Word Count: 2,605
She aced the retest, and went on to get A's for the rest of the semester. For some reason, she found herself paying attention to his lectures. He very rarely adhered to the text book, and tested based on it over his lectures even less. She didn't understand it because history had never interested or held her attention.
Winter break happened and she was on her way to New York for two weeks. She was so excited. She loved her family, but ever since her first time in New York she'd been hooked. Tragedy and all.
Peter and Nathan had offered her a white Christmas, so she wanted to come. Her father wasn't thrilled she was spending Christmas away from them, but he seemed to get it. She hoped so anyway. She didn't want to upset him, but she wasn't a kid anymore. Next year she hoped to be out east somewhere for college. She'd see her family even less, so he had to get used to the idea that she wasn't going to be home forever.
She was meeting Peter for a later dinner. Late because her connecting flight out of Chicago had been delayed due to weather. She'd planned on seeing Nathan first, but she'd send the car to his house with her things. He and the boys would probably be sleeping by the time she got there. She'd see them at breakfast, though.
She supposed it said something about her priorities that she was willing to put off Nathan – her birth father – until tomorrow but not Peter. She liked Nathan now, certainly more than she did when she made her first trip to New York. Peter, however, there was no awkwardness between them and she needed that tonight.
She spotted him seated at the bar alone when she finally got there. She'd called when her flight was leaving O'Hare so he knew about when to expect her. She hoped he hadn't been waiting there for too long.
He looked good. Better than that, really, and she felt a twinge of something. Guilt? Regret? At feeling that way about him. She couldn't help she'd been attracted to him, only to find out later he was her uncle. Off limits? Of course, but she could still appreciate his good looks. She wasn't the only one, either. He could easily have his pick of any of the single women in the bar. Probably some of the married ones, too.
"Is this seat taken," she asked after she'd approached him.
"I don't know," he quipped. "It depends on whether it'll be worth my while."
"I'll try my best."
"What more can a guy ask for?"
"I'm not sure," she said, leaning in to give him a kiss before taking a seat next to him.
"If you consider three hours late early."
"Well, I figured you'd have a while between your call and actually taking off."
"I called as we were taxying."
"I know, I push the rules. The plane crashes I'm going to survive," she quipped, but both knew she was not serious.
"So, other than the delay?"
"The flights were fine. There was sure plenty to do at O'Hare for two hours."
"Yeah, it's not a bad airport to be stranded in."
"So, how long have you been here then?" She noticed his drink was almost gone. So, took it he'd been here a while yet said she was earlier than he expected.
"Well, another friend of mine is here from out of town. So, I figured I'd take advantage of your being late and meet him for drinks."
"Oh. If you wanted to do dinner tomorrow or something we can."
It wasn't like they were super old friends. She wasn't even sure they'd be called good friends. Fate had thrown them together. There had been attraction and world-ending drama, followed by her finding out Nathan and he were part of her biological family. Then they were gone, feared dead.
The bulk of their relationship had been long-distance. E-mail, texts, and the occasional phone call. They'd even sent one another actual mail a time or two. She liked Peter, they had a bond she doubted would ever go away.
She just wasn't really sure what they'd be quantified as. Friends seemed overly simplistic yet severely understated.
"No, of course not."
"I'll just have a diet," she said to the bartender since Peter didn't seem to be in a hurry.
"You sure that's all you want? I'm buying."
"I have money."
"She just doesn't want you to know she can drink you under the table."
Peter chuckled a little while Claire glanced over her shoulder. She knew that voice, she'd dreamt about it more than once now. What was he doing here?
And then another thought struck her.
She had been up and traveling since seven in the morning. She had to look absolutely dreadful. Her first time seeing him outside of class or on-campus and it had to be tonight after the flights from hell.
"She can, huh?"
"You'd be surprised at what she can do, Peter."
"I think he's safe from my out drinking him. I hardly drink at all."
