“I just finished reading, Raindrops Never Lie.”
“And what did you think of it?”
“I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. It’s your best novel.”
“That’s what you said about Shadow Monsters.”
“I love Shadow Monsters. It was your first novel. It’s still one of my favorites. But, Raindrops Never Lie is my number one favorite now.”
“I dedicated Raindrops to you.”
“I know. That’s why I came over. I wanted to get your autograph and to personally thank you. I’ve never had anyone dedicate the novel to me before. I showed my family and friends and they were really impressed.”
“I’m on to my next novel.”
“Really? What’s it called?”
“If Our Stars Align.”
“What’s it about?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’m still bouncing around different ideas.”
“Well, I like the name. I’m sure it will be another best-seller.”
He didn’t answer. The novel was going to be unlike the others. It would be a sort of autobiographical story of an artist who falls in love with his muse. The problem is that she didn’t know that she was his muse. Ever since they met which was five years ago, she had inspired and helped him to write what he considered to be his best stories. Stories he was extremely proud of. If she were to ever leave him…He couldn’t bring himself to complete the thought. He dragged his fingers through his hair, his expression tense as he returned her gaze.
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing.” Should he come clean and tell her how he felt? What if she didn’t feel the same way? Where would that leave him? What would it do to their current friendship? And then, there was Amelia, a fellow author and current paramour. It was foolish of him to get involved with a married woman even if she and her husband were separated and on the verge of getting a divorce. He had planned to end their affair this week but hadn’t gotten around to it.
Amelia resented his friendship with Clarissa and urged him to end it. “Why do you spend so much time with her?” she demanded every time they saw each other. “Shouldn’t she be with people her own age? What about a boyfriend, doesn’t she have one?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked presently. He’d never thought of asking her before and now he was anxious to know.
She looked surprised. “No, I don’t. Why do you ask?”
“I was just curious.”
She looked away so that he wouldn’t see the disappointment on her face. She had hoped that it had to do with more than curiosity. Why kid yourself, she chided herself. He’s not interested in being more than your friend. Besides, he’s involved with a woman who has more in common with him than you do. “Did you ask because of Mrs. Villin? I know she doesn’t like me. I guess she would rather that you and I didn’t see each other.”
“She thinks you should be with people in your own age group.”
“I don’t care what she thinks. She shouldn’t have any say in whether or not you and I should see each other. She’s a married woman.”
“She and her husband are separated and soon to be divorced.”
She removed his jacket from about her shoulders and stood up, looking distressed. “And what are you going to do when she’s divorced? Continue your relationship? Marry her?”
“No! I’m not going to continue seeing her or marry her.” He got up from the chair and walked over to her.
“Why not? She’ll be a free woman.” Her eyes flashed with anger, jealousy, pain and a myriad of emotions as she glared up at him.
“And–and you’re in love with her, aren’t you?” Her voice trembled then and her eyes welled up with tears.
His eyes darkened and he held her by the shoulders and drew her towards him. “You’re wrong,” he moaned thickly. “I’m in love with you.”
She stared at him, stunned. “Me?”
“Yes, you. I fell in love with you soon after we met.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was afraid of ruining our friendship.”
“But, why would you telling me that you loved me ruin our friendship?”
“I didn’t know if you felt the same. I still don’t.”
“Oh, I love you too. I fell for you the first moment I saw you.”
“Clarissa…” he held her face between his hands and a smile tugged at his lips.
“What about Mrs. Villin?”
“It’s over between her and me. I will break the news to her first thing tomorrow.”
“Good.” She put her arms around his waist and waited in anticipation for their first kiss.