A.N. It's Logan's turn. What is he thinking? What is he feeling?

Logan and Veronica get to know each other and perhaps realize there's a little something more to this than they realized.

There is a reason this one is marked M guys... Logan decided it was time to show you why *wink*

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Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You

All I Want Is You- Chapter Two

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Logan sat outside, hands squeezing and releasing the supple grey leather steering wheel of the BMW in the parking lot of Veronica's apartment building. Consciously drawing breath in deeply through his nose and then letting it out slowly through his mouth to the count of five. Mind like a whirlwind, twisting and tumbling over itself. 'Why am I so nervous? It's not like this is an actual date! Just two people getting together to get to know each other so they can work together to have a pretend relationship to break up a relationship that spells more disaster than the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Oh yeah, that doesn't sound complicated at all. But Lilly said we would get along and that Veronica was nice, agreeable to the plan. Even made it a point to say that she held the same beliefs that I do about not dating until your soulmate comes along. So there is no pressure here of any kind. Get it together, for fuck's sake, Echolls!'

A huff escaped and his hands were clammy, stomach in knots when he finally exited the car and made his way inside the building. A quick veer to the right to take the stairs to the second floor, reciting Veronica's name a few more times mentally so he wouldn't forget, ignoring the pleasant feeling of it rolling off his tongue so easily. A few more steps had him approaching her door, then a few more had him backing up and wiping his palms against his black jeans. Logan wondered momentarily if he was going crazy. Never having sensations like this before, nor understanding the reason for the feelings. But, before these thoughts could process further, a sharp pain along his hip caused him to frown, hand coming up to rub against it. 'Weird, that's where my mark is. Wonder what that's about.'

Another huff and he shook the thoughts loose before approaching the door again. A breath and then knuckles rapping sharply a few times before hands tucked into the front pockets of his jeans. From within, there was a sound of a few soft but sharp barks and the scramble of paws racing to the door, making him grin. Then the door opened and the most gorgeous woman created stood in front of him. Lips pulled into a wider smile while his mouth went desert dry and he fumbled for something to say to this goddess at the door.

"Hi. Hello. Uh- Veronica? I'm Logan, um, Duncan's friend?"

Veronica's plump pink lips drew Logan's attention, instantly filling his mind with the thought of what it might be like to kiss them, how they might taste, how they would feel moving against his own lips. 'Wait, what?'

At that moment, a marbled pit bull ambled out the door, drawing Logan's thoughts away. It appeared like he was grinning while sniffing Logan's shoes. The two humans continued to stare at each other for a few minutes in which you could have heard a pin drop. Then, a beautiful light pink blush graced the cheeks of Veronica Mars and her eyes dropped away before she held out her hand. "Hi Logan, it's nice to meet you." Before he could respond, she seemed to realize the dog checking him out. "Backup, chill."

The canine sat back, grinning up at the stranger, but Logan couldn't tear his eyes off the beautiful blond in front of him. His hand wrapped around hers, engulfing it and clasping it like one would if allowed to touch something precious. However, instinct took over when they shook hands. He firmly shook back in response, adjusting it properly so he wasn't pumping her hand like a madman. It seemed like words should come out of his mouth, a reply of some sort, but he just couldn't find them. Mind discombobulated and heart pounding. All he could do was smile, and she graced him with a beautiful smile back.

Reluctantly, he realized that he was still holding her hand and let go gently, not wanting to in the least. Confusion clouded his mind. 'What the hell are these feelings? I've met hundreds of girls and never had this reaction. Get it together jackass or she's going to think you want something from her other than possibly a friendship. It's not an actual date. It's not like she's your soulmate!'

A soft voice broke through the fog of thoughts. "Um- would you like to come in for a moment? I just need to grab my things and then we can get going."

This time, Logan managed a reply, hoping it was appropriate. It seemed to be since it got her to smile at him again. When Veronica went to put the dog away though, he shyly stopped her. "It's okay, I mean- if you don't mind. I love dogs and always wanted one of my own. May I?" Carefully, he held his hand out at a distance to allow the pitbull to come sniff if she let him.

Veronica released the collar, and the cheerful dog bounded back over. The smile was instantaneous, and he immediately scratched behind the ears, working to discover all the pleasant spots that made the eager dog happy. When she informed him the dog's name was Backup, it made him smile again while he continued to pet the pitbull, now rubbing up against his legs. 'Backup- interesting. I wonder if she uses him in her line of work as a private investigator?'

He spent a joyful few minutes petting Backup until Veronica came back out to inform him she was ready to leave. She looked amazing, and Logan's found his mouth going dry again while taking in the sight of her in her black crochet dress and heels. Simple, but an outfit that spoke of class. Not chosen for attention, but he was aware it would draw every eye in the room because of the gorgeous woman wearing it. Desire shot a straight line down his spine, further down, causing his cock to twitch and harden slightly. 'Oh shit!' Heat filled his cheeks, mind flustered further at this development.

"You look lovely." Frantically, he gulped some air and prayed she wouldn't notice his reaction. "I'll just wash my hands and we can go?" A slight stammer to his voice had him cringing. 'Great, now I sound like I'm fucking thirteen again.'

Not letting out the breath he was holding until inside the bathroom with the door shut behind him. 'What the fuck is happening?' Quickly washing his hands with freezing water and then bringing the chilly hands up to his cheeks and the back of his neck. 'Okay, I need to calm down. Analyze this later. But seriously? What is this?' Another prickling on his hip drew his attention as he brought a hand down to rub at it irritably before taking a deep breath and counting to ten, letting it out slowly and then making his way out to Veronica.

Once in the car, he turned his attention to her to ask some questions about her job, finding her answers fascinating. Logan wanted to hear more about her, what she liked and disliked, the PI. job, her life. More than once, he reminded himself that this was not a date and exactly why he didn't believe in dating. Determined to wait for his soulmate, that would not change. But there was something about Veronica that was bewitching. Something that Logan had never experienced before and the thing was, unless she was an excellent actress, she did not understand she was doing it. Given what Lilly had told him, he believed the latter rather than the former. Incredibly, as nervous as Logan found himself to be, he found talking to this beautiful woman, this stranger, easier than talking to any of his friends. It was a heady sensation and a little terrifying.

