Some Friend

f435ef6a490c1e14141c059fdce5ead9She was walking to work when she spotted Dexter’s car.  He didn’t see her.  Even if he did, what would he do?  She couldn’t imagine him telling the driver to stop so that he could talk to her.  Perhaps if Meghan was with her, he would.  It was a slap in the face when they went out for dinner one night, he was a little too attentive to her friend.  And what made it worse was Meghan flirted with him.  Their friendship cooled considerably after that.  It hurt knowing that the two people she cared for and trusted the most were seeing each other.

I have to move on, she thought.  I have to get over him.  There were other men out there.  She just had to figure out where to meet them.  Or maybe she should wait on the Lord as her mother advised her to do.  Maybe she should just enjoy being single and when the time was right for her to meet someone, it would happen.  She could do other things in the meantime like travel, enroll in an arts or crafts class, take up a new hobby or volunteer.  The possibilities were endless.

She was fine with being single.  And it didn’t matter that the man she still carried a torch for had just gone by in his chauffeur driven car.  It would be weeks before she saw him again.  She was fine with that.  Her pace quickened.  She had a busy day ahead of her and was determined not to let anything distract her.  As she was nearing the office building, her cell rang.  She fished inside her bag for it.  When she saw the number on the display, her heart skipped a beat.  It was him.  She answered.  “Hello.”

“Hello, Lonette.  Hope I’m not calling you at a bad time.”

“Actually, I’m my way to work.”

“Sorry.  I won’t keep you long.  I was wondering if you’d have lunch with me today.”

She considered that for a moment.  Why did he want to have lunch with her?  Did it have something to do with Meghan?  The last thing she needed was to sit there and listen to him talk about her former friend.  Did Meghan ask him to invite her to lunch so that he could convince her to patch things up with her?  “I can’t,” she said.  “It’s going to be a busy day for me.”

“How about dinner this evening?”

“Sorry, that’s out too.”

“What about tomorrow?  Are you free for either lunch or dinner?”

“No.”

“Are you giving me the brush off, Lonette?”

“No, I’m not,” she protested quickly, too quickly.

“Yes, you are.  Is it because of Meghan?”

“I was wondering when we were going to get around to talking about her.”

“You know there’s nothing going on between us.”

Really?  Well, that’s not what I heard.”

“Whatever you heard, it isn’t true.  I’m not interested in Meghan.  I never was.”

“When we went out for dinner, you didn’t act like you weren’t interested.”

“I know how it might have looked to you, but I swear to you that I was just trying to be nice to her for your sake.”

“What do you mean that you were just trying to be nice to her?”

He sighed.  “I don’t how to say this so I’ll just come right out and say it.  I don’t like Meghan.  I tried to get along with her for your sake and that’s why I was trying to be nice to her when the three of us were together.  I didn’t expect her to flirt with me.  I’m sorry about that.”

Lonette was inside the lobby now.  She didn’t go into the elevator but went into the sitting area.  She sat down on one of the plush leather chairs.  “Someone said that they saw you with her a couple of weeks ago.”

“I was at The Keg waiting for a client when she came over.  She sat down at the table.  I didn’t want to be rude or draw attention so I told her as politely as I could to leave.  She refused to budge until my client joined us.   She had no choice but to leave but before she did, she said that she couldn’t understand how I could be attracted to you.  She said that was why she liked being friends with you.  She didn’t have to worry about high quality men liking you instead of her.  That’s the woman you thought was your friend.  If you don’t believe me, I can give you the number of my client.”

Lonette sighed.  “No, that won’t be necessary.  I still can’t have lunch with you but I’m free for dinner tonight.”

“Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven.  I can’t wait to see you, Lonette.”

“I can’t wait to see you too.”  She rang off and remained sitting there for a few minutes.  What Meghan said stung.  She had no idea that was how she felt about her.  No wonder she didn’t have a problem flirting with Dexter.  She knew I was crazy about him and she still flirted with him.  Some friend she turned out to be.  And to think I almost threw away my chance for happiness because of her.  Furious, she deleted Meghan’s number from her cell before getting up and hurrying to the elevator.

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Playmates/Clouds #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

 

“You’re in love with my grandson, aren’t you?” Mrs. Walker’s unexpected question startled Marlo and for several minutes, she was at a loss for words.  They were sitting in the drawing-room in front of a roaring fire.  The older woman had invited her to spend the afternoon with her.  She was rather fond of her, ever since she was a child.  She had watched Marlo play with her grandson, William and had watched her blossom into a lovely young lady.

