When Deandra took her niece to see the musical, Aladdin, for her thirteenth birthday, she certainly didn’t expect to bump into Harrison and his date. It was when they were leaving the theatre.
As they were going down the stairs, she asked Maya, “So how did you like the show?”
Maya shrugged. “It was okay,” she said. “I prefer the movie with Robin Williams as the genie.”
“Me too. Well, I hope you had a good birthday anyway.”
Maya smiled. “Yes, I did. Thanks for taking me for dinner and bringing me to the theatre.”
Deandra put her arm around her shoulder. “It was my pleasure. I can’t believe you’re thirteen. Where does the time go? It seems like only the other day you were wearing pampers.”
“That’s right, Dee. I’m not a baby anymore.”
“You’re growing up. Soon you’ll be dating. Any cute guys at your school?”
“Well, there’s this one guy in my Math class that I really, really like.”
“What’s his name?”
“Does Curtis like you too?”
“I think so.”
“Did you tell your Mom about him?”
Maya shook her head. “You know how Mom is. She will just tell me to concentrate on my school work and that there is plenty of time for boys when I’m much older. You’re the only one I’ve told about Curtis. You’re cool, Aunt Dee. I can talk to you about anything.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being interested in boys at your age as long as it doesn’t interfere with your school work. I know you’re a very sensible girl.”
“Thanks, Aunt Dee, for having such faith in me. I wish my parents were the same.”
“I know how you feel. My parents were very strict with your Mom and me, but with me especially because I was younger. I got spanked and grounded a lot. I kept thinking how unfair and unreasonable my parents were until I grew up and realized that everything they did was for my good and that’s why I turned out the way I am—a relatively decent person.”
“Okay, Aunt Dee, I’ll go easy on my parents and try to remember what you said the next time I get a lecture.”
Deandra smiled. “Good. Always remember that they love you even when it doesn’t feel like it. It’s the same with God. Remember where it says that getting chastised doesn’t feel good but God does it out of love and for our benefit.”
“Isn’t that Harrison over there?” Maya asked suddenly, startling Deandra who looked around in panic. Harrison here?
“Where?” she demanded.
Deandra followed her gaze and her heart somersaulted when she saw the tall, familiar figure standing close to the exit. Her eyes shifted to the woman standing beside him and jealousy ripped through her. Another one of his conquests, no doubt. The man was incorrigible. Grabbing Maya’s hand, she urged, “Let’s get out of here before he sees us.”
“Too late,” Maya announced. “He saw us and is coming over. Who’s that with him? She looks familiar.”
“How should I know?” Deandra muttered irritably. The last thing she wanted was to face Harrison Reed and his date. Why did she have to run into him? She watched him approach, her heart beating so fast that she felt a little out of breath.
“Aunt Dee, you’re crushing my hand,” Maya said.
“Sorry,” Deandra mumbled, letting it go. She shoved her hand into the pocket of her coat and tried to appear calm.
Harrison and his date were standing in front of them now. The thinning crowd leaving the theatre walked around the four of them. He smiled his disarming smile—the one that made her go all weak and chide herself for it. “Good evening, Ladies,” he said in that silky voice of his. “Maya, it’s good to see you. You’ve grown a lot since the last time I saw you.”
Maya smiled. “I turned thirteen today,” she informed him.
His eyebrows arched. “Happy birthday.” He reached down and hugged her.
“Thank you, Harrison,” she said when he drew back. “Deandra treated me to dinner and this.”
“That was very nice of your aunt,” he commented, turning to look at Deandra. Their eyes met and held for several minutes. Then, he turned away to glance at his companion. “Deandra, Maya, this is Eva. Eva is in London for a couple of weeks.”
Eva gave them a dazzling smile and held out a bejeweled and well-manicured hand to Deandra who shook it and forced herself to smile in return. The woman was stunning, exotic with lustrous black hair that fell about her shoulders. “Pleased to meet you,” she said in a soft voice with a hint of a Spanish accent. “Happy birthday,” she added when she shook Maya’s hand.
