Authors: Crystal Kaswell
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult, #Coming of Age
"I missed you so much."
Luke's face lights up when I step into the restaurant. God, I missed him too. I missed those big, pretty eyes of his, the way he looks at me like I'm his morning cup of tea, that caffeine that he so desperately needs.
It's been barely any time at all. Five days. One week of shooting on location, far, far away from Los Angeles.
He wraps his arms around me, his lips hovering over my ears. My body hums from the proximity again. It's as good as the first time he touched me. It's still electric.
"I missed you too," I say. And I bury myself deeper in his chest, inhaling him. He smells good, he always does. Like soap and Luke and my shampoo. The obscenely girly honey-scented shampoo I buy at Lush.
He brushes his cheek against mine. My whole body feels light, like I'm floating. It really does feel like it's been an eternity since I've been in his arms, since I've felt his skin against mine.
There's no way it was only five days.
"How did you bribe Laurie into releasing you early?" he asks.
"I'm the star. I get to make all kinds of ridiculous demands."
"I'll use that to my advantage."
I inhale him again, letting the feeling of being back in Luke's arms soak over me. How was this only five days? It felt like an eternity.
"You're using my shampoo," I say.
"And your conditioner." He squeezes me tighter then pulls back to look at me. His eyes are so bright, so full of life. "It smells like you."
"Barely, I only wash my hair once a week."
"It's close enough." He offers his hand, his palm flat like he's Prince Charming asking me to dance. I brush my fingers against his palm, a properly coquettish response.
"I promised her a sleepover," I say.
"She's a little old for that."
"But she's incredibly abusive of her power. Reminds me of someone I know."
"I do no such thing," he says.
"Then why is your assistant always booking my appointments?" I ask.
He sighs dreamily. "Remind me about this assistant again. Am I really so important that I have my very own assistant?"
Luke used to work with my ex, Ryan. They were partners in a tiny two-man law firm. About six months ago Luke sold his half of the practice to Ryan. He wanted to cut any ties with him forever.
Now Luke works independently. He's a divorce lawyer and he adores his job. He's always going on and on about the virtues of dissolving toxic marriages.
I bite my lip. "You certainly didn't forget how to gloat in the last few days."
He squeezes my hand and points me to the staircase. "Miss Summers, I'd love to stand here talking shit about your boss all night, but our reservation is for seven."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, and I'd hate to be late to my anniversary dinner. It would be dreadfully embarrassing."
"So it would," I say.
His leans down and brushes his lips against mine. His lips are so soft and sweet, like always, and kissing him feels like home.
I follow Luke upstairs. He tried to convince me we should celebrate our anniversary at the restaurant where we shared our first meal, but I wouldn't hear it. Ryan still works across the street, and I don't want to ruin a year of bliss by running into my bitter ex-boyfriend.
Instead, we're at a secluded restaurant on the other side of the marina. It's close to the water, close enough that we should have a gorgeous view of the sunset. But it's quiet, unusually quiet.
When I get to the top floor, I see why. There's space for a hundred people, but no one is here. Light streams through the windows, bouncing off the clean hardwood floors. There's only one table set up, one table just for us.
My jaw drops. It's perfect. Luke knew I was dreading potential interruptions. Between
taking off and my last film winning an Independent Spirit Award, I'm recognizable. Every few days someone stops me to offer a compliment or, if I'm really lucky, a criticism of the show.
But not tonight.
Tonight it's only us.
Luke smiles ear to ear. "I promised you'd like it."
"I never doubted you."
The light from the windows falls over him. He looks so sharp in his black suit and royal blue tie, his dark hair falling in soft waves. He has to wear a suit for work, but he doesn't usually go all out.
"Stop objectifying me," he says with a grin.
"But you look so good."
His eyes pass over my body. "You're not so bad yourself." He leans closer, his fingers on my upper back, his breath on my ear. "You know that's my favorite dress."
"Oh, this old thing?" I ask with put-on coyness. It's a very sexy dress--smooth blue silk that clings to my curves. Especially my chest.
"God damn, Alyssa. You are going to pay for wearing that."
"I'm looking forward to it."
He pulls my chair out for me and sits across from me. There's a candle in the middle of the table and it glows with a soft light.
"I can't believe it's been a year," he says
"It's been the best year of my life."
"But we... took a break," I say.
"No. We got some space. And space is a normal, healthy thing for two people to have."
"Is that right?" I ask.
"Yes." He offers his hand, and I take it. "Even though I hate it."
"You have a business to run," I say.
"But it would be so much more fun to quit and spend my life traveling the world with you."
"You'd get bored."
"Never," he says. "I could never get bored of you."
"You love your job."
"Yes, but I love you more."
I feel my cheeks flush. I know it must be true--we've been together for a year. A year ago, I dumped Ryan's sorry ass to be with Luke. We've been through a lot, like Luke's awful ex trying to manipulate him into a relationship, but it's been amazing.
