Chloe looked at the ring on her left hand in contemplation, resting her chin on her right hand. The ring was gorgeous, she had to admit--an oval-cut diamond surrounded by tiny emeralds (her birthstone) set in platinum. She sighed and straightened up, reaching for her pen and trying not to think about the events earlier in the day.
Of course, that was like trying not to think about pink elephants.
She and Lex had told Clark over lunch. He--hadn't taken it as well as she'd hoped. "You're getting married?" he'd exclaimed, staring at them.
"That's generally what follows an engagement," Lex had drawled.
"When did this happen?"
"A week ago. We wanted to wait until we had the ring to tell anyone," Chloe had explained.
"The diamond was my mother's. We had to get it reset for Chloe."
"No, we didn't. You insisted we had to get it reset." She'd rolled her eyes at him.
"Her birthstone was sapphire, yours is emerald." Lex had shrugged. Chloe had just sighed and kissed him on the cheek. The original ring had been beautiful, but she had to admit he was right; the new setting suited her better.
"Well--um. This is a surprise," Clark had admitted. "I didn't know you two were even dating."
Technically, they hadn't been. Just-sleeping together on and off since Chloe's senior year of high school. They were friends who had sex, not exactly a couple. But Chloe had been pretty sure Clark didn't want to know that. "We've been keeping it quiet," she'd said instead. "And I have to admit-this was pretty sudden."
Lex had shrugged again and smiled a little, taking her hand. "Once I realized that Chloe was the woman I wanted, I didn't see the point in dragging things out."
"Well...that's nice, I guess," Clark had said dubiously. "If not exactly romantic."
Chloe had laughed at that. "Clark, do I really look like the type of woman who wants hearts and flowers and lace?"
He'd grinned sheepishly. "No, but-well, you know what I meant."
"Anyway, we're having a traditional wedding-Lex is less than thrilled at that prospect, but I pointed out we couldn't exactly elope."
"I still don't see why not," he'd grumbled. "You do realize you'll have to dance with my father, don't you?"
"As long as he keeps his hands where they belong we'll be fine," she'd said serenely.
"Chloe-um-" Clark had hesitated, looking awkward. "Are you sure this is what you want?"
She'd stared at him in surprise for a moment. "You think I'd agree to get married if it wasn't what I wanted?"
"No, I think he was either asking if you were pregnant or if I'd coerced you into this." Lex's mouth had twisted.
Chloe shook her head blankly. "No-and since when the hell did you get so cynical? I'm marrying Lex because I want to."
"I'm not saying-" Clark had sighed. "It's just-Lex, you can be very persuasive, and this is all so sudden, and-"
"And you think that I'd convince Chloe to marry me even if she didn't want that. Christ, Clark, why would I do that?"
Chloe had been desperately afraid she was going to cry. "If you don't trust Lex, you don't trust me," she'd said carefully. "So I really suggest you think about what you meant." She'd swallowed, standing hastily. "I've-I gotta go."
Lex had risen as well, resting his hands on her shoulders as she turned away. "Clark-we'd told you first because both Chloe and I agreed we couldn't think of anyone else we'd wanted to be the best man at our wedding. Think about that as well." With that, he'd turned back to Chloe, wrapping one arm around her waist as they left the restaurant.
And now, here she was, sitting in the office Lex had set up for her (she'd all but moved in with him since the engagement), looking at her ring and wondering if she'd lost one of her best friends.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Lex asked quietly from the door. She turned around, startled.
"I doubt they're worth that much," she said ruefully.
"Ah, Clark." One side of his mouth twisted briefly. "Understandable, if regrettable."
"Come on in," she said. Her office was the one place he never entered without an invitation; the same held for his. It was an unspoken agreement between them. "What are you doing up this late?"
"Or this early," he said, leaning against her desk. "It's three-thirty. As for why I'm up--I noticed you weren't in bed and came to find you."
Chloe smiled a little. "I'm just--" She sighed.
She leaned her head against his hip and closed her eyes, grateful for his quiet understanding. "Come to bed, Chloe," he said, stroking her hair. "You're not going to accomplish anything by staying up all night."
"Yeah." She pushed away from the desk and stood up. "I know."
She decided not to bother with pajamas and crawled into bed naked, lying on her side facing away from Lex. He kissed her shoulder and spooned up behind her, one hand on her belly. "Tired?" he asked.
"Not sleepy, at any rate." She turned over in his arms and kissed him, a light brush of her lips against his.
"Oddly enough, I'm not either." He kissed her back, tongues meeting in an oddly gentle dance. "Relax," he murmured against her lips, shifting her onto her back. "Let me take care of you."
"Lex--you don't have to do this," she said, running her hands over his scalp. "He hurt you, too."
He kissed the hollow of her collarbone, resting his head between her breasts. "Let me do this, Chloe." There was an underlying tension to his words she couldn't quite understand.
She decided not to question it. "All right."
He was gentle with her; instead of their usual passionate lovemaking, this was soft and easy, almost tender. She felt light, as if she were floating away on a warm cloud of desire. When he finally entered her, they moved together in a slow, rocking rhythm that was somehow more intense than the hot, pounding sex they generally had. She moaned his name when she came.
"Keep that up and I'm going to think you're in love with me," she said to cover the unsettling feelings in the pit of her stomach. He'd called out her name when he'd climaxed. He never did that. Now, as they lay entwined in the bed, she wondered what had changed.
He looked at her with hooded eyes. "Maybe I am," he said simply.
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