Apologies for the delay of this chapter, but I've been thinking. I have had a few people inquire about Alice's fate, and the possibility of it perhaps not occurring, so I've found myself at a cross roads and I'm not sure as of yet which path to take. If you have an opinion on this, please do offer it up, I'd love to hear it, and it might help illuminate which path I should take.

Alice

Alice's eyes skimmed over the words of the book she was holding, though they took nothing in. Sitting on the couch with her legs crossed in front of her, she exerted all the self-control she had not to let her eyes stray to Damien's solitary figure on the other side of the room. He had been in a strange mood all day and Alice couldn't help but think that it was because of what had happened last night, though she had no idea what exactly. The quiet and unapproachable demeanour he was in had already impacted upon the momentary joy of crossing an item off her list. When she had woken this morning, she had again checked her coat pocket, thinking perhaps that she had missed it in her haste, though it was still empty.

Deciding that she may as well, she had slid her hand into her left pocket, frowning as her fingers brushed the folded paper inside. Briefly she contemplated it, she had no idea how it could have gotten into her left hand pocket, she was right handed and as such generally used that side. Making the decision to pass it off as her own forgetfulness, she had smoothed it out and crossed off number five. Save someone's life. It was almost surreal how easy it had happened. Had Damien been slightly more aware, there would have been no one to save and Alice had a feeling that there would no doubt have been several corpses instead. A slight smile tugged at her lips from the thought, though it quickly faded.

All day Damien had been in this mood. Earlier, she had asked him why her blood had congealed so easily only to have him brusquely reply that it was because Vampires had coagulators in their saliva. Then he had pushed back the chair he had been sitting in and stalked out of the room, leaving Alice to wonder what she had done wrong. For three hours she had been sitting in the room, attempting to read a book that she wasn't even certain of the topic and trying not to look at Damien for fear that he would catch her gaze. Biting back a sigh she decided that she had had enough of trying not to annoy and aggravate Damien further and she stood, turning towards the door and the promise of her comforting bed. The sound of his quiet voice pierced through her and she stopped dead, "I know what number six on your list is"

Her heat skipped a beat as blood flooded her cream coloured cheeks. He had barely spoken to her all day and now he said that to her. She turned around to face him, seeing him still seated casually on the deep crimson couch. Unsteadily, she spoke,

"How…how do you know that?"

Entwining her fingers in each other, she kept her gaze focused anywhere but him.

"I guessed"

Nodding aimlessly, she cleared her throat of the embarrassment that was filling it, "Well, I, I'm going to bed. Goodnight"

Making to leave, his voice stopped her again, "By my calculations, you're up to number six, Alice"

Alice looked up at him, confusion clouding her eyes, "I…guess"

Watching her for a moment he continued, an emotion she couldn't place clouding his eyes, "Why did you change it from have sex to make love?"

Alice's heart stopped as embarrassment arrested her, her stomach dropping away into a gaping chasm. The burning in her cheeks seeped into her soul but the heat was halted as something caught her attention, "How could you…how could you possibly know that?"

The gleam in his eyes dimmed slightly and he broke eye contact with her, "I, I may have read your list" a contrite expression covered his face, "It fell out of your coat pocket. Curiosity got the better of me. I know I shouldn't have" he broke off, "My question still stands though"

Alice couldn't decide whether to be offended and hurt that he had invaded her privacy like that, or to feel completely and utterly embarrassed. At least now she knew what had happened to her list and why it had ended up in her left hand pocket. Indecision on how to feel tore her in two and she stood there, lost in her emotions.

"Alice?"

Drawn out of herself, she glanced up at him and she wrapped her arms around her body self-consciously, "I…I changed it". She looked down, briefly wondering why she was going to answer his question when she didn't have to. The thought flew on the breeze that rippled through her mind, and she gathered the courage to continue on, "I changed it because, because I wanted it to mean something, and for it to be with someone I care about, and trust, and who cares about me", drawing her arms tighter around herself she continued, "I want it to be gentle and safe and…and I want it to be, be like love"

Blushing furiously she kept her gaze on the soft cream carpet, refusing to look at him as he replied, "It seems to me, that half your requirements have been met"

Tearing her eyes from the fibers of the carpet, she frowned in confusion and looked at him, "What, do you mean?"

