Author: Pink Rabbit Productions
Disclaimers: It all belongs to other folks, and features
women in romantic situations. That gonna bug you, get you
arrested, get me arrested, or cause any other unpredicted havoc?
Then just move along for all our sakes.
Summary: The missing scene from the hospital when Lena
took Bianca away
Points of View
She reaches out to me with one hand, her smile impossibly gentle, and
responds to my question about where we're going by reaching out with her
other hand as well, her voice soft, her accent a little thicker than
normal, as she asks, "You trust me?"
Maybe I should stop, think about it, pause for reflection, but I don't,
I simply reach back. Is it crazy, feeling like I can trust someone this
much, this quickly? And yet that's how I felt, almost from the first.
That's why it hurt so much when she tried to leave. I thought I'd totally
misjudged a situation---again---that I'd totally misjudged her. But
no, I can see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice, feel it in the way she
touches me. This is real and not just imagined on my part. Her hands are
incredibly soft as she wraps them around mine. Almost as soft as the
expression in her eyes. I've never felt so completely cared for in my
life, and I'm completely hers as she tugs me to my feet and then out of
the waiting room. I think I would follow happily---gratefully
even---almost anywhere, so long as she was the one leading me.
Still, I can't help asking, "Where are we--"
"Going?" she finishes for me and looks back to offer an
affectionate smile. "You'll see." We don't go far, just down a
short hallway, then a sharp turn and into another hallway before she
calmly leads me past a yellow, triangular, 'Closed for Cleaning' marker
and through a set of swinging doors into the hospital's small solarium.
Thick with overhanging plants, it's cool and a little dark despite the
broad windows and skylight designed to let in much needed sunlight.
It feels safe and welcoming, except we're not supposed to be in here,
and I start to point that out. "The sign. I don't think--"
Lena turns, catching me when I don't quite stop in time, her arms
wrapping around my body, a tender smile on the mouth I've taken to
dreaming about. The length of her body is suddenly plastered against my
own, every warm curve molded to me, while her arms make me feel safe and
protected. God, that feels good, like the world can't possibly be that bad
if there's someone in it to hold me this way. "I put the sign
there," she admits before I can say anything else, then lifts her
shoulders in a hint of a shrug. "I thought perhaps a few minutes away
from ... everyone ... might be good for you."
I don't know what to say. The press is here with their cameras and
questions. Uncle Jack's a local celebrity, and the fact that mom's
involved guarantees the tabs will show. Doctor Joe had security move them
outside the emergency room area, but there's still Kendall, and Donald
Steele's probably around here somewhere looking to slime somebody. God, I
can't even talk. My throat's too tight, and words won't come, so I just
nod, hoping she'll understand.
She seems to because she strokes my cheek very lightly on the journey
to cupping a hand behind my head and pulling me close, her hold tightening
protectively. I haven't felt so safe since I was a very small child.
Hiding my face in her shoulder, I wrap my arms around her body, holding on
desperately, fingers digging into the softness of her t-shirt under her
jacket. I didn't even know how much I needed this before I had it. But now
that I do, my god, how did I ever survive without it?
Velvety lips brush my temple, her breath teasing my ear as she pets my
hair soothingly. "Shhhh ... it's going to be all right."
That's when I realize I'm shaking and crying, the shell of numbness
cracking now that I'm safe in her arms. My hands dig into her back,
fingers curling into her shirt. She's my life raft in the storm, and I'm
terrified that if I let go I'll be swept away and drown.
That tender hand keeps sliding over and through my hair, soothing me
like a wounded animal or frightened child, while her voice, warm and
accented surrounds me and slips inside, melting the ice-bound terror so it
can seep away. "You must have faith, Bianca ... your uncle is still
alive ... and with the best doctors available." More words follow,
soft and rhythmic, all variations on the theme that it's going to be all
right. She almost makes me believe it, her reassurance loosening the grip
of horror until I can almost breathe again. Finally, she curves a hand
along my jaw and draws my head up. Even through the blur of tears, she's
incredibly beautiful, and the look in her eyes calms me. "Your uncle,
he is strong?"
