Pain Bring Them Together

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Jennifer's P.O.V.

I got into the driver's seat, Matthew was already inside the car his long legs were spread out loosely in front of him, his dark head leaning back on the seat, his eyes closed. The car started and waited a moment while the engine warmed up, 'the others are going to wonder why you went off like this'. I said calmly. 'You know what New York gossip is like. There will be talk'.

He opened one eye. Not half as much as if I'd shown up back in there in my condition'. He spoke slowly there was finality in his strained voice and the eye closed.

And those were the last words spoken between us for the remainder of the drive into town. I glanced over him from time to time he seemed to be asleep he was drunk I knew but he didn't act like any drunk I'd ever encountered before. He seemed to be completely aware of his condition even to the point of choosing the best way to handle it.

There was little traffic at this time of night and before long I had driven into the apartment garage and parked my Corvette in her space. I turned to the man sleeping peacefully beside me I took a closer look at him with the cold grey eyes closed & thin mouth relaxed he didn't look nearly as forbidding as he had before and it dawned on me suddenly that he was really quite a handsome man.

He had unbuttoned the top button of his white dress shirt and loosened his black tie so I could see the hollow at the base of his throat and the little pulse-pounding there. His hair usually combed neatly was messy now a black lock falling over his forehead.

Yet in spite of his relaxed posture and peaceful expression on his face I could still see the traces of pain in the deep lines around his eyes across his forehead and cutting down from the straight nose to the corners of his mouth. What had put them there? I felt a strange impulse reach out and smooth away those tell-tale, revealing lines, to draw him to me, to comfort him. No stranger to pain myself. I was intuitively empathetic to the sufferings of others.

Then he opened his eyes. He blinked and sat up, focusing now on me. He shook his head a little as if to clear it, then leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees, his head in his hands.

'Are you all right'? I asked in a low voice. 'can you make it to your apartment by yourself?'.

I surprised by my concern. Usually, drunks only disgusted me, but my instinct told me that Matthew Smith was no ordinary drunk, only a man in pain who had deliberately set out to allay it in the only way open to him.

He looked at me than the grey eyes glazed. 'I- 'm sorry'. For the first time, his voice faltered. 'If you could just help me to my door I'd appreciate it'.

'Of course', I murmured.

He seemed to be fairly steady on his feet, as I took his arm and led him to the elevator. He told me he lived on the sixth floor, and we made it without mishap or running into anyone to the door of his apartment. He searched in his trousers pocket for his key and handed it to me. Unlocked the door and guided him inside.

'Would you like me to make you some coffee'? I asked him.

We were standing just inside the door. It was quite dark, and I fumbled on the wall for the light switch, which didn't seem to be in the same spot as it was in my apartment, three floors below.

Suddenly, I heard him give a low groan, and the next thing I knew, his arms had come around me, clasping me so tightly I could hardly breathe. I struggled, but soon I realized that there was nothing sensational about the way he held me. It was more like a drowning man holding onto a life raft.

I put my arms up, then, around his neck and ran my hands over the thick hair in a soothing comforting motion. We stood this way for several moments, clinging together, neither of us uttering a word.

Slowly, his hold on me relaxed. His hands slipped inside my coat and began to move on my body, warm and strong, first my waist, then up under my short jacket to my bareback, then I realized that the innocent embrace was turning into something far more sensual than I was prepared to handle.

I removed my hands from around his neck and put them up against his chest to push him away. But he only pulled me closer, and his head came down, his mouth hard on mine. For a second, I softened, I responded, but the moment I felt his tongue against my lips, forcing them to open, I turned my head away so that his mouth was at my ear.

He was muttering now, hoarsely, what was he saying? It was one word, over and over again. It was a name. 'Beth', it came again. 'Beth'.

I had to put a stop to this right away. It had already gone too far. The closeness to his hard body, his harsh breath in my ear, his hands still moving up and down on my back was beginning to set my own pulses racing. It did no good to struggle or try to pull away. It only made him strengthen that Iron Grip. Then, I felt his hand move around my breast. I gasped aloud at the touch. the large hand warm and possessive on my bare skin, and I knew that one second more and it would be too late to stop him or myself. I pulled myself together with an effort and reached out again to try to find the light switch. This time I was successful and the room was immediately in light.

'Matthew,' I said in a loud, clear voice. 'It's Jennifer. Do you hear me? Do you understand? I'm not Beth, I'm Jennifer'.

Instantly, the hand stilled on my breast, then dropped away. He stood motionless for a moment, his head bent, then drew slowly back from me, looking down at me with a dazed expression. Recognition dawned in his eyes, and with it came the pain.

I couldn't bear it. My own memories came flooding back, memories that simmered constantly just below the surface of my life. God, I thought as I covered my face with my hands. Would it never end?

With a little cry, I pulled open the door and ran out into the corridor, to the elevator praying he wouldn't follow me, not daring to look back, and then I darted inside and slumped against the wall. I punched the button for my floor, and only then, as the doors began to slide closed, I dared to look down to the hall. It was empty.

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