In an instant he was standing in front of her, the shock taking her breath away.

"I care about you and it would mean something to me"

His jade eyes stared into hers and Alice's entire world was green. Reaching out, his cool fingers ran down her face and her pulse jumped.

"Alice. Do you want to make love with me?"

A weight pressed down on her chest and her breaths deepened, "I, I, don't, don't know"

He stepped closer to her, "I'll be gentle and you know that you're safe with me. And I've had over three hundred years experience. I'm not some inexperienced boy who wont be able to give you what you want, to fuel your desires, to make you scream in pleasure". He spoke deeply and softly into her ear, sending shivers through her body as it began to comply with what Damien was suggesting. But her mind rebelled and stubborn anger flared within her, hurt stabbing into her unprotected heart. Pulling back her control, she stepped away from him. The anger burning in her eyes only just covering the pain she felt, "Why don't you go and find some other girl to satisfy you Damien"

Anger flashed across his face, "I don't want some other girl. I want you. And I always get what I want"

Alice turned her head away, "Not this time Damien"

Barely restrained anger simmered in his cool eyes, "Why not, Alice, why not me? I told you that I could be patient, and I've been patient. You have no idea how much I want you. I can't take the temptation anymore Alice, I can't pretend that this is enough". He stepped closer to her and his breath ghosted coolly over her face, constrained anger lacing his words, "I can't have this platonic relationship with you anymore and be happy being in ignorance of what it would be like to have you entirely as my own. I need you Alice"

Hurt pierced her as he spoke. Did that mean that everything between them was a lie? All this time he had been waiting to get what it was he wanted from her? Mentally placing a wall between them she spoke, betrayal and outrage in her voice, "I'm not letting you take that from me and use me for your own needs, just to throw me away like all those other girls you have sex with and feed off"

She was pushed up against the wall before she had time to even draw a breath. Damien's hands held her waist and the cold seeped through the thin material of her t-shirt. Alice could feel the strength in his body and was acutely aware of the power he had over her. Raising her eyes to his, she felt fear course through her body as she saw the barely constrained anger swirling in his eyes. She stared transfixed at the internal battle that was raging inside him as his eyes flickered dangerously between the man she knew and the animal that lived inside him. The wall pushed into her back as he pressed himself further into her fragile body. He ran a finger down her neck, halting over her flying pulse, his eyes drawn to the delicate skin that he knew was withholding her blood from him. His voice was barely a whisper, "It would be so easy. So easy, to take what I want"

The pace of her pulse rushed through her fear tensed body and hot tears pricked at her eyes. Terror settled into her every atom and helplessness smothered her. Damien's cool breath ghosted over her face, and she could almost feel the anger in it. A tear escaped its dark confines and ran down her delicate cheek. Tracking the crystal of water as it fell, he blinked and his eyes settled back into their usual green. Moving slowly back up her face he searched her eyes, the fear in her blue orbs evident. Moving back, he released her, letting the breath return to her body. Alice stood there; unable to move from the position Damien had forced her into. His lips parted as he stared at her, "Alice, I…"

He reached a hand out to touch her face but stopped an inch away, hovering just above the skin he hadn't hesitated to caress moments before. Tearing his hand away he ran it through his hair, kneading the palms of his hands into his eyes before turning and walking away, stopping several metres from where she still stood. Alice could see the regret and disappointment in himself radiating out in waves.

"I didn't mean it to sound the way it did" his voice was quiet, yet it penetrated through the still air like a bullet through glass, "You're not one of those girls. I would never use you like I do them. You mean something to me, I just..."