I want to tell her that Uncle Jack's one of the strongest people I've
ever known, but the words won't come, leaving me to nod a little
"Then you must believe he will fight his way back." Her thumb
brushes my lower lip, stroking lightly. "He has far too much to live
for to surrender easily." Then she ducks her head, her thumb moving
on to explore my cheek while her lips find mine. With only one kiss
between us, the second kiss is a different entity entirely, in no way
about desire or need---at least not the same kind of need. This time it's
a gesture of caring and comfort. A lover's kiss, not in a sexual sense,
but in the sense of someone who loves and wants to help. Her mouth brushes
mine, warm and velvety, a physical expression of caring, then moves on,
brushing my cheek, kissing away damp tears before pressing delicate
caresses to my temple, then along my brow. Each fluttery touch feels like
a vow of some kind, one neither of us wholly understands, at least not
yet, but which means more than anything that's come before it. Her arms
wrap more tightly around me, and I can't resist the urge to turn my face
into the curve of her neck, while she buries her face in my hair. "It
will be all right," she whispers again, and this time I'm surprised
to hear a new raggedness in her voice. Not her own pain, I realize. She's
met Uncle Jack, but barely knows him. It's a sympathetic kind of ache.
Hurting for me. I shouldn't enjoy someone else's distress. And in the
literal sense, I don't. But at the same time it feels good to have someone
feel so strongly for me and my emotions. After banging my head into the
last few dead-end and/or never-quite-made-it-to-be relationships, I
finally feel like there's someone here for me---someone attuned to my
thoughts and feelings who actually gives a damn.
I'm not sure how long we stand there like that, wrapped around each
other, hearts pounding together, breathing in tandem, drawing much needed
comfort from the closeness. Occasionally, she presses a soft kiss to my
cheek or forehead, the gesture meant to calm and soothe, the feeling each
tiny caress engenders nothing like anything that has come before. It's not
sexual, but there's an inherent sensuality---an awareness that, for all of
its innocence, this is nothing like a similar gesture from my mom or Uncle
Jack. How many time did Leo hold me and do much the same thing, and yet it
never felt like this. Never once felt like I'd come home.
I guess I'm examining it all in such detail to avoid thinking about
Uncle Jack, and the fact that--
"Shhhh, easy...." Her voice interrupts a beginning slide into
a fresh wave of panic and a gentle hand tips my chin up. She picked up on
the emotional shift without my having to say a word. "Have
faith," she whispers very softly, the look in her eyes reassuring me
and pushing the terror back. She ducks her head, leaning so close I can
see my reflection in the dark well of her eyes, looking a little
frightened, but also adoring. Then her lips brush mine, moving slowly,
drawing me into our third kiss. I suppose it's strange to be counting
kisses this way, but each one is totally different. The first was an
explosion of want and need, an admission of things she was trying to push
away, the second an expression of kindness and caring. And the third? It's
a mix of the first two with an entirely new component stirred in, an
underlying note of desire that feels like it encompasses everything
physical, emotional, and mental. When it finally breaks, it's because she
pulls away to drag in air, her eyes wide.
Suddenly she's the one trembling, leaving me with the strangest sense
that something happened---not literally, but inside her head. She pulls my
head to her shoulder, her hold different this time, not so gentle and a
little shaky, her fingers working into my hair, holding on for a long
moment, then slipping loose and petting, then holding on again. Whispered
words touch my ear, husky and incomprehensible, so softly spoken that it
takes me a moment to realize she isn't speaking English. There's an
urgency in her tone that tells me it's important, but when the words
finally trail off, and I pull back to stare up at her, something in her
eyes warns me not to press. She has her secrets, and pressure along those
fronts only makes her more skittish. Glossy with tears, her eyes slide
away from mine, fixing on a point in the distance as she takes a deep
breath, letting it out as though to release tension. A hard swallow
ripples through the corded length of her throat.
"Lena?" I don't know how to word the question I want to
ask---don't quite even know quite what the question is, just that there's
something going on and it affects both of us.
The heat of her palm nearly scorches me as she cups it along the side
of my face. Her lips move, struggling for words, then after a moment, her
eyes slide shut. "I just never expected ... this," she whispers
at last, and when she finally looks at me again, her eyes are all naked
emotion. "It-it's more than I could have ever dreamed...."
Her expression holds me in thrall and I can't stop staring stupidly up
at her, my heart thudding against my ribs until I'm afraid they might just
crack under the impact. "Me neither," I manage to whisper at
last. Not exactly suave and sophisticated, but then if that's what she was
looking for, I'd already be out of the running. I'm not stupid. I know
damn well, she could have pretty much anyone she wanted. And yet, somehow,
she seems to want me. "But I'm so grateful for it."
"I am the one who is grateful," she whispers, pulling me
closer again as she ducks her head.
Our fourth kiss contains shades of everything that's gone before, but
also a promise of things to come. Her mouth moves against mine, and mine
against hers, lips meshing, tongues tentatively playing tag, while our
hands spread and cling more tightly. My hand finds her hair, fingers
twining into the silky strands at the nape of her neck. God, I'm falling
for her---no, check that, I've fallen for her, past tense---and right now
that feels like the smartest thing I've ever done. I've made so many
mistakes and missteps in the past. For the first time, it feels like my
every emotion is returned. Long and surprisingly strong for all of their
delicacy, her hands press into my lower back and shoulders, pulling me
closer, making me feel wanted and needed. As we press into one another, a
low groan vibrates from her mouth to mine, then back to hers again.
