All Bets Are Off

by hurlingturtles

Again, another one already posted on

<Chapter One>

"Who is Paul Revere," Lex said to the television.

"Correct," Alex Trebec answered.

"Please. That was an easy one," Chloe scoffed.

Lex arched an eyebrow. "Fine, I'll bet you ten bucks I get the next one."

Chloe grinned. "I don't know. Are you sure you'll be able to pay up when you lose?"

Lex and Chloe sat on one of the dozens of couches in the mansion watching Jeopardy, as had become a strange habit lately. On the screen a contestant called, "Ancient Greek Philosophers for 300."

"Hey! That's not fair!" Chloe protested.

Lex chuckled and effortlessly answered the question, or questioned the answer, whichever. He smirked and Chloe fought the urge to wack the smug expression off his face. Sure they were friends, but some times he drove her nuts. Then, every once in a while, when she was least expecting it, Lex would look at her a certain way. Her stomach would tie in knots and she'd feel slightly breathless. When this happened she would squash the sensation and pretend like it never happened.

They had kind of an odd friendship that she valued and never questioned. Questions led to thoughts that were better not explored. Somehow, she wasn't sure how, Chloe had fallen into the habit of dropping by Lex's after working at the Torch. They chatted, sometimes ate dinner, depending on when she dropped by, and always watched Jeopardy. They had a little competition going between them of who could answer the most questions right. Lex always won but Chloe liked giving him a run for his money.

High school graduation was coming up in a few weeks and soon she'd be going off to Metropolis University. Thinking about it made her a little sad, because they wouldn't have these evenings together then. Who knew if their awkward friendship could survive the distance. Everyone says that once you go to college you lose contact with your high school friends. Once school ended she also wouldn't have the convenient excuse of working on the Torch to give her dad when he asked where she'd been all evening. She was going to miss Lex.

"Sure you can answer the questions here, but I bet that you couldn't if you were on the show and the pressure was really on," she argued.

"Really? You don't think I'd win?"

"Nope. Those people are really smart and the pressure of thinking quickly before a huge audience must be nerve-racking." She honestly wasn't sure the Lex couldn't win. She was just arguing for the sake of arguing, really. She enjoying her little debates with him and could tell that he did, too.

"So, if I went on the show, and won, what would I win?" Lex asked.

Chloe shrugged. "What does it matter? You're not going to go on Jeopardy. I don't know. Whatever you want."

Lex looked at her for a long moment, a slightly unholy light in his eyes. She wanted to squirm, but that might bring her contact with him so she didn't. Too much physical contact made that odd look enter his eyes.

"If I get on then you have to come with me as my guest," he said finally.

She rolled her eyes. "Fine, whatever, as long as it's on a weekend or during the summer." She honestly could not see Lex behind one of those podiums.

"And if I win then...well, we'll decide that once we get there."

She was growing a little bit alarmed that Lex was still talking about this. "Lex, you're not seriously thinking about going on Jeopardy, are you?"

He shrugged. "I'd get tons of publicity, but if I donate my winnings to charity then it'll only be good publicity. Getting positive publicity would be a nice change. I'm still holding you up to your bet, though."

She gaped at him. "You're not serious."

"Yes, I am." He smiled at her astonishment.

A chocked laugh escaped Chloe's throat. "You're insane."

"Maybe. Now if you will excuse me- I have some calls to make." And with that he left the room.

Lex left Chloe sitting there feeling mighty pleased with himself. The more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea of going on Jeopardy. He'd never gone on a game show before, and that in itself made the idea appealing. However, his prime reason for wanting to go on Jeopardy was his bet with Chloe. She'd be all alone with him for at least a couple days. No handsome Clark or disapproving Papa- she'd be all his. The very idea had his blood rushing to his pants.

Lex burned to possess Chloe. He spent hours tossing and turning in his cool silk sheets, dreaming about getting to know Chloe inside and out. He wanted to caress every inch of her flesh. The desire to have her look at him, for a change, with eyes alive with sexual excitement left him aching when he least expected it to.

He wasn't sure how this all-consuming passion had crawled under his skin. He did remember the first time he became aware of it she hadn't been doing anything extraordinary. She'd been teasing him over something silly while they were at the Talon, what it scarcely mattered now, and abruptly he became aware of her twinkling eyes and lush, very pink grinning lips in a way he'd never had before. The urge to kiss her senseless knocked the wind out of him and he just stared at her, dazed. When Chloe started looking uncomfortable he excused himself and escaped to the men's room. He clutched the sink and gazing blindly at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, muttering about how he was losing his mind. He reminded himself the she was a high-schooler and vowed to forget lusting after her.

However, once the idea had popped into his head it was impossible to banish. He found himself craving her company more and more often. The first time he invited her to his house guilt plagued him because it felt as though he'd invited her to his bed. He felt like a randy old man. He waited for her to show up, trying to ignore his faint nausea and struggled not to anxiously look at his watch every couple seconds.

Then when she finally arrived she was so casual about being there he'd been thrown off. That was the moment that he realized that she didn't think of him as anything other than a friend. He called himself an idiot for getting so worked up. All bruised ego, he resolved that he'd make her realize that they could be more than just friends. The problem was that he wasn't sure how to make her aware of him as a man without scaring her away. He ignored the secret fear that she wouldn't ever think of him as someone desirable. So, he patiently waited for the perfect opportunity to arise.

And it finally had.

<Chapter Two>

Lex strolled into the Torch office the next day looking extremely satisfied with himself. He wore gratification well, looking especially handsome in designer sunglasses and a brand name shirt that shifted across his lean muscles as he moved. Chloe's eyes narrowed suspiciously. She saved the article she as working on and gazed at him, waiting for him to speak.

"Beautiful day, isn't it? I'm more of a winter man myself, but I do like the sun." He was much too cheerful.

"Enjoy the opportunity to show off your hundred dollar sunglasses?" she jeered.

"Chloe, Chloe, Chloe." He sighed dramatically. "Don't you know me at all? I would never buy sunglasses under 200 dollars."

She tried to frown at him disapprovingly, only to laugh reluctantly. "What are you so chipper about today?"

"I just happen to be a contestant on Jeopardy next week, the taping is this Saturday," he said with studied casualness and flicked a bit of lint off his burgundy shirt.

"What?!" Her jaw dropped. "You're actually going on? For real?"

"Yup. And you're coming with me to California, where they're taped."

"You're kidding!"

"No. We'll leave after school Friday on my private jet and we'll be back Sunday night. You won't miss a bit of your last days of high school."

"Well, in that case..." she said dryly. Lex just looked at her. She threw her arms up in the air. "Look, my dad is never gonna agree to this!"

"I'll talk to him," Lex told her.

She laughed. "Right, and he'll just agree with whatever you say."

Lex just smiled. "I can be very persuasive when I put my mind to it." His voice was huskily provocative.

Chloe didn't take the heated look he sent her seriously. "Right. So, shouldn't you be studying?"

Lex smirked. "I've already had my people make up a list of the subjects most touched upon. As we speak they're gathering up books on the subjects and compiling different study methods so that I make most efficient use of my time. I'm going to actually start studying tomorrow."

"But that only gives you three whole days to study!"

"All I really need is a bit of a brush up."

Chloe rolled her eyes. "Arrogant, much?"

He chose to ignore that remark. "Want to help me study?" Lex asked casually.

"Why? You have your flunkies to help you."

"Ah, yes. Well, my flunkies don't create quite as pleasant a work environment as you. It's always nice to have a pretty face to gaze at occasionally while being brilliant." He leaned against her desk and gazed down at her with his eyes bright, eagerly anticipating a blowup.

Chloe ignored the pretty face compliment, chalking it up to Lex being Lex. He was just flattering her so that she'd give in. "If you said that to any of your workers you'd be accused of sexual harassment."

"Now, Chloe, you know the only person I want to sexually harass is you." His gaze lingered on her chest suggestively.

She laughed. "Fine, fine, I'll help you study! Now, I need to finish working on this article. Scat." She made shooing motions. "I'll see you later."

Lex sighed heavily. "You better." He strolled out of Chloe's office as suave as he'd come in.

Lex left the school smiling. His plan was already in motion. He'd lay on the innuendo pretty thick tomorrow. Maybe there'd be some accidentally touches. His breath came out in quick bursts just thinking about it. She'd be unnerved, but would refuse to back down he predicted, and he admired her for that. His Chloe had spunk.

He wondered if she was going to come over to his house tonight if she was going to help him study tomorrow. He hoped so. All that couch time, having her only inches from him was pure torture, but he craved it. He'd never wanted a woman as much as her and it scared him. A Luthor never let a little thing like fear to gain the upper hand, though.

He thought about whipping out his little black book and calling one of his former flames for a meaningless fuck, just so he gained some control over his raging hormones. He couldn't remember how many days it'd been since he'd last had a woman in his bed. The first thing he did when he got back to the mansion was open his black book up. He gazed at all the names, discarding one after the other. After twenty minutes he sagged in defeat. It was no use. None of them inspired a sliver of the desire he felt for Chloe now.

"So, Lex my boy, I hear you're going on Jeopardy." It was his father, looking wildly entertained. He was still wearing his long coat, which meant he was only dropping by. Thank God. "Why in the world would you want to do that?"

"Because it amuses me," Lex said coolly.

"You know, you don't need to go on to impress me with your intelligence. I know you're smart. You are my son, after all," Lionel smiled with his usual artificial friendliness. "But, then again, perhaps it's not me you're trying to impress. I hear Chloe Sullivan has been dropping by here quite a bit lately."

"That is none of your business," he snapped.

Lionel arched one eyebrow in a spooky imitation of his son. "I see. I was always partial to younger women myself. Chloe is quite charming, too. Beautiful, tenacious, devoted. Yes, quite a woman."

Lex clenched his teeth and a muscle flexed in his jaw. "If you go anywhere near Chloe I'll gut you myself."

His dad tsked him annoyingly. "Lex, control yourself. You're getting much too emotional." He moved to leave. As he left the room he tossed the warning, "Emotions, make you weak Lex," over his shoulder.

Lex tried to forget his dad's parting words but they lingered in his mind like brain fever. Was he getting too worked up? It was just lust, after all. He admired Chloe, and enjoyed her company but he didn't love her. As soon as the L-word popped in his head he cringed. Lex had a policy of never letting himself love. Love led to heartache. Now that he'd thought of love in conjunction with Chloe, he knew the idea wouldn't easily die but he'd try to rub it out of his brain as quickly as possible anyway.

Chloe didn't come to his house, which was a disappointment. The next day he was tempted to drop by her office, but he refused to go there two days in a row. He could go twenty-four hours without seeing Chloe, dammit. So he prepared himself for their study session. He carefully chose one of the cozier, more intimate rooms in the house. He organized the books and carefully typed up index cards that Chloe would help him study from. He kept peering impatiently at his watch.

