He stood in the shower, letting the water beat down on his back. His mind was still spinning from the realization that until he had made love to her earlier that day, Velma had been a virgin all along. That meant she had never slept with either Akello or Karl or any man for that matter. He, Tadeas was her first lover. The thought both floored and thrilled him. No man had ever been inside her so he had been jealous for no reason.
He could tell that it was her first time because of the way she had initially tensed up and he could feel the resistance before he was fully inside her. He forced himself to stop for a few minutes before he began to move his hips slowly. When he heard her moaning, that was his cue to increase the tempo.
It felt so good to finally make love to the woman he had wanted for such a long time but was too bloody proud to admit it. After it was over, he withdrew from her and rolled onto his back. He didn’t say anything about her being a virgin and pretended not to notice how she quickly rolled up the rug when they got up.
“Excuse me,” she muttered, pulling on her underwear before scooping up the rest of her clothes and the rug. She hurried from the living-room and while she was gone, he got dressed.
When she returned, she was wearing a robe. “Do you have any regrets?” he asked.
“No. I don’t have any regrets at all.”
“Are you hungry?”
“I’d like it if you would stay and have lunch with me.”
“I’d like that very much.”
He stayed and had lunch. An hour later, he left because he had more errands to run. It was after four in the afternoon when he finally got home. After checking for messages, he went into the bathroom. And here he was taking a hot shower and thinking about Velma. He couldn’t wait to see her again tomorrow. Things were going to be different between them now but they had to make sure that their work relationship wasn’t affected. When they were in the office, they had to act professionally so the others wouldn’t suspect anything but it wasn’t going to be easy. It would be hard for him not to stare at her or want to be alone with her.
He wanted to be in a relationship with Velma. He wanted to take her out for dinner, dancing and do all things that couples usually did. He wanted to call William and tell him that he was right. He would probably gloat and then, feel sorry for Briony. Briony. He had to see her and tell her that he couldn’t continue seeing her. Sighing, he turned off the water and opened the glass door to step out onto the mat to dry his skin.
After he was finished, he dropped the towel into the dirty laundry bin and left the bathroom. He went into his bedroom and got dressed. Then, he picked up the phone and called Briony. “Hello, Briony.”
“Would it be at all possible to see you today? I need to talk to you.”
There was a slight pause and then, she said, “Sure. What time would you like to stop by?”
“Whatever time is good for you.”
“How about six?”
He glanced at the clock radio on the bedside table. It was five-fifteen. “Sure. Six is fine. I’ll see you then.”
An hour later, they were in her flat, in the living-room, facing each other.
“You cut your hair.”
“Yes. I did. I wore it up yesterday for the gala so you wouldn’t have noticed then.”
“It looks very nice. It suits you.”
“Thanks for seeing me.”
“It sounded important.”
“Thank you for a lovely evening last night. I had a wonderful time. I met a lot of wonderful people and I really enjoyed the tour of your family estate. I can imagine how lovely it is in the spring and summer and even autumn.”
“I spoke to my mother this morning and she told me that she saw photos of the gala on line. She said that there were a few of you and me. She thinks that you’re very handsome. Said you reminded her a little of a Tyrone Power. He was one of her favorite movie stars.”
“He’s one of my mother’s favorites too. I’m flattered that I remind your mother of him.”
“So, there’s at least one thing that our mothers have in common.”
“The weather has been up and down lately. For a few days it felt like autumn but today it feels like spring.” She knew she was babbling but she couldn’t help it. She could tell that something was wrong and had an idea what it was but was hoping that she was wrong.
He shoved his hands in the pockets of his trousers as he struggled to find the right words for what he had to say to her. “Briony, this isn’t easy for me.”
She went over to the sofa and sat down. “What is it that you’re trying to tell me?” she asked.
“You’re a remarkable woman. Beautiful, charming and I’m truly blessed to have known and spent time with you but, I’m afraid that my feelings for you are purely platonic.”
She could feel the color leave her cheeks and her hands were clasped tightly on her lap. “I suspected as much,” she said quietly. She had noticed that he never held her hand or made any romantic advances toward her. And last night, the kiss was more like that of a friend.
“Don’t be,” she said quickly, too quickly. “You can’t help the way you feel.”
“The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you. I wish now that I had left you alone that day when we met at my father’s club.”
“You seemed interested in me then.”
“What happened then, to change that?”
“I realized that I have feelings for someone else. I realized it when I saw her on two occasions with another man.”
“Who is this someone else?”
“Your supervisor? But, I thought you and she didn’t like each other.”
“I thought so too but as it turns out, we were mistaken.”
“I see. Well, I hope it works out for you.”
“Are you going to be all right?”
“Yes. I’ll be fine. You don’t mind showing yourself out, do you?”
“No. Goodbye, Briony.”
He turned and walked out of the living-room. Moments later, she heard the door close. And that was when she allowed herself to break down.