I'm totally lost in her and oblivious to the outside world until the
soft sound of someone clearing their throat finally breaks in on the sweet
haze. She heard it too. I can tell by the way she curves her hands to my
upper arms, bracing herself as she breaks the kiss, her breath coming
harsh and ragged, seeming to need her hold on me to steady herself. Dark
eyes rise and focus on a point somewhere past my shoulder. For just a
second I catch a glimpse of something fierce in her gaze, and then it
slips away, leaving me uncertain that it was real or just some fleeting
"Doctor?" She sounds almost as rattled as I feel.
"I ... uh...."
Recognizing that voice, I half turn and feel my cheeks heat. I'm not
the only one. I don't think I've ever seen Doctor Joe blush before. I
didn't know he knew how. He always seems so calm and collected.
"Bianca," he says with a faint nod toward me, then his gaze
tips up, eyes touching on Lena with a questioning look. I mean, Doctor Joe
knows about me---heck, the whole town knows at this point---but he
probably didn't notice her when we came in. Things were a little crazy
after all. And ... well ... I'm sure this isn't exactly what he expected
to find when he entered the solarium.
Then my embarrassment flees in the face of remembered terror.
"Uncle Jack, is he--" Lena's hands curve to my shoulders, strong
and warm, as if to catch me should I start to topple.
"He's fine," Doctor Joe instantly assures me, holding up a
hand to halt my panicked bolt.
Arms wrap around me from behind when I start to tremble, suddenly
light-headed and shaky in the aftermath of the adrenaline rush. "It's
all right," Lena whispers in my ear, her strength possibly the only
thing keeping me vertical.
Doctor Joe glances over his shoulder at the yellow plastic marker
barely visible in the half open door. "Actually, I was just checking
to see if there was a problem." He doesn't ask about it directly, but
there's a questioning note in his voice.
"I'm afraid that's my doing," Lena says before I can answer,
her breath ruffling my hair. "I noticed the press on my way in. I
thought perhaps it would be best for Bianca to escape for a bit." I
can feel the faint movement as she offers a small shrug. "I'm afraid
I rather cheated to achieve that end."
"Oh ... uh ... well..." Doctor Joe stammers a bit
uncertainly, clearly torn between lecturing her for the infraction and
giving way to the stunning charm turned his way. He glances back again,
then offers a wry smile. "Well, I know Donald Steele has given you
some trouble over the last year or two, Bianca." Now there's an
understatement if ever there was one. "I guess I can't blame you for
needing to escape for a few minutes." He straightens his shoulders,
the kindly doctor giving way to the hospital administrator. "However,
I'm afraid the solarium is needed for patients ... so, please, no more
moving signs around."
"Of course, Doctor," Lena says smoothly. "And you have
my apologies. My only thought was for Bianca ... and I very likely got a
Doctor Joe's blush returns, his cheeks turning a ruddy color as he
looks at the two of us, clearly putting two and two together and coming up
with four. Somewhere in all of this, my manners kick in, as if that little
bit of normalcy will somehow push back the nightmare of Uncle Jack's
shooting. "Lena, this is Doctor Joe Martin. Doctor Joe ... Lena
Kundera. She ... uh ... works at Enchantment. W-we've been...." my
voice chokes off, the whole situation seeming surreal.
"I ... uh ... I think I understand." Even his ears are
crimson. "But perhaps you should return to the waiting room."
Stable once again, I nod. "Uncle Jack, is he--"
"He's fine," he quickly assures me. "But your mother was
looking for you just a few minutes ago."
Which means I need to go back. Mom's gotta be a mess right now, and I
know I need to be there for her. I still feel my stomach sink at the
notion of surrendering the warmth and comfort of the last little while.
"Thanks, Doctor Joe."
He turns a gentle smile my way. "All right then. I need to get
back to check on Jack," he says with automatic kindness, then turns
and leaves, discretely leaving us alone, though I notice that he scoops up
the sign on the way out.
When we're alone again, I turn in Lena's arms, resting my hands on her
upper chest. "Thank you."
A frown forms a crease between arched brows. "For what?"
"I needed this ... to just escape for a few minutes."
Tender fingers brush hair off my cheek, stroking lightly during the
journey. "I just want to take care of you any way I can." Her
lips brush my forehead, then my cheek, then down to flutter over my mouth
while her fingers brush along my jawline, stroking lightly. Finally, she
straightens, smiling down at me.
