LEATHER AND LACE Chapter 4 Excerpt on Eat Sleep Write

*This originally posted here.

Leather and Lace - Chapter 4 by Erica Sutherhome
December 11, 2013
posted by Adam Scull

“We weren’t exactly protected,” Angie accused as she wrangled with his coffeemaker the next morning.
She had caught him as soon as he entered the room.  With a hitch in his breath, he warily met her gaze. “You were a party to this,” he returned.
She groaned and slammed her hands down on the counter.  “I didn’t ask to be involved with anyone.”
“No, I suppose you didn’t. But, it’s already happened so you should probably get used to it.” He frowned. “I’ll take more precautions next time. I promise.”  He ran a hand through his short, shaggy hair and cursed softly.
“Next time?”
The sharp cry of panic was not lost on him. He sighed. “Come on, Angie. Just relax. You can’t worry about something you don’t know the facts about yet.”
“Yes, I can. I hardly know anything about you.  I don’t know where you’ve been.”
He laughed. “You’re calling my fidelity into question?”
“I have a right, don’t I? We hardly know each other.”
He frowned. “Listen to me. I don’t sleep around.  And I always use protection, except in this case, of course.”
“And I’m supposed to believe you?”
“I expect you to trust that I would protect you, and thereby would not lie to you. Yes.”
She frowned.  She would be a fool to believe him.  Wouldn’t she? “I don’t sleep around either,” she replied quietly.
He approached her then, wrapping his arms around her from behind. He moved his lips over her nape as he lifted her hair. He felt her shiver and grinned. “I was hoping you’d come back to bed this morning.”
She shrugged.  “I was freaking out.”
“Because you couldn’t find any of your clothes?  You know I prefer you without.”
She rolled her eyes. “We already talked about the why of it.”
“That’s not the only reason you have hang-ups, Angie.”
He was implying she had plenty of them as far as relationships were concerned.  Well, he was probably right.  She sighed. “It wouldn’t do any good to go into it.”
“Why?  You don’t think I want to better understand you?”
“Why should you care when all you want is me flat on my back.”
“That’s a damned lie, and you know it.”
“Pardon me.  I forgot that you like other positions.”
He growled behind her and she tensed.
“Damn,” he cursed gently. “I can feel your fear.  I’m not going to hurt you.  You’ve got to start trusting me, Angie.”
“Why?” she whispered.
“Who else can you rely on?”
Indeed, who else did she have to protect her?  She shivered at the prospect.  She knew he hadn’t meant it as a threat, but panic made her see it that way at the same time.  She clenched her fists.

