It always felt like a complicated dance between them.
She would come and mess up his life. In return, Lucien would fill her head with wonder and doubts, and eventually hurt her. And even so, Emily was forgiving and understanding every time, knocking his ever so carefully constructed plans to the ground.
It worked like elastic, he would pull and pull, but instead of snapping, her heart involved his own, choking him in emotions he didn’t want to feel. And in this, their movements of give and take made them twirl around each other. She was the moth, no, the butterfly that would come too close to him, the open flame that would eventually burn her wings if she came too close.
Lucien knew he was hurting her. Most of the times, it was deliberate, but not malicious. As Ares, he had a greater objective in mind. He would do what he must in order to achieve it.
Even so, Emily baffled him every time, overflowing him with acceptance and warmth. Suddenly his life was filled with color, compassion and her. Even though it would very likely end in disaster between them, Lucien couldn’t completely pull away from her. Her eyes, always so open and clear, would drag him back, the gentle tide inside them luring him irresistibly. He always laughed at her clumsy attempts to understand him, yet she got him every time. Who was the fool indeed?
It was as if she had placed a tight band around his heart and every time he thought he had twisted his way out of it, she would grasp him tighter than ever.
Today was a particularly bad day.
His phone was ringing, the bright screen illuminating the otherwise gloomy room. He left it ring for several moments, her smile in the picture never wavering as if she knew he couldn’t resist her siren call. All around him, his work piled up around him and he considered letting the phone ring indefinitely so she wouldn’t distract him. His fingers twitched around he file he was holding.
Lucien picked up, unable to repel her, annoyance of this knowledge gnawing at his conscience.
“You got a minute, Lucien? I wanna run something by you.”
Lucien stood quiet for some moments, his suddenly bad mood deteriorating.
“Sorry, I’m very busy right now.” It was true. At the same time, he was always hectic with his work, so today was no different.
“Oh, sorry to bother you, I guess you’re busy…” The girl sounded slightly hurt, but she never demanded any more of him. Somehow, that only made it worse. Be selfish, Lucien wanted to tell her. Give me reasons to reject these feelings.
“Alright, I’ve got to go.”
“Okay.” Emily agreed and he was about to hang up when he heard her. “Wait!”
“Even though you’re busy, still, take care, okay? Bye.” She sounded slightly out of breath, almost as if she had to say it all at once, or else he wouldn’t listen to her. And what she did ask for, the only thing, was for him to take care of himself? Lucien felt something stir inside him, yet he didn’t dare to name it.
His heart picked up its pace. How come she could care for him if he was treating her so coldly? He hung up before he could make a fool of himself. Lucien felt out of air, as if there was a brick crushing down on his ribcage.
Needing time to collect his thoughts, he ignored her for the next couple of days. Even so, he couldn’t quite stop himself from helping her when her staff came looking for him. He now had an amount of canned coffee that could be piled to form a pyramid right next to his desk, all so he could cope with his own work and assist her. He blinked, aware of his surroundings for a moment, not remembering the last time he came home.
…She was probably worried for him, wasn’t she?
That thought made his heartbeat accelerate. Lucien checked his phone, seeing her last message. She had invited him to celebrate the successful episode he had helped making. He considered it for a moment, deciding he shouldn’t go.
But perhaps he should go to his apartment, at least for a couple of hours.
He mulled over her offer on the way back and during his shower.
Lucien heard a distinctive ping while he was drying his hair. The towel he was using slid down to his shoulders as he made his way to the living room. It was the ringtone he had configured for her number. Her text didn’t seem to make any sense. That didn’t stop him to research every single way to decipher it, only to be frustrated by the lack of any sense. He tried to call her, but to no avail.
It placed an itch at the back of his brain. And he knew it’d only subside once he saw her again.
“What’s going on with me?” He murmured to himself, but the empty apartment offered no answers.
“Since when do I care about matters like this?”
Lucien knew that mumbling his thoughts aloud wouldn’t make them any clearer, but he still couldn’t help it.
“Didn’t I decide to stay out of her life?” He reprimanded himself aloud, but the irresistible pull towards her was still there, guiding him out of his apartment. He got dressed in a hurry, anxiety creeping up on his actions once he had (reluctantly) decided that he’d see her again.
Lucien was starting to find out he was a terrible liar, if his audience was his own mind.
He strolled into the bar and casually sat next to Emily.
