"Logan, what do you think about the up-coming trial?"
"Itíll be better than OJ," Logan sneered as he pushed through the crowd of reporters on the steps of the courthouse where heíd had to testify in the latest of an unending parade of pre-trial motions by his fatherís lawyer.
"Mental incompetence, my ass," he snarled, finally making it to his car and starting the engine, wondering if heíd share a cell with Aaron if he mowed down a few of the journalists who were now surrounding the SUV.
Having made her escape earlier, Veronica watched him from the safety of her car halfway down the block, out of the reportersí line of sightóor at least far enough for them not to scent the blood. As Logan pulled away, without any incidents of vehicular manslaughter though it had looked close to her a couple of times, she followed him, flicking her lights to attract his attention once they were away from the courthouse.
Picking up his phone, Logan hit the speed-dial. "And how was your day, dear?" he asked, his voice dripping with sappiness.
"Oh, you know, testifying in court, attacked by reporters, ignored by Duncan... same old same old." Veronica sighed. "Make my day; tell me Iím number one on your speed dial."
"Sorry, no one beats out twenty-four hour sushi delivery, but it was a close call," he answered, smiling in spite of the remains of the dayís tension that were still with him. Out of all the things that had happened over the last few months, rebuilding this relationship was the one good thing that had come about.
"Beaten by raw fish," she said despondently, trying not to laugh as she passed him. "You realize youíre going to pay for that, right?"
Logan sighed theatrically, though he was still smiling. "Go easy on me; Iím on a fixed budget now."
She snorted. "Gee, you wonít be able to get me that original Monet I wanted for my bedroom?"
"I do know where you can get some leopard print cushions, cheap..."
"Logan, Iím easy, not cheap. Iím holding out for that teddy bear we talked about."
"Veronica, if there is one thing you are not, itís easy," Logan said wryly as he pulled up to a stop light behind her. "So, where are we going, anyway?"
"Um, well, you realize my dad knows weíre dating again, right?" She glanced in the rearview mirror and met his eyes. "And I cook. Sort of."
"Mmm, grilled food and a grilling by the dad, sounds tasty."
"I promise I hid his bullets."
"Promise to save me if he finds them?"
"Iíll selflessly throw myself in front of you if that happens." She laughed suddenly. "Just donít let him see you groping me."
Logan chuckled. "All gropage will be covert," he promised. "And in case you donít want to cook, I have the number of this really good sushi place..."
"Very funny, Echolls," she growled. "Just for that, youíre doing the dishes. With my dad!"
He winced. "Hrmmm, maybe I should take my chances with the reporters..."
"And miss dessert?"
"Drive, Veronica," Logan laughed, "weíll talk about that later."
She laughed as well before hanging up to concentrate on her driving. It was only a few minutes before they pulled up outside the apartment. Veronica was surprised to notice that Mrs. Fennelís car was there; apparently it was going to be a full family dinner since neither she nor her dad had let the other know that they were bringing a date. Wallace was probably there as well.
Stepping out of the car, she walked toward Logan and nodded at the car. "Wallaceís mom. Which probably means Wallace too."
"We can do dinner another time," he offered, doubting it would be a calm evening no matter who was there. "Youíll owe me dessert."
"Iíd really like you to stay." Veronica moved close enough to slide her arms around him, a soft, involuntary sigh of contentment escaping her as she leaned into him.
He leaned back against the Land Rover, his arms tightening around her as well. "You know, watching your father and Wallaceís mother making googly eyes at each other isnít going to be good for my ulcer."
"Theyíre usually not too bad as long as you donít leave them alone in a room together. If that happens, well, walking back in isnít pretty." She grinned. "But Iím sure I could distract you."
He chuckled and kissed the side of her head, breathing in the scent of her blonde hair. "Hrmmm, why am I now hoping they start making out at the table?"
She burst into laughter. "If they do, youíll be the one distracting me. And then we can both give Wallace CPR!"
Logan looked horrified. "Thereís no way Iím giving him mouth-to-mouth!"
By now she was laughing so hard she nearly choked. "You can practice your technique on me. But weíd better go in before Dad comes out to get us." Despite her words, she didnít move away from him.
"Maybe heíll send Backup; the reception would be friendlier." Logan kissed Veronicaís forehead and loosened his hold on her, though he caught her hand as they moved apart.
Sliding her fingers through his, Veronica smiled up at him as they started up to the door. "Youíll survive. You have to; I have plans for later."
Loganís eyebrows rose. "Why am I now worried?" he asked wryly as they entered the apartment and the calls of welcome died off.
"Hey, Dad, one more for dinner," Veronica said, meeting her fatherís gaze, her grasp tightening on Loganís hand.
"So I see." Keith Mars wiped his hands on a towel and nodded at the pair. "Logan, I hope you like lasagna."
"Sounds great." Logan smiled, appearing unconcerned. "Better than whatever Iíd order in."
"Sounds like cooking lessons are in order," Veronica said cheerfully.
Her father eyed her askance, well aware that she was trying to make him feel for Logan. And he did. That young man had gone through things that no one should have to. But that didnít change the fact that he wasnít the most stable person around and he was much closer to Veronica than Keith cared for.
"You have him making the cookies for my Spirit Box next year and weíre going to have words," Wallace called from the living room where heíd been keeping his brother out of trouble.
"Thereís nothing wrong with a man who knows how to cook," Alicia Fennel put in as she reached around Keith to put the garlic bread in the oven. "In fact, itís sexy."
"Thereís something very wrong with a man baking cookies for me," Wallace said emphatically, making Veronica laugh.
