Chapter 7: Deliverance – part 17
Shane stretched, savoring the skin-on-skin contact with his lover. My lover. Although he and Ingrid had been sleeping together for weeks, the phrase still prompted pride and a twinge of doubt. Shane tried to squash the latter, but it was too late. He ducked into his alien side before he could ruin the mood. Ingrid was dozing, so she wouldn’t–
“Hey,” she murmured. Shane tilted his head to meet Ingrid’s gray eyes. Her blond hair spilled on to his shoulder, which pillowed her head. “Come back here.” Her smile made the void shudder, then collapse. “That’s better.”
Shane smiled back. Ingrid didn’t have a psionic bone in her body, yet she could tell when he embraced his emotionless half. “How do you know?”
Ingrid’s fingertips danced up his arm, raising goosebumps. “I can see it in your eyes.”
“But you weren’t looking at me before.”
“Your breathing changes, too.”
Shane hugged her closer. Smart, fearless, and sexy, he mused. Amazing.
“So what was it?” Ingrid prompted.
She propped her head up on one arm and met Shane’s eyes. “What’s bothering you?”
Shane tensed, but didn’t argue. Although he broke eye contact, he felt Ingrid’s gaze boring into him. After a full minute of staring he gave in. “It doesn’t make sense.” Shane reluctantly turned back to Ingrid, who frowned a question. “That you’re here. With me. That you care more than… you have to.”
Ingrid rested her head on his chest, twining one of her legs with his. “‘Cause you’re an ugly duckling.”
Shane flinched. “Thanks,” he retorted, pouring every bit of an 18 year-old’s sarcasm into the word.
Ingrid laughed. With so much of them touching Shane felt her affection. “It’s a compliment, silly. The minute you walked into my classroom I knew you were something special.”
Shane’s pride swelled. “You just wanted to get me into your bed.”
Smiling, Ingrid shook her head. “No, honey, that came later. You were a skinny little thing when you first got here.”
“Not anymore,” Shane drawled, using muscles he’d worked damn hard to build to lift Ingrid on top of him. The soft firmness of her breasts and belly rallied his hormones, but his body wasn’t ready to follow through yet.
Ingrid shifted to one side, running one hand over his toned arm and chest. “Mmm,” she agreed. “Your body is as beautiful as your mind.”
Shane gazed at the gorgeous, intelligent woman he still couldn’t believe was with him. Some of the time, he admitted. He knew and despised that Ingrid had other lovers, but knew better than to protest. Instead he smoothed her hair and kissed her. I love you.
Ingrid froze, then rolled off of him. “Shane, I told you. No psionics.”
Shane scowled in reply. He wouldn’t apologize. His telepathy, limited as it was, was part of him. He didn’t care that she couldn’t reply. Speaking that way was intimate, a sign of trust. Why couldn’t she understand that?
Ingrid’s expression softened. She shifted closer, so their bodies touched again. “I love you, too, Shane, but–”
“–not romantically.” He tried to keep the pout out of his voice, but failed.
She smiled sympathetically. “Right. I told you that sex would probably confuse things for you.”
“It is, but you can’t see it yet.” Empathy conveyed Ingrid’s sincerity and affection, which reined in Shane’s temper. They were sleeping together. They loved each other. How was that not romantic love?
“Please, Shane,” Ingrid murmured. “You wanted me to be honest with you. Can we just enjoy this?” Her hand slid down his chest and stomach.
Although his hormones rallied, warning bells rang in Shane’s head. Honest. She’s not honest. She’s sleeping around. He’d seen her with Gibson! But she hates Gibson.
“Why?” Shane demanded. His voice sounded weird. Underwater. He tried to sit up, but Ingrid had him pinned. He pushed back, but she was impossibly strong. “Why?! I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Ingrid sneered down at him, her voice oddly sympathetic. “I’m sure you didn’t, honey.”