Maya stared at her. “Now I remember where I’ve seen you before,” she said. “You’re Eva Vasquez, the Mexican model on the cover of the latest issue of Cosmopolitan.”
Eva nodded. “Yes.”
Maya began to ask her all sorts of questions and while the two of them chatted, Deandra’s eyes shifted to Harrison who was staring at her. “What happened to that reporter you were seeing last month? Wasn’t she exotic enough for you?” she asked in a low, tight voice.
“You sound upset,” he remarked.
Her mouth tightened. “I’m not upset,” she retorted. “What possible reason could I have for being upset?”
“It’s that green eyed monster called jealousy—”
It took supreme effort not to raise her voice. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she replied angrily.
He moved a little closer, his eyes riveted to her face. “When are you going to admit that you’re attracted to me?”
“Attracted to you? Don’t make me laugh.”
“I’m attracted to you, Deandra. I have been since we met three years ago at Rachel’s engagement party.” Rachel was his older sister who was married to Deandra’s brother, Kenneth.”
Her breathing was unsteady now and her resolve weakening. “Yes, you’re so attracted to me that every time I see you, you’re with a different woman.”
“I would rather be with you, Deandra,” he admitted huskily. “I’m going up to the cabin this weekend. Come with me.”
She swallowed hard. “I-I can’t—”
“Can’t or won’t? How long are you going to run away from me and your feelings?”
“I’m—I’m not running away from anything,” she denied weakly.
“Okay, prove me wrong by coming with me to the cabin this weekend.”
“But what about Eva?”
“There’s nothing going on between Eva and me. We’re just friends.”
“Let-let me think about it and-and I’ll call you in the morning.”
“Please don’t pass up something that can be amazing for both of us. I’ve never been more serious about wanting to be with a woman as I am with you. I want to be in a relationship with you, Deandra.”
“I’ll call you in the morning,” she said.
“All right,” he conceded, a muscle pulsating along his jawline as she turned away to interrupt Maya’s conversation with Eva. At least she’s going to think about it, he thought, consoling himself.
“Well, young lady, it’s time I took you home.”
Maya turned back to Eva, “It was really nice meeting you.”
Eva hugged her. “The pleasure was all mine. You’re a lovely young lady. Don’t ever change.”
Maya said goodnight to Harrison.
Deandra shook hands with Eva and then she turned to say goodnight to Harrison before walking away with Maya.
After they were gone, Eva went up to Harrison and slipped her arm through his. Looking up at him, she inquired, “So, did you ask her?”
He nodded. “She said she would think about it.”
“I have a feeling that you won’t be going up to that cabin alone. I saw the way she looked at you and I could tell that she was jealous of me. No woman is jealous over a man unless she has feelings for him.”
“You’re not just saying that to make me feel better, are you?”
“No, you should know by now that I don’t tell people what they want to hear.”
“So, you think I have a chance with her?”
“Absolutely. Now let’s go to that little café around the corner and have cappuccinos with cream and bits of chocolate on top.”
“Aunt Dee, I had a great evening and birthday. Thank you.” They were outside of Maya’s home. “I can’t believe I met a famous model too.”
Deandra smiled. “I’m happy that you had a good time. Say goodnight to your Mom and Dad for me. Tell your Mom that I will call her on Sunday night.” They hugged and then she waited until Maya went inside the house before she drove off.
On the ride home, she thought about what Harrison said. Was she really running away from her feelings for him? Was that why she automatically turned him down the first time he asked her to go to the cabin with him? She panicked and said the first thing that came to her head. The thought of being alone with him for an entire weekend terrified her. She hated to admit it but he was right. She was attracted to him.
When they first met, her attraction for him had been immediate, much to chagrin, because of the stories she had heard about him and his bevy of women. She had tried really hard to fight it because she didn’t want to have feelings for a man who seemed to go through women like he went through his wardrobe. But it seemed that the more she tried to fight her attraction for him the stronger it got. Seeing him with the other women drove her mad with jealousy and tonight was no different. She couldn’t hide her feelings from Harrison and she could tell that he didn’t buy her feeble attempt to deny them.