When Logan pulled into the lot of the restaurant, he finally admitted to asking Lilly a few questions, wanting to choose a place that she would enjoy. Hopefully, they could become friends, and that hope amplified, now more than before. Veronica Mars appeared to be an extraordinary individual, and there was this kind of connection with her. Not to mention, she had a wicked sense of humor.

Except for the hostess who attempted every trick in the book to gain his attention and didn't take the hint he didn't want to give it, dinner was incredible. The food and wine were impeccable, but it was the company that made it such a delightful experience. It was so nice, so refreshing, to meet someone else who felt the same way he did about the soulmate connection and how precious it was. He could relax because there wasn't any pressure that Veronica was going to assume this was anything more, well relax as much as he could with his body constantly humming, in a state of arousal, a weird buzzing in his mind.

Eventually, when the subject of Duncan came around, it was nice to talk openly about it with her. Blue gaze upon him, Logan opened up to Veronica about his feelings. Able to share his concerns about the mess his friend had gotten himself into and what might happen if they couldn't stop it. Usually one to stay out of his friends affairs, this was one time he couldn't, and he explained to a sympathetic Veronica why that was. Confidence filled him that if anyone could help stop this travesty, it would be the illustrious Veronica Mars. Even after only knowing her for a few hours, she gave Logan the confidence that she could handle this job, and he found that he believed in her wholeheartedly.

Their hands touched, and he reeled. Electricity zipped through every part of his body, yet it wasn't painful. It was warm and good, and he found himself disappointed when she pulled back before confusion filled his thoughts again. Then embarrassment when he realized he was fully, painfully hard, pressing against his jeans, erection pulsing while teeth bit inside his cheek to suppress the groan that fought to escape. It was like being twelve-years-old again and having no self-control or control over bodily reactions at all. 'What the fuck is happening?'

Gratefully, the waiter appeared to distract both from the moment and Logan shifted to hide his lap fully beneath the table. Practiced taking in some deep breaths and letting it out slowly, promising himself that he would sit down tonight and do some journaling, try to figure out what was happening and why he had suddenly gone insane. With a slight grimace, he again caught his hand rubbing against his hip.

Over dinner, they kept the topics on safer ground. More getting acquainted subjects, and he learned that Veronica, when she wasn't working, liked to read, bake, and had a passion for baseball (her favorite team being the Cubs.) With delight, he discovered that her guilty pleasure was watching ghost hunting shows and analyzing why they were investigating wrong.

"Seriously? Why would you go into a centuries old castle in Ireland and then expect a ghost to answer your question when you're speaking English? It will not understand you. Idiots everywhere! I'm telling you!"

He told her about surfing, the peace he found on the water and how he had seriously considered a career in the Navy before turning to his other love, writing to make a living. He agreed that the Cubs were the superior baseball team, but mentioned he had a soft spot of the Padres. They bonded over a shared love of indie films over the big budget movies and Logan confessed that he watched ghost hunting shows too but because he was curious about if there was anything beyond this life.

They discovered their shared love of comedies and horror movies to romance, though agreed that 'The Princess Bride,' was the exception because it truly had everything. And Veronica had Logan roaring in laughter in her critique of Princess Buttercup over dessert.

"How could she not know it's Wesley? I mean honestly?! And why would she just stay there with Prince Humperdink? Let me tell you, if I were in that situation I would have escaped myself, hired Fezzie and Inigo myself to take out the Prince and gone looking for the Dread Pirate Roberts. And when I found him, I would have kicked his ass first for killing Wesley and then for making me believe he was dead this whole time!" All Logan could do was nod in agreement with her, knowing she would have, while he continued to laugh.

By the end of the night, when he walked her up to her door, there was a warmth inside of him he had never experienced before, way down deep in his belly. The smile she gave when she unlocked the door and asked him what his plans were for tomorrow caused his voice to slip out more eagerly than he liked. "Other than getting up early to catch the surf and then doing some writing in the afternoon, I don't have any."

She bit her lip in the most adorable way. "Well, I'm not sure how long I'll be at the office but would you like to get dinner again? I mean- don't feel obligated or anything…"

"I'd love that, Veronica." The words rushed out of him, and he bit the inside of his cheek to stop anything else from coming out. Not that there was any regret in his answer, he just wished he could take back command of whoever had gained control of his mind and body.

"What about just getting some take out and hanging out here rather than going out? I mean, I had a great time tonight, but please don't spend money on me or anything. I mean- we're just getting to know each other and, and it's not like we're dating or anything. We could just hang out, watch something and talk a little more?" Veronica's hand came up to cover her mouth while her cheeks turned adorably pink.

Logan grinned in response. "I think it sounds great. How about you call me when you're done with work and this way you won't feel rushed to finish?" He rested his body up against the wall, one hand reaching down to scratch the top of Backup's head.

She smiled with a nod, and that rush of warmth climbed up his spine and down deep into his belly again, body straightening up from the wall. "Well- ah- okay. I'll see you tomorrow night, then." Breath quickening with the realization of not wanting to leave her. Images of taking the step closer, threading fingers into her hair and kissing her. Perhaps working their way to the wall and pressing Veronica against it while he kissed her breathlessly flooded through his mind. Breath hitching, eyes widening, 'What is wrong with me?' Stuffing his hands into his pocket before he did something stupid, he wondered if he could kiss her cheek… friends did that. The scent of her perfume filled his senses, making his head twist, and he wondered what it would be like to brush his lips against her soft, smooth cheek. 'Okay, maybe we shouldn't do that.' Heart racing, head spinning, Logan realized he needed to leave. Needed to figure out what the hell was going on.

