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One - Chaos
Explosions behind us kept me moving at the frantic pace. His vice grip on my elbow kept me from stumbling, but I could no longer feel my fingers. Without warning he released me then gave me a shove into a small niche along the stone passageway. He did it with such force that my back struck the wall driving my breath from my lungs, yet it was his sweaty body pressing against mine made me breathless. He shifted giving me more protection as the blast rumbled past our hiding place, unfortunately, he moved closer and tighter.
His breath tickled my ear making me more aware of my weakness. The way he pressed so intimately against me made me dizzy with want. My daydreaming was going to get me into trouble, and put me into a situation I would rather avoid. I resented my dreaming and my lack of controlling it. I inhaled deeply finding his scent more amazing than before. The ringing in my ears subsided, there was a new sound, and everything had gone quiet. He remained against me and my heart beat in a wild panic desiring the impossible.
“Okay,” I whispered, “let me out.”
“Are you sure,” his husky voice was laughing at me.
“Let me out or I will knee you.” I growled out with my frustration, he was intoxicating my senses, and he knew it. I pressed my palms against his naked chest slick with sweat giving him a shove, but he didn’t budge. “I mean it Matt!” I growled pushing harder ignoring my racing heart. I was certain he knew what he did to me, and I hated that he flaunted this knowledge with his humor.
The moment I began to raise my leg he jerked backward holding up his hands in surrender. I glared at him until he backed a good distance away. I fought my shaking limbs while looking at the aftermath of the destruction. I took a couple of steps then spun around to face him. “What the fuck just happened, Matt?”
A smile tugged at his lips every time I swore. It annoyed me, but he also knew I was furious. He controlled the smile and shook his head. “I’m not sure.” He muttered, crossing his arms, looking past me in the direction of the site. “I told them we were down here and that I would radio them when it was all clear.” I could hear his anger, now. It was the third time that some sort of miscommunication almost killed someone on the team, and usually that someone was me.
Fright began beating in my heart. ‘Someone is trying to kill me,’ I thought. I ran my fingers through my hair only to tangle it in the barrette that held it back. I made a sound that was between a snarl, a growl, and a curse, when I jerked the clip out of my hair throwing it across the chaos. I finger-combed it trying to remain composed but the thoughts were still heavy. ‘Someone is trying to kill me.’
I turned back toward the excavation site and headed toward it with a panic. Matt was close behind me and I ignored him as he said my name. He caught me before I was too far ahead and turned me to face him.
“Why are you mad at me?” he snapped. “I just saved your life, Lorie.”
I glared up at him through my brow, “I wouldn’t have been here if you hadn’t said there was an issue.”
His jaw dropped in surprise. “There was!” he sputtered. “Something didn’t look right with the drawings, and the placement of the explosives. You insisted on doing it without me. So when I inspected it, well, it didn’t match the schematics, and I got a bad feeling, that’s why I got you.”
He crossed his arms in his anger. I was drawn to the rise and fall of his chest. Anything he said after was lost to me as I watched his heart beating with his breath. My fingertips wanted to touch his flesh again. I began mentally scolding myself as I stormed toward the main site.
Once there, my heart sunk. It was ruined. Everything. All the years of my research … gone. The precision during the initial dig, the findings, the painful planning to preserve the valued historical pieces, vaporized. It became nothing more than part of the rubble.
Overwhelmed by the knowledge that someone had sabotaged my work, I crumbled. All the years spent in research, my wasted life, had been for nothing, now. I covered my mouth with my hand trying to fight the tears of regret, and despair. It was too much to fight, and I sunk to my knees, sobbing wildly in to my palms. Unleashing emotions I had been controlling too well, but this loss was too great to suppress them.
His arm slowly went around my shoulders, and the tender sounds he made to soothe my sobs were more than I deserved. I had been mean to him. Yet, he was holding me, trying to soothe me. Against the years of resisting his company and comfort I turned accepting his powerful embrace. Even as I turned to embrace him he recoiled slight in surprise before embracing me. His heart was kind, and I knew he was a good man, but he was too confident. His grip tightened as he continued in his gentle soothing tones. For the first time in my life I felt completely secure and protected. Then my thoughts attacked me of how he was always close by to protect me, or help me, if I needed it. My sobs of loss turned to sobs of guilt.
Inhaling his sweat made me lightheaded. His scent was strong and perfect and smelled so good. I lifted my head from his shoulder, brushing away the tears from my cheeks. His tender copper gaze locked with mine. Without thought or word his mouth was on mine. His tongue seeking mine with hunger and he was stealing my breath of which I willingly surrendered.
With a groan, he pulled his hungry kiss from my lips. He searched my eyes for a moment before kissing me again. My mind was spinning, warning me, to break away and forget the moment, to forget him, but I burned. Cursing my senses, I caressed every muscle, slowly dragging my fingertips down. Touching each hard muscle and how they felt made me want him in ways that I knew I shouldn’t. I jerked away from his kiss the moment my fingers brushed against the top of his jeans. Yet I remained on my knees and still wrapped in his embrace.
