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Old 10-06-2010, 06:20 PM   #1
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The Next Best Thing - 27

Disclaimer: This is a fan fic, only real in my mind. Hope this chapter reads OK - I was distracted often while writing it & haven't had the opportunity to re-edit like I normally do. That may or may not be a good thing!

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“Mmm…I hate… to… interrupt you…” Still wrapped tightly in Adam’s arms, Raye managed to utter a few breathless words as Adam’s lips floated randomly on an endless circuit from her mouth to her eyelids to her earlobes and down her neck.

“So don’t.” He spoke just above a whisper in a deep, throaty murmur well below his normal speaking voice before dragging his tongue lightly from her jugular up to her ear and gently nipping her earlobe with his teeth. The heat of his body, his obvious physical attraction and the husky growl that had become his primary form of communication with Raye was driving her absolutely mad. But it was exactly the ecstasy she enjoying that forced her to focus on what she needed to do - which was firstly, to stop Adam from so expertly distracting her.

“Ugh”, she groaned, pulling her head back slightly and gently pushing on his chest to create a greater barrier between their lips. “I really wish I didn’t have to, but there’s more that we need to talk about and it really needs to be done before we, um, go too far.” She gazed at him apologetically and hoped her soft tone wouldn’t cause any unnecessary alarm.

She watched in wonder while Adam drew in a deep breath and, never taking his arms from her waist, blinked slowly several times before clearing his throat. How can I possibly be having the effect on him that he’s having on me?, she silently questioned. When he finally spoke, his voice was still low and silky, but much nearer normal.

“You’re not terribly familiar with the concept of doing things gradually, are you?” He smiled slyly down at Raye, and squeezed her a bit closer to him for emphasis. “Coming to sudden stops on the garden path… abruptly walking out of rooms on people…striking up conversations at odd moments.” He leaned forward and planted a quick peck on the tip of Raye’s nose as she wriggled free from his embrace and hopped back a half step from him, taking both his hands in hers.

“I’m sorry”, she blushed as she apologized and guided him into the chair next to where she’d been sitting earlier. She intended sit down beside him, but Adam took advantage of her grip on his hands, suddenly pulling her onto his lap so that her legs were draped across the arm of his chair and his arms were again wrapped around her torso. She emitted a small squeal as she fell into his lap and playfully swiped at his cheek. “Now who’s being abrupt!?”

“Guilty as charged”, he admitted while hugging her tighter and lightly kissing her upper cheekbone. “I’ll behave now. What is it that you need know?” He gently nuzzled his forehead against her left temple, raising his head slightly as he spoke so that his lips were against her skin, softly tickling her with each word.

“Mmmm”, Raye murmured again and leaned into his chest. She was already intoxicated by the sensation of Adam’s warm breath on her neck and fairly addicted to being held in his lean arms. Momentarily hypnotized by the ‘thuh-thump, thuh-thump’ of his heartbeat, Raye came out of her trance and sat upright, using the chair arms as braces to turn and face him as best she could.

“I need to know about separation,”

“That’s an ugly subject so early in our relationship.” His smile threatened to melt her reserve, but she pushed on.

“I’m serious, Adam”, she said quietly. “I know you all are expected in New York in just three days; and after that, you’re back to Dublin. What’s that going to mean for us? How are we going to have any kind of relationship when we’re not even on the same continent?” Raye was suddenly overwhelmed and felt her bottom lip begin to tremble. Shit!, she cursed herself, biting the inside of her cheek and squeezing her eyes shut. Don’t start the water works!

“Aw, love – there’ll be no need for that, now.” Adam lifted Raye’s chin with his right hand while rubbing her lower back with his left. Raye opened her eyes to see Adam studying her face tenderly. “Yes, I have to leave for New York on Thursday. But that’s only a few hours away by plane; you have my word that I won’t return to Dublin without seeing you again. Is that fair?”

“I guess. But then what?” Successfully blinking back the moisture from her eyes, even Raye would admit that her voice sounded abjectly pitiful.