"Guess youíd better not make any dessert for Wallace, Dad."
"Who said there was any dessert?" Keith asked as he tossed the salad.
"Just what kind of place is this?" Logan asked Veronica, envying her the closeness of her family. "No dessert?"
"Since weíre going out later for dessert, you donít need to worry. Plus Iím pretty sure Dadís got something up his sleeve."
Keith shook his head and held his arms out, showing them the bare forearms and tight t-shirt sleeves. "Nothing up here, honey." He shot a look at Veronica, wondering about her dessert plans, but he only got an angelic gaze in return.
Logan looked away from the still red scars on Keithís forearms and was relieved when Backup ambled over to sniff his pants. "Donít worry," he said, squatting down and rubbing the dogís ears. "You can have mine here."
Wallace followed the dog in, eyeing the others. "So, howíd it go today?"
Veronicaís hand settled comfortingly on Loganís shoulder. "About what we expected. Heís trying the insanity angle."
Keith brushed a hand over Veronicaís arm, needing to touch her just then to remind himself that she was still alive, that Aaron Echolls hadnít taken her from him.
"Yup, more of my dad ranting that he wasnít in his right mind and his expensive psychiatrists saying heís emotionally disturbed," Logan said, not looking up from where he was rubbing Backupís brown fur. "In other words, complete bullshit."
Hearing the tight, controlled tone, Veronica sank down to her knees and wrapped her arms around Logan, holding him close. "Heís not going to get off on a technicality," she whispered. "He admitted to me that he killed Lilly, and he tried to kill me too. Heís going down."
Logan gave a low laugh. "One way or another he is."
"Thereís no way the judge is buying that; this will go to trial." Keith brought the knife down on a tomato with excessive force as he spoke.
"I donít think the tomato did it, Dad," Veronica said wryly.
"Anyone want some juice?" Alicia asked, gently removing the mashed tomato from in front of Keith and setting another in its place.
"I coulda had a V-8," Wallace quipped, trying to ease the emotional tension in the room.
Veronica and Keith both snickered. "Iím sure we could find one for you, Wallace," Veronica replied from her position in Loganís arms.
"Matter of fact thereís one in my car, want to get it? Iím sure youíd look great on the news," Logan offered, straightening up and bringing Veronica with him.
"No, thatís fine. Milkíll do me," Wallace replied, brandishing the glass he had. "Thatís gotta suck, being followed everywhere you go."
"I canít help it if Iím beautiful," Logan shrugged, giving a wry smile.
Wallace snorted while Veronica turned to face Logan. "Are you saying youíre prettier than me?"
Before Logan could answer, Keith cleared his throat, and he grinned. "Only if youíre saying youíre more masculine than me."
Veronica looked from one to the other and shook her head. "Youíre both nuts."
"Which explains everything," Alicia smiled. "Now if you kids want to eat, set the table."
Veronica rolled her eyes at Logan but went to get the dishes, and they worked together companionably. She darted a glance at her dad, meeting his eyes, and she smiled slightly even as she leaned into the arm Logan put around her shoulders.
Wallace looked at the couple and shook his head. "You two start macking in here and Iím so ratting you out."
Veronica stuck her tongue out at him, glad that he had been okay with her and Logan once she told him about it herself. "Jealousy will get you nowhere."
Logan chuckled. "I could set you up with my sister..."
Veronica whacked his arm. "Hey! Wallace is my friend."
"Ow!" Logan winced. "Okay, okay, I wouldnít sic Trina on Weevil, let alone your bud."
Wallace shook his head and pushed around them to set the glasses on the table. "Why do I think I should be thanking you?"
"Because you should," Veronica told him. "And for the record, Weevilís a friend too, Logan."
"Considering he pulled me off that rail and I puked on him, I wasnít counting him as an enemy," Logan remarked.
"Well, that certainly helped my appetite - puke-coated Weevil..." Wallace muttered.
Veronica snickered. "He didnít mention that to me."
"I canít imagine why; Iím sure it was a fond memory."
She made a face. "I have a feeling you may be the next person I find taped to the flagpole."
"If he was going to do that, it would have been done a long time ago," Logan answered. "Unless heís saving it for the first day of senior year."
After a moment of silence, Veronica said hurriedly, "Iíll make sure to have a talk with him this summer."
Wallace nodded. "Trust me, it isnít fun."
"You kids done with the table?" Keith called.
"All set. All we need now is food," Veronica replied. "Is it ready yet?" she pretended to whine.
Keith came into the small dining room, carrying a steaming tray of lasagna. "Voila!"
Wallaceís brother rocketed to the table from the television. "Finally!"
Alicia followed him in with a basket of garlic bread, which she set down on the table before seating herself. Veronica drew Logan to one side of the table, making sure that they would end up sitting next to each other, with her between Logan and her dad.
"Gee, it smells great." Logan rubbed his hands together as he sat.
Keith gave him an almost approving look for that. And despite his reservations, he saw that Veronica was much open and relaxed around Logan than sheíd been since Lilly died, so the kid couldnít be all bad.
Once the food was served, everyone dug in, and the conversation shifted to more mundane things, something Logan was grateful for.
The meal was almost over before Keith suddenly said, his eyes intent on Logan, "Donít ever forget, Logan, that Veronica is my only daughter, and Iím very protective of her."
Veronica groaned a protest and buried her face in her hands, hoping this was some weird dream.
Logan looked around the table, then at Keith Mars, nodding carefully. "Yes, sir, I understand, but Iím more worried about what Veronica would do if I fu- messed up."
Keith considered him for a long moment before breaking into a grin. "Smart boy."
