by Alicia Renee Kline
One of my absolute favorite scenes to write for Intoxicated was where Matthew comforts Lauren after Eric stands her up. At this point the Snyder family secret has been spilled, and they now realize how much they have in common – even though they appear to be on opposite sides of the issue. This is the first time they’ve seen each other since Matthew walked out on her, too ashamed of his past to face her. Lauren openly wonders the next morning what happened after she fell asleep. Here it is, from Matthew’s point of view…
She was asleep. At least he was pretty sure of it. Her sobs had diminished to mere sniffles, then given way to the slow, deep breathing associated with slumber. He called her name once, twice, just to check and wasn’t graced with a response.
He should leave.
But something kept him there, stroking her cropped brunette hair even as she slept. She looked so beautiful, so peaceful, so fragile. She needed someone tonight and he was her only option.
Her boyfriend was a bastard. An idiot at the very least. If he wasn’t miles away, Matthew would have had the notion to chew him out on her behalf. Never mind he wasn’t any better. He was probably worse. But he sure as hell wouldn’t have stood her up and made her cry.
If she was his, he’d give her the world.
It was better not to think like that, to push the absurd thought down to the dark recesses of his mind and never visit it again. But it was difficult not to with her sprawled across his chest, her ear pressed against the heart he would gladly give her if she would ever ask. She had it anyway, even if she didn’t know it.
He shifted his weight, partially to get more comfortable and partially to hide his arousal. She moaned and clung to him.
“Don’t leave,” she whispered.
He held her tighter, shushing her. She quieted again, her muscles relaxing against him. As the room darkened, he fought off sleep as long as possible just so that he could enjoy this moment, the period of time that occurred before she hated him again like she should.
The next thing he knew, his sister was shaking him awake, standing above him with her hand on his shoulder.
“Good night?” Blake asked in a hushed tone. From her tousled hair and wrinkled clothing, he should ask her the same.
“Her boyfriend’s a jerk. He stood her up tonight.”
She nodded, stifling a yawn. “I’m going to bed. If you want to stay, be my guest.”
Oh, he wanted to stay. But he knew it wouldn’t be the wise decision. Now that Blake was home, she was better suited to deal with the aftermath. He couldn’t trust himself to see things rationally. Reluctantly, he maneuvered himself into a sitting position. Lauren was so out of it, she didn’t move this time. He lifted her in his arms, grabbed her cell phone and made his way to the stairs, again tripping over her shoes. As an afterthought, he scooped up the heels and took them with them.
Once she was tucked in bed fully clothed due to massive self-restraint on his part, he set her cell on the nightstand. He knew she would look for it when she woke up, probably with a killer headache from crying so much. He went into her bathroom and rummaged around until he found where she kept the aspirin and carried it back into her room along with a glass of water from the tap.
That task complete, he set about placing her shoes in her closet. In the darkness, he could make out a lump of something on the floor, which closer investigation proved to be a dress. He picked it up, smoothing out the fabric as he draped it over his arm. No matter how mad she had been when she had taken it off, she’d regret it later if it wrinkled beyond recognition. One didn’t live with a sister like Blake for twenty-five years without knowing that much.
He gave her one last look before retreating back downstairs. She had rolled over onto her side, cuddling deep into the comforter. Damn, he wished he was that bedspread.
He was almost out the front door before he remembered the roses in the kitchen. She had gone on and on about hating them before this whole thing had happened. He couldn’t imagine what she would think of them now. Without hesitation, he grabbed them and tossed them in the trash.
He was nothing if not thoughtful.
And right now, his only thoughts were of her.
When everything she ever wanted turns out not to be enough…
Lauren Jefferies is on the verge of having it all. Hard work and determination have culminated in a promotion that promises to put her on track with her upwardly mobile boyfriend Eric. High school sweethearts and together for ten years, they are young enough to have their whole lives ahead of them, but old enough to have established themselves as forces to be reckoned with.
The news should be cause for celebration.
But taking the job means moving two hours away.
Instead of planning their reign as an up and coming power couple, they find their already tenuous relationship further damaged by their conflicting opinions. Eric doesn’t want her to leave. Lauren refuses to back down. In the end, she packs her things and heads up north to her new life, the abstract promise of figuring this all out later hanging between them.
Lauren settles into her new routine quite easily, thanks largely in part to her fast friendship with her roommate Blake. Blake’s companionship comes in a package deal with that of her older brother Matthew. One night over dinner, an innocent conversation leads to the discovery that the three of them have more in common than they’d ever imagined.
Ashamed of his role in the thread that ties them together, Matthew begins to withdraw. As Lauren devises a game plan to ease his torment, Eric inadvertently pushes them together with his selfish actions.
Lauren’s relationship with Eric continues to flounder. The distance is an issue, but Eric’s indifference does nothing to help. Every bright spot in their courtship is countered by darkness and bitterness. More often than not, Matthew is there to pick up the pieces that Eric leaves behind.
Prior to meeting Matthew, Lauren thought she knew what she wanted. Now that she’s just about to obtain everything on her list, she’s left to question if she ever really knew what that was.
Genre – Romance / Chick Lit
Rating – PG13
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