This is my favorite scene from Alethea’s Redemption because it’s where Marc Stone saw past Alethea’s bravado and began to understand her. It was where he changed, for me, from a hot hero to a man I fell in love with as I wrote him. In this scene I realized why Marc and Alethea were meant for each other: more than anyone else ever has or probably ever will, he understands her. She’s flawed, as is he, but he wants he wants.
On his terms.
Having her so close and not being able to touch her was torture, sweet torture. Thank God I didn’t promise not to look. Watching her beautifully toned arms slice through the water, and the glimpse of her breasts just beneath the water, had him painfully aroused. He gave up trying to pretend, swam to the edge, and propped himself up with an arm on either side to savor the view.
If mermaids look anything like her, no wonder sailors dive to their doom.
Her delightful bare ass arched above the waterline each time she reached the end of the fake river and dove to turn. As she swam by him, he saw what looked like a half smile on her face and chuckled. She knows exactly what she’s doing to me and she’s waiting for me to give in and chase her. That’s what she’s used to.
The man chases.
She gives only what she wants to.
I could let her win, agree to her terms, and the reward would be a night between those sweet thighs. One night of sex would be no different than any hookup I’ve ever had.
And that’s the problem. I don’t want just one night. I want to know what scares a woman the FBI considers more of a liability than an asset. Someone to hire when they need her, but not someone they want on their payroll.
Someone so good at what she does that, like NASCAR, people watch in fascination, waiting to see her crash, even as they cheer her on. Like Dominic, she made more enemies than she did friends.
He had to admit that he’d spent more than a few evenings imagining how good it would feel to humble her a bit. Her bold, take-no-prisoners and win-at-all-costs attitude elicited a strong emotion in many people.
And I’m only human.
The more time he spent with her, however, the more he saw that she didn’t want to win—she needed to. She wasn’t driven by fame; in fact, even in the midst of intense public scrutiny of those near her, she’d managed to stay under the radar. Keenly intelligent with the ability to read most people, she was a master manipulator.
But to what end?
Money didn’t impress her.
She could have parlayed her connections into a position of power, but she hadn’t.
Every once in a while, if he looked closely enough, he glimpsed, what he’d bet his life on, was fear. Not the I’ve-had-my-heart-broken surface shit, but the wake-up-terrified-and-sweaty kind of mental scar that comes from being brutally thrown into hell and then deposited back on earth. A scar you hide, even from those you love, because some things are too ugly to share.
He understood scars, internal as well as external.
Watching Alethea tirelessly swim back and forth before him gave him time to come to a decision. Sometimes you have to tear something down before you can build it up stronger.
She shot him another look as she swam by. Their eyes met and fire sprang between them.