Then he realized what he was doing, swearing violently to himself. He was getting all worked up again. This wasn't a date. He was too old to get all flustered because a girl was coming to his house.

At long last the door flew open and Chloe swept in, looking as delicious as ever. Her blond hair was disheveled, as if she'd driven with the windows down. She had a cheerful grin on her face and a bounce in her step, making her breasts sway just the slightest underneath her v-neck t-shirt. She practically radiated warmth and sexuality.

"I'm ready," she announced, plopping down on the couch next to him.

Lex adjusted his pants surreptitiously. "Are you?" he drawled.

<Chapter 3>

There it was again. That look. The look that Lex gave her that fairly screamed sex. She scooted a tiny bit farther away from him, hoping he wouldn't notice. She was acutely aware of his body heat and the faint whiff of cologne that seemed to be clouding her senses. She scolded herself for reacting to Lex like that. He didn't really want her. It was just a game he liked to play.

"What am I supposed to do?" she asked, looking at the index cards stacked up on the coffee table in front of her.

"Everything," he purred erotically.

"What?" She gave him an odd look.

Lex sighed. "Just read me the points on the card. I'll repeat them back to you. Then, after we're done with twenty of them you give me a short quiz. The quizzes are already made out."

"Okay. Sounds easy enough." She picked up the cards. She read the first one. "The word `sadomasochism' was partially created after the Marquis de Sade, who was imprisoned a madhouse because of his sexual perversions."

Lex dutifully repeated it, a little smile on his face. Chloe looked at him suspiciously over the cards.

She read the next one. "Condoms have existed for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. One of the most popular early condoms was a sheep's bladder." Lex repeated her. "Lex, I don't think Alex Trebec is going to ask many questions about sex."

"You never know," he said innocently. "Read the next one."

Chloe sighed and returned to the index cards. "Dildos first popularly emerged in the late middle ages and renaissance periods. They were used by doctors to patients because it was thought that the female climax had some sort of medicinal benefit." Her cheeks grew warm and she knew she was blushing. She silently cursed her fair complexion.

Lex never took his eyes of her as he repeated her. He was grinning like an idiot at her blush. He scooted closer to her. Her arm and leg were touching his. Chloe's blush deepened. Lex wanted to scrape his teeth against her cheeks as if he were preparing to take a bite of a particularly delicious, ripe apple.

"Go on," he prompted. "Keep reading."

"Every animal gives off pheromones. Pheromones are the scent a creature gives off that indicates that they are ready and willing to mate." Her voice trembled over the last word.

He took a deep, purposely noisy, breath, drawing in the scent of her shampoo. He repeated her on the exhale, drawing out the words. It sounded like he was savoring each one on his tongue to Chloe. Her skin tingled with awareness and she suddenly yearned to tear off Lex's clothes one by one.

She moved on to the next card, struggling to keep her focus on the words. "I want to throw myself in Lex Luthor's arms and have him make violent, mind-blowing love to me." She blinked at the words in shock. "Hey!-"

Lex chuckled. "Well, if you insist."

Before Chloe quite knew what was happening Lex crushed her in his arms. His head lowered to lay siege to her mouth. Heat skittered from their joined lips down her spine. All thought froze. Some part of her eagerly sank into her new-found desire and her mouth opened under his lips.

"Mmmm," Lex hummed blissfully and slipped inside her mouth. She tasted delicious like coffee and honeydew melons. He stroked her tongue with his drawing it into his mouth to give it a playful, painless nibble. His hands moved restlessly across her back, slipping underneath, desperate to feel her skin.

Lex's hands were hot on her back and she silently gasped at the touch. They moved to clasp her waist and Chloe was sure they'd leave a handprint. He ground his hips against hers, pressing his hard length between her thighs. She quaked in his arms, her breath coming out in short explosive pants.

Lex was lost. Lost in the feel of her skin, the aroused flush that highlighted her adorable cheekbones, her heat on his body. He burned for her. All he wanted to do was bury himself in her and never leave. He ached to throw her over his shoulder and lock her in his bedroom indefinitely. He wanted to claim her in every way imaginable. He rubbed his erection against her, desperate for relief.

Suddenly Chloe ripped herself from his arms. She stared at him for a long moment, her captivating chest heaving. Lex wondered what she was seeing while she looked at him. His own breathing was ragged as he strove for some kind of control. Did she see the effect she had on him? He hoped to God she didn't. Letting anyone know that they held such power over him was frightening.

Chloe stood up. "I have to go, I...uh, forgot I had something I need to do."

"Wait, look, I didn't mean for it to get this far." Well, at least not this soon.

She nodded stiffly. "I'll see you around." She started to leave.

His heart sank. It was what he'd been afraid of. He'd scared her away. He scrambled to think of something that would make her stay. "We haven't finished studying!" he blurted out.

"You don't want to study. Are you really going on Jeopardy or was that a lie, too?" she demanded, abruptly angry.

"No." And it struck him. "Don't forget your bet! You have to come with me to the taping. I'll pick you up Friday after school. Don't forget!"

"Fine," she said and left.

As Chloe left the mansion she couldn't quite grasp what had happened. She was a more than a bit shell-shocked. Where in the hell had all that passion come from? That brief little make out session had changed everything. Tears welled in her eyes. How could she and Lex be as close friends again? That kiss would always be between them. She still didn't take his advance too seriously. Lex had been quite a playboy once upon a time, after all. That kiss had probably meant nothing to him, but it had been like no other kiss she'd ever had.

Feeling depressed and bitter, she drove home. She didn't go to the mansion the next day or the day after that. Thoughts of the kiss would resurface once in a while and she constantly wondered what Lex was doing. She missed him. She had this theory, though, that maybe if she stayed away from him long enough, the memory of the kiss would fade away and then everything could go back to normal. Now the question was did she really want it to go back to normal.

<Chapter Four>

"Ready to leave?" Lex asked Chloe as soon as she opened the front door of her house.

Despite the scowl on her face, she looked wonderful to Lex. He missed her the past couple of days. He was annoyed that he kept having to suppress the urge to drop in on her at the Torch. He visited the Talon repeatedly, secretly hoping that she'd be there sipping a cappuccino and scribbling ideas for the Torch on a napkin. It had become impossible to squash all thoughts of their kiss. His dreams were the worst, filled with visions of her gasping in delight as he brought her to one climax after another. He never climaxed in the dreams, though, and woke up tangled in his sheets, aching and rock hard. The only way that he could function the rest of the day was if he gave himself a bit of a rub down.

"I'll be just a second," she replied and left him in the doorway. She came back with a small suitcase. Lex took it out of her hands and she protested, but he ignored her and threw it in the trunk of his car. He politely held open the passenger side door for her.

A reluctant smile tugged at Chloe's lips. "I thought chivalry was dead."

Lex smiled back at her as she sat in the car. "Nonsense," he said and shut the door.

Chloe automatically felt a million times less tense. Her stomach unknotted and she sagged in relief in the expensive leather seats. She watched Lex circle around the hood of the car and climb in.

"So, where are we going exactly?"

"My private airstrip."

"You have a private airstrip?" she said in disgust.

"Sure, my private jet needs to take off from someplace," Lex said blandly with a smile tugging at his lips. His sports car flew across the pavement.

Chloe peered at him periodically as he drove. He was wearing one of his probably hundreds of dress shirts. He looked a bit more casual today, though. The first couple of buttons on his shirt were undone and the sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. The muscles in his forearm flexed as he shifted gears. For some reason, this struck her as incredibly sexy and she quickly turned her gaze out the window. What was wrong with her? Lex? Sexy? She'd always considered him handsome, in sort of an unattainable kind of way. Now, after their kiss he'd become sexy. Wonderful.

While she brooded on her change of feelings Lex snuck brief glances at her. She was getting quiet again and he didn't like it. When she'd been teasing him about the airstrip he'd felt connected to her again and he began to hope. Perhaps, despite whatever damage he wreaked by moving too fast, their relationship was salvageable. Oh, he still intended to pursue her- he was too mule-headed to give up that easily- he'd just try to take things a bit slower.

With that in mind, when they reached the airstrip he guided her to the jet by touching her elbow. He also made a conscious effort as they boarded the plane to keep touching her, for every slightest possible reason. She jumped most of the time, like when he brushed his fingers against hers or sat right next to her on the jet, "accidentally" bumping his arm or leg against hers. She gave him suspicious, wary looks when they kept touching but he just smiled innocently. To his annoyance, their touches were exciting him a bit more than he liked and he had to put a halt to fantasies as they began, before his body betrayed him. He opened the Wall Street journal and pretended to read it, letting the bottom of the paper fall down to cover his lap, just in case

Chloe gripped the arm rests, trying to ignore Lex. It was pretty impossible when the tiniest amount of turbulence sent his arm and leg pressing against hers, making her breath catch in her throat. She was painfully aware of him every time he shifted in his seat, of every crinkle of the paper he was reading.

"How long until we get there?" she asked tightly.

"Mmm, it'll be about two hours until we're in California," he replied.

"Geez, you'd think that this hunk of metal would go a bit faster, being a jet and all," she snapped irritably.

Lex arched an eyebrow at her. "I'm sorry, perhaps we should have teleported to California."

She smiled reluctantly. "Maybe a magic carpet."

"A magic carpet would go faster than a jet?" he said skeptically.

"Sure, it is magic, after all." It was hard not be amused by their conversation so she gave it up and grinned.

Lex nodded, his expression serious while the corners of his eyes crinkled in laughter. "Ah, yes. Good point. However, I still think teleportation would be the way to go."

"But it is much less romantic," she argued. "On a magic carpet you would get to feel the wind on you face and the great view of the land."

"You want romance?" he asked, truly serious.

Her smile froze and she looked away from him, embarrassed. She wanted to hit herself. She just had to go and say that word.

When she didn't reply right away Lex began- "About that kiss-"

"We should just pretend like it never happened," she finished for him.

"Should we?" He frowned.

"Yes. I don't want to lose you as a friend."

"Who says we'd have to stop being friends if we don't simply forget the kiss?" Now he sounded frustrated.

"Lex, you'll just do what you do with every other person you get involved with- fuck, while keeping emotions at an arm's length, until you get bored and move on. I want more than that, with anyone I'm involved with. Besides, we'd never be friends again if that happened." She looked out of the window, hoping the subject was closed.

"My, you seem to know quite a bit about my history with women," he sneered.

"Everyone knows," she returned with forced casualness. "You private life is anything but private, for the most part."

"Thanks to nosy, mercenary journalists," he bit out. It was a cheap shot and they both knew it.