“You’re here, Lucien!” Her eyes seem to twinkle in delight once she saw him. That unfiltered and genuine joy he seemed to inspire in her made his heart throb in his chest. He hadn’t done anything to earn it over the last few days. Yet, she made him feel that being there was enough. That thought made his throat seem to swell, so he kept quiet.
“Aren’t you busy with work?” The girl kept talking, not noticing the whirlwind inside his mind. “Uh, I mean, how come you didn’t text back? I thought you weren’t coming.”
Lucien touched the girl’s face, his fingertip gliding over her smooth cheek. He finally found his voice while watching the mixture of embarrassment and desire swirling inside her eyes.
“Sorry about coming without calling you first.” Even though he had tried.
“You couldn’t get through?” She guessed and started to look for her phone. Once she had fished it out of the couch they were sitting, the screen remained black while she scrambled with it. The girl blushed delightfully. “I must’ve accidentally turned off…”
Lucien chuckled softly.
She burst out laughing, but recovered quickly, a slight self-conscious expression taking over her face. It made him want to smooth the small crease that formed between her eyebrows.
“Were you worried about me?”
He found himself answering without any conscious thought of his part.
“Yes.” What baffled him the most was that it was true. Lucien was worried about her.
He started to formulate a question for her, but before he could ask it, one of Emily’s work colleagues came over. Kiki was talking excitedly over the music.
“Hey, isn’t that professor Lucien? How come you didn’t tell us he’s here, boss?”
Lucien took mercy on his fool and apologized.
“Sorry about inviting myself to your team-building party.”
Kiki waved a hand, dismissing it without ceremony.
“Don’t be! We still miss how well you sang time that we want to hear it again!” After saying that, she excused herself and went to the improvised stage at the corner of the room. Kiki and Anna started a duet of a very depressed song – neither of them sang very well.
“How come you’re not singing?” Lucien returned his attentions to Emily and she was fiddling with her phone, despite her efforts its screen didn’t light up.
“Huh? Oh, I don’t really sing…” He sensed that there was more she wasn’t sharing, but he wouldn’t pry. Instead, he placed his hand over hers and she wove their fingers together almost unconsciously. The heat generated by their palms together felt soothing.
“I know, but I still want to hear it.”
“You’re teasing me again…” Emily pouted a little, her cheeks dusted with red.
Always, little butterfly.
But he still wished he could hear her sing. Lucien sighed.
“I really was concerned about you and also I really want to hear you sing.” He used his free hand to push a lock of her hair behind her ear. In his mind, he was drawing patterns on her skin. “It’s all true.”
Kiki and Anna were still belching the same sad song, the lyrics telling about someone leaving and promising the other would feel sad when they were gone. He munched internally over that, glancing away from Emily.
Soon after that, they were approached by Willow and others coworkers that wanted them to join their game.
“Ok, now we’re doing Truth or Dare. Answer truthfully, or down all these drinks!” Willow announced, showing a row of five whiskey shots. Emily eyed carefully the glasses and Lucien was amused by that. For her, it would be a game of truth or coma if it ever came down to the shots. He also knew that she was too stubborn to simply walk away, so they both sat down along with the others. The girl looked at him quizzically, as if questioning his ability to drink. He patted her hand reassuringly.
The bottle spun for a couple of times, and Kiki questioned Willow about a possible crush. Glancing daggers at the other girl, Willow nodded. Next, the bottle pointed to him.
“So, Professor Lucien, is there anyone you’re crushing on here?”
“Can’t you get new materials?” Willow jabbed. Kiki simply shrugged.
“That’s why I added ‘here’!”
Lucien chucked and nodded without any thought.
Even though it seemed quite obvious to him, his admission took everyone else by surprise. The room was as close to silent as possible for a whole minute.
Emily tried to take her hand away, but Lucien pulled it back, grasping it firmly. She shouldn’t feel insecure about it, but he felt like he should provoke her about it.
“Why the red face?”
Now that he had asked about it, her cheeks were a shade or two darker. This was doing a number on his feelings as well and he started to wonder how he’d like to have that conversation in a private setting.
“I, uh, had some liquor.”
“But I didn’t see you drink.” He was trying to keep a serious tone, but the amusement kept seeping into his voice. Emily didn’t seem to hear it, though.
“Then it must be hot in here.”
