Letting Go - Chapter 19

Laurel was slowly strolling through Adam Donner’s apartment, looking at photos, inspecting the little knickknacks artfully arranged on the mantle and shelves. He’s given her free reign to take a look and ‘get acquainted’ with his apartment while he went for takeout.

He’d invited her over for a work dinner—they needed to finish the closing argument for a case—and he’d offered to cook for her, but she’d suddenly gotten the craving for Lok Lak and Bok L'hong. There was only one Cambodian restaurant in town, way over in St. James, and devil take it, they didn’t deliver. So he, as the perfect gentleman, offered to go pick up dinner, with specific, written in capital letters, instructions as to what to order, leaving her alone to roam his apartment as she waited for him and the food.

She arched her eyebrow at the selection. Captain & Tenille, Yes, The Who, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, Electric Light Orchestra...What was with the 70s bands? It wasn’t a total loss, though. There was also Billy Joel, Lynyrd Skynyrd...And Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

She put in the CD and searched for the title track.

“You don’t have to wish anymore,” a male voice intruded, “I’m here.”

Laurel turned and frowned at the figure standing in the open window, the curtains billowing in the wind. “What are you doing here?”

“We need to talk.”

She crossed her arms. “Really? I’ve earned a talk with the mighty Arrow without the voice filter? What an honor. I’ll pass, thank you.”

He moved closer, until his face was no longer in the shadows, and he was close enough she could see his face despite the hood. “I insist.” His eyes raked her from head to toe. “And I must say, I love your new favorite color.”

She looked down at her dark-green blouse and gritted her teeth as she realized it was the same shade of green as his vest. And she realized it only because he was standing too damn close.

“You complete me,” he said with a grin.

Laurel frowned. What the hell was he doing here? And how did he get all the way up here? She walked past him, peered out the window, and noticed a contraption that before probably looked like an arrow, stuck to the glass, with a rope attached to it.

“You’ve gone to quite a lot of trouble to get up here, I suggest you get to quite a lot of trouble to get out as well.”

He shook his head. “Not until we talk.”

“You’ve been here for at least two minutes, you could’ve told me why you’re here already, instead of noticing what I’m wearing.”

He chuckled. “Where’s your date?”

“He went out to get dinner.”

“Couldn’t he had it delivered?”

“No.”

They were both silent until Laurel couldn’t be anymore. Which has probably been his plan all along. “What do you want, Oliver?”

“I want you to get out of this apartment.”

She scoffed. “As if.”

He grasped her elbow. “Laurel, listen to me. You need to end things with Donner. Immediately.”

She shook his hand off and glared at him. “Where do you get off? I’m not ending things with Adam just because you’re jealous.”

This time he grabbed both her shoulders, shook her slightly. “Yes, I’m jealous. You belong with me, not that prick. But it’s not just that. He’s dangerous, Laurel.”

She rolled her eyes. “Right, dangerous. Oliver, next time say no to drugs.”

He shook her again. “Exactly. Drugs.”

She cocked her head. “You’re not making any sense.”

“Donner is under scrutiny by the DEA.”

Crap. How did he know? “What are you talking about?”

“Felicity’s been searching for dirt on Donner.” He shook his head. “Don’t look at me like that, I needed any leverage I could find. She’s been following some strange data tags she’s found and apparently tripped a digital wire tonight.”

“So she was hacking because you can’t admit you’ve been beaten—”

“I haven’t been beaten. You didn’t sleep with the guy yet.”

“Notice I’m at his apartment tonight. He’s bringing dinner. Who knows how things might evolve?"

His grip turned painful. “Are you in love with him?”

She leaned closer. “None of your business.”

“It is my business if you’re putting yourself in danger.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time, thanks to you,” she snapped.

The bite of his fingers into her shoulders gentled. “I’m sorry, Laurel. About everything. And I’m sorry if I’m ruining your chance for happiness right now—”

“No, you’re not.”

“But if the DEA is involved, this guy could be really bad news.”

“They haven’t made any arrests yet, there are no warrants—”

“That you know of,” he reminded.

“They’re probably just following up on leads because of that episode with the Count.” Pretty flimsy, Lance. She stepped back, and his hands dropped to his sides. “Look, Ollie. Thank you for your concern, but I’m a big girl, and I know what I’m doing. So until you have indisputable proof that he’s dangerous to my health or to my heart, I’m asking you not to butt into my life again.” She lifted her hand to his face, caressed his cheek. “Oliver, please, just let me go.”

“I can’t.”

He pulled her close and captured her mouth with his for a long, deep kiss. One of those slow, drugging kisses that have always turned her knees into butter. Even after six plus years that didn’t change. But before her knees could collapse under her, he ended the kiss, stepped back, and let her go. She was very proud of herself for not falling on her face.

“I love you, Laurel,” he said simply.

“I know,” she replied just as simply, and then he was gone. “I love you, too,” she whispered.

Λ

She was thinking about that kiss, about him throughout dinner, the taste of Oliver lingering in her mouth, on her tongue, overpowering the taste of food.

The closing remarks were written and rehearsed to perfection, and Adam was getting quite amorous, trailing his lips up from her neck to her mouth. Any time, now. When his lips found hers, her belly gave a roll. And a rumble. A loud one.

He pulled away and looked at her with concern. “Are you all right?” He frowned. “You look funny, Laurel.”

She was probably green. “I don’t feel so good,” she muttered and pressed her palm to her stomach. “I’m sorry, Adam. It must’ve been something I ate. I better go.”

He was on his feet in an instant. “I’ll drive you home.”

She shook her head and gave him a wobbly smile. “Oh, no. I’ll take a cab.” She burped indelicately. “God, I’m sorry. I probably won’t come to work tomorrow.”

He looked slightly disgusted. “That’s all right. Take all the time you need.”

“Thank you.” She smiled slightly again. “And I’m so sorry. Good night, Adam.”

And she hightailed it out in the hall. As soon as the elevator doors were closed, she rummaged through her bag for her antacid gum. When she walked out into the main lobby, she was feeling as good as new.

For some strange and yet unknown reason, of all the cuisines of the world, Cambodian was the worst for her digestive system. She grinned as she lifted her hand to hail a cab.

Mission accomplished.


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