Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 43

The slightly upbeat rhythm of a song playing on the radio whispered softly into the air. It begged for her attention, her movement, and it fought to lure her from her sleep just a little more. Thunder rolled in the distance, blocking the music for a moment, then lightning lit the sky. It flashed light through the room, and even through her closed eyes the brightness hit her for just the briefest of a second.

But none of those things were what woke her.

Opening her eyes, she caught site of the bright red numbers on her alarm clock. Whatever they were though, she paid no attention. Even through the thick haze of drowsiness, her mind focused on one thing only.

The familiar feeling of his eyes taking her in.

As she rolled over to her other side, lightning flashed again, allowing her to see the soft smile on the face of the man she loved. He stood on the other side of the bed, just out of her reach. So she settled for a mumbled question as she continued to fight to wake up, “Did you change your mind?”

“Maybe,” Rafe answered when the thunder once again left the room quiet except for the radio and her breathing. His voice was smooth, calming, it wrapped around her and sent a shiver down her spine. And he knew it. “You forgot to tell me what it is that I don’t get.”

Confusion still reigned the part of her that wasn’t completely focused on the way his eyes darted from her, to the clock, to the window and then back again. Still trying to find her way out of the dense fog of sleep completely, Alison pouted. “What?”

“You said I didn’t get it,” he answered, the smile again on his face as his eyes finally settled on her. “But you didn’t tell me what it is that I don’t get.”

“Oh.” Grinning, Alison rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. “You are all my dreams. No one else can ever make them come true. Because you, Rafe Kovich, are the man that has always, always been in my dreams and my destiny.”

Thunder rolled again, but her angel didn’t reply to her comment. He stood there, silently, staring at her. His eyes were taking her in. Her eyes, her hair, her smile, her fingernails that were digging into the blanket that covered her. Still Rafe remained silent, studying her as if she was the most precious thing he’d ever laid his eyes on.

A moment, or a second, or an hour later, he started to slowly walk around the foot of the bed. Alison sighed, rolling onto her back, her eyes locking with his as she propped herself up on her elbows to keep her angel in her sight. It seemed he was moving so slowly toward her he was barely moving at all, but then, she lost all concept of time with him around.

And she’d been waiting far too long to be completely lost in the daze that love, desire and the nearness of him created.

Rafe sat on the edge of the bed, brushing his thumb over her bottom lip before replacing it with his mouth. Kissing her softly, his hand found his preferred resting place on her hip. When he pulled away, it was reluctantly, just as it always was. Both of them were none to happy about the separation, but both knew that it eventually had to come.

“I love you, Alison Barrington,” he said, greeting her to the sight of his dimples when she reopened her eyes. “I love you, more than I can say, more than anything, Alison, I love you. You are my dreams, Alison, and you are my heart and my soul. I- I never knew what love was, not until I saw you. Then everything made sense. It all fell into place.”

“I love you too,” Alison whispered in reply. She sat up, her fingers finding their way to the back of his hair. She smiled, her breath catching when he bent down to brush his lips against hers again tenderly, just barely making contact before he pulled back again. “It was destiny, you know, you coming here. It wasn’t just… What we have, Rafe, it was meant to be from the very start. It had to be, because there is no what that… It wasn’t an accident that we met and fell in love, Rafe, it couldn’t have been.”

His eyes went from hers to her lips and then back again. “Too bad Destiny is out of the question,” he sighed. “I have to go.”

“No, no, you don’t.” Alison pouted again slightly, her lower lip jutting out as her fingers tightened in his hair in an attempt to make him stay. “Spend the night with me, Rafe. That’s… If I can’t have you forever, then let me have you tonight.”

“Honey,” Rafe growled, cupping her face with his hands. “I’m yours. You’ve got me until the end of eternity. No one and nothing is gonna change that. You understand me, Alison? You’re in everything that I am, everything that I think, everything that I wish, hope and dream is you, honey. I am so completely yours. You have to know that.”

Her other hand joined his as she nodded. “I-I know that.”

“You should know that, honey. I can’t say it enough times.” Lifting her hand to his mouth, Rafe lightly brushed kisses across her knuckles. “You are everything that I could have ever dreamed of, Alison. The one woman that could have ever made me think of a home, of children and life.” He kissed the inside of her wrist, then her palm as she pulled her hand out of his. “You’re everything that matters to me, Alison Barrington.”

Her hand settled on his cheek, her thumb just barely whispering across his mouth to silence him. “Then stay with me, Rafe. Please, please don’t leave me.”

“I have to,” the angel said, the pain the statement caused ringing in their ears. “I have to.”

Sighing, Alison pulled him in for another quick kiss. Wanting him… Needing to taste him before logic won out once more and he stepped away from her again. “Not… Rafe, not tonight. You don’t have to leave tonight. You… Just stay here with me.”

“I can’t,” he replied sadly. Still, he made no effort to pull away from her.

“Why not?”

“Because… Because, Alison. Hurting you isn’t an option. I’ve told you that. I love you, Alison. I love you, and I want you more than I have ever wanted anything. But I won’t hurt you just to… I won’t sleep with you and then leave you, I won’t hurt you that way.”