Ingrid’s voice echoed in his ears and mind, jolting him awake. Shane blinked up at fluorescent lights, his mind racing. He ached and still couldn’t sit up and the air smelled antiseptic–
“Shane, calm down, please.” A hand clasped his.
Ingrid. Incredulous, Shane turned his head toward the voice. Ingrid stood beside his bed, smiling down at him. Despite the faint lines around her eyes and mouth, she was as beautiful as when he’d last seen her. Her green dress, although modest, flattered her shapely figure. “Iceland,” he blurted.
“Close,” she chuckled. “Try ‘Ingrid.’ Also, ‘Hello. It’s good to see you.'”
Shane laughed, then realized that nylon restraints bound his wrists and ankles to the bed. He craned his neck enough to see that he and Ingrid were almost alone in the infirmary. Two armed guards stood on opposite sides of the room. Shane slumped back, trying to keep his frustration in check. Focusing on Ingrid helped. “Hello, Ingrid. It’s good to see you.”
Ingrid squeezed his hand. “It’s good to see you too, Shane.” She glanced at the restraints. “Mostly. How are you feeling?”
Shane scowled. Ingrid showing up after six years was too good to be true. “Gibson put you up to this.”
Ingrid pursed her lips. “He asked if I’d see you. He said you were having a tough time.” Thanks to their physical contact he felt her honesty.
“Having a tough time,” he repeated. “Thanks to him screwing–” Shane cut himself off with a growl. “Where’s my son?”
“Safe. With his nanny. That’s all I know.” Ingrid had tensed, but she was still telling the truth.
Shane nodded as he reached mentally for his son. Jacob was well. Without the aid of his crystal Shane couldn’t tell more, but that was enough for now.
A bemused grin brightened Ingrid’s face. “My Shane’s a father.”
Despite the awkwardness of the situation, Shane grinned back. “Yeah. Weird, huh?”
Ingrid laughed softly. “Yeah.” She nodded at the wrist restraints. “You’re not going to flip out on me?”
Like when Addison attacked me and Joon? Shane shook off the memory. He had to play by Gibson’s rules–for now, anyway–to get his son back. “I won’t.” Ingrid unfastened the wrist straps, but left the ankle ones on. Shane sat up, freed his ankles, then rubbed his wrists. “I want to see my son.”
Ingrid bit her lip. “That’s not my call. Dr. Frasier said that you could as soon as she’s sure that you’re feeling better.”
“Better,” Shane sniffed. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed, wincing from the bruises Harris had inflicted. He fished in his pocket for his prism, but came up empty. Outrage made Shane see red for an instant before he wrestled it under control. “Gibson has my prism?” he managed, staring at the floor.
The bastard had chosen his messenger well. Despite Ingrid’s long absence from his life thanks to her fourth husband, Shane couldn’t get mad at her. “Fucker,” he grumbled. He looked up at Ingrid, who seemed wary but sympathetic. “What does he want?”
Ingrid pulled an envelope from her purse. “Whatever’s in here.”
She offered it to Shane, but he shook his head. “I can’t read that now.” He scowled at the envelope, then turned back to Ingrid. “Read it for me? Give me the broad strokes.”
Ingrid nodded. Silence stretched as she skimmed the few sheets of legal-sized paper. Finally she said, “They’re custody terms. You and Ad–” Shane scowled. Ingrid continued, “Jacob’s mother will have joint custody due to Jacob’s ‘unique qualities.'”
“Fan-fucking-tastic,” Shane muttered. “Anything else?” Ingrid shook her head, then pulled him into a hug. At first Shane resisted, but the contact was welcome, and not just on a physical level. He said into her hair, “When do you go back to Iceland?”
“Not for a few days.” They pulled apart, and she met his eyes. “I’m with Gregor.”
Shane nodded. The fact that he didn’t want to jump Ingrid after several chaste weeks said a lot about his state of mind.
Ingrid put on a bright smile. “So, drinks? They’re on me.”
Shane smiled half-heartedly. “In a little while. I need to beat the crap out of something in the gym first.”