Dom scowled. “I offered her a job. I asked her to be my personal assistant. I thought it would be good cover, but she said no.”
“Dominic Monaghan, you are dense. We lived for two years with some of the strongest women alive and you didn’t learn a thing. You’re always going on about how you love Eowyn but you haven’t learned a thing from her, either.”
“What are you talking about? I love strong women.”
“Then why won’t you let Dana be strong?”
Dom scowled even more deeply. “I don’t think I have much say in the matter.”
“Then stop fighting with her about it. Let her be. Just because Billy’s settling down, you don’t have to be in an insane rush for marriage too.”
“This has nothing to do with Billy,” Dom muttered.
Dom suddenly wished he had something to throw at him, but just said, “Some girls’ magazine ought to hire you for their advice column: Ask Orli.”
Orlando answered, laughing, “Go have a bathe, you great poof. I can still smell the ocean on you.”
“Will you give the next tracks a listen? I think they’re ready but I want your opinion.”
“Happily,” Orlando said as he took Dom’s seat at the computer and Dom headed towards the bathroom.
On the way he paused in the bedroom doorway, looking at Dana as she slept. He liked that she was strong–he honestly did–he never would have been so attracted to her if she weren’t.
But he still wanted her close. He still slept better knowing she was okay. She was an independent woman who’d lived through things that would make him wibble in fear, but she was still his girl.
Dom sighed, stopped at the bed long enough to drop a kiss on her slightly-sunburnt forehead, and went to the bathroom to prepare for the night.
Dana got into the shower while Dom was on the phone, ordering Chinese take-out. It was good, he thought, that she felt well enough to shower alone–it was bad that she didn’t ask him to join her. He wouldn’t have minded–he liked washing her hair. He woud have liked washing her back and her little sunburnt toes.
He knocked on the bathroom door and called, “It’s me,” as he poked in his head. “Do you need any help?”
“Dom? No, I’m fine.”
He shut the door behind him and said, “Do you want some company?”
“Aren’t you dressed already?”
Dom leaned on the counter and said, “Are you mad at me?”
The water shut off and Dana opened the shower door. She took a towel off the rack and held it to her body as she stepped close to him. She kissed him matter-of-factly, not touching him with more than her lips–but he could feel the heat of her skin and even the pulse of her heart.
“I’m not mad,” she whispered as Dom watched her through half-closed eyes. “You were on the phone and I couldn’t stand the sand in my hair one second longer.”
“And before? When we got home?”
“I wanted to rest and you had things to do. I told you I didn’t want to be in the way.”
“I want you to be in the way,” Dom whispered, resting his hands on her hips. “I like it when you’re in my way.” He kissed her, loving her soft moan and the way her lips parted to his tongue.
She looked up at him with dark eyes when they parted, tasting her lower lip. He just smiled, ready to strip off his clothes and climb into the shower with her.
“Don’t you, um–” She swallowed.
“I could send Lij. All the music is on my iPod, he just has to press play. I’d rather be with you.”
“Dom . . .” she whispered as he kissed along her jaw.
“Or just give me ten minutes.”
Dana laughed softly, then gasped, pressing her hand against her side. Dom stopped kissing her and moved his hand carefully from her hip up her side, stopping at her small sound of pain. “When I can touch you here without it hurting,” he said quietly, “then we’ll make love again. Don’t let me forget.”
“Even if I’d rather you did?” she said, trying to sound as if she were teasing.
“I like to think I’m not a brute, Dana.” He took the towel to wrap it around her. The terrible bruises on her side were starting to fade, yellow and sickly green at the edges, purple and blue in the center. She followed his gaze and caressed his cheek as he knotted the towel above her breasts.
“You’re not a brute. Far from it,” she murmured. “The trouble is, I want you even though I know it’ll hurt.”
“Masochist,” he teased.
“Only for you.”
“Careful, woman. You’re not the only one on the edge of insanity.”
She leaned forward and placed a kiss on his neck, just below his ear, the spot that always made his insides jump. Dom inhaled through his teeth and she lightly nipped his throat. “I dare you,” she whispered into his ear, her breath making him shiver.
“Stop it,” Dom said, his palms lightly on her back. “Two months, woman. Two months. Don’t get hurt again between now and then or I’ll be very upset with you.”
“I’ll be careful. Cross my heart.”
“I love you,” he said quietly, and she looked up at him with eyes that were honest and full. She nodded and licked her lips, and kissed him again with a hot, hungry mouth.
“Go away so I can get dressed,” she murmured, letting him go. “Are you wearing that tonight?”
Dom looked down at his well-loved jeans and FBI t-shirt–a gift from her, he wanted to remind her–and back up at Dana. “Don’t you like it?”
“You look fine. You look . . . like you.”
He held out his hands. “And the nail polish? Too much?”
“No,” Dana said with a soft laugh. “The nail polish is fine. The eyeliner is fine, though it’s a little smudged. Here: look up.” She put her hands on his face and he looked up as she said. She wiped her thumbs carefully under his eyes. “There. And you shouldn’t line inside your eyes: you can get eye infections that way.”
“I’ll remember that,” Dom said, and held her hands to his face to he could kiss them. “Are you sure you don’t want to come?”
“I’m sure. I just don’t like clubs.”
Dom made a face but said with a put-upon sigh, “All right . . . Orli’s thinking of staying home too. Are you okay with that?”
“Of course. Elijah will be with you?” He nodded and she said, “You’ll have fun.”
“Not as much fun as I would with you there.”
“I doubt that very much,” she said, shaking her head. “Now go. I want to get dressed.”
“And you don’t need help?”
“I’m okay, I promise.”
“I ordered Chinese,” Dom added just before opening the door. “I got hot and sour soup for you.”
That got him a kiss and a soft “Thanks,”–that, and their whole conversation, put him in such a good mood that he started dancing with Elijah in the living room. They had the music blaring so loud they almost missed the doorbell when the food arrived.
The club was packed and the energy was high. Dom’s friend Ben, the owner, greeted both him and Elijah with big hugs, and even the bartenders were happy to see him. It was going to be a good night.
Elijah abandoned him for the dance floor after just an hour but that was okay: Dom would be dancing if Elijah were the DJ. Girls clustered around Elijah at once, and Dom had to laugh as Elijah found himself in the middle of a writhing, shimmying mob.
He sipped his beer, nodding to the beat and scanning the crowd. A good crowd, an enthusiastic crowd, a crowd that had roared when he was announced and were dancing to his music like mad.
He wished Dana were here.
She’d listened to some of his mixes at the house, but seemed skeptical of the entire concept. “Isn’t that illegal?” she said when he’d explained the philosophy of the bootleg, which of course inspired Elijah to make jokes about what she should do to him with her handcuffs. He hadn’t even been able to persuade her to dance.
Some other night, maybe. When she was feeling better.