Everything is happening in slow motion. As one; four heads turn to look at me. My mom is the first to move. She gathers me in her arms as I crash into her, desperate for information. I hear her soothing words but my mind is cocooned in a thick fog, not letting her words in, gripped by a fear that is unwilling to let me hope…
“He’s fine Ana, he’s sleeping.” She’s pushed me back a little, away from her, holding onto both my upper arms. Her expression is beseeching, trying to lock into my unfocussed eyes to convey the message that will put me at ease again. “Ana! Ana, he’s here, he’s fine!” She gives me a small shake.
Finally her words penetrate my panicked brain and I collapse, the world turning black as I finally take a breath, my body suddenly overwhelmed with a brew of oxygen and relief as I crumble to the floor.
A minute or so later I come to. Just as Collins lays me on the bed, my eyes flutter open. For a fleeting moment I wonder what he’s doing in my bedroom before the memories flood back. Another jolt of adrenaline has me up in a shot, jelly limbs strong again. “I want to see my son!”
Immediately he makes way, understanding my urgent need. “Just take it easy Ms Steele, you’ve had a bit of a shock.” His calm caution does nothing to slow me down. In long strides I make it to Chris’ room and burst through the door, not caring if I wake him.
His sleeping form stirs at the intrusion as I rush to him, picking him up and pressing him to me. I need to feel his warmth, to smell him, see him with my own eyes. I need to reassure myself. As relief washes away the last of the adrenaline, the shakiness returns and I melt onto the bed clinging to my son. Emotionally I let go, releasing the angst in a gush of grateful tears.
“Is it morning?” He breathes groggy words into my neck.
Through a ragged, grateful sob I answer, “No baby, go back to sleep.” I hug him harder.
Shortly after, I hear the tinny sound of my mobile ringing but I don’t have the strength to get up. I’m thankful when I hear my mom take the call on my behalf. Only now am I beginning to wonder what happened as my brain finds itself again.
My mom walks into the room holding the phone out to me. Her expression is grim, “It’s Christian.” She takes Chris as I reluctantly swap him for the phone.
“Hi.” My voice is still thick from my tears. I brush the wet tracks from my face with the soft pad of my hand, shuddering through my breaths.
“Thank fuck you’re okay!” I hear the strain in his voice, the anguish and I wish I could cross the dividing distance between us to comfort him – and take my own from him.
“Collins just briefed me. I’ve been in negotiations with the Koreans till late this evening. Shit Ana, if anything happened to you… to Chris….I don’t know…” I just know he’s running his hands through his hair, maybe even clutching at it in frustration. “I’m just relieved he was there.”
That explains why I haven’t heard from him all day but I can’t think about that now.
“What happened? I just got home from work, I saw…” I shiver again as I recall my crippling panic. “I saw my mom and Collins outside with the cops and I thought… I thought….” I make a start on a fresh batch of tears, unable to express the dark thing that crossed my mind.
“Hush baby, he’s fine, you’re fine, ssshhhh. You’re both fine.” He always has this remarkable instinct to say what I needed to hear in any crisis, to read me and selflessly provide solace regardless of his own fears.
I drag a precious, steadying breath into my chest and focus to find my centre as his words and voice reverberate through me, bringing me back to myself – and in that moment – it strikes me again how he’s the half that makes me whole.
“What happened?” Without the heaving of my recent tears I sound more together.
I hear him draw his own breath as he steels himself for disclosure. “There was an attempt to break into your apartment.” I gasp as my hand flies up to the V at the base of my neck.
“Collins caught it on the infrared CCTV. He followed protocol, ensured that your mom and Chris were out of the way. He waited in your bedroom to apprehend the intruder but before he made it through the window, the intruder was spotted by your uhm..” he clears his throat, looking for the words, “colourful neighbour – Miss Dee – who gave chase, scaring him off.”
At my home, in my bedroom, my son and mother inside! Shit!
“You say he? The intruder was a man? Did Collins get a good look at him?” The frantic questions clawing at my reasoning spill out, all at once.
“Collins think that the build was undoubtedly that of a man’s, he was dressed in black and wearing a balaclava. If only Collins had the opportunity to apprehend him,” the note of regret in his tone is unmistakable, “we could have identified him and figured out if there was a link…” he stops himself but I know what he wanted to say.
“If there was a link between this and what happened in your office?” I finish the sentence for him, refusing to be coddled and sheltered from the truth. I may feel brave but my voice retains that hushed quality of one in utter shock.