They both fell quiet again. The silence between them felt as thick as solid steel. Finally, Lex picked up the paper again.

A cross between relief and misery made Chloe sag slightly in her seat. She knew what she'd said was true, and that was what she regretted the most. If only things were different. She felt was though she was missing an opportunity for something great, though she didn't know what.

Lex wasn't reading a word on the paper he held. All he wanted to do was tear it into shreds and chuck it across the jet. Then he'd pull Chloe into his arms and show her what she was missing by rejecting him. God, he wasn't used to be denied anything and found, to his surprise, that he couldn't stand rejection. His chest burned in a mixture of fury and hurt. He seethed the rest of the trip, right up until the moment his jet landed.

He watched Chloe reach up into the overhead storage bin and pull out her purse. Her shirt rode up while she reached for her purse, flashing Lex a little belly. Acting on impulse, her reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders. He planted a bruising kiss on her mouth, as if to brand her as his.

When he drew back she gaped at him, her eyes wide and dazed.

"You want romance?" he snarled. "I'll show you romance."

<Chapter 5>

"We're going out tonight," Lex announced as they settled into the limo that had waited for them at the airstrip.

"Out where?"

"Coyote Loco."

"Never heard of it."

"Of course not. It's a restaurant only found in LA. It's quite exclusive. You usually need to make reservations weeks ahead."

"But not you," she said wryly.

Lex smiled. "Bingo. You're catching on pretty fast to the fact that I always get what I want." He gave her a heated look.

"Lovely," she muttered and looked away, trying to fight a blush she could feel coming on.

"But first, we'll check into a hotel and get changed."

She suppressed a groan. Great, a hotel.

They stopped at a huge, pricey looking hotel called The Gallanzia. The outside was made of stone with Greek columns and the inside was decked out in red carpeting, fancy floral displays and bellhops running around in blue uniforms. The man at the front desk had a huge nose and an annoying pencil thin black mustache.

"Two rooms," Lex told the man.

"Name, please?"

"Alexander Luthor."

The man typed on his little computer behind the desk. "I'm sorry, we are booked up and only have one room, but it's a suite."

A groan slipped out of Chloe's mouth. She'd been afraid something like this might happen. Didn't something like this happen in every trashy romance novel in existence?

Lex scowled. "Booked up?"

"Yes, booked up." The man started to look annoyed. "Without a reservation one room is the best we can do for you. There was a United Nations convention held here today."

"Maybe we should take our business elsewhere then."

The man's enormous nostrils flared. "Maybe," he agreed. "Though, you'll find that most of the hotels around here are booked for the night."

Lex's eyes narrowed threateningly. "I hate resorting to saying this, but do you have any idea who I am? I could buy this whole hotel!"

"I'm just doing my job, Mr. Luthor." The man strove to be indignant, but Chloe could hear the defensiveness in his voice.

"Lex?" She touched his arm to get his attention. "He's right, he's just doing his job. It's not his fault."

Lex's head swiveled to look at her. Then an odd look crossed his face. "Fine, we'll take it," he told the man.

"What?" she said. She'd expected them to go and try another hotel.

"You heard him. There was that goddamn convention today. We have to stay here," Lex told her, slipping the man a credit card.

"But- but we can't share a room!" she sputtered.

"Sure we can. It's a suite, I'm sure we'll both fit," he sounded amused, not the least bit perturbed. The man handed Lex back the credit card.

"Tell, me you didn't plan this," Chloe demanded, her hands on her hips.



He laughed. "I'm just kidding. I almost wished I had, though."

The bellhop carried their suitcases from the limo to their room.

Chloe gasped. "It has a living room!"

The suite was decked out in lush dark green carpeting with cream colored wallpapering. The living room contained a fridge, a flatscreen TV, a couple couches and several chairs. Chloe peered in the bathroom. The sink was gold with ivory handles, the shower was a walk in and looked like it could fit six people, and there was a Jacuzzi.

"Lex, look in the bathroom," she said as she reentered the living room. He was tipping the bellhop.

She threw open a pair of doors to revel the bedroom. The bed was huge, at least a king-size covered with a beautiful pale green comforter. The one remarkable thing, aside from the antique dressers and walk in closets, was the mirror that took up most of one of the walls.

"Like the suite?" Lex asked behind her, making her jump.

"It's the fanciest place I've ever been in," she said in awe. Lex smiled.

He handed her suitcase to her. "Change, but not into something too dressy. We need to get going to the restaurant before it gets too packed."

Chloe grabbed it from him. She looked at him, waiting. Lex just smiled. "You kinda need to leave if I'm gonna change."

Lex sighed dramatically. "Right. I guess I'll change in the bathroom then."

They chatted on the way to the restaurant. When the limo stopped and Chloe stepped out she was surprised to notice no restaurant in sight. They were on a quaint, old fashioned part of the city with numerous trees, a cobblestone road and many antique shops. Chloe automatically fell in love with the charming atmosphere of the little street.

"What are we doing here?" she asked Lex.

"There's a store here I thought you might like to see."

He led her a few stores down to a place called the Printing Press. An antique printing press sat in the display window. As they entered the store a little bell jingled and she gasped in delight, it had been a long time since she'd been in a store that still did that. Lex smiled, looking quite pleased with himself. The shop was filled with a millions kinds of paper. There were stacks of normal sized paper in a hundred kinds of textures and colors as well as long rolls of paper. The shelves were stocked with inkwells and pens. Old typewriters were for sales, even spare parts were available. Chloe chatted with the kind elderly man, who turned out to be the storeowner, behind the glossy wooden counter for almost an hour about the impact of the first printing press on history. Suddenly she remembered the time and glanced over at Lex.

"Sorry," she apologized. "I got carried away."

He smiled again. "That's okay. I'm glad you like the store." His patience touched her deeply and she had to look away or he might have seen the tears that clouded her eyes.

Something caught her eye. She turned to look. It was a large quill sitting in a glass, like a flower in a vase. "It isn't!" she exclaimed. Unable to resist she picked it up and brushed the feather against her cheek, marveling at how soft it was. The tip looked like it was dipped in ivory. It was more decorative than practical. She loved it. It was the most wonderful thing she'd ever seen. She glanced at the price on the glass and then regretfully put it back.

"Let me buy it for you," Lex offered.


"Don't worry, I can afford it," he joked.

"No, let's just go eat dinner. I'll come back here someday and get it." She waved good-bye to the storeowner and left.

Lex followed her. "Chloe, let me buy it for you," he argued. "I want to."

"No, it's enough that I know a store like this exists." He tried arguing with her some more but she refused to hear it. "It means more to me than I can say that you thought to bring me here," she told him sincerely. "Thank you." Lex grumbled something and turned away, taking a sudden interest in a store across the street. She could have sworn she saw his cheeks grow quite pink.

They left the adorable street and made their way to Coyote Loco. It was a busy place, surprisingly lively and noisy. The lighting was dim and the tables were made of thick glossy wood. The walls were a deep orange, decorated with stenciled on ivy. Mexican flags draped in every corner. They were seated in a quieter corner of the restaurant.

Lex acted like a perfect gentleman pulling out her chair for her and telling her she looked beautiful in the summer dress she'd changed into. He was all charm while they ate. He teased her often, just as he'd always done, but interjected compliments in their conversation and reached over to brush a bit of food off her face often. He brushed food off her so often she started to get a little suspicious.

Abruptly, she set down her fork. "Is this a date, Lex?"

"Do you want it to be?" he asked seriously.

"Why are you so interested in me all of a sudden?" she asked instead of answering.

Lex sighed resignedly. "Look, my interest isn't quite as sudden as you think," he said, obviously uncomfortable admitting it.

"How long?" she couldn't resist asking.

He avoided looking at her. "Long enough." From the tone of his voice she guessed a while.

A strange warmth began in her chest and clogged her throat. She was so damn flattered she struggled not to grin like an idiot.

"Oh, and, by the way, we haven't discussed the terms of our bet," Lex said suddenly.


"You lost the bet that I wouldn't go on jeopardy, so you had to come here. We also agreed on placing a bet on whether or not I would win," he reminded her.

"Yeah?" she asked, knowing she shouldn't bet with him again. You would think she'd learn her lesson the first time around. A loud, obnoxious part of her despised turning down a direct challenge, though. "Well, if you lose then..." She struggled to think of the worst thing she could possibly make him do. "You have to give your father a hug during the next company meeting in front of everyone- and I have to be there to make sure you don't cop out."

Lex's mouth fell open. "I don't remember ever giving my father a hug."

"It'll be something new and different then," she said, trying not to laugh at the expression on his face.

"He'll probably try to commit me in a mental hospital."

"Are you wimping out of the bet?" she demanded

"No," he said quickly. "Fine, then if I win then..." His eyes lit up with an unholy light. "I get to give you a full body massage."

"That's it? You're not very good at this betting thing, Lex." A massage didn't sound that bad. She almost hoped he'd win if that was it.

"And you have to be naked," Lex added wickedly.

She froze, forgetting that they were in a restaurant. "You've got to be joking."

"Nope. Not wimping out, are you?" he sneered.

She sat straighter in her seat, chin raised. "Fine, it's a deal." She held out her hand and he shook it. An electric excitement shot through her at their touch.

Damn her pride.

<Chapter Six>

The limo ride was pretty quiet on their way home, both Lex and Chloe lost in their own thoughts. Chloe was worrying about the bet she'd been an idiot and agreed to. Lex wasn't worrying about the bet- he was eagerly anticipating spending the night with her in the hotel.

He ushered them back to their room as quickly as he could without making Chloe suspicious. Lex locked the door after them. Chloe was looking around the hotel room in awe again. Pleasing her with things like the suite, store and restaurant made him smile. For some odd reason making her happy made him happy.

He eyed her legs in the summer dress she wore. He had no idea how she'd managed to pull off looking sweet and sexy at the same time. All he could think about at the moment were those lovely legs wrapped around his waist. His breath was becoming labored merely thinking about it.

"Ready for bed?" he asked her. His voice came out of his throat huskier than he'd meant and he cleared it awkwardly.

Chloe looked at him sharply. "Excuse me?"

"You look a bit tired," he explained lamely.

She rolled her eyes. "Gee, thanks. I thought I'd watch a little TV first, though," she said and sat on the couch. She turned on the flatscreen TV with the remote and started determinedly channel flipping, ignoring Lex.

Lex frowned. He tossed his dinner jacket on a chair, kicked off his shoes, and settled next to Chloe on the couch. As he sat down on the couch they both remembered the last time they'd sat on a couch together. Chloe almost dropped the remote. They both sat there silently, neither really watching TV. Nearly an hour passed.

At last Lex broke the silence, his voice sharp with frustration. "Look, I'm sorry about that damn kiss!"