“We’ll make it work”, Adam answered her with a soft chuckle. “Let’s just enjoy the next two days together and then you and I can start on plans for when things are wrapped up in New York. Okay?” Adam only meant to soothe Raye, but his words seemed to have the exact opposite effect. She was clearly troubled when she answered him.

“I’m sorry, Adam; I really am. I don’t mean to be so needy - I don’t even know where it’s coming from. God knows, I’m used to being on my own; I don’t know why the idea of not having you around is freaking me out. I mean, we don’t even really know each other yet, so it doesn’t make sense to me that I should be so obsessed about when, or if, I’ll be able to see you. It’s just, I’ve admitted to you and to myself that I want this to happen – I want ‘us’ to happen - but this is why I don’t just jump headfirst into things. It makes me mental. Isn’t that the English term for going out of your mind?” Raye half expected Adam to throw her from his lap and make a run for the door. She couldn’t blame him if he did; she was turning into a basket case right before his eyes.

“You’re not mental”, he told her, resting his hand on her knee. “You’re out of your comfort zone and ‘taking steps that make you feel dizzy’. He looked up a Raye with a self-satisfied grin.

“Did you really just quote U2 lyrics to me?” She playfully rolled her eyes and shook her head in mock disgust.

“But it worked perfectly, didn’t it?” Adam countered, in defense of himself. “You’d be amazed how seldom I’m able to do that – I had to seize the opportunity!” Raye leaned in, laughing, and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before conceding to him.

“It did fit into context perfectly. Truth be told, ‘dizzy’ is a pretty adequate description of how I feel right now. I’m in a completely foreign landscape and, frankly, scared as Hell of what’s going to happen.”

“Well, don’t think you’re alone in being extremely nervous”, Adam told her earnestly. “I’m nervous, too; I have worries. There’s certainly a connection between us, but will it develop into a healthy relationship? Will it end badly? Will it end at all? I can’t say. But I’m fascinated by you, Raye. Your independence, the way you carry yourself, your sense of humor – I love watching you with your camera, when you get lost in the work and let yourself enjoy the moment. And I’m positively obsessed with knowing more: what you were like as a child? Who was the first boy to break your heart? What’s your favorite color? Do you talk in your sleep? I could go on and on. Is that normal for someone you just met four days ago? No, it’s not. But the way you responded when I kissed you last night – and just now? I knew it wasn’t my imagination; you felt the same thing. So I promise you, Raye – I swear to you – I will do everything within my power to earn your confidence and to deserve you. Will you allow me to do that?”

Raye was moved by Adam’s sincerity and stunned when she saw his pale eyes misting over as he waited for her reply. Her hands involuntarily flew to cover her slightly gaping mouth as she tried to form a worthy response.

“How could I say no?”, she struggled to tell him through her constricted throat. Anything more and she knew she’d devolve into a blubbering mess. Once again, Adam’s arms encircled her and she willingly leaned onto his chest, her arms pulled in front of her and her face tucked deeply into the crook of his neck. They sat there in silence, Raye breathing in the mix of cologne and soap on his skin, Adam gently rocking them both until they were nearly lulled to sleep. Finally, Adam’s voice tumbled gently into her ear.

“Love? Are you sleeping?”

“Hmmm? No, I’m awake; just enjoying the moment.”

“Did you really just quote my own words back to me?”, Adam teased.

“But it worked perfectly, didn’t it?” Raye giggled at their inside joke and snuggled a little further into Adam’s warmth.

“That it did. Listen, as much as I don’t want to end this evening, it’s been hours since everyone else went downstairs. And…” Holding his left arm over Raye’s head to check his watch, Adam continued, “…it’s now twenty past eleven. We might at least go downstairs to let them know that we’re still alive.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right”, Raye agreed, sitting up in his lap and stretching her arms out in front of her. Suddenly, she jumped up and turned to face Adam, her eyes wild. “Oh God – do you think they’re all sitting up, waiting for us?”

“Would that be a problem?”, Adam asked calmly.

