was time to put an end to these childish games.
Adrienne sang softly to herself as she brushed her long hair over her shoulders. Finishing, she put down the brush and looked critically at herself in the mirror. Today, she had chosen black boot-cut jeans and a black velvet vest over an untucked white button-down shirt, with French cuffs. A red silk ascot nestled at her throat, and snaked between her breasts, providing some modesty as it disappeared into the low vee of the partially-unbuttoned shirt.
Nodding in approval, she lifted her hands to her hair to bind it up, but then slowly lowered them, changing her mind. She decided to leave it down. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she strode over to the door, and wrapped her hand around the knob. She paused, nervous. Then, rolling her eyes, she sighed and opened the door. She had nothing to fear. It's not like Lucas would be able to tell what she had done this morning.
Padding through the hallway, she noted that it was unusually quiet. As she passed Lucas' bedroom, she shivered, and then noticed that his door was moving slightly. Opening it cautiously, she saw that his window was open. She looked around, but didn't see him. She decided to leave when a sudden gust of wind blew swirling snow into the room, coating his bed, and dresser. Biting her lip, nervous, she crossed to the window and shut it, and then looked around. Still no Lucas. Shivering warily, she left his room, and made her way to the empty kitchen.
He's probably out shoveling snow, she thought to herself as she started breakfast. She decided to use the leftover beer bread to make French toast. While she made the batter in which she would dip the slices of bread, she decided to pair the toast with scrambled eggs and lox. She was just finishing up when she heard something scrabbling at the front door. Turning off the stove, she went to the door, but by the time she made it there, whatever it was gone. A loud bang from the kitchen told her that Lucas must be back, and she sighed in relief.
When she reached the kitchen however, the back door was open, but Lucas was nowhere in sight. Confused, and cautious, she looked down and noticed that the floor was wet. In fact, there was a wet trail leading back into the cottage. She walked over to the door, closed and locked it, and then turned around, pressing her back to the sturdy wood. She told herself that she was being silly, but...she had seen enough horror films to know where this was going. She quietly made her way over to the knife storage block and wrapped her hand around a sturdy boning knife. Resting the blade against her forearm, she silently followed the trail of water deeper into the cabin.
The trail led to Lucas' closed bedroom door. Adrienne cocked her head. Hadn't she left it open? She heard a snuffling sound, and then a chuff. Confused, she leaned closer, closing her eyes so that she could concentrate on listening. It sounded as if there was something very large rustling in his room. She wrapped her hand quietly around his doorknob and began to turn it, when it let out a protesting creak. Absolute silence reigned for a heart stopping second. She started to open the door when a large, soft weight was thrown up against it, slamming it shut.
Adrienne leapt back in shock as she heard wet, popping, tearing noises. Screwing up her courage, she called, "Lucas?" No answer. She raised her voice and the knife, calling loudly, "Lucas!" Nothing. Just as she was about to kick open the door and forget the consequences, she heard a low rumbling growl. It was so low, in fact, that it took her a few seconds to realize that it was Lucas talking.
"I'm not dressed," he growled. Adrienne stood on shaking legs and then collapsed against his door, sliding down to the floor, and laying her head against the smooth wood. Silently sighing in relief she asked, "Why didn't you respond when I first called you?"
"My throat is a little sore," he rasped, his voice sounding a bit more normal.
She nodded. "I'm sorry," she said. "I thought that you were...well, I don't know what I thought, but I was worried."
"You closed my window," he said, a note of irritation in his voice.
She stood up uncertainly. "Snow was blowing into your room. I figured that you wouldn't want your hardwood floors and furniture ruined, not to mention your laptop."
He was silent for a moment. Then, "Thank you".
She waited for a while, but that was seemingly the end of the conversation. "Well," she said, fidgeting, "Breakfast is ready. I'll make you some tea, for your throat."
"Fine," he said tersely. "I'm going to take a shower. I'll be right out."
Fifteen minutes later he sauntered into the kitchen, looking alert and somewhat dangerous. He was wearing form-hugging Wranglers, and a black plaid flannel shirt over a black tee, the shirtsleeves rolled halfway up his muscular forearms. He looked like a particularly menacing, albeit rather rangy lumberjack.
