Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Reluctant Love Ch 10.1


Chapter 10.1: Throw Back Thursday


Emily awakened slowly. She felt a warm body pressing against her back and she smiled. It had been so long since she'd woken to feel Cullen lying beside her. She lay quietly for a while, just savouring the feeling of his arm lying across her waist, his breath tickling her shoulder as he slept.

She looked at the clock and then groaned. It was nine thirty!

"Cullen, we're late," she said, twisting around to face him. He mumbled in his sleep and tightened his arm around her, pulling her closer to him. He buried his face in the crook of her neck.

"Cullen," she laughed softly, threading her fingers into his silky hair as she felt his lips begin to travel over her collar bone. "We need to get up," she said, wriggling in his arms.

"Hold still," he mumbled sleepily. "I'm kissing my fiancé."

Her heart thudded in her chest at his words. For a moment she had forgotten that she'd agreed to marry him last night.

He felt her sudden stillness and moved back to look at her, pushing his hair out of his eyes. "Emily?"

Her heart thudded in her chest again as she heard the hesitant note in his voice and saw apprehension in his beautiful, golden brown eyes.

"I haven't changed my mind," she smiled, her eyes glowing. "I'd just forgotten for a moment and you took me by surprise."

She saw relief cross his beautiful face and then he was pulling her closer to him, his mouth seeking hers. He kissed her long and slow and very thoroughly. She moaned and rubbed against him as his lips ignited a fire deep inside her.

She stifled another moan as his lips traveled back to her neck. "Cullen, we need to get up."

"My thoughts exactly," he chuckled, rubbing his hardness against her stomach.

Laughing, she extricated herself from his arms and climbed out the bed. "Not that kind of up," she smiled. "We're late for work. And it's my first day back too. I'm telling you, my time keeping has been shocking since I started working for you!"

Cullen grumbled and muttered under his breath about her having no romance at all which just made her laugh more. He finally realised that she wasn't going to let him have his wicked way with her and got up.

"I need to stop off at home first," he said when he'd finished his shower and put on his clothes from the night before. "I really need to bring some clothes here."

Emily was finishing securing her hair back with a clasp. "I'll meet you at the office then," she said. "I don't want to be any later on my first day back."

Cullen's eyes were thoughtful and for a moment she thought he was going to disagree with her, but then he smiled his beautiful smile and kissed the top of her head.

"Okay, love," he said. "I'll see you a bit later on."

Emily hurried out the apartment before he could change his mind. He was so stubborn when he wanted to get his own way.

She flagged a taxi and was soon at the Cullen and Cross building.

She chatted briefly with Dave, the security guard, as she signed in and then headed up to the top floor.

Beth smiled at her when she arrived.

"Dorian asked if you could go through when you arrived, Emily," the pretty blonde said.

"Thanks, Beth. Emily hurried down to her office and to deposit her bag and jacket.

Alice was positively glowing as she all but skipped into Emily's office.

"Oh, Emily, you were so right," she said happily, hugging her. "Last night was so wonderful."

"I take it things went well after we left?" Emily laughed.

Alice blushed and laughed. "Did they ever! Being with Dorian was like walking through the clouds," she sighed and Emily laughed again.

"I'm so happy for you, Alice," she smiled, giving her a quick hug. "Now I need to go see what the love of your life wants. I shouldn't be too long and you can fill me in with all the fluffy details later."

Alice laughed and went back to her own office as Emily headed to Dorian's.

The blond vampire looked up when she knocked and his face broke into a huge grin.

"Emily," he smiled, motioning for her to come in. "You're late!" he chuckled.

"Blame Cullen," she said, flushing slightly. "I assumed he had set the alarm as he's been staying at the apartment."

She sat down across from him and noticed slight changes in his face. He looked happier and more beautiful than she remembered. His blue eyes were literally shining.

"What did you say to Alice last night?" he asked with a grin.

"I just told her to follow her instincts," Emily smiled. "It just so happened that she instinctively wanted to run her hand through your hair at the time. I didn't think you'd mind," she added with a laugh.

Dorian roared with laughter, his beautiful face alight with joy. "I most definitely did not mind," he said, "once I'd gotten over the shock. Thank you, Emily. I didn't think I could feel any happier yesterday when you came home to us. Then you gave me my heart's desire too. I will be forever in your debt, love."

"You deserve it, Dorian," she said softly. "You made my happiness possible again when we met in Brussels. I'd say we're even."

