Structural Damage – Chapter 6

Chris shrugged on his suit coat and made sure he had the key to the hotel room in his pocket. He then led Sabrina out of the hotel room and toward the elevator bank so they could go to the Grand Ballroom for the wedding. The wedding was a decent size, 225 guests, most of which were milling around the lobby and Grand Foyer before being seated for the ceremony. Sabrina began to bristle as they made their way through the crowd, she recognized a few faces and began to worry that people were staring at the two of them.

“So, who exactly is getting married and how do you know them?” She whispered as they moved toward the windows to take in the city view and get out of the throng of people.

“My friend Chuck and his fiance, Lauren. She’s from Chicago but my buddy Chuck, I grew up with him in Boston. They both live in LA but when they decided to get married they agreed to do it in her hometown, and she wanted to do it in downtown. Her parents are affluent, and they picked this hotel. God knows I wouldn’t have picked it if it were up to me.”

“Ah, yes the fact that you’re a Democrat,” she smiled and squeezed his hand. “I recognize a few faces, lawyers and council members, is her dad in politics, maybe?”

“Possibly, honestly, I don’t know. She’s a lovely girl, but I don’t spend much time around her. Actually, I haven’t seen Chuck that much lately thanks to my shooting schedule.”

Sabrina began to look around the room, she was getting a little uneasy and nervous, but she was trying not to let it show. The guests were starting to file into the ballroom, and Chris reached for her hand to take their place in line. She realized they were being seated up front, and she felt as if all eyes were on them. Of course, they would be, Chris was a superhero, and he was beyond dashing in that blue tuxedo. While they were seated in a row towards the front, Chris had moved down so they were seated towards the outside of the row versus the aisle.

They had not been seated for long when the music started, and the wedding procession began. As anticipated, Lauren was a beautiful bride and Chuck, quite dashing as he watched her walk towards him. Sabrina loved watching the reaction of the groom as he saw his bride for the first time. It was a precious moment, and she wanted a man to have his eyes well with tears and have a visible lump in his throat as he realized he was about to be given the opportunity to pledge his love. She didn’t have that with Kyle, and she should have realized then that there would be issues in their marriage. His eyes didn’t dance when he saw her walk towards him, and he didn’t seem to be overcome with emotion. But Chuck did for Lauren and, to her surprise, it made Sabrina misty-eyed over it.

She held herself together, and as the wedding proceeded, she found herself trying to wipe away the tears. Chris reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a tissue, handing it to her without a word, only a sweet smile. She took the tissue, dabbing at her eyes, then she felt his arm around her shoulder.

“I promise not tell anyone your secret,” he whispered into her ear, “I know you wouldn’t want anyone to know you have a soft spot for weddings.”

~ ~ ~
As the ceremony ended, the guests were led back to the Grand Foyer for cocktails while the Grand Ballroom was converted from the ceremony setup to the reception configuration. Chris and Sabrina took their station against the window once again, surveying the city as the sun began to set and the lights started to make the city come alive for the evening.

“Tell me, Sabrina, why do you work so hard to show this tough exterior to the world instead of letting people see your softer side?” Chris asked, knowing he could very well ruin any relationship he was starting to build with her.

She didn’t answer him immediately, she wanted to choose her words. She continued to look out the window, unsure if she could look him in the eye as she spoke, “Do you know the biggest complaint against women in the workplace? It’s the fact that women have emotions. It isn’t just that women will cry but that they will show any sort of emotion; emotions terrify men. In business, for some reason, emotion is seen as a weakness, and you can’t have weakness in the boardroom,” She took a drink, she was trying not to sound bitter but to be matter of fact. He wanted to know why she was stone cold all the time and what better way to explain it than to display it.

“I’m sure you will find this hard to believe, but I used to be a very emotional person. My father and grandfather used to tell me that I was too emotional and I had to learn to turn them off if I wanted to succeed in business. If I were to show emotion in anything, I would lose credibility. I can show compassion for causes outside of work but keep it to a minimum, only show compassion, never show anger and never cry. I needed to be taken seriously and for that, never let them see me sweat or cry,” she took another drink and then looked over at Chris, who was staring at her with a pained expression in his eyes.

“I couldn’t do it, I’m an emotional person,” he started to smile as he the thought hit him, “I’ve cried at TV commercials. I guess your father and grandfather wouldn’t think too highly of me, would they?”

She had to smile at this notion, “Well, no, not if you were going to run the business. I think they would have liked you just fine and been okay with you being emotional as along as you weren’t going to run the family architectural firm.”

“Are you scared that you’ve let me see your softer side?”