“Yes.” In that one word I glimpse his regret, his frustration and his fear for us. His vulnerability at odds with his ever-present commanding manner.
A startling thought, clear as day blazes enlightenment into my mind. I realize that this is it – the defining moment. I can put my recent growth and insight to good use to break the destructive pattern of our past or I can choose to slip comfortably back into the fear and self-doubt routine that my poor self-esteem is so keen to hold onto. The same one that always told me that I wasn’t good enough, strong enough and the very same one that I’m now convinced Christian’s subconscious is sensing in me – pushing away instead of drawing closer.
The change I feel as my perspective shifts into a new shape is almost physical, like the proverbial Phoenix rising from the ashes I feel myself – a new self – rise and form. Incongruent becoming congruent, heart and mind finally as one. My subconscious and inner goddess staring wide eyed at our new creation as a calmness envelops us like a comforting blanket. I put myself aside as I turn away from my usual source of decisions – the pit of regret and guilt and doubt and make one based solely on what’s best for Chris and Christian at this point in time. Right here, right now.
My head shifts into problem solving gear and Ana 2.0 takes over. “When where you planning on sending the jet to Georgia?” My question rings out, clear and in control.
He only takes a second to catch up to the change of pace, “It’s already there, Ross arrived there late this afternoon for a meeting tomorrow.”
“Can we bring our departure date forward?” I have no idea of Christian’s reach in these matters but I’m sure that he’ll find a way.
“Hold on Ana.” I make out parts of the conversation as he conveys the changes to Taylor – I presume – before he’s back with me, “How much time do you need to get your things together?”
“Half an hour and another to get to the airport.” I’m already making a metal list of what I need to pack. Making plans are good, it will help keep my mind off the stomach churning reality of how violated I feel.
Again I hear him speak to Taylor, barking his instructions. I check the time and calculate that our new departure time would be around 2:00am. I don’t want to be here anymore – I’m impatient, my body zinging with jumpy energy to get away. My skin crawls as I feel unseeing eyes on me even though I know that I’m alone. If my subconscious had the guts to speak up right now she’d call me paranoid.
“It’s sorted Ana, 2:15am, Taylor and I will meet you at Sea-Tac.”
“Okay.” I blow out a long, measured breath at the temporary respite the news brings. “Thank you Christian,” I close my eyes and massage my temples with my forefinger and thumb.
“You’re welcome; it’s the least I can do, bringing this to your door.” He confirms my suspicion that he has a strong sense that the two incidents are somehow connected.
“You don’t know that you did.” I wish I could convey my sincerity face-to-face.
He snorts in response, an ugly sound echoing of his inability to believe anything good about himself. Clearly not wanting to discuss it he deftly diverts me back to the task at hand. “You better go.”
“I should,” I agree in a whisper but we both stay on the line, hoping to draw just that last little bit of extra time from each other.
Collins steps into the room and taps his watch at me, obviously already clued into the change in plans. “Ms Steele, if you need to pack, now is the time.” The moment with Christian splinters into nothing, leaving me hollow and yearning.
“We’ll see you in Seattle.” I clear my throat to hide the hoarseness of my brimming tears.
“I’ll be waiting.” I end the call trying not to dwell on the loaded sentiment of his parting words, I’ll have plenty of time on the plane to overanalyse and drive my sanity away.
The next twenty minutes passes in a flurry as I throw things into our luggage and dash through the shower.
My mom hangs around until the very last minute before she engulfs Chris and me in a tight hug. Her support chases the murky shadows of my mind right to the very edges of my consciousness. “I love you so much Ana, stay safe and please, please settle things with Christian.” She kisses Chris and then turns abruptly to slip into the SUV next to Carl. I know she’s putting up a brave face, keeping her worried tears to herself.
Collins floors the powerful vehicle, having us at the airport with time to spare. When we board the plane I give in to a desperate urge to talk to my dad. I’ve been avoiding calling him because I know I’ll have to fess up to what I did and tell him that Christian is back in our lives.
In spite of the confession I’ll have to make, his calm strength is what I crave right now and Ana 2.0 is braver than me. The three hour time difference means that it will be just before 11:00pm in Montesano. I feel certain that on a Friday night, he’ll be up, watching some game.
I settle Chris’ sleeping form into the jet’s leather recliner and make my call before we take off. The lights in the cabin are mostly off as I look out of the window at the twinkling lights of Savannah. Somewhere out there is someone who wants to harm me – or us. Collins is tight lipped about what happened but he did say that the intruder’s behaviour smacked of premeditation. That it wasn’t some random crime of opportunity. My brain is flitting about these puzzling pieces as I wait for Ray to answer.