There was a pregnant pause, interrupted only by the chiming of the clock and then, Marlo admitted, “Yes, I’m in love with William.  I have been in love with him since I was a teenager but how–?”

“How did I guess?  My dear girl, I may be old and feeble but my mind is as agile as ever.  I have watched you and seen the way you act around him.  These eyes don’t miss anything.  So, what are you going to do about it?”

Marlo stared at her in surprise.  “What can I do?” she asked.  “He still thinks of me as that little girl he used to climb trees and gallivant about the countryside with.”

“You are mistaken, my Dear.  The way I have seen him look at you, he’s not thinking about that little girl at all.”

Marlo’s heart began to race.  “What do you mean?”

“It’s quite clear that William is in love with you.”

“But, what about Louisa Parks?”  She had seen him with the pretty brunette on more than one occasion and it had aroused a fierce jealousy in her.  She couldn’t help but recall the afternoon when she had returned from a walk to find them together in the garden.   They were sitting on the bench, talking and laughing and she stood there watching them for a while before they even noticed her.  Louisa was wearing a pretty sundress and hat.  She glanced self-consciously down at her tee shirt and jeans.  Her gaze shifted to William and their eyes met.  He looked handsome in the white shirt and tan colored slacks, his dark hair slightly tousled from the cool breeze.

He got to his feet now and walked over to her.  “Where did you go off to?” he asked.

“I went for a walk,” she said.

“You went alone?”

“Yes.  You weren’t around so I decided to go by myself.”

“Where did you go?”

“I went to the drugstore—”

“Did you see Tom?”

“Of course.  He works there.”

“You know he likes you, don’t you?”

She glanced over at Louisa who was watching them curiously, looking a bit put out.  “Why don’t you go back to your guest?” she asked and was about to walk away when he caught her by the arm.  Her eyes flew up to his face and she swallowed when she saw his expression.

“Do you like Tom?”

“Why does that concern you?”

“It does,” he retorted.  “Do you like him?”

She tugged her hand away from him.  “No, I don’t like him.  Can you say the same thing about her?”  She demanded before she turned and stalked away.

She ran to her car and jumped into it.  All the way home, she fumed. What right did he have to question her about Tom when he was seeing Louisa?  He acted like he was jealous but in order for him to be jealous, he would have to have feelings for her.  No, he couldn’t have been jealous.  He was just being overprotective like he used to be whenever a boy showed any interest in her.

The sound of Mrs. Walker clearing her throat brought her back to the present.  “I’m sorry,” she said, embarrassed.  “I was remembering something that happened between William and me.”

“You mentioned Louisa Parks.”

“Yes, I saw them together in the garden a week ago.”

“They are just friends.”

“It seemed to me that Louisa wants to more than friends.”

“Well, I’m afraid it won’t do her any good.  William is in love with you.”

“But, how do you know that?” She wanted to believe it so badly.

“He told me.”

Marlo gaped at her.  “He did?  But, why would he tell you that?”

“Since he was a boy, William has always confided in me and some time ago, he stopped by, looking very agitated.  When I asked him what the matter was, he mentioned that Tom, the Pharmacist, was asking after you.  He said that Tom was interested in you.  And the way he carried on about it, it was clear to me that he was besotted with you.  I asked him plainly how he felt about you and he admitted that he was in love with you but he wasn’t sure how you felt about him.”

Marlo shook her head in a daze.  “I never would have guessed?”

Mrs. Walker’s eyes twinkled.  “Is that so?” she remarked.  “Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?”

“What do you think I should do?”

“Well, I suggest that you take a walk across the Moors.”

“The Moors?”

“That’s why you’ll find him.”

Marlo glanced through the windows behind her.  Dark clouds hovered ominously in the sky.  “It looks like it’s going to rain.”

“Then, you’d better hurry before it does.  And even if you’re caught in it, I’m sure there’s some place where you can find shelter until it passes.”

Marlo stood up and went over to her.  She reached down and hugged her.  “Thank you, Mrs. Walker,” she said before leaving the room.

She ran across the Moors, her heart racing.  Overhead more dark clouds gathered but she didn’t care.  As soon as she spotted him, she called out to him.  He turned.  When she reached him, he asked, “What are you doing out here?”

“Your grandmother told me that I would find you here.”

“It’s going to rain, you know.”

“I know and it doesn’t matter.”

