The Brilliance Bomb Ch. 04byStory_Spinner©
The hotel was near the Interstate, near a getaway, but near enough also for officials to visit them once a day or more, in an emergency. Their rooms had the warm precision of business class: single beds, flowers, sofas, flat screens on the wall, and an adjoining door.
On the first night, the door would be closed, but unlocked. On the second, it would be opened. On the third, it would be shattered.
They drove through the night, descending into the hotel's six circles of parking hell just before 1am. Lyla had long been asleep, plummeting into unconsciousness, like a newly bathed baby, shortly after getting into the car. Michael had not minded. Less conversation. It was easier that way. Much, much easier.
He had driven for hours, and having killed the engine stretched his lithe arms and legs, hunting for blood clots. Apparently unharmed by the journey. Good. He turned to his passenger. Her warm breath caressed his face, and also made a curl of hair which had fallen across her plump, slightly pouting lips sway back and forth. He reached out a hand to move it, checked himself, and she awoke.
Lyla sat blinking in the harsh light of the silent lobby as Michael took care of their luggage and the business end of things. He stood at the desk, long after a boy had scurried off to a lift, with their things, reading a printed e-mail. He let the paper fall, then looked up at Lyla. Her face tightened.
"It's OK," he reassured her, "No news. Just an itinerary. Lets go to bed," he immediately corrected himself. "Lets go to sleep."
"When will we hear from the General?" she asked wearily, slumping against the mirrored interior of the lift as it purred higher and higher.
"We get briefed tomorrow, at 10 am. We'll be served breakfast, and all our meals, in our room. They don't want us out there. They don't want a... circus."
"When can we leave?"
"When we know."
Her eyes fell to the floor, and his did too. He could see her bottom lip trembling. For a moment, she looked like her 16-year-old self. Fighting the instincts inside that usually forbade such an action, he reached out his large, smooth and capable hand, took hers inside it, and enfolded it firmly.
The bell dinged, the doors opened, she sniffed and led the way purposefully out of the lift and turned left, walking some paces ahead of him.
"Um, Lyla?" Michael stopped, failing entirely to suppress a smile. "We're the other way."
She turned, frowned, and walked alongside him to their rooms. Michael tipped the bellboy, who quirked a brow at the specifics of the note he'd just earned, Lyla noted as she entered her room. Softly, Michael said "Goodnight. I'm right next door, if you... if you... need to talk?"
Damn idiot, he kicked himself inside. Bloody fool.
But she smiled at him, a terribly tired, adult smile, and she looked her true age, a serious, quite beautiful, strong but fracturing woman.
"Night, Michael. Thank you."
He closed her door softly, and slipped into his room. He fell onto his bed, shrugging off his shoes, slipping off his belt, but not bothering with anything else.
As he fell asleep he could see, illuminated by a chink of brilliant, artificial light from outside his hastily drawn drapes, that there was a door in the wall separating their rooms. Just before he fell, he wondered: is that real?
Lyla was exhausted, completely and utterly drained, but she was also restless. Thankfully she'd slept for the better half of the trip. She was trying to remain calm and collected, but inside she felt herself crumbling. If it wasn't for the fact that Michael was with her, his solidness keeping her steady, she'd hit the floor hours ago.
Michael...the warmth of his hands grasping hers, trying to bring her comfort, still lingered on her skin. Her skin tingled where he touched her, as it always had. It was unnerving and not at all what she needed to focus on at the present. So instead she stripped out of her clothes and sank into another a hot tub of water, doused with complimentary bubbles. She sank neck deep into the warm water and shut her eyes.
She couldn't even imagine what was going on with Matt. Where he was, if he was safe and what the situation was. In truth, it scared her to think of what had happened. She was both worried and also angry. She'd warned him, begged him to stay, but he'd been a stubborn mule of a man as per usual and left.
Drawing a deep breath she cracked her eyes open and tried not to think. To only feel the warmth of the water...the warmth of Michael's touch. She groaned and shook her head. It was no use. How was she supposed to deal with all of it? Despite her guilt, she felt another stab of contempt...if it hadn't been for Matt leaving, Michael wouldn't be here. Just a room away.
He'd offered to be there for her if she wanted to talk and at that moment, she was sorely tempted, but knew better. Talking led to tears or anger, perhaps other emotions she wasn't ready to face. Alone, with beds, secluded from prying eyes. No way.
With a resigned sigh, she changed for bed and slid under the cool sheets of her bed, squeezing her eyes tightly together. Surrounded by pillows and a heavy blanket, Lyla struggled to find sleep again, but eventually succumbed to the darkness.
A few short ours later, she was startled awake by a knock at her door. "Just a minute." She managed to call out, her voice husky from sleep. Fumbling for her robe, she tied it around her waist and moved to the door, peeking through the peep hole before opening the door.
Room service stood on the other side and the young woman smiled sweetly. "Good morning. I'm bringing in your breakfast."