"I should probably go find mom." I don't really want to leave
this safe haven, but I can't help but remember what Doctor Joe said.
"This is really hard for her."
A concerned frown sketches its way across Lena's expression. "Of
course. Perhaps I should go get you something to eat? I know you haven't
had anything in hours."
I don't want her to go, don't want her to even leave my sight, but my
stomach growls as if on cue. "Yeah, that would probably be a good
"Then I will see to it you are fed." Rising up on tiptoe, she
presses a kiss to my forehead, her hands resting on my shoulders.
It's so tempting to just stay here with her that it takes all of my
willpower to remind myself, "I really should find my mom ... before
she finds me." Having mom come across Lena and I like this would
definitely not make for a fun scene. Another time I might just allow it. I
don't want to hide who I am---ever---but even I know there are
times to back off and let things lie. With everything else going on, it's
not the time to be waving the red flag of our relationship in front of the
bull that is my mother.
"Then go on. I'll see you shortly." Our fingers brush,
briefly clinging as we move to the door. It's hard to let go of even that
tiny bit of contact as we step back into the hallway. She gives me so much
strength that a part of me wants to just hold on and never let go. She
pauses as well, as though she doesn't want to part any more than I do.
"I won't be long," she says at last, then lifts my hand and
presses the softest of kisses to my knuckles before letting her hand trail
away from mine, seemingly as hesitant to let go of our contact as I am.
We part, headed different directions, but I can't resist the urge to
look back and watch her. I can't help but smile when I catch her doing the
same thing. Her lips curve in an answering expression, her steps slowing,
and then finally we can't gracefully delay any longer we both head on our
respective missions, but the look in her eyes is with me as I return to
the waiting room, her support with me even when we're apart. I know that I
can get through this now.
"You trust me?" It's the sort of thing I've asked my marks in
the past when I wanted to manipulate. Most people asked that question are
quick to offer assurances of their trust, and will convince themselves in
the doing. It's more effective than the most sincere protestations of
innocence, and a tactic I've used against the unwary so many times in the
past that I've long since lost count. For the first times in years, maybe
ever, it's simply an honest question, and even something of a plea. I want
her trust more than I've wanted anything from anyone in a very long time.
Not that I deserve that trust. I've lied to her so many times in so many
ways, the only truth I've offered, my feelings for her. Those were never a
lie. If I let myself I stop and think about it, I live in perpetual terror
that she will look up one minute and see me for what I am. If that
happens, I fear I'll lose everything I didn't even dream I wanted so much.
She is everything to me.
Only now that Michael knows about my mother, I don't know if I can
protect them both. There's a kind of madness in him. As much as I want to
defy him, it's most likely safer for all involved if he simply gets what
he wants. Maybe then he'll just go. Enchantment will be financially
damaged but not destroyed, and my mother and Bianca will be safe. It's not
a good solution, but it's the only one I can come up with that at least
minimizes the damage. Otherwise I honestly don't know what he'll do. I
never allowed myself to see his cruelty before, refusing to admit to the
joy he takes in hurting others because it would have meant truly
acknowledging my own complicity in his actions. I looked at it as a
game---a challenge---and found ways to rationalize the way I played with
other people's lives. This one was cheating on his wife, that one
embezzling from her business, while another was busy stealing his
daughter's inheritance. I suppose I talked myself into believing they
deserved whatever they got. And what do I deserve? I shudder to think of
And now there's her---reaching back to me, her hands curving trustingly
into mine. She deserves none of this, and I know I should have gotten on
that plane to Prague. It would have hurt her, but she would have gotten
over it. Unfortunately I've always been greedy---once upon a time for
money, now for her---and I couldn't refuse the pleading look she turned my
way or the opportunity to have something I wanted so much.
She's looking at me that way again, except this time she's silently
begging me to take away the pain and banish the terror---to make it all
better for her. Oh, how I wish I could. But all I can do is offer her a
little escape from the storm. No more than the gentlest tug brings her to
her feet, and I have to push down the guilty fear that I'm leading a lamb
to slaughter as I pull her away.
I will not lose this, not for Michael's perverted schemes. I will find
a way to protect her, no matter what it costs me.
We round a nearby corner just as she asks, "Where are we--"
I can't help but look back and smile, darker thoughts momentarily
forgotten in the face of her presence. "Going?" I finish for
her, my smile broadening a bit. Her open curiosity is one of the things I
found appealing from the first moment we met. "You'll see." I
noted the small solarium on the way in. It's the perfect place to bring
her to escape the outside pressures setting so heavily on such slender
shoulders. A closed sign stolen from a nearby utility cart guarantees us
some small measure of privacy, though I feel her tense as I lead her past
it. So honest she isn't even comfortable with that minor infraction of
societal rules, and yet she's somehow found the strength to defy her
mother's and the world's expectation on her sexuality, refusing to hide it
away the way so many would clearly prefer. Her strength amazes me once
again as does her honesty. It would never occur to her to tell even such a
minor lie. I find it rather amazing she hasn't come to wonder why I do it
so easily because she's seen me in action on more than one occasion.