“You’ll get drenched.”

“We’ll both get drenched.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time.”

She smiled. “You’re right.  We got caught out here in the rain one summer.  Your mother was furious when we ran back to the house and got the floor all wet.”

“I seem to recall that it was your bright idea to go back to the house instead of finding shelter in those rocks over there.”

“It would have been a very tight squeeze and I don’t like being in small spaces.  I’m claustrophobic, remember?”

“Yes, I remember.”  His expression grew serious now.  “I remember a lot of things.  I remember the way you looked when you came towards me as I stood right here.  The sun caught your hair and it looked like it was on fire.  Your cheeks were flushed from running like they are now.  You’re still the most beautiful girl I know, Marlo.”

Marlo moved closer to him.  Her green eyes met his hazel ones.  She reached up and brushed the dark brown curls from his forehead.  “I remember a lot of things too,” she said.  “I remember how handsome you looked standing here, with your curls blowing in the breeze and the way you smiled at me.  Your grandmother told me how you feel about me, William.”

“Is that why you’re here now?”

“Yes.”

“Well, she guessed and I merely confirmed.”

“She told me about Louisa.”

“You don’t have to worry about her.  I never wanted more than friendship with her.”

“And you don’t have to worry about Tom.  I was never interested in him.”

He smiled.  “I was so jealous of him.”

“And I was so jealous of Louisa.”

“We were two jealous fools.”

She laughed.  “Yes, we were.”

He took her in his arms.  “I love you, Marlo.  I always have.”

She put her arms around his neck.  “I love you too, William.  I always have.”

He lowered his head and kissed her just as the rain began to fall.

Sometimes your childhood playmate can become your mate for life.

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.  For more details click here.

Gordon’s Weekend/Onward #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

It was a long, winding road that seemed to stretch endlessly before him, surrounded by mountains and fields.  It was a drive he normally enjoyed, especially after a hectic week at the office but today, he was too tensed up.  Relax, he urged himself.  You’re doing the right thing.  You’re ending a relationship you had no business getting into in the first place.  You’re getting married in a couple of months time to an incredible woman.  Yes, he was marrying Tessa, something he had been looking forward to for a long time.

His family liked her.  They thought she was the best thing that had ever happened to him.  She was different from the other women he used to date.  In fact, she was not the type of woman he was usually attracted to.  And when they met, it wasn’t love at first sight for him and he wasn’t even interested in more than a platonic relationship with her.  But, after his bitter breakup with Christina, Tessa had been there for him.  Her friendship had helped him through those dark moments.  And little by little, as time passed and as they spent more time together, his feelings for her began to change.  They started dating and then last year Spring, he popped the question.

Why on earth did he get involved with Chanise?  Sure, she was a very attractive woman but there were other women at the office who were very attractive too but he never once looked at any of them.  Yet, the moment he met Chanise, he was attracted to her.  And it didn’t help when they were paired up to work on two very important campaigns.  There were a lot of late hours in the office and working closing together.  He was so conscious of her that at times, it was near impossible to concentrate.  He was relieved when the assignments were over and things went back to normal but he couldn’t stop thinking about her and sneaking peeks at her when they were in the office.  Her desk was adjacent to his.  He could hear her talking on the phone and tried not to listen.  When Tessa called him, he spoke low into the mouthpiece so that Chanise couldn’t hear.

Last year at the office Christmas party, they both showed up without dates.  Tessa couldn’t go because she had a bad cold and Chanise had broken up with her boyfriend.  He tried to avoid her for as long as he could but half way through the night, they ended up talking and then they were slow dancing.  By the end of the night, he was ready to take her back to his place because it was closer.  When he mentioned it to her, she was up for it.  That’s when he knew that she was attracted to him too.  That thrilled him and after saying their goodbyes, they left.  No one seem to think anything of it–after all they were co-workers.  As far as they were concerned, he was just giving her a ride home.  No big deal.  Besides, he was engaged, right?

They didn’t say much in the drive over to his place.  At any time, he could have changed his mind and taken her straight home but he didn’t.  He wanted this.  If he were honest with himself, he would admit that he had wanted this since they met.  As soon as they got to his place and after removing their coats, he took her to his room where she spent the night.

Even though he was plagued with guilt after that first tryst, it didn’t stop him for doing it again and again.  Pretty soon, they were having an affair.  When they were at the office, they acted like nothing had changed between them.  The funny thing is that when they were together, he didn’t think about Tessa at all.  It was only afterwards, when he was alone that he did.  He hated what he was doing to her.  She had no clue.  She trusted him.  He felt like a complete jerk but every time he tried to end his affair with Chanise, he chickened out the moment he saw her.

