Authors: Kristy Kay
“Is everything okay mom?”
“Yes of course, everything is fine. Why?”
“You have been awfully quiet, and you were home before us last night. Did everything go okay with Daniel?” I looked over at Tyler, trying to figure out how to answer. He usually could tell when I was lying and I always tried to be as honest as I could with both kids, to a point.
“Dinner was fine, just got a headache so we came back to the hotel earlier than we wanted so I could rest.” The concern on his face made me almost feel guilty for that small lie so I hurried to reassure him. “I am fine now though. I got plenty of sleep last night.”
He searched my face, I could tell he knew there was more but he wasn’t going to press me. Lily knocked on the window, gesturing for us to hurry up, so we joined her. I left both kids in the capable hands of Leigh, explaining my errand and letting them both know they could get ahold of me on my cell. Tyler nodded before he let Lily pull him towards their new wardrobe, rolling his eyes at me as he went. I laughed out loud at his exasperation. He was so done with this whole business, he couldn’t get away from it all fast enough. I turned back towards the elevators just as they opened and Cora stepped out, a pile of drawings with fabric swatches and embellishments pinned to them. She grinned when she saw me.
“Just the woman I wanted to see. Leigh, will you take these drawings please? I need to take Ms. James to my office real quick.” Leigh came and took the bundle of drawings that needed to be taken to the seamstresses and Cora dragged me back into the elevator. “I have something I have been dying to show you.”
We exited the elevator and Cora waved to her receptionist as we walked to her office. She led me to the couch where there were a bunch of papers laid out on the coffee table. As I looked closer I saw they were real estate listing for rentals in Paris. I looked up at her and she grinned.
“Joey and I were talking and thought you all might be more comfortable renting out a townhouse while you are here instead of staying at the hotel. My other models stay in an apartment complex, or the locals have their own apartments or townhouses. I called a friend of mine to see if there was anything available and she just faxed these over.”
I sat down and started looking through the papers. There were five townhouses around the city available for renting, but only two of them didn’t require a minimum year contract. One was a lovely older two storey townhouse on the other side of the city, three bedrooms, and two baths. The other was a more modern three storey, four bedrooms, three baths and only a couple blocks away. It would save from having to get a car.
I looked up to where Cora was waiting anxiously. I smiled at her. “Thank you Cora. I was actually going to go out and start looking myself today while the kids were working. This saves me a lot of time.”
“My friend said to let her know if you found any you wanted to check out. She is available this morning to take you by them.” I nodded and looked back down at the townhouses I had narrowed it down to. I picked them up and showed Cora.
“I would love to see these two.” She hugged me then went to her desk and made the call.
Two hours later I had the keys to the three storey townhouse within walking distance of Cora’s building, the River Seine and all the other great things that made Paris what it was. I opened the door and walked into the foyer. It was fully furnished, and a lot cheaper than the hotel. The listing agent had left a beautiful vase with flowers and a basket with wine, cheese, and bread on the foyer table. This would be our home for the next few months and I grinned. I needed to get back to the hotel and get everything packed up. I wanted to surprise the kids when they were done for the day.
The hotel wasn’t that far away so I chose to walk the few blocks back. Enjoying the spring weather as I did. There were flowers everywhere in Paris, carts full of them, gardens full of them, window boxes, and small vases on all the outside café tables. I hadn’t unpacked anything more than my toiletries so I was done quickly with my stuff, and then moved to Tyler’s. He hadn’t unpacked any of his clothes either but his laptop, books, and notebooks took a few minutes to gather up. Then I took a few minutes, checking all the drawers of the small dresser and in the bathroom to make sure I didn’t miss anything as well as all the outlets so I didn’t leave without a charger. I carried his bags and book bag out to join my two suitcases before I turned to the one room I dreaded.
I walked to Lily’s room and opened it slowly. We had been in the hotel for five days and by the looks of Lily’s room you would think we had been here a few months. There were clothes thrown on nearly every surface of the room, along with books, notebooks, nail polish, makeup, perfume, jewelry, shoes. I groaned.
“Seriously, Lily? What the hell?” I grumbled and cursed as I worked my way through the room, throwing everything in her suitcases, she could sort it out later. “This is ridiculous, I swear if her father could see this he would have a heart attack.” It had taken me years before I could think like that without succumbing into tears. “She is seriously not too old for an old fashioned spanking damn it.”