“It’ll just be embarrassing. I mean, we’ve been up here so long, they’re bound to think that we…”

“Even if they do, they’ll say nothing of the sort. I won’t tolerate it.” His tone was decidedly firm and Raye was amazed to think that he should already be so protective of her. It was very revealing; as was Adam’s next comment. “I can’t really see it being an issue, though. None of them think that of you.”

“Excuse me?” Raye snapped to attention at Adam’s mention of the word ‘them’.

“I said that none of them take you to be… I think ‘easy’ is the term you use here in the States.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask”, Raye said slowly, “but how is it that you know this?”

Looking a bit nervous, Adam replied, “Because I talked to them about it.” Raye noticed as he finished his sentence that he was bracing himself for an angry response from her. Admittedly, earlier in the day, that’s exactly what she’d have delivered. At this point in the evening though, she could only be curious.

“You talked to them about whether I was easy or not?” Raye stood with her hands on her hips, but with an amused expression. “So when you told me earlier no one was placing bets on whether I’d sleep with you tonight, it’s because you all had already decided that I wouldn’t?”

“No! Nothing like that!” Adam was horrified as he rushed to dig himself out of another hole. “I’ve been talking to the guys about you for a couple of days now. Usually private conversations, but there were a few chats between myself and at least two others. I told you – I was looking for advice! Things didn’t end so well with the last woman that I became involved with so quickly.” He paused and looked a bit ashamed to go on.

“And who was…?” Raye’s started to ask the obvious question only for her voice to trail off as she realized she already knew the answer. Edge had unknowingly provided it on Saturday morning, as he, Bono and Larry had stood on the back deck, waiting for everyone to finish breakfast and make their way to the beach for Raye’s photo shoot with Lionel and Paul. Raye hadn’t put much thought into it at the time – Edge’s naturally soft-spoken tone had made it difficult for her to hear him as clearly as the other two, and she’d been on the verge of an emotional catastrophe – but now she was convinced of the name he’d called and exactly who he’d been speaking of. Not sure whether she was broaching a taboo subject or not, Raye had a compulsive need to address it anyway.

“It was Naomi, wasn’t it?”, she asked cautiously

“Yes, Naomi Campbell - the infamous Combatant of the Catwalk. She was never like that with me”, he added quickly. “She was the most pleasant, reserved creature when we were dating; positively genteel. Well, except for in bed. There was nothing reserved about Naomi in bed.” Adam’s eyes glazed over a bit as he reminisced.

‘Okay”, Raye jumped in to reroute the conversation. “I am so not having this discussion with you right now!”

“What?” Adam seemed genuinely perplexed at her reaction. “You don’t want to know about my past relationships?”

“Sure, there’s plenty I want to know. I just don’t want to hear about your sexual escapades with a super model right now. I have enough inferiority issues that I’m trying to work out as it is. I don’t need those images in the back of my head, constantly reminding me of how I don’t stack up to your past girlfriends.” Raye’s heart jumped as she spoke the word out loud. Was that what she’d become - Adam Clayton’s girlfriend? She could hardly wrap her head around the idea much less accept it as fact.

“You needn’t worry over that, Raye. You’re beyond compare of any woman I’ve ever met.”

“Oh… you’re good”, she breathlessly admitted to him as her ego floated into the stratosphere. Flattery had always seemed to be empty words, offered just to placate or cajole her in some way, and Raye was shocked by how willingly she accepted Adam’s compliment without question. The man’s reputation as a ‘lady killer’ was apparently based in fact and its legend was about to swell, as it was apparent that Raye would be its next victim.

“I’m just telling you how I feel, love. And you’ve already begun comparing yourself to past girlfriends. You told me last night that you weren’t interesting enough for me, which is assuming that because you’re not in the industry or well known that you’re somehow less worthy of my attention. Did it ever occur to you that I find that anonymity desirable? I’ve often wondered if my engagement to Naomi or even to Suzie would have progressed into an eventual wedding if not for the constant tabloid attention. Well, that’s not entirely true – I knew the engagement to Naomi was a mistake from the start.”

