The journey home is a subdued one, Dave comfortable with driving the long drive back to the base and the lake house, his little haven of peace. They had said their farewells amid promises to stay in touch and demands for the youngsters to visit again the next time they were in the States. Fatigue and the thousand yard stare of the interstate withers the sparse conversation and each gradually withdraws into their own musings.
Returning her bag back to her old room, hearing Dave and Helena settling back into the study and their cosy sofa bed, Alyssa is not certain how to take the thought of him sleeping with his nurse again. Of course they’d screwed every day before the weekend at Lytton’s. Then it hadn’t bothered her so much. Then she hadn’t known what things could be like. He’d promised, he’d promised that she could have him any time … but while he waited for her it seemed entirely normal to him to return to his original habits. He hadn’t said anything about giving up Helena for her. The thought of him with the dark woman, the confidence she had in herself and the ease with which she handles him gnaws at the uncertain lover.
In an attempt at distraction Alyssa works through his case notes, comparing his labs with the Epsilons she already knew would be a dead end. She has another meeting with Harrison but has nothing to report to him, nothing definite that he has been looking for anyway. What could she say? That potentially he could offer a cure for menstrual cramps? That they had created a lover not a fighter? She avoids the beach, she doesn’t want to see his pleasure if he is not taking it with her. She is careful to knock before entering any closed door. She knows that early on her father had blundered into them, the nurse with her busy hands and greedy mouth swallowing her charge’s cock. Struan’s daughter does not want to make the same mistake. She knows that particular act is something he seems to take great delight in. It is also something she cannot even consider performing.
Each day he asks how she is, his body suggesting more meaning than the light words convey. One time he leans to kiss her but pulls back when she turns away so he contents himself with squeezing her hand and smiling his old-eyed smile. He makes no effort to touch her after that, as if afraid that contact will upset her. Finally, it seems, the stars are in the right alignment again; not only is she able to but she also feels the need to repeat her experience. The house is quiet; Struan and Helena have been called to a meeting, leaving Dave in his own little world with a book before him and Tallis playing through headphones.
Scrubbed and clean, free of her metal, she stands in the den nervous like the night at Uncle Richard’s house. In the middle of the day she has no alcohol to blame for any foolishness. Sober, she is acutely aware of the conflict between promises made by her adolescent self and the urges of that part of her so long neglected and searching for expression. Taking a deep breath she steps close and closes the book that has his attention. She has been wondering what to say to him, in the end the simplest thing is the best. She removes the ‘phones and takes his hand. “Come to bed with me.”
“I wish there was a way I could kiss you and make you feel better about yourself, but I don’t think I can do anything for old wrongs in your head.” Though there was no night to hide behind he had been gentle and considerate, accepting her initial ambivalence and hiding the sight of his arousal from her. She had barely touched him, had tried not to look at him, uncomfortable with the idea of having him until she was too far gone to care. Again she had begged him to be inside her, not allowing him to withdraw until she had felt him soften after his quiet passion had peaked and subsided. That he might have wanted to continue hadn’t occurred to her. Now, he lay behind her in the bed she had never shared before.
“Is that what you do?” This was it, the other unique feature of the not-man out in the open.
“I think it is … you think it is. You suspected it the first day you met me.”
“Helena didn’t look like that before she had you did she?”
“Inside she did, and that is where it matters. I thought she was a fine looking woman when I first saw her but you are right, not quite the same as she does now. All that has happened is that she has become more of herself.” His fingers trail light patterns across the bare skin of her hip. “And what about you? What are you inside? I wish I could help you but I don’t think I can make the changes that Harrison was hoping for.” He bends to kiss away the tension that flares in her shoulders. “Oh, don’t worry; it was bound to happen. I’m glad he asked you and no one else, even more pleased that you have been willing. I don’t know what he was expecting, maybe sex will only be a pleasure I think, somehow I don’t think we are compatible for anything else.”
“We could keep trying, you know, for science.” Once beyond the mental hurdle of his masculinity riding him had released something deep and wild within her. It scared her. Easier to think of it as a sacrifice, another thing done for the programme to excuse the stirrings of attraction and desire that battled with the core of her.
“Or we could keep trying because you like it. I think I would prefer that to be the reason.”
“That would be nice too.” Her hand joins his. She wants to believe. She wants to submit all the way like Helena had done. He is not a man, he is … not … a … man … but she is Alyssa, not Helena.