Now that she thought about it, she didn't drink because it never seemed to produce the effect in her it was supposed to. Not that she wanted to get drunk necessarily, but especially after things in New York happened and then with West going crazy-like on her she'd tried to take the edge off a bit a time or two. It had never worked. She just assumed she was doing something wrong, drinking the wrong type of alcohol or that her dad watered it down in the event she or Lyle broke into his liquor.
"Good to know," Peter said.
"So, you two know one another," she asked. It was obvious that was the case. "And neither of you seem surprised that you know me."
Silence. What did that mean?
"I knew Adam was out there, yes."
"I see," she said simply.
"Are you ready to eat then?" Peter asked. It was clear neither of them were going to fill her in on the details of how they knew one another. None of her business she imagined.
"Great. I admit I'm famished."
"I'm sorry," Claire said.
"It's not your fault, Claire."
"Will you be joining us, Dr. Monroe?"
"Adam, please, and I'd love to."
Dinner wasn't as odd as it could've been. She caught herself more than once stopping herself from saying something stupid sounding in front of her professor. He wasn't here tonight as that, though.
"I can see to it she gets to Nathan's house, Peter."
"Are you sure? All you have to do is call the car service to get her."
"I'll get her there and take a cab to my hotel."
"Just take the car, Adam, Nathan won't mind if it's for Claire's safety."
She rolled her eyes a little at that.
"Um, guys, it's getting in and out of a car. I can handle it on my own. Really. Peter, I know you have to work tomorrow. And Adam, I don't know where you're staying. Probably somewhere out of the way of Nathan's house."
"We just want to be sure, Claire. This isn't Costa Verde."
"I know it isn't."
Peter let the waiter run his card through while they were talking.
"You two can get dessert or whatever you want. Claire, I'll call you when I'm done working. If you're not busy I'll come see you then."
He stood, brushing her cheek with a kiss. "It's great to have you here. I look forward to showing you everything about New York you ever wanted to see."
"Me, too," she said. The drawback of her last trip here was that lives and the world had been on the line so going sightseeing was out of the question. When everything was over she was so relieved to see her dad, her real dad, yet despondent over the idea of never seeing Peter and Nathan again that all she wanted to do was go home. "Good night, Peter. Thanks for dinner."
"Yes, thank you, Peter. I'll get the next one."
"All right, Adam. I'm sure I'll see you before you go."
And with that, Peter was gone.
"So this is rather uncomfortable," Adam said.
"A little, yeah."
"It doesn't have to be."
"Don't say it. I'm not in New York as your Western Civilization professor. Any more than you're here as my student."
"True, and it's not like I'll see you again."
"Well, I'm here to see the Petrelli's."
"Ah, yes, Peter mentioned showing you around. I can show you things, too."
"Hmm, like what?"
"Name it. I guarantee you I'll show you a better time than Peter would."
"Why do you say that?"
He slid a hand over hers, causing her to jump a little.
"Because I'm not your uncle."
"I," she frowned slightly. How did he know that? And why did his touching her have that effect on her?
"Have a boyfriend. Yes, I've seen you with him. He's not here. I am."
"Did you know I was going to be here or something?"
"No. How could I? I am on break, too, and I enjoy winter."
"It is nice, isn't it?"
"Yes. I'd forgotten how refreshing the cold can be."
"I've only been here once before and this is my first winter. I'm not sure how refreshing I'll find it, but it's not too bad so far."
"Ah, yes, Texas and California."
"Yes," he said simply. "Let's get you home."
"Nothing to do tonight then?"
God, had she really said that?
"Not ready to go to sleep, Claire?"
She shrugged, eyeing his hand as he slid it off of hers. A fingertip grazed the top of her hand, and she remembered vividly what he could do with his fingers in her dreams about this man.
And how much she enjoyed those things.
Get your mind on other things, Claire.
"Maybe I'm not."
No, that's not the way to get your mind on things other than this man who you have no business being alone with.
"Well, then, I'm sure we can find some things to do before the car brings you home."
"All right. You're on."