"Damn right," Wallace murmured.
Veronica just smirked and helped herself to another bite of lasagna. But under the table her free hand was slowly petting Loganís thigh, gradually creeping higher, though not too high. Yet.
Logan tensed his thigh under Veronicaís hand and forced himself to keep eating while trying to listen to the conversation around him.
Letting her hand come to a rest just below where his penis lay against his thigh, Veronica lightly kneaded the tight muscle.
"This is really good," Logan mumbled around a mouthful of lasagna.
"The Mars secret recipe," Keith said proudly.
"Double the cheese," Alicia and Veronica chorused.
Keith eyed them. "Would you like to put an ad in the paper?"
Veronica pretended to consider it. "No, not if you make it for us again next week." She smiled sweetly.
"And cookies," Wallace added.
"Throwing me over for my dad, oh the shame," Veronica sniffled. "You still love me, donít you, Logan?"
"What kind of cookies?"
Veronicaís head whipped around so fast that her short blonde hair whipped across his cheek. "Thatís not the right answer, loverboy."
"I have to agree with Veronica," Alicia laughed.
"Hrmmm, I take it back," Logan said quickly.
She still glared at him, looking a lot more ferocious than Backup ever managed.
"Should have quit while you were ahead," Wallace murmured.
"A lesson for all you men," Alicia commented.
"Groveling. Possibly flowers," Keith advised sagely.
"Mind if I make a call?" Logan asked.
"Go right ahead," Keith said while everyone watched curiously, even the youngest Fennel, who finally looked up from the meal heíd been shoveling in.
"Thank you, Mr. Mars," Logan smiled before pushing back from the table and going outside to use his cell phone.
"You tell him what kind of flowers you want, Veronica?" Wallace asked.
She snorted while Alicia rolled her eyes. "No, Wallace," Veronica explained in pitying tones, "he has to get it right on his own." She smiled. "But I donít think thatís going to be a problem."
Having seen the look in the young manís eyes when he looked at Veronica, Alicia had to agree as she laughed.
Wallace snickered. "The boy is gone."
Logan came back in and looked around the table. "Should I even ask?"
Keith shook his head. "Not if you want to stay sane."
Veronica leaned close when heíd sat back down and kissed him lightly, mindful of her father next to her. "Youíre one of a kind, Logan Echolls."
"I think Iíll take that as a compliment." He grinned and took a drink of his soda.
"It was meant as one."
Watching them, Keith Mars frowned, seeing much more than he was comfortable with in their relationship but knowing that Veronica had to make her own choices, and Logan seemed to be her choice.
"Only one youíre getting here, so enjoy it," Wallace laughed as he reached for more food.
Logan pretended to frown. "Iím wounded to the core."
Veronica grinned. "Would another piece of bread help heal you?"
"Does it have extra butter?"
"For you, of course." She ignored Wallaceís gagging noises across the table.
"Have lots of garlic," Keith urged.
"Keith!" Alicia exclaimed at the same instant.
Logan had to smirk. "Have a bite, Veronica," he offered, holding the bread out to her.
With a quick, defiant look at her father, Veronica took the offered bite, her eyes meeting Loganís with a silent promise for later.
"I should have put whole cloves on it," Keith muttered before wincing when Alicia hit his leg.
"Iím really getting a sugar overdose here, guys," Wallace complained.
Rolling her eyes, Veronica sat back. "No dessert for you then."
"Hey!" he exclaimed. "No fair!"
She laughed. "Well, maybe Dadíll take pity on you. Logan and I are going out for ours."
"And where are you going?" Keith asked casually.
Logan shook his head. "No idea, but Iím sure Veronica will tell me when we get there."
"Donít worry, Dad, Iíll get Logan home before he turns into a pumpkin."
"And sheíll bring my glass slippers too."
Keith stared at them both. "I hate to say it, but I think you deserve each other."
Veronica smiled softly. "I already knew that, Dad."
"You know, this bodes very badly for the rest of us," Wallace sighed.
"You find yourself a girl and then weíll talk," Alicia smiled.
"Iíd rather have a barf bag right now," Wallace muttered, making Veronica throw a piece of bread at him.
"Mom! Theyíre throwing food!" Darrell giggled.
"Which you wonít ever do," Alicia said in commanding mom voice.
Darrell sighed, causing all the teens to snicker.
Keith nodded. "If you do, Backup will eat it and then heíll get sick."
"And you donít want to clean that up," Logan smirked.
Veronica made a face. "Suddenly, Iím not hungry any more."
"Trust me, Veronica, you donít need to diet," Logan said, earning himself a sharp look from Keith.
She smiled. "Iím going to assume that was a compliment and not you telling me Iím too skinny." She gave Wallace a dangerous look when he snickered before her attention returned to Logan.
Logan opened his mouth, then closed it again. "Youíre perfect, dear," he parroted, making Alicia laugh.
Veronica widened her eyes comically and looked at Alicia. "Men are trainable."
Keith sighed. "Thereís no hope, boys; we are the weaker sex."
"Our work here is done," Veronica announced, making Alicia burst into laughter while her two sons stared at her with horrified amazement.
Wallace darted a look at Logan. "Want to go play some hoops, man?"
Logan groaned. "This is one of those Ďdamned if I do, damned if I donítí situations."
"Go play for a while," Veronica laughed. "I still have to help clean up before we go out. Iíll let you know when Iím done."
"Whipped," Wallace observed, making sure he was out of Veronicaís reach.
Logan stood, waiting until Veronica was in the kitchen before grinning. "But itís a hell of a way to go."
