Chapter 10: Comfort and Joy – part 5
The intense exchange with Myers left Addison flushed and lightheaded. Daniel steered her away from the prat and his far too attractive date. “You and Dr. Myers are getting along well,” Daniel commented.
An explanation rolled off Addison’s tongue. “For Jake.”
Daniel nodded, his hand massaging her side. Although she was loathe to admit it, his touch felt good. Addison shifted closer, blaming her reaction on the champagne and Myers’ hormones.
“I wasn’t aware that he was seeing Ms. Lindberg again,” Daniel said. “Were you?”
Again? Addison glanced over her shoulder. Thankfully Myers and Lindberg had already been swallowed by the well-dressed crowd. “No,” Addison replied, keeping her voice even. “Do you make it a point of keeping track of who is dating whom? I surely don’t.”
Daniel nodded at another Triptych sycophant before answering. “You’d be surprised at the things I know about.”
“Such as?” Daniel wouldn’t have dangled that tidbit if he didn’t want her to bite.
“I know…” His fingertips trailed up her spine. The light touch made her quiver. “…that you’ve been a bit lonely of late.”
Addison stiffened, indignant. At least he’d had the decency to keep his voice down. “That’s none of your business.”
Daniel gave her his charming-yet-sympathetic smile. “My door is always open for you.” He swiped two glasses of cognac from a passing waiter’s tray and handed one to her. “I thought you of all people would have a vested interest in who Myers is dating. For Jake’s sake.”
Addison scowled into the space ahead, making several of the partygoers flinch. “As long as he isn’t screwing the trollop in front of my son, I don’t give a damn.”
Daniel smirked, and Addison realized her mistake. She’d showed her hand. Five years after everything had gone pear-shaped, Myers still got under her skin. She’d added ammunition to Daniel’s arsenal.
Two glasses of cognac kept Addison from worrying about her misstep and when Myers had previously dated Lindberg. The music helped, too. She danced with a few men, including Daniel of course. He made a point of marking his territory with teasing caresses in full view of his audience. Although he never crossed the bounds of propriety, his well-placed touches left her tingly.
Between Daniel’s teasing games and the alcohol, Addison lost track of time. At 9:58 she found herself staring at the oversized analogue clock over the bar. Something nagged at her. S’not like I have a pressing engagement.
Addison was tempted to stand him up, but her curiosity and inebriation won out. With Daniel occupied on the dance floor with a nubile wannabe consort, Addison slipped into one of the darkened alcoves and teleported.
Cool, damp air replaced the perfumed dryness of the ballroom, and Addison’s heels sank into the arboretum’s mossy ground. She stumbled to a nearby stone bench, beneath a flowering tree whose name she couldn’t recall. Once seated she tilted her head back to take in the night sky–a true night sky, not the simulated crap inside–and wondered what the hell she was doing. If this were an elaborate joke of Myers’, she’d throttle the git.
Shane stood in the conifer section of the arboretum tossing the oath-keeping artifact from hand to hand. He’d always liked the smell of evergreen. It brought back memories of the few camping trips with Mom and Dad outside of Portland. I need to bring Jake here. Or put in a request for an overseas vacation with the boy. The Alps, maybe. There are conifers there, right?
The smooth stone surface of the alien device reminded Shane why he’d left the holiday party–and Ingrid–early. Harris. The thought was laced with desire, animosity, and affection. The latter was his second glass of cognac talking, clearly.
Shane tilted his wrist to check his watch again: 9:59. There was no need to push back his suit jacket and shirt sleeve. He’d had plenty of time to change into casual clothes–a snug-fitting short sleeved shirt and jeans. He didn’t want Security to wonder why he’d visited the arboretum dressed to the nines.
A flash of light halfway across the wooded garden caught Shane’s eye. Grinning, Shane jogged a few steps in that direction before he caught himself. Triptych had multiple Homo superiors under its thumb.
Shane stopped short, then reached mentally for the person who’d appeared. Judging from the crashing through the manicured underbrush, he or she had overdone it at the party. Shane grinned, hoping it was Harris. The knot of impatience, arousal, wariness, and intoxication his mind touched was all her.
Myers. She managed to be businesslike and purr simultaneously.
Shane strode toward her. Yes.
Get your tight little ass over here.
A heartbeat later Shane was face to face with Harris, still clad in her almost-dress. Shock from his abrupt arrival kept him from jumping her on the spot. She took a step back, blatantly ogling him. Then her eyes fixed on the artifact in his hand. “Where’d you get it?”
Shane was about to answer honestly, but thought better of it. “Does it matter?”
Addison’s eyes narrowed, then she shrugged. Shane stupidly watched her breasts jiggle. “I suppose not. How does it work?”
Shane gulped. This was his idea. It made sense for him to go first. Clutching the stone with both hands, he stared into Harris’ dilated eyes. “I promise to not harm you in any way when we meet for coitus.”
The artifact’s cold stung him, making him wince. Shane felt a pang of concern from Harris, which was immediately followed by an eye roll. “‘Coitus.’ How romantic.”
Shane took a step closer. “I want to fuck you, not woo you,” he growled, then offered the cobblestone to the ingrate.
She reached for it, then pulled back and shook her head. “Not good enough.”
Shane gaped. “What?!”
Harris crossed her arms and looked down her nose at him. “I want a bit of respect. As I recall, the last time I let you fuck me, you were an ungrateful wanker who chose to treat me like your personal whore.” Her eyes flashed with anger. “I want your word that it won’t happen again.” She closed the distance between them, lowering her voice. “And then I want an apology.”
Fury consumed Shane. He threw himself at Harris intending to give her what she so plainly wanted, but his body wouldn’t cooperate. Instead he stood rooted to the spot, unable to move his arms and legs. Grinding his teeth, he tried to tell her verbally and telepathically exactly how much of a conniving whore she was. No words came out, and his shields kept his vitriol in his mind. I won’t apologize! You took advantage! he ranted to himself. You want me to respect you when you’re willingly Gibson’s pet psychic and fuckbunny? Get a fucking backbone and walk away. You should be with me!
Shane’s last thought was so unexpected that his anger fell away. Panting from emotion and ardor, he stared at the woman enjoying his turmoil. “Well then,” she smirked. “Thank you for the demonstration. Your gadget works.” She extended one lithe, dark arm and gestured for the artifact.
Unsurprised that he could move again, Shane placed the stone in her hand. “I won’t apologize,” he said wearily. “You took advantage. I was asleep and completely vulnerable.” He nodded at the artifact. “Make the same promise I did and neither of us will take advantage or misinterpret… gestures.” The admission was the closest thing she’d get to an apology. Judging from the way Harris’ grin became slightly less smug, she understood that.
Shane leaned closer, letting his body react to her. Harris took a step back. “I respect you as Jake’s mother, a colleague, a damn powerful psychic, and the best lover I’ve had.” He stepped forward. She retreated, keeping her eyes on his. “I don’t respect your… relationship with Gibson. But that’s not my concern.”
The dance continued until she’d backed into a tall tree with fern-like leaves. I can’t hurt you now, and I don’t want to. They both hissed when his cock jutted against her stomach. I want to be inside you and outside and feel your mind. Harris’ scent and heat and want must have been making him delirious because he glanced down at the artifact between their bodies and said, Please.