There was something honest and so Daniel about the kiss, as if his personality – along with his scent and taste – was a part of the electricity humming back and forth between them. She started to understand what he’d been saying before, about how she was real to him. He was something new to her, an entirely new experience. It was like her first kiss, because no kiss had ever been so vivid, so much stronger than her own analytical mind. She didn’t have to think.
It felt amazing not to think.
Everything was just kissing Daniel, like there had never been another purpose for breathing in and out.
He kissed her throat, her temple, the top of her head. He cradled her face against his neck and sighed.
“It feels like I’ve been waiting a century to do that. It’s like time has lost all continuity. Every second with you outweighs days of life before I met you.”
“This shouldn’t be so easy.” Once he’d stopped kissing her, she could think again. She wished she didn’t have to.
He tilted her chin up. “What do you mean?”
“Shouldn’t there be some… awkwardness? Noses bumping, all that. I mean, it’s been a while for me, but that’s how I remember it.”
He kissed her nose. “Normally, yes. But this hasn’t been a normal thing in any facet.”
“I don’t understand how this could happen. The odds are astronomically against it. You were just the random bait they put in a trap for me. And then, coincidentally, you just happen to be exactly…” She didn’t know how to finish.
“Exactly what I want,” he said, and he leaned in to kiss her again. He pulled back too soon. “I’ll admit,” he continued, “it’s not a bet I would have taken.”
“Your chances at winning the lottery would be better.”
“Do you believe in fate?”
“Of course not.”
He laughed at her scornful tone. “I guess karma is out, too, then?”
“Neither of those things is real.”
“Can you prove that?”
“Well, not conclusively, no. But no one can prove they are real, either.”
“Then you’ll just have to accept that this is the world’s most unlikely coincidence. I, however, think there is some balance in the universe. We’ve both been treated unfairly. Maybe this is our balance.”
“It’s irrational —”
He cut her off, his lips making her forget instantly what she had been about to say. He kissed along the skin of her cheekbone till he got to her ear.
“Rationality is overrated,” he whispered.
Then his mouth was moving with hers again, and she couldn’t help but agree. This was better than logic.
“You’re not off the hook for Indochine,” he murmured.
“The movie. I endangered our lives to acquire it, the least you can do is —”
This time, she didn’t let him finish.
“Tomorrow,” he said when they came up for air.
“Tomorrow,” she agreed.
lex woke up the next day feeling both full of anticipation and also very, very stupid.
Honestly, it was like she couldn’t complete a solid paragraph of thought without going back to some piece of Daniel’s face, or the texture of his hands, or the way his breath felt against her throat. And of course, that was where the feeling of anticipation was coming from.
But there were so many practical matters that simply had to be considered. Last night, or rather this morning, by the time he’d kissed her good night for the hundredth time at the top of the stairs, she’d been too exhausted to think through any of it. She’d barely had the energy to arm her defenses and slip on her gas mask before she passed out.
It was probably a good thing; she’d been too addled then to grasp exactly what madness she’d just embarked on. Even now, it was hard to focus on anything but the fact that Daniel was probably awake somewhere. She was impatient to see him again, and yet also a little frightened. What if the crazy swell of emotion that had felt so natural and irresistible last night had evaporated? What if they were suddenly strangers again, with nothing to say?
That might be easier than if the feeling continued.
Today or tomorrow, or perhaps the next day, Kevin was going to call —
Ugh, Kevin. She could just imagine his reaction to recent developments.
She shook her head. That was irrelevant. Because today or tomorrow, Kevin was going to call and then she would send the e-mail that would make the rats scurry. Kevin would compile a list of names. He would go after his rats, and if she didn’t act simultaneously, her rats would go to ground once they realized the danger. So she would have to leave Daniel here and embark on her retaliatory strike, knowing full well that there was a good chance she wouldn’t be coming back. How would she explain that? How long did she have? Two days, at most? What truly hideous timing.
It didn’t feel right to go into the day anticipating all the hours together with Daniel. It was dishonest. He’d heard the plan, but she was positive he hadn’t thought it through enough to realize what it meant. So soon, she’d be leaving him here alone. Their time would be much better spent training him in the art of hiding. Some more shooting-range practice wouldn’t hurt, either.
The feeling of anticipation turned to a sinking dread as her thoughts wound to a conclusion. Her behavior last night had been irresponsible. If she’d had any idea of what Daniel was thinking, she might have been able to work all this through before it had gotten out of hand. She might have been able to keep the appropriate distance between them. But she’d been taken completely by surprise.