Wallace stared at him, then looked after Veronica, looking at her as a girl rather than a friend for a change. Finally, he grinned. "No arguments here."
Keith looked down at the plates in his hand, then over at the women. "So I get to play basketball too, right?"
Alicia laughed and shooed him away while Logan and Wallace exchanged horrified looks.
"Your father sandbags," Logan announced when Veronica came out half an hour later.
"Duh," she replied, grinning.
He snorted. "Must be genetic."
"Who, me?" She batted her eyes at him.
"Yes, you." He pulled her into a hug against his sweaty shirt.
She wrinkled her nose, but she still leaned into him, her hands going to his shoulders. "Good thing I was thinking of the beach for dessert; you can take a swim."
"Gonna join me?" he asked, waggling his eyebrows.
"Maybe," she said softly, not looking away.
"Guess youíd better grab a suit then, no burning tender areas." Logan ran a hand down Veronicaís back as he spoke.
"I could always just put you between me and the sun."
His eyebrows rose. "Sounds tasty, but remember, I have my own press posse lately."
She made a face. "Weíll have to find a secluded spot then since my plans only include the two of us."
"Not complaining about the idea in the least, but finding a secluded spot on a public beach? Unlikely."
Veronica sighed. "Running away to Tijuana is sounding better and better. Any ideas where we can be alone together and private?"
"Planning on taking advantage of me, Ms. Mars?" Logan asked, grinning. "And thereís always the Camelot..." His grin widened at her expression. "I take it thatís a no, eh?"
"Those flowers you ordered? Better be taller than I am," she warned, shaking her head at him. "Keep it up and youíll be begging to share Wallaceís dessert."
He chuckled and leaned in closer to murmur in her ear. "You know I love it when you talk dirty to me."
A shiver chased down her spine, and Veronica leaned into him. "Actions speak louder than words."
"So... you want me to demonstrate my ring-tossing ability then? The boardwalk it is."
"Oooo, you mean Iím going to get my very own bear, won for me by my boyfriend?" Veronica batted her lashes at him and simpered, barely managing not to laugh.
"Only if you can handle the display of masculinity," Logan snickered, waggling his eyebrows.
She burst into laughter. "Iíll let you know after I have my bear," she finally got out when the peels tapered off to occasional giggles.
Logan gave a lecherous leer. "Come on over to the car, and Iíll give you something better than a bear."
Still giggling, Veronica started toward the car. "So far youíre all talk and no action," she taunted.
"Iím wounded!" Logan exclaimed, opening the driverís side door of the SUV and retrieving a silver-toned box from it. "I believe I owed you flowers, Ms. Mars?"
Surprised and curious, Veronica took the box and opened it, inhaling sharply when she saw the contents. "Oh Logan, theyíre beautiful," she whispered, reaching out with a fingertip to stroke the surface of the crystal flowers, a lily and a wild rose, that lay within. She wasnít sure if he intended the symbolism of the flowers, but she was touched by it and rose to her tiptoes to kiss him lightly.
He couldnít help beaming at her pleasure in the gift. "Well, you know, you arenít the only one with contacts around."
"I think I like yours better." She looked down at the flowers again, smiling wryly. "A lily and a rose, Logan? Iím glad something like, oh, I donít know, Mars, would just look like a ball so didnít interest you," she teased.
He grinned and tweaked her nose. "It was the thorns on the rose; damn lifelike, donít you think? Theyíll get you if you arenít careful." He paused, then kissed the spot heíd tweaked. "So, should I call you Rose, and we can look for the prow of a ship to dangle off of?"
She made gagging noises. "Call me Rose and youíll really find out about my thorns!" she threatened.
"And your taser, Iím sure, now go take your flowers in the house like a good girl, and then weíll go find rings for me to toss."
Her eyebrows rose at the Ďgood girlí, but she let it slide. This time. "Iíll just be a minute," she promised as she headed inside, holding the box carefully.
Once inside though, she had to stop long enough to show the flowers to Alicia, knowing the older woman would appreciate them.
"Well, it may not be private, but a crowd is a good way to be alone together," Logan commented as they walked down the crowded boardwalk, avoiding families, tourists and locals, arm in arm. "So, should we go make out on the ferris wheel?"
"Are you going to climb it to get my attention?"
"Actually, I was figuring on doing that by getting us stuck at the top."
"Oh, sneaky. I like that in a man." Veronica grinned at him.
Digging in his pocket for his wallet, Logan paid for the tickets, and they joined the line for the ferris wheel, inching forward behind a sun-burned family from somewhere in the corn belt.
"Gee, I wonder how we can pass the time till we get on the ride," Veronica murmured. She turned to face him, her hands sliding up to his shoulders, and smiled wickedly. "Any ideas?"
"Scintillating conversation?" Logan asked, moving his hands to her hips, and he leaned in, his lips brushing against Veronicaís before their tongues slid together.
"Non verbal communication," she replied some time later, ignoring the family in front of them muttering about Ďteenagersí. "The very best kind."
"You hear me complaining?" Logan asked, holding her tight against him and nuzzling his way down her jaw to her neck. Theyíd somehow managed to move up in the line without letting go of each other, and it was only when the attendant asked for the tickets that he sighed and released Veronica so they could climb into the seat.
As soon as they were seated, Veronica slid closer, worming her way under his arm and nestling against him. "I love how we fit together," she said happily, tilting her head back to smile up at him. For a moment she looked as open and carefree as sheíd been before everything started to go wrong.