She could see the defeat in him as his shoulders slumped, "I just need to know if I mean something to you"

Alice spoke softly, confusion and concern surging within her, "You mean the world to me Damien"

He turned and walked towards her, gazing softly. Looking down for a moment he glanced back up at her, "When I asked you if you wanted to make love with me, I meant it. It would mean everything to me if you were to give yourself to me like that"

The gentleness in his voice caressed her frayed nerves but she shied away from his words.

"I, I don't know" she bit her lip and looked away, "Why would you want me? Why would you want to make love to me? I don't understand"

He smiled gently, reaching a hand out to tuck her loose strands of hair behind her ear.

"Because I've helped you with everything on your list so far. Think about it, I have, every single thing. And then I spent so long wondering what number six was, and when I found out, when I read your list last night, I knew that it had to be me, I wouldn't let anyone else have you" he broke off as possessiveness filled his voice and he quickly continued, "Not for your first time at least..."

The jealous tone that had crept into his voice sent a thrill threw her and she knew that his last statement had been an attempt to cover it, trying to forget it, so replied, "I'm, I'm afraid Damien, and nervous, and embarrassed, and shy"

He smiled, "I know"

Alice blushed crimson, of course he knew.

"Do you trust me Alice?"

She answered without even thinking about it, "Yes, I trust you with my life"

Stepping closer to her, he lifted a hand and cupped her cheek, the cool banishing the heat of her face, "I'm sorry about before. I shouldn't have lost control like that. And I shouldn't have scared you either"

Smiling softly she broke his gaze, "It's all right. I shouldn't have said what I did"

Searching her blue eyes he replied adamantly, "No, it's not all right. I should be able to control myself and you had every right to say what you did. It's true and I deserved it. I was acting like a complete jerk"

Alice smiled placidly and he mirrored her expression as she spoke, "Is something new?"

His smile widened and Alice bit her lip, attempting to fight the urge to smile widely.

"Living for three hundred years will do that to you"

Laughter fell from her lips and his eyes cleared, allowing Alice to see him for who he was as the mask he continually wore fell around him. He looked down at her and Alice's heart caught in her throat as she noticed how close they were. Moving in closer he tilted her head up to his as he caught her lips in a tender kiss. Slowly he moved his lips over hers, deepening the kiss as she responded. Alice felt his tongue move into her mouth, caressing her softly as the cool of his mouth permeated into hers. Gingerly she slid her tongue into his mouth, uncertain in her actions. Sensing her hesitancy he slowed his movements, allowing her to adjust.

He placed his hand around her waist and pulled her closer, pressing his body into hers. Raising her arms she placed her hands around his neck, running one of them through his dark hair, her fingertips dancing across his skull. Damien held tighter as a sigh of satisfaction escaped him. Alice glowed, pleased that she could elicit a response from him at all. His hand ran down her body, slipping up under her thin shirt and she shivered at his touch. The chill from the contact drew her back to reality and she blushed when she remembered that this was more than a kiss. Pulling back he stroked her cheek, "Don't be nervous"

She smiled weakly, "I really hate that you can do that, it's not fair. And I can't help being nervous"

He laughed softly, "I'm sorry, would you like me to pretend that I don't know? Would that help?"

Running her finger idly over his neck she replied, "I think that would make it worse. Because I would still know that you know that I'm nervous, or afraid or whatever it is I'm feeling at that point in time"

His eyes glowed, "I suppose there would be little point, seeing as I would know that you know, that I know how you're feeling"

Laughter escaped her, "You're ridiculous"

Tapping her lightly on the nose he replied, "Only to you"

Before she could laugh in response, Alice's world spun and she found herself in Damien's strong arms, surprised laughter glittering from her as it fell. Swinging her around he stepped out of the room, heading down the hallway and she wrapped her arms around his neck, memories of the second time they had met flashing through her mind. It seemed unreal to think about what had happened since that night in the forest. To think everything that had taken place had led to this moment, with them here together, about to, she stopped her thoughts and her heart raced. Placing her head in the hollow between his neck and his chest, clenching her eyes shut as she tried to slow her heart into submission.