Chloe peered at him out of the corner of her eye. "Why?"

"Because you're making such a big deal out of it," he snapped.

"I'm sorry," she said sarcastically, "but it's not everyday my best friend launches himself at me. I was a bit caught off guard."

He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her against his body. "Maybe you need to be caught off guard more often."

His kiss was hard on her lips. Chloe muffled a protest and tried to squirm out of his arms. Then his lips gentled on hers, nibbling, sucking and stroking every crevices of her lips. Desire hot and strong curled low in her abdomen and she melted against him. His probing tongue managed to slip into her mouth, brushing against her tongue. He tasted intoxicating in her mouth, hot and incredibly male.

With a mind of their own Chloe's hands reached up and caressed the back on his neck. A shudder shook his body and he pressed his long hard length against her. Suddenly she realized that he wasn't as in control of himself as he'd like her to believe. She held a power over his body that he couldn't fight, and this knowledge sent a rush of staggering feminine delight through her. She sucked on his tongue and he groaned in her mouth. Her hands wandered down his sides to his hips. After a brief pause, she untucked his shirt from his pants.

Lex pulled himself away from her to quickly throw off his shirt. She stared at his chest. He was lean, but nicely muscled. The way his muscles shifted underneath his skin with every movement was entrancing and more than a bit erotic.

"Touch me." Lex's voice was hoarse, almost a demand but partly a plea.

Chloe hesitated. Then she laid one hand on his warm chest. Lex closed his eyes and let his head fall back. The other hand soon followed. She enjoyed the feel of his skin at her fingertips, but she loved Lex's reaction to her touch more. She swept her hands across his chest pausing at his nipples. She hesitated again for a split second before she brushed her fingers across his tiny nipples. A deep moan shook Lex and her own nipples tingled and hardened in response. She looked at Lex a moment. His face was contorted in a mask of ecstasy that could have easily been mistaken for pain. She lowered her head to flick her tongue across one of his nipples.

Lex jumped dramatically, his head almost wacking against hers. "Holy fuck!" he yelped.

"Sorry," she said automatically, though she wasn't sure what she was apologizing for.

"No, no, don't be," he said with a shaky laugh. "I liked it."

"Oh." She could feel herself blush furiously.

Lex slipped his hands up her thighs and she gasped at the touch. She ached to feel his fingers between her legs. Her thighs spread involuntarily. Her mind was numb with passion. Some distant, rational part of her tried to command her to stop, but her body clamored far louder.

"Not yet," he whispered rawly. "First, I have to repay the favor."

He pulled her dress over her head and threw it across the room before she could utter a word of protest. Lex stared at her appreciatively at her laying on the couch in her underwear and bra. When she started feeling self-conscious underneath his gaze he pulled her to him again. His chest was hot against her breasts. She moaned and rubbed her sensitive nipples against his chest.

Lex shuddered again. Then he reached up and roughly yanked off her bra, nearly ripping it.

"You're so beautiful," he breathed against her bare breasts. She arched up to him, resisting the urge to beg out loud for his touch. "And so responsive," he added in delight.

He cupped her breasts and kneaded them gently while sprinkling kisses across the line of her jaw and down her neck. His tongue caressed her racing pulse. This time it was Chloe's turn to shudder. The tension winding up in her body was nearly unbearable. A bead of sweat trickled down her hairline. Lex pinched her nipples, bringing them to even harder peaks. Finally, his mouth fastened on to one of them. He fondled it with his mouth while continuing to tease with the other with his hand. His tongue laved the sensitive nub and grazed it with his teeth. Then he switched to her other breast. Her heartbeat seemed deafening in her ears.

He slipped his thigh between her legs and rubbed it against her soaking wet crotch. Out of nowhere, her world exploded into a million bits. Her mouth fell open in an O of shock and she clutched his head frantically. "Leeeeexxx!" she called out. She melted into the couch, quaking occasionally in the aftermath of her orgasm.

She was only vaguely aware of Lex carrying her to the bed. Sanity finally returned to her as he dropped her on the bed.

Lex was struggling with the button on his pants. "You have no idea of long I've dreamt of this happening. The first day you came to my house I realized that it might take longer to have you than any other woman I've had. I'm glad that all that friendship stuff has finally paid off," he said with arrogant satisfaction.

Chloe froze. His words were like a splash of cold water. Slowly all the blood drained of her face. She wrapped the pale green comforter around her body and stood up, her legs wobbly underneath her.

Lex looked up from his pants and his brow furrowed. "What's wrong?"

"Get out," she ordered, pointing to the door with one shaking hand while the other clutched the blanket in a death grip.

"Chloe-" he reached out for her.

Chloe backed away from him. "Get out!!" Her voice was almost a shriek.

Lex flinched. "Fine," he said stiffly. "I'll be back in a few minutes when you've calmed down. Then you're going to tell me what's wrong."

As soon as he left she threw the doors closed and locked them. She fell back on the bed struggling not to cry. She huddled the blanket tighter around her body. Lex had never been her friend she'd realized. He'd only pretended to be, hoping that their "friendship stuff would pay off". She felt nave and betrayed. Everyone had tried to warn her against being his friend but she hadn't listened, she'd even lied to her dad over and over again about where she went after school. And all for what? Nothing. Lex had been manipulating her so that he could get laid. He probably didn't even like her that much. She cursed herself for being such an idiot.

In the living room area of the suite Lex paced, his cock aching with every movement. He had no idea what had changed. He reviewed everything he'd said and done since they'd returned to their hotel room. He lingered over what he'd just said and he still didn't get it. It made no sense. She should have been flattered by what he'd said. He'd never tried so hard for any woman as he had Chloe. That in itself should have made her realize how much she meant to him. He never gave up on anything he cared about. Women! Why did he ever bother to try and understand them?

Back in the bedroom a tear trickled down Chloe's face. That single tear infuriated her like nothing else. She absolutely hated that Lex had made her cry. Suddenly she was so angry she couldn't see straight. If Lex like manipulation so much then he deserved some of his own medicine. She smiled grimly, mind filled with plans for vengeance.

<Chapter Seven>

Lex banged on the bedroom door. "Chloe, open up! It's been two hours!" She had to have calmed down by now. There was no answer. He banged on the door again. "It's getting late, I'm getting tired!" He wasn't that tired, but he had a terrible case of blue balls he was hoping she could take care of.

Finally, the door opened a crack. "At last. Now-" But he was cut off by a light green comforter thrown at his head. Lex tore the blanket off and let it drop on the floor with a scowl. "Now wait one second-" He was interrupted by a pillow wacking him in the face. Then the door slammed back shut. "Hold on-" He jiggled the handle, but the room was locked again. "Chloe," he called plaintively. "Whatever I did, I'm sorry."

"Not good enough!" came the shout.

Lex took the fact that she'd spoken as a good sign. "Well, then what can I do to make it good enough?" He struggled not to turn that question into an innuendo.


"Chloe..." he called.

"Well, shut up and sleep on the couch for now," she answered.

Lex sighed in frustration and picked up the light green blanket and pillow. He realized that he held the blanket was the one that a very naked Chloe had wrapped around herself a couple hours ago. He brought it up to his face, closing his eyes as he took a big smell of it. A rush of blood flooded to his groin. Yep, it still smelled like her- a blend of raspberry lotion and a purely feminine smell that was uniquely her own. How was he supposed to sleep with the blanket? Knowing it was just going to drive him insane he threw it on a chair, turned off the light, and plopped down on the couch with the blanket.

He lay there on the couch for an hour, unable to fall asleep. He tossed and turned, getting more and more annoyed that the couch was too short. The achy feeling below his waist was also very uncomfortable and he wondered if it was possible to miss a person even though they were just in the next room. Muttering to himself, he lurched to his feet and grabbed the blanket again. He pulled it around him and laid down on the floor. Taking a deep breath of the blanket, he smiled sleepily and passed out for the night.

That was how Chloe found him when she woke up that morning- sprawled on the floor in his boxers, clutching the blanket to him like a lifeline. He looked so peaceful and sweet. How appearances could be deceiving.

She nudged him with her foot, resisting the urge to give a quick kick to the ribs. "Lex, get up," she said. Lex frowned and clenched his eyes tighter. She nudged him again. "Come on, I mean it. Get up. We have things to do." Though, she didn't know what yet.

She'd struggled for hours last night to come up with the perfect revenge to no avail. She decided, after discarding fantasies of bodily harm, that humiliation would suffice. But how would she humiliate him?

Grumbling to himself, Lex yawned and sat up. "I ordered breakfast already, charged on your bill naturally. It should be here anytime now," she told him.

Lex nodded and pulled himself to his feet. He stretched, taking a moment to rub his back, and left in the direction of the bathroom. She heard the shower going a moment later. She was glad that she was already showered and ready for the day.

While he was in the shower breakfast came and Chloe began eating ahead of him. By the time Lex was ready and eating she was done. She sat there, thinking.

Then a vague idea began to take shape in her head. She doubted it could be done, but it was the best idea she'd had yet.

"Let's go to the studio where Jeopardy is taped," she suggested.

"The taping is not until 7 tonight," Lex told her irritably. Upon closer looked, Lex seemed quite tired.

"So? I just want to see what it looks like before anyone else gets there." When it looked like he was going to say no she added a sweet, "Please."

Lex sighed. "Fine, we'll go right after I finish eating." Chloe beamed at him and he smiled reluctantly.

When they got to the studio that morning the guard turned them away, saying they couldn't go in when no one was there. Lex told him that his girlfriend, motioning at Chloe, was a huge fan and just wanted to look around for a couple minutes. She ignored the warmth in her chest at being called his girlfriend. He slipped the guard a crisp 100, for good measure, and the guard let them in.

The studio was quiet and empty. It looked eerie to see all the podiums set up, but no one behind them. She did think it was cool to actually be in the place where Jeopardy was taped. She wandered around a little and Lex followed her. She touched the little screens that the answers popped up on. She stood behind Alex Trebec's podium and grinned at Lex.

"Stand behind one of the contestant podiums," she told Lex, who humored her and stood behind the one closest to her. "Lex," she drawled, "have you every played strip Jeopardy?"

Lex's eyes lit up in delighted interest. "No," he said slowly. He glanced around the empty studio. "But maybe we should try back in the hotel room, we could be caught here."

Chloe shook her head. "It wouldn't be the same. Since I'm behind Trebec's podium I'll give you and answer and you have to give me the question, just like on Jeopardy. If you get it right then I'll take off and article of clothing, but if you don't then you take off an article of clothing. Get the rules."

"As much as I'd love to do this, I think-"

"This person was the first African American elected to the Senate," she interrupted him.

"Who is Hiram Revels?" Lex answered automatically.

Chloe smiled. "Correct." She took off her shirt and Lex's eyes widened. He stared at her, bra-clad breasts.