"As long as weíre not standing," Logan teased, rubbing his thumb over the bare skin of her arm. The sudden lurch of the wheel as it moved to allow more people on threw them against the back of the seat, and they both laughed. Taking advantage of the semi-private setting, Logan half-turned in the seat, pulling Veronica against him and kissing her, for the moment leaving everything else behind.
The next lurch pulled them out of the kiss, and they laughed again. "Are you telling me that Iím not worth bending down for?" Veronica challenged, returning to Loganís last remark while licking her lips to taste him.
He shook his head and licked where she had. "Promise to rub my back when it gets sore?"
"Iíll rub anything you like."
The ferris wheel moved again, carrying them higher into the night sky, and Logan pulled back, looking amused. "Now that would be a new headline for the rags, wouldnít it?" Realizing he didnít want to go where that led, Logan grinned and shifted his hand to Veronicaís side. "So, you rub me, and Iíll rub you, and weíll both get off of this thing sweaty and frustratedóyour father will love it."
"Then maybe we should plan to go somewhere else for a while before I go home tonight," Veronica suggested.
"Back to that universal question of where..." Logan sighed dramatically. There was a place, but there was no way he was taking Veronica back to his parentsí house, not after everything that had happened thereóbad enough he was still living there.
She sighed as well. "Well, the back seat and off road spots work for other people. Since my dadís not due to go out of town for a while."
Logan paused and then shook his head. "You deserve better than that."
"Okay, so itís not exactly my first choice, but this is getting frustrating," she groaned. "I want to be with you, Logan."
"You are. We are, thatís all that counts. Where we are..." He shrugged and kissed her temple. "Does it really matter?"
She laughed wryly. "I thought it was supposed to be the guy pushing for sex and the girl backing off."
"Who ever said this was a normal relationship?"
"For us, this is normal," she laughed again, letting her head rest on his shoulder. "But I want to figure this out. As far as my memoryís concerned, this is my first time weíre talking about, and I want it to be with you and soon."
Logan was silent for a moment as he leaned his face against Veronicaís hair. "It should mean something, Veronica, not just be anywhere."
"But thatís just it. It will mean something because itís you. Right now, my sole experience with sex is a night I donít remember that I thought was rape." Her voice shook. "I want a real memory, one that I choose."
"Hey, Iím not saying no," Logan murmured, rubbing her back as he held her close. "If you havenít figured it out by now, Iím pretty damn into the idea myself, just, not in the back of the car." He grinned against her hair, trying to lighten the mood. "Though if you talked Weevil out of his bike, that might work."
She burst into laughter, as heíd intended. "Maybe in the future, but I draw the line at that for my first memory." She shook her head. "Thereís always your house," she said tentatively.
"The number one tourist attraction in southern California," he said dryly.
"You do have a gate."
He sighed, though he was smiling slightly. "Has anyone ever told you that youíre very determined? Though maybe we should pick Backup up on the way there."
Her eyebrows rose. "And are you going to explain to my dad why we need him and how long Iíll be?"
Logan blanched. "So youíll protect me from the big, bad reporters?" he asked, batting his eyelashes at her.
"Of course I will. I have prior claim on you, and Iím not sharing."
That led to another kiss that only broke when the attendant cleared his throat and Logan pulled back, realizing the ride had stopped again and they needed to get out. "Told you I should have rigged it," he murmured as they climbed out of the car.
"Ah, but then weíd be stuck up there, and we wouldnít be able to go anywhere. Which we canít anyway until I get my bear!"
"Gotcha, one bear coming right up."
Fifteen minutes and forty dollars later, Logan shook his head. "Thereís a reason I donít play baseball, or football, or anything that requires aiming things," he announced.
Veronica tried very hard not to laugh. "Here, let me try," she said after kissing him to show she forgave him. Five minutes later she offered him one of the bears.
"This is doing nothing for my ego," he sighed, taking the bear and holding it up by his face, pretending it was talking. "Your boyfriendís a wuss, but you kick ass; dump him and run away with me to the mountains. We can live with my cousin Smokey."
Veronica pretended to consider it. "Well, itís a good offer, Mr. Bear, but Iím going to have to stick with the boyfriend. Iím sure youíll find someone someday."
Logan turned the bear so he could look at it, trying to sound serious. "Iíve heard thereís this guy named Wallace whoís free..."
Veronica snickered. "Iím fairly certain he prefers his own species and the opposite sex."
"Poor bear," Logan sighed, shaking his head, "out of luck."
"Hopefully heís the only one," she said pointedly.
"Even though I couldnít win you a bear?" he asked. "Or is it since you won me one, I have to put out?"
"Whatever works." She grinned at him. "So will you? Or do I have to spring for dinner too?"
"Since we just ate, that would mean weíd have to wait another night," he reminded her.
"Forget that then. I guess Iíll just have to seduce you."
Logan laughed ruefully and stuck the bear under his arm so he could slide the other around Veronica. "I can promise it wonít take much work."
"Iím counting on it." She smiled up at him. "I donít have a lot of experience at this, you know."
He let his fingers slide up her side. "But you make up for it in enthusiasm." Leaning in, he kissed her, nipping at her lower lip. "So what say we get out of here and make our own thrill ride?"
She snorted. "Smooth, Echolls. Good thing Iím kind of a sure thing right now. And for the record, Iím expecting a Tunnel of Love, not House of Horrors."
He snickered. "Guess Iíd better drag out the Barry White albums and candles then."
"Smart ass. But yeah, letís get going. Iím more interested in other ways of amusing ourselves right now."
"So letís get out of here, schweethaht." Keeping his arm around Veronica, Logan threaded them through the crowds toward the parking area.