"Um- I'll see you tomorrow, I had a great night." He managed another smile, doing his best to look like he wasn't rushing away. He didn't want to leave, he wanted to stay with this beautiful woman. A step forward, he did exactly what he claimed he wouldn't and kissed her cheek causing his heart to batter painfully against the ribs encasing it. Another stammer of words and shaky legs got him out the door before he did anything else stupid. When he slid into the seat of his BMW, he realized that his hip was now burning lightly. But more pressing than that, he was so hard he was ready to break through his jeans. Each individual zipper teeth pressing into his length. "Fuuuuck!" Logan rested his head on the steering wheel for a few minutes, tempted to bang it the way he had when he was fifteen, before finding the strength to drive away and back to the horribly decorated room at the Grand.

It was his every intention to go back to the room and take a cold shower, but… well, they paved the road to hell with good intentions, didn't they? Instead, Logan found himself in a steam-filled bathroom, water turned up as hot as he could tolerate, pounding against his back deliciously and working out some stress built there. Hands pressed against the cool marble of the wall, eyes closed, head dropped, while thoughts wandered.

Veronica. The sound of her voice. The cerulean blue of her eyes. The twinkle and mirth in them while being snarky or talking about a subject she was passionate about. Fingers tucking back a strand of errant hair. Wit as sharp as a razor, a sense of humor warm at times, biting at others, quick as lighting and always entertaining. The gentle curve of lips, whether it be up in glee or downward in disapproval. And that smile. That smile that could cause wars if she cared to direct it for evil purposes.

A poem by F. Scott Fitzgerald fought its way to the forefront of his mind and a smile to his lips when he couldn't help himself, whispering it in the shower. "She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn't beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul."

Breath quickened while thoughts turned, the tension ratcheting up throughout his body once again. The curves of her body. He wanted to run his hands over them. Those lips again, dark pink, soft, tempting. 'What would it feel like to kiss her? Let my tongue dip into her mouth and explore? To swallow her gasps and moans? Give her control and let her kiss me until I was helpless beneath her?'

Soft, satiny smooth skin he wanted to touch. Long, lean, toned legs made to worship with licks and kisses. 'To feel those legs wrapped around me while sliding into her. Pressing bodies together while hips rock. Holding her up against the wall and driving deep and powerful? Spread on the bed so I could taste to my heart's content and hear my name fall from her lips in pleasure.'

The thoughts were torturous, and he had a moment of guilt for thinking about Veronica like this. She was so much more than an object of fantasy. It wasn't just her body that had his erection pulsing, aching with desire. It was everything about her. But, god… god, he wanted to slide himself into her wet heat, have her nail rake on his back while their hips rocked together slowly. Wanted the sensation of every inch of himself sliding in and out of her. Logan wanted to see her back arch while her eyes went wide and wild with lust. Hear her scream his name when she came around his cock.

One hand slid down his chest, groaning as it caressed over a hard nipple, but he was past the point of teasing, playing. Body demanding release while images flooded his mind and the scent of her still filled his senses. Long fingers wrapped around his cock, and he palmed himself, gripping tightly, beginning to stroke, twisting when he reached the head. Breaths huffed out in harsh pants while his hand slid up and down, a million scenarios running through his imagination and every one of them involving Veronica. Water running in rivets down his body adding to the sensations, groans falling fast from his lips, gripping and twisting, thrusting into his pumping hand.

Another moan slipped out his lips, and he squeezed more firmly, twisting a little more around the pulsating head of his dick. Left hand leaving the wall to slip down and cup his tightened balls, massaging and then giving a tug while a growl, deep and low in his chest emerged. The image of Veronica writhing beneath him, calling his name while he slipped in and out of her hot, tight sex, body rising to meet his, wanting him just as bad as he wanted her, drove Logan to the edge of insanity.

"Veronica!" The roar echoed in the enormous bathroom, Logan's head falling back, body arching as he spilled against the wall in long, spurting jets. If he ever had a more intense orgasm, he couldn't remember it. Finally, it ebbed, tension sliding from him. He rested his forehead against the cool wall as the now cooling water continued to beat down onto him, washing away the evidence, catching his breath while his head spun and he tried to make sense of what exactly just happened or more… why.

He finished up quickly, grabbing the cleansing gel and washcloth, running it over his body and rinsing off. Then taking care of his hair and turning off the water, Logan stepped out, drying off and wrapping the towel around his waist. At the sink, he made quick work of brushing his teeth and drying off, hanging up the towel to dry. Thoughts running rampant now that his mind was firing back up and coming alive again.

There was a vague sense of guilt and Logan wasn't sure if he should feel bad about fantasizing about Veronica or not… never having fantasized about a specific woman that he knew before. It wasn't the first time he pleasured himself; he was a red-blood male, but before it had always been a general image rather than a specific partner. Eyes rolled because Logan was aware his friends would find his plight hilarious and tell him this is why one should date. There was nobody, therefore, that he could confide in about his dilemma. Not that he generally confided in anyone, but this situation had him feeling like someone dropped him off in the middle of a jungle with no gear and no direction on what to do.

With these thoughts ruminating, he began climbing into bed before something caught his attention in the mirror. The soulmate mark along his hip. It was darker than before, an inky black, like the darkest night sky, but the area surrounding it faintly pink. Rather than the light faint grey that the lettering had been when receiving it at sixteen now appeared as if a freshly gotten tattoo.

Chocolate brown eyes widened, big as saucers. Shock straightened his spine when the thought struck like lightning, bursting out in a gasp. "Holy fuck! Veronica Mars is my soulmate!" Things clicked into place, making so much more sense now. The instant deep connection, the feelings, not wanting to leave her, the desire to touch her even innocently. 'Okay- okay. Does she know yet? Has she figured it out?' The reflection offered no answers.

Emotions came like shooting arrows from every direction, and Logan stumbled back and onto the bed trying to field them. Warmth started at his toes and trickled upward, all the way to the crown of his head. A giddy laugh escaped at the bubbly sensation in his chest. Somersaults reigned supreme in his stomach, and light tremors through his nerves. He was enjoying the sensations, the impression of his heart being almost too full, bursting with the desire to laugh when another emotion struck and everything stopped.

'What if she rejects me? What if she decides I'm not what she wants?'