"This is an easy one. This country funded Columbus' mission to the East Indies, which led to the discovery of the New World."

"Portugal," he answered and Chloe shimmied out of her pants. Lex gripped the sides of his podium tightly. She shifted a little so that Lex could see her just fine and the podium wouldn't block her from his sight.

"This author was so addicted to cocaine that he doesn't recall writing the book Cujo at all," she said. Lex just stared at her leaning against Alex Trebec's podium in her underwear. "Oh, I'm sorry, but time is up. The answer was who is Stephen King."


"Take off an article of clothing," she ordered. Lex took off his shirt.

"La petite mort, which means `the little death' in French refers to this in English."

"Um..." He swallowed noticeably.

"I'm sorry, time is up. The answer is what is an orgasm." She chuckled at the sunned expression on his face. "No take off an article of clothing."

Lex took off his pants. Chloe caught a glimpse of his erection tenting his boxers. She raised a mocking eyebrow at him and Lex gave a little growl. "Okay, that's it. I've had enough of this game," he said and stormed over to her podium.

He pulled Chloe into his arms, giving her a kiss that obliterated all thought. Chloe's hands wandered across his chest and down his back, grabbing at his skin every now and then. Then she went on the offensive and grabbed his butt in her hands, dragging his hips against hers. Lex shuddered and she slipped her tongue inside of his mouth. He angled his hips a little and pushed his throbbing cock in her panty-protected crotch. Heat shot through her at the feeling. She was almost completely lost in her lust when she felt the podium press into her back.

It came to her then, the idea fully formed.

She pushed Lex away from her. "Wait, I have an idea."

Lex groaned and let her leave him. When she returned she was holding a long extension cord. "What are you planning on doing with that?" he asked.

She motioned to the podium and Lex sucked in a sharp breath of surprise. "You've got to be kidding." His erection leapt at the suggestion, though. He gave in. "Fine, let's just make this quick, okay?"

He let Chloe pull his arms behind him. After a few minutes, Chloe had Lex tightly bound to the podium. He couldn't move his hands or feet at all, in fact he was starting to loose circulation in his left foot. It was impossible to tear his eyes from Chloe. She was stunning, parading before him in her underwear. He thanked God for making her for him. She was his perfect match. His chest swelled and throat ached as he realized, tied there on the podium, how much he loved her.

Chloe ran her fingers down his chest to the waistband of his boxers and he strained into her touch. He froze as Chloe reached down and gripped him through his boxers.

"God, Chloe," he rasped.

Chloe reached over to tease one earlobe with her tongue. She rubbed the head of his cock with her thumb and his head fell back. "I guess all this friendship stuff is finally paying off, huh?" she whispered.

"Hmmm?" Lex hadn't quite understood what she said. His brain was having a hard time functioning.

"Well, I'm glad that I know now that you were never my friend instead of harboring some delusion that you actually cared about me," she continued. Then she left him, picking up her clothes off the floor.

"Huh?" Her words finally began to make sense. "I didn't mean it like that!" he said but she was already gone. "Chloe?" No answer. "Chloe! Get back here and untie me! Chloe!!!!!"

Great, he was alone, naked, and tied to Alex Trebec's podium. The woman he loved hated him. What else could go wrong? A few minutes later he heard voices.

<Chapter Eight>

Chloe chuckled to herself as she slipped her clothes back on in a women's rest room. When she finished dressing she considered leaving, going to grab something for lunch, and then coming back for Lex. However, the prospect facing him when she got back wasn't something to look forward to.

She headed back into the podium and happened upon Lex talking to a few astounded cameramen. "Untie me," Lex ordered them, "and if you don't laugh I'll pay you handsomely." One of them let out a snicker and Lex glared at him. "No cash for you then," he told the man who couldn't contain another louder laugh. The others began to untie Lex.

Chloe swept over to the podium. "There you are! You have no idea how worried I was about you!" She looked at the men. "Thanks for finding him. He tends to wander off and tie himself naked to things." She pointed at her head and spun her finger around, making a crazy motion. "One he tied himself to the Statue of Liberty. Be thankful he's at least wearing his boxers now, he wasn't then. Little old ladies were fainting left and right- it was a nightmare." All the men laughed now.

Lex managed to pull the extension cord the rest of the way off him. "Don't expect to get paid now," he snarled at all the cameramen. "You!" He pointed at Chloe.

Chloe smiled innocently. "Yes, me. He recognizes me, that's a good thing. Maybe he's becoming more lucid," she told the men. "Come on, Dr. Herowitz wants to talk to you again." She grabbed Lex's clothes and pulled him toward the men's restroom. "Thanks again."

When they got to the restroom she handed Lex his clothes. "Get dressed."

Lex's eyes narrowed. "You're going to pay for that I hope you know."

"Yeah whatever, now go get dressed before anyone wanders this way." Lex went into the restroom grumbling to himself. As soon as he came out he told her, "You know, I didn't mean what I'd said like that."

"What exactly did you mean then?" she asked stiffly.

"I meant that I was glad that I didn't have to pretend to be just your friend anymore," he elaborated.

She pursed her lips. "I fail to see how that if different from you pretending to be my friend to get laid."

Lex sighed in frustration. "I wasn't pretending to be your friend! Look, I always enjoyed hanging out with you and talking. You're smart, funny, slightly devious- of course I'd admire you and want to be your friend!"

"Oh. So, you always were my friend."

"Yes. I've also wanted to become more than your friend for a long time, too. You have no idea how hard it was for me to hold myself back and pretend I only wanted a platonic relationship. I wanted to wait until I thought it was safe to take the next step." He frowned. "Of, course I bungled that up, too- making all my waiting for nothing."

"So," she said slowly, "you want to be more than friends."

"Yes." He watched her think, trying to suppress the nervousness knotting his stomach that making him feel nauseous. He tried to muster some anger at what she'd done again, but found it impossible. The relief that she'd come back for him had outweighed any fury. Despite the chaotic jumble of emotions bombarding him, all he really wanted to do was pull her in his arms again.

"So, you want to be my, what? Boyfriend?" She was having a hard time grasping exactly what Lex was saying. She couldn't understand why someone who could have anyone he wanted would want her. Maybe this fixed into some elaborate scheme to get back at her for the podium stunt.

"For now," he agreed reluctantly.

Chloe just looked at him, contemplatively. "Why?"

A muscle flexed in his jaw and she knew he was grinding his teeth. "I just explained it to you. I've always liked and admired you, now I desire you too. And if you end up dating another Clark wanna-be I'm going to snap and haul you off to my mansion, whether or not you want to come."

"Fine," she said at last.

"Fine?" he repeated. "Just like that? We're officially a couple?"

"We'll give it a trial run, and if it doesn't work out then it doesn't work out- we'll just break up." She shrugged. "Though, I want you to promise to try and still be friends if we do- and not that half-hearted no-way-in-hell-I'm-ever-gonna-speak-to-you-again kind of way, but real friends. I like you too, Lex, and I don't want to lose my best friend."

He nodded. "Deal." There was no way he was going to let her go now anyway, even if they broke up.

As they headed out of the studio he enfolded her hand in his. Chloe jumped at the touch and looked at him. Lex smiled. "What? Boyfriends hold their girlfriends hands all the time."

Chloe shrugged and let him hold her hand. Back in the limo she told Lex, "You know your dad isn't gonna be happy when he finds out you're dating me."

Lex grinned. "One more reason why we make sense together. You're dad isn't going to be too pleased either. He's going to cause a scene about our age difference, I'm sure."

Chloe hesitated. "Do we have to tell him?"

Lex's grip on her hand tightened noticeably. "Yes. We're not going to act ashamed of our lo-relationship. I want everyone to know we're dating." Amusement colored his voice. "Perhaps we should just drop by a newspaper and announce it there. Then everyone will know at once and we won't have to deal with their shock."

"You wouldn't," Chloe gasped.

"Probably not, but you have to admit it's a good idea." He raised her hand to his lips and gently kissed each of her knuckles.

"I won't admit anything of the kind." Her heart constricted in response to his attentions. "Where are we going now?"

"Lunch, then we have some time to kill before dinner. Then we have to go to the taping."

"You're still planning on going through with this?"

"Of course, I wouldn't back out of a bet. Especially with the stakes set as they are." He scraped his teeth lightly across her knuckles and she shivered. "I'm looking forward to your massage- naked, might I remind you."

"Who says you'll win?" she challenged through the desire flooding her.

"I always win, I thought you'd have realized that by now," he joked, partly serious. "I won you at long last."

"You haven't won anything," she retorted, knowing she should be offended but not really feeling too annoyed by his presumption. "I could break up with you at any time, that's the beauty of dating."

Lex set down her hand and looked out the window. "I hope you're not going to be threatening me with that every time I say or do something stupid." His voice sounded a bit strained.

Chloe reached out and took his hand. This time she kissed his slightly rougher, larger knuckles. "If I did that I'm sure I'd never shut up," she teased.

Lex's eyes lit up, watching her kiss his hand with his breath caught in his throat. His chest ached, so full of emotion he felt like he'd explode. He scooted closer to her, basking in their proximity. Casually draping one arm across her shoulders, he used it to pull her to him and tenderly brush his lips across her cheekbones. Having her so close to his was toying was like playing with fire and he fought to stave off his lust for her. This wasn't the right moment to maul her. This was a moment for love. Perhaps if he demonstrated how much she meant to him she might fall in love with him, too. He could maul her later. He was counting the hours.

<Chapter Nine>

That evening at the taping Lex gave her an enthusiastic kiss "for good luck" before she was ushered off to take a seat in the audience. As she sat in her seat it was weird being so far away from Lex. They'd spent so much time together lately it had started to feel natural that they'd practically be joined at the hip. She chuckled at that thought. Joined at the hip...hmmm, that sounded more than a little appealing. She wished Lex was here so she could tell him about that that last thought. He'd probably give her that scorching, knee-weakening look of his and tease her right back.

It was still a little odd knowing that she was dating Lex Luthor. She still expected him to turn to her and say, "Gotcha!" How serious he was about their dating was a mystery to her. She wondered how much thing would change when they went back to Smallville. Would he still want to date her then? And what would happen when she went off to Metropolis University in the fall? Would they break things off then? The thought made her unexpectedly depressed.

The lights dimmed and the audience fell completely silent. The show was starting. Lex stood out dramatically from the other contestants, what with his bald head and casual but expensively elegant outfit. An amused half-smile tugged at his lips when the theme began and searched for Chloe in the audience. Alex Trebec came out on the stage and each of the contestants were given a cursory introduction. They were all donating their winnings to charity, like on Celebrity Jeopardy. Lex didn't pay much attention to his contestants. He vaguely recognized their names and knew they were millionaire businessmen, too, but he didn't really care. All that mattered was that he was going to win and get to give Chloe that massage, and much more would follow that massage if all went as planned.

