Oct. 18 –8:30am
The next few days passed uneventfully and with little contact between the two residing at the estate. Alex spent most of her time in the Library while Erik composed in the Music Room. Though she actually read very little, the warm sun streaming through the windows and the deep, muted colors of the décor were soothing. She had hoped to use the laptop to work on her résumé and send a few emails out to friends and family to let them know she was well. She managed to get her résumé completed; however, both her host and the detective advised her against any contact with someone other than the two of them. Known friends would be monitored by those who were hunting her, they said, and it was best for them to believe her missing or even dead in order to keep them safe. Alex acknowledged the logic and understood their concern but she was frustrated at having to put her life on hold. She was certain she'd been fired from her job and was probably looking at eviction from her apartment. If she didn't make the payment at the end of the month, her car would be repossessed as well; not a good way to begin her post-university life. When she finally brought up her financial concerns with Erik and Da'ud, they assured her it was all being taken care of and not to worry. She wouldn't have been surprised if one of them had patted her on the head like an inquisitive child.
By the second day, when none of the many books could hold her attention, Alex removed the papers from the desk drawer to see if anything new would come to mind. She laid the calendar pages out on the desk in chronological order, setting the others aside. Just as she was about to close the drawer, she noticed the stack of photographs. Pulling them out, she was horrified to see her brother's body lying in a pool of his own blood in her apartment. She flipped through the pictures slowly and was amazed at the cruelty of Sam's attackers. His face was bruised and cut like he'd been in a fight. He had multiple gunshot wounds. Alex struggled against fresh tears at the realization that her brother had been tortured before he'd died. What kind of monsters could do such a thing to another human being? She had hoped it'd been quick, painless, but here was proof that Sam had suffered and horribly so. Wiping her eyes, she replaced the photographs and turned her attention to the papers. There had to be a reason these were kept and not newer ones as some were recent yet others were nearly a month old. Feeling useful for the first time since she'd been told of her brother's death, Alex searched for a paper and pencil and started making notes of possible connections.
While Alex puzzled over the discarded papers in the Library, Erik struggled to complete one of the final songs of his latest work. He never worked well when others were present and he was very aware of his guest's presence in his home. He freely acknowledged that he had been purposely avoiding her; neither of them needed to let the emotions of the situation coax them into doing something they'd both regret. Alex was terribly vulnerable at the moment, even if she'd never admit it, and he wasn't about to take advantage of that for his own lustful pleasures. If he closed his eyes, he could imagine her beneath him squirming in ecstasy as he let his lips and hands taste and touch every inch of her smooth, soft skin. He shuddered at the thought of being buried deep into her warm body, hearing her cries of pleasure, feeling her nails on his back…
Erik growled in frustration and threw yet another sheet of paper into the trash. That blasted woman was driving him mad! He rose so quickly the piano bench fell over with a loud bang. Prowling around the room like a lion caught in a cage, he tried to think of anything but Alex. Oh but she was such a delectable little thing; clever, strong, resourceful and yet soft, tender, vulnerable. He wanted to test her just to watch the fire dance in her pale green eyes, hold her close and vow to keep her safe from those who'd harm her, challenge her and watch her rise to the occasion. With a groan, he rested his forehead against the cool glass of the window, gazing out at the riot of autumn colors in the nearby wood. This lustful obsession had to stop before he ravished the chit. She didn't seem the type for casual sex with no strings; no, she was the 'bring home to meet the parents' forever type. Which translated to 'not his type' at all.
Oct. 18 –11:00am
While Erik was struggling with his raging libido, Alex was also struggling. The calendar pages didn't seem to be related in any way. The dates seemed random; there were no notes or appointments written on any of them, no writing of any kind. There had to be a connection else they would have all been consecutive, recent dates. Crumpling a sheet of paper and tossing it in the trash, she stood and stretched before wandering into the kitchen. It was close enough to lunch time and maybe stepping away would help her think of something she'd missed or forgotten to check. Gathering the ingredients for a sandwich, Alex's thoughts wandered to her host. He'd been composing in the Music Room and the parts that had filtered in to her had brought her to tears several times. He was such a contradiction; gentle yet strong, violent yet tender, aloof yet hospitable. He was dark and dangerous and sexy as hell, the way he moved was so sinfully delicious it was probably illegal in some states, and those eyes...it was like he could look straight into your soul. Shuddering, she imagined those long musician's hands playing desire's melody across her skin. No, no, no. This had to stop! She wanted more than just sex from a relationship, no matter how much the man made her turn into a puddle of goo with just a look. And she was pretty certain Erik Devereaux wasn't the dinner and a movie type; oh no, he was more the 'Paris vacation fling' type. Definitely not her type at all.
