I'm not quite finished contemplating Elle and Adam's fate at the moment, as you know, the course of true love never runs smoothly or as planned. But here we have Elle in a dilemma and her unwanted Knight in Shining Armor coming to her rescue.
Life's a Ball - Chapter 10
Elle fled from the bedroom. She ran as far away from Adam Lacey as possible, down the stairs, through the living room and into the kitchen, as fast as she could.
“I’m delusional” Elle muttered as she began pacing around the small kitchen. “I do not like him.” I do not find this man attractive. Elle internally scolded, as she hissed at herself the sound of her voice give away her exact location. It wouldn't take him long to find her if he didn’t know where she was. But these were precious extra seconds she needed to talk sense into herself. Adam Lacey was not attractive!
Well actually... something spoke up from her subconscious. A wicked little devil of desire forcing her to acknowledge that Adam was good looking and it was Elle who hadn’t been paying attention to how desirable her boss really was until two nights ago.
And you’re not going to either! A new and more sensible voice instructed her. Elle liked this angel of rationale. The angel was strong willed and she would overpower the devil of desire. They were never going to find out if that kiss meant more than getting caught up in the moment because he was never going to kiss her again. She wouldn’t let him. Just like she was never going to acknowledge this new found fondness of Adam. It was never going to develop beyond this moment. So she needed to curtail this crazy delusion that Bridgewater's biggest male floozy might be ‘the one’ immediately. She was not, and would never be, one of his many interchangeable girlfriends. She was his Executive of Corporate Law. She kept his arm of the firm running smoothly and she had no interested in him otherwise. He was her boss. The line was drawn there.
Elle reached for the kettle. A relaxing hot chocolate was out of the question. She needed caffeine. She needed a good strong cup of coffee to cure her of her sleep deprived hallucinations. And if coffee didn’t make all of her problems go away, then Elle knew exactly what would. That conversation she’d been avoiding for almost two days.
“Are you alright?”
NO! Elle spun around at the sound of his voice. Adam hovered in the doorway to the dining room, his eyebrows dipped in the center as he watched her. Elle's hand trembled as she turned away from him immediately and put the kettle under the cold running water.
“Yes” Elle almost groaned at the sound of her voice. It was feeble squeak. She wasn’t going to fool anyone with that charade let alone the man she'd worked with closely for ten years. “I’m fine" Better. But under this intimate scrutiny Elle knew she lacked the confidence her voice had gained. "coffee?”
“Here” Adam stepped towards her. “Let me do that”
“Don’t!” Elle flinched at the anticipated bodily contact. Her hands jerking upwards. Cold water fell from above them, taking her breath away as it drenched Elle down one side, as a short deep cry bounced off the walls in the kitchen. It echoed around them and the only movement in the room was the blink of Elle's eyes.
Could this day get any worse?
Elle swallowed against her dry throat. Pushed against the rush of heat in her cheeks as she turned to face Adam. How on earth did – Oh God!
Elle's eyes travelled the entire length of his body and back up as her jaw hung loose. Water droplets hung from his wet hair. His chest stretched against the soaked sweater as he glared at her. His hand ran over his wet face, cleared away the excess water and wiped it on his wet jeans. He dripped from head to toe.
“Oh god” The kettle slipped from her hand, clattered into the sink as her fingers clasped her lips “I’m so sorry”. Elle gasped from underneath them. She needed to leave the kitchen. She needed a few minutes on her own just to sort out the craziness in her mind. “I’ll get you a towel” Elle stepped to pass Adam and towards the door.
He stepped in her path. A wet hand wrapped around Elle’s upper arm. Her focus zoomed in on his hands as Adam stopped her from passing him. His grip firm enough to warn her she wasn’t going anywhere. "You have-"
Her gaze jumped up at playful warning in his voice. It matched what glimmered in his eyes. It was... it was... well, it was pure mischief. Elle attempted to back away.
"Until I've -" The wickedness in his mind touched his lips as refused to let her go. Coercing her to his will and against the stainless sink. "Refilled this kettle." He grinned as the tap began to run behind her. "To explain what the hell is wrong with you."