The air left the room, and a lump replaced the bubbly feeling, working its way to his throat. Dark heaviness settled down onto his shoulders like being draped in a cloak of iron, bearing down, making Logan's shoulder's slump. There was a cracking like sensation where his heart was located and immediately a hand came up pressing over it, tears filling his eyes. Lungs burned as they worked to get oxygen in and out and around the lump knotted in the way.

'Okay, Logan think. What do we do? Simple dummy, wait for Veronica to bring it up! That way you'll know if she rejects you or wants you. In the meantime, spend every moment she'll allow with her. Get to know her better. Keep to the plan in place. After all, it's perfect. You're supposed to be helping Duncan by pretending to be in a relationship.'

The intensity of the night suddenly crashed over Logan, energy drained away under the fear still on him over possible rejection, and he was thankful he was already in bed. Too much pressure caused his brain to begin to shut down, demanding sleep. A loud yawn escaped, and he got under the covers, turning off the lights. Tomorrow, in the morning, he would figure out the perfect date to take her on. A date that could be a date, but not a date. And hopefully, if she hadn't already, Veronica would figure out he was her soulmate. Before giving in, he sent a prayer up to whoever was up there, "Please don't let her reject me." Before the word "me" was completely out of his mouth, sleep overtook him.

The sunshine filling the room woke Logan, and confusion colored his mind. Under the safety of covers, in a soft bed, Logan took his time waking, determining if it had just had a very vivid dream or if everything really had indeed happened and he had found his perfect mate. A blinking on his phone indicated a new message and drew his attention away from the thoughts racing through his mind. Hand grabbing the device, he opened it and a brilliant smile graced his lips when he saw the name he had given for Veronica in his phone pop up.

To: Logan Echolls

From: Beautiful Girl

Hey Logan, I had a lot of fun last night. What time did you want to get together today? I had a cancellation, so I am free whenever. Just let me know. -V

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The wide smile on Logan's face outshone the sun. 'Nope, it was real!' Thinking a moment, an idea formed, and he typed a reply.

To: Beautiful Girl

From: Logan Echolls

Hey Veronica, I had a great time too. What do you think about a day along the boardwalk today since we're free? Find our inner child? -L

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He sat up and rested back against the headboard, trying not to hyperventilate while waiting for a reply. This was a bit ridiculous, he was not a teenager; he was twenty-two, and a successful writer at that. Still, when the phone went off a minute later, a giddy laugh bubbled up out of his throat.

To: Logan Echolls

From: Beautiful Girl

Oh wow, I haven't done that in forever. Sounds great, but I have one requirement. If we go to the boardwalk, you are under the obligation to win me a stuffed animal with a show of strength or skill on some game. Them's the rules. -V

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The grin on his face got wider, if that was possible, and he texted back.

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To: Beautiful Girl

From: Logan Echolls

You're on, Cupcake. But I get to choose said game. And I veto any cute bears that wear a shirt saying 'I love you beary much.' I'll be there in an hour to pick you up.

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To: Logan Echolls

From: Beautiful Girl

First of all, cupcake? Well, I am pretty sweet, and cupcakes are cute, so that's acceptable. And fine, take away my fun. I'll just find a more embarrassing prize. See you then!

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Logan laughed before his thoughts turned dirty. 'Cupcakes are delicious and I bet you are too. Hopefully, you'll let me find out one of these days' A groan escaped. Another shower was in order, a cold one this time.

The BMW pulled up outside the apartment building exactly sixty minutes later, and Logan bounded out dressed in jeans and a tight black t-shirt and aviator sunglasses. He navigated his way to her apartment while whistling. When Veronica swung open her door, he had to bite his tongue to stop himself from whistling at her. Dressed in a white t-shirt and black jean capri's she looked adorable and sexy at the same time. White Keds completed the outfit, and she had bound up her golden hair in a bouncing ponytail. Sunglasses sat on top of her head and a beaming smile graced plush pink lips. She looked refreshing and stunning. He had to remind himself of his plan so he didn't attempt to kiss her. Despite how, his mind screamed at him to do so.

Beautiful sparkling blue eyes looked at him and she smiled again. "Hey, right on time. Let me just grab my phone and I'm good to go."

He started to answer, but Backup came bounding up to him at that moment excitedly and he knelt to greet the sweet dog. "How ya doin' buddy?" As he was scratching his ears he had a thought, "Veronica, can Backup come with?"

Backup whined as his mistress rounded back around the corner, she smiled. "Not today. I want to ride the rides and I don't like to leave him tied up to things, even if I'm just inside grabbing a coffee."

"Oh- yeah. I guess that makes sense." He gave the eager dog a few more scratches before standing again. "Sorry, Backup, I tried."

"We could take him to the beach one of these days if you might like that?" Logan's heart melted- genuinely melt when she tilted her blond head, eyes bright and inquisitive, waiting for a reply.

"Sounds like a plan. Do you surf?"

She ushered them out the door and locked it. "I do not." Laughter spilled from her throat while they made their way to the elevator. "Trust me, I'm a danger on a surfboard. For me and ocean life. But you could bring your board. I'm happy on the sand reading and you can catch some waves. I do like to swim and so does Backup, so we'll join you in doing that."

Logan grabbed her hand and lifted their arms like they were dancing, twirling her to his convertible, and rewarded with that beautiful laugh again. "Sounds like a perfect day. Maybe tomorrow?"

The urge to slap a hand over his mouth was strong. 'When did he turn into an idiot who spouted off the first thing that came into his mind? I'm acting like a schoolgirl for fuck's sake, and I don't even know if she'll accept our mating or not! I want to spend all the time with her I can, yes, but I don't want to scare her off!'

Those thoughts were immediately lost, though, when she beamed at him, sliding into her seat while he held the door for her. "Tomorrow I have to get some stuff done at the office but how about Friday?" He stopped himself from skipping around to the driver's side after closing her door. But only barely.

The drive to the boardwalk was comfortable. The tunes were good, and Logan discovered that Veronica had an amazing singing voice. Once or twice he had to remind himself to watch the road lest they end up in an accident. When they arrived, Logan met her at the front of the car and clicked the fob to lock it. Hand curling into a fist to stop himself from reaching out and grabbing hers.