He was so caught up in his thoughts that another contestant answered the first question. He snapped back to reality and determinedly tightened his grip on his buzzer. For the rest of the game he kept on his toes, answering questions left and right. He managed to squeeze slightly ahead of the other two contestants by the first commercial break. He wanted to go talk to Chloe during the break, but knew there wouldn't be time. His contestants were much smarter than he'd previously given them credit for, but he wouldn't admit that to Chloe, of course. He wanted to tease her about being distracted by thoughts of them nearly naked right where Alex Trebec was standing.

The second half of the first round whizzed by. By the end of the first half of the second round he noticed that his opponent's reaction times were slowing down considerably as they seemed to lose moral. Triumph surged through him. He was going to win!

At last, it was time for Final Jeopardy. The category was The Written Word. After a brief commercial break Alex Trebec read the question, or answer- whatever. "This person was the inventor of the first printing press."

Lex's gaze immediately shot to Chloe. Her toothy grin was clearly visible out in the audience. Remembering Chloe talking mentioning who it was in the Printing Press, he scrawled down his answer and set down his pen. "Thank you," he mouthed wordlessly to her.

Time soon ran out and each of the answers were read. The first contestant said, "Who is ?". He ended up losing 800. The second said, "Who is Gutenberg?" and won an additional 1000. Lex's answer was read off, "Who is Gutenberg?"

"Correct," Alex Trebec said. "And you wagered...1600."

The points were tallied and Lex ended up winning by several hundred. He grinned up at Chloe in the audience. Alex congratulated him and the others and the theme was played one more time as people in the audience started leaving. Lex searched the crowd for Chloe with his eyes, resisting the urge to rip his hand away from Alex Trebec's friendly handshake and run off to find her. He hoped that she was waiting for him. His blood was pumping in his veins, more in anticipation of cashing in on their bet than winning on Jeopardy.

Chloe hadn't actually moved from her seat. People were walking past her to get out as soon as possible. She sat, still somewhat surprised that the game was over already. It had seemed much too short. Considering all that she'd been through that past couple of days, she expected the game to be the highlight of the weekend. Now it just seemed like a footnote.

Between the milling bodies she spotted Lex say something to Alex Trebec and march over to the audience, his gaze seeking her out.

She waved her hands. "Over here!"

Lex spotted her and pushed past people in his effort to reach her. When he finally got to her he pulled her to him to give her a kiss. Chloe melted against him and curled her hands around the back of his neck, brushing her thumbs across the little bump on the back of his head.

She drew away from him and said, "Well, I suppose a congratulation is in order?"

Lex grinned. "You can congratulate me later when you're naked underneath me."


"Oh, Alex Trebec wants to meet you." He pulled her to the stage.

"He wants to meet me? Why the heck would he want to meet me?"

"I told him my girlfriend was in the audience." They approached Alex Trebec. "This is her," Lex announced proudly. "Chloe Sullivan."

Alex Trebec smiled warmly and held out his hand for a handshake. Chloe shook his hand trying not to look too awed at meeting him. "I'm such a fan of the show," she blurted out. "It is so great to finally meet you." She cringed inwardly for sounding like such a dope. She was sure he heard that all the time.

He smiled. "Thank you. It's great to meet Lex's latest conquest."

Chloe stiffened. "Latest conquest?" Hearing Alex Trebec say it out loud was like having one of her fears concerning her dating Lex validated.

"He didn't mean it like that," Lex added quickly, noticing the expression on her face.

"Oh, no! Sorry, from what Lex has told me he sounds more like the conquered one," Alex amended quickly.

"How long have you known each other?" she asked suspiciously.

"Ehh... a few years," Lex admitted reluctantly. "But that doesn't mean I was treated any differently than the other contestants."

Alex Trebec nodded. "Yes, we met at a charity function a few years back and became friendly acquaintances, I suppose you could say. I'd never let Lex cheat on my game, though. I almost wanted him to lose so I could rub it in his face."

Chloe felt her tension melt away and smiled. "Me, too," she agreed.

"Hey!" Lex mockingly protested. "Some girlfriend you're turning out to be."

Chloe stuck her tongue out at him and his eyes lit up. "Well," he told Alex Trebec, "we should be going. Chloe said something about congratulating me back at the hotel."

She felt her face go red as he pulled her off stage, toward the exit. "Lex! I can't believe you just said that," she told him, but Lex ignored her.

Alex Trebec smirked. "Have fun!" he called after them.

"Don't worry, we will," Lex said and waved as they left.

<Chapter Ten>

The first thing that greeted them as they entered their suite was a large, white massage table sitting in the middle of the living room area.

Chloe halted and just stared at it for a moment before she gave Lex an amused look. "Thinking ahead were you?"

"I might have made a few earlier arrangements to make sure it was here when we got back," he replied blithely.

"What if you hadn't won?"

Lex smirked. "Well, in the highly unlikely event that I didn't, I'd have made a quick phone call and had someone remove it." He paused and faced her head on. "Well? What are we waiting for? Get naked." He barely managed to contain the urge to rub his hands together and cackle gleefully.

Chloe sucked in a deep breath. "Well, I guess a deal is a deal," she conceded reluctantly. "Though, I don't think it's really fair since I practically gave you the answer to Final Jeopardy."

"I might have gotten it without you having mentioned it earlier," he argued. "Now, quit stalling and strip."

She glared at him and ripped off her shirt to hurtle it at his head. Lex caught it with a laugh, staring at her as she unzipped her skirt and let it fall to the floor. She stood in front of him in her panties and bra, feeling very exposed and vulnerable. Goosebumps rose on her skin and she shivered under his gaze. She was acutely aware of her hard nipples just underneath her bra.

"Cold?" he asked with a voice that felt thick in his throat. She shrugged, and he almost groaned at how the movement made her breasts shift just the slightest. He tried to tear his eyes away from her, merely for the sake of sanity, but he couldn't- he was transfixed by the beautiful woman before him.

She reached for her bra and hesitated. A flush of color spread across her cheeks. "Don't stop." His voice came out a scratchy whisper. He shifted, attempting to find a more comfortable position to stand in with his already considerable erection.

He held his breath as sleep tore of her bra in one quick motion, as if she might not have done it if she'd taken her time about it. In another quick movement, that made her lush breasts sway hypnotically, she bent down and dragged off her panties. Then she stood up, back proudly straight and eyes belligerently challenging, completely naked. Lex clenched his hands into fists, struggling not to close the distance between them and run his hands across so much soft, achingly touchable skin.

The air between them was electric. Lex threw off his jacket and started unbuttoning his shirt.

"What are you doing?" Chloe demanded, sounding a bit alarmed.

He looked up, arching his eyebrow. "Taking off my clothes."

"But I thought..."

He smiled. "Yes, I did say you had to be naked, but I never said I had to be dressed."

He finished unbuttoning his shirt and threw it off. After quickly ripping off his belt he noticed Chloe watching him with more than a bit interest. He slowed down, taking his time removing his pants. He could feel her stare on his skin as acutely as if she were touching him and dropped his constrictive pants with a sigh of relief. His boxers quickly followed. He knew she was staring at his engorged cock and he felt himself swell more in response.

They both faced each other, completely naked- each forgetting their own nudity as they stared at the other.

"Get on the massage table," he ordered after several moments. She sat on the table. "Now lay on your stomach." She did, giving him a delightful view of her cute butt. He slowly approached the table, wondering where to begin touching her.

Chloe waited, tense with anticipation. Her breath came out in light pants against the cushioned massage table. She jumped as she felt his fingers on the nape of her neck. His fingers were light on her skin, a mere brush of skin against skin. He gradually began to apply more pressure, kneading the muscles underneath her skin in little circles.

"Tell me what feels good," he said, his voice reverently hushed.

He kept applying the pressure, moving gently across her neck. After a little while he moved to her shoulders, massaging her with the heals of his hands. After a while she began to relax underneath his hands and she closed her eyes. She sighed blissfully when he hit the small of her back, only to tense right back up at the moments his hands settled on her butt. Even then, it was only tense and strange feeling at first. She got used to the feel of his palms on her butt. She moaned in delight when he moved on to the back of her thighs.

"Right there, huh?" Lex murmured, lingering on the spot right above the back of her knees.

"Mmm hmm," she agreed.

He paid close attention to that spot before moving slowly down her calves, finishing up at her ankles.

"Roll over," he told her.

Chloe sighed in disappointment. "Do I have to?"

He chuckled. "Yes."

She sighed. "Fine."

As soon as she rolled over everything changed. Actually seeing him leaning over her made all her relaxed languidness vanish. The fire in his eyes made her tingle, suddenly unbearably sensitive between her legs. She brought her legs closer together. She clenched her eyes closed, her pulse racing. His hands settled on her shoulders, sweeping down to her breasts. His fingers trailed down her breasts and she sucked in a sharp gasp at the jolt that ran through her at the touch. Then he cupped her breasts and her back arched involuntarily. When he rolled her nipples between his fingers she was panting audibly.

A little whimper of disappointment escaped her when his hands left her breasts to run slowly down her sides to her hips. His hands swept inward across her belly. When the pressure continued lower, pausing just above her thatch of pubic hair, she trembled in desire.

"God, Lex, don't stop now," she begged breathlessly.

The table shook and suddenly Lex was sitting lightly across her legs. She raised her head to find Lex supporting his weight on his arms, braced near her shoulders, and his erection nestled among her blond curls, clad in a condom.

"Chloe?" he asked, the strain in his voice making his question almost sound like a demand.

She looked up at him, yearning for him but suddenly afraid- afraid to give in to their desire, afraid that once she did she would become merely another conquest. If she gave in would Lex dump her as quickly as he had all the other women he'd been with?

Seeing her hesitate, he lowered his eyelids so that she didn't see the disappointment, the hurt of rejection reflected in his eyes. He shifted to move off of her.

"No," Chloe ordered, hooking one leg around his hip followed a moment later by the other leg. She dragged Lex to her.

Lex hesitated at her entrance. "Are you a virgin?" He had to ask, couldn't help it. The thought of another man claiming her before him made him insane with fury, but if she was a virgin he had to know so that he'd be gentler than usual.

"Goddamit, who cares!" she snapped, pulling the head of his cock into her.

Lex gripped her hips and stilled her before he sank any farther into her. "I care," he said, tightly.

"Yes, are you happy now?"


He lowered himself a bit farther into her heat and Chloe gasped. He wanted to wait for her to adjust, but she raised her hips to him and he couldn't react fast enough to stop himself from sliding the rest of the way into her. He barely noticed the moment he broke through her thin hymen, and nether did she. Both of them closed their eyes, lost in their lust.