I continued to curse my daughter until all five of her suitcases were packed. I called the front desk and asked them to send up a doorman and to call a cab while I went through all Lily’s drawers and checked her outlets as well. I helped the doorman pack the bags on to the trolley, checking around one last time before I followed him out the door and to the elevator where the night before me and Daniel couldn’t keep our hands off each other. I blushed as I remembered how he had felt against me, how his body fit so well against mine, how his large hands held me against the wall, and his strong arms had carried me.
Shaking those thoughts away, it had been an amazing night, but that’s all it was, one night of unimaginable passion.
I waited for Kathryn to answer the phone, needing to hear her voice. I had been called away from her bed at 4:00 in the morning and I was already missing her. The phone was picked up and I felt a stab of disappointment when I head the professional crisp voice of the front desk manager.
“I am sorry sir. Ms. James has been checked out. She just left.” I slammed the phone down in irritation. I didn’t have time for this. Why the hell hadn’t they stopped her if they knew someone was trying to reach her?
“Useless French bastards.” I ran my hands through my hair and down my face in irritation. I would call Joey and get Kathryn’s cell phone but right now I was in a hurry. Right now I had to get back to the hospital with my ex-wife Lynn. Her doctor was coming in to speak with us both in just a few minutes. I walked back into the hospital and rode the elevator up to her floor. Shuffling my feet slowly down the hallway to her room. She was sleeping when I walked back in so I sat quietly on a chair across the room. Her face was bruised from hitting the steering wheel when she crashed but she was still extremely pretty. Her blonde hair was cut short, instead of the long style she used to wear. This was the woman who told the world I had broken her heart, painted me to be a man whore who didn’t want to be tied down by a wife and child when the reality of it was, she had betrayed me. Her daughter was not mine.
The doctor came in while I was reflecting on the past. He was a small Asian man with greying hair but when he shook my hand his grip was firm and his dark eyes looked steadily back into mine.
“I understand you are Ms. Collins emergency contact?”
I grimaced but nodded.
“As you know she was in a car accident last night, around midnight,” The doctor looked down at her chart to verify the time and nodded when what he remembered was right. “It seems that Ms. Collins was drinking, quite heavily and chose to get behind the wheel of a car. Thankfully she ran into a fence not another car, or a pedestrian.”
My hands clenched at my side. It was not the first time that Lynn had gone and done something this stupid. Actually now that I think about it, the woman never stopped to think about her actions, or what the consequences may be, look at what she had done to me and her child.
“What do you all need from me?” Bottom line I wanted to get it over and done with so I could go back to Paris and the fascinating redhead I had to leave to come here.
“You are the only one we could call since you are the only name that was given to us. We need to make sure she is going home with someone, she can’t drive. The constable will be by later to bring any charges they need to against her but we can’t release her without someone taking responsibility for her care.” I nodded, already pulling out my phone. I would call her mother and father, surely someone could come and take responsibility because it wasn’t going to be me.
“I will make sure you have someone.” He nodded then went to the bed to wake Lynn up. He took her vitals, made sure she was comfortable and explained to her the same thing he had said to me. The only thing that made us know she was listening and understood was the widening of her blue eyes in panic. She never moved or said anything else to the doctor before he left. But as soon as he was out of the room she started to cry.
I stood emotionlessly at the foot of her bed, my arms crossed over my chest, waiting for her to calm down. When she finally had a hold of herself, I raised my phone.
“Who do I need to call? Mary or Peter?” I asked.
She shook her head at me. “Neither one. They won’t come help me.” She spoke quietly, looking at me sideways, and smiling weakly.
I sighed. “What have you done to them? Damn it Lynn. I flew all the way from Paris to deal with this shit. Why the fuck did you tell the doctors I was your emergency contact?”
“Because I wanted to see you. You won’t answer my calls but I figured if you knew I was in the hospital you would come.” She pressed back against the head of the bed when I growled deep in my throat. “I still love you Daniel, and I want you back. You loved me once too, and that doesn’t just go away.”