Lyla stepped aside aside, mumbling a thank you. Before her eyes, the trays were uncovered with enough food for two. Fresh fruit, eggs and bacon, toast and juice and thank heavens, a huge carafe of coffee. She sighed softly. Regaining a little thought, she grabbed a tip from her purse and gave it to the young woman before she left, the regarded the meal, her stomach clenching. Obviously they'd sent breakfast for Michael as well.
After a quick trip to the bathroom, she came out with brushed hair and clean, fresh breath, her robe still synched tightly. She knew she was being silly, but never the less, it took several calming breaths and courage to gently tapped her knuckles against the adjoining door. "Michael?"
When there was no reply, she knocked again and cracked the door open. "Michael? Breakfast is here when you're ready for it."
He awoke in his brother's bedroom, lying on his bed. On the ceiling above, fluorescent stars that had once shone brilliantly in the dark formed yellowing daytime blobs. The walls spoke more to his brother's later childhood interests than the constellations on the ceiling: playmates, sports stars, trucks. With everyone out at the ball game - as always, the whole family had turned out to watch the rising star, save him, "studying hard" for college, he knew he had time.
His left hand slipped idly off the edge of the bed, sneaking under it, past old sneakers, unmentionable items that may once have been kleenex or gym socks, eventually alighting on a pile of glossy pages. The stash.
They'd begun the collection several years ago, each chipping in as various dog eared magazines came into their possession. Michael had his favorites, and on this occasion was pleased to produce, from the musty vault, a three-year old Hustler involving a particularly endearing pool room session.
Odd: he'd been wearing his jeans when he'd awoken: now they were gone, and his cock had sprung through the slit of his shorts, eager for his attention.
He turned to the first page of his favorite section, a tautly curved model bent over the table, the rising hem of her micro skirt and string of her panties failing, delightfully, to conceal her wet, bulging knot of lips, and he began gently to smooth the tight skin of his cock up and down the length of his long and rigid, sinewy dick.
And then he heard a creak on the floorboard outside the room, freezing in horror as the door opened.
Dressed, oddly, in the same micro skirt and white shirt knotted halfway up her midriff as the girl in the magazine, but not carrying a cue, she leans against the frame of the door. Lovely brown legs, the smooth kind you kiss lingeringly, savoring every centimeter as you make your way higher, past the knee, onto the thigh, then round to the inner thigh licking and sucking, teasing as you home in on the target, your other hand tracking up the back of her legs to the soft gauze of her panties, which your fingers slip under, feeling her buttocks tense and part as she sinks hard against the door frame, shifting her weight, touching her own pert teenage breasts and gasping when your lips brush against the wettened fabric.-
(I'm kneeling between her legs now, but how, why's she here and not at the game, and where the hell's my brother?)
- and suddenly you are 69ing on the hard floor, your tongue burying itself into her tight, bubblegum sweet hole and her burning mouth locked around the full girth of your cock, sucking hard enough to smart, and sliding up and down, and you can feel her beginning to spasm inside as your teenage fingers roughly, inexpertly, enthusiastically work their way up and down her hard as porcelain clit, groping with the other hand to find a tit spilling from her unknotted blouse, as you can feel yourself swelling bigger, and hear Lyla calling your name gently, gently -
(how can she speak with her mouth full of my desperate cock?)
- and you start to thrust, matching the grinding of her inexpertly clipped and scratchy mound as it crushes against your lips and you scream her name into her and you scream your brothers name as well as you hear your brother scream in agony and you wake up in an unknown bed, half-naked where you have kicked off your trousers and shorts in the night, your ridiculous erection on the verge of exploding and your sister in law standing in the doorway between your hotel rooms as you grab a handful of sheets and pull them over your body and over your head and you say oh my god oh my god and you wish you were nineteen again and this was all just a dream, oh what a dream.
Recovering himself, finally fully awake, and feeling the terror of embarrassment warm his face enough to glow beneath the sheets, Michael held his breath to see if she'd close the door or speak again.
In the darkness, he could see stars.
Michael didn't respond in words, but she heard the rustling of sheets and tried to peer through the darkness of his room as the door slowly opened. A beam of light slowly slid over the bed, highlighting the outline of his legs under the sheets. Her gaze slid from the foot of the bed to the lump he made under the covers until they locked on the pale bare skin of his chest.
"Hey...um...I hate to wake you." She started off slowly, forcing her eyes to shift higher until she focused on his face. A familiar quiver settled low in her belly and sent a shiver down her spine, instantly hardening her bare nipples under the fluffy gown she wore. Sleepy bedroom eyes, disheveled hair and stubble graced his face. For one agonizing moment, she wanted to feel the rough texture scrape against her sensitive skin. Against her neck or maybe the inside of her thigh.
