The next morning, it was ten-thirty before Bruce and Rachel eased their way down to a late breakfast. Both had silk robes on over flannel pajamas, and their slippers made slight scuffing noises as they made their way into the sun room.
Rachel was feeling the aftereffects of a little too much French bubbly the night before. As for Bruce, he was just tired. He hadn’t been able to sleep much because his body was used to patrolling the streets of Gotham City in the wee hours of the morning instead of sleeping. They looked around the light-filled, east-facing room, but only saw a member of the kitchen staff, who was waiting to take their breakfast orders, and the table, which was set for two.
Bruce gestured to the table and asked the servant, “Mike? Why are there only two places set? I have guests today, so there should be four.”
“Mr. Kent came down almost an hour ago, Mr. Wayne.” The man’s look was apologetic, but not scared, as his employers were well-known for being mild-mannered. “He put in an order for two, asked for a breakfast tray, and took his order back upstairs. A minute later, Elise came in here and cleared away the extra place settings.”
“Breakfast in bed,” Rachel said, “what a romantic way to spend the morning.” Bruce didn’t even need to look her way to know she was giving him the eye. I can’t believe this, Bruce thought, being shown up in my own house by a guy who’s only had a girlfriend for two weeks.
Bruce turned to Rachel, who was looking at him expectantly, and asked, “Dearest? What would you like for breakfast?”
“Two slices of French toast, four strips of maple-smoked bacon, two scrambled eggs, milk, orange juice, coffee, and the morning paper.” She reached up and pinched Bruce’s cheek. “Think you can handle that, Big Guy?”
Bruce had to bite his lip to keep from saying the first thing that came to mind. He reminded himself that he’d never been attracted to shrinking violets. After waiting until the count of five, he said, “You just go on back to bed, Rachel, and I’ll be up to join you as soon as the kitchen staff completes our order.”
Bruce and Rachel kissed once, slowly and sweetly, before she headed back to the master suite. Bruce kept his eyes riveted on his wife as she sauntered down the hallway, still impressed with her beauty, even as she neared forty. He turned back to the waiting servant and then added his own order to the one Rachel had just made. “And I’m definitely going to need a breakfast tray to go with that, too.”
The order was assembled and ready for Bruce to carry upstairs in no time at all. As soon as Alfred brought Bruce a fresh copy of the Gotham Gazette, he was on his way. He’d almost made it to the stairs when Mike came running up behind him.
“Mr. Wayne, stop!” Mike gasped. Bruce stopped and waited for the man to catch his breath. “I almost forgot. When Mr. Kent took his tray upstairs, he took a rose with him. It was fresh from the greenhouse, but all I heard was him mumbling something about there not being any irises.”
Bruce muttered, “Showoff!” and handed the tray to Mike. “Here, please hold this for a bit. It seems I need to go the greenhouse.”
Bruce almost ran the whole way so he could get something nice without letting the breakfast cool off. He made it back with a rose of his own, picked up the breakfast tray, and climbed the stairs without spilling anything.
As he passed by Clark and Lana’s suite, he saw that the door was cracked open just a bit. He could hear that the television was on, and he was about to set down his tray and close the door for them, when he heard Clark say, “Oh yeah, Baby…just like that…right there…you really know what you’re doing…such wonderful hands. Now, just a little bit higher…move your hands around a little bit…awww, yeah, that’s it. Love the way you use those nails.”
Bruce cringed at that last statement and backed away from the door before he heard anything more. I guess impenetrable flesh has other uses besides stopping bullets, he mused. But what, exactly, I don’t want to know.
At that moment, Clark and Lana were in their bedroom enjoying themselves, but not the way Bruce thought. Neither one was wearing anything other than what God gave them, with the one exception being Lana’s engagement ring. She wasn’t taking that off for anything. Clark was lying flat on his chest and Lana was straddling his waist. His hands were folded together beneath his chin as he watched the Fiesta Bowl Parade on TV, while Lana was scratching his back. She'd leaned forward slightly to allow her to reach his entire back, but her eyes were focused on the parade, so he had to give her directions to get her hands in just the right places.
“Oh jeez, Lana. You have just the right touch for scratching my back. I haven’t felt anything that good since…” Clark pretended he couldn’t remember.
“Since?” Lana prodded, emphasizing her word with a rake of her fingernails down his back.
“Since we stepped out of the shower this morning.”
“That’s what I thought.”
Watching the parade had been Lana’s idea. She’d always liked the bright colors and pageantry of the big parades, and was looking forward to the Rose Parade, which was coming up next. She figured Rachel might be up by then and they could watch that one together.
Lana had been drying and styling her hair after her lengthy escapade with Clark in the shower, when he'd surprised her by bringing in a large breakfast for them to share in bed. That had led to them feeding each other waffles, which were dripping with Vermont maple syrup, and slightly runny eggs sunny side up. The ensuing mess had necessitated a few minutes of mutual clean up in the bathroom before the parade started.
When the parade finally reached its end, Lana was sitting on an Ottoman while Clark sat behind her on the edge of the bed and carefully brushed out her silky brown hair. As the credits rolled, Clark dressed in a green Polo-style shirt and blue jeans, while Lana pulled on a white, cable-knit, crewneck sweater and blue jeans.
On their way out the door of their suite, Lana picked up her rose to enjoy both the scent, and the thoughtfulness that had caused Clark to pick it in the first place. As he pulled the door closed behind them, Bruce and Rachel came out of their suite, both sporting that special glow that Clark and Lana had only recently come to recognize.