“Annie, you okay?” Warmth and concern is weaved through the familiar tones of his voice as he greets me, as always coming straight to the point.
“Dad! I’m sorry it’s so late; I had to hear your voice. I’m fine. We’re fine.” I let go of a quivering breath and lean back into my seat, bathed in the warmth of his reassuring love for me.
“What’s up Annie, you know you can’t pull one over your old man.” He admonishes quietly, he knows me too well.
“Oh dad, I have so much to tell you but not now, not over the phone. I just wanted to let you know that Christian is back in our lives and it’s a good thing and I really messed things up before but I’m going to make it right. Chris and I are on our way to Seattle, we’ll be spending some time with him, sorting things out.”
“Whoa Annie, just backtrack there for a minute. Christian is back in your lives? After the way he treated you?” I hear the emotion crackle in Ray’s voice knowing he must be really angry if he lets it show like this.
“Oh dad,” I sigh and contemplate giving him the brief version now. “Christian didn’t ever treat me badly dad.” I pause for a moment to let the words sink in.
Ray remains silent giving me a cue to continue, “What I told you about him not wanting the baby, it wasn’t true. I was so scared – terrified even and I didn’t believe that I could give him what he wanted. I didn’t want him to leave me so I ran instead.” The well-acquainted guilt curls around me, like smoke it weaves and flows, finding its way everywhere.
“Holy crap Annie, does he know?” Ray’s disbelief seeps right through his tone.
“That he has a son? Yes, he knows. We sort of ran into each other and when he saw Chris…” I trail off, Ray knows how much Chris looks like his father, you’d have to be blind not put two and two together.
“Holy crap,” he breathes again, Ray really is stunned. “You know Annie, when you guys wanted to get married so soon after meeting I thought you were too hasty but when I saw the way he was with you I knew that you were doing the right thing. I could never quite wrap my mind around him rejecting you and the baby. It always seemed so unlikely to me. It always bugged me that I may have made an error in judgement where he was concerned, I find myself relieved that I didn’t.”
“Are you mad?” My voice is small as I brace myself for his reply.
“Hell yeah! Damn straight I’m mad! What were you thinking Annie? You without a husband, Chris without a father and jeez… You and Jose?” The penny drops fast and hard as he gets the full and clear picture of my deception and stupidity. His normal calm, measured voice is much louder than usual, the force of his anger striking like a punch in my gut.
“How many people does this affect Annie, did you think about that? What did your poor mother say?” He continues to rant into my ear for a full ten minutes. Some deep part of me is relieved that my share in this mess is acknowledged and out in the open. I want to be scolded and punished for my senselessness so I soak it up, happy to take Ray’s reprimand like a man, it’s the least I deserve.
I turn when I feel a tap on my shoulder. The flight attendant mimes ending the call at me, we’re obviously about to take off. Ray is still telling me how irresponsible I was, that he didn’t bring me up to be so stupid when I have to interrupt him. “Listen dad, I know, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say and I promise I’ll call you soon but we’re about to take off, I just wanted to let you know. I’m sorry.”
I hear him puff out a long breath, “Okay Annie. I’m not done and you will call me so we can straighten this out but let me say this before you go. Don’t let it slip through your fingers, if you have a chance to fix it and find love again, don’t screw it up!” His gruff rebuke reminds me that he’s talking from experience, the way things ended between him and my mom still weighs on his conscience.
“I won’t dad.” My face is burning with shame as he grunts in reply. I can only hope he senses the mountain of determination in me to set things right.
I slip into my seat to resume my gazing at the Savannah night lights, my thoughts stirred up in a churning, agitating mess. Anna 2.0 has her work cut out for her. Thankfully the exhausting day takes over and drops me into a deep, dreamless sleep.
I open my eyes to the stewardess’ broad, white smile as she gently disturbs my shoulder. “Ms Steele, we are descending in about fifteen minutes.” She hands me a glass of ice cold orange juice that I chug gratefully. I look to Chris’ seat only to find it empty. Fear I recognise as irrational grips me as I jump up only to see him sitting with Collins at the front table reading. Their heads are huddled together and Chris is giggling.
Phew! I need to get a better hold of my jittery emotions, the paranoid panic still way too close to the surface.