Sometimes I even wonder if I've been subconsciously trying to warn her
that I am a creature of deceptions and half truths. I've even told her
flat out that I'm a brilliant liar and I get what I want because of it.
Yet, somehow, she still believes in me, sees the best of me, and not the
worst. She's the only truth in my life right now. And if I'm honest---an
ironic phrase, I know---I'm getting her through lies.
No, that's not true. I've lied about so many things, but never about
how I feel about her.
And here, in this cool and safe place, I just want to protect her from
the world outside, and make a new world in which she and I are the only
Her attention is still on the sign. "The sign. I don't
I turn before she realizes I've stopped, and when she nearly stumbles
into me, it's my pleasure to catch her. There's nothing untruthful in the
way I gather her close, doing my best to form a protective shield against
the outside world. In an instant, words become completely superfluous.
"I put the sign there," I explain when she peers up at me, her
expression questioning. "I thought perhaps a few minutes away from
... everyone ... might be good for you."
She's trying so hard to be brave, struggling so fiercely to control her
emotions and not fall apart. The beauty and purity in her eyes makes my
chest tight, causing a desperate ache that makes me just want to hold and
defend her from everything. She nods, fighting tears, but not speaking,
silently pleading but uncertain what to do until I curve a hand to the
back of her head and tug, gently urging her to lean against my shoulder.
Suddenly she's pressing into me, hiding her face and whimpering softly
like a frightened puppy. She seems so young sometimes, and yet so strong
and so wise. She is an old soul---and a beautiful one. And I pray she
never knows the kind of desperation I have seen. "Shhhh ... it's
going to be all right." I whisper the words near her ear, keeping
them soft for she and I alone even though no one else is present. Her hair
is silky and cool under my fingertips, and she clutches more tightly, her
hands digging into my back. I'm unused to this, the notion of offering
kindness and genuine caring instead of sex that has been, for me, more
mechanical than passionate, no matter what impression I gave those
temporary lovers. This is nothing like those cruel, transitory
relationships. This is all innocence and genuine emotion. Those were
simply acts of mutual advantage, played for the profit.
Not liking where that thought takes me, I pet her hair tenderly,
focusing instead on her. She's trembling violently, scared to death of the
darkness that has invaded her world. I know that fear, have lived it. And
I know I can't protect her from it. I can only offer comfort. "You
must have faith, Bianca ... your uncle is still alive ... and with the
best doctors available." Nuzzling deeper into my shoulder, her
fingers clawing into my shirt, she makes no effort to respond, but I feel
the tremors that shake her from head to toe. All I can do is offer more
reassurances, struggling to make her believe that it will somehow be all
right when her every instinct is saying otherwise. I'm not sure how long
it takes, but finally, she starts to settle in my arms, some of the awful
tension draining away, harsh sobs no longer shaking her slender frame.
Despite the terrible nature of what's happening, it feels so good to hold
her this way and know she trusts me. I could happily stay here forever.
Finally, I draw her head up, her skin impossibly soft as I stroke her
cheek. Her eyes are rimmed in tears that glitter silver in the low light,
creating an illusion of depth that makes the darkness of her gaze seem as
infinite as the night sky. Despite the fact that I am older, she is the
wiser of the two of us. I've seen it so many times in so many ways, but
this time I need to be the clear-headed one. The fear is like a living
thing tearing at her with teeth and claws. She needs to see it's not over
yet. "Your uncle, he is strong?"
She stares up at me, silent and frozen, her heart in those remarkable
eyes of hers. For a moment I fear she's too frozen to work her way through
to hear what I'm saying, but then I start to see the gears turning in her
mind. Finally, she nods, the movement a little jerky, but definite.