“Yeah it does, Lynn. You ripped my heart out and splashed it all across the tabloids for months.” I walked to the head of the bed and looked down at the woman who at one time was my everything. I leaned in real close so she would be sure and hear every word. “I do not have any feelings for you what so ever Lynn. You are an obligation that I have now fulfilled. I will make sure someone comes and stays with you but outside of that you are nothing to me. Do not try to contact me again, especially in this way. I will not come again.” I stood up and walked to the door, pulling up her mother’s phone number. I pulled the door open but before I left for good I turned around one last time.
“I have moved on, Lynn. She is a hundred times the woman you are or ever will be. She heals instead of destroying. Get yourself up and move on with your life, make it better for your sake and for your daughters. But it will have to be done without me because my heart is somewhere else.” I saw the tears roll down her cheeks but I pulled the door closed. I made the necessary calls to get someone to come be with her and then started back to the airport. As I climbed in the cab my phone rang again, it was my agent.
“Hey Robert, what’s up?”
“I need you down here right now, that project we were looking at, the one with Michael Douglass, you were just offered the part but we need to nail this down now. Where are you?” I sighed, before telling the cabbie to change directions. Getting back to Paris was apparently not going to be as easy as I hoped.
Life settled into a steady routine. I would walk the kids to Cora’s every morning and we would eat pastries at the café across the street. Most days I stayed with Lily, making sure everything was going well. She was learning quite a bit from Cora about the fashion design side of modeling, something she has always been interested in but most of the designers didn’t have the time or the patience to listen to all her questions and to answer each one. Cora was amazing. She took Lily under her wing, even incorporating a few of Lily’s ideas into her newest designs. She was enjoying having Americans around her again, living so long in Paris and Ireland, she didn’t get back to her native country very often. Tyler would do as asked, going with the flow as usual.
In the evenings we would come together as a family and make dinner, then we would either go for walks along the River Seine, hit the gym, go to the movies, or just hang out at the townhouse if there wasn’t a modeling event. Lily would usually hit her room on those quiet nights, listening to music and working on her assignments from her tutor. She was happy to work at a normal pace, but would still graduate a few months ahead of her peers. She was already talking to Cora about taking fashion classes at NYU and then an internship with her.
Tyler would usually hit the books as well even though he had already graduated, he didn’t seem to be able to stop the habit of studying since he had spent the last six years working his ass off to get his engineering degree on his timetable, taking advanced placement classes all the way through high school, and since he used a tutor he was able to fly through most of the easy work, or easy for him. Calculus wasn’t a simple topic for me, but it seemed to be nothing to him.
Every Sunday Cora and Joey would bring their kids over and we would have a Sunday dinner just like what I had when I was growing up with my Grandma. As the days turned into weeks and those weeks turned into months, for the first time I wasn’t looking forward to going home. I would miss this family that had become such a part of my own. For now it was Sunday and I had chicken to fry up and potatoes to peel. So I plugged my iPod into the speaker system, turned on some 80’s hair band music, pulled my hair up in a ponytail and started working.
Since the night Daniel took me out to dinner, the one that was cut short with amazing and mind-blowing sex that still made me wet when I thought about it, I hadn’t heard a word from him. It really wasn’t anything I hadn’t anticipated, but every time the phone rang I thought it might be him and the disappointment was acute when it wasn’t. As I got the chicken out and started drudging it through the egg mixture my mind wandered back to that amazing night. I could still feel his hands on me, taste his kisses… I shook myself away from those daydreams, forcing my mind to focus on the task at hand. Survivor’s
Eye of the Tiger
came on the iPod, and of course you have to sing and dance to that song. It’s not possible to stand still through that one so I flung my head back, belting out the lyrics and moving my hips to the beat.
I heaved an exhausted breath as the airplane finally landed at the Paris airport. I hurried through the terminal and out to the waiting town car. It had been three months since I had been in Paris, three months of flying back and forth from London to New York to Vancouver. The exhaustion I felt was more than bone deep. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work opposite Michael Douglass, and since I was the last part cast at the very last minute, that didn’t give me much time for anything other than grabbing the next plane out. I wouldn’t have much time before I had to be back to start the reshoots and the promos but I was going to take this time. I need to see Kathryn, feel her curves against me, and smell her apple sunshine essence again. There was no other woman who has affected me the way she has, and I was desperate to see her again.