I kiss and hug him tightly on the way to the rest room. “Thank you for babysitting Collins.” I’m taken aback but no less touched that he’s done this; letting me sleep and taking care of my boy.
The tips of his ears turn red as his shy eyes looks down, “No problem.” I give him the space to compose himself by leaving to freshen up. For such a big guy to have such a tiny heart is not only sweet but pleasantly unexpected. I can’t help but warm to him another few degrees.
The fantastic thing about a private plane is that the bathroom is much bigger than a commercial jet’s and I can brush my teeth, change and do my face with ease. I’m relieved to find that in spite of the previous night, I look rested. I slip on a deep red, clingy, knit wrap dress with long sleeves and red peep-toe heels that are speckled with black polka dots. I like that they add a touch of playfulness to the outfit and I love the way the stacked platform makes your ankles look dainty. I keep my make-up neutral and brush my hair in long strokes with my head bent forward. I want it to be a full, glossy mane.
I flip back my hair and apply a generous spritz of perfume. In the mirror I check my backside to see if the lacy boyleg panties don’t show up under the smooth contours of the clingy dress. The matching bra creates a pleasing curve that shows a little cleavage, tantalising – I hope. I will have to wear a coat but I’ll leave it open to reveal the slash of red beneath.
When I collect Chris from Collins I’m pleased when I see his eyes widen as he takes in my outfit. Hopefully it will have the same effect on Christian. I take Chris to the bathroom to give him a quick wash before I change his clothes.
It’s the first time he’s wearing a padded jacket and he’s excited about putting the strange thing on. We’ve never had any need for warm things like this in Savannah.
“Look at my muscles mommy!” He makes strong-man arms; the padded sleeves of the jacket making him look bulky. His eyes are screwed shut as he holds his breath to flex his tiny biceps.
“Wow buddy, look at you! You look like a super hero!” I giggle, prodding his puffy, play-muscles.
“I’ll protect you mommy! I’m strong!” His words punch the air out of my chest; does he know that we might be in danger? This is precisely what I wanted to protect him from.
I drop to my knees to look directly into his eyes. “Why do I need protecting?” I keep the playful note to make sure he doesn’t clam up.
“’Cause you’re a girl and girls aren’t strong!” His answer is fearless and matter-of-fact, giving me no reason to think that he’s sensing any danger.
Comforted, I laugh and pick him up, “If I wasn’t strong could I do this?” I hold his sides to fly him back to our seats. Delighted he squeals and shouts for me to go faster.
Back at our seats we both sit back, breathless and grinning. It makes me aware of the sharp pinch of pain that always accompany the warm rush of love I feel for him, as his mother so conscious of just how precious and fragile he is.
Collins disembarks the metal stairs with Chris and me following. The silver Q7 and two more black SUV’s are parked a short way away. From the top of the stairs I spy a semi-circle of five men, all dressed in black and spread out in intervals, closing any possible approach to the plane and looking around in that 007 way. In the centre of the enclosed half Christian and Taylor waits, their watches trained intently on us. The light is just breaking on this early morning and the whole scene is reminiscent of a head of state arriving.
Oh my, Fifty isn’t taking any chances. Looking at the number of men here I wonder if he’s told me the whole truth about the ‘situation’.
I take my first step down the stairs holding onto the rail with one hand, the other is folded over Chris’ little one. Christian makes a start to us, his expression unreadable. The wind is blowing at my coat, the open sides whipping wildly behind me and revealing my dress. I should feel the bite of the icy air but my gaze is locked into Christian’s. I’m only aware of our connection, surging strong and ever vibrant.
As I take the last step onto the tarmac he engulfs us both into a hug. His right arm travels up by back to gather my hair in a ponytail at my nape to stop it from whipping about. His left circles Chris, pressing him into Christian’s legs. I turn my head and lean into the embrace with my head under his chin, my cheek against his chest.
My arms take a familiar route, snaking around his firm back. I take my own turn to revel in the crush of his hard body against mine. I close my eyes, giving myself to the heat spreading between us. He buries his nose in my hair as we stand, immobile – nothing touching this moment.
Chris gets restless, shifting to break free from Christian’s stifling hold. Just before he looks down at Chris I catch the rare, raw emotion on his face. It presses the air right out of my lungs.
Hooking his hands under Chris’ arms he lifts him into the air before he easily swings him onto his hip. With a gentleness that belies his inherent masculinity he touches his fist to Chris’ chin in a mock jab, “Hi buddy, how are you?”
Chris answers with a toothy, cheeky grin, “Are we going sailing?”
