Masked by Design - Chapter Twelve

“I would never remove this without your permission.  Know that, Erik.”  Kristine moved her fingers over until she actually touched his mask.   Soft leather, exactly what she thought but never wanted to ask.  

Though his trembles ran through her, she didn’t shy away, she kept her eyes on his and tried to tell him in her own way he was safe with her.  She wanted him to find the same solace in her that she found in him. 

“Before…” His voice broke, his trembles amplified to shaking.

“Before, you came in yelling my name, and I wanted to know if you were all right.”  She stepped closer to him. When he entered the office screaming she thought something was wrong.  Since the day where he took her to his music room, she had been on high alert, noticing any little thing about him.  There always seemed to be a visible energy between her and him and she couldn’t figure out how to make it combust, or what would happen if she did.  “I just reached for you, but I didn’t think about where.”

He studied her face, narrowed his eyes.  “Why didn’t you think about it?” 

She licked her lips and inhaled. “Because it doesn’t matter.”

Though she would never, part of her wanted to rip the mask off, prove to Erik it didn’t matter.  Didn’t he get it?  He wasn’t a mask, he was a man, one who fascinated her, took care of her, was there for her.

“Of course it does.”  As if he wanted to push her aside, his jaw hardened and his muscles tensed. 

She didn’t budge, didn’t stop looking into his face.  “My opinion is mine.”  

 With agonizing slowness, he slipped his hand out from under hers.  As he rested his hand on her hip, she didn’t hesitate in pressing her palm do his mask.   

“What if I said your opinion was wrong?”  His tone came out low and challenging.  

What he didn’t realize was she was up for the challenge and she spread her fingers out over his mask.  She didn’t know how other people reacted, but she could only account for herself.  “Then I would say that you may be able to control a lot, Erik, but you cannot control my opinions, and you cannot control what I feel.”

He shook his head.  “And what is it you feel?”

Since words didn’t work with this man, she only had one choice, and that was to show him.  Instead of speak, she stepped closer still, stood up on her tiptoes, and gave him a light kiss.  He could either push her away or accept her.

Right as she went to pull back, realize she made a grave mistake, he wrapped his arm around her waist, pulled her to him, and deepened the kiss.

At finally getting what she wanted and feeling Erik hold her tight, her knees buckled and she went along for the most incredible kiss.  Their tongues connected and every part of her heated in a desire she didn’t even know existed within her. 

She could stay right there in this moment of perfection, never have to move.  Yes, she had her dalliances and kisses with other men, but never anything that mattered, with the way he kissed her with such intensity, she knew this one mattered.  

What did she do now?  What happened next? She wasn’t sure if she knew or was ready.  Breathless, she gasped and broke the kiss.

His golden eyes glowing, he stared down at her and rubbed his thumb along her bottom lip.  

He wanted her, and something, maybe women’s intuition, told her she had to keep him wanting.  

“I’m going to go study.”  She gave him another light kiss on his lips and moved back.  

She knew she made the right decision when he nearly toppled over in an attempt to open the door for her.

Though she wanted to stay, she trotted out the door and waved to him. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He stood there watching and she got in the car and drove away.  

Even with her hand shaking, her body on fire and her mind whirling, she somehow managed to play it cool until she made it down the hill.

At the first stop sign she finally took a breath and allowed that delightful sensation of arousal and excitement to swirl over her.  In all honesty, Trevor had no idea what he was missing and she cracked up at her own joke.  Seriously, she had never been kissed like that.

The rest of the ride home she spent reliving those few precious seconds.  The passion in which he held her, how she touched his mask, how he let her in.  

By the time she parked her car in the driveway all she could do was wonder what would happen next?  Her test was next week, then she would be free from school and all encumbrances. Would they still work together?  Was this more than a one time kiss?  

Suddenly life was full of possibilities.  The end of her schooling was more of a beginning of something magnificent.  

Now as she got out of her car and looked back at the dark main house, she didn’t see an empty shell where the owners never cared about their magnificent abode, but she saw the couple she barely knew on a trip of life together.  

She gathered up her things and let herself into her guest house.  

The name of the place fit.  This little structure was never a home, she was most definitely a guest, and lately Erik’s seemed more and more like where she belonged.

After turning on the lights she took a good look at the place.  

Suddenly the one room with a bath didn’t seem quite so sepia, quite so small.  Where the hot plate, mini fridge and microwave, seemed pathetic this morning, now it was laughable, especially since she ate most of her meals in a gourmet kitchen with the most amazing man.  Where her small sofa bed seemed confining and lumpy, it now was a place for dreams.

For so long she had been focused on the here and now, never allowing herself to think about the future, but with her heart full she finally saw something beyond graduating, taking a job at an architecture firm, and waiting for Meg to come home.

She tossed her items on her table and glanced at the calendar from a local real estate agent she hung on her wall.  Her test was next week, a chapter in her life closed. 

Now she had an entire novel in front of her.

Electricity traveled through her and she couldn’t stand still.  Maybe she should have stayed with Erik.  Would he have made love to her?

That thought alone made her shiver.

Just wanting a connection to him, she grabbed her phone to tell him her schedule for the next day.  It had become a little ritual between them where she relayed her class times and always answered the same way, with a simple “Be Safe – E.”

Only yesterday she sent the text with no real thought to the wording.  Now every letter seemed of vital importance.  Did she go about things as always, did she add something?

She stared down at her phone fingers over the screen ready to type when quite by chance the three moving dots appeared at the bottom the text message indicating Erik was writing to her.

Her breath caught and she bit her lip.  He never initiated text messages before, but then again they kissed.  The man was a gentleman through and through, down to texting after what they shared.

She waited in anticipation and the dots stopped.  Did he type something and erase it?  Did he not hit send?

Her stomach twisted, and right as she was going to just text him to get him to do anything, his message came through.

Kristine – 

Took a look at the model.  I consider it finished.  Spend the rest of the week studying, there is nothing more I can teach you.   Good luck on your test, you will make an excellent architect. - E

Her cheeks heated and she dropped her phone.  

The world was sepia and small once more.

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