"This is me not knowing that you're nervous"

Burying her head deeper into his flawless skin she exerted every ounce of self-control she had to stop the blood she knew was rushing to her face. Not halting his movement he kissed her lightly on the head, "I'm going to make you forget to be nervous"

Quietly she replied, "Then I'll just be embarrassed or shy"

He moved his head closer to her ear, speaking deeply, "Then I'll just have to make you forget everything. I'll even make you forget who you are"

His voice sent shocks through her body, and the butterflies in her stomach took flight. Stopping, he let her go, still holding her around the waist. Slowly she raised her eyes to his, seeing passion glowing in his jade green eyes. Descending upon her, he captured her lips. Kissing her slowly and intensely, not leaving a single inch of her mouth left untouched. Alice kissed him back, all thoughts sinking into black as her entire world was centered on the sensations he was creating inside her. His hands ran up the smooth skin of her stomach, fueling the warmth that was beginning to spread through her body. Breaking away he slipped her shirt over her head, leaving it to fall silently to the ground. Seizing her lips again he ran his hands lazily up her back, relishing the warmth of her skin under his icy ones. Alice could feel the silk of his shirt against her body, the toned muscle of his chest pressing into her soft breasts. Forgetting her inhibitions she moved her hands from around his neck, stopping at the top button she pushed it through the opening, moving slowly down to the next. His shirt undone she pushed it off his shoulders, letting it join her discarded one on the floor.

Pulling her closer to him, Alice gasped as the cold from his body diffused into her, her nipples hardening from both the cold and the desire he was creating in her. Moving down to the top of her pants, he eased them over her hips, not once breaking away from her lips. Undoing his jeans himself he let her smooth hands travel down his body, slipping his briefs down. Alice could feel his hard desire pushing into her as he slid her underwear down. Relinquishing her mouth she breathed in deeply, trying to catch up on the oxygen she had missed. No longer distracted by his attentions she let reality build itself up around her. Self-consciousness settled around her as she realised that they were both naked and she blushed as she felt his rigid flesh pressing into her. He took her lower lip between his teeth, softly running over the swollen pink skin. Kissing lightly along her jaw he trailed down her neck, pausing over her vein, almost tasting her blood in his mouth. She gasped as he ran his tongue over the delicate skin and she wrapped her arms tighter around his neck, arching her body further into his, pleasure coursing through her as her over sensitive nipples pressed into his steel cold torso.

Taking her breast in his hand, he massaged the skin, sweeping his thumb over the blooming flower on her breast, sending electricity through her nerves as her breathing deepened. Sliding his other hand down her back he wrapped it tightly around her waist, kissing back up to her mouth. Picking her up, Damien walked over to the bed, placing her down on the crimson silk coverings. Before Alice had a chance to move away, Damien had moved down beside her, his hand traveling lightly up her thighs and over her stomach, watching as it went. A blush spread as her exposure started to allow her embarrassment to creep into her. She could feel his gaze burning over her, taking in every dip and rise of her body, his eyes flaming as they roamed over her breasts, his hand following close behind. The beating of her heart picked up pace as he cupped her supple breast. Lowering his mouth he swept his tongue over the soft skin and her breathing quickened as fire alighted in her. Ceasing his ministrations he caught her lips, moving back to look into her clouded eyes.

"Don't be shy Alice" smiling reassuringly he stroked her stomach, "You're beautiful"

She smiled shyly and looked away, but his hand turned her back to him, "You are. Don't think otherwise". Damien watched her and she felt her awkwardness settling over her. As if sensing her discomfort, he kissed her, diverting her attention. Skimming his hand over her soft skin, he wandered down her thighs, caressing back up to her most secret place. Resting softly against her opening, he could feel the heat her body was creating and his fingers were glazed with her desire. She could hear her heart begin to beat loudly in her chest, anticipation and nervousness filling her. Alice felt him push into her and run his finger along her, halting just before he reached her throbbing bud. Repeating his movements several times, he let the lust grow in her, until he moved over the small button she so wanted him to touch.