Christian throws his head back, laughing, the sound of it equally touching and beautiful. “Do you want to go sailing?”
He shifts in Christian’s arm to look at me. “Mommy can we go sailing? Can we please? You don’t have to come if you’re too cold.”
It’s my turn to smile, “That depends honey, if Christian has time and if it’s safe enough.” I bat the decision back to Christian, making sure he knows I’m on board with the whole security thing. Chris’ expectant eyes swing back to Christian’s, searching, the picture of them together squeezing my heart.
“Mmmhhh….” He tugs at his chin in pretend thoughtfulness. “I’m going to have to see what I can do.” An earnest frown completes his little act for Chris but I know, even if we do nothing else, we will be going sailing.
Chris claps his hands in delight, already convinced he won’t be denied. Christian catches my eye with a raised brow, surprised and amused that his acting didn’t fool this feisty toddler.
I shrug my shoulders in response, smiling a knowing smile. Chris already has Christian – hotshot CEO – just where he wants him.
“Shall we go?” The question doesn’t fit the expression on his face. He looks bemused, puzzled as he gazes at me for a fraction too long. “You seem…. Different.” He’s brown knits with a quizzical frown.
Smiling I nod, beginning the walk to the car. To my surprise and delight I feel Christian’s hand in the small of my back, guiding me to the waiting Q7. His touch, small as it is, ignites the fire that always licks at my belly when he is near. My body responds helplessly, by its own accord as goose bumps race across my skin, swiftly contracting my nipples in hard, sharp points.
He opens the door for Chris who dives inside, giggling and crawling to meet Taylor on the other side as he waits, ready to secure him in the restraining seat. I take a step closer to follow but before I can duck Christian fastens his long fingers around the top of my arm forcing me to look up into that wilful grey gaze.
“Are you cold Anastasia?” His hushed tone is only for me to hear but I note an undercurrent of bemusement, maybe even flirtation.
“Uhm, no.” I expect him to let go but he doesn’t so I follow the stare of his hooded eyes, looking down at myself. It only takes a second for my face to match my outfit as I realise that he’s hungrily taking in my pebbled nipples as they push through the thin fabric of my dress.
“Gah!” I gasp at his audacity, taking a swipe at him to swat him on the arm. His lightning reflexes prevent me, easily capturing my wrist. His steely grip a dark reminder of the power he wields over my body. I watch a storm move into the grey depths of his eyes as I meet that gaze with my own clear-blue – wide and bright.
Instantly I feel the slickness between my thighs as the beat of my heart accelerates, pumping my heated blood around my enamoured body. I bite my lip before sliding my mouth into a full blown, no holds barred smile just to revel in the dilation of his pupils.
I do a little victory dance in my head when he’s the one to break our stare. A disconcerted hand slips through his hair before he gruffly directs me into the car. “Get in.”
I take my time getting in with my back first before swivelling into the seat as I swing my legs into the foot well. I run a slow, deliberate hand along my dress to smooth it over my sides from my thigh to my knee.
Christian has one bent arm on the roof of the car and the other on the top of the open door as he leans in, “I know what you’re doing.” I watch his Adam’s apple work his swallow down.
“I’m getting into the car, just like you told me to.” I peek up at him blinking through my lashes. It’s true though, I didn’t plan this unexpected sexy moment but I can’t say I’m sorry. My inner goddess is practically purring with delight.
His eyes widen as he takes in my answer, replaying the last three minutes in his head as he searches for a dent in my reply. Coming up short he flashes surprise, having no choice but to assign responsibility to the slavish force we hold over each other. “Fair point, well made,” he mumbles more to himself than to me. He smiles turns a rueful curve as he shakes his head and he closes the door.
We leave the airport with the Q7 in the middle of the three car convoy. As we make the drive to Escala I feel nerves edging in on my consciousness. I wonder if Mrs Jones and Sawyer are still working for Christian. I dread their judgement. At least the first meeting with Taylor is done and dusted though I still have a long way to go with him before we reach a comfortable place with each other again.
The other thing that’s worrying me is breaking the news to Chris about Christian being his dad, the original reason for our visit. There’s so much riding on how we choose to do it and what his reaction is going to be.
Father and son’s happy chatter does nothing to distract me from my growing tension. By the time we stop in the underground garage I’m ready to turn around and run straight back to the safety of my life at home.
The elevator pings our arrival and Chris doesn’t hesitate to run into the great room. Christian’s anxious, long strides follow him; no doubt to make sure that he’s safe, leaving me to enter on my own.