"You wouldn't" Elle challenged. But he would. She could see it in his eyes. That determined purpose to extract everything he needed using whatever method he saw fit. She squirmed beneath his hand. This she could not tell him.
His brow arched. "You're running out of time Princess."
"Don't call me that"
"So you can hear me then?"
The sound of the slow running water tortured her senses. Her heart beat at a mile a minute. How did she tell him that in those moments her entire life had changed? When he'd been under the spell cast by her godchildren he was the most perfect man in the world and she wanted something she'd promised herself she'd never do again and she wanted it with him. Her boss. She'd been there before, with her boss, and it was the reason she never wanted to play happy families again. Ever!
The water stopped.
Elle's breathing grew shallow. Honestly, what was she suppose to say? Lie! That little voice of wisdom called from inside. She had lots of excuses lined up at the moment. She didn't have to say anything at all. Tell him it was an accident!
"Fine" Adam chuckled as he raised his arm above her head. "I'll have my revenge."
Elle drew in a deep stubborn breath through her nose and tensed every muscle in her body, clenched her fists, squeezed her eyes shut and waited. The seconds hung like a lifetime. He was torturing her. He was dragging it out for the longest possible time but she wouldn't cave. Would. Not. Tell. Him.
A single ice cold droplet trickled down behind the collar of Elle's hooded sweatshirt. Shivered all the way down her spine. "You kissed me." She gasped through the tremor.
"I knew it!" The kettle slammed against the counter top forcing Elle's eyes to burst open at the fierceness of Adam's reaction. "I knew that's what was wrong with you!" He hissed as he spun to face her. "Do you realize how many times you've pretended you're not pissed at me in the last ten years?"
"I'm not angry at you Adam." Elle admitted.
"Yes you are. You've been nothing but a bitch all day."
"I'm not." This was not the can of worms Elle wanted to open on six hours sleep in the last two days but he'd never believe her. "I'm freaked out by it."
It wasn’t possible for Adam to look anymore stunned than he already was. But as the unexpected words tumbled from her lips he stumbled backwards against the kitchen counter. "What?"
Elle surveyed the water damage to its full extent ignoring the jolt of pleasure that surged through her system at the mere sight of him. She was going to have to open that can of worms after all. If for no other reason that to get her head into gear.
"You've stopped being Adam. Self centered, egotistical, pain in my ass, Adam. And I can't get my head around why?" Elle began as she paced the small square kitchen. "Did you change or did I? Because if you'd have pulled that crap on me three days ago, you'd be joining the unemployment line right now and you know it."
Adam gasped at the her blunt statement as she looked at him.
"Why would you do something so foolish? And in front of all those people whose first reaction will be to tell girlfriend. And why won't you let me be pissed at you? I have a right to be. You coerced me to that ball. Do you think I'd have gone if I didn't think for one second she'd be heartbroken you took another woman the same day you broke up. I don't count! At least I didn't think I did."
Elle smacked her hand against her head. Stupid. Stupid. Now, how would it look? It was Elle's fault Lanie dumped his ass and went to New York in the first place. She was running her mouth off because he'd pissed her off again. she didn't know Lanie was in the room and heard the whole thing. What were the chances of Lanie taking him back after she heard of this?
"You seduced me Adam! And now you won't leave me alone, but as much as I'm telling you to go I don't want you to because my best friend has disappeared and for the first time in ten years you're actually being useful. Why?"
"I don't believe I've never seen it before." Elle frowned "You're a control freak."
"Yes." Very much so. Elle was in control of everything, every second or every day and she didn't like it when things didn't go according to plan. So she'd make it my business to know everything and could change anything and any point. It was what made her good at what she did. "Because you're the good time boss that everybody loves and I keep control of the reins because by god no one wants the feel the wrath of Richards. But I haven't been able to control anything in two days and that's why I'm freaking out."
“Ok” His lips formed a thin line as he nodded. He turned to look at her for a moment. “I get it”
“No! You don’t get it.” She hadn’t meant to screech but she had no control over her reactions. “You can’t possibly understand I was too preoccupied with trying to explain these" Elle dragged an A4 envelope from her bag beside him "to my reporter best friend to notice that something was wrong with Meg."