At that thought, Adrienne turned to hide a smile. She brought the food to the table and set it down in front of him as he sat, and then turned to cut on the water for the tea. Reaching above the refrigerator, she grabbed a bottle of dark maple syrup, and put it, and a pitcher of ice cold milk down on the table between them. He watched her silently as she filled his plate and glass, and then her own. Sitting down, she looked at him and said, "What?"
He gave her a long, measuring look and said laconically, "Nothing".
She toyed with her food. He sat there, his untouched.
"So...where were you?" she queried.
He blinked. "I was in the shed, chopping more wood for the fireplace."
"Oh," she said. "I didn't hear you."
"The door was closed. The snow probably muffled some of the sound, as well."
"Oh." She took a nervous sip of milk. "Are you going to eat?"
He gave her a slow, burning stare that made her cheeks flame. "I plan on it," he said softly.
Adrienne didn't know why, but her heart was dancing like a frantic moth in her chest. She felt like he was a stalking panther and she was a particularly interesting looking doe. Just when she thought that she couldn't stand it anymore, he moved, taking a bite of his French toast. After a moment, "This is good."
"Thank you," she softly responded.
He ate quickly, refilling his plate before she had even made it halfway through hers. She could feel his pointed attention, and it made her feel excited and apprehensive, and a little off-kilter. Just when she opened her mouth to break the silence, the tea kettle began to whistle. Smiling gratefully, she stood up to make him that cup of tea. She poured the steaming water over the dried peppermint leaves, and then swirled a thick, creamy spoonful of raw honey into the golden brew. When she turned to ask him if he had finished his breakfast, he was right behind her. She leaned back in alarm as he put his hands on either side of the counter, boxing her in between him and the cold, green granite. She swallowed hard as she looked up at him, staring thoughtfully down at her.
"I missed you in the exercise room this morning," he said, his voice low and husky.
Adrienne's body broke out in a cold sweat as she remembered just what had caused her to have to skip a morning workout. "I...over-overslept," she stuttered, her throat involuntarily swallowing in the middle of the lie.
"Mmm..." he rumbled. "Is that so?" He cocked his head to the side, his eyes roaming over her face. Then they dropped down her body, only to slowly saunter their way back up to her mouth. Finally, he flicked his eyes back up to hers and said, "You do look awfully well-rested."
Adrienne felt her heart tripping in her chest as she looked down at the floor. Then her head turned. Wait. What was she doing feeling guilty? He was the one who had started this. He was the one who had come into her room last night. Who had uncovered her. Who had seen her practically naked. She still remembered the burning in his eyes as they roved her moonlit body. Her head snapped up and she took a step toward him. He took a step back in surprise. "Yes, well," she said crisply, "I had trouble sleeping. I had the oddest dream. I dreamt that someone came into my room last night, and uncovered me while I was sleeping. Isn't that an unusual dream, Lucas? So, as you can imagine, I slept fitfully for the rest of the night."
His face stilled. She watched as he slowly swallowed, and then inclined his head. "Just so," he said, as if he were conceding to her point.
Her body ran hot, and then cold as victory swept over her. She handed him the mug of steaming tea. "Drink your tea, Lucas," she said imperiously. She began to sweep out of the room, but then turned back, and gestured toward the table. "Why don't you clean up in here?" she said loftily. As she left the room, she could have sworn that she heard a soft growl...
She made it back to her room, closed the door, and leaned against it, her heart beating like a hummingbird's wings. She wasn't entirely sure what just happened in the kitchen, but she was sure that, whatever it was, she had won. This time. She shivered. Why was Lucas acting so oddly? She absentmindedly touched her mouth with her fingertips as she remembered the way that he had stared at her, his arms penning her in against the counter top.
She walked over to her bed and sat. She would wait until he had cooled down a bit before she ventured back into the kitchen. After 20 minutes, or so, she cautiously opened her door and padded her way to the kitchen. Lucas was, again, nowhere to be found. Adrienne shrugged. At least he had cleaned the kitchen. She stood in the doorway, unsure of what to do to occupy her time when she heard him scraping the shovel along the ground outside. She hurried to the door and peered through the glass to see him shoveling snow. She tilted her head, confused. If he was just shoveling now, how had he made it to the shed earlier? She knew that the weather was odd, but this much snow just since breakfast just wasn't possible. And didn't he usually shovel before he showered? Curious. She chewed over these thoughts for a while, and then, no closer to figuring an answer, she put them in the back of her mind, to be examined later.