The familiarity of the smell of the apartment brings it all home. It’s comforting and jarring at once and a swell of tears constrict my burning throat. Suddenly grateful I’m alone as there’s no sign of staff, new or otherwise. Christian is off showing Chris the spectacular view. Through the blur of my tears I see the piano, the kitchen, the art and all the memories that these things are wed too. Those images crash through my mind, vying for my attention as I try not to drown in their vividness.
“Anastasia…, Anastasia?” Christian’s voice cuts through my trance. He puts a curled finger under my chin, tipping my face up to his. My eyes adjust; refocusing as he tenderly wipes a tear from my cheek with his thumb. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry Christian. I’ve said it before but I’m not sure you get how I feel, how sorry I am.”
His mouth presses into a hard line, “We’ve said all there is to say Ana, we’re both sorry. We have to move on, no point in rehashing the past.” His warm hands are resting gently on my shoulders making my traitorous lips part with the need for a kiss.
Chris chooses that moment to re-join us, hurling himself into my legs and almost knocking me over. I right myself by grabbing on to Christian’s forearm only to feel our moment slither away. “Mommy is this a castle?”
My laugh tinkles around the space that’s almost as vast as the emptiness inside me. I bend down, lightly tapping his button nose, “No baby boy, it’s just a very big apartment, like ours only humungous and it’s very high up, almost touching the clouds.” I walk to the wall of glass to show him the clouds that look close enough to touch.
“Do you want to see your room?” Christian appears at our side. With a sidelong glance I pick up the tension in his shoulders, he’s anxious to get it right with Chris.
“Yeah!” He grabs Christian’s hand and drags him back the way we came, already at home. I follow them eagerly; curios to see what Christian’s imagination dreamed up for our son.
There are two more bedrooms along the same passage as Christian’s and he leads us down that corridor, to the very last room. He opens the door, letting us step into a nautical fantasy. For once Chris is speechless, his delighted eyes drinking it all in. The room is mainly dark blue and white. Red, yellow and sliver make up the detailed accents. The bed itself is shaped in a bow of a boat and at the head is a mast that trials 2 ropes on either side, both of them threaded with small triangular flags. The theme is further reinforced with mock portals and anchors. The toy box is an aged pirate treasure chest and is the thing Chris makes a bee line for when his stunned feet eventually allows him to move.
I peek at Christian watching Chris. Reaching out I touch his bicep to get his attention. “He loves it,” my voice is breathless, amazed. “I love it, it’s beautiful, thank you.”
A breathtaking smile splits his face, “Do you really?”
I nod enthusiastically, not trusting myself to speak. His thoughtfulness is evident in every detail and oh so overwhelming. That is beautiful too.
“Shall I show you yours?” He cocks his head as he asks, a small smile playing on his lips that send my belly butterflies into a flutter. Again I nod, unable to break away from his mischievous stare.
He frees my lip from my teeth’s assault then sweeps a stray strand of hair behind my ear. “Don’t’ do that,” he mutters darkly before turning on his heel.
We leave Chris engrossed in his treasure box filled with brand new toys. A few short steps have us in front of the room next door to his.
Oh my! I might have to chain myself to this bed; I already feel a bout of sleepwalking coming on….
He pushes the door open but remains outside, allowing me to go in first. The room is in keeping with the rest of the house’s style. Clean lines with crisp, pale blue linen. It’s calm and I’m infinitely grateful that it isn’t the sub room upstairs. It’s dominated by a huge arrangement of fresh flowers, filling the room with an intoxicating scent.
“Wow, that’s lovely Christian, thank you.” I walk over to the flowers to feel the delicate petals between my fingers and to smell their exquisite perfume. I bend into them, inhaling a deep lungful.
“Yes, I thought you might like them,” he pauses for a beat then continues with that secret smile still in place, “who did you say sent you the flowers when we arrived back from Florida?”
“Uhm..” I hesitate, momentarily forgetting what I told him about the flowers I had sent to myself. “Just a friend. Uhm, from work.” I say as I recall my lie. To hide my guilty, creeping blush I turn away from him pretending to sniff more of the blooms. Where is he going with this? I wondered as my frantic heart made my blood pound in my ears.
He steps closer, covering my back with his radiating heat. I feel his warm breath from behind as his mouth brushes my ear, “If you wanted flowers Anastasia, all you had to do was ask.” His seductive whisper carries the wicked smile I know is on his lips.
Oh shit, he knows!