"I think you just revealed one of those hidden gifts you mentioned before."
"You can put away more French fries than most people twice your size."
"It's my guilty pleasure."
Alexis picked up the last lonely fry on her place and bit it in half. Sonny grinned.
"I thought I was your guilty pleasure?"
She tilted her head and pondered his comment as she swallowed.
"Well, they're one...and you're another."
"I'm not very good at sharing, you know."
"Yes, I do know."
He deftly stole the half-bitten French fry from her fingers and popped it into his mouth. Alexis blinked, surprised, and then laughed out loud. Sonny slipped his hand behind her head and pulled her toward him for a kiss. He didn't care about the prying of eyes of the strangers now crowding the music-swelled club.
Alexis didn't care either. They had nothing to hide and everything to be set free. Her tongue flicked at his lower lip, tasting the saltiness that lay there. He did the same to her. She laughed again, moving Sonny to kiss her fully. As their mouths broke apart, Alexis opened her eyes and gazed into his, her fingers moving to stroke his face.
"I want to share everything with you. Everything that I have and everything that I am."
"So do I."
"You already have."
He smiled softly. "So have you."
Alexis kept her dark eyes locked onto his for a long while. "Have I?"
"Don't you know?"
Her eyes lowered, and then her head gently bowed. He took her hand in his and kissed it.
She ran her tongue across her bottom lip and then bit down on it.
"I know that I feel safe sharing myself with you. I always have."
She laughed shyly.
"It was the same for me, Alexis. Even though I rationalized to myself that I HAD to share with you because you were my lawyer, I always felt safe. And the more you came to me, needing to talk about what was going on in your life, the safer I felt."
"But you fought me so hard, every time I tried to pry anything personal out of you so I could be fully prepared to mount a good defense - or a good offense, as the case may have been."
"Yeah, well." He shrugged his shoulder. "I did have an image to protect."
"Mm hmm." Alexis took a sip of her water and leaned back in her chair. "The operative word being 'did'?"
Sonny nodded with a smile. "Did."
Sitting at the bar across the room, Johnny tried not to be too obvious as he watched Sonny and Alexis as they ate, drank, talked, laughed, and unselfconsciously gave in to their desires to touch and kiss. It was as if nothing bad had ever happened at all, let alone happened just a few weeks before. Johnny knew that he was looking at a miracle - the kind of miracle the power of love could create. And it was the kind he knew Sonny had stopped believing in...until Alexis. An idea popped into Johnny's head.
"Hey Luke. Do me a favor?"
"That all depends." Luke sniffed and leaned both palms on the bar. "Will it cost me money?"
Johnny pulled a ten spot out of his pocket and dropped it between Luke's hands.
Luke arched an eyebrow as he looked down his nose at the money lying in front of him.
"What can I do ya for, big spender?"
Johnny's gaze shifted to Sonny and Alexis's table. "Play something special."
Luke's eyes followed Johnny's to the couple with their heads bowed close together.
"My man, you surprise me. I never would have pegged you for the sappy romantic type." He picked up the ten spot and shoved it into his pocket. "Got any particular tune in mind?"
Johnny grinned. "Oh yeah."
Out of the corner of his eye, Sonny suddenly caught Johnny motioning to him from the bar. Alexis noticed his distraction and turned her head. Johnny simply waved with a smile. She smiled back, mumbling under her breath as she returned her attention to Sonny.
"We need to find him a girlfriend."
"I mean it, Sonny. He's too young and sweet to spend his days either standing in the hallway between our two apartment doors or babysitting me, and his nights warming a barstool all alone here at Luke's. He needs to get out more, so he can meet young, sweet girls who deserve a great guy like him. Hmm..." She thoughtfully drummed her fingertips on the edge of her empty plate. "I wonder if the new clerk at the courthouse is single?"
Again, Johnny caught Sonny's attention, pointing at the dance floor from behind Alexis's back as she pondered his seemingly bereft social life. Sonny cleared his throat and gave Johnny a small nod of his head.
"Don't you worry about Johnny's love life. Remember that saying about still waters running deep?"
