He saw her out of the corner of his eye, though he didn't recognize her at first. She looked different. Older, mature, more beautiful than he remembered.
He'd been attracted to her the first time he saw her. Not even finding out she was his niece could lessen her effect on his libido. If dreams were enough to send you to hell, he was destined to take a seat right next to the worst of them because he'd had his fair share of them starring his blonde niece. His only niece.
He raised his hand to wave, only to feel as if he'd been sucker-punched when he realized she was with someone.
It shouldn't bother him. He shouldn't have to concentrate on basic bodily functions like breathing at the sight of her with someone else. But God did it. Niece or not, he had her on a shelf set aside for him. She was his, belonged with him, to him. He thought she'd known that.
Maybe she did and she just wasn't foolish enough to believe there could be anything between them. It wasn't like she was really his niece, in the sense that he'd watched her grow up like Simon and Monty. There was more to being related than blood. Wasn't there?
Somehow he forced air back into his lungs and stopped staring at her, certain anyone watching would think he'd seen someone sprout two heads. Too late, though, evidently, because she'd seen him and was walking his way. Of course she would. She didn't know anyone else here well. He stood as she and the date approached his pew.
"Hi," she said, her smile wide. A smile he'd always thought was for him specifically. Had he been wrong?
"You made it."
"Of course I did," she said.
Peter didn't like the fact her date had his hand on Claire. It was nothing suggestive, a hand at her back was all it was but it bugged him.
"It's good to see you. You look good," he said. Smooth.
"So do you. I don't think I've ever seen you in a tie," she said, reaching out to touch the offensive article of clothing. She tugged on it and he couldn't help but smile. And realize he was an idiot for taking pleasure in such a simple touch. It meant nothing. And yet, that sparkle in her eyes told him maybe it meant everything. If it meant she'd touch him, he'd wear a tie every day for the rest of his life.
Maybe she wasn't as unaffected as she seemed about seeing him again after so much time.
"Can we sit by you?"
"Yeah, sure, of course," he said, shuffling down the pew enough to let them both in. She sat next to him. Another relief, Peter wasn't sure he wanted to sit next to the date. Whoever he was. She hadn't introduced them, he noticed. Intentional? Or had she just forgotten? Maybe he was supposed to know the guy already? Nathan didn't tell Peter everything they talked about, but maybe she assumed Nathan had told him about this guy.
She sat a little closer than necessary, her thigh brushing against his. It wasn't obvious, no one looking would think anything of it. The church was becoming full, people were having to sit closer together than they normally would have. Peter, however, was hyperaware of her closeness, of the feel of her leg pressed against his. It had to be intentional on her part.
He closed his eyes, images reserved for his bedroom late at night flew to the forefront of his mind. What she'd look like. It wasn't just naked either, though there was that. Naked and in his bed, beneath her, writhing from the pleasure he gave her. Again and again. Gasping his name in a way only she could and make it his undoing.
"Are you okay?" she asked, breaking into his thoughts. His breath hitched and he realized thoughts of her like that in the daylight were not wise.
"Uh, yeah. Just thinking. Weddings," he shrugged, as if that was an explanation. It was the only one he could come up with.
"You'll save me a dance later?"
"Uh yeah, sure, won't your friend mind?"
She smiled widely then. "He can't make it to the reception. So, I guess you'll have to keep me company." The way she said it made him wonder if she could read minds. Did she know what he'd just been thinking? Oh God, he was so in trouble if she did. Or not, since she was saying she wanted a dance.
"Yeah, I can do that."
"You're still my hero, I was dreading having to go alone."
He looked away then, remembering the first time she'd said that about him. The hero gets the girl, right? Isn't that how it was supposed to be? He couldn't help but think the night was suddenly looking up.
If Peter had his way, she'd realize by the end of the night where she belonged. And it wasn't with the guy sitting to her left either.
It was right here, next to him.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com