Part three of the romantic short for Alim & Elaine, hope you enjoy – Find Part One Here and Part Two Here.
The first two times Elaine had flown on Alim’s private jet had been an experience in torture for her heightened senses. The carpet made the oddest sound whenever someone walked across it, the lights were too bright for her eyes, and the blankets thrown across the seats made her skin crawl. It had been enough to induce a rather humiliating bout of sensory overload meltdown.
She’d thought at the time she managed to keep it under wraps.
Walking up the stairs into the luxury jet for the third time, Elaine immediately knew she’d failed. Alim had obviously noticed. The carpet was now soft, plush, and blissfully silent. Gone were the expensive, but cringe-worthy blankets, replaced with silken cashmere throws. The lighting had been dimmed ever so slightly.
Elaine turned toward the man in his impeccable suit standing by the door. “This wasn’t necessary. I can deal with my bloody issues.”
“This, I could fix easily.” Alim strode purposefully across the cabin to step in front of her. He brought his hands up to cup her face then kissed first her forehead, then the top of her head. “This? Your brilliantly beautiful mind? It is perfect and needs no fix.”
Elaine frowned in response to avoid blubbing like a sodding twit. She mumbled a rather ungracious ‘thank you’ and moved to the relative safety of one of the new couches. She sank down only to find herself stunned yet again; it felt like one of her soft bean bags.
“How did you get a sodding…”
“You would be amazed as to the lengths others are willing to go to when they realize funds are unlimited to accomplish my desires.” Alim lifted his shoulders in a graceful shrug. “Is it comfortable?”
“I’m so shit at this.” Elaine scrubbed her fingers across her face in frustration. She let them fall away when Alim knelt in front of her. “The answer is no.”
“I would never propose to you on my jet when we’ve barely been dating for a few months.” Alim scoffed at the idea. He tapped his finger very lightly against the side of her knee. “I do not expect you to respond as my niece or Ivy would to my gestures of kindness.”
“Why precisely are you on the floor like a blithering idiot then?” Elaine wished for about the millionth time in her life for some sort of filter for her mouth. “Bollocks.”
“I do not believe you would appreciate my looming over you like the men tend to do at the firm.” Alim eased back so he was sitting on his heels. “Are these small changes making your flight more comfortable?”
“Then the cost and effort do not matter. Your gratitude is equally unnecessary.” Alim tilted his head slightly so his dark eyes met hers. “If I have made any part of your life easier, I consider it a success.”
With those words, Alim had apparently said all he intended to say. He stood and made himself comfortable in a seat across from Elaine. It allowed her space, but kept him in her line of sight—a move her cougar greatly appreciated.
Her cougar also wanted to curl up beside Alim to be petted. Elaine’s cougar tended to be as anti-social as she was. The level at which her other form felt comfortable with Alim had been a massively inconvenient surprise.
Her cougar could sod off at the moment.
Elaine liked routines, privacy, and plenty of space. She didn’t enjoy change. Alim had brought a lot of it into her life. Being a shifter often helped with some of the more painful or frustrating aspects of being Autistic; it couldn’t remove them completely.
The reason Alim had included a stuffed toy in the care package was often cuddling one helped soothe Elaine’s anxiety. She peeked over the one in her arms at the man who was studiously avoiding putting any social pressure on her. He didn’t acknowledge her gaze, simply focused on reading his newspaper.
A thought occurred to Elaine about how Alim always seemed to know how to put her at ease. He skirted the edges of things which would bother her with an ease no one else around her possessed. Most of her family and the Blackbird Pack worked under the assumption that she could manage without their help.
“You did research.” Elaine flung a pillow to get his attention. Her words came out more accusatory than intended. “You sodding researched my broken brain.”
“Different is not broken, as you are well aware.”
Setting his paper to the side, Alim once again crossed the cabin to sit beside her. He held his hand out on his thigh with it turned palm up. It took several moments for Elaine to realize he was giving her the option of holding hands. She hesitantly placed her hand on his, letting her fingers thread between his.
“Alicia informed me of the fact shifters tend to mate for life.” Alim tightened his hold slightly when she made to jerk away from him. “How many years have you spent trying to make our world work for you? You cannot change who you are. I can, however, do research to adjust things to ease your path. You are not broken, and you know it.”
“I’m a little cracked, let’s be honest.” Elaine had no illusions to how much her neurological differences affected her. She wanted time to process everything, but trapped inside a jet didn’t provide it. “Will your staff be shocked by the presence of a massive cougar?”
“They will not enter the back cabin without my permission.” Alim moved down toward the far corner of the couch to provide her space.
Shifting into her cougar, Elaine hopped up onto the couch and turned around a few times before flopping down with her head resting on Alim’s thigh. It was closer than she would feel comfortable in human form at the moment. A purr rumbled in her chest when his fingers began threading through the tawny fur around her ears.
Alim bent forward until he could whisper in her ear. “I will have you for my own, hayati.”