Every time she would look over at him, he wanted to ask her if she knew, if she accepted him. But Logan learned quickly that Veronica Mars possibly had an astonishing poker face. Open and friendly, giving him smiles and sometimes looks beneath her lashes, but no sign that she had any idea that they were soulmates. The thought made him pause, after all, he didn't recognize it right away. Did waiting for your soulmate make it harder to identify right away when it happened? He wished there was someone he could ask.

They wandered slowly, taking the whole boardwalk in and discussing what to do first. "Well, the logical thing is rides first." the decisive tone in Veronica's voice amused him. "I mean, what's the point of eating yummy, greasy food if you're only going to yak it all up later."

Laughter rumbled from deep inside and grew to where he was gasping for breath. "-yak it all up later, nice Mars!" She shrugged and her eyes dared him to deny her point. Realistically, he couldn't. It made sense. "Okay," his head nodded up and down, "rides first it is."

They strolled over to the booth selling tickets for the rides. Veronica reached into her front pocket to withdraw some money at the same time that Logan withdrew his wallet from his back pocket. His eyebrows furrowed and head tilted, "What are you doing?"

"Um- getting ready to purchase ride tickets for us, what's it look like? What are you doing?" She gestured to his wallet in his hand.

"About to purchase tickets for rides." His eyebrows knitted further together. "I've got this, don't worry about it."

"Oh no, Mister. That isn't the way this works. You paid for a very nice and very expensive dinner last night. It's my turn to pay today." Blue eyes narrowed while hands went to her hips.

Her very slim, perfectly curved lips. Logan shook that thought from his head and frowned deeper at her. "Veronica, seriously, I've got this. I invited you out today, remember?"

Gazes met, both determined, while people stepped around them to purchase their tickets. For nearly three minutes neither said a word, a kind of silent argument happening that they themselves didn't quite understand. At least Logan sure as hell didn't. It was just money; he had a ton. Why not let him pay?

Then he realized. Veronica was unlike any other woman he had ever met. Even the females he was friends with expected him to pay. In fact, most friends of his wanted to be his friend because he had money. It had been that way since he was a child. He was the son of movie stars and rich, that apparently made him a prize won as a friend. He despised it but never knew how to stop it. Veronica didn't feel the same way. It didn't matter that he had more money than her or more money than he could ever spend. Mind racing, body frozen, Logan stared at her with wide eyes and dropped jaw, unsure how to handle this foreign situation.

While he mulled this over, flailing for words, Veronica took advantage of the situation. "Two cards of twenty tickets, please." And before Logan fully processed her actions, she had her money out and handed over to the boy behind the booth, taking the tickets in return.

Arm looping through his, the blond tilted her head at the baffled expression. Laughter, sharp and surprised, bubbled out of her. "You've never had someone else pay before? You don't date, but surely you go out with friends!"

The allusive missing voice returning, Logan managed a nod. "Well, yeah, I go out with friends but I-" Brown eyes turned downward, taking on the shadow of a neglected puppy, and eyebrows furrowed together while a hand came up to the back of his neck to scratch absently. "But I always get the bill."

Blue eyes narrowed and Logan watched in fascination as the clear cerulean of them changed to dark navy. Voice low and close to a growl, which caused his muscles to tighten low in his belly again. 'God, she's gorgeous.'

"That's not okay and not how friends treat each other." The petite blond closed her eyes and a heavy sigh blew through her pursed lips. "Sorry, I don't mean to get judgemental on your friends, we barely know each other and I probably don't know any of them."

"No, you're right." The words came out tight and pained, so quiet the air almost carried it away. "I mean- it's been that way since I was a kid." Shoulders lifted and dropped back down heavily. "But I wouldn't treat someone like that."

Plush pink lips curved into a soft smile and the storm in her eyes lifted, revealing that clear ocean color again, filled with an emotion he didn't understand. Logan felt less and less like the adult he was, and more and more like a teenager again. "I like you, Lo."

Heart hammered against his ribs, and he swallowed around the lump suddenly in his throat. 'Calm down stupid, she isn't saying what you think she's saying! But- she gave me a nickname!' A smile worked its way onto his lips, spreading into a gigantic grin.

"But I don't like you because you're rich or because we have to pretend to be in a relationship." Veronica continued, head tilted to look up at him, oblivious to the emotions battling inside the man she was talking to. "I like you because you're funny and warm and-" Blue eyes dropped to the grass they were walking on and delicate cheeks turned light pink.

Breath caught in his throat, hindered by the lump there when she stopped speaking, mind silently begging her to continue. Heart wishing those beautiful eyes would look up into his own again. Desperate to know everything she had to say. Wanted to know if the heart in her chest knew they were soulmates. To know if this magnificent, perfect woman was rejecting or accepting him.

Breathlessly and with cheeks that turned darker, Veronica continued to speak toward the ground, words more rushed now. "I hope this doesn't scare you off and I can't believe I'm telling you this, but I feel this connection with you. I don't understand it. But I just want to talk to you… and Logan, I never want to talk to anyone!"

"You talk to Lilly." The words spilled out before and immediately he wanted to slap himself and then slap the hand over his mouth to stop anything else from coming out. "I mean, she's your best friend, right?"

The blond ponytail bounced while she nodded her head, "Yeah, I do, but not about everything. And she's more than my best friend. I'll- I'll tell you about that later. But, I feel like, maybe we could be the sort of friends I could tell anything to and would want to." A huff of a laugh burst from her chest. "I'm being stupid, just ignore the crazy girl currently on your arm. Come on, let's go ride some rides."

With a gentle touch to her arm Logan stopped her, "No, not stupid, never stupid. I want to tell you everything too, and I've never had that either. That connection- I feel it, Ronica." Teeth bit into his lip and he hoped to convey what the feelings inside without an overabundance of words. Ached for Veronica to get it. For the realization to click into place like it had for him. Yearned for it so badly it sent a pang in his chest so strong, he had to suck in a sharp breath.

Blue eyes dropped to the ground once more before bouncing back up to his brown, and then she gave him a cautious smile. "Well, come on friend, let's go work on building this friendship then, shall we?"

