~~The morning came much faster than I liked. I opened my eyes to find myself alone in the hotel room with nothing but my thoughts. A cluster of emotion was brewing inside of me to the point where it made me sick. Why didn't I just tell him the whole truth from the start? I said to myself as I pulled myself out of bed and into the shower. I would likely be at home lying in bed with him right now, instead of alone in this hotel room with no toothbrush and nothing but dirty clothes to wear.
As inconvenient as it was those were the least of my problems. I truly was terrified that Luther would find Lydia and harm her, and then come after me. Delaney even seemed worried last night. He never seemed worried about anything, so seeing him vulnerable scared me a little. He was always in control…always. Last night he seemed… my heart fluttered at the thought, but he seemed to truly have feelings for me. I pondered that and more as I reluctantly put back on my jeans and t-shirt from the day before. I didn't even have a proper hair brush so I did the best I could do and threw my hair up into a wet nappy bun. I stepped out of the bathroom to find Delaney, sitting waiting for me, with coffee and bagels in hand.
"Morning, you look well rested and handsome as usual" I said giving him a once over. Even in jeans and a plain white t-shirt he looked like he stepped out of a magazine. I suddenly became very self-conscious about my disheveled appearance.
"Well Ali, I can say I sleep much better with you next to me." He stood up and walked over to me leaning down to give me a brief kiss on the forehead. "Because at least when you're in my bed I know you're not out there wreaking havoc, and getting into trouble"
"Delaney!" I gasped. "That's not fair!"
"Well I'm not too concerned about being fair Ali. Don't think that all is forgiven because of last night."
"What? You mean you're still angry with me?" I gave him a look of pure disbelief.
He laughed "I haven't decided yet. I'm stuck in between wanting to spank the hell out of you until my hand print is permanently branded on your ass and wanting to wrap my arms around you and keep you safe from the world"
"Oh, well that's quite a predicament" I smiled. He wasn't angry at me, but I think he may have wanted to be for just a little bit longer. "If it makes you feel better you can spank me when we get home, I remember that I quite enjoyed it the first time"
"Ali, I would love to but things are going to be different once we are home."
"What do you mean?" I asked my heart sinking a little
"Norma and Richard will be staying at the house permanently from now on, as well as my men who were here running surveillance on Lydia."
"Did you forget about Luther Ali?" He asked with a little edge in his tone.
"No, I just figured that You, Norma and Richard would be enough"
"Ali, I'm not taking any chances with your safety. I'm sorry but it's going to have to be this way until we find them"
"So everyone will just be in the house staring at me?"
"If that's what I want them to do then yes, but I haven't decided exactly where everyone will be. So I will let you know once I do. I know for sure at least one of them will be with you at all times…even at school"
"Jesus Delaney, really?"
"Yes, Really." He gave me a look that told me there was no arguing.
"One more thing" I said blushing before I even began to ask the question "We aren't going to be able to sleep in the same bed anymore are we." The pit in my stomach seemed to grow as I waited his answer.
"We'll figure it out, but probably not. Keeping you safe is the priority and I don't need the fact that our relationship far crosses the line of Guardian and ward to distract anyone from the task at hand. Not to mention the fact that you aren't eighteen as yet."
"I will be a few weeks you know, what then?"
"I don't know Ali, we'll see. I'm hoping to have this whole mess wrapped up before then." He leaned down and kissed me in an attempt to reassure me. "Now come on let's get going it's a long drive home"
The drive home felt twice as long as the one on the way up. I didn't mind it though. I was happy for the time alone with him. Based on what he said at the hotel time alone together was going to be a rarity. The thought of not being able to be close to him or sleep in the same bed as him bothered me more than the idea of Luther coming after me. I pouted internally like a petulant child. The timing was impeccable. The man finally admits he has real feeling for me and now I can't sleep with him. I knew I was being ridiculous but it's what I felt.
My thoughts eventually went to Luther and all of the different scenarios my mind made up about him finding me and what I would do if he did. Honestly other than scream and cry I had nothing, no defense. The realization made me feel helpless.
"Delaney, I want to keep shooting with Richard if that's okay, and I would like to learn how to fight or something. You know like self-defense."
"Why? Are you scared? Do you not think I can keep you safe?"
"No, I know you can… but I don't like the helpless feeling I have. I want to be able to stand a chance if something bad happened to me. I'm not just talking about Luther either. I'm talking about normal day to day life." He was quiet for a moment mulling over what I said
"I'm fine with that. Richard will keep on with the shooting lessons. I can teach you how to fight and basic self-defense"
"No, not you" I blurted out.
"Why not?" He looked over at me surprised.
"I just wouldn't be able to concentrate" I giggled. "At least concentrate on self-defense".
He smiled. "Well, I'll see what I can do, but your serious you want to do all of this?"
"Yeah, I figure you're going to have me on lock-down anyway might as well do something productive with all of my spare time"
He laughed "Good point".
I was happy for at least that. I didn't want Delaney to see me as this week little girl that he had to constantly rescue from herself. I wanted him to see me as someone who could take care of herself. I leaned across the center console and kissed him on the cheek.
"Thank you Delaney. Thank you for everything."
He didn't answer me but reached over and took my hand into his. I sank back into my seat content with holding his hand in silence.
We turned down our street and I immediately noticed the Black SUV parked on the side of the road. The windows were so dark that I couldn't see if anyone was inside.
"Is that one of your men?" I asked looking at Delaney
"Yes, there is also one at the other entrance to the neighborhood."
He clicked open the gate to the house and pulled into the driveway. The driveway was lined with vehicles that I didn't recognize. There were several men in front of the house that stood up as we pulled in.
"Holy Crap Delaney, is all of this necessary?" I asked as he drove past everyone parking next to my car on the other end.
"Unfortunately Ali, it is very necessary" My stomach sunk the situation suddenly becoming very real. What had I done …?