He smiled a beautiful smile and then asked, "Where's Cullen?"

"Gone home to change," she told him. "Said he'd be in later."

"Maybe you two should take a holiday?" Dorian suggested. "Spend some time getting reacquainted?"

"I can't take a holiday when I've just gotten back," she laughed, though the thought of spending some uninterrupted time with Cullen was very appealing. She decided not to mention that they'd be taking some time off together soon enough, for their honeymoon. She wanted Cullen to tell his friend their news.

"Okay, on to work then," Dorian said, suddenly all business. "We didn't progress any further on the audits of our subsidiaries while you were away. I didn't think we had anyone with your skill level to complete the audits but Cullen mentioned Rafael Montana for some reason."

"Rafael is almost as good as I am," she replied, pleased that Cullen had remembered her recommendation of her old study partner's skills. "I went to university with him. I'd mentioned it to Cullen once. He could have done the job if you'd given it to him."

Dorian frowned thoughtfully, "Maybe Rafael's talents are wasted where he is at the moment. I'll have a think about it. So, are you up to getting on with the audits?"

Emily nodded. "If I may suggest that Rafael assist me?" she said. "It's just I'm going to have another project to work on fairly shortly and it may take up a bit of my time. I could use an assistant on the audits."

Dorian arched an eyebrow, "Another project?"

"Something personal," she smiled sweetly. "Nothing I can talk about just yet."

He shrugged. "Fine," he agreed. "Talk to Rafael. Make sure you get someone to cover for him before you take him away. If you give me a review of his work at the end of the audits, we'll see about moving him somewhere more suitable to his talents afterwards."

"Thanks, Dorian. He really is way too talented to be sitting stifling in his current position. Though he would never complain about it."

Dorian smiled. "Well, go get some work done, woman," he said, waving a hand dismissively.

"Yes, boss," she laughed, heading out his office.

"Alice, can you call Rafael Montana and ask him to come up to my office when he has a moment," she said when she got back to her office.

"Right away," her friend smiled. She hovered for a moment in the doorway.

"Right away?" Emily asked with a laugh.

Alice blushed. "I was just wondering. Did Dorian say anything?"

Emily smiled gently at her friend. She was obviously still a bit uncertain about her new relationship.

"He thanked me for giving him his heart's desire," she said softly. "Does that help?"

Alice's pretty face lit up with a wonderful smile, her eyes glowing with happiness. "I'll just go and call Rafael," she sighed and went back to her own office.

Rafael arrived ten minutes later and after welcoming her back, they sat down at her little meeting table and she explained why she wanted to see him. Rafael was ecstatic at the news.

"Thank you, Emily," he smiled gratefully. "I promise I won't let you down."

"I know you won't, Rafael. That's why I suggested you," she answered. "There's going to be a lot of travelling involved out to the various sites. I won't always be able to go but if you come to the first couple with me, then I'm confident you'll be able to go on site on your own."

"What about my department?" her friend asked with a frown.

"Do you have anyone in your team that can cover for you?" she asked. "Take some time over the selection because there is a good possibility that the person will be taking over permanently."

"Permanently!" Rafael said shocked. "What am I going to be doing?"

"Well, Dorian wants a full review on how you perform with the view of moving you onto something a bit more befitting your talents when the audits are completed. I've a few ideas running through my mind at the moment which I will discuss with Cullen and Dorian later on."

Rafael's expression lit up. "Thanks, Emily," he said quietly. "I really appreciate your faith in me."

"Call it payback for the sleepless nights with you at University, when I refused to give up on a particularly frustrating problem," she laughed. "You're up to the task, Rafael," she added. "I know what you're capable off."

The meeting broke up and Alice came into her office.

"Cullen is looking for you," she said.

Emily smiled. "Better go see what he wants then."

She headed up to his office and was surprised to see him looking nervous when she popped her head in the door.

"What's wrong?" she asked, bemused, as she closed the door.

"Have a seat, Emily," he said with his familiar, crooked smile.

She sat down, her expression curious as he hovered nervously over her, his beautiful face thoughtful.

"Emily," he finally sighed, kneeling in front of her. "I know I asked you last night to marry me and you said yes. But I want to do this right. I know it's corny and old fashioned in this day and age but I want every single important moment between us to be just right."

He was suddenly kneeling on just one knee, a small box in his hands. She could see his hands were shaking slightly as he opened the box and the most stunning engagement ring was revealed.