I was never a romantic person. I'm still not, not really. But, being with him, I finally understand. I understand pop songs, greeting cards, proposals written in the sky.
Being with Luke is everything. He's so sweet. He's an insufferable tease. He's needy and obsessive and incredibly immature, but I wouldn't change him for anything.
"What are you thinking, Ally?" He looks at me with those big, brown eyes of his. They're so damn earnest.
I shake my head. "It's nothing."
"It looked like something."
"Just that I love you," I say. "That's all."
His face lights up with the purest joy. God, that was it. The first time I saw his face light up like that, I was hooked.
"In your dreams."
He shakes his head. "No, my dreams of you are never that tame."
"Mr. Lawrence," I say, "this is a family restaurant."
"So it is."
"But I wouldn't necessarily ask you to stop."
"Would you ever ask me to stop?"
I bite my lip. We've been so busy--I've had early calls times and he's been home late--that we've barely touched each other in the last two weeks.
Tonight can't come soon enough.
"We'll see," I say.
"Believe me, Ally, you're going to be in agony tonight. In the most delightful agony. You're going to beg me to do anything to release you from that agony."
Dinner is an amazing, three-course affair--a fresh salad with plump tomatoes, seared sea bass with braised kale and roasted yams, and a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries.
The sun sets, until the only light is from the stars outside and the candle flickering between us. I tell Luke about all the irrelevant details of my trip--the oppressive sunshine in Arizona, getting dragged to townie bars by the other cast members, Laurie scolding the director of the week for getting too invested in his shots.
After dinner, Luke insists on driving. "It's a surprise," he says. He takes me to the bookstore, the place where we had our first real date or something like it. Just like the first time, we walk around the aisles, our fingers lingering on the crisp paper. We find a corner upstairs in the nonfiction section, and we steal a long, deep kiss. It's been so long, and there's so much need pouring from both of us. His hands brush against my thighs, all the way to the edges of my dress, and I moan into his mouth. "Not here," I say.
"Of course not here," he says. He nods to the movie theater across the street. "Not when I have a chance to repeat one of my favorite--"
"We're not going to luck into an empty theater tonight."
"Miss Summers. What do you take me for--some kind of pervert?"
"What do you have planned?"
He just smiles, squeezes my hand, and leads me to the theater.
Inside, the theater is the same as it was before--fluorescent and almost empty. That's not a huge surprise--there's a new, cool movie theater across the street. One that serves dinner and drinks and has couches that beg you to push the limits of decency laws.
Of course, I don't need any extra motivation. My body has been flooding with want since I first felt my arms around him. He was right. This is already agony. It's going to be such delicious agony.
We buy tickets to a film that started five minutes ago. The usher assures us that the trailers are still rolling, that the theater is nearly empty. He looks at us like he knows what we have planned. Are we really that obvious?
I whisper in Luke's ear. "Are you sure this is wise? What if someone recognizes me?"
"Whatever you want, Ally," he says. "We can watch the film." But his hand slides over my waist until his fingers are pressed against my bare back. Jesus. My skin tingles with an electric current. There's no way I can sit through a two-hour movie before having his hands on me.
He brings his mouth to my ear, his breath hot and heavy. "But I am dying to make you come."
I must have a stupid look on my face, because he's grinning ear to ear. It's that confident look of his, the one that says
I know how much you want me. I know how good I am at filling you with desperate, achy need. And I'm going to do it. Then I'm going to release you in a torrent of ecstasy, but not until you're begging and pleading.
"We could always go home. Traffic has cleared by now," he says, but there's no doubt in his voice. He knows we aren't going anywhere. He knows I need him now.
I shake my head. "No, I liked that other plan."
He presses his lips into my neck. I already feel it--the rush of want between my legs. "Good, because I've been daydreaming about it all week."
His lips are on my neck again, a harder kiss. We're in the middle of the lobby. The surly teenager at the concession stand is staring at us, but I don't care. I close my eyes and lean into his kiss.
He takes my hand and leads me into the empty theater. It's dark, but I can just make out a few people in the back middle rows. The very back corner is empty. Is it the same corner, the same theater where we...
"It is," he says. "But I don't want you thinking about that day when you scream my name. I want you so filled with pleasure that you're practically incoherent."
I nod. "That can be arranged."
His hands skim my waist as he follows me into the row. I sit next to the wall. It's the farthest corner of the theater. If anyone looked, they would be sure we were doing something...
Just like last time.
My heart pounds in my chest. Someone might see us, but I don't care. I almost want someone to see us, to see how damn good he is at delivering on his promises.
Luke lifts the armrest and presses his lips into mine. It's soft at first, and he moves slowly. His fingertips circle my knees and slide up my thighs, inching closer and closer to the edge of my dress. His kiss intensifies as his hand slides under my dress.