“A little, I feel a little vulnerable, and that isn’t something I’m used to. I can’t explain it, Chris but I feel comfortable with you and that in itself scares me.”

He took a step closer to her, “Yeah, I know but I promise there is no reason to be scared. And, I won’t tell anyone that you can have emotions, that stays between us. I wouldn’t want to ruin that reputation of your’s,” he smiled and then bent down to kiss her cheek. The kiss sent a jolt of electricity through her body that she was not quite prepared for.

The mix of alcohol and her intoxication from him being in that tuxedo was driving her insane. She was unsure if she was going to be able to contain herself for the remainder of the evening and she was beginning to think that an overnight bag might have been needed after all. Chris took her drink glass and moved to get refills; something she wasn’t sure she really needed. However, she took the opportunity to get out her phone and send a quick text to Audrey.

“I may not be able to contain myself – he’s in a tuxedo, and his look defines definition! God help me I’m in trouble!”

She did not bother to wait for Audrey’s response because she could guess that it would be a series of ‘I told you’ and ‘go for it’ texts; instead, she flipped her phone to silent and shoved it back in her purse. She had just closed her bag when Chris walked back over with their full glasses of champagne.

“Checking your phone for a possible escape?” He asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No, but I was checking email; sorry, it’s a bad habit of mine that I just can’t seem to break.”

He put their glasses down on the window ledge and pulled her close, leaning down and whispering in her ear, “I bet I could make you forget all about checking your email.” He then placed kisses from her ear down her neck to her shoulder, he heard her let out a soft moan, and it brought a smile to his lips.

“Oh, dear God,” she finally managed to get out, “Seriously, Evans you can’t do that to me in a room full of people.”

“Then I could take you to a place where there are no people,” he offered.

Her head snapped up, and she came back to her senses, “No, you are at your friend’s wedding, and people are looking at us.”

He started to laugh, “I can guarantee you, no one would care if I disappeared but they might be upset if you walked out. I guess we need to stay around for a little longer, at least until the reception actually starts.”

The two of them mingled with the crowd at the cocktail reception; while faces looked familiar to Sabrina, none of the names rang any bells. When she was introduced, though, people did recognize her name and she quickly became the topic of conversation. For once, Chris was not getting all of the attention, and he wasn’t complaining. He was happy to blend into the background and let people chat with Sabrina; providing her a moment to talk about her buildings and her successes.

As the ballroom doors opened for the reception to officially begin, he slid his arm around her waist and led her into the room to find their table. They had been seated toward the front of the room with several of Chris’ friends; this would at least provide them with a table of friendlies to visit with. While Sabrina didn’t know them, the comfort level would be better for Chris and ultimately for her, than it would be if they were sitting with strangers.

Sabrina had to admit that she was not hungry; she moved the food around on her plate more than anything. She chalked it up to nerves, she was more relaxed than she had anticipated and she had been flirting quite heavily with Chris all night, but she was still nervous to be with him. She had already admitted to him that she had a certain level of comfort with him and that he made her feel vulnerable. Plus, she had already admitted to finding him almost damn near irresistible. As she sat there, she listened carefully to his conversation with his friends. During her conversations with him, his Boston accent was not that noticeable, but with his buddies, it was coming out strong. She was lost listening to it, he had gone from sounding so GQ to sounding as if he was at a frat party and it was delicious.

She decided to put all semblance of being a lady on hold, she rested her left elbow on the table and put her head on her hand, watching Chris to her right as he conversed with his friends. He was animated and seemed to be enjoying himself, and she loved seeing this side of him. If this was her last time seeing Chris, she was glad that she was able to see more of what the real Chris Evans is really like. She had to admit, it made her like him even more. He really was dangerous, and he had no idea what he did to her.

After a few minutes, he glanced over and noticed her watching him. He smiled, put his hand on top of her thigh and began to lean in towards her. As he moved, so did his hand, he leaned forward, and his hand curved around her thigh, “Are you alright?”

She licked her lips and nodded, “Mmm Hmmm,” was all she could actually respond with at the moment. She swallowed and moved towards him, their faces were mere inches away from one another, “I have to tell you, I love your Boston accent. The alcohol mixed with your friends have brought it out, and I am not complaining.”

“You look bored, do you want me to take you home?” He asked, the inflection in his voice gave away that he wanted her to say yes.

“No, I’m enjoying this at the moment,” she smiled back at him.

“Damn!” He muttered as he moved his hand and sat back up, turning his attention back to his friends who were addressing a question to him. He could hear Sabrina laughing as he moved to answer the questions his friends were asking.