Last night, he couldn’t sleep.  The guilt was weighing heavily on him.  He had to end his relationship with Chanise.  He had to.  And today, he was on his way to do that.  They were supposed to be spending the weekend at his cottage.  It was in an idyllic rural setting.  He bought it a couple of years ago.  It was his escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Tessa loved it and thought that it would be a good idea for him to sell his flat and make this their home once they got married.  She loved the countryside.  He loved it too but wasn’t sure that he wanted to move out of the city.  Besides, being in the city made it more convenient for him to see Chanise.  Chanise.  He sighed heavily.  Breaking up with her was going to be very, very hard but he had to do it.

Her car was parked outside of the cottage when he got there.  Heart racing, he turned off the engine and got out of the jeep.  He walked up to the door and opened it.  She was in the living-room.  She got up from the sofa and went over to him, smiling.  “Hello, Gordon,” she murmured as she put her arms around his neck.

Unable to resist, he hugged her tightly against him.  He buried his face in her neck.  “Chanise…” he muttered thickly.  I can’t do this, he thought.  I can’t break up with her.  He raised his head and his mouth sought hers.  As they exchanged kisses, he picked her up and carried her upstairs to the master bedroom.

Tessa smiled as she drove along the winding road, her eyes danced behind the sunglasses as they swept over the mountains looming ahead. Hold on Tight by R3HAB, Conor Maynard was playing on the radio.  It was the same song that was playing the night Gordon went over to her place after breaking up with his ex.  They sat on the sofa not saying anything.  She knew that he didn’t want to be alone at the moment and she was just there for him.

I bet, he’s going to be surprised to see me, she thought.  She was supposed to be spending the weekend with her aunt in Bristol but her aunt had gotten the dates mixed up.  This weekend she was going to be in Manchester so they were on for the following weekend.  Tessa didn’t mind at all.  She was driving up to the cottage to be with Gordon and looking forward to spending a nice, romantic weekend with him.  She couldn’t wait to see the expression on his face when she showed up unexpectedly.  She laughed at thought and pressed her foot a little harder on the accelerator.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Onward at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Spilling the Beans

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Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

She walked past the store, barely acknowledging the sign outside the store she used to frequent when she was a child.  She was on her way to Michelle’s home to have lunch.  Was he going to be there?  She hoped not.  She was getting tired of fending off his unwanted advances.  How could he think that she would want to get involved with him when he was married to her best friend?  What kind of person did he think she was?  And even if he weren’t married, she still wouldn’t be interested.  He wasn’t her type.  He was crude, insensitive and conceited.

What on earth did Michelle see in him?  They celebrated their tenth anniversary last week Saturday and they threw a big bash.  It was quite the celebration but she didn’t enjoy it one bit.  She mingled and tried to act like she was having a good time but at the back of her mind, she kept reliving the awful moment when he grabbed her in the basement.  She managed to fend him off and bolt from the room.

Should she tell Michelle? Would she believe her? Was spilling the beans worth it if it meant ruining their friendship?

200 Words

This was written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Venice

Friends since they were children, Monica and Russell were inseparable.  They went to the same schools and university and moved from Manchester to London after they graduated from university.  Whenever people saw them together, they always assumed that they were a couple and they would quickly inform them, “We’re just friends.”

They dated other people but the relationships never worked out and their respective exes always blamed their friendship.  Once, Monica’s ex-boyfriend accused her of sabotaging their relationship because she was secretly in love with Russell.  She had a run in once with Samantha, a model he was dating who informed her that she didn’t believe that they were just friends.  “A person would have to be blind not to see that there is something going on between you two,” she said.  “And which woman in her right mind could be just friends with a guy like Russell?”

Russell and Monica laughed about it but as time passed, they realized that there was some truth to what others were saying.  They stopped dating other people because they didn’t feel any connection with them and it was beginning to affect their friendship.  Russell found himself getting jealous of the men Monica dated and she hated seeing him with other women.  So, to safeguard their friendship, they remained unattached.   Instead of going to dinner with other people they went each other.  They went to the theatre, concerts and now, here they were in Italy for a three week vacation.