What was she going to do now? Should she call him tomorrow and tell him that she couldn’t go to the cabin or should she throw caution to the wind? Right now her mind and emotions were in a fierce battle. She would have to sleep on it although she couldn’t imagine getting any rest. Why out of all the men in London, did she have to want Harrison Reed? No man ever made her feel the way he did. He filled her thoughts, her senses and her heart…She sighed heavily. Yes, she was in love with him too.
When she got in, she went straight to bed but as expected, she couldn’t sleep. The following morning, she rolled on to her side, blinking as the sunshine streamed into the room. She must have fallen off to sleep at some point. She glanced at the time on the alarm clock. It was eight. She stared at the phone. Her heart racing, she picked up the receiver. Her fingers trembled as she punched in the numbers. He answered on the second ring. “Good morning, Deandra.”
“I-I hope I didn’t wake you.”
“I’ve been up since six.” A pause and then, “So, what have you decided?”
“I’ll come to the cabin.” I hope I’m not making a terrible mistake. She had wrestled all night because her mind was telling her one thing and her feelings another. Her feelings won.
When he spoke again, she could hear the relief in his voice. “You won’t regret it, Deandra. I promise. I’ll pick you up at ten-thirty.”
“All right.” She hung up and got out of the bed. After packing an overnight bag, she showered and had a light breakfast before heading down to the lobby to wait for him.
At exactly ten-thirty, Harrison walked into the lobby. At once her heart began to pound wildly. He looked sexy in the brown leather jacket with the white fur trimmed collar, white turtleneck and faded jeans. His hair was slightly damp and tousled. He took her bag from her and they walked out of the building to where his jeep was parked. He opened the door for her to get in before putting her bag in the trunk.
When he got behind the wheel, she glanced at him and their eyes met for a few minutes before she looked away. He donned his sunglasses before firing up the engine and pulling out of the parking lot. Soon they were on their way to the cabin which was about a 90 minute drive from the city. “What are you in the mood for?” he asked and she looked at him, startled.
“I beg your pardon?”
“What type of music are you in the mood for?”
“Oh, um. Something relaxing, I guess.”
He turned on the radio, searched until he found a station which played Smooth Jazz. For a while only the sound of the music and the muffled traffic outside filled the silence and then, he said, “What made you decide to come with me?” he asked.
“I wanted to come,” she said simply. No use beating around the bush.
He glanced at her. “I didn’t expect you to say that,” he told her.
She returned his stare, “What did you expect me to say?” she asked.
“That you wanted to prove me wrong about what I said about you were running away from me and your feelings.”
She turned away. “I’m not a coward,” she muttered. “I don’t run away from anything.”
“I didn’t say that you were a coward. All I did was to challenge you.”
“I’m not here to prove anything,” she insisted. “I’m here because I want to see the countryside.”
He decided to change the topic. “You’ll like the countryside. It’s a welcome change from the city.”
“Am I the first woman you’ve invited for a weekend at the cabin?” She had to ask. It had been bothering her ever since last night.
“You’re the only woman I’ve invited to the cabin.” He reached for her hand but she jerked away at once, her eyes wide as they met his. He didn’t get upset. He waited until she put her hand back on the seat and he held it. This time she didn’t pull away. Her fingers felt soft and small in his. How he longed to press his lips into the palm but he didn’t want to rush things. He had waited too long to be with her to blow it all now.
She turned to look out of the window. After traveling on it for about half-hour, they turned off the road which ran parallel to railway tracks and turned onto another one. All around them was land that seemed to stretch for miles and miles. She saw sheep and cattle grazing, bales of hay and rolling hills. It was a beautiful, sunny day. This was the first time she had ever been to the mountains and it was a marked change from the hectic pace and feel of the city. Now she could understand and appreciate why so many people owned or rented cabins on the outskirts of the city. It was their way of escape.