Emily felt her heart stop for a moment as she gazed at the platinum ring. It had a single, large, square cut diamond in the centre and was the most beautiful piece of jewellery she had ever seen. She felt tears gather in her eyes as she looked at Cullen's beautiful face.

"Emily Swan Mackenzie, will you marry me," he breathed softly, taking the ring from the box and sliding it slowly onto her finger. It fit perfectly and she couldn't stop the smile of joy that bloomed across her face.

"Yes, Sebastian Cullen, I will marry you," she whispered happily.

Cullen rewarded her words with a smile so loving and tender that her heart fluttered wildly and then he was pulling her to her feet and his mouth was on hers, kissing her thoroughly.

She moaned and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him back with all the love inside her.

"Thank you, my Emily," Cullen whispered against her hair. "Thank you for making me the happiest man alive."

"You make it sound as if you're the only one getting something precious, Cullen," she laughed softly. "I'm getting quite a bargain here too."

She kissed him gently, smothering his laughter with her mouth. He groaned and deepened the kiss until they were both breathless. Finally he pulled away and held her hand, smiling as he looked at the ring on her finger.

"You haven't told Dorian." It wasn't a question, more a fact.

She shook her head. "I wanted to wait until you were here," she said with a smile.

"Let's do it now," he said, pulling her from the office, his steps quick.

Emily laughed as he dragged her into Dorian's office without knocking.

"We're getting married," he announced unceremoniously.

Emily burst out laughing as Dorian's face went from annoyance, at their rude interruption, to shock, at Cullen's announcement, and then to joy as he took in the meaning of the words.

The blond vampire almost bounded over the desk as he rushed to congratulate them, pounding Cullen hard on the back as he hugged him and then turning to kiss Emily warmly as he gentled the hug he gave her.

"This is brilliant news," he cried happily. "Your personal project?" he queried, looking at Emily.

She blushed and nodded and he laughed, delightedly.

"This calls for a celebration," Dorian said, "Though not right now. We do need to get some work done today," he added.

"Tonight. Maybe Alice could arrange something?"

"I'll ask her," Emily smiled. "She doesn't know yet."

"She'll be fit for nothing work wise once she finds out," Cullen laughed good naturedly as Dorian picked up his phone and asked Alice to pop up to his office.

The little, dark head woman's eyes were curious when she entered. She blushed when Dorian grabbed her to his side and gave her a long kiss before Emily told her their news.

Alice was like a two year old as she bounced around the room, kissing and hugging everyone enthusiastically. Dorian's warm gaze followed her everywhere she went until she finally made it back to his side. He really did love the tiny, exuberant, little woman so much.

"Work," he finally growled laughing, as he shooed them all from his office. He caught Alice's hand as Cullen and Emily left, pulling her back into his arms.

"You can stay a little longer," he breathed against her mouth, his tongue parting her lips so it could slide inside her sweet mouth. He drank in her little gasps of pleasure as he plundered her soft mouth over and over again.

His eyes were shining when he finally pulled away and looked down at her beautiful face, her cheeks flushed with colour, her lips swollen from his kisses.

He groaned softly, "Now I understand why Cullen finds it so hard to get any work done with his love so close to him," he said with a shaky laugh.

He gave her another quick kiss and then stepped away. "Go organise a party," he smiled affectionately.

Alice laughed breathlessly and hurried out the office.

Emily chose Karpathia's for their party. Alice was doubtful but she stuck to her guns. It just felt right to her. One day she would be entering that world completely and she wanted to make sure that she was fully accepted.

Also, the night before she had seen the pattern of the room and it felt wrong. It was old and outdated and whilst she understood the respect the more ancient vampires generated, it was their isolation for the newer members of their kind which was halting progress.

The ancient ones just didn't realise that they had so much to learn from their younger counterparts who still remembered being human. It was time to shake up Karpathia's and bring the vampire nation into the twenty first century.

Alice grumbled but finally went off to call Liam to see if he was amenable to them having a party there. She came back and said he didn't see any issues with it, as long as other vampires were free to come and go as usual.

Emily smiled happily as she worked. She kept glancing at her hand, staring lovingly at the ring on her finger. She suddenly realised that she hadn't told Anton her news. It would be the middle of the night in Spain but she called him anyway.