Settling into the car, Veronica smiled over at him. "Home, James."
Once the gates were closed behind them, Logan let out a sigh of relief. "Looks like we made it."
"And we have a locked gate between us and everyone else." A thought struck her, and Veronica frowned slightly. "Trina isnít here, is she?"
He shrugged. "I doubt it, I heard there was a sale at Prada tomorrow, so sheís probably waiting in line; gotta look her best for the cameras, you know." He pulled up in front of the house and parked.
He climbed out and walked over to the other side of the car, catching Veronicaís hand as she climbed out. "Youíre never going to let me get that, are you?" he asked, leading her up to the door and into the house.
"Well, maybe someday if youíre really, really good. As a reward." She made a point of reaching for the door handle to let herself in.
"Hrmmm, a goal; itís good to have those." He paused in the living room and looked down at her. "Want a drink or anything?"
She laughed a little shakily, her blue eyes momentarily shadowed. "No, we donít have a good track record with stopping for drinks."
"Yeah," he said ruefully. "How about this instead?" Taking her purse, he set it on the sofa and drew her into his arms, tangling one hand in her hair to tilt her head back so that he could kiss her.
Veronica melted into his arms, her own rising to grip his shoulders as she pressed closer. They were alone together, with no more unanswered questions to come between them, and she let herself forget about everything except the taste of Logan, the sensation of him against her, the sounds he made as she rocked against his growing hardness.
Logan let his hands roam, one sliding down to cup Veronicaís ass, pulling her closer against him, and the other skimming up her side to brush against the slight curve of her breast. "Veronica..." he rasped, kissing her lips, the curve of her cheek, and her jaw.
"Logan," she replied, one leg rising and curling around his to pull them even closer together. She made a sound of frustration that the difference in their heights kept her from getting as close as she wanted.
Moving both hands to her ass, Logan bent, then straightened, bringing Veronica up with him and urging her to wrap her legs around his waist. "We really need to get you a stool," he murmured into her ear.
"Or cut you off at the knees," she retorted more than a little breathlessly. The change in position had his hardness right where she wanted it, and she couldnít keep from rocking against him, moaning softly.
"That would be painful," he commented before groaning as she moved against him. "Hang on." As he spoke, he started to walk, carrying her back to his bedroom.
Veronica whimpered at the fantastic sensations caused by the friction of him walking, and she sought his mouth hungrily.
By the time they reached his room, Logan was panting harshly, each step torture as Veronica rocked against him. "Gonna set you down," he gasped, relaxing his grasp to let her legs slip to the floor. As she stood, he ran his hands up her sides, catching her mouth again as he cupped her breasts through her shirt.
Moaning into his mouth, Veronica nearly ripped her shirt off, then hesitated shyly before reaching for the clasp of her bra.
"Let me," Logan murmured, moving behind her, pulling off his own shirt as he did so. Bending, he eased her hair out of the way and kissed the side of her neck as he undid the clasp and let the bra fall to the ground.
Veronica turned to face him again and stilled, fighting the instinct to cover herself. She stared at his chest, unable to raise her eyes to meet his.
"Hey." Logan raised one hand and tilted her chin up so that she was looking at him. "So youíre no Anna Nichole; who needs to be smothered?" His tone was teasing as he tried to ease her nerves.
She smiled crookedly and rose to her tiptoes to kiss him again, not wanting to think. She gasped into his mouth as her breasts dragged over his chest, her nipples tightening at the unfamiliar sensation.
"Gotta get that stool," he muttered against her lips before backing them to the bed and sitting on it, Veronica in his lap. He pulled back and lowered his head to her chest, nuzzling one tight pink nipple before flicking his tongue over it.
The flash of pleasure made her whimper, her fingers clenching in his light hair as her back arched. "Logan," she panted, pressing closer and rocking in his lap, wanting more.
Twisting, Logan laid them both out on the bed, his mouth never leaving Veronicaís nipple. He rocked against her side as he stroked her stomach, his hand moving lower with each pass.
Veronica writhed against the smoothness of the raw silk coverlet under her, her hands moving over Loganís body as well. She explored the muscular form, feeling the heat of him against her palms, and when she encountered the waistband of his pants, she reached for the button.
Moving up again, Logan kissed open Veronicaís mouth as he rubbed his hand over the warm denim between her legs, moving with the sinuous motions she was making. Moaning, Veronica pressed closer, and she abandoned her attempts to unfasten Loganís pants in favor of getting her own open. "Oh God, touch me," she moaned.
He swallowed hard and did what he could to help, sliding his hand in the opening and under her panties to press against the wet heat, finding and rubbing against the hard nub of her clit, his own cock throbbing against his jeans.
Veronicaís nails dug into Loganís upper arms as she arched up, her legs spreading. A moment later she was tugging frantically at Loganís jeans, this time succeeding in getting them undone. Reaching inside, she slowly stroked him, jerking away when he moaned.
"God, Veronica," he rasped, "donít stop." He pulled his hand back to drag her jeans down, baring the wet blonde curls covering her sex to his gaze.
She reached for him again, gasping when his hand moved between her legs, making her writhe. "Not going to," she promised breathlessly.
Her fingers stroked his length, and he hissed out a breath and pulled back to stare down at her. "Maybe I should say stop," he laughed breathlessly, knowing he was close. As he spoke, he slid his fingers deeper into her cleft.
"Maybe you should find a rubber before neither of us can think of it," Veronica panted, her hips thrusting upward, loving the way it felt to have him inside her.