Her breath caught in her throat as he did and her pulse flew through her. Slowly he moved back down, teasing her as he advanced at an agonising pace. Alice pushed her body into his, trying to make him move faster and let her desire reach its peak. She knew that he was enjoying making her frustration build and was quite certain that he was waiting for her to beg him to let her climax, something that she refused to do. The feelings he was creating in her were building to their heights, and her breaths became anticipating pants as he massaged her delicately sensitive flesh. Reaching her pinnacle he stopped. Alice's breath hitched in her throat as the burning fire was left to consume her. Bringing his hand back up he leaned over her, a mischievous smile dancing in his eyes, "How was that?"

Finding her voice she answered, "That, that was, good" pausing she continued, a discontent expression flaming in her eyes, "Until you stopped"

The mischief in his eyes spread to his mouth, as it curved wickedly, "Well I thought I would let you wait", idly his fingers brushed over her breasts, "Besides, if you thought that was good, wait until I've finished"

The heat burned a little stronger in her and she shifted embarrassedly. Moving in closer, his breath brushed over her ear, "Wait until I make you forget your name"

His words ignited the dimming fire in her abdomen and he began to slowly work down her body, he let his fingers run over her feverish skin, causing shivers to ripple through her. Separating her legs, he moved between them and Alice blushed, realisation at what he was intending to do coming to her. His hands moved along the insides of her thighs and her breaths became shallow with anticipation. Pushing her legs further apart he ran his tongue gently up her blood infused lips. Pausing a moment he opened her further, exposing her to him. Alice couldn't decide on whether to clench her legs tightly together and never let anyone touch her there again, or to beg him to never stop. His cold tongue swept along her wet warmth, brushing the tip over her desire filled button, causing her to sharply intake her breath. Quickly giving into his touch, Alice slipped out of her mind and into a lust created reality, existing only through the touch of his cold tongue moving back and forth while his icy fingers plunged into her heated depths, pushing her quickly to the climax she was so anticipating. Sensing her release he forced her over the edge. Alice's laboured breathing ceased and she cried out as the waves of pleasure she had been riding crashed down and her muscles contracted in spasms as she was swept along.

As the blackness her world had become slowly faded back to reality she became aware of his hand stroking over the taut skin of her stomach. Blinking, her gaze landed on him. She looked at him lying on his side, his head propped up on his hand as he watched her gently. His eyes taking on a new gleam he spoke, "What's your name?"

Alice playfully pushed him, only to have him grab her hand and pull her closer to him, "There's no need to be so aggressive Alice. All I did was ask a question"

Unable to look away from him, Alice bit her lip, "Perhaps for a little bit"

Raising his brows he replied, "Only for a little bit? Evidently I'll have to pick up my game". Rolling over he kept her locked in his arms, his gaze focused intently on her, "Are you ready Alice?"

The nerves she had had earlier stabbed into her and she bit her lip, knowing that he could hear the fastened pace of her heart. Holding her cheek he looked at her gently,

"Don't be afraid. I'll be as gentle as possible, and I promise that it will only hurt at the beginning, after that it will be fine. Well, hopefully more than fine. I was thinking more along the lines of incredible"

Nervous laughter escaped her. Calming herself as much as possible she spoke, "I, I'm ready"

Damien's eyes searched hers, "Are you sure?"

Biting her lip Alice nodded, "As ready as I'll ever be"

Smiling at her gently and reassuringly Damien positioned himself over her, removing most of his weight as he propped himself up on his elbows. Keeping his eyes locked on hers, he let his erect shaft find her enticing entrance. Feeling his tip pressing into her moist warmth, Alice stared into his eyes, conveying silently both her fears and her desire.

"It will be easier if I do it quickly"

Alice nodded in assent and he pushed his length abruptly into her, forcing the air from her lungs as he pushed through her unexplored depths. Tears pricked at her eyes but she blinked them back, not wanting to cry in front of Damien yet again. Caressing her face, he stroked his thumb over her cheek, concern covering him.

"Are you all right Alice?"