“Matt,” I managed to say, regardless how breathless I was. “I can’t…we can’t…”
The sound he made tore at my heart, “I know,” he whispered, “but for just that moment…I thought... it was possible.” He brushed his lips against my temple. “I wanted it to be possible…”
The hunger and longing in his voice startled me. He could have anyone of his choosing, but he had set his sights on me. I couldn’t understand it. What was it about me that he desired? Was it because I was unavailable? Or was I was something for him to conquer. The thought of being an object to conquer squelched the lust I had. I began to move when his grip tightened.
“Laurel, wait,” he breathed almost too soft for me to hear, “please, let me hold you, just a moment longer and dream.”
I relaxed in his embrace and he let out a breath pressing his forehead against my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around him resting my cheek against his temple. My heart had an unsteady beat when it hit me, he knew my given name, most never cared to know, and most just thought my name as ‘Lorie’ and nothing more. From the time we met, three years ago, he constantly surprised me with his knowledge.
After a moment I felt his breath on my neck, soon a kiss, and slowly his mouth worked upward to mine. Even wanting to resist, I could not. I accepted his kiss. The sweet tenderness was unexpected, making my resistance more difficult than before. Lost in the emotion and the feeling, the yearning became stronger, and I shifted my body until my legs were wrapped around his waist. I wanted to feel him against my secret place.
I never wanted a man the way I wanted Matthew. It terrified me, but that terror was trumped by the kisses devouring my neck. The way he breathed my name made my skin tingle. He said it with such reverence and longing which I had never heard or experienced before. His hand timidly slipped beneath my blouse then greedily caressing my breast, my body burned for him. I needed him to explore me with his mouth, and I was not ashamed of that feeling. His lips were on mine again, and I felt an urgent hunger and need in his kiss.
“Dr Page, Lorie Page?” a voice from behind us brought us to our senses. “Inspector Hall? Are you all right?”
He spat a curse but then placed his palm against my cheek quickly and tightened his grip around my waist. “Laurel,” he breathed then kissed me gently. “I’m sorry.”
Giving him a frown I untangled my legs from around him. The blush burned my cheeks as I fought to stand on my trembling limbs. Matthew steadied me and I looked into his copper eyes seeing more of his soul than before. The tenderness and caring I saw made me cringe that I had been too blind to see before. Reluctantly he released my hand and looked toward the main tunnel leading to the site. He took a shaky breath, cleared his throat, and gave me a painful glance.
“We are okay, thankfully.” His voice carried and boomed with the authority I was used to hearing.
“Matt,” my voice was in a breathless rush looking at him with fear and worry.
He gave me a wounded look, “You should know that I wouldn’t say anything…”
I shook my head. “it’s not that…” I glanced at the opening and the flashlights in motion caused a strobe effect as they raced toward us.
“What?” he said gently. “They are almost here.”
I bit my lip looking back at him. I pressed my hand against his cheek. Everything within me screamed to stop this madness but I yearned to kiss him again. Searching his eyes I could see his pain, his duality, his hunger, his duty, and responsibility. Knowing we could not be anything to each other because it would cause a greater conflict, with a side of jealousy, but at that moment it didn’t matter.
I stood on my tip toes pressing my lips against his. I breathed against his lips. “Don’t ever be sorry about this.”
He caressed my cheek before I could pull away. The softness in his eyes explained how much my words meant. The tenderness in his smile melted my heart, and I cursed the reasons. I could see his lips move but before he could speak, the racing feet slowed, they had reached the entrance. He put a respectable distance between us and gave me a nod to look away from him. I let out my breath facing the handful of men as they appeared.
“Lorie!” the exasperated voice of my father came from the back of the group. I let out a breath forcing myself to give him a smile as he pushed through to embrace me. “Oh, sweet mercy, you are okay.” He glanced at Matthew, “I knew you would protect her, I knew you were a good man, Mr Hall—“
“It’s just Matt, sir.”
He gave a nod reaching forward setting his hand on his shoulder. “Eh, Matt, thank you for watching over her.” His voice filled with his gratitude.
“I am doing my job, Dr Page, sir, I am all about safety.” Matthew gave us a crooked smile.
“Where exactly is your shirt, Mr Hall?” growled the director as he stormed toward us shoving anyone out of his way. I cringed slightly as his clammy hands touched my forearms gently. “Are you alright, Lorie?”
I clinched my jaw trying to remain calm. “I’m fine Evan, thanks to Mr Hall, and his quick thinking.” I crossed my arms stepping a little closer to my father.
Evan turned his glare back to Matthew then shook his head. “…thinking? ...without a shirt…” he grumbled under his breath then said, “I thought you said it was all clear.”
“I never said such a thing!” Matthew snarled. “You know that, Evan!”
“Stop it!” my father snapped. “Stop bickering. Someone nearly killed Mr Hall, and Lorie, not to mention…” he nodded toward the rubble, “destroyed our work.”
Dark spots dotted my vision. “Someone tried to kill me.” The moment I uttered the words, hearing myself say them, shocked my system. I staggered from my father shaking my head with disbelief. “Why would someone want to kill me?” I looked at Matthew before everything went black.