Monica stood now on the Spanish Steps as Russell snapped photos of her.  He looked so handsome in the white shirt and light blue jeans.  She noticed women walking by and casting admiring glances his way.  Jealousy gnawed at her although he seemed oblivious to them.  She knew she was being ridiculous but she couldn’t help it.  She always worried that one day he would meet someone else and fall in love with her.  Not wanting to spoil the moment, she smiled and posed for the photos.

The day went pleasantly as they visited the Pantheon and had lunch at a trattoria near the Piazza Navona.  After sharing a pizza, she went to the washroom.  On her way back to the table, a local looked up at her and said, “Ciao Bella ragazza.”  She glanced at him and then continued to where Russell was.

He stood up when she reached him.  “What did that man say to you?” he asked.  His expression was guarded.

“It sounded like, ‘Ciao bella ragazza,’” she told him.

Russell didn’t answer.  Instead, he put on his sunglasses and preceded her out of the trattoria.  They went for a walk along Castel Sant’Angelo before they went back to the hotel.  They went to their respective rooms until it was time for dinner.  The following day, they left Rome and went to Florence where they spent their second week.  The following day, they took a trip to Milan and after visiting the Santa Maria delle Grazie where Da Vinci’s Last Supper hung, they stopped by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Russell took a photo of Monica outside of Prada.  From Florence, they went on a day tour to Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano.  They had dinner in Siena in a trattoria in Piazza del Campo.

The week went by very quickly and Monica was sorry when they left Florence but looked forward to seeing Venice.  They took the train early in the morning and while Russell read a magazine, she took a nap.  When they arrived in Venice, they found out that they had to share a room because the hotel was fully booked.  That made Monica very nervous but she was relieved when she saw that there were two separate beds.

They spent their first day in Venice at Piazza San Marco, reputed to be one of the most beautiful squares in the world.   They visited the Basilica of San Marco.  Monica was enthralled by the dome and could have stood there all day just staring up at it.  When they came out of the basilica, Russell pointed to the one of the arches above the entrance where there was a marble statue of an old man biting his hand.  “The legend says that he was relieved of his duties when he said that he would be able to build it even more beautiful.”

They had lunch at a restaurant in the square, enjoying the sunshine and watching other tourists.  They finished their sightseeing for the day climbing the Campanile for the breathtaking view of the city and the lagoon.   They stayed there for a while.

It was late afternoon when they returned to the hotel.  They relaxed on the terrace and then it was time to get ready for dinner.  It felt strange getting dressed in the bathroom while Russell got dressed in the bedroom.  She had to make sure it was safe to come out once she was finished.  He looked handsome as usual.  And she saw his gaze travel over her.  “You look great,” he remarked before turning away.  “I was thinking that after dinner, we can go to a church concert.”

She smiled.  “That sounds great.”  Venice was beautiful at night so it was nice walking to the square.  How she longed to hold Russell’s hand, especially when they passed other couples who were holding hands.  They had dinner at an elegant restaurant.  Afterwards, they walked to the church where they spent the next hour or so listening to uplifting music in a lovely atmosphere.

It was late when they got back to the hotel and she was tired.  On the way up to their room, she kept yawning and as soon as they got in she took out a nightgown from her suitcase and headed straight for the bathroom.  She quickly changed out of her dress and into her nightgown and brushed her teeth.

She walked into the room and stopped short when she saw Russell standing there half-naked, holding his pajama shirt.  She turned away, flustered but not before her gaze swept irresistibly over the broad shoulders and wide chest.  He watched her, his expression tense and a muscle throbbed alongside his jaw line.  It took every ounce of willpower on his part not to go over there and take her in his arms.  Instead, he went into the bathroom and closed the door quietly behind him.

As soon as he was gone, Monica hurried over to her bed and climbed in, pulling the cover up to her throat.

A few moments later, the door to the bathroom opened and Russell stepped into the room.  She watched as he walked past her bed to his.

“Goodnight, Russell,” she said, looking over at him as he pulled back the cover and got in.  His back was turned to her.

“Goodnight.”  He closed his eyes as his body reacted to the memory of her in the champagne colored silk nightgown.  He didn’t know how much longer he could continue being just friends with her when he wanted her.

She lay there on her back, staring up at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep.  She couldn’t get the image of him out of her mind.  When she saw his bare torso, her mouth went dry and what felt like a bolt of electricity surged through her.  She had turned away because she was afraid that her feelings would betray her.  She wished she had the courage to tell him how she really felt about him but she didn’t want to jeopardize their friendship.