"If I find something I get a second chance?"
"It depends on what that something is."
"Let's go," he said, offering her a hand after he held her chair out for her.
She couldn't recall anyone doing that for her. Not West. Certainly not Brent. Why certainly? She wasn't sure exactly. Brent was nice and everything, but things like opening car doors and pulling out chairs just weren't things he did for her. He did open doors for her once in a while, but not all of the time.
"Do you have an ID?"
"We'll fix that, but it rather limits where we can go tonight."
"You'd better figure it out."
They found an eighteen and over club with live music. She hated to admit that she had a real good time. He danced with her when she said she wanted to. She also learned that he was as interesting to listen to and enthusiastic about his topics outside the classroom.
She wanted to have a terrible time. Maybe then the dreams would stop and she wouldn't feel guilty when she saw Brent every morning after fantasizing about someone else.
Thinking of Brent must have been an omen of some sort. Her phone vibrated and when she checked, it was him calling. She declined without thinking too hard on it.
She hadn't even texted him to let him know she'd gotten here. She had no excuse either. Glad to finally be in New York she'd just gotten excited. Then seeing Adam distracted her from thinking about Brent.
He noticed her do it, too. He didn't say anything, but his smirk let her know that he knew. She slid her phone back into her pocket.
They stayed a lot longer than she would have anticipated. She didn't really notice how tired she was until she got into the car after last-call had been announced. She'd been up since before seven that morning.
"Feels nice," she murmured.
"It's supposed to," he replied softly.
His fingers were running through her hair and along her neck. She was half asleep or there was no way she'd be this close to him. Head on his shoulder. Close enough for him to touch her with those fingers she'd dreamt about so often.
"Well then, I guess you're doing it right."
"I can do lots of things right."
She glanced at him a little. "You can, huh?"
"So, I've been told."
He touched her cheek with his other hand and her heart skipped a bit. Somehow he positioned them so his face was next to hers. She was too tired to know how he did it. All she knew was that even in the dimness of the car she loved his eyes.
Especially when he was looking at her like that. Hungry. For her. Her heart skipped again at that thought.
His lips were soft. Not too soft, a little bit of stubble. Not dry or chapped, though.
She gave a soft moan as he moved her so she was on his lap. Much easier to kiss this way, for sure. She certainly wasn't sleepy anymore. Arms slid around his neck as his slid lower along her back to her ass, drawing her closer.
He didn't need to push too hard. She wanted closer. God, his hands felt great touching her, and he had not even gotten under her clothes yet. He certainly knew how to use them.
She pressed herself against him, encouraging him to touch more than just her ass. At least she hoped she was. She slid her mouth to his neck, kissing him there as she slid her hands to his neck, kissing him there as she slid her hands to his shirt front. She wanted his shirt off, at the very least open.
"Oh God," she murmured once she touched his skin. Hot. Smooth. Hard. Fit. Not an inch of fat to any part of him she touched.
It was the most careless she'd ever been, letting go completely and giving in.
"Claire," he whispered.
She stopped kissing his neck, drawing away to look at him. His eyes were like nothing she'd seen before. Cloudy with desire, deep and potent as he looked at her. Hunger. Desire.
She knew he felt those things because for the first time she felt it, too.
He stroked her cheek with his thumb.
"As tempting as it is, I cannot do this with you here."
She sighed heavily. "Yes."
"By all means, bookmark where we are and we can pick up here tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? I'm," she said.
"Seeing Nathan and Peter, I know. That won't last all day. Or even better, all night."
"Let's make a deal."
"I'm free for lunch tomorrow. Show up and we'll have lunch. Talk. No pressure."
"What about the bookmark?"
He kissed her lightly. "We'll move on to the next page whenever you're ready."
He chuckled. "I'm not worried about him. He's not here."
"All right." She shouldn't. She should pretend this never happened and call Brent as soon as she stepped out of the car. She didn't call Brent until the next day, choosing instead to send a text before going to bed.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com
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