Her eyes lifted to his. She smiled.
"Okay, I'll mind my own business."
"I'm sure he'd appreciate it."
Sonny regarded her empty plate.
"You want some more spuds, Spud?"
"No thanks." She shook her head. "I'd pop."
He rose from his chair and offered her his hand.
"Then...you want to dance?"
Alexis looked up at him with a beatific smile, her soft, golden brown waves framing her glowing, candlelit face. She took his breath away...and then she took his hand.
"I'd love to."
She let him lead her just a few feet to the dance floor, where he opened his arms to her and she took her place within their embrace as if she'd been doing it all her life. And their bodies quickly melded, moving together as one to the searing, soulful song of Dinah Washington that filled the room. But all too fast, the music began to fade, bringing her sad story to an end. Alexis slowed her rhythm, but Sonny moaned in protest.
"No." He whispered in her ear. "Don't stop."
"Mmm..." She turned her face into his neck. "Where have I heard THAT request before?"
"Same place I heard it from you - lying naked, tangled in sheets, drunk on sensory overload and still wanting more."
"Oh. Yeah. Right." She teased. "I almost forgot."
She giggled softly as Sonny blew a light breath of air against her ear. A moment later, his warm mouth found her throat...and the honeyed pulse of a new song began to envelope her in rhythm to the throbbing pulse inside of her, beneath Sonny's kiss.
"Can I cut in?"
Startled, Sonny and Alexis abruptly pulled apart to find Luke standing beside them with a lascivious smile on his face.
"No!" Sonny barked.
Luke frowned. "Buzz kill."
"Buzz OFF!" Alexis retorted.
"I love you too, darlin'." Luke chuckled as he sauntered back to the bar. "But you still owe me a tango."
"Damn it, Luke." Johnny hissed.
"Hey - ya can't blame a guy for tryin'."
Luke gave Johnny a sly wink as he began humming in tune to the music. Johnny turned away with an angry scowl on his face. But it softened when his eyes found Sonny and Alexis softly swaying, bodies held tight and entangled in each other once again as the deep, resonant voice of Johnny Hartman filled the room.
Living for you is easy living.
It's easy to live when you're in love
And I'm so in love
There's nothing in life but you
I never regret the years I'm giving
They're easy to give when you're in love
I'm happy to do whatever I do for you
Alexis laid her head on Sonny's shoulder. He smiled, leaning his own head against hers as his hand gently stroked up and down the length of her spine.
For you, maybe I'm a fool but it's fun
People say you rule me with one wave of your hand
Darling, it's grand
They just don't understand
Living for you is easy living
It's easy to live when you're in love
And I'm so in love
There's nothing in life but you
"Nothing but you..."
Sonny murmured, moving his hands up Alexis's body, tangling them in her hair as he kissed her full on the mouth. She responded, firming her palms against his shoulder blades to pull him closer still. Neither of them noticed anything else but each other - not the music beginning to fade, not Johnny watching them wistfully from afar...not the figure standing in the open doorway, taking in the gut-wrenching sight of everything he'd had and lost.
Luke finally turned toward the sudden stream of annoyingly cold air, ready to bark an order at whoever loitered at the door to either come in, or get out. But the stunned, sickened look on Ned Ashton's face put him at a rare loss for words. He set a fresh glass down on the bar, poured a stiff two fingers of scotch, and raised it Ned's way.
"It's only a temporary fix, but it's better than none."
Johnny turned. Ned's eyes stayed fixed on Alexis, with Sonny's hands and mouth all over her - again. Johnny's back straightened as he prepared for trouble. Luke lowered the glass, knowing otherwise. A moment later, Ashton swallowed hard, turned on his heels, and disappeared.
"Been there, done that." Luke mumbled, downing the scotch himself. "Poor S.O.B."
Johnny turned back, saying nothing. He was just grateful that Ashton hadn't chosen to make a scene and ruin her night. At least he was man enough to let her be, if he wasn't man enough to fight for her. Sonny would have fought for her. Sonny DID fight - and won.