"Then you must believe he will fight his way back." I can't
resist the urge to touch and stroke, outlining the lush curve of her lips
with my thumb. "He has far too much to live for to surrender
easily." Her skin is so soft, far too tempting for someone like me to
resist, and I don't even want to try. I trail my hand from her mouth to
stroke her cheek, leaning down to find her lips with my own. It's not a
kiss meant to seduce, just one meant to show how much I care, how special
she is to me. I thought people like her were works of fiction dreamed up
by idealistic authors. It never occurred to me that anyone could be so
completely decent, and it makes me want to take care of her, to keep her
wrapped safely in my arms, the world blocked out. Only, despite the
seriousness of the situation, the feel of her lips on mine has my pulse
racing and my hands trembling. This isn't the place, and it certainly
isn't the time. Parting my lips from hers, I brush soft kisses onto her
cheeks and temples, silently promising to keep her as safe as I'm
able---even if it's myself I must protect her from. That thought drives me
to hold her closer as if I could pull her inside myself and make
everything but the two of us go away. Relief surges through me as she
turns into my body, her breath warm on my neck as she hides her face
again. She is everything to me, the feel of her body in my arms so right,
the scent of her hair filling my senses as I bury my nose in dark silk
strands. I feel the tiny shudder that slides through her muscles, hear a
soft sound that's somewhere between a gasp and a sob. She's hurting so
much, and there's so little I can do for her. It's like I can feel her
pain inside me, tightening my chest, making it ache and throb. I know what
it will do to her if she loses her uncle, and the idea terrifies me. She's
faced so many hurts in her life. It's unfair that she might have to face
another. "It will be all right," I whisper, wanting it so badly
for her that my tone slides over into desperation. It's a strange feeling.
I barely know Jackson Montgomery, but because it would hurt her so badly,
his survival is suddenly of paramount importance. Not so long ago, I
wouldn't have cared since it didn't affect me directly. Only suddenly I
find myself wanting the man she talks about to be all right. I see him
through her eyes, and that person matters to me.
God, she brings parts of me back to life that I thought were either
long dead or never even existed. She makes me think I have a soul like any
other, and I'm grateful for it. It's been so long since I felt this
alive---this complete. Or maybe I never have before. Suddenly I'm not
sure. I just know that I'll do anything to keep this, whether I have to
fight Erica, Michael, or the devil himself. I'm almost as frightened as
she must be. As I hold her, I find myself unable to resist the urge to
press soft kisses to her cheeks and forehead, reassuring myself that she's
all right, and she's here with me. It seems like we're there like that
forever, just holding one another, and then I feel a fresh wave of tension
slide through her.
Thoughts and fears catching up again. I've been there. In an instant
she goes from quiescent to trembling violently. "Shhhh, easy..."
I soothe. Feeling the panic wash through her and hoping to break the
cycle, I pet her back and hair, then draw her head up, peering into her
eyes with a look I hope will reassure. "Have faith." I can see
my reflection in her eyes, a face I know objectively draws the attention
of men and women alike. But it's the expression I see that suddenly
fascinates me. I never knew I could look like that, so emotional and
involved. And it suddenly strikes me that I've been avoiding really seeing
my own reflection in the mirror for years, just looking at enough to put
eyeliner here or the right amount of blush there, but never letting myself
see the whole picture. I've been afraid, I realize in an instant. I didn't
want to see the dead eyes of a whore staring back at me and know they were
my own. Now seen through her eyes, I'm amazed by the person looking back
at me. There is nothing of a whore in the image I see. Just a woman in
love. She does this for me, gives me back to myself and I cannot resist
her. My mouth finds hers, and we both sink into the kiss, our lips moving
together, and I pull her closer, my fingers working into her hair, a low
groan bubbling up from my chest.
This is everything I've ever wanted even though I didn't know it.
She is everything I've ever wanted.
God, and if she ever finds out the truth about me....
I don't know if I could survive that.
I'm in love with her. The truth washes over me in a tidal wave of
Suddenly I'm hugging her close, trembling from head to toe and
confessing all, the words coming husky and desperate. Unable to lie to
her, I tell her everything I've done and the feelings I have. Before I can
think better of it, the words are out and the horror just beginning to
rush over me.
No. I spoke Polish---slid back into some instinctive state where all
language but those first words in childhood fled from my mind. Unless
she's hiding some heretofore unseen abilities, Bianca could not
have understood a word I said. Relief and shame surge through me in equal
measures. Relief that she doesn't know. Shame that there are so many
secrets I need to hide from her. When she looks up at me, her gaze clear
and curious, I can't face such openness, and have to look away to find the
strength to keep my masks in place. She wants to know what I said. I can
feel the desire to understand radiating from her as palpably as I feel her
body heat. I fervently wish I'd lived a life that I could share with her
instead of the one I have led.
"Lena?" Her voice is soft, pleading for more information, but
there's a hesitancy in her tone, an understanding that I'm not necessarily
ready to share my secrets, and a fear of making some kind of misstep.
I want her to understand that my secrets are not her fault---that she
means so much to me. I cup her cheek, struck once again by the softness of
her skin, unable to resist the desire to touch, her warmth and heat
soothing me fears. I've never felt this way for anyone. I want her to know
that but I don't have the words, and my efforts fall short of what I want
to say. "I just never expected ... this. It-it's more than I could
have ever dreamed...."