Sometime later, she heard him stir and then get up.  In the faint light, she watched him tiptoe over to the chair where his shirt and pants were draped.   As he started to get dressed, she sat up, alarmed.  “Where’re you going?” she asked, turning on the lamp beside her.

He didn’t turn around.  “I thought you were asleep.  I can’t sleep so, I’m going out for a bit.”  After he pulled on his shirt and tucked it in his pants, he turned to face her, his eyes wary.  “I’ll try not to disturb you when I come back.”

“How long will you be gone?”

“I don’t know,” he replied shortly.

“Where will you go?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll go to Piazzale Roma or the Rialto or San Marco.”  He was about to walk past her when she quickly climbed out of the bed and stood in front of him.

“What’s wrong, Russell?” she asked.  “You seem upset.”

He kept his eyes on her face, not daring to let them go lower.  “I’m not upset.”

“I think you are, “she insisted.   “Please tell me what’s wrong.  We’re supposed to be friends—”

His expression darkened.   “I know we’re supposed to be friends,” he snapped.  “But right now, I don’t feel like a friend.”

She looked nonplussed.  “What do you mean?”

This is what I mean,” he muttered before he grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her roughly against him, making her gasp.  His head swooped down and his mouth closed hungrily over hers.

Monica clung to him, kissing him back eagerly, feverishly.  As they exchanged kisses, he picked her up and carried her over to her bed.  He put her gently down on it and then drew back to remove his shirt.  She reached for him, pulling him down to her, her fingers digging into his back as he pressed his lips hotly against her neck.

They made mad, passionate love and the next morning when she woke up, she was alone in the bed.  She lay there for a moment thinking it had all been a dream.  Then she sat up and realized that she wasn’t wearing anything under the cover.  She looked over and saw Russell standing by the window.  He was wearing a robe.   He turned when he heard her.

He left the window and came and sat down on the bed beside her.  His expression was serious when he met her gaze.  “Do you regret what happened between us?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No,” she murmured huskily, reaching out and brushing the hair back from his forehead.

He leaned over and kissed her on the shoulder, making her shiver.  “Me neither,” he said.  “I’ve wanted to make love to you for a very, very long time but you insisted on us being just friends—”

“I thought that was what you wanted,” she said.  “You never came out and said otherwise.”

“Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a friend to you when I want to be more?  That’s why I couldn’t sleep last night.  When I saw you in that nightgown, I wanted you so much.  I had to get out of here before I lost my mind.”

“I couldn’t sleep either because I couldn’t stop thinking about how you looked shirtless…”

His eyes darkened and cupping her face between his hands he lowered his head and kissed her.  “I love you, Monica,” he whispered, raising his head to look into her face.  “I wanted to tell you that so many times but my courage failed me.”

“I love you too.”

“I just wish we hadn’t wasted so much time dating other people when we should have been dating each other.”

“Let’s not waste any more time having regrets.  Things are different between us now.”

“Yes, they are.”

“You know, if anyone were to ask me what the most memorable part of my vacation is, I would tell them that it was Venice.”

“Why Venice?” he asked.

“It’s where we finally declared our true feelings for each other.”

His eyes darkened.  “Let’s have a late breakfast,” he suggested as he removed his robe.

“Or we can order room service,” she said, settling back against the pillows.

“Room service, then,” he agreed before his mouth found hers.

A year later, they returned to Venice for their honeymoon.

 

Sources:  Cabragadin Hotel; Ciao Florence; Italy Guides; Veneto Inside; Bistrot de Venise; Classic Tic; Rick Steves

 

Each Other’s World

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.”

 

Sources:  Help Guide; Ali Express; Lovable Quote

Getting Away

He had just walked out of the synagogue when he saw them.  Arrested, he stood there watching Brittney with her ex-boyfriend, Andre, his heart breaking.  Burning jealousy swept through him.  They were standing a few yards away but she didn’t see him.

His sister, Anna joined him, saw his face and followed his gaze to where the couple stood talking.  Then, she looked back at him, concerned.  “Who is she?” she asked.

It took a moment for him to speak because he was so upset.  “Brittney.”

“Is she a friend of yours?”

“Yes.”  He turned away, unable to watch them any longer.  He started walk away and Anna followed him.

“Are you in love with her?”

“Yes.”

“Does she know how you feel?”

“No.”

“Are you going to tell her?”

“What’s the point?” he snapped.  “She doesn’t feel the same way.”

“How do you know that?”