As the music came to an end, Sonny's fingers slipped from Alexis's hair. Their mouth parted and Alexis brushed her soft cheek against his. He smiled and let his arms encircle her in a light embrace as his eyes slowly opened to find Johnny staring with a sappy grin on his face. Sonny felt his already heated face flush even more, realizing that Johnny had chosen that song especially for him, to dance to with Alexis. And it couldn't have been more perfect.
"I can't get the words out of my head." He murmured into Alexis's ear. "It's like someone looked into my heart and put what they found to music. Before you, I didn't know why God kept me walking this earth when life was so...empty. But now I know why. I walk this earth to love you. And loving you makes my life full."
Alexis pulled back to look at him with languid dark eyes.
"There's nothing in life but you." Her dimples came out of hiding as she took his hand and pressed it against the steady beat of her heart. "Seems someone's been looking inside of here too."
"I wish I'd written that song for you."
"I don't need you to write me songs. I just need you to love me, and you do that beautifully."
Sonny felt his eyes begin to sting with the strong swell of emotion sneaking up on him. Alexis tilted her head as she pulled his hand from her chest and moved it back around her waist.
"It can still be our song though."
"It already is."
He slipped his fingers beneath the edge of her sweater, tickling her soft, warm skin. The full length of her body tensed against his as she giggled in spite of herself.
"Shh..." He flattened his palm against the smooth small of her back and held her tighter. "People will think I'm holding you on this dance floor under duress."
"Well, you ARE holding me under duress."
He pulled back and gave her a quizzical expression.
"Okay, so technically you're holding me under d' sweater."
She arched both eyebrows as she wriggled against the palm on the small of her back.
"Oh..." Sonny's groaned, eyes rolling back into his head. "Oh, that was BAD!"
Alexis flashed him deep dimples as she laughed. "I thought it was a clever play on words, myself."
"It was a corny play on words."
"Does this mean you're no longer willing to be seen with me in public?"
"Maybe, maybe not." Sonny ran his tongue across his lips as his gaze fell to her rosy mouth. "I'm open to bribes."
Alexis bit down on her lip, letting her teeth slowly, gently scrape their way over the fullness as Sonny stared with flushed cheeks. She smiled.
"What did you have in mind?"
He firmed the hand at her bare back and pulled her close, whispering dryly.
"What do YOU think?"
"I think...that I don't want to be in public with YOU any more."
She slipped her fingers through his hair as their mouths met. It took everything in her to remember that they were in public, in the middle of the dance floor of Luke's instead of the middle of the privacy of her own living room. Every nerve in her body was in fire, every drop of blood in her veins coursed with desire. She wanted him - and she didn't want to have to wait.
"Take me home." She rasped. "Now."
They managed to keep their hands to themselves on the ride home, in the elevator, and while Sonny fumbled with the keys outside of her front door. But once inside, hands were everywhere. They pushed and pulled at the unwanted clothing, craving the feel of all the curves and planes of hot, naked skin.
Sonny's fingers wrapped themselves around cashmere and pulled Alexis's sweater swiftly over her head. As he pushed the sexy tangle of hair away from her face, Alexis frantically jerked at Sonny's shirt to free it from his trousers. Within seconds, Sonny tore the closures apart himself and threw the rumpled shirt to the ground. Staring down into her darkening eyes, he ran his fingertips down the warm, inviting slope between her breasts. Her lids fluttered briefly as she stared back with a languid smile. And then, her eyes still locked on his, Alexis began hurriedly working to unbuckle his belt.
As the tightness around his waist released, Sonny's greedy palms feasted, smoothing their way over her sweet, soft curves that strained against ivory satin. Alexis drew in a sharp breath and pushed herself into his touch as she released her hold on his belt and ran her own palms up the length of his bare chest, nails sharply raking their way through the soft hair until he shuddered. And she finally let her eyes finally stray from his as she laid a kiss upon the scar above his heart. Sonny's hands reflexively firmed around her breasts as he felt the wet heat of her tongue meeting his skin.