Wordlessly she nodded, letting the strange sensation of being filled by his cool flesh flow through her.

"Are you sure?"

Adjusting to the feeling as the pain dissipated and pleasure began to replace it, Alice smiled, "I'm sure. I'm fine. It just feels strange"

Roguishly he replied, "Are you ready for it to feel fantastic?"

Alice tried not to blush as he looked at her devilishly and she nodded.

Slowly he withdrew from her, pushing back in easily as her liquid desire gave him free passage. Alice felt her muscles slowly moving to accommodate him, the pain disappearing entirely as he moved back and forth over her virgin flesh. Alice relaxed into his embrace and Damien began to increase his pace, his incessant movements intensifying the flames that were licking at her insides. He kept his jade eyes locked on hers and Alice bit her lip shyly, still not believing what they were doing. Pressing his lips down onto hers, she felt relief flow through her as he halted her growing embarrassment. Wrapping her legs around his waist Alice met his thrusts as he moved to tease her breasts with his mouth. Attempting to increase the pleasure that was rising in her, she arched her back, pushing into his steel cast body. Running her hands through his hair she kneaded his head with her fingertips, moving them lightly down his back, a smile crossing her face as he moaned into her sensitive skin, sending vibrations into her. Time no longer existed to her; all she knew was the feeling of him on her and inside her.

Damien's plunging motion deepened as he drove them both toward the release they craved and Alice's breaths came faster as her heart pounded in her chest. Each pulse just another closer to her culmination. Holding him closer to her with her legs she pushed him deeper. Feeling everything slow she let the orgasm explode through her, closing her eyes as stars erupted around her. Bending into him as her body lost control she voiced her desire, her cry of pleasure ringing out. Damien's driving motion didn't stop and he tipped her back over the edge again. Before losing consciousness she felt him expand slightly and release his icy passion deep inside her.

Alice's senses returned to her and she became aware that she was encased in a pair of strong arms, a cool steel torso pressing into her back. Idly the fingers resting on her stomach stroked her softly, and she smiled at the sensation of the touch. Gradually memories of the night before flickered in front of her and she came to the realisation that she was no longer an innocent and naïve girl, but a somewhat experienced one, now that she had given her innocence to Damien. Blushing slightly at the images that passed through her mind. Alice couldn't believe that she had done that. It seemed surreal.

"Did you sleep well?"

Coming out of her own world at the sound of his voice behind her, she smiled gently, "Yes"

His thumb swept over her stomach, "That's good", he was silent for several minutes, his hand still trailing over her flesh, "Last night was the most perfect moment of my life"

Alice glowed, did he really mean that? Leaning in closer to her his cool breath tickled her ear, "And yes, I really mean that"

Doubt crept into her voice, "For all three hundred and sixty-five years?"

Alice could tell he was smiling.

"Yes. I love it how you always get it right"

Smiling she replied, "I know".

He laughed and the vibrations rippled through Alice. Silence encased them both, and when he spoke again his voice was quiet, "You don't regret last night, do you?"

Answering him softly, she replied, "No. Never"

Alice could feel the relief in him as he pulled his arms closer around her, drawing her into him.

"Just embarrassed and shy"

Feeling his smile against her skin, she laughed as he softly pressed his teeth into her delicate flesh, "I thought I would have cured you of that"

Covering his hands with her own she answered laughingly, "I think you made it worse"

"My apologies. Perhaps..." he trailed off and Alice could sense his indecision over what he had been about to say. She frowned slightly as a thought came to her, had Damien only slept with her because it had been on her list? Or had he actually wanted to, because he...she broke her thoughts off. It didn't matter, because she didn't have the courage to ask something like that. Sighing inwardly she closed her eyes. That had been the entire point of the list, to make herself less afraid and more capable. His unfinished sentence pricked at her mind. What had he been going to say?

"Perhaps?"

