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I was almost asleep when I heard the front door to Ellen's kitchen slam open.

I flinched, sitting upright in bed and listening out to see who it could be. My first thought was Brody. Then Ellen possibly leaving, but it was late and she'd never leave her daughter alone without at least letting someone know. 

And I was the only guest that she'd tell as it was right now, anyway. Plus I doubted she'd slam the door so loud after the night we'd all had.

Carefully, I eased myself off the mattress and padded across the floor barefoot, my skin still stinging from the fire and I panicked for a moment when everything seemed grey until I realised that it was only my eyes watering. There were footsteps on the stairs as I neared them and I paused, steadying myself when a sudden thought made me wonder if this wasn't anyone I should reveal myself to at all. 

I had just escaped a fire only a few hours ago, and if I was meant to have stayed inside to die, this could be the perpetrator coming to finish the job. I shook that thought away as paranoia but something kept me from opening the door anyhow, which was why I jerked back when it flung open itself. 

Michael Strachan stood in the doorway, looking a little sodden and out-of-breath, but he relaxed when he saw me. 

"Sorry," He whispered, looking about like a startled rabbit before blinking himself out of it and smiling, "Did I wake you? The door flew out in the wind before I could catch it."

I shook my head, my heart still hammering from the surprise, "No. I was already awake, don't worry."

"I'm not surprised." He nodded to my face, his smile softening, "You're still a little pink." I put a hand to one cheek, feeling it warm beneath my fingers, "Or maybe that's just my presence."

I dropped the hand, giving him a look and he laughed, soft in the silence of the hotel. 

"Well anyway," He shrugged one shoulder, giving me another smile, "I'd better - you know, Grace is - anyway. I'd better go. Just thought I'd check on you, after everything."

"Thank you," I smiled back, "It's appreciated." 

"Good. Glad to hear it." He started to turn away, "And I really am pleased you're alright David."

He'd said so before, after Brody had questioned him, but it seemed different now. As though there was something else he wanted to say but had thought better of it.

It was strange, I thought, watching the expressions flit across his face. I'd only known Strachan for such a short while and yet I felt as though I'd known him forever, that I knew all his nuances and his tells like the back of my hand. I knew he wanted to say more but I watched as he changed his mind and waved a hand in goodbye.

"Goodnight." He said. I repeated it back to him and shut the door once he was down the stairs, taking in a deep breath and shutting my eyes. My heart was still hammering, though the shock had long since faded, and when I wondered why I noticed that my cheeks were still warm as well. 

Or maybe that's just my presence.

I rolled my eyes at myself, turning away from the door to head back to bed, when it suddenly opened again and I found myself staring at Strachan for a second time. He looked even more flushed than before, panting, and he seemed torn for just a second before he crossed the space between us and kissed me. 

My mind stuttered and I sank into it, the tension in my body vanishing as though this had been all it had waited for. Strachan's hands slid up my back, pulling me closer, and though it hurt from the mild burns I had, I didn't push him away. I lifted my own hands instead, cupping his face and drawing him in closer. 

He kissed like he was desperate to, like we were lovers meeting after years of separation, like he'd not kissed anyone he'd wanted to in an age. I felt much the same if I was honest, gasping into his mouth. But then I remembered Jenny and my stomach dropped. 

Oh God. 

I pulled away, stepping back and looking down, pressing my lips together. I could hear Strachan breathing, could hear it change as he realised why I'd stopped, and then there was a rustle as he backed up as well. 


I swallowed, glancing up to see him running a hand through his hair, looking pained. "You should go." I whispered and he met my gaze, something burning in it. 

"David - "

"It's okay." I put a hand up, "Grace will be wondering where you are. And Ellen might ... " I didn't finish, feeling dirty as it was without making this all sound like such a secret.

Strachan nodded, still looking torn, "Yeah. Grace." He sighed deeply, "Grace." 

I waited for him to start to leave, to smile again and wave this all off, but he didn't move. 

"Strachan - " I stepped forward.

"No you're right," He stopped me, "I should go. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to put you in this position, I just - I'm sorry." I had no idea what to say to that and simply watched as he turned and left for a second time this night. 

This time, however, he didn't come back.

I lay in bed until dawn thinking about it, touching my lip in memory of his over them. My phone was a dead weight beside me and I tried Jenny's number as a way to appease my guilt, shutting my eyes when she didn't answer yet again. 

By morning I was exhausted but clearer headed, knowing I'd made the right decision. Even if Jenny and I weren't together, having some sort of fling with Michael Strachan would be such a conflict considering why I was here in the first place. 

Though I didn't suspect him, my character analysis had been wrong before, and I knew that I should be smarter than this. 

And yet still, when Jenny finally told me that 'we're over' the next day, something I'd been expecting and knew was coming, I went to Strachan's while Grace was at the school, for something I wasn't sure I should ask for but wanted. 

He let me in as soon as he saw me, offered me a drink and a meal, and I woke the next morning in his bed once again. Only this time, it wasn't due to a tumble down the hill and a dislocated shoulder, and I didn't wake up alone in bed either. 

Michael had an arm slung over my waist, the smell of us filling the room, and though I wanted nothing more than to stay here and lie beside him, there was a murder inquiry I was a part of and I had work to do.

Days later, however, as I stared at the smoldering remains of the hotel seconds after it had exploded, I wish I'd stayed just a few minutes more. Just long enough to have kissed him at least one last time.