With a sigh, she picked up her plate and moved to the small table to eat, trying to put her mind to something other than Erik. Nothing good could come of this fascination and if she let herself fall for the man, it'd be a total disaster. The papers. Yes, that's what she should be concentrating on, not her enigmatic, moody host. While she ate, Alex pulled her thoughts back to Sam and wondered just what was so important about those particular dates. He rarely left the apartment and she thought he'd told her about any doctor's appointments or meetings with the parole board. None of the dates were birthdays or anniversaries of any of their known family members, living or dead. Really, the only thing he'd ever used that calendar for was the trivia questions. Her sandwich was halfway to her mouth when it struck her: the trivia questions! That had to be it!
Abandoning her meal, Alex ran back to the Library to test her theory and collided with Erik's lean, muscled chest. His arms instinctively snaked around her waist to steady her. Looking up, she was struck mute at the warm glow of amusement in his golden eyes and the hint of a smile that played along his lips. Why did he have to be so damn gorgeous? Alex blushed and stammered an apology while stepping out of his loose embrace. With all her effort going towards not flinging herself right back into his arms, she didn't realize he'd spoken until he gently grasped her arm to halt her retreat.
"Are you alright, Alexandra? You look a bit flushed." His voice was silky smooth and caused her blush to deepen. Slowly she removed her arm from his hold.
"Y…yes," She stammered, looking anywhere but at him. "I'm fine, Mr. Devereaux, really…just…"
"What? Oh, ok, um, Erik. Anyway, I just thought of something and was trying to, you know, get back." Risking a glance at his face, she took a step back and motioned to the doorway. "To the Library."
"Very well," he motioned for her to lead the way. "What have you discovered?"
Alex took a deep breath as she returned to the Library, trying to steady her racing pulse. Her body still tingled everywhere it had touched his; she could still feel his heartbeat against her fingers. The arguments against crawling into Erik's bed and ravishing him until he kicked her back out were getting lost somewhere. She reminded herself that she wasn't one for casual sex and then immediately thought that there'd be nothing casual about sex with him. He was a musician after all; one who played many instruments with such beauty that she was certain he could play her just as expertly. Blushing, she risked a glance at him as she sat behind his desk and was caught in his golden orbs. The amused arch of his brow in question deepened the red on her cheeks until she feared they'd catch fire. Desperately, she tried to focus on the calendar pages instead of ripping off his clothing and having her wicked way with him. It was quite the struggle.
"I think we've been going about this the wrong way," she stared down at the papers, refusing to look at him and risk giving in to her baser urges. "For the past two days I've been looking at these papers with no luck but I wasn't looking at the right thing. I've been so focused on the dates, trying to understand their importance, when it's not the dates at all. Sam had little use for a calendar; he rarely went anywhere and I kept track of his medical and parole appointments." Alex risked a quick glance at him as she made notes on a fresh sheet of paper. Seeing that she had his attention, she turned the pages around so he could read them, arranging them in order. "I believe I told you how Sam loved to catch me on the trivia. It was part of our daily routine. Every morning, we'd eat breakfast, discuss the news, and plan dinner for that night. Just as I left for school or work, he'd ask that day's trivia; I'd give him my best guess when I got home that afternoon. The trivia is what's important about these pages, not the dates." She handed him her notes. "If you answer each question in order by date, it's an address."
Erik read over each question and answer, impressed with both the code and her ability to break it. Using something so personal was a stroke of genius on the boy's part. He moved around the desk to log into his laptop and type the address into a mapping program. The building was located in an industrial section of town that was run down and known for harboring all sorts of shady individuals. It appeared he needed return to town.