The doorbell rang and her voice was left to diffuse into the air. What timing. Damien sighed,"I suppose I should get that"

Reluctantly he withdrew his arms from Alice. Stooping to kiss her tenderly on the cheek and in a moment he was gone. Now that his cool body was gone, Alice realised how much she had liked being held by him and she rolled over onto her back, staring at the ceiling. Hunger began to gnaw at her and she sat up, deciding to go and get breakfast. Pulling the blankets off she stood, and was greeted with the cool morning air caressing her body, she looked down and blushed, having forgotten that both her and Damien had been naked. Well done, Alice. Quickly she pulled on her clothes, glad that the doorbell had saved her from further embarrassment. She bit back a smile that formed when she knew that Damien would no doubt have laid there with his usual devilish smile and watched her get dressed. Leaving the room she walked down the hall to her bedroom, changing into some jeans and a top, grabbing a knitted cardigan as she exited and made her way down to the kitchen she sat down at the counter. Surveying the Apples on the counter, she picked one up and bit into it.

She still couldn't believe that last night had actually happened. It seemed almost impossible that she had had sex with Damien. How was she supposed to act now? Did this change things? Sighing she rested her head heavily on her hand, deciding to ignore the confusion for now at least. Damien's unfinished sentence still floated in her head and she was unable to let it go. Reaching her hand down to search her jeans pocket, she withdrew her over folded list and lay it out in front of her, reading it for the hundredth time.

Learn French

Conquer fear of dark

Fly

Get away

Save someone's life

Have sex Make love

Meet Father

Looking around for a pen, she picked one up out of the fruit bowl where she had left it yesterday and crossed out number six. One more to go. She was glad she had put it last. It was definitely the most difficult, and at least now she was more prepared, she had grown. Maybe not a lot, but she could feel the difference and the confidence that was flowing through her.

"Morning Alice"

Turning she smiled as Penelope walked into the kitchen, "Hello Penelope"

Taking a seat next to Alice she glanced at the piece of paper in front of her, "Doing a crossword?"

Alice followed her gaze and quickly folded the paper again, putting it back in her pocket, "No, just a to do list"

Tilting her head to the side, Penelope looked at Alice. Awkwardly she shifted in her seat. Reaching a conclusion Penelope spoke, "You look different this morning"

Alice tried not to bite her lip as she replied casually, "Do I?"

Penelope nodded slowly, her eyes not leaving Alice's as she tried to solve the puzzle.

"How do I look different?"

Pursuing her lips she answered, "You look...you have a sort of glow about you. You look happy"

Alice's heart began to beat faster in her chest. How could Penelope always know everything? Shrugging slightly Alice smiled, standing up to walk around to the fridge. Turning back around with the juice carton in her hand Penelope gasped in revelation,

"No!"

Alice frowned, as Penelope quickly rushed around the counter to her, throwing her arms around Alice in an embrace, "But yes! This is fantastic. I can't believe he told you"

The pace of Alice's heart stopped dead, "Told me what?"

Penelope drew back, her face awash with delight. Dropping her voice to a whisper she spoke, "You and Damien slept together didn't you?"

Embarrassment began to burn away at her insides and her cheeks quickly showed it. Looking down she embarrassedly answered, "Yes"

Ecstatically Penelope threw her arms around her again, "So I gather that he must have told you"

A confused frown spread over her face, "Told me what Penelope?"

Drawing back again, her face dimmed slightly, "He didn't tell you?"

Alice's frown deepened as she watched Penelope's joy quickly evaporate.

"You mean, he slept with you and that was it?"

Biting her lip, Alice looked down to avoid Penelope's intense gaze, "I...I suppose"

Glancing up she saw Penelope's face quickly fill with anger, "Where is he?"

Confused, Alice replied, "I'm not sure. His study perhaps. Someone was at the door before, unless it was you"

A determined glow in Penelope's light brown eyes, she spoke, "Study, right" turning quickly Penelope stalked out of the room, anger emanating from her every pore.

Numbed, Alice stood there, confusion alight in her every nerve. What was that about? What didn't Damien tell her? Glancing down she noticed that she still had the juice carton in her hand and for several moments she stood there wondering what on earth had just happened.