He gave a pained laugh. "Always the practical one." Grinning, he leaned in to lick her breasts, then rolled off the bed, his pants slipping lower on his hips as he walked toward his bathroom.
"And lose the jeans," she called after him, squirming against the smooth bedding where she lay, enjoying the view.
He leaned back out the bathroom door to salute, then ducked back inside. "Got the rubbers, lost the jeans; anything else madam wants?"
"Just you back here with me." She sat up on her elbows, flushing faintly at how she must look but not moving to cover herself.
"That I can..." Logan walked back into the bedroom and took a breath, letting it out in a low whistle, "...do." He crossed to the bed and tossed the strip of rubbers on the covers before climbing in beside Veronica. "Youíre gonna tell me if anything gets freaky, right? Not just run out?" he asked, only semi-joking.
She smiled wryly, tacitly admitting he had justification. "Iím not going anywhere," she promised as she moved toward him, settling into his arms. "I want to be here with you."
"True love," he murmured, "it surpasses even the ring-tossing challenged." That said, he drew her closer and kissed her, shuddering at the feel of her warm bare skin the length of his body.
"Just...," her voice broke as she felt the hard length of him against her belly, "just means I have to stick around to give you another chance to win."
"Nah, Iím good at other things is all," he promised, rolling her to her back so that he lay on top of her, most of his weight supported by his arms. "And I did mean it about letting me know if you feel weird or anything."
"The only thing I feel is impatient!"
Logan sighed though his eyes were bright with laughter and lust. "So much for Mr. Nice Guy." He shifted to grab a rubber and dipped his head down to nibble at her chest while he tore open the package and rolled the condom down over his erection.
Gasping, Veronica arched her back to push into his teasing mouth, her very real nerves forgotten again in the pleasure of his touch. But she wanted to share the pleasure, wanted this to be a night to remember in every way, so she forced herself past the exquisite sensations to begin exploring him.
"You tell me when youíre ready," he rasped, shuddering as she ran her hands over him.
She stared at him in disbelief, her blue eyes wide. "Logan, I was ready on the damn ferris wheel!" She arched up under him, her hand positioning him so that he nudged at her entrance.
He managed a strangled laugh before sinking into her, his breath gusting out of him in a long whoosh as her tight heat encased him. "Justógotta give me a second here," he almost begged, holding himself rigidly still.
She gasped sharply as she felt him fill her. If nothing else, her forgotten night with Duncan had ensured that there was little pain, only the burn of stretching and incredible pleasure. Her nails dug into his shoulders as she fought to remain still as heíd asked, but she couldnít prevent her inner muscles from clenching around him, which made her moan with pleasure.
"Thatís holding still?" he asked, his voice breaking, even as he sank deeper into her.
"Best I can do," she managed around panting breaths. She bit her lower lip, trying to distract herself from the incredible sensations between her legs that were demanding that she move.
He pushed up enough to look down into her dark eyes, then managed a tight smile. "Okay, now you can move." He managed a wink, then kissed her and arched his hips, pulling back before sliding in again, the clenching heat pulling at him.
"Oh God," she moaned, arching up to meet him and crying out at the friction inside her. "Logan." She pulled his head down to kiss him again, gasping into his mouth as they found a rhythm.
"Thatís it," he murmured against her mouth as they rocked together, one hand cupping her hip and pulling her tighter against him and the other supporting his upper body.
Veronica curled her legs around his, then inched them higher as she found that it let him go deeper inside her. "So good," she moaned, catching his lip between her teeth and tugging gently before kissing him hungrily.
"Makes up for my ring-tossing?" he asked, circling his hips, his cock rubbing against the length of her cleft.
"Makes up for everything," Veronica panted, whimpering with need as he aroused her even more.
He smiled tightly at that and began moving faster, needing to feel her come before he did. "Itíll get even better, I promise."
"I may not survive," she gasped, even now unable to stop with the comebacks. "But donít stop!"
Past the point of speaking, Logan only moaned, his thrusts coming faster and deeper.
Her eyes closing as she concentrated on the sensations filling her, Veronica nearly sobbed with the overwhelming pleasure, sure that nothing could feel better. And then it did, and she buried her face in Loganís chest to muffle her cries as her body spasmed and she came.
Logan gave a sharp gasp as she convulsed around him and drove forward, coming as she was still tightening around him. "God," he whispered, some time later when he felt Veronica relax beneath him, "that was amazing." He lifted his head and smiled down at her. "Youíre one hot mama, Veronica Mars."
She laughed breathlessly. "Youíre pretty inspirational yourself, Logan Echolls." Smiling, she raised her head to kiss him, then lay back, arms wrapped around him. Her smile grew as she enjoyed the weight of him over her and the feeling of closeness that was in many ways better than the sex. This was what had been missing the last time, no matter what Duncan said about it being consensual, and as far as she was concerned, from now on this was her first time.
"Why thank you, I do try," he chuckled, gathering her into his arms and rolling to his back so that she was lying on his chest. "Comfy?"
"Mmm hmm," she murmured, nuzzling her cheek against his chest, not minding its sweatiness in the least. "Wish I never had to move."
He nodded and kissed the top of her head as he ran his hand over her back. "Me too, but I think your dad might have other thoughts on the matter."
She groaned, hiding her face against his chest. "I really didnít need to think about him right now, you know." She shifted a little to get more comfortable and sighed when she felt him slip out of her.
Whatever quip Logan was about to make died unspoken as his own thoughts sidetracked to his own father, so he just kissed her hair again and rubbed a leg over her calf.
After a while in which they lay together silently, she said softly, "Thank you." Veronica was aware that Logan hated being in this house, but she was glad that theyíd had a place to be alone.
