Daniela lit the final candle and looked around her dining room, checking to see if everything was in place. Once she was happy, she nodded and ran to the kitchen to check on the pork. It was cooking nicely. She smiled as she took in the smell and released her hair from her clip, making her way to her bedroom.
Now, what to wear? She went through her intentions for the night once again, remembering the steps she had gone through with Claire and ensuring that she had followed the plan completely. The goal of the night was to thank Duncan for everything that he had done for her since she had been here, and to say goodbye as he was going away the following day. Okay, goal identified, next was how she intended on achieving this goal. She had made him a meal. It was one of her more competent dishes and the only one she was any good at. She had chosen candles because there was no point denying that something was going on between the two of them. Although she had been very careful with him up to now, she wanted him to know that she was falling for him. She didn’t want him to go anywhere without knowing that.
She had discussed with Claire what the safe areas were that she could do this without causing herself any further anxiety or disrupting the progress she had made thus far. She remembered the detailed conversation where she had been asked to identify what she would like to happen with Duncan and the multitude of questions that had then followed. They had discussed the range of things that could happen, from holding hands right down the scale to sex. Claire had been meticulous in her questioning, identifying if she was mentally ready for any of these things. The conversation had been brutal and a little embarrassing at times, but it had helped. Daniela was certain now. She knew where she stood with Duncan and what’s more, she was confident that no matter what she decided, he would go along with it regardless.
She had picked out a red knee length, tight dress and was halfway to putting it on before she even realised that she had. She smiled knowingly at her sub-conscious, turning to ensure that it was spread evenly around her bum. It had always been her favourite outside, it hugged her in all the right places. However, Daniela was once again reminded of how much weight she had lost whilst she had been in the pod. It was a little baggy around a few areas, she didn’t like it. Her mind was momentarily distracted to her time in the room and flashes of memories attacked her. She stumbled backwards, holding onto her head. She closed her eyes and tried to push the memories out. They came in waves and her breathing increased.
Suddenly there were arms around her, ones that had become so familiar to her over these past few weeks.
“Hey, you okay?” Duncan asked.
Daniela shook her head, her eyes tightly shut.
“Hey, look at me Daniela, open your eyes.”
Daniela did as she was told, her eyes found his and he smiled a small reassuring smile.
“Sssh, it’s okay. Try breathing a little slower for me, hmmm?”
Daniela once again followed his orders, finding comfort in his gaze and the strength of his arms.
“Sorry, I had another moment.” She eventually said, when she had gained control again.
“Not a problem.” He said, his smile growing. “You came back, that’s the main thing.”
She nodded her agreement, taking a moment to drink in how he looked at this moment. He was wearing a navy blue v neck. It was tight and he wore it well. He also had on jeans and smart shoes. He looked really good. She smiled sheepishly as she realised he was watching her, watch him.
“You look amazing,” he said, setting her on her feet and leaning in speak into her ear. “Sexy as hell.”
Daniela felt her heart catch in her throat at the sound of his words, she took another deep breath and reminded herself to keep control of the situation.
“Are you hungry?” She asked, moving away from him and dashing into the kitchen. “Dinner’s almost ready.”
“Woah, you’ve outdone yourself.” Duncan said as he followed her into the kitchen/dining area.
“It’s just a few candles,” Daniela said, dismissing him. “Nothing special.”
“It looks a lot better than the stacks of dirty dishes in the sink I usually see.”
“Yeah, you always seem to come round at my messier times,” Daniela explained, checking on the pork once again. It was ready. “Take a seat, and I’ll serve up.”
She signalled to a seat at the dining table and Duncan did as he was told.
“I’ve got to say, I never had you pegged for a cook.”
“Yeah, well don’t get too excited. I know one dish only, if you expect me to cook in the future, you better develop an overwhelming love for pork.”
Duncan grinned. “I’ll remember that.”
Daniela served the food and took her seat opposite Duncan. She let her nerves calm slightly as they both ate and laughed. She always ended up doing this; feeling nervous about being around Duncan until they began to talk and she realised that she had no need to be nervous. He made her feel so comfortable all the time. Once they were finished, Daniela immediately jumped up to tidy away the plates. Duncan moved to help her but she threw him a glare.
“Sit.” She ordered. “Tonight, I’m going to look after you for once.”
Duncan sat back down with a seductive smile that made Daniela blush, why the hell was she so nervous? She started to busy herself around the kitchen, placing the plates in the dishwasher straight away, Duncan’s comment about the dirty dishes flashing through her mind.
As she finished tidying away, she opened the freezer and pulled out two Cornettos. She waved them in the air and flashed him an apologetic look.
“Like I said, once the Pork dish is done, there really is nothing else I can cook or bake. So we’re going to have to make do with these.”
Duncan laughed. “Cornettos are good for me.” He said.
“Good. Because that’s all you’ve got.”
Daniela reached Duncan and handed him his Cornetto. He smiled and took it, immediately breaking into the wrapper. Daniela looked at him then and realised that she had fallen for him completely. He had been so good to her and his untainted and perfect affection for her had been the thing that had kept her going.