The sigh that wanted to escape took everything to hold back, but somehow he managed it. It would do no good to push. This had to be natural. Something Lilly said when she visited him and brought up this plan popped into the forefront of his mind, "You're both as stubborn as each other! Just be thankful you'll be on the same team rather than working against each other, because it's a game you would never win." Lilly had laughed like she told the funniest joke ever written at her words.

'Stubborn, right. So stubborn one might refuse to see what's right in front of her for what it was? So determined to not date until her soulmate comes along that she would miss it the way I could have? Okay, this I can work with. There's time and a fake relationship to take part in. What if I get her to fall in love with me? And if that doesn't work, I always have my secret weapon I can bring in. I'll bring in Lilly and prove to her I'm Veronica's soulmate! Then she'll help me. I just have to be careful not to push Veronica too far, too fast. I don't want to scare her. And building a friendship is a great foundation for a relationship.'

A beaming smile took over his face, "Roller coaster first? Are you a screamer, Veronica?"

"A loud one." Veronica laughed before suddenly turning a tomato red, realizing the double entendre.

Bursts of laughter bubbled up and out for a moment. Then leaning down closer to her ear, he whispered. "Something I'll keep in mind."

If possible Veronica turned a deeper red before swatting his arm and starting to laugh with him as they made their way across the boardwalk.

True to her word, she was a screamer, but Logan only laughed as the wind whipped past them and their bodies rocketed back and forth through the twists and turns. The cliffhanger had them "hang gliding" around and laughing in glee, the sensation of flying a freeing experience. While spinning wildly on the cyclone, Veronica reached out and clasped his hand and closing his eyes he found that sensation more thrilling than the ride itself. In fact, none of the thrill rides compared to the high of being with her.

They took a break to seek some food. After a debate, they choose one of the restaurants to sit down and enjoy a meal so they could talk some more. Both ordering their burgers topped with white cheddar, bacon, avocado and onion jam served with sides of garlic fries, and then settling in with their lemonades, strawberry for her and blackberry for him, to chat.

Head tilting, he asked what had stuck in his mind from their earlier conversation. "What did you mean by Lilly was more than just your best friend earlier? If you don't mind me asking."

"No- I don't mind, I said I would tell you, but Lo, this has to stay between us. Nobody knows this."

A serious nod, chocolate eyes focused intently, and he leaned forward a bit on the table to be closer to her.

"Well-" Veronica stopped, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "The thing is, Jake and Celeste Kane are not soulmates."

"I know."

Veronica's brow creased, and nose crinkled. "You know? How?"

"It's obvious if you're paying attention, I just don't think anyone does. They hardly ever touch and when they do, it's only because they are in a room and it's expected. The moment they can separate, they do. And I've heard them fight. Remember, I've been friends with Duncan since kindergarten. The things they say to each other, I can't believe anyone would say those things to their soulmate." Chocolate eyes flashed with pain and dropped to the table. "It's pretty horrible."

A hand slipped into his and squeezed. When Logan looked up, he found her nodding. "Right, so Jake's actual soulmate is my mom. But because she didn't come from a wealthy family, the Kanes didn't approve. They set him up with Celeste, an arranged marriage if you will, but both of them agreed to it, knowing they weren't each other's soulmates. I don't know how or why my mother agreed, but she did with the understanding that she and Jake would continue to see each other in secret."

Logan drew in a sharp breath and squeezed the soft hand in his again. "I don't know what to say, Ronica. That's-"

"Terrible? Wrong?" A huff puffed out. "Take your pick. Greed conquers all." Red appeared high on her cheeks while her eyes darkened and jaw clenched. "To make matters worse, my mom met my dad. Told him that her soulmate had died. See, my dad's soulmate was killed when she was sixteen by a drunk driver so they had never met. He knew that Lianne wasn't his soulmate, but thought they still had this connection, especially since they both lost their matches. He loved her and thought they could make a good life together. And she lied to him about everything, through their entire relationship."

Brown eyes grew round and wide, and the hand not holding onto Veronica's came up to cover his mouth. Bile rose momentarily in his throat. 'How does someone do such a thing? Not only agree to let your mate live with another, and for money of all things, but hurt someone so deliberately.' Mind scrambled for some words to say. "Fuck Veronica, I'm so sorry. How did you-?"

"Find out?" Slowly he nodded, and the hurt and sadness in her gaze had him wanting to cry out in pain. It rushed through him like it was his own and cracked his heart open.

"Lilly and I overheard Jake and Celeste talking about my mom. They argued because Celeste was mad, saying they were getting too careless and Jake, irritated with her, told her he didn't give a damn what she thought since my mom was his actual soulmate and the one he loved."

The food arrived at that moment, forcing them to let go of each other's hands. After receiving refills on their drinks, they spent a few moments in silence, cutting burgers in half, taking the first few bites and assuring the server that everything was to satisfaction. Left alone again, Veronica picked up the story. "Lils and I realized that all of our joking about how we looked like sisters may not be a joke after all. Obviously, we had different mothers, but it was possible we shared a father. I got a DNA kit and got a blood sample from my dad by telling him it was for health class. The results revealed that Lilly, Duncan and I are half siblings, but only Lilly and I know."

It took a few minutes for all the information to sink in, so Logan focused on eating but kept eye contact with her. "What about your dad? What does he think of all this or did you not tell him?" The voice asking came out soft, tenderness in every note.

Veronica's face contorted slightly while she swallowed the bite of food and set down her burger, picking up her napkin and wiping her mouth. Eyes filled with tears that didn't fall. "I never told him. Keith Mars was and always will be my dad. He was the sheriff, and we had a serial killer, the E-String Strangler. A good sheriff and an honest one, which is like finding a needle in a haystack around here. But that case- it took everything from him. He was so desperate to stop the killings and those girl's deaths weighed so heavily on him. He got a lead, a good one that eventually led to the arrest of the guilty man, but backup didn't arrive in time and he got the drop on my dad, killing him when I was seventeen."

A single tear fell down her cheek, and Logan vibrated in his seat. Fought with his own body because all he wanted to do was get up and take her into his arms and kiss away the tears, hold her and let her know that he shared her pain with her. "I'm so sorry Ronica, I- I didn't know. I didn't mean to upset you."

