“You let me worry about that.” She teased under his shirt and stroked his belly.
“It won’t be any fun for me either if you’re not enjoying yourself.”
“Dominic,” Dana said patiently, “on occasion a woman has sex because she wants to please her man. It’s not terribly enlightened but it’s the way things go sometimes. I’ll let you know if it hurts.” She kissed him, throwing one leg over his hips.
Dom clasped her waist, shivering as she stole the breath from his lungs. She had such a beautiful mouth and she knew exactly how to use it, leaving him with fingertips tingling and pulse pounding.
“Dana,” he tried again, but she silenced him with another kiss as she unbuttoned the black silk shirt she’d borrowed from him, balancing herself on her elbows. After a moment he helped her, fumbling at the buttons while trying not to put any pressure on her ribcage. She sat back on her heels and removed the shirt to reveal the soft curves of her breasts bound by a black satiny bra–as well as the elastic bandage around her ribs and the still-purple bruises.
Dom sat up and put his hands on her shoulders. “Dana, I can’t.”
“Honestly. I can’t. It hurts just to look at you.” He ran his fingers lightly along the edge of the bandage, Dana watching him with serious eyes. “I do want you, love, but I can wait.”
He was afraid for a moment that she would be upset, but instead she merely nodded and picked up the t-shirt she’d been sleeping in the last few nights. “You’re right,” she said. “It’s just too soon.”
“I worry so much about you.”
“I know you do,” she said, getting off the bed. He watched her finish undressing and helped her pull on the t-shirt, and kissed her when her head reappeared. She put her arms around his neck and smiled when he pulled her onto his knee. “You’re sweet to worry.”
“And I have more of a cause. I’m rarely shot at, for one thing.”
“Actors die too. I remember Brandon Lee.”
“I’ll be careful. Always. And what if all these theories you have are true? Who’s watching your back, if there really are people out to get you?”
“Agent Doggett watches my back,” Dana said, brushing her hand through his hair.
“Is he trustworthy?”
“He knows my secrets,” she said simply and kissed his forehead.
Dom traced figures on her back and said after a moment, “All right. But if you disappear and he disappears, how do I find you? Who will help me?”
She ran the pad of her thumb over his lower lip. “If that happens . . . don’t try to find us.”
“If we’re taken there’s nothing you could do to help us. If we disappear we’re already dead, or it’s too dangerous to be around the people we love anymore. If we disappear, let us go.”
“No,” Dom said. “If you need a place to hide you come to me.”
“Dominic, try to understand–“
“I understand! I understand that you’re really afraid. I’ll help you hide. You could come here–I could send you to New Zealand and my friends could hide you–or there’s my forest in India. I’m not kidding, Dana: it’s remote. You could hide there if you had to. If you ever had to disappear I’ll help you. I’ll come with you.”
“Right,” Dana murmured with downcast eyes. “An internationally known actor from some of the biggest movies of the century, hiding out.”
“I’m not recognized that much,” he said. “Mostly people know they’ve seen me somewhere but they don’t know where. And if we went away–truly away–I’d look like just another ex-pat. We could go anywhere in the world, Dana.” He cupped her cheek. “I’ll take you anywhere you think you’d be safe.”
She kissed his palm but still didn’t look at him, and laid her head on his shoulder. “At least you brought it up this time,” she said finally.
“So when are you moving to LA?”
Dana chuckled but kept her head on his shoulder. “I think I’m ready to sleep. Are you tired yet?”
“Not really. A bit keyed up, actually. Think I’ll go for a run.”
She lifted her head and nodded, then kissed him, holding his chin. “I love you for being you,” she said and got off his lap. She went into the bathroom and he stayed sitting on the edge of the bed, listening to her wash her face and brush her teeth. Finally he got up and changed his jeans and sneakers for trainers and running shorts, and took off most of his jewelry so it wouldn’t get in the way while he was running. He felt odd, keyed up and drained at the same time, and it would be good to get out of his own head for a bit. If it were daytime he’d surf–as much as he liked yoga surfing was really as close to zen as he’d ever been–but it would be foolish to surf alone at night.
When Dana came out of the bathroom he hugged her about the shoulders and kissed her warmly. “Don’t be long,” she said, cupping his upper arms.
“I won’t.” He made sure she was comfortable in bed and then kissed her again. “Love you.”
“Love you too,” she answered, caressing his cheek, and shut her eyes.
Orlando was on the drive, waving good night to Elijah, when Dom left the house. Dom waved to Elijah too, getting a honk in return, and then embraced Orlando as tightly as he could. “Dommie,” Orlando said tenderly, hugging him back. “Are you all right?”
“Is Dana all right?”
“She’s sleeping. I don’t know how to do this, Orli. I really don’t. I want her so much but she’s right: I’m asking her to give up everything. I can’t do that, really, can I?”
“No,” Orlando said. “You can’t.”
“Some help you are.”
Orlando smiled and rubbed his shoulders. “You should never ask a lover to give up something you wouldn’t give up yourself. It’s only fair.”
“But I would give it up for her! If she really wanted me to. If it was the only way.”
“No, you wouldn’t,” Orlando said patiently. “You love it too much. You love the glamor and the creativity and all of it. You even love the screaming fans.”
“Don’t love the insane ones much,” Dom muttered.
“Which just proves that you’re wise. Sometimes I think I’d give it up for the right girl.”
“And send your millions of fans into paroxysms of grief.”
Orlando laughed. “What is a paroxysm, anyway? Don’t think I’ve ever seen one.” He cupped Dom’s face in his hands. “If she’s right for you it’ll work out. Maybe not in a way that’s obvious now but it will. If it doesn’t, at least you’ve dated somebody good for you.”
Dom hugged Orlando again then let him go. “I’m going for a run.”
“I have my key.”
“I love you, Orli,” Dom added as Orlando headed towards the house, and Orlando turned back to him with a pleased grin.
“I love you too. Enjoy your run.” He went up the walk and let himself into the house.
Henry had grown since the last time Dom had seen him, tall enough to tower over mere hobbits–which made the sight of Henry leaping into Elijah’s arms even funnier than usual. “Holy fuck, Henry!” Elijah exclaimed. “What have they been feeding you?”
“Can’t go wrong with Nordic genes,” Henry replied, grinning and hanging around Elijah’s neck like he had when he was twelve. Elijah rubbed Henry’s shaggy head, grinning too.
Viggo was greeting Orlando with their customary head-bash as Dom helped Dana out of the car. He bashed Elijah next as Henry jumped on Orlando, and then turned to Dom and Dana, dropping his arm from around Elijah’s shoulders.
For a moment Dom thought Viggo was going to welcome Dana into their group with a head-bash too–instead Viggo cupped her face in his hands and said, “Welcome, Dana. Welcome to my home.”
“Thank you,” she said softly, glancing at Dom. He squeezed her hand, then braced himself as Viggo let Dana go.
“You’ve been away too long,” Viggo reproved him and smashed his forehead against Dom’s.
“Life’s been a little bit crazy,” Dom answered, resisting the urge to rub his forehead until Viggo’s back was turned.