She simply stares at me, leaving me to wonder if I've totally failed in
expressing my feelings for her. Normally English is easy for me, but right
now I'm having a hard time functioning in what suddenly seems like a
completely alien language.
Suddenly she moistens her lips, and I can't take my eyes away from the
nervous but seductive slide of her tongue outlining that pink cupid's bow.
"Me neither," she says at last, her voice sounding dry and a
little rough to me, and I realize the pause was because she's just as
scared of this as I am. "But I'm so grateful for it."
That she should be grateful to me is almost beyond my ability to
comprehend. She is a bright, summer day, while I am ... not. "I am
the one who is grateful."
The kiss that follows is totally natural, the most comfortable of
everything we have shared, her passion feeling as real and visceral to me
as my own. It's not simple, sexual desire---this is hardly the time for
that---but rather something deeper and far more meaningful. I wonder if
she realizes I'm hers now or just how frightening that reality is. I've
shared more beds than I care to remember, but I've never risked giving
myself---heart and soul, not just body---to anyone. I feel as though she
made me, but she could also destroy me. I think rejection would shatter me
if it came from her.
I fear it will shatter me one day. That she will learn the truth
and want nothing of me ever again.
But there is no rejection for now, only the softness of her lips bonded
to mine, while her body surges into mine, and her fingers tangle in my
hair, the faint sting as they strain to pull me closer causing a welcome
hint of pain. It represents her desire for me, and as such, I glory in the
intensity of sensation, a low moan escaping my lips as the kiss goes on.
Under the circumstances, I shouldn't be aroused, but her kiss drives my
pulse and makes me tremble, an ache starting deep inside my body in spite
of everything. For the moment, nothing matters but this sweet pleasure we
share. If I am hers, perhaps she is just a bit mine now. I am lost in our
bond when I suddenly realize we aren't alone, the crawling sensation
making its way down my spine warning me of possible danger even as I hear
the intruder clear his throat. I pull away from the heavenly kiss, still
holding Bianca, half afraid Michael has found us and means to cause some
new mischief. But no, it's a doctor, elderly, his eyes kind and a little
worried. Terror grips me that he bears bad news from which I cannot
protect her. "Doctor?"
"I ... uh...." Under different circumstances, his obvious
embarrassment might be charming. At the moment, it's merely frustrating,
but it's obvious he knows Bianca as she turns and he looks at her. "Bianca."
In an instant, some of her startled tension flees only to return a
second later a thousand times worse as she remembers her uncle. Afraid for
her, I grab her shoulders, gripping tightly, wanting to wrap her in cotton
and protect her but unable to offer more than this. "Uncle Jack, is
"He's fine," the doctor assures her instantly, one hand
rising to ease her panic.
I feel the tremors start through my hands where they're resting on her
shoulders---her strength fleeing in the aftermath of such fear---and wrap
her in my arms, holding her close, my voice for her ears only. "It's
all right." It seems like scant comfort, but all I have to
offer---especially since I'm shaking as well.
The doctor does not hear my whispered words, his attention instead
focused on the pilfered sign just outside the half open doors to the
solarium. "Actually, I was just checking to see if there was a
problem," he says when he looks back. Either not having heard my
words to her or politely ignoring them, there's nonetheless a question
inherent in his tone. A hospital administrator as well as a doctor, I
suspect. Why else care about such minor matters? "I'm afraid that's
my doing." In such situations, it's often quicker and easier to admit
to petty crimes. Also it helps make people believe you when you deny the
major ones. "I noticed the press on my way in. I thought perhaps it
would be best for Bianca to escape for a bit." At the mention of her
name and my purpose, I feel Bianca lean more firmly into my hold, her
hands settling over mine. "I'm afraid I rather cheated to achieve
"Oh ... uh ... well...." This time I do find his
embarrassment oddly endearing. I'd almost forgotten that people could be
so innocent. I half expect to be chastised, but when he looks at us again,
he flashes an understanding smile "Well, I know Donald Steele has
given you some trouble over the last year or two, Bianca." I
recognize the name from Michael's background checks. A sleazy reporter who
has tormented Bianca in every way he could imagine, and one of the reasons
I brought her here. "I guess I can't blame you for needing to escape
for a few minutes." His understanding is quickly hidden behind a more
formal wall as he remembers his job. "However, I'm afraid the
solarium is needed for patients ... so, please, no more moving signs
"Of course, Doctor." I offer the most contrite smile I can
summon, eager to keep things as calm and smooth as possible. "And you
have my apologies. My only thought was for Bianca ... and I very likely
got a bit overprotective." For once, I'm even telling the truth,
though my remorse is as big a lie as I've ever told. I regret nothing
about this time together.
