Author Note: It has been a really long while since I posted a story here. I am looking forward to this one. Please do let me know what you think of this. I will also be posting it up in a few other places with some minor changes.
"You want me to date him because you said so?" Kaira asked calmly.
"Yes. A relationship between you two will cement our agreement and you should know that nothing cements ties like making someone a part of the family." Her father answered. "You know him, right? Lucian Younge?"
"We've met." She answered curtly.
"I was hoping you would see him tonight for dinner."
"Okay. I'll head out to buy something to wear and will go straight there. Text me the address?"
"Of course darling." Adrian Black answered, barely keeping the relief out of his voice. He had not expected her to agree so easily. In fact he had expected a lot more resistance but he was not about to look the horse in the mouth.
Kaira drove out of the mansion and kept driving. She was long gone by the time anyone realized she'd run away.
The sound of cloth ripping was loud even with the ringing in her head. Her eyes focused at the man who was holding her against the alley wall. Her baggy t-shirt had now a huge rip at the front and his eyes were fixed on her breasts. His hand moved there as well, leaving only one hand holding her wrists above her head.
His friends were saying something but she tuned them out. She needed to focus. Suddenly there was a noise, maybe a car backfiring at the mouth of the alley. It was all she needed. Her hands were free and her gun was out. Before he realized she was armed, she blew out the kneecap of the man who thought he could touch a woman without her permission.
His friends shouted, started to move towards her. Fools. She had more than one bullet after all. She walked out of the alley leaving behind men who would probably never walk right in their lives. She knew she had let them off easy. Too easy compared to what her family would have done to them.
She saw him out of the corner of her eye when she was tying the ends of her t-shirt together and she knew who had distracted her attackers. So when he followed her back to the motel she did not try to lose him. It was not gratitude. She was just too tired to play games.
She took a shower, trying to scrub the dirt, as well as the feel of the bastard's hands on her body, away. She stepped out and dressed quickly. She had been slammed against the alley wall and her back was already turning mottled blue. Then there were the bruises spreading over her upper arms, collarbone, one cheek and chest.
She packed up her meager belongings and walked out. There was a car in the parking lot and she boosted it without much trouble. It was a battered old thing and she ditched it four blocks away, hailing a taxi. She went straight to her destination. She was not going to leave an easy to follow trail, but she was not exactly running either. Not anymore.
The receptionist eyed her warily, but when she explained that she had been mugged right after she had lost her luggage at the airport, the matronly woman was filled with sympathy. Kaira told them to expect her fiancé Lucian, and that he would take care of the payment. Normally she would not have gotten away with this but her story was quite convincing with the bruises.
When he knocked on her door an hour later, she was as ready as she could be, or so she thought.
"Hello Kaira." He said with a small smile, holding two huge brown paper bags from which came the smell of spices and peanuts. He had brought food.
She stepped aside to let him in. He headed towards the small dining table in the room.
"Your gun?" She asked and he calmly handed over his 9 mm Sig Sauer after putting the food down. She nodded and sat across from him, watching as he started unpacking the bags. She put his gun behind her, and her own was steady in her hand though not pointed at him. His eyes narrowed at the stiff set of her shoulders, trying to flinch away from her own t-shirt.
"Why?" she asked quietly as he set the pad-thai noodles in front of her.
"I convinced your father that I could never be worth your time if I could not even get you back on my own."
"So he agreed to let you look for me. But what about… earlier today?"
"I found you yesterday. Just hadn't figured out how to approach you. I followed you to the coffee shop and then went ahead to the motel because I did not want you to see me."
"But when I did not get there in time…"
"I doubled back."
She nodded, a little too fast, her eyes a little too bright.
"Kaira…" he started but she shook her head.
"Even if I had not distracted them, you would have still gotten away. Maybe a bit more battered. But you would have."
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"The food is getting cold." He offered mildly and she set aside the gun that she had been holding this entire time. Then, after a second's hesitation, she handed his Sig Sauer back to him. He took it with a nod and put it in the shoulder holster he was wearing under his leather jacket. Then he shrugged out of the jacket and picked up his chopsticks. She did the same.
It was a while later, when they were done eating, that she spoke.
"You know that this cannot continue."
"Hear me out."
Lucian leaned back in his chair, his expression a study in calm.
"I am not the type to do anything just because I am told to do it. Dating someone is not just anything. I am not doing this."
"What if I had asked you out?"
"I might have said yes. But we'll never know now, will we?"
"Kai, will you go out with me?"
She ignored the nickname. "What if your father asks you to dump me and move on to another woman because that is better for his family?"
"There were two reasons I agreed to this whole thing. Firstly, I am single; second and more importantly, because it was you. Do you really think that I am the type to do anything just because I am told to do it?"
When he said her own words back to her, she had to think. The Lucian she had known was not someone to be trifled with. He was not someone anyone would even consider ordering around, not even when he had been a teenager. He also had two brothers who were far more obedient.
"You volunteered for this. For me." After all, it would have been far saner for his father to have asked one of his other sons.
He flashed a quick grin.
"I saw a chance and I took it. If this chance had not come my way, I would still have asked you out eventually. You running, now that took me by surprise." He suddenly laughed. "It was a good kind of surprise."
Kaira realized she was smiling back at him and frowned.
"Why are you doing this Luce? Why this way? Why now?"
"Kai we were friends once, yeah? You used to trust me. So trust me now. Trust me when I say that I am not here because my father or your father said so."
"We've been friends for over a decade you jackass."
Lucian laughed softly. "Is that a yes?"
They were interrupted by the ringing of his phone. She raised a brow at his choice of ringtone, "Don't Fear the Reaper?"
"Your father." He said placing the phone on the table between them.
She stared at it for a moment before answering.
There was absolute silence on the other side before her father sighed.
"Are you coming back with him?"
"Yep. He is officially my boyfriend now." She gave a cheeky grin to the man sitting in front of her.
"I was about to say that I would not insist on you dating him anymore, but I see that you have made up your mind. Come home soon." She had a feeling that he did not like the idea much anymore.
"Of course. Do you want to talk to Luce?"
"No. See you soon."
"See you." She handed the phone back to Lucian who took it without comment. She knew her using his nickname was going to bother her father. He might have arranged the boyfriend but he had definitely not realized how much he would dislike the reality of it.
"Now we need to talk." She announced.
"The couch is more comfortable."
"Have to sit straight." Kaira frowned because she knew she should not have said that.
"Meds will help, Kai. No need to be stubborn. The hotel will get the stuff and you know it."
Lucian scowled. She had always been like this. Not taking medicine unless it was forced down her throat. He should know, he had had to do it once.
"It's not that bad. No more stalling. Tell me what is going on."
"We have common enemies now."
"We've always had common enemies." She waved her hand in a 'move on' gesture and Lucian sighed.
"Thing is, someone is trying to muscle on to our turf, both our turfs in fact. This gets us a united front."
"Which is where we come in." Kaira mused and he nodded.
"I can live with this. I will get more details later. Now, how long have you been holding out on me?"
"I've known you for what? Twelve years? You really think I am going to tell you when I decided I liked you?"
"Well, it has to be after Paris but maybe before Bologna."
He raised an eyebrow.
"You were dating that leggy blonde in Paris and no one could figure out why you were single in Bologna."
"That was a long while ago." He pointed out.
"I am that special. It would have been longer if this chance had not dropped in your lap."
Lucian gave up and laughed. "Not telling you. Now do you want to stay here for the night or go back?"
"How are we going back?"
"It's an hour long flight or a six hour drive. Take your pick."
"You can drive. We'll be there," she looked at her watch and grinned up at him, "just in time for dinner."