The air conditioner blew a cool breeze on them as if on cue and Lucien couldn’t help but laugh. Emily became redder at that.
“Next… It’s the professor again.”
He nearly forgot he was still part of the game, too enthralled with her reactions. Reluctantly, he turned his head to Kiki. Willow took the lead and asked the question.
“Who’s the one you’re crushing on?”
Lucien decided it would be too much to openly declare his feelings in front of an audience. Emily was almost burying her head on his shoulder, so he took mercy on her and downed the five shots in quick succession. They burned his throat and stung his eyes, but he didn’t cough.
The crowd seemed somewhat disappointed, but they soon resumed spinning the bottle.
“Are you alright, Lucien?” Again, she was more worried about him than herself. Even though the alcohol was giving pleasant warmth on his stomach for now, he didn’t feel too different.
“I’m fine… But you, you owe me a truth.”
“Umm.” Emily licked her lips, as if her mouth was suddenly dry. Lucien realized they were inching closer to each other as the minutes went by. For a second, he considered how it would feel like to kiss her. His head felt lighter and he couldn’t tell if it was the whiskey or her proximity. Her scent invaded his lungs and he breathed it in, as if to trap it there.
“Finally it’s the boss’s turn!” Kiki clapped her hands together in joy and all the others cheered. She and Willow debated for a moment before firing the question.
“Tell us who is the most important to you and why, and be specific.”
His heart picked up its pace and he felt her hand squeeze his slightly. He squeezed it back to reassure her. Lucien felt slightly annoyed by their interruption, but he was also interested on Emily’s answer.
“Why do I get the tough questions?” Emily whined, but none of them offered any clemency.
“Come on, don’t try to weasel out of this one!” It was one of the others that had said this, but it could have been Lucien himself. He felt as curious as everyone else about that one, if not more.
Emily took a deep breath, chewing her lower lip for a moment before replying.
“Because I got to know this someone, he showed me a brand new world. He’s gentle but not pretentious, a mystery but also clear as day. He can see all my thoughts and teaches me the ways of the world. When I meet a setback, he’d guide me with patience and understanding.” Her eyes shone brightly while her voice sounded gentle with reminiscence. Inside, Lucien was burning. Who was he? “He… is very important to me.”
That small pause. As if she couldn’t decide how much more she should share, because there were volumes to say about that person. Lucien never considered himself a very jealous man. At that instant, though, he scorched inside with the necessity of being the only one in her life. The only one she would speak of so sweetly of.
“That was visceral. I bet the person ain’t here or she wouldn’t have said all that!” Lucien didn’t pay attention to whoever had said that, but the words echoed inside him with a hollow feeling.
“I really want to know who that is.” Kiki said with a slightly malicious glint in her eyes, as if she was only teasing her boss about something that was already a well-known fact. He never wished so fearfully that his evol involved mind reading.
“Never mind... Spin the bottle again.” Hell bent loose among her staff over the subject, but Emily didn’t comment anything else about it. Lucien decided to bid his time and get his answers later. In the meantime he decided that he should drink some more and perhaps gain some sort of perspective on the subject.
Sometime later, Emily excused herself to the restroom. He couldn’t help himself. Lucien followed her, his vision swaying a little. He found her drying her hands near the sink of the ladies toilet. He closed the distance between them, pressing their bodies together, his hands taking hold of her wrists and holding them against the wall. She glanced at him wide eyed, surprise written on her features.
“That person who is most important to you…” He started saying, only to be met by bewilderment on her expression. Something so fundamental to him didn’t seem to even cross her mind once she had spoken it.
“Who is he? Tell me.” Desperation was leaking through his every pore, oozing into his voice.
“Why?” Could she not see how crucial it was she’d tell him whoever that man was so he could crush him?
“Tell me!” He could barely contain his rage towards that undefined stranger that kept haunting his thoughts.
“It’s you.” Her voice was quiet and she met his eyes with a meek and wounded expression. His heart seemed to simultaneously stop and accelerate at the same time over those words. His anger seemed to evaporate, as if it was never there to start.
“It’s you I was talking about. You’re very important to me.” Emily murmured it. “Everything I said was meant for you to hear but you misunderstood...”
Lucien was shocked. It took him a few seconds to process the enormity of her confession and just how much of a jerk he was being to her at that point.
