Eyes Only. I once thought it was a trendy catch phrase...a tag to help me get across my subversive messages of freedom. And now it has become more than that. Eyes Only is me. It's who I've become. Logan Cale...who can look, but can't touch.
I'm a helpless voyeur.
Helpless when it comes to Max. How can I not watch her? How can I not be captivated? She stalks around my apartment like a cat...no, like half-cat and half-goddess...the statue she stole the night she changed my life. Her raven hair curls around her face...the most beautiful face I've ever seen. Her body vibrates with restless tension and her dark eyes don't stop on anything for more than a few seconds. Unlike mine. I wonder if she realizes that I haven't stared at anything else since she slipped in a few minutes ago. Half the time I think she doesn't even remember I exist in the same space as her. Her mind jets forward at a thousand miles per hour while mine stays in one place. On her.
"Rough day?" I murmur, inanely, pretending to concentrate on the news downloading on my screen instead of her tight leather pants.
"The usual." She shrugs, hands going into the pockets of her short denim jacket. "You? Anything new?" She bounces on her toes as she slouches against the back of my chair. I can feel her breath on my neck...I would think she's doing it on purpose, except that I know she's not asking about me or my therapy regimen and cataloguing my reaction.
"Nothing came in about the Manticore Project today," I inform her, casually twisting around to face her. It burns a bit at the base of my spine...but my legs don't care. They don't feel anything except a mild twitch.
Her face falls. She chews on her full, mauve, lower lip. I know she's debating whether or not to bail on me since I have nothing useful. And she won't bail.
Because I'm Eyes Only. Half-man, half-chair.
Is it comforting to think she would just walk out the door if I could walk myself? That she only stays out of some misguided emotion that isn't quite compassion? No.
"Life's a bitch," she shrugs.
Summing up everything I'm thinking...even if she doesn't realize it.
She moves back from the handles of my chair and continues her prowl around my office. Looking at the hardware, the cables, the monitors.
I grit my teeth, put my hands on the wheels and turn away from my desk. "Max...don't you have somewhere to be?"
She shrugs again. And her tank top rides up, flashing her flat stomach. "Nope. I'm free as a bird."
"Free to bother me, you mean."
"Whatever." She gives me that half-grin. That damn knowing grin.
For days after I met her, I walked around with a perpetual hard-on. Now I wheel around with one. Should I be thankful that Sonrisa's men didn't ruin everything below the waist? No. I'm castrated anyway, aren't I? Dry-mouthed...sweaty-palmed...staring at her like a teenage boy who has never seen a girl before. She's a genetically engineered warrior. I'm a man in a wheelchair. We both have our places, our levels of existence. She acts. I react. She does. I think and research. And I wish I could pull her down to where I am. Or, God forbid, into my lap.
I wish it and I wish it...and I never do it. Because that's not who I am. I'm Eyes Only. Damn it.
"Is something wrong, Logan?" she wonders, cocking her head.
"No." I wheel around her, towards the kitchen, and then I listen to the gears grind backwards as she grabs the back of the chair with both hands and stops me.
"Liar," she breathes against my neck.
On purpose. This time it's on purpose. I tilt my head back...feel her mouth in my hair. And the tiny burn at the base of my spine spreads. "Max..!" I plead. I plead.
"Shhh," she whispers. Her hands slide down from the chair...to my shoulders...and down my chest, scrunching up the front of my t-shirt. "Lay off the caffeine, Cale."
OhGodOhGodOhGod. "Max, what are you DOING?" I shrug off her hands...her tiny, strong fingers and whip my chair around.
She backs up just quickly enough to keep the toes of her black boots from getting run over and laughs, softly. "Let me do something for you, huh?"
She talks like one of the girls I used to pick up before the Pulse. When playing the idle rich was the biggest kick in the world. When I didn't care if my name ended up in the Society column for mixing with women who liked to ask "cash or charge" at the end of the night. But I know she's worth more...that we're both worth more.
"Altruism's not your style," I manage to gasp out. "So, what would you gain?"
She arches one slender black eyebrow. "Why don't we find out?"
And I don't need to touch her. To pull her down to my level. All I have to do is watch as she straddles the arms of my chair...her leather-clad ass brushes my kneecaps and I imagine them jumping up and running away, yipping like scared puppies. Just like I want to.
Her face is so close...so close to mine. I can smell the berry flavor of her lip gloss. And the sandalwood of her soap. I put my hands on her thighs in a vain attempt to push her off me...and, instead, they stay there. Sinking into the soft leather creases as she stares at me so intensely I forget to breathe.
"What do you want?" she asks, all curves and steel.
"You know what." I can't breathe. I can't move. I can't do anything except curse the arousal I know she can feel...and stare at her. Eyes Only.
I'm a helpless voyeur.
Helpless when she closes her eyes for an instant, and then leans forward and brushes my forehead with her soft lips. Helpless when she whispers, "I'm sorry" and then kisses my mouth with the same gentle apology repeated.
Helpless when she slides off my lap and walks away.
"I'll see you later, Logan."
"See you later, Max," I echo, blankly, as my body screams for her to come back and warm it. As I accept the true mark of her altruism.
I want too much. And she won't give it to me. She can't.
Eyes Only. What a joke.
We both want more than that.
That I can wait.
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