The sensation of being so totally joined with another person made Chloe's head spin. She experimentally gripped Lex's cock with her inner muscles and he jerked, making them both groan. "Don't do that," he said, "or this will be over much too soon."

He withdrew from her nearly completely before plunging slowly into her again. Chloe's hands reached up to grip his back, unknowing digging her nails into his skin and drawing blood. Lex barely noticed. He pumped himself into her tight searing sheath again, this time with more force. His arms were beginning to tremble, the tension rolling through him making exhausting his arm muscles before it was time for them to collapse out from under him. He pulled Chloe up into a sitting position, carefully making sure they stayed locked onto each other, and he sat down himself. He sat on the table with Chloe sitting impaled on his cock, her legs still wrapped around his waist.

Then she rose up to sink onto him again. Chloe began the rhythm, bobbing up and down on his cock. He thrust up into her as much as he could, latching his mouth onto her neck-determined to give her a hicky that would last months and broadcast his claim of her to all. He tore his mouth from her only when Chloe's sharp cries grew loud in his ear and she began to ripple around him as she climaxed. Her twitching muscles sent him over the edge with a deep, guttural groan.

Chloe melted against him, burying her face in the warm crook of his neck. Exhaustion overcame her and sleep snuck up on her before she realized it. As she drifted away she heard Lex murmur something, but she didn't hear it.

"God, I love you so much." The words slipped out of his mouth before he could stop them. He looked down and realized that Chloe had fallen asleep with him still buried inside of her. He smiled wryly. "It's supposed to be the guy who passes out," he told her.

He reluctantly pulled himself out of her, removed his condom, and carried her to the bedroom, gently laying her on the bed. He settled down beside her, wrapped his arms around her, and wondered if she'd have believed him if she had heard him. If only there was some way to prove to her how much he cared about her.

He fell asleep. As he woke early the next morning, the answer came to him.

<Chapter Eleven>

Chloe woke up that morning alone. She sat up in bed and the blanket around her dropped to her waist, making her remember her nudity. She glanced at the clock. It was 10:30.

"Lex?" she called, figuring he was in the bathroom or something. No answer. "Lex?" she tried again. Still no answer. She shrugged and got out of bed to take a shower. Maybe he when out to get some breakfast.

As she passed through the living room to go to the bathroom she noticed the massage table was still in the suite. Something was on it. She looked at it closer. It was a small dark red-brownish stain. Ah, yes, she remembered. Bleeding a little the first time was perfectly normal. She couldn't believe she'd actually had sex with Lex. It had been amazing, something she'd never forget. She wished he was here so they could go another round. She shook her head with a silly smile. Lex was corrupting her. And she couldn't say she minded a bit.

She went and took her shower. When she was done she was surprised to find that he still wasn't back. What was taking him so long?

Lex strolled out of LA's Evenrue's Jewelers, a classy, popular jewelry store, shoving a small black box inside his big jacket pocket along with another bigger, thinner box. He peered up and down the street. Now where had his limo gone?

A little baglady pushing a shopping cart was shuffling down the sidewalk across the street. She was muttering to herself and pushing her scraggly gray hair away from her eyes. He only noted her briefly before resuming his search for his limo, wishing he'd been abandoned in a better part of the city.

"I should make a few phone calls and get Evenrue's relocated," he grumbled to himself, wandering down the street a ways. He whipped out his cell phone and dialed the driver. "Where are you?" he snapped when he answered.

"Sorry, Mr. Luthor, I went to get gas and now I'm stuck behind traffic. I think there was some kind of accident ahead of me. I should be back in 10 minutes," the driver said.

"Don't worry about it, I'll just take a taxi." He hung up. The taxi company he called said there would be someone there in 10 minutes, too. Apparently, a whole bunch of their drivers were stuck behind that accident, also. He sighed in frustration.

He was anxious to get back to Chloe with his gifts. She was probably awake by now. It had taken him much longer than he expected to find exactly what he was looking for. He'd been in several other jewelry stores before going to Evenrue's. He scowled. He'd wanted to order breakfast and flowers and have them ready for her on a silver tray when she woke up. Then he'd present her with what he'd gotten her. Now, his plans were ruined. Perfect.

Someone knocked on the suite room. Chloe, fully dressed, got up and answered it. Her heart fell when she saw that it wasn't Lex.

A young man in a bellhop's uniform smiled politely at her. "Hello, sorry to bother you, but we'd like to know when you're checking out today," he said.

"What?" she said blankly.

"You paid for this room for two nights. Check out time is usually noon, so don't worry about leaving right this second- you still have an hour. I was just told to remind you," he said.

"Oh, okay. Thanks," she said and he nodded with another polite smile. Chloe closed the door. Her eyebrows were furrowed in concern. "Where's Lex?" she wondered out loud.

A hand reached out of a dark alley and latched onto Lex's arm, making him jump. He was pulled into the alley before he had time to react. Once his eyes adjusted to the dimmer light, he realized that he'd been accosted by three homeless men. The one that had grabbed him wore a dingy skicap and wielded a filthy looking butcher knife. Another man, with an equally dirty knife, moved to stand behind Lex.

"Gimme yur money," the man with the skicap ordered, pointing the knife at him menacingly. The man behind him pressed his knife into Lex's back, the tip almost breaking his skin.

Lex nodded and slowly pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. The man with the skicap, apparently the leader of the group, grabbed it out of his hand. He tore the cash from it himself, whistling as he pulled out several hundred dollars.

"You rich-" The leader looked at the driver's license. "- Alexander Luthor?"

"Wait!" exclaimed the third man through very few teeth. "I hearda that name before in a paper! He bought that warehouse we usta sleep in on 32nd."

"Really?" the leader said resentfully. "Give us yur clothes, too, then."

Lex hesitated. "Look, how about I go get more cash and come back and give it to you?" he bargained.

"Well..." the leader considered, absently scratching his cheek with the dull side of the knife.

"Don't listen ta him!" the loudmouth said. "He won't come back!"

"Just gimme yuh clothes and yuh can go without gettin' hurt none," the leader changed his mind and ordered.

Lex took of his shoes and pants, trying not to cringe at the thought of the filth he was stepping in. He took off his jacket, pulling out the little boxes from his pocket quickly and shoving them in his boxers before throwing the leader the jacket.

"Hey!" the leader protested. "What was that? Gimme those."

"They're nothing," Lex said.

"Then we do yuh want `em, huh?" the bigmouth demanded.

"Yeah, just hand `em over," the leader agreed.

Lex gritted his teeth, his temper starting to get the better of him. "No," he said defiantly. "I'm giving them to the woman I love and aren't mine to give away."

The leader sneered. "Isn't that sweet? Bob, get `em from him," he told the bigmouth, who nodded.

The toothless, oh-so informative man grabbed at Lex's boxers. "Don't touch me!" Lex pushed the man away from him. The toothless man was a lot heavier than he expected, and damned near unmovable. The toothless man glared at him and pushed him right back.

Lex stumbled backwards, and a sharp pain shot through him. Lex desperately reached behind him, where the agony stemmed from, and grabbed onto a sticky handle embedded in his back.

"Shit!" the man behind him said. "Dammit, Bob, you made me stab him!"

"Fuck," the leader swore. "Grab his clothes and let's get outa here- forget `bout the damn boxes."

Lex brought his hands back to his suddenly pale face. His hands were stained with blood. A tremor shook him, making him fall to his knees in shock. The boxes fell from the bottom of his boxers and fell open. He reached down to pick up his gifts from the mud and garbage littering the ground. A groan erupted from his throat.

Lex collapsed on his stomach, his vision rapidly growing dim. The knife in his back pointed towards the gray sky. He managed to clutch Chloe's engagement ring and quill in his bloody hands and desolately whispering, "Chloe," before losing consciousness entirely.

<Chapter Twelve>

Chloe dragged her suitcase out of the hotel, an anxious expression on her face. "Where the fuck is he?" she said. She'd tried calling his cell phone earlier but got no answer.

And where was the limo? Tears welled in her eyes, and a swell of wretched despair strangled her. She was all alone in LA.

She called her dad on her cell phone. "Hello, dad," she said when he answered.

"Hi, honey. Where are you?" he asked.

"In LA still. I don't know where Lex is and I just got booted out of the hotel." She tried not to sound as pathetic as she felt. "I tried calling his cell phone and he's not answering."

"Hmmm. That's odd."

She nodded, forgetting that he couldn't see her. "Yeah. So, what should I do?" She hated asking him that, like she was some scared little girl, even though she felt like she was.

Her dad swore. "I knew I shouldn't have let him take you to LA. Look, just call a cab. They should have a phone book you can use in the hotel room. Have them take you to the nearest airport. You have enough cash on you to pay for the cab?"

"Yes," she said, trying not to sniffle too loud.

"Use the credit card I gave you in case of emergencies and book a flight back home today- I don't care what the cost is, as long as you're not wandering the streets of LA. I can't believe he just abandoned my daughter like that."

Neither could she. He'd fucked her and ditched her, just like she'd been afraid of. Never in her wildest dreams did she think he'd do something like this, though.

"Thanks, Dad," she said, feeling a bit better now that she had some sort of a game plan. "I'll call you when I get the plane tickets, okay?"

"Yes. That bastard! I just can't believe this!" Her dad was getting really worked up.

"I'll be okay. Talk to you later, bye." She hung up and lugged her suitcase back in the hotel. The man at the front desk handed her a phonebook when she asked and she called a cab to pick her up.

On her way to the airport she fought against the tears she could feel burn in her throat. She'd been an idiot. All her friends had warned her against being friends with Lex and what did she do? Fuck him. She should have listened to them. The pain of his betrayal hurt like nothing she'd ever felt before. She'd cared so much about him... She'd started to fall in love with him, she realized. A tear slipped down her cheek, leaving a glistening salty streak in its wake.

Her desolation lasted as she booked her flight. As she waited to board the plane, with three hours to kill, a migraine began to throb behind her eyes. Nearby a stressed out looking man dragged along his little, probably six year old, daughter by the arm. The little girl was whining about something, pointing at the nearby gift shop. The man snapped at the girl and she started to cry, but he ignored her tears and pulled her away.

Fuck them, Chloe thought. Fuck Lex, and fuck all men. Who needs them? She could live without the love you read about in fairy tales and saw in the movies. She had friends- real ones, unlike Lex- and family. What else did she really need? Nothing! Sure, sex was great but even then she didn't necessarily need a guy for that. There was always masturbation. Besides, then you didn't have to worry about STDs or pregnancy. Yeah, fuck him.