“Why do you say that?” Raye found it somewhat amusing that Adam had mentioned both of his previous fiancées by first name only, confidently assuming that she’d know exactly who he was referring to. And, of course, he’d been absolutely right. When she’d told them all on the first night they met that she’d been a fan for over twenty-five years, she certainly hadn’t meant a casual fan; she was well read on their careers and, to some degree, their personal lives. That still didn’t keep Raye from feeling like something of a stalker and wondering if she’d have to contend with strangers reading about her personal life sometime in the near future.

“Just remember, you asked”, Adam warned her before he answered the question. “Like I’ve said, Naomi was a dear girl, but I know now that I was never in love with her. I was besotted with the sex, and there was plenty of it, but if that was taken from the equation it occurred to me that the only other things we really had in common were the celebrity lifestyle and the means to develop some rather nasty habits. I knew I didn’t want to spend my whole life that way, so a marriage for she and I would have been disastrous and I called it off.”

“That must have been difficult”, Raye told him solemnly.

“Deciding where to tell her was actually worse than deciding what to tell her”, he confided. “I was terrified there might be a nasty row or some other kind of scene. I eventually just chose her flat in London. I didn’t particularly want to imprint her home with that memory but in the end, it seemed the best way. If she did become upset, she’d at least already be in her own place and wouldn’t have to dodge cameras and the paparazzi while in search of privacy. In the end, my worries were unfounded. She actually seemed relieved when I broke the engagement. Considering she’s never been engaged since, I think she was probably thrilled to have dodged the bullet, so to speak.” Adam finally joined Raye in standing and checked his watch again.

“It’s half past eleven now. What say we continue this conversation downstairs? It’s getting a bit airy up here and I don’t want either of us to catch cold. Besides, I could use a cup of tea. Will you have one with me?” He smiled warmly while waiting for Raye’s answer.

“Well”, she started, “I told you the last time you offered that I only drink my tea iced, but since I’m expanding my horizons and trying new things, I guess I might as well give it a shot. Worse thing that happens is that you end up with two cups of tea, right?”

“That’s true”, Adam said with a small laugh. Taking her right hand in his left as they made their way across the deck, he stopped as they reached the stairs and, giving her a sideward glance, asked, “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

“I think so”, Raye answered with a slight tremble in her voice as she returned his gaze. Adam must have noticed how clammy her palm was and she was positive he could feel her whole body shaking; he squeezed her hand gently and bathed her in a tender look before saying the words that she was sure she’d never forget.

“You’ve nothing to be afraid or embarrassed of so long as I’m with you. And I have no intentions of being away from you for any significant amount of time.”

While previously in his arms, Raye had decided that she wanted to be owned by Adam; she was in no doubt that with his last words the purchase had just been completed.
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Old 10-10-2010, 03:57 AM   #2
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Another great chapter Blu. You create tension amongst and within your characters very well. I've never been an 'Adam' girl (mind you, I never went for the blondes until I laid eyes on Larry ) but this fic could just change my mind!
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Old 10-11-2010, 11:28 PM   #3
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Thank you for the input! Your comments mean a lot to me - I'm not an "Adam girl" myself, so my being able to possibly sway someone else who's not an Adam girl is very encouraging.

Chapter 28 is coming along; a little slower than the others, maybe, but should be up by the end of the week.
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Old 10-12-2010, 11:43 AM   #4
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I enjoy reading it. What made you come up with the title? Maybe you covered that already.
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Old 10-12-2010, 04:02 PM   #5
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GR - you haven't missed anything. The title comes from a scene that will show up later in the story. My outline originally called for it to be in the very last chapter, but that may change now, based on which direction I go with a couple of plot ideas.

That's one of the strange things about this for me. I knew exactly how the story would begin, exactly how I wanted it to end and precisely what I wanted to call it before I ever started writing... everything else for the most part has kind of been done "as you go".
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:41 PM   #6
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I'm totally loving this! The characters are so real, the detail divine and you've managed to make Adam's past believable without making it cheesy. I loved the tender moments of this chapter about just as much as the tension. I'm such a sucker for both and you provided an equal amount of both. I can hardly wait for 28!
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