Patrick stepped back. She was in fight-or-flight.  He could sense it. He had seen it many times, and it never ended well. “Angie,” he began gently, ”I’m not going to hurt you.  I promise.  If you want some space, I’ll give it to you. I’m not going to push you.  I just want you to trust me.  Do you want me to give you space? Is that what you want?”
When she didn’t reply, only froze in her fear, he reached around her to pull the coffee carafe out from under the machine and poured it in a mug on the counter in front of her.  The steam came off the mug easily and the scent of freshly brewed coffee filled the air.  “Coffee?”
She threw him a wary glance as he stood next to her, facing towards her. 
“Maybe you’d like a shower first.  I could wrestle up some breakfast while you’re busy. Then again, if you want to go, that’s fine too. I’ll miss you, but I’ll understand.  Maybe we can meet up tonight?  Tomorrow?  Whenever is fine.”
Her eyes were wide, almost unseeing as he looked at her.  He raised an eyebrow. “How can you possibly think I am capable of hurting you after what we shared last night?  Do you really think I would harm you in any way?”
Trembling, Angie shook her head, ashamed in a way.  He was a cop, after all. But, that did not negate violent tendencies in every case. He was right though.  What had happened between them had been intense, highly passionate, but nothing remotely violent. He had taken care to explore her, to caress her, to make sure that she was just as satisfied as he was.  He had been…well, generous really. And compared to the other lovers she’d had in the past, he had been more respectful of her feelings. He hadn’t assaulted her or pushed her, though she had complained.  No, now that she thought about it, he hadn’t done anything she hadn’t really wanted in the first place. 
It was true.  However much she’d been in denial, she couldn’t deny the attraction she’d felt for him from the first moment she’d met him. And he was simply acting on what he’d suspected was between them.  She was sure that if she had truly told him to stop and had seriously meant it, he would have.  He was aware of her fear now, and he was giving her space. She had to give him credit for recognizing it.
Her fists unclenched and she sagged over the countertop.  “I’m sorry.  I’m a little rattled.”
“So I gathered.” Patrick reached into the cabinet and retrieved a mug, pouring himself a coffee.  As he sipped it, he gazed at her.
Angie cleared her throat. “I don’t really want to leave,” she said in a small voice.
He nodded.  “I’m not throwing you out.”
“I know.”  She sighed.  “Maybe a hot shower would do me some good.”
“You should take the night off from the club, too.”
“Patrick, I can’t.”
“Sure, you can.  Everybody does occasionally.”
She frowned. “You mean just this once?”
He nodded. “You need a break. I could take you out if you’d like. Dinner, a movie. Or whatever you want.”
She managed a small smile.  “I’d really like that.”
Patrick grinned. “Then it’s a date.” When her eyes widened and he thought she’d go into panic mode again, he amended quickly, “Well, it’s a plan.  Keep in mind, Angie, I’m seriously interested in you, but I’m not going to push you on this.  If you’re interested in me too, we’ll go.  But, you’d better let me know at some point.”
She frowned.
“No pressure.”
“No.  No pressure.”  She gazed up at him, propping an elbow on the counter, then rested her chin on her open hand. “I really hate to admit it, but I am interested.”
He smiled a slow, satisfied smile like a cat after a bowl of milk. 
“Go to hell,” Angie whispered.
He laughed heartily, then grabbed her arm and drew her up against him.
She elbowed him in the rib. “Not yet, mister. I need a shower first.”
He nodded and rubbed his five o’clock shadow.  “We both do.  I’ll let you go now, but you’re mine tonight.”
She smiled.  “Agreed.”

Patrick made reservations at Ristorante Toscano for dinner.  Angie left to run some errands.  Though he was curious to find out exactly what she was doing, he knew he should earn her trust the right way. Digging into her background was already a violation. He had briefly considered getting access to her financial records as well, but he doubted much would come of it considering she only leased a small apartment on Dartmouth in the South End.  So, whatever she was involved in, she couldn’t be taking payoffs, or he imagined she wouldn’t be working at The Glass Slipper.
He went to the bank and withdrew the rest of what he owed to her boss, then hand delivered it.  Three hundred dollars a night wasn’t a cheap rate, but he could afford it.  And since he’d paid for a month, he had time to find out what kind of trouble she was in.  He couldn’t keep the curiosity away or the need to unravel Angie as the enigma she was, but he could make a promise to himself.  Whatever he did find, it was only going to be from Angie herself.  No more digging.  She had to trust him.  And in order to get that far, he had to show her it was more than a job.  It was more than a lap dance to him, and the money didn’t mean anything.  That was simply to get her in the same room.  He needed her trust.
In his parked car outside the club, he sighed and leaned his head back on the seat.  He knew he felt different with Angie than he had with Jennifer.  He had never wondered so much what a woman was thinking until now.  And the attraction was different.  He didn’t think he’d ever wanted anyone this much.
It spelled trouble, he was sure.  He knew emotional ties could be just as dangerous as any other kind.  But, he couldn’t fight the protective instinct he had with her any more than he could his desire for her. 
Patrick ran other errands, then he returned home, where he showered, slapped on cologne and prepared for his evening with Angie. As an idea came to him, he grinned like a fool.  Hopefully, she would like it too.