Chapter 11: The Parent Trap – part 7
Addison teleported from Shane’s office to her living room. She collapsed into the armchair, overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. She couldn’t go back to her children in this state. She took care of them; it wasn’t meant to be the other way around.
After taking a few deep, calming breaths she reached mentally for Ashlynn and Jake. Keep dinner warm, loves. Shane said he’ll be there in 20 minutes. I need a few more m’self.
Her children were bundles of nerves themselves. Are you okay, Mom? Jake asked.
You don’t feel okay, Ashlynn nudged. None of her teenage petulance colored the thought.
Addison poured false confidence into her reply. I’m fine. Won’t be much longer. Before her facade slipped she shielded herself and was left alone in the solitude of her mind. Alone except for the nagging awareness of Shane thanks to the bloody bands.
Thinking about Shane was the last thing she wanted to do. I wish I’d never met you, he’d said after she’d completely lost it in his office. You make me lose control, and that’s the last thing I should do around you. But I’m stuck with you because of Jake.
Thinking about Shane hurt.
It shouldn’t have. No one except her children got close enough to hurt her. Triptych had taught Addison to build walls, and the walls had served her well. Emotions led to screwups and screwups could be fatal. The fiasco with Shane when Jacob was a baby was a shining example.
Yet somehow Shane had gotten past her walls. He was familiar, comfortable. Their relationship was predictable and safe after a fashion. The venom, the lust, the love of their son; it had become something she relied on.
I’m stuck with you because of Jake.
Addison didn’t realize she was crying until her vision blurred. She batted her tears away, chastising herself for falling into a trap that she’d sworn to avoid. She didn’t hate Shane, but she wished that she could. It would be so much easier.
On impulse Addison teleported to the pool. A swim would set her right. Wiping the last of her tears from her cheeks, she strode to the pool deck. “Pool’s closed,” she announced, putting an empathic push behind the words. The lifeguard and nine swimmers stared at her for a moment before scampering to the locker rooms.
After stripping off her clothes, Addison dove into the warm water. Worries sloughed away. There was just the movement of the water and her body gliding through it. She was strong. In control.
I wish I’d never met you. You–
The unbidden memory pushed its way through the calm she’d created. Frustrated at her inability to shake it off, Addison surfaced and climbed out of the pool. She sensed for Shane and was unsurprised to find him still in his office. That was as good of a place as any to end this nonsense. Before she lost her nerve she teleported.
Shane didn’t move after Addison left his office. He flailed for his alien side, but with his and Addison’s tumultuous emotions it was hopelessly out of reach. Desperate to end the torture, he clawed at the copper bracelet with his other hand. Tissue tore and blood flowed, but the damned thing held fast.
One good thing came from Shane’s panic: pain. Physical pain he understood. Focusing on that, he dove into the cold serenity his absentee father had gifted him.
Even that wasn’t right. He felt Addison reacting to his pain, which prompted guilt that further threatened the void. Shane healed his self-inflicted wounds before she could further throw him off balance.
Work, Shane told himself. Do some work. You’re falling behind. He sat at his computer, pulled up test results, and stared at the screen.
Jake and Lynn are waiting for you, part of him nagged.
Screw them! The void trembled from his own turmoil and Addison’s recollection of his words.
The letters and figures on the screen refused to resolve into anything meaningful. Instead he felt warm water engulf his body. It and Addison’s emotions filled the void, drowning him.
Shane stopped struggling. He was tired of fighting. Still within the storm, he waited for it to end.
What he got instead was a wet, naked, distraught Addison. She threw herself on him, pressing her mouth against his. Say it again. Tell me that you wish you’d never met me. Tell me that you meant it and I’ll never touch you again.
Shane wrapped his arms around her. “Addison,” he moaned into her mouth.
Say it, you sodding bastard!
The situation grew more confusing as desire surged and tears flowed. “No,” Shane whispered. He hugged her closer because he couldn’t let her go. That was wrong. You’re right.
Addison slumped against him. With so much of them touching he felt the tension drain out of her body while her emotions continued to whirl, as did his. They’d admitted their weakness for each other, yet neither had taken advantage. What the hell were they supposed to do now?