I suspect this doctor is no fool and understands the situation quite
well. I can see the knowledge in his eyes and the way color creeps over
his cheeks. I feel Bianca tense, pulling away from me ever so slightly,
not free, but enough to look back up at me as she makes introductions that
seem oddly banal under the circumstances. "Lena, this is Doctor Joe
Martin." Her head swings around, eyes touching on the doctor again.
"Doctor Joe ... Lena Kundera. She ... uh ... works at Enchantment.
W-we've been...." The doctor isn't the only suffering one from some
embarrassment. Even as forthright as she is, Bianca stumbles and stammers
over the words of explanation.
Thankfully, Dr. Martin is kind enough to put both of them out of their
misery. "I ... uh ... I think I understand ... but perhaps you should
return to the waiting room."
I feel Bianca catch her weight and start to pull away, only to lean
more heavily against me again, the shifting tide of fear making her shake
once again. "Uncle Jack, is he--"
"He's fine." The sympathetic assurance is offered quickly.
"But your mother was looking for you just a few minutes ago."
Bianca doesn't move, but we both know it means she must return, and
this short respite from the storm is nearly over. "Thanks, Doctor
He looks at her with genuine affection and I find myself grateful for
the care he offers her. "All right then. I need to get back to check
A moment later he's gone, taking the stolen sign with him and Bianca is
turning in my arms, her hands on my chest, their heat threatening to burn
through my jacket and shirt. Or perhaps it's the heat she sparks that
threatens to set me on fire. My god, I'd almost forgotten I even could
feel this kind of desire. It's been so long since I've felt anything real
for anyone. Her lightest touch makes my heart pound and my palms sweat,
but it's the look in her eyes, shining with faith and innocence, that
makes me want to be the person she thinks I am. I thought I'd lost the
capability to even want ideals, and yet her belief makes it seem as though
I've never lost them.
That's why it sounds so strange when she smiles up at me, her voice
soft and inviting. "Thank you."
"For what?" I should be the one thanking her just for
existing, even moreso for letting me into her life.
"I needed this ... to just escape for a few minutes." She
leans into my body, her arms wrapping around me in a hard hug, her obvious
trust enough to make me feel like this is the moment my entire life has
been building to. Despite all of my mistakes and poor choices, if I can
feel this way and put someone else's needs above my own, perhaps there is
still some part of me worth saving.
Fascinated by the textures of silk and velvet, I find myself unable to
resist the temptation to stroke her hair and cheek. "I just want to
take care of you any way I can." And then I taste her skin, my lips
brushing her forehead, her cheeks, and finally her lips. This kiss is
quick, a butterfly brush that nonetheless leaves my mouth tingling, her
scent and taste dominating my senses.
She wavers gently on her feet, momentarily leaning into me, then
starting to pull away with a regretful sigh. "I should probably go
find mom." She shrugs, sadness and fear returning to her eyes.
"This is really hard for her."
She is so caring. "Of course." Despite all of the problems
with her mother, and the fact that Erica Kane so clearly disapproves of
her, she has it in her to forgive those slights and simply love her
mother. Not that she's unrealistic, but neither is she vindictive. I want
to stay with her, not leave her side and make certain she's all right.
Unfortunately, I'm well aware that in dealing with her mother, my presence
is only likely to make things more difficult for her. "Perhaps I
should go get you something to eat? I know you haven't had anything in
She nods hesitantly, and I can tell she doesn't want to part anymore
than I do. "Yeah, that would probably be a good idea."
It's the least I can do for her. "Then I will see to it you are
fed." Pressing another kiss to her forehead, I enjoy even this
"I really should find my mom ... before she finds me," she
adds, her tone resigned. Erica does have something of a hunting instinct
where her daughter is concerned. I've not seen some of the more outrageous
behaviors that Bianca has complained affected her in the past, but I've
felt her mother's tension over any woman showing interest in Bianca from
"Then go on. I'll see you shortly." Despite the practical
words and the knowledge that we must part, neither of us is in a hurry to
let go, and our hands twine together as we move to leave. "I won't be
long." I couldn't stay away from her if I wanted to---and I don't
want to. Without thinking, I lift her hand to press a kiss over her
knuckles, not yet ready to let go of our bond for even a short time. But
finally, I have no choice but to let go if I'm to see to her health.
Still, I'm drawn to her, and look back only to find that she's done the
same thing. Our gazes lock and hold for a long moment.
I don't know how yet, but I won't let Michael destroy this the way he's
destroyed so many things. Not when I've finally found my heart. I will do
anything to keep her.
Even if I must betray her to save us both.
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