“I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?” He released her wrists, massaging them with his fingertips. She glanced down for a moment, embarrassment tinting her cheeks. Guilt crashed down on him and he bit the inside of his cheek with enough force to draw blood. The metallic taste and the pain did the trick to sober him up.
“A little bit…” The girl told him, still not looking up. That crushed him much more than he ever supposed it would. He pulled her for a hug and when she melted in his embrace, releasing a shaky breath, it dawned on him.
Lucien loved her.
It was a very twisted and possessive feeling, not at all the sugary sort of love she deserved. But he did love her.
“I’m very sorry.” He whispered against her ear, even though apologizing might not be enough. He had cornered and scared her and that behavior wasn’t acceptable. He was suddenly too aware of her presence when he tried to pull away and how she grabbed his jacket to stop him from doing so.
“Don’t go…” She clung to him almost desperately, as if she was afraid of him disappearing if she let him go. Somehow, she always knew when he was about to leave her. So he stayed. He couldn’t really deny her anything, especially not now.
And then it happened.
Emily stretched herself to the tip of her toes (it always baffled him the difference in their heights, even when she was wearing heels) and she kissed him. For a moment, he simply stood motionless, too stumped and maybe a little too drunk to react to her sudden boldness. She then whimpered impatiently, the small noise breaking his immobile state.
She grasped his hair and twisted it around her fingers, her delicate nails scratching his scalp and making him gasp. He pulled her towards him; it felt almost uncanny how she fit perfectly in his arms. He was like a satellite, gravitating around her due to her irresistible attraction. He felt like he belonged with her.
Emily moaned in his mouth, breathlessly deepening the kiss on her own accord and for a moment he forgot about anything else. There was only this girl and whatever he could do to make her feel pleasure.
It was the sort of kiss that made him feel like he was drowning and she was his lifeline. He didn’t know the moment she had him so entranced about her. At the same time, he would be lying to himself if he couldn’t tell he was wrapped around her little finger. The band she had placed around his heart gripped him tighter than ever, caging it with his feelings for her.
He caressed her sides, the gentle curve of her breasts, and her hard nipples over her blouse. He slipped his hand inside her neckline, his fingers making a path of caresses and tease. The girl sighed in the middle of the kiss, the muffled sound riling him up. He tormented her with small touches and only when she started to rub her thighs together for some friction that he indulged her and let his hands under her skirt, pinching her inner part of her legs. She suffocated a small scream at his touch.
“Lucien!” Emily whispered, and she seemed to be suddenly aware they were in a public setting. Lucien didn’t mind it much, but bantering with her was always a priority.
“Yes?” His fingers traced the outline of her panties, drawing the shape of her labia, gently separating them so he could caress her clitoris through the fabric. Lucien was pleasantly surprised by how soaked the silky lace already was. The girl’s eyes fluttered shut for a moment and she seemed to forget her thought on the subject.
That simply wouldn’t do.
“Talk to me, Emily.” He pushed aside her ruined panties, sliding a single digit inside her, while moving his thumb in a circular motion around her sensitive clit in an unhurried pace. Her breathing was becoming ragged.
“I… Hm…” Her incoherency was delicious, and he couldn’t help himself but to indulge in it. Hearing from her that he was her most important person was making his heart beat in a funny way, emotions clashing inside him.
Lucien used his free hand to close and lock the restroom door. The sound didn’t seem to reach the girl, too lost in chasing her own pleasure to use her focus on anything besides it. He placed her on the corner of the sink and she rested her forehead on the crook of his neck. He sped up his tempo and he felt her shudder against him. Emily was getting close.
She bit him shoulder, hard, to keep herself from screaming when she climaxed. That grounded him enough that while her walls were fluttering around his fingers, he didn’t make any sound, even if he did follow suit. He took a few seconds to come back to his senses fully. When he did, he realized he had come on his pants, just like a teenager. He chuckled at himself at that.
“Hm?” Emily raised her head slowly, her voice sounding a little raspy and tired.
“It’s nothing, butterfly.” He kissed the top of her head and they untangled slowly.
Once she had recovered her balance, she glanced at the door cautiously.
“I don’t want to go back.”
“We could go out thought the back entrance.” He suggested and she was nodding eagerly even before he had finished it. Emily was easy to please in that sense.
“…Maybe we could continue this in your apartment?” She said without meeting his eyes, cheeks burning bright red. This warmed his chest in an unexplainable way.
He embraced her by the waist and kissed her neck.
“Of course we can.”