“I love you, Rafe.” With an odd half smile, Alison shrugged her shoulders before continuing. “I love that you gave me roses, I love that I finally found the man that I dreamed about as a little girl. I love that you want to be my prince, my angel and my white knight. I love that you don’t want to hurt me. And really, the whole self-sacrificing protector thing you’re doing is really, really sweet… In a totally screwed up kind of way. But this… it’s my choice too, Rafe. And I don’t want to have to live my entire life with nothing more than dreams of falling asleep in your arms. You don’t get to decide this by yourself. I won’t let you decide to protect me by staying away from me. I won’t!”

He chuckled lightly as her voice raised, and her smile slipped with each word. And Alison stopped mid-rant to glare at him. “I’m sorry-”

“No you aren’t.”

Sobering at her words, he tangled his fingers in her hair, turning her head and forcing her eyes to his. “I am, Alison. I’m so sorry. But I can’t change things and neither can you. We just have to deal with them the best way that we can. And I can’t deal with anything if it means hurting you. Can you just try to understand that please?”

“You’re such a damn angel,” Alison sighed. “I just… I want to be your wife, Rafe.”

“And I want you to be my wife, Alison.” Shifting, Rafe moved to be closer to her, one hand stayed in her hair, tipping her head back just before he lowered his mouth to hers. He caressed her cheek for a moment before letting his fingers wander down her long, slender neck. The smooth curve of her shoulders captivated him as he forced his mouth from hers none to happily. “I want you, Alison. So much that it hurts.”

“I’m right here, Rafe. I’m right here wanting you just as much. All you have to do is take me up on what I’m offering.”

The laugh that rumbled from deep in his chest was sexy and sweet, hot against her neck as he placed random kisses along her flesh. “And exactly what is it that you are offering here?” he asked, never stopping the kisses as she leaned her head back just a bit more. “One night before I have to leave? One last chance at everything I’ve ever wanted?”

“Me, Rafe,” she corrected, her fingers curling into his hair again, her eyes drifting shut. “Why can’t you see that I’m offering you me?” The familiar sting of tears hit her as his lips moved to her shoulder. “Why won’t you let me give you everything I am? Even… Even if it is just for this one night. It’s better than never at all.”

He pulled away from her quickly, roughly. Standing, Rafe stepped away from the bed, away from her, needing to put distance between then. “Then what?” the angel snapped a moment later, taking another step back, he shook his head. “What happens tomorrow?”

“W-What do you mean, Rafe? We can be together. At least until you have to leave. We can… We can at least pretend that all our dreams are gonna come true, you know? It doesn’t have to change tomorrow. We can wake up in each others arms, we can pretend that we don’t have a deadline staring us in the face! We can try and have what we want while we can. While you are here, then we can get married, we can be in love. We can make it real, Rafe. It doesn’t have to just be a damn fantasy!”

“It does!” Angry at his inability to see her in the dark, he turned on the lamp beside her bed. The light sent a soft yellow glow over everything, and Alison had to shield her eyes from the sudden brightness. Another clap of thunder, the first she’d noticed since he got close to her, caused her to jump, and the action made him take a tiny step toward her instead of away. “It does,” Rafe repeated, softer this time. “It has to just be a damn fantasy, Alison, because it can not happen between us! Nothing can!”


“No,” he interrupted, his tone sharp, leaving no room for argument. “Nothing can happen tonight or any other night. And it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s not because I don’t want you. It’s because I am too much in love with you to… I can’t do it, Alison. I can’t sleep with you then leave you. I can’t handle what would have to happen in the morning.”

Swallowing hard, Alison pulled her knees to her chest. She felt so small there, in the middle of the bed, curled up and nearly lost under the huge yellow comforter. His anger and unhappiness was rolling off of him in waves, his jaw tightened and he turned to look away when he caught her staring. “W-What do you think has to happen in the morning?”

“We both know what has to happen, Alison. You go back to Jamal, hell, I’d probably start pushing you there because I want you happy even more than I want you. You go back to Jamal, then I leave. Or maybe I leave then you get back with the man you love.” He shrugged his shoulders carelessly but kept his eyes on the window. Rafe sighed before continuing, his voice still soft despite the harshness of his words. “Either way, I’m in my world and you’re in yours. Because we both know that there is no way we can work this out between us. We both know I have to go back. There’s no happily ever after, there’s no way that I get to stay and we get to have Destiny. It’s not going to happen, Alison. None of it is ever going to happen. Because even if I got back into that bed with you now, even if I made love to you until the second that I have to leave, we both know that I still have to go back up there and you stay here.”

Alison could do nothing but stare at his back, the shock took over, and she was left speechless by his honest but hurtful words. The truth broke her heart, left her breathless with the pain and anger of it all. She wiped the tears from her face harshly. “You idiot,” she shot at him before actually letting herself engage that filter between her brain and her mouth that most people took for granted.

But Rafe turned around, obviously intrigued, if not more than a little surprised by her words. “Oh please,” he said, sarcasm lacing his tone. “Continue. Don’t let me stop you.”