She knew that, since he was out there working, he would be hungry soon. Opening the refrigerator and staring inside, she decided to make yoghurt for the next day's breakfast, and lamb stew for dinner. In fact, she should also put down a starter, so that she could make proper bread tomorrow. She took out one of the cups of yogurt, and some milk. Reaching into the cabinet, she gathered powdered milk, white whole wheat flour, salt, and yeast. Carrying her bounty back to the table, she began to create.
First, she put on a large pot of water to boil. Then, she divided the yoghurt into three plastic jars, along with a fourth of a cup of powdered milk, and filled the jars the rest of the way with regular milk. She stirred the mixtures, capped the jars, and then placed them in a small cooler. While she was waiting for the water to boil, she put flour, yeast, a pinch of salt, and enough water in a large bowl to make sticky, soft dough. Then she covered it with a dishtowel, put it in the oven, and turned on the light. By then, the water was boiling, so she carefully poured it in the cooler, around the jars of milk, until they were almost submerged. She replaced the cooler lid, and put it out of the way. This time tomorrow, they would have fresh bread, and yoghurt.
Next he chopped onions, celery and carrots, and put them into a pan of hot olive oil to sauté. Then she took the lamb leftover from their first dinner, and chopped it, along with turnips, and a rutabaga. She shook her head while she was peeling the rutabaga, wishing that Lucas wasn't in such an odd temper. She rather liked having a sous-chef around the kitchen. She put the chopped vegetables in the slow-cooker, along with the pre-soaked white beans, a bay leaf, oregano, salt, lavender, pepper, dried fennel seeds, savory, and rosemary. Moving back to the stove, she de-glazed the pan with a little red wine, and scraped the mixture and rich brown fond into the stew.
That took care of dinner, but what about lunch? She knew that Lucas would be hungry soon enough and, to be truthful, was actually feeling a bit hungry herself, as she had only picked at her breakfast. More importantly, she wanted to keep him well fed and complacent. His attention had been entirely too pointed this morning. He had been like a predator, watching her every move, waiting for his moment to...she laughed ruefully. To eat her all up. "But I am not prey," she said softly.
She forced herself to stay very still. Calmly, she turned to look up at Lucas, who was a mere hand span away, looking bright-eyed and ruddy from the cold. "I didn't hear you come inside," she said softly.
He smiled a hungry wolf's smile. He casually brought a hand to her ear, tugging it gently. "Then you should have bigger ears, the better to hear me with, my dear." She shivered at his touch, and his smile widened. "So, Adrienne...what were you saying?"
She swallowed hard, and then straightened. "I said, 'I am not prey.'"
His smile didn't waver, though he did quirk a brow. "Indeed," he said, his tone perfectly neutral. He moved his hand to slowly push her hair behind her ear, and then he took a step away from her, his hand dropping gracefully to his side. He regarded her for a moment, his head tilted.
"Are you hungry?" she said, trying to keep her voice steady under the pressure of the full measure of his gaze.
"Yes." He stood silent, and she waited for him to continue. His voice was so soft that she had to strain to hear it. "But I can wait...a bit longer."
"What would you care to eat?"
His nostrils flared. "Something small."
"So, you are not very hungry, then?"
"I am...very hungry."
Adrienne sensed that they were having two entirely dissimilar, if simultaneous conversations. She looked him straight in the eye and said, "How about a caramelized onion and butternut squash galette?"
His mouth curled into a grin, as if he were secretly pleased about something. She saw his eyes twinkle, and, for a moment, it was like her old Lucas was back. Then, a shadow passed over his face, and he took a step back. "That sounds good," he said, his voice relatively pleasant. She turned to grab the flour, salt, and bowls, measure out the coconut oil, and put them all in the freezer. When she turned, he was still standing there.
At a loss, she said, "Well...since you can wait...I'll make it after I work out a bit. As you said, I missed my workout this morning, so...I guess...I had better...go...do that..." Her voice trailed.