Clearing her throat, she blinked and crossed her arms, pulling the robe more tightly about herself. "Breakfast was delivered to my room. Thought I'd let you know. Come over when you're um...ready."
Before she made a complete fool of herself, Lyla moved back, partially shutting the door and then moved to her suitcase. Wearing just a robe was no longer an option. While he got dressed, she decided a quick shower was in order. Cold food was better than making herself look like an idiot.
Shaking herself mentally, Lyla locked herself in the bathroom and slid under the hot spray of the shower. She made short work of washing herself down, scraping a razor out of habit under her arms and over her legs. There was something soothing about being completely clean and soft all over and Lyla let herself focus on each little task until she was finally dressed in a dark pair of fresh jeans and a crisp white bottom blouse. She let her hair hang damply, gently scrunching it before adding a tasteful amount of makeup, paying a little extra attention to her under eyes until she had the dark circles under control.
Feeling a bit more put together and ready to face Michael again, she stepped out, breathing a small sigh when she didn't see him yet. Her stomach grumbled, reminding her that she still needed to eat. Taking an extra moment to open up her blinds, she sat at the small rounded table by the window with her plate of food and poured herself a generous cup of coffee.
At 9:59, Michael rapped curtly at Lyla's door. Deep breath in, deep breath out, he told himself, virtually in quotation marks. You can do this.
The text he'd found on his phone after Lyla had awoken him - his stomach felt a cold hand rummage through its contents as he briefly re-imagined that non-delightful moment - had swiftly brought him back into character. Government adviser on the environment and future threats; brother in law; brother. He'd put on the dark suit in his travel bag, black shirt, no tie, the military spokesman's words bullet pointing his preparations: "disturbing news", "video demands", "prepare yourselves".
Prepare yourselves? How could he ever prepare Lyla for what she now had to see?
He'd decided not to, and so paced his room, munching on fingernails and energy bars from the mini-bar, until just moments before the full weight of the US Government arrived at their suite.
Michael was brave like that. As are we all.
The door swung open, and she'd barely had time to utter a friendly "Hey" accompanied with a bashful (bashful?) smile - he briefly wondered, noting a flush in her cheeks, what she'd been doing for the last 60 minutes or so, then shook his head to rid himself of a thought several floors below inappropriate.
"They're here," he said instead.
A knock at her outer door. Lyla crossed, looking back at Michael with a terrible, pensive frown. She opened it.
The next 10 minutes happened with military efficiency. Not one but two generals, and their right hand men. One of the generals was a woman. Clever touch, Michael noted. They announced Michael and Lyla should sit, so they did, at her table which was still strewn with half nibbled croissant and untackled grapefruit. They looked like a too young couple at their wedding night breakfast: awkward, and lost.
The facts were laid before them: the existence of a video demand for released hostages, that Matt was in the video and alive but apparently speaking "as if in a considerable degree of significant discomfort" - that was when the first tear fell from Lyla's left eye, breaking on the tightly clenched backs of her hands - and that everything, "and by that, we mean everything", by which they meant relatively little, of course, was being done to bring him home safely.
The demands were not financial. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. That I could have helped him with. Damn it Matt. I could have helped you there. They were for the release of prisoners. The kind the US does not release.
The deadline was 24 hours away from the time of the message's recording. Unfortunately...
The male General, Franks, stood here: "Unfortunately, this was more than a day ago. We are not certain why, but the demand did not reach us until almost 18 hours had passed. We're doing everything we can. We'll be in touch as soon as there is... news."
As they got up to leave - Lyla wording silent questions, shaking her head, shaking all over, Michael asked: "Do the networks have it?"
General Franks lips pursed tightly, a shake of regret to his head: "Unfortunately, yes."
The door closed behind them as they briskly left the suite.
They sat there in silence, still. Lyla even halted her sobs. Michael now understood that chilled to the bone was not just a poetic metaphor: he felt like ice, and could not quite control a shiver in his bottom jaw. He clenched his teeth and met her eyes.
Her eyes skittered away, alighted on the remote and TV.
"No, Lyla. Please."
She rolled across her bed to it, grabbed it, hit on and flipped through the channels. The fourth had a video capture of her dear husband's ashen face, bruised and broken, and a panel of experts discussing the various ways he was likely to have been executed by now.
And here, Michael did something truly brave. He did not take grandiose, immature action, such as wrenching the set from the wall or kicking it in. There was no grandstanding. Instead, he went back into his room, opened the well stocked minibar, chucked every bottle into his overnight bag, plus the foodstuffs, returned to Lyla's room - her face blue from the screen's brilliance, parsing information, leaking a tear to every soundbite - and he sat down beside her, at the edge of her bed. The mattress sank into a lurid grin at their combined weight, pressing their arms together. Michael could feel her shaking harder now.
He opened two bottles, gave her one, sank his without pausing to taste it, then took her empty hand in his. Her head settled on his shoulder.
And Michael shed his first tear. Many more would follow that day.