She threw the blanket off of her, fighting to free herself as it tangled around her ankles. “You stupid, stupid, idiot! How…How dare you even… UGH!” Throwing her hands up in frustration, Alison glared at him. “Jamal is not the man I love, ok, Rafe? That is you. Do you at least understand that? I am in love with you. I don’t want to go back with Jamal, I don’t want you to start pushing me back toward him because you want me to be happy or for any other stupid reason, including your completely screwed up sense of honor and duty that I can only assume you had installed in you at a very early age!” Finally kicking herself free, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed, stalking toward him with hurt in her eyes and fury pouring from every other inch of her. “I know that you can’t stay! I mean, my God, half our conversations are either about that or turn into one of us mentioning that very fact! You have to leave soon, so what? Huh? So what? We have like seven days left together! Seven days, Rafe. It’s more time than I ever actually thought I’d have with the guy I dreamed about coming to my rescue as a little girl.”

His hazel eyes sparkled, and he crossed his arms across his chest in order to keep himself from touching her. “Come on, princess, we both know that I’m the worst thing in the world for you. I came down here and I turned your life upside down. You and Jamal would have probably lived happily ever after if I hadn’t shown up.”

“You want the truth, Angel Boy?” Alison poked him in the chest, pure fury running through her veins. “I probably would have stayed with Jamal had I never met you! Is that what you wanted to hear? Jamal and I would probably be cuddled up right now if not for you showing up down here to save us all from ourselves. But you know what? It would have still be exactly like it always was with him! I would still be with him and wondering if there was something more out there. Staying with him because that’s what I was supposed to do while I dreamed of someone else. Is that what you wanted to hear, Rafe? Even without you standing here and real, you were the man that I dreamed about. Before I even knew who the hell you were. I just didn’t even realize it until-”

Wrapping his arms around her waist, Rafe lifted her easily from the floor, his lips pressing to hers and silencing her. Tenderness was forgotten, the gentleness from all their other kisses lost in the desire, smothered by the passion so intense, so hot that both were burning, searching for relief even as they hoped they’d never lose this feeling. Her body was pressed to his, and still she wasn’t close enough. He held her tighter, closer, yet wanted and needed her closer still.

He took her bottom lip between his teeth, nibbling lightly then soothing it with his tongue. The moan that escaped her was damn near primal. And just when he thought he couldn’t possibly want her more, that simple little sound proved him oh so very wrong. “Alison,” he growled, her name breathless whispered across her cheek, sending a shiver through her as she dug her fingernails none too gently into the back of his neck. Before anything else could be said, their mouths were one again. Exploring, fighting, dancing tongues tried to find contentment, but never got close enough.

Alison was vaguely aware of their movement, and it wasn’t until then that she noticed her feet were once more touching the floor. They continued to move backwards almost unconsciously. Never separating themselves from each other until the back of her knees hit the mattress. “Rafe?” His fingers tightened around her waist as her fingers began working on undoing the buttons on that pesky shirt of his. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he moaned. Blindly he kissed her cheek, her jaw, her lips, her neck. Finally he found that spot behind her ear, grinning as he was once again rewarded with a shiver of desire from her. He kissed her earlobe before whispering, “And I want you, Alison. God, I want you so, so much…”

She ran her palms from his shoulders, down his warm, toned abs and back again. Sliding off his now unbuttoned shirt, she pulled back just enough to grin proudly as it fell into a green puddle on the floor. Watching his eyes as she once again ran her fingers over him, she smiled softly, her index fingers catching his belt loops and pulling him back to her, as close as their remaining clothing would allow him to be.

Rafe chuckled, nipping her collar bone as he started to work on her buttons. With the first half of her top undone, he pulled back, locking his eyes with hers as if asking for permission. With a sly grin, he moved quickly, and she had to laugh as she landed with her head on her pillow and him hovering above her. With his weight on his forearm, he once again went off in search of the spot behind her ear, still working on freeing her buttons, and she giggled as his breath tickled her neck.

Still laughing, she twisted the chain he wore around her fingers and tugged, drawing another chuckle from him as he complied with her silent demand and pressed his lips to hers once more. She could feel his desire for her, his arousal against her thigh, but it didn’t surprise her when reality came crashing in again and he broke the kiss.

“I have to leave, Alison,” he sighing, closing his eyes and pressing his forehead to hers.

“No… No, you don’t. Not tonight.”

“Yes, tonight.”

“What?” she asking, panic seeping in and causing her already erratic breathing to quicken. “No! No, Rafe, not tonight!”

Turning his head, he looked at the clock beside her bed and she followed his gaze. “I’m sorry, Alison. I’ve got to go.”

He brushed a gentle kiss on her cheek just as the bright red numbers changed to midnight. Then suddenly she was empty. He was gone, and she was left shocked, her heart breaking, her head spinning and longing to just reach out and grab him.

The lights went out, the room going into the darkness once more, and she blinked, not able to see a single damn thing when she opened her eyes. Sitting up, she looked around, the electricity came back on, and when her eyes landed on the clock a wave of tears hit her hard and fast. The red numbers flashed twelve as she called out his name, then buried her face in her hands and sobbed. “Rafe? Please… Rafe, come back…”

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