"For the love of God, Em!" Anton groaned sleepily when he answered. "I finally thought I was going to be able to sleep the night through when you left but you're still wakening me at silly o'clock!"

Emily laughed. "Sorry, Anton, but this news can't wait. I'm getting married!"

Silence greeted her announcement and then she heard him suck in a deep breath. "You're getting married?" he exclaimed, shocked. "Are you sure about this, Em?"

"I've never been more sure about anything in my life, Anton," she said softly.

"I'm stunned," he breathed. "And overjoyed for you, baby girl. It's just, well, you know what he is."

Emily sighed. "Yes, " she answered gently. "Anton, I don't know how to say this." She tried to make the words come out but they froze in the back of her throat.

"You're going to become like him," her brother whispered hoarsely. "Dear God, Emily! Have you seriously thought this through?"

"Yes," she sighed. "One lifetime isn't enough to be with him, Anton. It's not going to happen for a while anyway. There's plenty of time. I'll still be your baby sister."

She could hear the pleading note in her voice. She wanted her brother to accept the decisions she had made.

"Emily," he groaned, his voice sounding harsh. She heard him take another deep breath. "You know I love you, baby girl," he finally said. "I'll always support whatever decisions you make, even if I think they're complete and utter madness. If this makes you happy then I'm behind you one hundred percent."

Emily exhaled slowly and felt tears on her face. "Thank you, Anton," she said softly, wiping at her wet cheeks. "It would have broken my heart if this was something you couldn't live with. I have a favour to ask of you."

"Name it, Em," Anton said, his voice sounding warmer.

"Will you give me away?" she asked breathlessly.

This time the silence lasted longer and she was becoming worried. Finally she heard what sounded like a choked sob at the other end of the phone.

"It would be my honour, Em," Anton finally said, his voice thick with emotion.

They chatted for a few more moments and then she hung up and sighed deeply. She had Anton's approval, albeit a guarded approval.

She headed up to Cullen's office. He looked up as she entered, his eyes quickly seeing the slight redness around hers. He pushed his chair back and opened his arms.

Emily sank down onto his lap and rested her head on his shoulder.

"I told Anton," she said quietly.

Cullen frowned slightly at her subdued tone.

"I take it he knows everything?" he asked softly.

She nodded. "I've never been able to lie to him," she sighed. "He's not exactly thrilled about things but he's willing to support my decisions. He's agreed to give me away at the wedding."

"That's good, love," Cullen smiled, tilting her head back so he could see her face. "Why the tears then?"

"I was just so scared that it would be all too much for him," she answered. "I know how overwhelming all this can be. And then I remembered how Alice reacted to Chris and all the trouble that caused. It would have killed me if Anton couldn't bear to be near me anymore."

Her bottom lip trembled as she spoke and Cullen caught her mouth gently with his, kissing her lightly.

"But that didn't happen, love," he smiled gently. "It's to his credit that he loves you enough to be able to accept your decisions no matter how unusual they may be."

"Unusual," Emily laughed. "His exacts words were 'complete and utter madness'."

Cullen stroked her check tenderly, his golden brown eyes warm as they drifted over her face. "You don't have to do this, Emily," he said softly.

He laughed at her shocked expression.

"Well, you have no choice when it comes to marrying me," he clarified, his lips quirking into a smile. "But the other, it isn't a prerequisite to us being together, love."

"I know," she whispered softly. "But it feels so right, Cullen. All my instincts are telling me that it's the right thing to do."

"Then we'll trust your instincts," he smiled. "Your brother will come around to the idea, once he's met us and sees how much we love you and sees that I'll do everything within my power to make you happy."

Emily hugged him tightly and then slid from his lap, feeling more settled now she had verbalised her fears and Cullen had helped soothe them.

"We're having our little celebration at Karpathia's," she said with a smile. "Need to do some shaking up there. Hope you don't mind me using our engagement as my first battleground."

Cullen laughed. "I suppose we're getting married there too?" he asked, half jokingly. He groaned when her eyes sparkled. "I almost feel sorry for my kind," he said, shaking his head. "They have no idea what's about to hit them."

Emily laughed. "Times must change, Cullen. It's for their own good. Plus, I want to include Liam and Chris in on our celebrations. I've become quite fond of them."

"Whatever you want, Emily," Cullen smiled indulgently.

"I'm heading home now to get ready for tonight. Pick me up at eight?"

"I'm counting down the minutes already," he said softly.


To be continued......