She sat there in the airport, her eyes glinting with a furious determination, and resolved to transfer to a college across the US the next year. The farther she was away from Lex, the better. And if she ever saw him again, she couldn't be held responsible for her actions. He had a good beating coming to him, and she deserved to be the one to give it to him.

Across town doctors were rolling a bald young man to the ER. Clad in smocks doctors surrounded him, carefully pulling out the knife from his back and stitching up him wound after a thorough cleansing. They gave him several shots, barking orders at each other.

"The knife missed the lungs and spine, by some miracle, but he's lost a lot of blood. He's going to need a transfusion, stat," one of the doctors, the head surgeon, said. Another left to fetch the blood.

"Who is he?" one asked.

"He didn't have any ID on him. The baglady that found him said he'd gotten mugged. We'll find when he wakes up, I suppose," the head surgeon said. "He's that the lady found him before he bled to death."

Lex groaned. His back ached. He opened his eyes, squinting as bright light took him by surprise. Rubbing his eyes, he noticed an IV hanging from his arm.

Suddenly he remembered what happened to him and realized that he was in a hospital. He peered around him, spotting the call button and he pressed it. A nurse came in, a squat gray haired lady with a kind smile.

"Where are my things?" he demanded.

"Things?" she said, puzzled. "Oh, your clothes and the things you were holding when you came in are stored underneath your bed in bags. Everything is quite filthy."

He relaxed. "How long have I been here?"

"Three days, counting the day you came in."

"What?! Three days! I need to make a phone call," he tried to reach for the phone on the bedside table but a sharp pain shot through him, making him pale as bright lights danced in front of his eyes.

"Calm down, you're still recovering," the little old lady scolded.

"You don't understand, I need to call my girlfriend!"

"Call her later. I'm sure she won't be going anywhere." The nurse was holding a little shot and injected it in his IV bag.

"Wait, I need to call her. She doesn't know what happened to me. I only reserved our hotel for two nights, she won't understand why I left her. I..." he trailed off as whatever drug she'd put in his IV began to take affect. His vision faded into black as he passed out.

<Chapter Thirteen>

"I hate to say it Chloe," Pete began the following day at school.

"Then don't," she snapped, hearing an I-told-you-so a million miles away.

"He is a Luthor, after all," he continued. "And you know how trustworthy they are."

"Pete, shut up," she said, tightening her grip on the mouse as she struggled to concentrate on working on the Torch.

"I'm just saying."

"Well, just don't say it." Her chest still ached whenever she thought of how she'd been abandoned and cast aside once Lex had had her.

Pete paused thoughtfully. "You don't still like him, do you?"

"No!" she denied quickly. "He left me alone in LA." However, some pathetic part of her knew that she would change her mind if he begged for her forgiveness.

School seemed to plod on forever that day. She tried to ignore the longing that welled up in her to go to Lex's house after school. The next time they met, she vowed, it would because Lex couldn't go on without her- not the other way around. So, she went home and did anything but think about him. She tried to work on her homework at the dining room table that evening but lost all focus when the Jeopardy theme jingled from the living room.

"Chloe!" her dad called. "It's Lex Luthor!"

She stood up and ran into the living room. Sure enough, there he was standing behind his podium looking worldly and sexier than any man had the right to be.

God, she missed him already. She'd never expected him to have been able to break her heart. She'd been falling in love with him, she realized, she already was in love with him. That explained why the thought of losing him had been unbearable, not because she'd miss him as a friend- but because she loved him.

She turned out of the living room and flew up the stairs into her room. "Goddammit! You idiot!" she swore at herself. "You're in love with an emotionally constipated man who wouldn't know love if it bit him in the ass!" That sucked, needless to say.

She threw herself on her bed and decided to go to sleep. It was only seven, but the oblivion of sleep had to be better than dealing with the drama of unrequited love. So, she tried to fall asleep but flashes of memory from the other night kept her awake and aroused late into the night.

"Thank you, father," Lex said reluctantly. "For once, I'm glad that you horned in on my business." A nurse was pushing him in a wheelchair through the front door of the mansion.

Lionel shrugged. "After all the grooming I put you through to fill my shoes once I'm gone, I couldn't let you die in a public hospital"

"I wasn't exactly dying," Lex said wryly. "But I do appreciate you bringing me home."

As soon as he'd found out that the hotel had kicked Chloe out of the room, and Lex had threatened to close it down forever, his father had burst into his hospital room unannounced. He whisked him out of there, introducing him to Lex's private nurse. She was a rather buxom young blond lady with an inane giggle. Lex barely glanced at her which annoyed Lionel, who had carefully picked out this particular woman as his son's nurse. He had sighed heavily, finally admitting to himself that his son was in love with the Sullivan girl.

Lex called Chloe's cell phone one last time before he left the hospital, still getting no answer. He considered leaving a voicemail, but then remembered her saying something about how she never checked it anyway. Then he called her house. Her dad answered, coldly telling him that she was at school and that he wanted Lex to stay away from his daughter. He hung up on Lex before he got a chance to explain himself.

By the time that Lex got back to the mansion all his energy had vanished and his annoying nurse insisted he go to bed. He hated her even more when she tried help him get into bed. Lex refused to have her help change him into pajamas and decided to fire her tomorrow. He lay Chloe's engagement ring and mangled quill in his bedside table before falling asleep for the night.

He finally got a hold of her the next day. "Chloe!" he said in relief as she answered.

"Lex," she said coolly. "What do you want?"

"I need to give you something," he blurted out.

"Gee, thanks, a parting gift? You shouldn't have," she said bitingly. "The thing is, you're supposed to give those away before you leave not after."

"I heard about the hotel. I'm sorry I wasn't there." More than she realized. "But I had no choice- Look, why don't you come over here. I don't want to talk to you over the phone."

"I don't know," she said doubtfully.

"Look, if you still don't forgive me after I explain what happened you never have to come to me house again," he said, holding his breathe as she seemed to be thinking about it.


He slumped in his bed in relief. "Great. Come over today?"

"I'll be there in ten minutes," she agreed. "Bye." She hung up.

Lex pulled himself up from his bed and into his wheel chair, rolling over to his closet. He threw some nice clothes on, the effort making him tremble as pain shot up his back. Getting dressed took much more time than he'd bargained on. He glanced in a mirror, grimacing at the dark circles under his eyes and the chalk-white pallor of his skin. The woman who was currently making his heart race in painful anticipation was coming any second now and he looked like a skeleton.

He hesitated. Should he greet her in his bed or in his wheelchair? He decided on the bed, the wheelchair reminding him too much of a Lifetime movie- not that he'd ever actually watched one. He heaved himself up out of the chair and fell on the bed, panting at the exertion. Furious at his weakness, he gave the chair a vicious kick- sending it rolling across his room.

"Lex, I was told you were here."

He looked up. It was Chloe. He closed his eyes for a moment, her image seared on the back of his eyelids. She looked stunning. Then he opened his eyes again and carefully propped himself up on his pillows, mindful not to rip any of his stitches.

"What are you doing?" she asked, noticing that he hadn't stood when she entered the room. That was odd. She stepped into his room, feeling a bit like she was entering forbidden territory. That was when she noticed the wheelchair. "What do you have a wheelchair for?"

"The doctor said I should do as little movement as possible for a week or so while I heal. Turns out back muscle move when you do practically anything."

She just blinked at him. "Heal?" she echoed.

"Yeah. The morning after we-"

"Had sex," Chloe said bluntly.

"Made love," Lex corrected. "I went out to get you somethings and then I got mugged."

Chloe gaped at him. "You're joking!" That was when she noticed how wretched he looked.

"No. They took almost everything of mine, but I managed to save what I'd gotten you." He reached for his bedside table, freezing as he closed his eyes.

"Lex, what's wrong?" she asked in alarm, rushing to his side.

"My back," he groaned.

Chloe slid up his shirt to look at his back. A long row of ugly, dark blue stitches trailed down along side his spine. "Oh my God!" A wave of nausea chocked her.

"I was stabbed," he explained grimly. He reached for the drawer again, ignoring his pain and Chloe's protest. He dug out her gifts.

"They wanted to take these, but I managed to save them before I got stabbed." He showed her the ring and quill, his stomach turning nervously.

Chloe stared at his offerings in astonishment. The diamond of the ring looked almost pink with blood splattered across it. She recognized the quill as the one she'd loved at the store he taken her to. It was mangled and filthy with blood and dried mud. Her heart twisted in a knot.

"They stabbed you because you wouldn't give them these, didn't they?" she asked point blank, knowing the answer.

Lex's eyes fell and she knew he was lying when he said no.

He suddenly felt like his gifts weren't good enough for her and he bitterly regretted showing her them. "The quill was supposed to be a symbol of how much I love you and the ring, well I was going to ask you to marry me, and it was supposed to symbolize the extent of my commitment to you." The words were pulled out of his throat, kept coming no matter how much he wanted to take them back. "Not very good symbols, are they?" He smiled weakly. How could he expect her to believe that he still felt the way he did with them ruined? "I can get you new ones," he offered.

Chloe picked them up carefully from his hands. "I don't want new ones," she told him.

He looked away, struggling to suppress tears that burned behind his eyes. "Oh," he said blankly. "I won't bother you anymore, then." He wanted to seize her in his arms and seduce her into loving him at the same time he wanted her to leave so he could nurse his shattered heart in private. Conflicted, he just sat there.

"No, you don't understand. I want to keep these," she said, her voice reverently hushed.

A burst of hope warmed his heart back to life. "What? Why?"

He noticed that her eyes were shimmering with tears. "You nearly died to give me them."

"So, are you saying..." he trailed off.

"Yes, I'll marry you."

Lex beamed at her, his face lighting up in joy. Seeing how ecstatic he was, she wondered how she'd never noticed that he was in love with her. He pulled her to him to give her a passionate kiss. Chloe enjoyed the kiss for a moment before pulling away from him.

"Careful, you'll tear your stitches," she told him.

"God, I love you so much, for so long I barely remember what it was like before I'd known you," he groaned, sweeping his hands up and down her body- his touch lingering as if he'd missed the feel of her curves.

"I love you, too, Lex." She rested her head lightly on his chest.

"At long last," he grumbled good-naturedly. "You know I was going crazy for a while, caught between trying not to love you and making you love me."

"How sweet."

"It was not sweet, it was terrible."

"So, are you saying you're not nuts anymore?" she teased, her hands drifting below his waist.

"I think it's time for Jeopardy," Lex announced.

Chloe glanced at his clock. "No, it isn't."

"Not Alex Trebec's Jeopardy, our Jeopardy," he said giving her hips a suggestively squeeze.

"Stitches," she reminded him.

"We can still play without my moving much," he insisted, slipping his hand underneath her shirt, and somehow Chloe knew that once her clothes were off they'd be doing much more than playing Jeopardy.

The End

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