She kissed her way up his neck to his mouth. Shane returned the kiss eagerly. Her taste and feel were simple, familiar, and comforting. Then Addison broke away with a shiver. I think I should put on some clothes.
Shane chuckled nervously, telekinetically retrieving his lab coat from the hook on the back of his office door. After it settled on Addison’s shoulders she stood and shrugged into it. A goofy smile spread across his face as he took in the sight of her. His lover and mother of his son stood dripping wet in a lab coat three sizes too big for her. The ridiculousness of it did nothing to dampen his arousal.
While Addison pulled the white cotton cloth around her, Shane wrestled his hormones under control. Ironically, the tired contentment he felt from Addison helped. He was still confused and unsure, but felt no need for his emotionless alien side.
When Addison’s shivers had stopped Shane sat on the couch, indicating for her to do the same. We should get back to Lynn and Jake, she thought.
Shane didn’t reply immediately. Addison’s mental touch had felt different; easy and welcome. The usual venom or reluctance or sheer lust was absent. Smiling again, he caressed her mind with his, for once not afraid of an attack. The kids can wait. They know we’re okay. He laughed nervously. Physically, anyway.
Addison sat beside him, returning his smile and telepathic gesture. They reached for each other’s hand simultaneously, prompting more nervous laughter. What are we doing, Shane?
Hearing her use his first name after so many years felt wonderful. I don’t know, he replied. Your defenses are down. I should take advantage, but I don’t want to.
Addison smiled ruefully. Neither do I. Shane felt and echoed Addison’s undercurrent of fear. There was no need to admit to it verbally. Daniel can’t know about this, she added.
Shane nodded. None of them can. They’ll use us against each other.
Not Ashlynn and Jake, Addison amended.
Smiling, Shane squeezed her hand. They can know. He chuckled genuinely, which was welcome after all of the tension. They probably already do.
Addison burst into happy giggles — a sound Shane hadn’t heard since the brief time they’d been together. Smiling and tearing, he pulled her close. She offered no resistance physically or mentally. For the first time in years they sat quietly with no walls between them. The lights in Shane’s office automatically dimmed and Addison’s hair dried while they sat silent and still.
Eventually both of their stomachs demanded dinner. With great reticence Addison shifted in Shane’s arms and sat up straight. I need to get my clothes from the pool.
Shane nodded. Meet you in my quarters?
Addison smiled impishly. No. Shane’s eyebrows raised in a wordless question. Come with me.
After grinning at the thought of being teleported again, Shane’s face fell. No. The surveillance cameras will see us, he explained.
You’re right, Addison sighed. She kissed him chastely, then stood, shrugging off the now-rumpled lab coat. Shane openly ogled her, and her delight fed his. Later, she promised. I’ll meet you in your quarters. Light flashed and she was gone.
Shane didn’t move for a few moments. He absently gazed at the pile of lab coat on the floor, replaying the past few minutes in his mind. Strangely, dominant among the emotions bubbling in his mind was relief. Apprehension was a close second, but thankfully it was of Triptych and not Addison.
I’m not afraid of Addison anymore. Shaking his head in amazement, Shane stood, hung the lab coat on the hook, and strode to his quarters.
Jake and Lynn were flopped on the armchair and couch, respectively, watching TV when Shane let himself into his quarters. He hadn’t missed their fleeting, knowing grins. “Took you long enough,” Ashlynn said with mock petulance. “Dinner’s going to be dried–”
Jake’s eyes widened and he rushed up to Shane. “Dad!” he cried, taking Shane’s right hand and pushing up the bloodstained sleeve. He felt his son’s anxiety ebb when he saw the unbroken skin around the bracelet.
“I’m okay,” he assured Jake. Smiling, he pulled his son into a hug.
After initially returning it Jake pulled back. “You smell like chlorine,” he frowned.
Shane chuckled. “Blame your mother.” It was weird — in a good way — to say the words in jest.
“What?” Lynn and Jake asked simultaneously.
Shane walked into the kitchen, grinning. “What’s for dinner? Smells good.”