On Friday morning as Taliyah took the lift up to her workplace, her stomach churned nervously. She wondered if she would get the same frigid treatment she got from Dax yesterday. It was evident after he returned from a business lunch and she went to his office to give him a file to go through at his leisure. He seemed very detached and she had no clue why. Every time she tried to talk to him about it, they were interrupted. At the end of the day, she lingered, hoping to speak to him but he was gone for a long time and she had to leave. She called him at his home but the machine picked up and his cell was turned off. Was he out or was he ignoring her calls?
Was this the brush off? Had he lost interest in her? Was he planning to end their relationship? But, it didn’t make any sense to her, especially not after Wednesday night when he was at her place. She trembled now as she remembered their lovemaking. It was steamy and explosive. And now things were frosty between them.
The lift stopped and the doors opened. She stepped out and forced a smile for Belinda, the receptionist who greeted her as she walked past. As she approached her cubicle, she saw Dax standing at the doorway of his office and her heart began to pound heavily. He glanced up as she approached and their eyes met. She saw something flicker in his before he turned and went back into his office. Not a smile or a word of greeting, she thought, feeling hurt.
She went to her desk and got settled in. After checking phone messages and emails, she went to fix herself a cup of hot chocolate and was on her way back to her desk, when Dax stepped outside of his office.
“I need to talk to you,” he said quietly. His eyes traveled over her in the black jacket, top and jeans. It was casual Friday. She looked amazing. Desire coursed through him like a fever. Muscle throbbing along his jawline, he turned and walked briskly away, his back rod straight.
She set her mug on the desk and then went to his office. He was standing at the window, looking out. He heard her go in but didn’t turn around. After closing the door behind her, she joined him. It was flurrying outside. She stared at his profile, her pulse racing. How she longed to reach out and touch him. She loved him so much it ached. “I missed you last night,” she said huskily.
He turned toward her then, his cold demeanor belied the emotions that were raging inside him. “Did you?” he asked tautly.
She frowned. “Of course, I did. I called for you because I wanted you to come over. I was hoping that we could enjoy a quiet and romantic evening together.”
His hands tightened into fists as he struggled to stay calm. “You must really take me for a fool,” he muttered tightly.
She looked at him, stunned. “Why do you say that?”
“Wednesday after I left your place, I was on my way home when I realized that I didn’t have my cell. So, I came back to get it and saw you with him. Who is he, Taliyah?”
She swallowed hard. “Dax, please let me explain—”
“Explain what?” he demanded angrily, his eyes stormy as they met hers. “What is there to explain? You waited until I left and then you invited your other lover over.”
Flabbergasted, she exclaimed, “I don’t have another lover.”
“I saw you hug him before letting him into your place. Did he spend the night?”
“No,” she protested. “Dax, you’re wrong about Mark and me–”
“Mark?” he hissed. The mere mention of the other man’s name made his blood boil. Red, hot jealousy consumed him and it took every ounce of his will power to keep his anger in check. “While you and he were inside, I stood out there in the hallway for a while and then I left. It was after twelve when I finally got home. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, thinking about you and him.”
She moved closer to him. “Dax…”
“You have to make a choice, Taliyah. It’s either him or me. You can’t have both of us.”
“Dax, Mark and I aren’t lovers. He’s my friend–that’s all. He suffers from depression and last night, he needed to talk. We spent hours just talking. I offered to help him to find a doctor or therapist and to go with him on the first visit.”
Dax could see that she was telling the truth and he calmed down. He reached for her and pulled her against him. “I’m sorry to hear that your friend Mark is suffering from depression,” he said. “It’s good that he had you to talk to and that you’re encouraging him to get the help he needs. And I’m sorry that I acted like such a jerk.”
She put her arms around his neck. “I would have reacted the same way too if I had seen you let another woman into your flat,” she told him.
“You don’t have to worry about any woman showing up at my flat for any reason. Now, regarding your friend, Mark, I know you want to help him, but remember, you can only do so much. You have your own your own health to think about. You don’t want it to suffer because of Mark’s depression.”
“I promise to set boundaries. I don’t want my friendship with him or my desire to help him to affect my relationship with you. You are my world, Dax, and I love you so much.”
His eyes darkened on her upturned face. “And you are my life. My world. My love. My everything,” he declared before he lowered his head and kissed her. They kissed for a long time before he raised his head, his face slightly flushed. “My place later?” he asked.
She nodded with a smile. “Yes.”