“Looks like someone got lucky,” Clark murmured to Lana. He’d said it softly, but Bruce heard it anyway. All he did was grin as Lana lightly slapped Clark’s shoulder.
Bruce was dressed all in black, as usual, from slacks to fitted t-shirt, while Rachel had on an old sweatshirt and blue jeans. Rachel, too, was carrying her flower, while Bruce was holding a rolled-up portion of the morning paper.
The two women beamed when each saw the other carrying a rose. Lana was happy for Rachel that Bruce still cared enough to do the little things for her, while Rachel was pleased that Lana finally had a man who was worthy of her. Bruce waved Clark to a stop, and the four of them held an impromptu meeting in the otherwise empty hallway.
“What’s up?” Clark asked. Lana moved to his side and slipped an arm around one of his. Rachel stepped next to Bruce and wrapped one of her arms around his lower back.
“Yesterday,” Bruce said, “we got some news that you two will be highly interested in. We decided to not tell you last night because we didn’t want to mess up the evening you had planned.”
“Okay,” Lana said. “What’s the news?”
“Morgan Edge was killed in prison yesterday.”
Clark and Lana both paused in disbelief, and then had reactions which were diametric opposites: he was jubilant, she was angry. Clark quickly picked up on Lana’s anger, but found himself completely unable to stop smiling. Edge is dead! he thought. Lana should be safe! YES!
Lana muttered a couple of choice swear words under her breath before looking up at Bruce and asking, “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I’ve got some connections and they confirmed it yesterday. If you want to check for yourself, however, you can use my laptop and check the online edition of the Daily Planet.”
Lana thought about taking him up on his offer for a second, but finally declined. “I’m sure you’re right.” Right then, she noticed the ear-to-ear grin on Clark’s face, and snapped, “What the hell are you so freaking happy about?”
“He’s dead, Lana.”
“I know, I wanted to put his worthless ass on death row.”
“Looks like someone expedited the process for you.”
Clark knew as soon as the words came out of his mouth, that he’d said the wrong thing. Lana unlinked her arm from his and stepped back from him. Her brows knitted together and her lips formed a tight line as her arms folded together across her chest…though she still held the rose in the fingers of one hand. When Clark moved forward to try and comfort her, she stepped back again. Bruce and Rachel slipped quietly down the hall, figuring they’d let the young couple deal with their current situation without an audience.
“I know you’ve put in a lot of work on this case the last three weeks,” Clark said, “as has your staff, and I know you were looking forward to doing your job and putting scum like Edge away for good. I’m sorry for you.” Lana looked up at Clark. “But look at it from my perspective. People were trying to kill you, to kill my fiancée, because Edge was alive but in jail. Can’t you see how his death might make me happy? You should be in the clear now, free from future assassination attempts. I’m not just happy, I’m ecstatic!”
The fact that Clark had recognized and understood why she was mad had mollified Lana somewhat, and she’d smiled, inadvertently, when he’d called her his fiancée. And, she had to admit that his reason for being happy was just. She knew she’d be thrilled if someone who was the cause of attacks on Clark’s life happened to die. So this time, she didn’t resist when Clark tried to take her into his arms.
His arms went around her shoulders, and hers went around the middle of his back, as they stood in the middle of the hallway. No crying was involved, but Lana was able to lean on Clark and let her aggravation and tension bleed away.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you, Clark,” Lana said quietly.
“That’s okay, Baby,” Clark replied, “you’d just received an unexpected shock. Things like that can throw even the best of us off stride for a little while.”
“That’s still not an excuse.” Lana got an impish look on her face as one of her hands slipped in between them and began to glide up Clark’s chest. “Maybe I can make it up to you.”
Clark wasn’t sure where this was going, but he wasn’t about to stop it. “What do you have in mind?”
Lana’s exploring hand toyed with the buttons on Clark’s shirt. “Oh…I don’t know…maybe some more of what you got last night.”
Last night had been an experience, for both of them. Lana had attacked him the moment he'd closed the door to their suite behind them. He’d been expecting more foreplay, but Lana had been eager for something more. When he’d asked her about it much later, she’d explained that she likes foreplay as much as any woman, both because it’s lots of fun in its own right, and because it helps stoke her fire for the lovemaking to come later.
In this case, however, she’d said that she didn’t need any additional ‘stoking’ because she had been as wound up as she could get by the time they’d left the ballroom. She’d gone on to explain that the entire night had been foreplay for her, from the moment she’d seen him in his white tie and tails.
“The way you treated me all night long made me feel special, made me feel loved. After getting to admire how handsome you were in that tux, you started off by being so perfect during the cocktail hour. I’d always dreamed of being able to show off my boyfriend to my friends and acquaintances, and here was my big chance. And there you were, being attentive, charming, and polite to everyone I introduced you to. I was so proud to be with you. I swear that half of my old girlfriends were happy for me, while the other half wanted to steal you from me.
“Then came dinner. Once again, you managed to charm both of the women you sat with. But what really got me there were those little looks you kept shooting my way. They were just enough to let me know that even though you were with them, you were still thinking of me.
“And in the ballroom after dinner, you showed yourself to be a much better dancer than you’ve ever let on. I think I could have danced the whole night with you and been happy. But when I took the time to dance with some of my old friends, you didn’t show the least touch of jealousy…and yet, you were still attentive enough to save me from Lex.
“Then came that amazing proposal. I felt so loved, and so lucky to be with you, that I wanted nothing more than to share that love with you. And what better way to express emotions that have no words, than by using my body to show you what I was feeling.
“I didn’t need any foreplay, Clark. You were the foreplay, just by being you.”