“We should be there in about ten minutes,” Harrison said. And she sat up, her eyes glued to the window as she waited to catch the first glimpse of the cabin.
About ten minutes later, she saw it. It sat there, quiet and secluded, nestled amongst the birch trees with a pond beside it. He pulled up at the side of the cabin and turned off the engine. He glanced at her as she stared at the cabin, her eyes wide with wonder and he smiled before opening his door and stepping out. He walked round to open the passenger side door for her to climb out. “So, what do you think?” he asked.
“I like it,” she said. “It’s very quiet around here, except for the chirping of the birds.”
“This evening you can see the deer come down the hills to graze.”
“I can see why you like to come here. It’s so peaceful and the views of the hills are stunning.”
“I promise you will enjoy the weekend so much that you will want to come again.”
“Thank you for inviting me,” she said.
“I’ve wanted to for a very long time but I’m happy that you’re finally here. Let me take the bags out of the trunk and then we’ll go inside.”
She went with him to the back of the jeep and would have reached for her overnight bag when he prevented her. “Let me take some of the groceries in then,” she offered.
He gave her the lighter bags while he carried the rest. He went back for her overnight bag and slammed the trunk shut. He opened the door to the cabin and pushed it open for her to go inside. After all the bags were inside, he closed the door and locked it. “Let’s put these in the kitchen.”
As she followed him, her eyes traveled over the rustic interior of the cabin. It was quite spacious and lots of natural light streamed through the windows. It was cozy and nicely furnished. She loved the kitchen with its breakfast nook and open concept. He took the parcels from her and put them on the counter. “Let me give you a tour and then take you up to the guest room.”
He took her into the rustic living-room with its high ceiling and large windows looking out at the birch trees and the hills in the distance. There was an electric fireplace incased in stone facing modern furniture. Glass doors opened on to the landing. “Do you eat out there?” she asked.
“Yes, sometimes. During the summer, of course when it’s warm.” He took her upstairs and showed her the master bedroom which was enormous with a view of the hills. He showed her the guestrooms and the one closest to the bathroom was the one he chose for her. It was a lovely room, big with its own fireplace and a bed facing a large window from which she could mountains in the far distance. They were still covered with snow in some areas. He looked at her. “I hope you like the room,” he said.
She nodded. “Yes, I like it very much.”
“Good.” He went and got her bag and brought it into the room. “I’ll give you a chance to settle in while I go and get lunch ready.”
When he was gone, she closed the door and went into the bathroom. Ten minutes later she went back into the room, feeling refreshed after washing her face. She unpacked her bag and then she stood, looking out of the window for a while before heading downstairs to the kitchen. Lunch was on the table and Harrison was just pouring what looked like Cranberry Juice in glasses. “Have a seat,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind having take-out.”
She sat down beside the window, her back to the kitchen. “I don’t mind. It smells really good.”
“It’s what I consider to be the best authentic Greek food.”
He was right about that. It was the best Greek food she had ever had. While they ate, they talked about different things. After lunch, they went for a walk and then returned to the cabin. They spent most of the afternoon watching movies and then Deandra went upstairs to take a nap. While she was upstairs, Harrison went to his study where he spent a couple of hours doing some work before preparing dinner.
It was after six when Deandra woke up. She had a shower and then went downstairs. Harrison met her at the bottom of the steps. He looked extremely attractive in the white shirt and black jeans. His eyes traveled over her in the red top and denim skirt which revealed long legs. “We’re having dinner in the dining-room,” he informed her. They went into the dining-room with its two-sided fireplace. The table was set. He pulled out the chair for her to sit before going into the kitchen to bring out two salads followed by the main course which was Seared Tilapia with Spiralized Zucchini. It tasted as good as it looked and smelled.
“This is delicious,” she exclaimed before taking a sip of the sparkling white wine. “Rachel mentioned that you’re an excellent cook. I thought she was just being bias because she’s your sister but she wasn’t exaggerating.”