As the wait staff came by to begin clearing the dishes, the DJ started to play music, and the dancing began. Sabrina watched as couples began to go out on the dance floor. Suddenly Chris was standing and reaching for her hand, “May I have this dance?”

It was such a sweet gesture, she could not hide her smile, “Absolutely, I would enjoy that very much.”

Chris led her onto the dance floor, taking her into the traditional first position for a ballroom dance, only holding her a little closer. Their right hands were up, and he had his left hand on her back, and her hand rested on his shoulder. He was impressed that she knew the stance, and he was curious to see if she could actually dance.

The music had a Latin beat, and Chris decided to see if she could keep up with the Mambo. To his surprise, she stayed right in step with him, never missing a beat and never stepping on his toes. As he switched up the steps, she moved right with him, never faltering.

“Where did you learn how to dance?” Chris finally asked as the song changed and they moved from one Latin song to another.

“I could ask you the same thing,” she responded as she looked around to see how many people were on the dance floor and if they were being watched. She was nervous being exposed for everyone to see.

“You could, but I did ask first.”

This made Sabrina smile, “I began to dance when I was little because I was clumsy. I ended up sticking with it and danced competitively for years.”

He could not help but laugh at her comment, “Well, I would have never guessed that you were clumsy, so evidently the dancing worked for you.”

“Yeah, I suppose it did. So, how about you, where did you learn how to dance?”

Chris took the opportunity to twirl her around, “Oh, I was born with this talent, sweetheart. I didn’t have to take lessons.”

Sabrina rolled her eyes, “Yeah, right, whatever.”

The song changed, and the dance moved from the fast-paced Latin dances to the slow and romantic Waltz. Chris moved his hand on Sabrina’s back and pulled her towards him a little more. There was little space between the two of them. “Okay, fine, Ma was a dancer, and she taught all of us how to dance when we were kids. I think she had the hopes I would grow up and be the next Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. Instead, she got Johnny Storm and Captain America.”

“I am sure she is not complaining because she got Cap and not Fred or Gene. Besides, there is still time for you to make a movie where you can dance. I’m sure you could make a white polyester suit look good if you want to remake Saturday Night Fever.”

“Oh hell no! If I’m gonna remake a Travolta movie, give me Grease, the outfits are better.”

“You do have a point, I do believe you would look mighty fine in a pair of tight jeans, a white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket. So what do I have to do to get you to make that movie?”

“I just need you to be cast as Sandy to my Danny,” he smiled and raised his eyebrows and then lowered his head to her ear and began to softly sing, “I’ve got the chills, they’re multiplyin, and I’m losing control..”

Sabrina threw her head back and started to laugh, “Oh that is fantastic! I would love to play Sandy to your Danny, but I can’t sing. And I really hate to break it to you, but I’m not nearly as innocent as Sandy is.”

Chris took this as an opportunity to dip Sabrina. As he was looking down at her, he responded, “Good, that’s what I’m counting on.”

The song they were waltzing to was coming to an end, and Sabrina broke their hold. Before she could get away, Chris asked, “Wait, where are you going?”

She moved closer to him and whispered, “Please tell me you know how to dance the Argentine Tango?”

Chris smiled, “Well its been a while, I’m not sure if I can remember it,” he was playing coy, “Do you know it?”

“I do, and I love this dance, it is sexy and erotic, and I can lead if you can follow,” she said with a mischevious glint in her eye.

“I’m sure it will come back to me.”

“Let’s see, shall we? I’m going to request a song, maybe we can give a whirl.”

“Earlier you were concerned about all eyes being on you. You know if we do this, we will have everyone watching, right?”

“Yeah, I know. But you’ve been kissing me, showing me off and now dancing with me, so I think that ship has sailed. And besides, my attitude went out the window earlier when your hand went crawling up my thigh,” the grin she gave him lit up the room. He wasn’t sure if everyone else realized it but he certainly did.

He watched as she walked over and talked to the DJ, the conversation was animated, and he nodded his head and seemed to be agreeing with what she was suggesting. He had no idea what she had planned, but when the DJ smiled, he figured he should be worried.

While she talked to the DJ, he removed his tuxedo jacket, loosened his tie and decided to roll up his shirt sleeves. He was trying to remove his cufflinks when she walked back over to take his hand. “Hey, can you help me? I want to roll up my sleeves.”

“Are you anticipating you will be getting hot?” She winked at him while she reached for his wrist.

“Should I be worried? You looked like you were plotting something with the DJ, I feel like I’m going to be in trouble,” he said hesitantly as they moved across the dance floor in perfect step.

“No, we weren’t plotting anything, just trying to determine the best song. He made a suggestion based on watching us dance, and I have to admit, it fits.”

