"So, what pizza do you want to order? There's a great place just round the corner." Alex closed the door behind me, and pulled off her leather jacket. God, her arms are incredible.
"I always go for a good old cheese and tomato."
"My favourite," she smiled, and handed me a menu and phone. "You order; I'll pay?"
"Oh no, you don't have to-"
"I want to." I hesitated, before shrugging.
"I'll get us something to drink. What do you want? Coffee, tea... beer?"
"Whatever you're having."
"Beer it is."
When I'd ordered, I had time to look around. Alex's place was a large loft space, with bare brick walls and large windows. Large wooden bookshelves stood in one corner, next to a large, comfy-looking, brown leather sofa and matching chair. There was a large rough wooden dining table as part of the kitchen, which was insanely gorgeous. And I could see, through the coloured glass of sliding doors, a bedroom, on the other side. I tried not to stare too much at that, and instead headed in to the kitchen, where Alex was sitting on the counter. She grinned, and passed me a beer.
"How long did they say?"
"Great. I'll go get it; you can stay here."
"Are you sure?"
I leant against the table and took a sip of beer. She smirked at me and rolled her eyes.
"I don't think I've ever seen you this nervous."
"I'm not nervous." I retorted. Okay maybe a little. But why would I be? I mean it's not like anything was going to happen. Unless that was what she was planning. I mean... was it?
"You haven't taken off your jacket, and you're standing as far away from me as possible, without seeming rude."
"Damn psychologist." I smirked, before laying the beer down and getting rid of the jacket. I hung it on one of the chairs. "Happy now?"
"Yes. You know you don't have to be nervous. This invitation doesn't have strings. I don't expect anything. I just didn't want you going home and staying up playing it over and over in your mind."
I frowned, and took a gulp of beer. She watched me carefully.
"Thanks then, I guess."
"You have a great place, by the way. I love bare brick walls."
"Me too," she grinned. "Want to see where I put Jekyll and Hyde?"
She slipped off the counter and gestured for me to follow her.
"This is my book corner. And this shelf," she pointed at the one at the top, "is where I put all of my favourites." I scanned them.
"So where's Jekyll and Hyde?"
"Usually, there." She pointed at the large gap, almost in the middle. "But I was reading it last night, so it's on my bedside table, at the moment." We both glanced a the sliding doors, although I looked away fairly quickly.
"Well, I'm glad you're looking after it."
"I am." She smiled, and then settled herself on to the sofa. "So, do you want to talk about what happened... tonight?"
"Not particularly." I shrugged.
"Okay, what about your report?"
I rolled my eyes and flopped down at the opposite end of the sofa. She turned so that she was facing me.
"It's almost done."
"I didn't doubt that. I just didn't want you to not get the same treatment as everyone else."
"I can email it to you, if you want? But really, I think I'm good."
"Whatever you want." She took another gulp of beer, and to fill the gap, so did I.
"So...?" She laughed. "We can talk about whatever you want."
"Have you always been a lecturer? Or did you do something else before that?" I asked. I couldn't think of anything else that would lead to a suitable conversation.
"No, I haven't. I worked in a prison for a year, and then I decided I wanted to teach."
"Couldn't handle being around all those women?" I teased. She raised an eyebrow. "Oh my god, seriously?"
"No. That's not why I left. Not the way that you mean it anyway." I raised my eyebrow, encouraging her to go on. "I realised that I couldn't help but take it home with me. Everything going on there... it stays with you. It ruined my relationship because I didn't talk about how it was affecting me. I took patient confidentiality to mean I couldn't even discuss my own feelings when I got home. And those women... they'd been through too much for me to be in a less than perfect state when it came to helping them. I couldn't help them if I didn't help myself."
"Do you regret it?"
"Not for a second. That job taught me what I actually wanted to do in life."
"I meant the break up."
She studied me for a second, and then smiled.
"No. We weren't right for each other anyway. I mean, she hated my bike; wanted me to get rid of it." I snorted and she pretended to glare at me. "She used to put her mugs on my books."
"Now that is terrible." I added, completely seriously. No one should mess with books.
"We didn't want the same things. And although it took me being shrouded in self study to notice, it took her a few days in to me not paying as much attention to her as my own worries for her to start looking for someone else."
"I think you're better off then." I said, after a moment of silence. "Anyone who could do that to you isn't worth your time." She shot a smile my way, and I shifted. It was odd, feeling this comfortable outside of my own home. But... it didn't feel odd. It felt good. And she was so easy to talk to. She glanced at her watch.