He smiled. “It’s something I learned to do years ago when I moved out of our parents’ home. Over the years I have come to really enjoy it. And this would be a tremendous blessing for the woman I marry because she won’t have to do all of the cooking.”
“I can’t imagine you getting married,” Deandra interjected.
“You’re too much of a ladies’ man to ever settle down with one woman.”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he took a couple of sips of wine before continuing to eat the pasta. In the background classical music played. “In about twenty minutes you will see the deer coming out to graze,” he told her.
“I’m looking forward to seeing that. The only deer I’ve seen were in movies. How long have you had this cabin?”
“I’ve had it for about seven years.”
“And in all that time, you’ve never brought a woman here before?”
He shook his head, his expression serious. “No.”
“Okay. I believe you.”
He glanced at his watch. It was eight o’clock. “If you go to the window now and look out, you will see the deer.”
“I’ll help you clear the table first,” she said, putting her napkin on the table and getting up. She took up the empty salad bowls and glasses while he carried the rest of the things into the kitchen. While he stacked them into the dishwasher, she took a damp cloth and wiped the table down. When she was done, she hurried over to the window and looked out.
Harrison joined her. A few minutes passed and then, she saw something move. It was a deer. She leaned forward, pressing against the window in her eagerness as she watched the magnificent animal made its way down to the grassy slope, her eyes shining.
Harrison watched her, thinking that she never looked more beautiful. “Deandra…”
She turned her face toward him and her heart lurched when she saw the expression on his face.
“I want to kiss you so badly,” he murmured huskily.
“Is that what you usually say to a woman before you sleep with her?” The minute she said those words, she was mortified and wished she could take them back, especially when she saw the hurt look on his face. “Harrison, I’m sorry—”
His face was flushed and he raked his fingers through his hair in frustration, his eyes flashing at her. “You have a really low opinion of me, don’t you,” he muttered angrily. “To you I’m a libertine, a Lothario who wants to bed every woman he meets. For your information, the number of women I’ve slept with isn’t as high as you may think. And since I met you, I haven’t bedded any. Maybe bringing you here wasn’t such a good idea. I should take you home. I wouldn’t want you to spend the weekend with a man you so obviously despise.”
“Harrison, I don’t despise you,” she protested, reaching out and caught him by the arm. She could feel his muscles contract underneath the material of the sweater. His eyes darkened on her upturned face and a muscle was throbbing along his jawline. “I’m sorry for what I said. I regretted it the moment I said it.”
“Why did you say it then?”
“I was jealous.”
“Yes, I’m jealous of the women you’ve been with.”
He groaned. “Oh Deandra, what will it take for you to believe that you’re the woman I want to be with. Those other women are in my past. My present and future are with you.” He reached up and cupped her face between his hands and his eyes met hers as he whispered, “I love you.”
She began to cry. “I love you too,” she sobbed. “That’s why I’m acting like a jealous fool.”
No woman is jealous over a man unless she has feelings for him. Eva was right. Deandra loved him. The realization filled his heart with joy and unable to help himself, he lowered his head and kissed her. When he felt her immediate response, the kiss became more intense. They stood there in front of the window, exchanging wild and fiery kisses. Then, he picked her up and carried her upstairs to the master bedroom where in the throes of unbridled passion, they made love.
When they were lying spent in each other’s arms, he murmured, “I want you to know that being here at the cabin with you means a great deal to me and I hope that this is the first of many weekends that we will spend together.”
She raised herself up to gaze down at him and lightly traced her finger along the tattoo just below his right shoulder blade. “You know I’m not crazy about tattoos,” she said. “Promise me that you won’t get any more.”
“I promise. I got this one when I was in high-school. I was trying to impress my girlfriend at the time.”
“Speaking of girlfriends, you’re officially off the market.”
He smiled. “Does this mean that we are officially a couple?”
“Yes,” she said before he reached up and pulled her head down to his. What was that quote she read the other day—oh yes, it went something like this, “The Only Happy END That I Know It’S The WeekEND”
Sources: Eagle Brae; Aneilve; Houzz; Woman’s Day; The Fresh Quotes