“Are you willing to put my cufflinks in your purse? I don’t want to lose those?”

“Sure, I can do that,” she was rolling up his sleeves, and the current song was coming to an end, Sabrina could feel the butterflies in her stomach because she knew that the song she picked was next. She looked Chris in the eye, “Are you ready? Our song is about to start.”

Chris stood up straight and noticed she was walking away from him; he could not help but smile as he recognized the song, the beginning refrains of Wrapped Around Your Finger by The Police. He followed her out on the dance floor and realized this is how she wanted to initiate the dance, and he was going to follow her lead. He liked the fact that she was in control, but he was going to make it clear, that she would not be leading for long. He walked up behind her, in measured time, placing his right hand on her waist and taking her left hand in his. The two of them began to step backward, he then spun her around so they were facing one another; releasing her left hand, he gently ran his hand down her face and side and then lifted her arm and put them in the standard starting dance position.

Sabrina had to smile, she realized that the dance was coming back to Chris; either that or he had been lying about whether he remembered it or not They began to maneuver through the intricate steps of the tango, the long strides and the steps between each other’s legs. Chris noticed how well Sabrina had mastered the leg kicks, he was entranced by her grace and he could almost guarantee that this was her signature dance.

As much as Chris was impressed with Sabrina, she was equally impressed with him. His touch on her back, just enough to keep her in step, but not too hard, the exact amount of pressure. He was able to read her movements without her having to say a word; their chemistry was undeniable. When he would turn her and look into her eyes, the intensity and passion were palpable. They never broke the character of the dance – no words – but their eyes spoke volumes.

As they moved across the floor, they lost all sense of where they were or who was around. Sabrina was only vaguely aware that the dance floor seemed vacant, but she didn’t want to look away from Chris to double check. She ran her hand across his chest and felt the beat of his heart, it felt as if it would thump right out of if his chest; she was sure hers felt the same way. He was having an effect on her that she had not anticipated. She wanted to do this dance because she loved it, she didn’t think it would turn into foreplay and that he would get her this worked up.

The music was sensual, and Sabrina wondered if Chris was paying attention the lyrics as she stood with her back to him and held his hands and they stepped across the dance floor. The music was the perfect beat and rhythm for this dance, not too fast and not too slow, and the perfect amount of sensuality. He twirled her around, placing his hand on the back of her neck, pulling her towards him and resting his forehead on hers. She could hear his breathing, not labored as if he was out of breath, but she could tell he was turned on, and she guessed he wanted the song to hurry and end. He held her close for a moment before going back to starting dance position and moving her back across the dance floor. They turned in unison; however she was balanced on one leg, and when the turn was complete, he immediately wrapped his arms around her waist to steady her.

When he knew she was steady, he slid his left arm down her leg and wrapped it around his; he then began to turn her body toward his, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, keeping their eyes locked on one another. As he dipped her towards the floor, she realized the control he had and the strength it took for him to make this move. She underestimated his ability and she knew she would never make that mistake again. As he lifted her back up, she could not help herself, she placed her hand on his face, leaving it there for a moment in the hopes that the touch conveyed feelings to him.

As she stood back up, she began to walk away, he reached for her hand and pulled back to him. Turning her to face him, he gently placed his hand on the small of her back and lifted her hand and danced her back across the floor. Chris knew the song quite well and was aware that it was coming to an end. He took the opportunity to twirl her around so that he could take her in his arms and dip her. Which is exactly what he did to end the song; he looked down at her with his million dollar smile, “So beautiful, think of how great we would’ve been if we had practiced?”

Chris lifted Sabrina up, and she wrapped her arms around him, her own smile was hard to contain. It was only then that they heard the applause of the wedding guests and realized they had been dancing on an entirely empty dance floor. Sabrina was blushing, and Chris took her hand and led her off the dance floor and back toward their table. “Did you pick that song on purpose?”

“Yes, I think it fits us pretty well, don’t you?”

“Oh, I think I’m pretty close to being wrapped around your finger; so, yeah, I believe that the song is fitting.”

“Are you so sure that I’m not wrapped around yours?” She replied back to him.

“Well with that dance, I think the entire room is wrapped around your finger right now.”

She pulled him close, wrapping her arms around his waist and placing her head on his chest, “I only care about you, Chris.”

Before he could respond, he felt a slap on his back and the voice of his friend Chuck in his ear, “Wow, Chris I had no idea you could dance like that.”

“Yeah, well it’s been years, I owe that one all to Sabrina. Chuck and Lauren, this is Sabrina Burnham, the lovely woman who agreed to accompany me to your festivities tonight.”