“We just saw her with Andre, her ex.  It’s clear that she hasn’t gotten over him and I was a fool to believe that she had.”

“Oh, Paul, I’m so sorry.  What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.  I need time to think.”

“Why don’t you go to Paris for a few days?  You haven’t taken a vacation in ages.  You’re long overdue for one.”

He glanced down at her.  “You’re right,” he said.  “I need to get away and try to figure out what I’m going to do.  If I stay here in London, I will be tempted to go to her and I can’t bear to see her right now.  It hurts too much.”  A muscle began to throb along his jawline and he quickly turned away.

Anna reached for his hand and held it tightly.  It hurt to see her brother like this.  He was a brilliant businessman but when it came to matters of the heart, he lacked good judgment.  This wasn’t the first time a woman broke his heart but it seemed that he fell really hard for this one.  Hopefully, he would get over her as soon as possible.  He deserved better.  The trip to Paris would do him good.  She went back to his flat with him and while he changed, she got his lunch ready.  She had just put a plate of food she had prepared yesterday and brought on the table for him when the phone rang.

“Do you mind answering that for me?” he called from the bedroom.

“Hello?” she listened for a moment.  “No, you have the right number.  This is Anna speaking.  Hold one moment, please.”  She placed her hand over the mouthpiece.  “It’s Brittney,” she said when he came into the living-room.

He shook his head, indicating that he didn’t want to talk to her.

“I’m afraid he’s not available at the moment.  Perhaps he will call you back later.  Goodbye.”  She replaced the receiver into the cradle and turned to look at him.  “Are you sure you don’t want to talk to her?”

He shook his head.  “I can’t right now.  I need to clear my head first.  I’ll call her when I come back from Paris.”

“All right.  Do you need me for anything?”

He smiled.  “No, Anna.  I’ll be fine.  You should go home to Peter and the kids.  I will call you tomorrow when I check into the hotel.”

She hugged him tightly.  “I love you,” she said drawing back to look up at him.

“I love you too.  And thanks for the food.”  He followed her to the door and they said goodbye.  He shut the door and leaned against it for a moment.  Why did Brittney call him? Was it to tell him that she was back with Andre.  He closed his eyes in despair.  It would kill him if she was.

Brittney stared at the phone, her mind swirling with all sorts of thoughts and questions.  A woman named Anna had answered Paul’s phone.  Who was she?  Red, hot jealousy surged through her and she was tempted to go over to his place right now and find out.  Then, she remembered that he had a sister and her name was Anna.  Relief washed over her.  Paul wasn’t seeing another woman.  But why hadn’t he come to the phone?  She looked at the clock above the mantelpiece, debating whether she should call again or wait for him to call.  It was after seven.  She decided that she would let him call her.  In the meantime, she fixed herself a light dinner and ate it in front of the television.

When ten o’clock came and she still hadn’t heard from him, she began to worry.  It wasn’t like him not to call.  It was too late for her to call him.  She would have to wait until the morning to do so.  Disappointed, she turned off the television and went to bed.

The next morning, she got up, showered, dressed and had breakfast.  After she was done, she hurried to the phone and called Paul but there was no answer.  When the machine came on, she left a message.  She went to church and as soon as she got home, she called but still no answer.  She tried his cell but it was turned off.  She tried all day calling both his home number and his cell until finally, in the evening, she decided to go over to his flat.  She rang the bell and knocked but it was clear that Paul wasn’t there.  Where could he be?  After standing there for a while, she left.  She was worried and had a restless night.

The next morning, she called him but got the same results.  She got ready for work.  On her way to the office, she called his cell but it was still turned off.  Intermittently, throughout the day, she tried to reach him but to no avail and by the time the workday was over, she was very anxious.  Why wasn’t he answering his phone and why hadn’t he called her back? When she got home, she decided that she would call his sister.  She took out the phone directory and searched for her name. She remembered that Paul said that she lived in South Kensington, twenty minutes from where he lived and that she was married to Peter Goldstein, the reporter from the Times.  She searched under Goldstein and found the number.

A woman answered and she recognized her voice.  “Hello, Anna, this is Brittney.  I spoke to you yesterday evening when I called for Paul.  Do you know where he is?  I have been trying since Saturday to reach him.  I’m out of my mind with worry.”

“Hello Brittney.  Paul is in Paris.”

“Paris?” Brittney exclaimed.  “What is he doing there?  Is he there on business?”

“No.  He needed to get away.”

