Nothing Gets Through Ch. 09
(C) 2009 All rights reserved
"Lani, it wasn't your fault," Dee told her. They were in the makeshift break room at the office. Their non-profit was doing well, but hadn't risen to the level of organizations like the Make a Wish foundation, so the break room had been carved out from a former storage area.
"I know, Dee," Lani said as she sipped her water. "I just don't know what to do."
"Not you," Dee said, "him. He needs to come grovel at your feet, Island Girl. He screwed up royally." She tapped the table with a long, tapered nail to make her point. "It's been two days; he's taking too long to start the groveling."
"Good to have you on my side, Chi-town," Lani said with a small smile. How a girl from Honolulu had become best friends with one from Chicago, she'd never quite know, but she'd always be grateful. "I guess it was just . . . a misunderstanding. That first weekend . . . it was so intense, but it doesn't mean I know him very well."
Dee rolled her eyes. "You don't need to know anyone very well to try do something nice, and he could have just said, 'Thanks.'" She was still angry at Dom. "And don't you try to tell me to let it slide because he's the goalie," she admonished Lani. "If he wants to wear his socks backwards, that's fine; but he can still be polite."
"He can try." The both turned in surprise to see Dom standing in the doorway. Filling the doorway, Lani noted. His shoulders were so broad they nearly touched the sides.
"You better be here to apologize," Dee said tartly, "otherwise you can just go."
"Dee!" Lani hissed. She put her hand to her forehead. Why does Dee pick now to be assertive? she wondered despairingly.
"I'm here to apologize," Dom confirmed. "To both of you." He looked from Dee to Lani, who dropped her hand. He spoke to both women, but held Lani's eyes with his. "I really am sorry. I acted like a jerk. I'm happy to grovel, just tell me for how long."
Dee tilted her head and studied him. Apparently satisfied, she nodded. "All right," she said, and stood up. "I have to get back to work. You--" she pointed at Dom "--don't ever do anything like that again."
"Yes, ma'am," he agreed. He lowered his eyes to the floor, the picture of remorse, and Dee couldn't hold back a laugh. She squeezed his arm on her way out and he knew he was forgiven by at least one of them.
There was an awkward silence, then Lani said, "Have a seat."
"Thanks." He sat and stared at her for a moment.
For the last couple of days, Dom had stewed over the whole incident. He had turned a nonexistent molehill into a ridiculously large mountain. When he'd seen Lani in the airport, it was like he'd been punched in the stomach, and for a moment, he couldn't breathe. He'd been so . . . pleased. But that pleasure had jolted him and made him realize that Lani was getting close; she was getting through all the walls he usually had up.
He'd built the walls for emotional survival and had let very few people through them. His grandparents were an exception, and Karl had managed to knock his way through a few of them. Not many others. Then he'd seen her waiting and realized that in just over a week of knowing her--and spending more time apart than together--she'd managed to get through nearly all of them. It scared him and he'd reacted badly, venting his fear as anger.
Karl had reamed him out for it the next day, and although Dom had argued, he knew his friend was right. The rest of the team knew something was up as well; Dom had definitely been off in practices, letting in far more shots than he usually did. At last Dom admitted it to himself: he'd taken his fear out on Lani and he needed to apologize. It had taken another day to get up the guts to do it, and he'd forced himself to come to her office instead of just talking on the phone.
Lani bit her lip and waited for him to say something. Perhaps she should talk, but she wasn't sure what to say. She was relieved when Dom took the decision away from her.
"Lani, I am sorry," he said quietly, taking her hand. She dropped her eyes as his hand enveloped hers; she could feel the warmth through her whole body. His fingers gently nudged her dark, liquid eyes back to his. "Tell me what I can do to make up for it."
"Tell me I didn't do anything wrong," she said. She reached over and tentatively ran a finger along his jaw. "I just wanted . . . I just wanted to surprise you. I know things have been fast between us and we haven't known other long, but I missed you." And there he goes again, she thought, dragging things out of me that I normally wouldn't say so soon.
"Of course you didn't," he said, tightening his hand on hers. Her fingers had left a heated trail on his skin, and everything he'd felt on the trip came rushing back. "I was glad to see you. I know I didn't show it, not at all, but I was. You just . . . " You just got through, he wanted to tell her, but he couldn't. "You just surprised me and I didn't know what to do." He gave her a wry grin. "Karl can tell you that when I don't know what to do, I usually do something stupid."
"I'll let you know about future surprises, then," she said with a genuine smile. Relief washed through her. It looked like things were okay between them, and she hadn't known how much she wanted that until now.
"Okay," said Dom. "So, have I groveled enough? Or should I check with Dee?" Lani laughed.
"Maybe just a little more," she said. Dom raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, really?" he said. He stood and pulled her to him so quickly she squeaked in surprise. "Let me start now." He put an arm around her waist, threaded the other in her hair, and kissed her soundly.
"If that's how you grovel," she said when she pulled away, "I may never get enough."
To be continued...