Meg's dealing with a lot right now and if she wanted to tell you how she was feeling, she’d have called for a chat. But she didn’t. She probably needs some space. Meg left her kids with you because she knows they’re safe, just relax and go with it.”
“Go with it! Are you out of your mind?!” Adam backed a few steps away from her “I don’t just go with anything.”
"Alright" Adam held his hand up in mock surrender "You're close to going nuclear so just... hear me out on this." He stepped forward and soothed her arms. "You've always gone along with me before. So I'm asking you trust me this time. Stop trying to fight the cosmos because, Elle, that's a battle you're not going to win."
A guilty gasp hit the back of Elle’s throat and her eyes fell to the floor. He’d done everything for her, he brought lunch, and he had taken Danni to her training session and brought her home. He’d taken care of the girls while she showered. He’d been there for her all day and all she’d done was tell him she didn’t need his help, to go away and leave her alone, she’d talk with him on Monday. And when that didn’t work she’d snapped and bitched or ignored he was even there. He was a visitor in her home and she had been the most inhospitable host.
“I'm sorry” Elle let a deflated sigh escape her lips, let her head rest against his damp shoulder. “I’ve been a nothing but a bitch to you all day.”
"Its nice to know you're actually human." Adam chuckled "Losing tempers with clients, making out with the boss at parties, having an evil twin lurking under the surfacing. You know, I was starting to get an inferiority complex basking in all of your perfection.”
Elle lifted her head with a mock glare "Ooh look there's that evil twin again." He grinned stepping back. His eyes homed in on the envelope before he leaned against the work surface. “I do get it Elle. You’re out of your comfort zone.” His arm stretched effortless towards the envelope. Had he lost interest in the conversation? “But you refuse to let anyone else worry about Meg and you’re scared of whatever is in here...” His nonchalance stuck like a ball of aniseed in the back of her throat, and tasted just as bitter as Adam peeled open the envelope and peered inside “Oh shit.” Adam’s gaze snapped up to met Elle’s "how did you get a copy of these?" Before she had time to answer he added “They weren’t supposed to exist after my meeting with Bill, I watched him delete these files. For his daughter's sake. He doesn't want Mel to see this.”
“Bill’s editor in chief of a newspaper Adam. His instinct will always be to double check the facts.”
“God damn it. I'll never understand this friendship you have with Alexis Monticelli. She does nothing but mess with your head." Adam began thumbing the photographs “Can't you just see this for what it was?”
Elle lifted a questioning eyebrow at him. "And what was it exactly?"
“A very enjoyable night between two friends."
Elle snickered and pinned him with an amused glare. "That's all there is to it?"
His eyes drifted to the picture in his hands. A smile curved at his lips. "Alright yes! It was a damn fine kiss." He grinned "But it wasn't one sided you know, you kissed me right back.”
"I…” Her eyes fluttered a few stunned blinks. "What?”
Adam turned the page, showing her the picture in his hand with pride. “That kiss…” Every ounce of her strength kept Elle’s eyes focused on the freeze frame of a moment that would be permanently etched into her memory. A perfect moment, when the world made sense, she felt safe and she relinquished control to him and look where that had got her. “...is the kind of perfection even you can’t fake.”
“Oh good God, No!” her high pitched shriek tumbled into a forced cackle “Don’t. Be. Ridiculous.
” His chin lifted with intrigue, his right brow questioning her denial. Elle swallowed against the awkward realization he was enjoying watching her squirm. She folded her arms defensively against her chest and declared “I'm not attracted to you Adam.”
He was unbelievable! Elle gasped with horror. “It is actually possible for a woman to be single and straight and not to find you attractive” Adam shook his head, “Then believe me when I say I must be the only woman alive who still wouldn't go to bed with you even if you were the last man on this planet.”
Adam cocked his head back and laughed. "You so would."
“Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Elle cried “This isn’t my life anymore. It can’t be. I’ve stepped into an alternative reality, I’m sure of it” she turned away from Adam, holding her forehead with her hand “I don’t wear prissy dresses and go to glamorous parties because I don’t like the people there. My best friends don’t dump their kids on me and disappear without a trace. And men do not randomly pull me into their arms and kiss me when I’m not expecting it. The whole world has gone completely—”
His hand captured her wrist, tumbling Elle into his arms. His other hand was already grazing passed her cheek and slipping to the back of her neck as he pulled her towards him. Elle shrieked. “What are you—” His mouth sliced acrossed her protest, silenced her immediately to the shock and wonder of the intense contact from his lips.
The fight that had been so powerfully cursing through her insides was simply gone, replaced by a familiarity that Elle wanted to feel uneasy with but couldn't. Kissing Adam shouldn’t be familiar. It had only ever happened once before and yet it felt like his lips had been made to mold against hers.
The fierceness of his kiss began to melt away, his thumb caressing the rapid pulse in her wrist before he let it go. The tentative warm hand grazed over her waist. It melted her resistance like butter. So maybe she did like kissing Adam?
As quickly as it began it was over. Adam lifted his head away from hers with a determined purpose in his expression. He let her go. He stepped back and leaned against the counter. The only thing giving away that anything had happened was the intensity in his eyes.
“Now that was randomly pulling you into my arms and kissing you when you least expect it.” Oh god! She physically couldn’t form words. Instead, she forced her head to bob in silent agreement. “The other night you were already there and you’d have been disappointed if I hadn’t kissed you because in that moment Elle, you wanted it as much as I did. So please don't blame me for that one.”
Her stomach jumped. Her pulse skipped and her breath caught all in at the same time and she was struck by the sudden need to feel his lips against hers once more. Elle broke eye contact, turning her face away from his. “You have to stop doing that Adam. You know the rules.”
“I can’t promise you that.” Her mouth gaped open as he stepped forwards. “I thought I knew you. But I only see the real you when you’ve completely rendered control…” His gentle hand tucked a stray curl behind her ear. “...to me.”
“Who will keep control, if I don't?” Elle hesitated stepping away from him.
“And for a moment there you had me thinking there’s nothing more effective than a mind-blowing-lose-yourself-in-the-moment-and-forget-everything-else kind of kiss.”
“You think you're that good?”
Hell yes! But she wasn't telling him that. The man had an ego the size of mars as it was.
There was something about kissing Adam that had the ability to make her think of nothing else. Elle shook her head looking for an excuse to turn away from him that would also allow her to focus her mind on something other than the wobbly feeling of her insides. The kettle was still on the counter. She painted on a smile, happy to put some distance between them. “No.”
Still, it wasn’t enough space. She felt his warmth behind her even before he whispered into her ear. “Then I must have been doing it wrong.”
His voice stole her ability to breathe as it caressed her skin, lifted the hairs on her arms. Her lips parted. She couldn't do this. She didn't want to this. It was complete and utter madness to do this. Elle glanced at his reflection in the window. “How about I make that coffee?”
Adam's arm wrapped around her waist, pulled her into him as he inhaled deeply. A protest formed on her lips as she dropped the kettle. He spun her to face him. And she saw it. Heard it in his voice. "This is crazy."
His hesitation scream at her, called to her common sense. This was a very bad idea. If anyone every found out about this their careers would be history. Her career, built on sheer determination but had fueled the water cooler gossip of who she'd slept with to get there for so long, would be history. And yet everything was getting smaller, closing in on her, becoming insignificant until she was caught between the solid granite counter and the hard place.
Oh. My. God.
Something enchanting shimmering in his eyes. It sent an eager shiver through Elle's spine and the butterflies took flight in her stomach.
"Elle..." Adam whispered, his had tightened around her waist pulled her closer still. "I need to you say something..." His breath shuddered from his throat as he brushed her fringe from her eyes, tilted her face slightly as he began to lower his head.
Paralyzed by the anticipation Elle could only watch and wait for him to make his move. "Please Elle..." His breath fanned across her cheeks, his nose grazed across hers. His lips enticed her into the briefest of dances before he whispered. "You must stop me."
She could only manage on word. "Why?"
"Why indeed." He whispered meeting her waiting lips.
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