With a small shake of her head, she managed a smile, wiping away the tear. "You couldn't have known, and it's okay. This is something I would have shared with you. I just still miss him every day. After he died, I got Jake to convince my mom to sign emancipation papers. I haven't seen her since then, nor do I want to." She picked up her burger again and took another bite.

Logan, acknowledging her signal, picked up his own burger and went back to eating, turning the conversation gently to television shows and which she enjoyed and which she hated for the duration of lunch. Afterwards, they headed back out for some more fun.

They forwent the rides while their stomach settled and instead ventured into Neptune's Kingdom to play the two-story mini-golf course that included black light holes. Plenty of smack talking and laughing throughout, Veronica pouted epically when they tallied the scores to reveal Logan's win. The beaming smile was back when she trounced him at air hockey, though. And both had a blast trying to outdo the other while playing Skeeball, amassing a mountain of tickets they gave to a little girl who jumped up and down gleefully at her bounty.

With an exuberant look, she dragged him down "under" the boardwalk to the Fright Walk, causing him to chuckle. Both jumped and let out plenty of exclamations throughout the walk, laughing as they decided it was a good thing there was an age requirement for this particular attraction. The best part for Logan, though, came at the end. Before they entered the walk, Veronica had confided in her fear of clowns. They didn't encounter one until the very end of it.

She had taken the lead confidently but when she entered the last room she quickly jumped back, falling right into Logan who steadied her with his arms. "You okay?"

"Yeah, just- ah- clown."

"Do you want me-" Not exactly sure what he was going to suggest when she cut him off. 'Pick you up and run you through? Stand guard over you?'

"No, no, It's okay, I'll just do what I've always done. But thanks!" Veronica graced him with another gorgeous smile before raising her voice.

"Excuse me, sir? I know that you're supposed to scare people, but I have a real phobia of clowns. Could you please just let me run through the run quickly and not do anything or come near me?"

There was silence for a moment before a slight, muffled reply came back. "Yeah, okay. No problem."

The blond glanced over her shoulder at him. "See, no big deal. See you on the other side!" With that, she took off at a quick jog, leaving him behind.

Not five seconds later a scream ripped through the air first, shrill with terror followed by another, this one darker, angrier. "You asshole, get away from me. You said you'd let me just get through!"

Logan sprinted into the room to find Veronica, not cowering, but backed into the corner. "Back the fuck off right now! Or I am going to knock you right the hell out!" The clown only laughed at her and moved closer in response.

One and a half long strides, fingers just about to grab the asshole by the back of his shirt, Logan was pushed back when the clown flew backwards and then sank down onto the floor with a moan. Logan looked up and there stood Veronica, shaking out her fist, a grimace on her face. "I warned you!"

Laughter roared out of his chest, filling the room and echoing while he grabbed her hand, kissing her knuckles and then pulling her out and into the cool sunset evening. "That's some right hook you have there, Bobcat." His shoulders still shook with laughter, and the sound of hers joining in sent a hum through his body.

"I warned him!" The grin she shot him was mischievously. "Come on, buttercup. Our food has settled by now, let's go do some more rides!"

Logan wanted to purr when she kept her hand in his while they wandered back up to the main boardwalk. Veronica dragged him to the log ride first. "We may as well get wet and then use the other rides to dry off." The authority in her voice made him grin again.

"Do you always plan out the proper way to ride the rides? How do you figure it out at Disney?"

"Well, you have to figure out which is the best way to do it and I've never been to Disney so I don't know.

"That's an outrage! We'll just have to plan us a trip now, won't we?" With a grin, he threw a wink at her and she laughed, nodding eagerly.

"I've always wanted to go."

"Then it's settled." If Logan had his way, there would be a lot of trips to a lot of places in their future. Anything to keep her smiling the way she was tonight.

They rode the log ride, both of them ending up thoroughly soaked, Veronica blushing pink and thankful she wore a tank top beneath her white t-shirt. Then made their way to the spinning teacups, each trying to outdo the other on how fast they could get it to go. Followed by the pirate ship, haunted castle, ghost blaster, and flying swings. They ended their riding adventures with the historic merry-go-round.

"There's only one thing this boardwalk is missing." The sigh escaped Veronica while she rode her gilded white horse next to him on his black stallion.

"What's that?" Head cocking to the side, wondering what ride could be missing.

"A Ferris wheel." She smiled and Logan's mind drifted to the image of taking her up to the top and kissing her. A smile crept onto his face and he rested his head against the pole his horse was attached to while the music slowed and the ride ended.

The two made their way through the games after stopping for an ice cream cone and caramel apple. Laughter and banter moving easily between them, trying to outdo the other and win on each game. After another stop to share a funnel cake, they settled down and watched the fireworks, shot to reflect in the water below and creating a beautiful scene in the night sky. Two more quick stops to collect some saltwater taffy and cotton candy to bring home, then stopping to get their fortunes told, and a caricature done just before the announcement came over the loudspeakers that the boardwalk was closing for the evening. Logan couldn't think of a more perfect day in his entire twenty-two years and was reluctant to bring it to an end. But both were yawning, and all the time in the sun was catching up with them.

It was just before midnight when Logan pulled the BMW in front of her building again. Both exhausted but happy and light after having spent the day together. And true to his word, Veronica was holding a giant stuffed Scooby Doo won by a feat of skill.

"I can't remember the last time I had so much fun!" The brilliant smile she sent him had shivers along his spine and stomach tumbling while he reached for the door handle.

He got himself out of the car and made his way around to the passenger side, getting to it just before she opened the door and beating her to it. With a comical bow and affecting a British accent, "my lady and her protective pooch."

The peal of laughter Veronica rewarded him with had something curling low and hot in his belly. With a deep breath, Logan willed his body to behave and felt a little guilty for promising a repeat of last night's shower. If only it would be good for now. With a smile, Logan held out his hand and offered it to Veronica. The soft hand slipping into his made him want to close his eyes. Or better yet, pull her to him until they were flush and he could bring his mouth first softly and then crashing into hers while they explored each other. 'Okay, thoughts not helping right now, champ.'

