Nothing Gets Through Ch. 04
(C) 2010 All Rights Reserved
They stayed at the restaurant a while longer, then split up to go home. Karl, obviously infatuated with Deanne, offered to see her home. Dee didn't hesitate to accept.
"Looks like it's you and me, kid," Dom said to Lani as he helped her on with her coat. They stepped outside and Lani shivered at the cold. The wind was still light, but the temperature had dropped. She pulled on her gloves and wished she'd brought a hat and scarf.
"It is too damn cold here," she said. Dom laughed and slipped an arm around her shoulders. Her stomach jumped but she managed not to gasp. No need to act like a teenager, she chastised herself. We're both adults, I don't need to blush.
"This is nothing," he told her as they started down the street. "Parts of Canada where I'm from, people would be wearing shorts and walking barefoot in weather like this."
She laughed. "No wonder Americans think Canadians are nutty."
"Do they really?"
"Well, we didn't come up with a game involving sticks being swung at people while they're on razor sharp blades on frozen water."
Dom scoffed. "Don't blame your lack of imagination on us." Lani laughed, then let out a muffled scream and almost knocked Dom over as she tried to scramble to the side.
"What's wrong?" he asked, startled. Lani was breathing so hard he wondered if she would hyperventilate. "Lani, come on, calm down." He ran his hands up and down her arms to soothe her.
"S-s-sorry." Her teeth were chattering and she concentrated on stopping them. "I saw . . . I saw a rat." After a moment, her breathing settled. "Sorry," she said again, with a rueful grin, "I'm just terrified of rats. You'd think I'd get used to them, but . . . ."
"No problem." He felt a little guilty for thinking she was cute when she panicked like that. It didn't seem right that he'd enjoyed the way she'd pressed up against him when trying to get away from the rat. He kept his arm around her shoulders.
"So what parts of Canada are you from?" Her heart was still pounding. Ugly little bastards, she thought. She'd been having a wonderful evening, then the fat furry thing had to show up.
Dom shrugged. "Here and there. We moved around a bit." He flashed her a smile. "The cold parts." She smiled and they walked a few minutes more.
"I can get off here." Lani stopped near a hotel and gestured at the line of cabs. "Thanks for the game, the walk . . . everything. I had a great time."
"Oh." Dom stood for a moment, lost for words. It was late, and he was tired, but he wanted to stay with her longer. Lani made him feel . . . happy? he wondered. Something about her had a calming, soothing effect, and he wasn't quite ready for it to end. He searched for a solution, found it when a car whooshed by and honked a horn.
"Let's take a cab together," he said. "My treat."
"No, that's okay." She shook her head. "You probably need to get back and sleep and have practice or something and--"
Struck by the force of his gaze, Lani nodded.
They talked in the cab, breaking only for Lani to give the occasional direction to the driver. When the cab pulled up in front of the apartment building, Lani was surprised to see Dom step out of the car and pay the driver. She had expected him to continue on to his place. I'd invite him up, she thought, but I don't think I want to subject him to Cherie.
"It was nice of you to see me home," she said, feeling awkward, "but you don't have to stay. I'll be fine from here."
Dom smiled. "You can't get rid of me that easily."
Lani blinked. "I wasn't trying . . . I mean . . . " She gave up and laughed again. "Okay, sure."
She pressed the button to call the elevator. She tried not to feel self-conscious as Dom studied her again while they waited, but could feel her cheeks flushing. The doors opened and they stepped in. "So, I wanted--" she began, but got no further as Dom pressed her against the back wall with a hungry kiss.
Dom had wanted to kiss her since she'd stumbled over her words in the restaurant. He'd been entranced by the dark hair that matched her eyes, the shape of her mouth as she talked and laughed, and when she'd gone with Dee to the ladies' room, Karl had accused him of ogling her body. Karl had been correct, but Dom had smacked him on the back of the head anyway, on general principles.
He wondered how he'd managed to wait so long. Her lips were supple and he held back a groan with difficulty as he pressed his own against her. One hand held her close around the waist and the other traveled up to bury in her silky hair. Her skin smelled of coconut and vanilla, making him think of tropical islands he'd never been to. He teased her lips with the tip of his tongue, and when they opened for him, he thought he might never leave those islands.
Intense. I should have known it would be intense, was the last coherent thought Lani had before Dom's kiss blasted her ability to think. She wrapped her arms around his neck as much to stay upright as to feel him against her. He seemed to want some control, and so she let him take it, sighing when his tongue found hers. His arms felt so strong as they held her in place; he made her feel safe.
They jerked apart when the elevator chimed and stopped, but whoever had called for it had opted for the stairs. Dom turned to her with a smile, which she returned.
"You're blushing," he told her.
She narrowed her eyes. "It's your fault."
He laughed and took her hand. "It certainly is. So, is that a penalty?"
"I think maybe we'll just stop play and start again in a minute," she teased.
"Okay." He was about to move in for another kiss when the elevator chimed again for Lani's floor.
"I have to warn you," she said as the elevator stopped, "my roommate is . . . let's say she entertains a lot. Not clients," she said quickly and Dom chuckled, "but she's got a lot of friends." The doors opened and they walked down the hall.
"She sounds . . . friendly."
"A little too friendly, sometimes." Lani sighed. "Or at least, I wish she would take her friendships to places a little more private. That's why I was at the coffee shop this morning. Cherie had a friend over and . . . oh, let's just say I felt like the proverbial third wheel." She thought about that. "No, like an involuntary Peeping Tom."
