Dominic had never understood this question. You love someone or you don’t–you don’t analyze it to death. He said simply, “Because you’re you.”
Dana smiled again, deeper this time, kissed him and hugged him close. Elijah stopped talking, watching them while his cigarette burned down in his fingers, and said to Orlando, “Look at them.”
“I know,” Orlando said. “I can’t decide if it’s sweet or nauseating.”
“Don’t be jealous, mates,” Dominic said, hoping he didn’t sound too smug. “Haven’t I always said American girls were the best?”
“American women are even better,” Dana said, lifting her head from his shoulder, and before he could answer the hostess came out to say their table was ready.
On his way home from filming station IDs–three hours of saying “I’m Dominic Monaghan and you’re watching ABC”–he decided to stop and pick up a few things for Dana. The girl at the cash register did a double take when he stepped up to pay, and then smiled hugely and whispered as she handed him his change, “I loved you in Lord of the Rings, Mr. Monaghan. I’m so excited for the new series.”
“Thank you,” Dom said, smiling back and feeling genuinely grateful. Who cared what one snooty woman said. He had fans–and better still, he had friends.
Who, by the sound of it, were just where he’d left them: playing video games in his bedroom. Dana sat on the sofa in the living room, pecking at her laptop. Her smile was as big as the checkout girl’s when she saw him, and she closed her computer. “Welcome back. How was it?”
“Boring, but I knew it would be. Hey. Got you something.” He went to the kitchen for a spoon.
“Uh-oh. Elijah and Orlando are still here so if it’s lingerie–“
“I don’t think we’ll need to kick them out.” He knelt on the couch next to her and opened the shopping bag. “Close your eyes.”
She closed them obediently. Dom opened the carton, filled the spoon and held it to her lips. “Open your mouth.”
Dana smiled hesitantly and parted her lips. She pulled back a little at the cold, then licked her lips and laughed aloud, covering her mouth. “Ice cream,” she said happily. “Just what I needed.”
“This is the right kind, yeah?” He fed her another spoonful, making sure it had a lump of cookie dough and plenty of chocolate chips.
“Perfect.” She leaned back, her hand on his leg as she ate another spoonful. “What’s your plan for tonight?”
“There isn’t anywhere I need to be, so we can do whatever. What do you feel like doing?”
“I’m not up to going out,” she said apologetically.
“Then we’ll stay in. Rent some videos, order in dinner.”
“You’re all right with staying in? I hate to force you to have a dull Friday night.”
“We usually stay in at your place,” he pointed out.
“That’s because it’s hard to find a last-minute sitter for William.”
“And it’s never dull.” He ate a spoonful of ice cream himself, deciding if it made him break out he’d just ask the makeup artists to lay it on extra-thick. “What are you working on?”
“My report for this week. It’s not easy to get it all organized.”
“Well, you’ll have time later, won’t you? You’re not going back to work right away.”
“No, I won’t until next Monday, I think. But I’d still like to get down as much as I can while it’s still fresh.”
“Have you figured out how he was able to do it yet? How he could control time?”
She shook her head, nimble pink tongue licking ice cream from the corner of her mouth. “Not yet, but I keep thinking of the first line from ‘Slaughterhouse Five’: ‘Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck from time.'”
“I don’t think I’ve ever read that book.”
“It’s a very good book.”
He fed her another spoonful, and she licked her lips slowly after she chewed and swallowed. Her hand was still on his leg and her eyes blinked at him sleepily. “Had enough?” Dom asked. She nodded so he put the lid on the carton and took it to the freezer in the kitchen. When he came back to the sofa Dana had put the laptop aside and positioned herself so that he could lie next to her. Her mouth was cool and tasted of dark chocolate, and she sighed as her body eased into his.
“Sometimes I think it’s a good thing we live in different cities,” she whispered as she nuzzled him. “I can’t keep my hands off you.”
“Whenever you’re ready for a change, my offer still stands.”
She rested her forehead against his. “It’s very tempting,” she said in a confessional tone.
“But you still don’t think I’m safe.”
“No,” Dana said quietly, and Dom exhaled slowly. “I mean, I like this. I like being with you. It does feel safe. It feels . . . calm.”
“Calm, eh? That’s a new one.” Dominic said after a moment as she stroked his hair, “We’re still going to be together in a year. Five years, ten, even? It’ll still be you and me.”
“In ten years you’ll have a midlife crisis and toss me aside for a twenty-year-old starlet.”
“If I ever have a midlife crisis I’ll go live in my forest. In a tree. I’ll grow a great scraggly beard–“
“Or you’re *my* midlife crisis and eventually I’ll come to my senses and leave you for a nice, sensible accountant.”
Dominic rolled her onto her back, holding her hands above her head. “First I was just a job–“
“You were never just a job,” she reproached him.
“–and now I’m just a midlife crisis? It’s a good thing you’re hot.”
Dana tilted up her chin as if she wanted to argue with him more, but then kissed him until he let go of her hands and cupped her face instead.
“So I was never just a job,” he whispered.
“Maybe for the first ten minutes.”
He loved it when she gave him baby kisses, when she played with his hair, when she licked his lips before sliding her tongue into his mouth. This just-kissing thing wasn’t so bad, really–it was more satisfying than phone sex. As much as he loved her voice whispering dirty talk into his ear, taste and touch and scent made the whole experience that much more memorable and real. It was something he could hold onto while he was in Hawaii and counting the days until he could see her again.
The only problem with just kissing, he thought, was that at some point it had to stop or become just fucking. Reluctantly he pulled himself away, up onto his knees. Dana looked disappointed but only sighed and let her fingers trail down his stomach, stopping at the fly on his jeans.
“Don’t,” he warned her.
“I won’t.” Her hand dropped away. “But I want to fuck you, I hope you know that.”
“And if it didn’t hurt to breathe, I would.”
“I’m supposed to breathe deeply once an hour, but that’s only for a few minutes.”
“Dana, it’s okay.”
“It’s not okay. I want you right *now* and–” She sighed and laid her hand on her forehead, squeezing shut her eyes. “Ignore me. I’m frustrated. I didn’t think I’d get this frustrated.”
“Poor darling,” Dominic said, leaning over her again. “Is there anything I can do?”
“Yes–you can fuck me! But since that would probably puncture my lung that’s not a good idea.”
Her cheeks were pink and her lips soft and plump, and if it weren’t for her hand pressed against her injured side he would have thrown himself onto her, right here on the sofa. As it was, he took a deep breath and said, “No, not a good idea at all.”
Dana put her hands on his thighs. “I’m sorry. This weekend isn’t turning out to be much fun for you.”
“I’m having fun,” Dominic said, holding her hands. “You’re here, my friends are here–if William were here it’d be perfect. Hey. Why don’t you ask your brother to fly him out here? If you’re not going back to work until the week after anyway. After Thursday you’ll have the place to yourself. I can ask some people to look in on you, if you like.”
“It’s okay, Dom. We’ve already made all the arrangements. And I’ll need my mother’s help with William while I’m recovering.”