The end is nigh, my lovelies! I’m joking, of course. What I mean is that besides this one, I have two more chapters written, and then – complete freedom for me to create, and for you to influence! So, put on your commenting hats, and start expressing your opinions! 😉
Striking cheekbones, strong, clean shaven jaw line, full sensual lips. Everything about him is bright, warm, chestnut, caramel, chocolate, burning hot espresso early in the morning – and he’s smiling into your eyes. Taller than John, he looks down at you and a few shiny thick curls fall on his forehead. Thick black eyebrows jump up, small wrinkles run from the corners from his eyes. He is warm, open, and absolutely fucking obviously attracted to you. Right here, right now. Damn it, Wren, pull yourself together!
You extricate yourself out of his arms and step back.
“Yes, I am Wren Leary. To what do I owe the pleasure?” He chuckles. It’s very friendly, cordial, deep in his throat, and, bloody hell, this is one sexy neck!
“The pleasure is all mine, Ms Leary. I am a representative of Amrod Pharmaceuticals. You had a meeting arranged with an employee of mine, but he got sick. So you got me.”
And he smiles, the teeth white and even. He doesn’t hold it back, it is all shark like, and sunny. Retreat, retreat!
You swipe your card to enter the lab and invite him in with a wide gesture.
“Be my guest, Mr Anderson.” He bows to you theatrically.
“Call me Auggie.”
Blimey, what did you do to deserve it?!
August Anderson is everything a bird can dream of. Witty, clever, charming, ruthless in business, but smart to understand when he is beaten and to accept the fact that he is overpowered with a gracious smile. He’s endlessly respectful and well-mannered. There is this charming Southern American polished politeness in him. One cannot learn to be like that, one has to be born into it. It’s not posh, or cold; it comes from growing up in a big loving family, loyal and affectionate.
And indeed, after you battle the contract you want out of him, and watch him sign it with a soft amicable laughter on his lips, he tells you how you are the first person to outsmart and ‘outargue’ him since he moved out of his parents’ place and went to college. And then he tells you that he has four older brothers, and he’s the snarkiest one. And as if he could get even more attractive, he tells you how they were the ones to teach him to fight for what he wants, but not before he let them talk him into getting the same tattoo they did – a bull skull between his shoulder blades.
You’re laughing loudly, he’s grinning. The chairs are way too close to each other, and you feel the warmth of his body. His eau de cologne seems to have seeped into your skin, and you’re momentarily surprised by the ease you ‘re feeling near him.
“So tell me, Wren Leary, are you single?” He’s twirling his Mont Blanc in his long fingers, and you fucking feel like you ran into a shop window on full speed. Smash! That is a big question, isn’t it? That is when your lovely friendly chat ends.
Also, you’re surprised he doesn’t know. Everybody fucking does. The biochem world, all the medical community, all the big shots, and all the old money in this country – and possibly hemisphere – have been present at your engagement party, and had a chance to whisper over a flute of Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Rose Cuvee of year 2004 that Dr. John Crispin Thorington, the Sun of the Contemporary Neurosurgery, got himself an arm candy.
Judging by the jacket and the Patek Philippe on his wrist, Auggie Anderson should have been at that party as well. The blushing bride was lovely, in a shimmering cocktail dress of a gentle coral tint. The dashing, future sugar daddy had a matching tie. You asked for no photos from that night to ever appear in front of your eyes.
“I am engaged actually.” You sound numb. Sod it, you feel numb. His eyes fall on your hand. No way in hell you are explaining to him that you prohibited John from even thinking of a ring. You immediately remember an old joke. “Darling, why aren’t you wearing your band?” “It is choking me around my neck.”
August Anderson smiles widely and theatrically presses his hand to his heart.
“I am devastated. I’ve been in Japan for the past two and a half years, and look at how much I missed!”
You don’t want to, but you smile back. “Sorry.”
And then he picks up your hand and looking into your eyes, his own brown irises that look like those uber expensive truffles John was treating you to last month, the Amrod Pharmaceuticals representative asks you in a low, suddenly completely serious voice, “Would you have lunch with me, Wren?”
Bugger. Bugger. Bugger… Why does it feel like more than an invitation to a shared midday meal? Because it sodding isn’t.
It is two o’clock in the morning, and you’re standing in front of John’s door. The key is frozen in your hand, and you have been here for the last ten minutes at least.
What are you doing here? Why aren’t you going home? And then you correct yourself – you don’t have a home anymore. You do not live with Thea; the cozy illusion of belonging, your card house has broken down; and there behind this posh door is all you have. Some clothes, books, a stuffed cat Thea brought from Paris for you, your old laptop – you didn’t let John buy you a new one – and a man. The man whom you are marrying in less than three months.
Why does it feel like you have no right to open this door?
Why does it feel like you don’t want to open it?
You close your eyes and run a scenario after scenario in your head. Here you are, coming in, slipping into the bedroom, shedding clothes on your way, and then you slide under the blankets, in his familiar warmth, in the fresh smell of his skin, his scorching body meeting you there, and you let yourself melt into him. Why does it feel that to do it is to lose yourself? Why does it feel like forgetting who you are and lying to yourself?
Here is another you. She comes in and wakes him up. She tells him she can’t marry him. She tells him she loves him but can’t see herself going down that aisle, with seven hundred pairs of eyes on her, most of them belonging to the important people, as in important connections, as in his friends and family, as in your new circle and your new life.
Why is it so difficult? Why does it hurt? Why has it always hurt, for fuck sake’s?!
You press your forehead to the cool surface of the door and feel tears run down your face. It has always been so painful, so difficult. Shouldn’t it be easy? Light and sunny, happy and smooth? Shouldn’t you be at least a little bit certain?
You press your right hand to the door as well and then look at it askew. There is no ring on it. You said it would get lost in a lab; you said you couldn’t wear it while working with all this equipment. You both knew you were lying.
You push the key in and turn the handle. The light in the living room is on, and you see John on his sofa. His large body is stretched, relaxed, he’s lying on his back, one of his arms behind his head. He is barefoot, and the sleeves of his blue button-up are rolled up. He’s holding a book of his favourite Hayam in the other hand, and Leonard Cohen’s velvet voice is sensually murmuring at the background. The reading glasses are sitting on the tip of his nose, and he look at you above them, slightly lifting his brows.
You feel like a bloody idiot. Mostly because of painfully cliche Hallelujah carrying through the room. If at least it were First We Take Manhattan or Democracy, it would be tolerable…
You open your mouth and then close it with an audible clank of teeth. He’s silent too, studying your face with an unreadable expression. You suddenly realise that somehow you two have never had a discussion of where one of you had been. You seem to have moved with some sort of synchronicity; you would get together one way or another. He would call or text, or you would; you two would agree to have dinner. It would always go without saying where the two of you were spending the night. Even if not necessarily together, you were more or less aware where the other one was. No creepy overbearing control, but sort of comfortable dancing to the music both of you could hear.
You left in the morning without waking him up; you went to work and left it at lunch with another man. You didn’t come back to your workplace. Let’s face it, you had nothing to do there, all the tests were completed yesterday in the anticipation of the meeting with the Amrod Pharmaceuticals. It is two o’clock, and you’re sneaking into his flat.
And he’s calmly surveying you. You clench your fingers around the strap of your handbag and swallow. The longer you keep silent, the worse it obviously gets. But you honestly have no bloody clue what to say.