"Oh, pizza. I won't be long. Don't run off, okay?" She paused at the door.
"I'm staying right here." I murmured. She looked so genuinely happy before she hurried out of the door. "What am I doing?" I hissed to myself. She's totally awesome and gorgeous and intelligent and I think I'm falling- NO. Hell no stop right there. Okay. Take another gulp of beer. Walk it off.
So that's how I found myself dawdling outside her bedroom, wondering if I should take a peek inside. I shouldn't; I mean it's an invasion of privacy. But... I mean she's not here. I'd just summoned enough courage to put my hand on the handle, when the door opened. I sprang away, and tried to look innocent, leaning slightly on the kitchen surfaces nearby.
"Pizza!" She called. "Helena?"
"What will it take for you to call me Lena?" I smirked, going to greet her, or more accurately, remove one box of pizza from her grasp.
"I like to stand out from the crowd." She teased. "Come on, we'll eat at the table." She parked her box on the surface, and bent down to open the fridge. "Another beer?"
"You don't have to?" She glanced back at me, and I quickly averted my eyes.
"Yeah, sorry. I got distracted. I'd love one." She handed my the beer, smirking, and sat down, throwing open the lid of her pizza.
"Yep. By this pizza. It smells amazing."
"It'll taste even better." She grinned, taking a bite. I followed her lead, and actually moaned a little.
"Oh my god, so good." I saw the hazing of her eyes and the light blush from the corner of my eyes, and toned down my response. "You were totally right. Great pizza."
We didn't really chat much during the pizza, but we still didn't manage half before Alex sat back, stretching.
"If I eat another slice you're going to have to roll me out of this chair."
"I highly doubt that." I grinned, eyeing the bit of toned stomach that her stretch had revealed. She grinned, biting her lip.
"Oh please. It's not that good." She stood up, closing the pizza box and carrying it to the fridge.
"I mean, that wasn't the best view, but I'm pretty sure it is." I closed up my pizza box, leaving it on the table as I stood up, grinning at her, and washed my hands.
"I'm sure yours is much better. I mean, I know it is."
"How?" I raised my eyebrow.
"See-through black shirt. Dancing with a pretty blonde. Ringing any bells?" She grinned, leaning on the surface to watch me dry my hands.
"I remember. You were dancing with Michael. I told you he had a crush."
"You were right," she admitted.
"I know. But regardless, you've still got a better stomach."
"I thought you didn't get a good look?"
"I'd like to." She took a sharp intake of breath as soon as the words were out of my mouth, and I wondered whether I'd gone too far. It had all felt so comfortable, that I'd almost forgotten that we shouldn't really be doing this. And then, very slowly, she moved her hands to the hem of her top. I watched, transfixed, as she lifted the material, revealing an inch, then two, and then more of a smooth, toned stomach, with indentations that didn't quite go as far as to be the beginning of a six pack. And all I could think of was how it would feel to kiss those lines, to trail my tongue along them and feel her stomach tighten underneath me.
And then I met her eyes, and she took another breath. I must have looked like I wanted to pounce on her. And then she dropped the hem, just as I took the few steps I needed to close the gap between us, and kiss her.
It was better than before. She had her fingers tangled in my hair, scratching at my scalp in a way that made sparks run across my body. I had her pinned against the counter, my thumbs rubbing circles in to her hips underneath her top. Her tongue... my god. And then she broke away briefly, murmuring a hoarse 'fuck' before reaching to yank off her tank top. I stopped her, capturing her fingers in mine.
"Stop." I murmured against her lips.
"Why?" I sighed and kissed her gently before taking a step back. She was frowning, hurt.
"I do this with everyone. And... I think it's... this... is more. I didn't want to admit it but I don't want to go in to this pretending that I don't care. Because you know that'd be a lie. And if I care... I shouldn't treat you like every other woman."
"So don't. Stay with me. Don't make it a one night thing."
"I won't. But I also don't want to do this the same as all the others. So... and this is so difficult for me to say because... god I want you so much... but can we take this slow?"
"How slow?" She murmured.
"I don't know. Just not this fast."
She groaned a little, which really didn't help my control, but nodded.
"Fine. Just don't look at me like that again if you don't mean to finish what you start."
"I promise." I grinned, reaching to kiss her again. She put a hand on my stomach, stopping me.
"I'm going to need a moment before you kiss me again, if you want me to control myself."
I chuckled and nodded, stepping back.
"Sure. So what do you want to do instead?"