"For the mind-blowing sex? It was my pleasure."
She giggled. "For that too, but mainly for being here."
His eyebrows rose. "I think I should be saying that to you."
"Despite the fact that I nearly dragged you here?"
"For being willing to come back here."
"Well, I have to admit that wild horses couldnít drag me into the pool house, but this is fine." She looked around. "I actually have good memories of the four us here, talking and laughing together. And now I have more good memories that are just ours."
Loganís expression cleared somewhat as he listened to her, and he nodded. "Yeah, that helps; it helps a lot."
"Thatís me, Veronica Mars, helpful girl, no problem too big."
"No fee too small?"
"Iíll take it out in trade." She smirked at him.
He chuckled and kissed her forehead. "I could live with that, but," he paused and looked at his watch, "I wonít be living with anything if I get you home late."
Veronica twisted around to see the clock on the nightstand and let out a yelp when she saw it was after eleven. "Shower!" she exclaimed, nearly jumping off Logan, then pausing for a moment to admire the sight of his naked length before dashing into the bathroom.
"And sheís gone with a flash," Logan murmured as he sat up and stripped off the condom, tossing it toward the garbage.
"Arenít you going to come wash my back?" Veronica yelled, blushing even as she said it but not wanting to waste a moment together.
Logan groaned. "If I do that, then youíre going to really be late!"
"Did I mention that I donít actually have a curfew?"
"Should I call your father and ask him if thatís the truth?"
A grumble from the shower was the only response until Veronica reappeared a few minutes later, wrapped in a fluffy towel. "See if I wash your back when you ask!"
"I promise when I ask, it wonít be twenty minutes before youíre due home!" Logan handed Veronica her clothes before ducking into the bathroom himself for a fast shower.
"Details," she grumbled while getting dressed, but she knew that Logan was right. Her dad was having enough trouble with them dating without rubbing his nose in what theyíd been doing. Which was the only thing that kept her from going into the bathroom to enjoy the view.
Loganís smile when he came out of the bathroom was partly pleasure at seeing Veronica sitting on his bed, but also partly relief because of the fact that she was still there. "Hey, if I had my way, Iíd keep you here all night, but thereís just something about angry bald men with tempers and killer dogs that makes me think I wouldnít get any sleep if I did that."
He pulled on his clothes, then glanced over at Veronica. "Like the view?"
She smiled wickedly despite the faint flush staining her cheeks. "Very nice," she praised, standing up to walk into his arms, which opened for her.
He pretended to flex for her admiration, then caught her in his arms to kiss her. "You know, we could say the batteries in my watch died..."
After a long, slow kiss, she leaned back in his arms. "While I like the short term results, I think Iíd rather keep you alive and around for more fun."
"Which means weíd better get going," he sighed, reluctantly letting her go so they could leave.
"Got any plans for tomorrow?" she asked, sliding an arm around his waist as they headed back to the car.
"I donít know; do I?"
"Oh, you mean youíre all mine?" she gloated.
"Unless the lawyers need me for more background shit, yup." He opened the car door before she could.
Veronica laughed. "Youíre determined to open doors for me, arenít you?" She actually didnít mind, kind of liked it in fact, but she couldnít see herself sitting there like some helpless little princess waiting for Logan, or anyone else for that matter, to open a door for her.
"Well, you did say youíd let me if I was good..."
"And you were very, very good," she finished with another laugh as she got into the car.
"So, since I was good, I get to be a gentleman again, right?"
She eyed him with amusement. "Do you really like opening doors that much?"
He smirked. "It means I can watch your ass when you walk through ahead of me."
She burst into laughter. When the peels tapered off into occasional giggles, she managed to get out, "So I should shimmy on my way through?"
"Damn right, itíll give me something to remember later tonight."
She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "You could always call me, and we could have phone sex," she teased.
"You mean I could talk and you could blush?" he retorted.
"Well, maybe," she was forced to admit. "But since you canít see me through the phone, youíll never know."
"And the torture begins," Logan sighed, not sounding wounded in the least.
She laughed. "Itíll inspire you to figure out a way for me to stay longer tomorrow."
"Hmm, does your father like candy? Cookies? Sporting event tickets?"
"Resorting to bribery already? Whatíre you going to have left to try in a week?" she teased.
He gave a crooked grin. "I guess Iíll have to throw myself on your mercy."
"Me? Mercy?" She managed an evil cackle. "Youíre mine now, my pretty."
"And my little dog too?"
She burst into laughter. "Would you settle for my not-so-little dog?"
"As long as he comes with you." Logan pulled into the apartment complexís parking lot and into a slot. "And look at that, right on time."
After a glance up at the twitching curtains, Veronica said, "I think my dadís impressed too."
"This is good." he undid his seatbelt and leaned over to kiss her. "Stay!" That said, he zipped around to her side of the SUV so he could open the door.
Veronica eyed him askance from her seat, eyebrows raised nearly to her hairline. "Stay? Do I look like Backup to you?"
"He could only wish," Logan answered, clearly watching her ass as she got out of the car.
Chuckling, she slid an arm around his waist when he came up beside her. "Youíre not going to try to make me jealous of my dog, are you?"
"Actually, Iím the jealous one; he gets to stay with you." They reached the door, and Logan turned to slip both arms around Veronicaís waist. "You sleep tight tonight, okay?"
"Considering how tired I am, Iím sure I will." She rose to her tiptoes to kiss him. "Call me in the morning, okay?"
Logan nodded against her mouth, following her back down. "Gotcha."
Her smile widened. "Yeah, you do."
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