As the car pulled up outside Cora and Joey’s townhouse they were in the process of climbing into the black SUV driven by Mark. I jumped out.
“Hey mate!! Welcome back! I thought you were in Vancouver still.” Joey stepped away from his family to give me a hug.
“I have a few days off and thought I would come see my best friend.”
“Yeah? I don’t think it’s me you are wanting to see!” I smiled sheepishly at him, not denying but not affirming. “We are actually on our way to her townhouse for Sunday dinner if you want to tag along. I am sure they won’t mind.”
“Yeah? I will follow behind yous’uns.” Joey nodded then moved to his vehicle, climbing in beside Cora. I jumped back into my own town car telling the driver to follow Mark. I had flown from Vancouver to Paris for the purpose of seeing Kathryn but now that I was about to my stomach started getting nervous flutters. Joey hadn’t been willing to give out her cell phone but he said he would give Kathryn mine. I hadn’t heard from her in three months. Maybe she didn’t want to have anything to do with me after the way I left so abruptly, I knew she had enjoyed our time together, but maybe that’s all she wanted, one night with no strings.
Kathryn’s townhouse was only a few blocks from Cora and Joey’s so we pulled up within a few minutes. I climbed out of the town car, grabbing the only bag I had brought with me and dismissing the driver. I would ride back with Cora and Joey later. I helped my friends get their children out of the SUV and walked up the small steps to Kathryn’s front door. I hesitated a little too long, creating a lot of complaining from the other people with me, and a punch from Cora as she pushed past and rang the bell herself.
“Seriously, we are all starving. Move aside old man.” Cora laughed up at me and I reached down to hug her just as the door swung open. Tyler was standing there, with his messy hair dressed in a pair of old jeans and a red Old Navy t-shirt. He moved back so we could all come in.
“Momma!! Our guests are here!” There was no answer but she probably couldn’t hear over the loud 80’s hair band music coming from the direction of the kitchen area. The two girls and Jamie went flying up the stairs in search of Lily, while Tyler, Joey, and Cora went into the living room talking about something to do with the foundation Kathryn worked with in New York. I followed the music to the back of the townhouse. Stopping short as I stepped into the doorway.
Kathryn was dressed in an old pair of jeans like her son, and a red V-neck t-shirt. Her auburn hair was pulled up in a ponytail but that wasn’t what stopped me. Warrant’s
was blaring on the speakers attached to her iPod on the counter, and she was completely immersed in the music. Her hips were swaying, her body moving seductively to the beat of the music as she moved between the counter, the stove, and back. She stopped, bent over and swung her hair in a circle with the music and I couldn’t stand still a minute longer. I stepped behind her, grabbed her hips and brought her back against my front and the hardness she had caused.
She gasped and jumped forward, slamming against the counter before whirling around wide-eyed. When she saw me, her cheeks flamed. She had flour on her cheek and forehead and she looked absolutely adorable and gorgeous. We stood staring at each other for what seemed like forever. Me relearning every curve of her face, and her trying to catch her breath from the fright I had given her. Finally she stepped away from the counter, and hurried to the stove, flipping the chicken before it burned then turning back to me.
“Daniel,” she breathed, “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you. I just flew in from Vancouver. I only have a couple days but I needed to see you.” Her eyes flickered with something but before I could figure out what it was, Cora came into the room.
“Is there anything you need help with?”
When Kathryn didn’t answer her right away she looked between the two of us. “I didn’t interrupt anything did I?”
Kathryn broke her gaze from mine and turned to smile at her friend. “Of course not Cora. The chicken is about done, and the mashed potatoes. I have corn and green beans that need to be thrown in the microwave if you want. They are right there in the glass bowls.”
Neither woman glanced back in my direction so I retreated into the living room where Joey and Tyler were looking over some sketches in a portfolio Joey had brought with him. Both men looked up when I walked in and Joey grinned.
“Just the man we need. Come help us decide on something.” I stepped closer and looked down at the three sketches they were looking at. One was a heart with a rose in the middle, one was a ribbon with a heart above it, and one was just a simple rose. “I was asked to draw up a design for the first Golden Heart Medal. John Hendricks wants to present it to Kathryn at their yearly fundraiser in a few months. What do you think?”