She reached out and stopped Duncan from unwrapping the ice cream further. Slowly, she took the Cornetto out of his hand and placed it with hers on the table.
“What are you doing?” Duncan asked, confused.
“Ssshh. I want to try something.”
She reached down and let her fingers caress Duncan’s forehead, allowing them to travel down his temple and over his cheekbone. With her other hand, she gently interweaved her fingers into his hair. She placed her legs on either side of him and lowered herself onto his lap. Duncan watched her do all of this, completely stunned. He was looking at her now with so much passion that Daniela could hardly bare not kissing him. But she continued her slow pace, making sure that she was taking her time with each moment, to savour it and to ensure that she didn’t rush into anything.
However, not once did she find herself wanting to pull away. It felt so natural being this close to him. She smiled a small smile and closed the gap, lowering her lips down to his. Duncan seemed to freeze for a moment, as if he were unsure, but as Daniela pushed herself into the kiss, he gave in and wrapped his arms tight around her back, pulling her even closer. Daniela went willingly, wrapping her legs completely around him and pushing her entire will into the kiss. Every emotion that she had felt towards this man, every moment where he had come through for her without questioning it, every unfathomable act of kindness he had ever shown her, flashed through her mind and sent signals to her body that confirmed to her with more certainty than she had felt in her brief time back in the real world, that she wanted to spend the rest of her life like this with this man.
She pulled at his shirt and immediately Duncan pulled away.
“Hold on Daniela,” he said. “Let’s take a breather, yeah?”
Daniela raised her eyebrows at him, shocked. “A breather?” She asked.
He smiled his seductive smile at her. “I’m in no rush. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Yes you are,” Daniela said. “Tomorrow you’re going out there, and I won’t see you again for three weeks.”
Duncan shook his head slowly. “No, I’m not. You honestly think I’d leave you now? Just when everything’s getting interesting?”
Daniela smiled at that. She thought of his staying behind, of what that would mean and the time they would then have together. It would be fun. She could see why Christiana was so eager for it… but Christiana. She sighed as the realisation hit her.
“What is it?” Duncan asked.
“You have to go.” She said.
“Because Connor needs you. From the sounds of things you guys come as a package deal. If you didn’t go and something happened to Connor, I would never forgive myself. I need you to bring him back so that Christiana can forgive him and have him back.”
“So you’re saying that you want me to go so that Connor can get laid?”
Daniela smiled, a lone tear managed to escape her eye and fall down her cheek. She wiped it away.
“Why are you crying?” Duncan asked.
Daniela shook her head. “Oh, who knows? I seem to be doing that a lot lately.” She kissed him gently on the forehead. “I want you to be all you were made to be, Duncan Jennings,” she said. “And believe it or not, that involves a world outside of me… I think it may be good for you to remember what that’s like.”
Duncan dropped his head against her chest. “But I don’t want to.”
Daniela laughed. “Yes, you do. I saw how excited and alive you were yesterday during the testing. Go and be the soldier person and when you’re back, you can be the boyfriend person.”
Duncan brought his gaze back to hers once more. “It’s amazing how sane you are.” He said, his voice full of wonder.
“I’m probably too sane at the moment.” Daniela said, with a pout. “The old me would not be insisting on such a selfless thing. I may need to work on that whilst you’re away.”
Duncan grinned. “You do that, and when I get back I’ll expect a lot of high maintenance demands.”
“I expect to be wined and dined.”
Daniela smiled and sealed their agreement with another kiss, wrapping herself tight around him once more. She pulled away and travelled kisses across his cheek until she reached his ear.
“Duncan,” She whispered. “There’s one more thing I want you to do for me.”
“Please don’t ask me that Daniela.” Duncan said. “I’ve been trying really hard not to be the typical bloke everyone expects me to be, and right now, I feel that all slipping away.”
“I really am fine.” Daniela said. “I’ve spoken about it extensively with Claire, she’s given me the green light… although you may want to avoid eye contact with her for a while,” Daniela said with a grin.
Duncan looked at her, shock on his face. “You talked about that?”
“Why are you surprised?”
“Well, I figured that it would be a conversation topic at one point, but I was thinking that was going to be months down the line.”
Daniela smiled seductively. “You underestimate the power of my libido.”
Duncan looked impressed with that, he thought for a moment.
“And she said that it’s okay?” He asked. “You promise?”
“I could get her on the phone if you like,” Daniela said, moving to get up.
Duncan laughed and pulled her back down to him.
“That won’t be necessary.” He said. “I trust you.”
Daniela widened her smile. “Good.” She said.
They kissed once more and Duncan slowly got up, Daniela still wrapped tightly around his waist. He navigated them both through the kitchen, banging into things on the way. Daniela let out a soft chuckle as he stumped his toe on the door frame to the bedroom. Duncan smiled and led her to the bed. There, he lay her ever so gently onto the sheets, his lips on a trail down her body as he slowly peeled off her dress.