Chuck extended his hand, “Nice to meet you, Sabrina, I take it that you are the reason we have seen so little of Mr. Evans this week?”

“Pleasure to meet you, Chuck,” she extended her hand to Lauren as well, “Pleasure to meet you, Lauren. Congratulations, it was a lovely ceremony. I’m sorry to have kept him from you, I guess I owe you an apology.”

“Oh, no, no apologies necessary; glad to see him happy and enjoying himself. He works too much and doesn’t get out enough. We won’t keep you two, enjoy the rest of the evening.” Chuck slapped Chris on the shoulder and whispered in his ear, “You’re right man, she is gorgeous.”

“Tell me, were you truthful about not knowing the dance?”

He let out a slight laugh, “Well, not exactly. I know the dance, its just been a while since I danced it.”

“How long is a while? Because let me tell you, the way you moved, you’ve danced it recently. Those were not the moves of someone who is rusty with the Argentine Tango.”

“Um, I might have danced it about a year ago or so at a charity event for Ma’s theater.”

“What? Are you serious? Here I was thinking years ago when you were a teenager or something.”

“I never said that! I just said a while ago and a year fits into that category.”

“Was it some Dancing With the Stars like thing?”

“Sort of, I was the celebrity dancing with one of the kids from the theater for the charity event. We sold tickets to the event, and there was judging, and that was our dance. But believe me, our dance was NOT like that!”

“It better not have been like that if you were dancing with a kid,” Sabrina was almost horrified at the thought.

“Well, to be fair, she was nearly 18,” he said with a laugh, but Sabrina smacked his chest anyway. “Ow! I’m kidding, geez! No, the dance was not sexy, I swear to you it was G-rated. My Ma was in charge of everything, and you don’t think she would have her 34-year old son dancing with a 17-year old girl to a sexy dance do you? Good God, no way!”

As the two of them took their seats and tried to catch their breath, guests were filing by to congratulate them on their dance. They were told that they were a lovely couple, and their dance was beautiful. One couple told them they were destined to be the next couple waltzing down the aisle. It was right after that remark when Sabrina leaned over to look at Chris and whispered, “I can’t stand to be in this room of people any longer.”

“You want me to take you home?” He asked, feeling a little deflated all of a sudden; he had been on such a high from the dance and had hoped it was going to lead somewhere, and now she wanted to leave. Maybe he misread the signals from the dance, and if that were the case, he would severely need a lesson in reading women.

She didn’t answer him. Instead, she took him by the hand and began to lead him out of the ballroom into the hallway near the elevators. There was a small alcove and with no one around she stepped inside, pulling him towards her and her lips crushing against his in a passionate kiss that took him by surprise. She pulled away to catch her breath, “No, I don’t want you to take me home, but I would like to go to your hotel room, it’s closer.”

Chris said nothing but led her from the alcove to the elevator bank where he repeatedly pushed the ‘up’ button to call for the elevator. He suddenly had no patience to wait for the elevator but did not want to waste any energy by running up the stairs either. When he heard the ding announce the arrival of the car, he grabbed her hand and pulled her into the elevator as soon as the doors began to open, not even waiting to see if anyone was getting off on the floor.

He was relieved to find that they were alone, he dropped his jacket and pushed her against the wall holding her hips and pressing his body against hers. He held onto her hips and crushed his lips against hers, there was no doubt that he wanted her. She wanted him, too. Her hands moved up his chest and then she began to tug to pull his shirt out of his pants. She wanted to get her hands on his skin, she would have preferred to get his pants down, but knew there were probably cameras, and was not prepared to be on video making out with Chris in the elevator. She would be okay with the kisses on camera, just didn’t want to be naked or in flagrante delicto.

He pulled away from her, “Are you sure about this?”

“Just shut up and kiss me,” she responded and he, of course, obliged because you don’t argue with such a beautiful woman.

He couldn’t help himself, though, he pulled back and glanced over at the wall to see that they were rapidly approaching his floor. He leaned over, picked up his suit coat off the floor and when he stood back up he smiled as he noticed she was watching each move he made. “I can’t forget the jacket, it has the key to the room in it,” he took a step closer to her and ran his hand up her inner thigh, she slightly parted her legs, and he stopped just short of the trim of her panties. He breathed into her ear, “We might need that key since we’re on my floor and those doors are about to open. I hope your ready to lose those panties and this dress in a matter of minutes.”

Before she could respond, the doors opened, and Chris had deftly moved his hand away from her inner thigh and had taken her hand, leading her down the corridor towards his hotel room. He slid the key into the door and when the light turned green, gently pushed the door open to allow her to walk in.

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