“What did he need to get away from?” she asked, bewildered.  “It’s not like him to go away and not tell me.  And he didn’t return my call on Saturday.  Is-is he seeing someone?”

“No.  He went to Paris alone.  Brittney, I was with him on Saturday when he came out of the synagogue and saw you with Andre.  It upset him so much that I suggested that he should take a break and go to Paris.”

“Oh no,” Brittney groaned.  “He saw me with Andre and thought—”

“That you were back with him.  He was devastated.  I probably shouldn’t even be telling you this but Paul is in love with you.”

“And I’m in love with him.  I have been for a long time.”

“He thinks that you’re still in love with Andre.”

“I’m over Andre.  I have been for a long time now and it’s because of Paul.  Meeting Paul and his friendship has changed my life.  And seeing Andre again made me realize that the feelings I had for him are nothing compared to my feelings for Paul.  Andre wanted us to pick up where we left off but I told him that I was in love with someone else.  I wished him well and then, I walked away.  My past with Andre is over and done with.  My future is with Paul.  Anna, please tell me where he’s staying.  I want to go to him.”  Her life felt so empty without him.  She missed him so much it ached.  How she longed to be with him.

There was a brief moment of silence and then, Anna told her the name of the hotel where he was staying.  After Brittney thanked her profusely, she said, “I’m very relieved to know that you love my brother and I wish you two all the happiness in the world.”

Brittney thanked her again and rang off.  She quickly called the office and informed her assistant that she was taking the rest of the week off.  Then, she dialed the number to book the first available flight for the following day to Paris.  She packed a bag, her heart thudding with excitement.  She was going to see Paul in a matter of hours.  I can’t wait to see him.

Paul stood on the terrace looking at the city bathed in the crimson glow of the setting sun, wishing she was there with him.  “Oh, Brittney,” he whispered brokenly, dragging his fingers through his hair as he ached for her.  Paris was a city for lovers.  If only Brittney and he were lovers instead of just friends.  If only she were with him instead of Andre…

Frustrated, he went back into the room and was going over to the bed to lie down when he heard a knock on the door.  Frowning, he went to answer it.  Opening it he was startled to see Brittney standing there, luggage in tow.   He blinked, thinking he was imagining things.  She couldn’t possibly be here in Paris.  Then, she said, “Hello Paul.” She reached up and touched his face, her gaze almost a caress.

He eyes darkened and he caught her hand to draw her into the room.  “What are you doing here?” he asked when he had closed the door and was facing her.

“I had to come.  I called your sister and she told me where you were.  I had been calling for you since Saturday but when I couldn’t reach you, I got really worried.  I went by your flat but you weren’t there so when I got home.  I called your sister on Monday and we spoke for a while.  She told me that you were here in Paris and explained why.  You saw me with Andre.”

His expression became drawn at the memory.  “When I saw you with him, I felt as if someone had pushed their hand into my chest and ripped out my heart.”

She moved closer to him.  “I’m so sorry that you saw us,” said, wringing her hands.  “It wasn’t at all what you thought.  Andre wanted to resume our relationship but I told him that I was in love with someone else.”

“And what did he say?” he asked as he moved closer, his heart pounding.

“Nothing but I wished him well and walked away.”

“So, it’s over between him and you.”

“Yes and it has been over for a long time now.”

He was standing right in front of her now, their bodies inches apart.  Wordlessly, he pulled her against him and his head lowered towards hers.

She watched transfixed as his face drew closer to hers, her gaze dropped to his mouth.  Her eyes closed as waves of indescribable pleasure undulated through her body when she felt his lips brush against her.  Putting her arms around his neck, she responded passionately to his kisses.  They stood there in the room in the dappled shade of the setting sun as it streaked through the windows, exchanging feverish kisses.

“I love you,” he muttered when at length, he raised his head to gaze down into her upturned face.  “I love you so very much.”

She smiled at him.  “I love you too,” she told him.  “That’s what I came to Paris to tell you.”

“It’s funny but just a few minutes ago, I was wishing that you were here with me in the City of lovers and then you show up.”

“Yes.  You came to Paris to get away from me and here I am.”

“Yes, here you are.  I never want us to be apart again.  It was foolish of me to think that coming here would help in some way.  I missed you so much even when I thought you had gone back to him.”

“Let’s not think about when we were apart but enjoy being together now,” she suggested huskily.  “We are in the city of love so let’s do what lovers do.”

“Yes,” he whispered and picked her up in his arms.