Instead, Logan helped her from the car and guided her up the walk to her building. This earned him a curious look when they got in the elevator. "You could have dropped me off, I don't want to be a bother." Blue eyes looked anywhere but his, and she played with the collar around the stuffed dog's neck.

"Veronica, I may not have dated before but my mom raised a gentleman. That means walking a lady to her door and making sure she gets safely inside." The mildly teasing scold turned into a heartfelt murmur, "You could never be a bother. I want to make sure you're safe, okay? Humor me? Even though I know you have one hell of a punch, it will make me feel better."

Eyes glancing up now, she smiled and nodded. "Thank you for being so kind, Logan."

"It's my pleasure." He fought the urge to rub his hand against his neck, to tell her he was sure that he already loved her. That he was hers and please, please see they are mates. Please accept him and let him make her happy. He kept these quiet though, sighing in a bit of relief when the door pinged open. Hand resting on her back while leading her to her door, he waited as she unlocked it, holding her stuffed prize safe.

Both turned when the door across the hall cracked and a guy with a greasy dark blond hair in a floppy Bieber hairstyle circa 2009 stepped out. Backup started barking on the other side of the door, aggressive and loud. "Veronica, hey. I've been wondering where you've been. Thought you might come around for a drink." Eyes darkened, taking in Logan, "Whose this?" The voice came out more demanding than curious inquiry, and Logan stiffened. Something about this guy was setting off alarm bells in him and he took a step closer to Veronica, who seemed to lean into him too.

"Piz." Veronica's voice was one Logan hadn't heard before, hard and flat. "This is Logan, a good friend. And I've told you repeatedly that I have no interest in having a drink with you. Thank you for the offer but please stop extending them, I will not be accepting."

The Bieber lookalike's eyes went black, and the hair raised on Logan's arms. Unafraid of him, but recognizing something in him. Recognized danger, the same way he recognized the danger in Aaron. He took a good mental image of the man, remembered the name. Now wasn't the time, but he wanted to ask later if Veronica had trouble with him.

"Goodnight Piz." Her voice chilly and final, even harder than before. A rush or pride rose in Logan, realizing that Veronica didn't play with fools. She was polite but didn't put up with nonsense. He knew she was smart and from the conversations they had over dinner the night before, he knew she carried a taser at all times and a gun on the job as well as being proficient in martial arts. His girl could take care of herself, and he wasn't about to step in unless it was necessary. She wouldn't appreciate it.

Veronica opened the door and slipped inside, grabbing Backup's collar when he tried to come out into the hallway, causing Piz to step back into his own apartment and close his door. She beckoned Logan in and through the door, closing it with a firm "thump" behind them. "Sorry about that." A smile gracing her face again, she let go of Backup's collar, Veronica took her prize from Logan's arms to bring him to a shelf high above her desk in the living room.

He crouched down and scratched Backup's ears, whispering what a good boy he was and if he wanted to bite Piz that Logan would pay any fine that it might result from it. The grin the dog gave him made Logan believe that he understood him.

Veronica joined them and fished a treat out of a container, causing the dog to run over, skidding slightly and making her laugh. "Sit" She placed the treat on his nose. "Hold" Turning she looked at Logan quickly and then back at the dog. "Okay now!"

He laughed delighted as the pitbull tossed the treat up and then caught it in his mouth, crunching away at it happily as his mistress scratched his ears. "When was the last time Amy came by and let you out, huh, buddy?" Unlike the chilly voice from the hall, this was a coo and all affection.

A quick search revealed a note on the table by the door. "Oh, it's only been a half-hour, you're good." With another scratch to the pitbull's ears, she turned her attention to Logan again. "Sorry about Piz." Her nose scrunched up.

"Hey, no worries. He seems like a creep though."

"Yeah, but he hasn't done anything I can use to get him kicked out of the building. And his record is clean. Well, his adult record. There's a sealed juvenile record, and I'm still working on a way to get my hands on that. Anyway, enough about him. Thank you for this amazing day. I had so much fun." Her face morphed into a beautiful beaming smile.

Logan's breath caught in his throat and fist balled up because all he wanted to do was cup her face and bring his lips to her. Just in the nick of time, he caught his tongue coming out to moisten his bottom lip. He cleared his throat instead, "So did I, Ronica. Uh- what does your week look like? Would you like to get together again?"

That seemed to startle her out of a slight daze, and a hand came up to twirl a piece of her hair from her ponytail. "I would love that if you don't think you'll tire of me."

"Never. When and where, I'll be there."

"How about if I cook us dinner and we do something simple like just watch a movie? Maybe a quieter night so we can spend some more time talking? I have some things I have to get done tomorrow, but if you're not too busy and it's not too late, we could do it at say seven?"

"Sounds perfect." Voice came out a little more husky than intended. "Can I bring anything?"

"Something for dessert?"

"You got it." Somehow during this exchange they had stepped closer to each other. One more step and they would be touching. Logan found his head bent slightly down and Veronica's face turned up toward him. Time seemed to stop.

Suddenly, Veronica turned bright pink, gaze dropping, and she took a step back. "Great" Her tone breathy and Logan knew it would be in his fantasies tonight. "I'll see you then."

Clearing his throat, trying to control his breathing, he nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow night, Ronica. I look forward to it."

"So do I." She glanced at him, eyes a darker navy blue and hand on her chest. "Goodnight, Logan."

"Goodnight." Logan leaned in and just let his lips brush against her soft cheek. Fist clenched again to control himself. One last smile before slipping back out the door, hearing the locks click into place behind him and making him glance at Piz's door again with a frown.

After climbing back into his car, he leaned back against the leather headrest and let out a heavy breath. "Note to self. Before coming over tomorrow night, take a very long shower."

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A.N. The clown "incident" is based on a real life "incident." Look- I warned the clown more than once, it was completely justified!

Thank you all faithful readers for not giving up on me. I promised that I wouldn't be giving up on my stories and I meant it. Updates to follow in the next few weeks on the other two!