I sat down next to them, looking over each design carefully, and trying to see it on Kathryn. I finally pointed to the heart with the rose.
“If you are wanting a Golden Heart Medal you have to have a heart, and if you are talking about Kathryn, then that one is the best for her.” Joey nodded and Tyler frowned. I don’t think it was because he didn’t agree with the choice but the choice of words. Not for the first time I wondered about his reaction to me. He always seemed so congenial to everyone else, but prickly to me. Before I could delve any further into that line of thinking, we heard feet pounding down the stairs, we all turned in time to see two little girls come flying down the stairs and they jumped into their dad’s lap. Behind them, walking at a more civilized pace was Lily with Jamie. Her blonde hair was pulled up into a messy bun at the back of her neck and she was dressed in jeans like everyone else with a hot pink t-shirt. She smiled when she saw me, bending to give me a quick hug hello.
“Hey Daniel! We haven’t seen you for a while. Where have you been?” I looked over at Joey who for some reason couldn’t meet my eyes all of a sudden. I frowned.
“Um I was called away to do a movie last minute. I have a few days off so thought I would fly back and spend those days with all of you.”
“Oh, well you know they have phones in Vancouver right?” Again I looked over at Joey who for some reason had gained a huge interest in the ceiling.
“Yes, Lily I know they have phones in Vancouver but someone wouldn’t give me your phone number. I tried to call your mom but she had already checked out of the hotel.” Lily and I both stared at Joey as he tried to concentrate really hard on the crown molding in the corner.
“Uncle Joey,” That caused me to raise my eyebrow but I didn’t say anything. “Did you forget to tell my mom something?”
I couldn’t help but grin when Joey started stumbling over his words. His ears were red as he tried to explain what happened. Kathryn called from the dining room saying dinner was ready, saving Joey but the look in Lily’s eyes told me this conversation wasn’t over. I grinned. It was good to be back.
I helped Cora place all the bowls of food on the table. Tyler had set the table earlier so I grabbed an extra placemat, plate, and silverware for Daniel before hollering for everyone. The girls came running in first with Jamie, followed closely by Lily and Tyler. Joey and Daniel came in last. Joey had a sheepish embarrassed look on his face while Daniel was laughing and had a smirk on his. I glanced questioningly at Cora but she just shrugged.
I helped Cora get the younger kids set up before taking my own seat which of course happened to end up next to Daniel of all people. I hadn’t heard a word from him since that night three months ago and here he was again, in my dining room as if those three silent months had never happened. He was unfairly gorgeous in his jeans and grey t-shirt that was tight enough for me to see the amazing body beneath. I didn’t need that tight t-shirt though, I can remember every inch of his gorgeous body, the tight abs that rippled when I ran my tongue across them, and the strong arms that held me tightly against him as he lifted me against the elevator doors. I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. He wasn’t going to get to me this time, damn it. I had other more important things to focus on.
“So Joey, don’t think you escaped that question. Maybe this is the best time to tell Mom what you may have forgotten to tell her.”
The deep chuckle erupting from the man beside me and the mischievous tone Lily was using made me look up at Joey quickly, just in time to see him sticking his tongue out at her. I grinned, really curious now.
“You forget to tell me something Joey?” I watched, fascinated as Joey’s face turned red again. He shifted uncomfortably on his seat, feigning intense interest in the silverware.
“Well clearly my friend has an unhealthy fascination with crown molding and silverware lately.” Joey shot Daniel a death glare before turning to me.
“Um…I may have forgotten, not intentionally mind you….but…”
“Oh for god’s sake Joey. Spit it out. We really don’t have all day.” Cora burst out impatiently as her husband started and stopped again.
“Okay, okay. Jesus woman. Daniel called me for your number Kathryn right after he left. I was supposed to give you his number so you could decide to contact him or not. I may have possibly forgotten.” I gaped down the table at Joey who had his head tucked into his chest, looking over at me from beneath his lashes.
“Joseph William Walker!! That was three months ago!! How could you not give her that message?” Cora scolded.
I burst out laughing at the look on Joey’s face. Shaking my head before turning to Daniel who was grinning over at his friend who was getting a lecture not only from his wife but Lily as well.