His eyes abruptly closed as his head fell back, submitting completely to the pleasure of her tender mouth on his body. The gentle kissing and flicking of her tongue gave sudden way to the grazing of her teeth on a sensitive part of flesh. Sonny heard himself gasp, the intensity of his pleasure rising sharply through his body. So was the intensity of his need for more - more of her. But there were still too many clothes between them. And the bed was too far away. His hands moved around behind her in search of the zipper on her skirt. Alexis's hands slipped down to his fly, slowly undoing his button with a degree of deliberate other contact.
The clumsy fumbling at the small of her back grew somewhat frenzied. Sonny finally succeeded in unzipping, but her skirt failed to fall from her hips. Alexis staying wickedly silent, letting ALL of Sonny's frustrations mount while he discovered for himself the existence of the tiny hook and eye at her waistband. And she took advantage of his distraction to tease him even more, moving her mouth up over his collarbone, his throat, and the edge of his jaw.
"Aw, the hell with it." Sonny murmured. "I'll get you naked upstairs."
He grabbed her face in his hands and pulled her hungry mouth to his. She grabbed him back as he kissed her deeply, almost roughly, while moving her body back toward the stairs. She tried to stay steady on her feet, but couldn't help faltering from the force of her pounding heart. She felt herself being all but lifted from the ground, both inside and out, until her back suddenly met the cool, hard surface of the wall. Alexis blinked her eyes open in surprise, and Sonny quickly broke their kiss.
Their faces hovered just inches apart as they both panted heavily, heated blood and unquenched desire pulsing through their bodies. Sonny loosed his hold on her face and stared deeply into her eyes. She thought he was worried that he'd hurt her back. He hadn't. And she didn't want him to ask her. She just wanted him to carry her upstairs, lay her on the bed, peel away the rest of her clothes, and make love to her as if he feared there might come a day when he'd never be able to make love to her again.
Sonny's tongue grazed across her lower lip as his fingers slid gently down the length of her arm. They lingered at the crook of her elbow, where his enemy's brands still lay. Alexis's throat went dry and she swallowed hard. She wasn't going to let him be afraid of her. Not ever. As Sonny opened his mouth to speak, Alexis abruptly pulled her arm away from his touch. His mouth closed again, eyes looking at her with uncertainty. She held his gaze with as much intensity as she could, for as long as she thought was needed. And then she made another grab for his belt.
In two swift movements, it was pulled free and sharply thrown to the ground. Surprised, Sonny's eyes quickly darted down to where the metal buckle hit the ground with a loud 'crack'. Alexis smiled and hooked her fingers through his belt loops, giving a sharp tug and pulling his body closer into hers. One dimple began to make its way into his cheek. She smiled, sliding her knee up along the edge of Sonny's leg before locking her calf around his. The dimple deepened. With his eyes till lowered, Sonny laid his hand on the top of her silk-draped thigh and let it slowly descend toward her knee.
Alexis wrapped one arm around his neck and pushed her hips into his, moving them against his in a way that left no room for him to doubt what she wanted - and that she didn't want to wait to get it. As Sonny's eyes slowly lifted back up to hers, she tilted her head, letting the long layers of bangs fall across her face in the messy, sexy way that she knew made him mad. He released a deep, heavy moan as his hand brushed over her knee and tauntingly made its way beneath the silk hem.
Biting her lip to gild the lily of his desire, Alexis slipped her finger under the strap of her bra and pulled, letting the thin strip of satin fall free over the curve of her shoulder and down her arm. A guttural sound lodged in Sonny's throat. He abruptly pushed the silk of her skirt up over her knee and locked his hand under her thigh, pulling her upward. Alexis let him support her as she wrapped her legs around his waist and her free arm around his neck. His arms encircled her as his mouth found hers once again.
And he kissed her, holding her tightly, strongly, until he'd carried upstairs, laid her on the bed, peeled away the rest of her clothes, and made love to her as if he feared there might come a day when he'd never be able to make love to her again. But if that day did come, it would surely be his last day on earth. He lived for loving her. It was the easiest thing he'd ever done. And Sonny would love and make love to Alexis until the day that he died.
"Easy Living" - by Leo Robin