Dom raised an eyebrow. "I didn't know you could do that kind of thing involuntarily."
Lani rolled her eyes. "Cherie can make a person do all kinds of things they didn't think they could. Believe me." They were at the apartment door. "Dom, I'd like to invite you in," she began.
"But," she continued, and he feigned disappointment. "I have no idea what I'll find when I open the door. It may not be for the faint of heart."
"Lani." He leaned against the wall and fixed his gaze on her. "I spent over two hours tonight having frozen rubber coming at me at close to one hundred miles per hour. I don't think your roommate can scare me."
"That's what the last guy said," Lani told him. It was hard to get that sentence out with Dom lounging there, staring down at her with those mischievous but intense eyes. She inserted and turned the key, praying there wouldn't be a repeat of the weekend where she'd walked in on Cherie and one of her "friends" in a compromising position on the coffee table.
"Hey, Lani!" Cherie called when she opened the door. Lani groaned; Cherie was drunk, she could tell by her voice. This can not end well, Lani thought.
"Who do you have there?" Cherie strolled towards the door, hips and wine bottle swaying. Her clothing left little to the imagination, and Cherie had a body that men liked to imagine.
"A friend," Lani told her.
"Then come join the party!" Cherie giggled and pulled Lani in. Dom followed. "Hey, handsome," Cherie said, wrinkling her nose.
Dom supposed that was supposed to look cute; instead it made her look like she'd tasted a lemon. "Hi."
Now he understood why Lani had been reluctant to have him come in. He couldn't blame her, and began to wonder if he could get Lani to come to his place. He didn't like the idea of her being here, although he wasn't sure he could give a good reason why.
Cherie was about to say something else when a man came over to her. He was shorter than Dom, and was starting to go bald, which didn't prevent him from trying to camouflage it. The man whispered in Cherie's ear and she let out an ear-splitting bray when he finished. "That's an idea!" she said, tossing her head back and laughing again. Dom winced.
Lani thought that was bad enough, but when another guy came in from the kitchen wearing only leopard print briefs, she wanted to die of embarrassment. It was one thing, she thought, to have a roommate who liked to sleep around. Lani didn't even mind how open Cherie was, so long as Lani could find space and time to herself. This, though--this was too much. She had to get Dom out of here so she could be mortified in peace.
God, he's going to think I live in a brothel, she thought miserably.
"Look, Dom." She took his arm and tugged him toward the door, "I'm really sorry about this. I had no idea. You should go. It was nice of you to get me home but . . . ." She gestured toward Cherie and the men, praying no one else was hiding in the kitchen.
"But?" he prompted. He couldn't help but be amused at the whole situation.
"But I'm incredibly embarrassed and you don't want to stay here," she said in a rush.
"You don't either."
"No, but it's where I live." She looked over and turned to fully face Dom when she saw both men's hands roaming over Cherie's barely clothed body. "I'll just go in my room, lock the door and pretend I live in a nice big house out in the country or something. Alone." A squeak and a laugh made her wince. "On second thought, I think I'll go to a hotel."
"Come to my place, Lani." Dom shook his head before she could protest. "It's late, and you don't want to be here. I live alone and my place is quiet. Why don't you get what you need and come with me?" Lani felt herself wilting under his gaze. "Please." He traced a finger over her cheek; she was a goner.
"Okay," she said. "Just wait here and I won't be long . . . ." She bit her lip, then zipped into her room.
You're nuts, completely nuts, she thought as she threw a change of underwear and clothes into a bag. She continued berating herself as she grabbed a toothbrush. You hardly know him. He could be a pervert. A gorgeous pervert who kisses like a dream, but a pervert none the less. She zipped up the bag, compromised by telling herself she could always change her mind about the hotel, and went back out.
Dom was at the end of the hallway, near the door, leaning on the wall as he'd done earlier. That was just not fair, she told herself, that he could just stand there and look so handsome.
"Ready?" he asked.
"Oh, yeah." She risked a look behind her. "Oh, geez." She turned back and covered her eyes, hoping the image she'd seen wasn't etched into her brain.
"Don't worry about it." Dom opened the door. "Think of it as the after-dinner show."
Lani snorted. "That kind of show would bring up my dinner, thanks."
Dom had called a cab while she had packed, and it was waiting for them when they got downstairs.
"Thank you, so much." Lani took a breath; the air felt cleaner, even in the cab. "I've walked in on her before and could ignore it, but that was too much."
"The balding guy certainly was," Dom commented and Lani couldn't stop a giggle. They drove for a bit, and as they were going through the business district, Lani sat up.
"Why don't you have the cab drop me at one of the hotels, Dom?" she asked. "It was sweet of you to offer your place, but I know you must be busy and--"
"No, thanks." He had expected something like this. Lani was the type of person who didn't want to put anyone else out. He'd seen that when she'd tried to take the subway, and even at her own place. Instead of yelling at Cherie, or asking to go with Dom, she'd tried to get him out and to go somewhere on her own.
"But--" she started and he just shook his head again.
"Please, Lani. I'd like you to come back with me. I like being with you and I'd like to keep doing it a little longer." He indulged his earlier urge and ran his fingers through her hair.
Lani sighed and sat back. "That's just not fair."
"How can I resist when you say things like that?"
He grinned. "Then it's working."
To be continued...