Authors: Jessica Gray
At 9 o’clock the next morning my phone rang. Glancing at the caller ID I grimaced and just let it ring. I had no interest in talking to Peter, now or ever!
When he started to leave a message, I turned on the kitchen faucet to drown out his voice.
I went about my day, ignoring several more of his calls and messages. At 4 o’clock, he called for the sixth time and I couldn’t take it anymore. Grabbing my keys, I decided a walk in the park was in order. I meandered through the neighborhood park, trying to find some sense of happiness with my life.
I was embarking on a new adventure, having almost graduated from college, and I didn’t need the complications of a relationship right now. I gave myself a mental lecture as I walked, and by the time I headed home, I was resolved to complete my internship and find a job. After I got settled, then I could look for a relationship.
One that wasn’t toxic and didn’t involve guys who cheated on their girlfriends!
This resolution made me feel much better. With the newly acquired strength I decided that the next time Peter called, I would answer and tell him straight up to quit calling me. He was leaving in a week for Spain and part of me hoped he would just give up. We had a definite chemistry, I wouldn’t even try to deny that, but honesty and trust were tantamount to a lasting relationship. We didn’t appear to have either.
As I walked up the stairwell, I went through the fridge in my mind, planning dinner for myself. I was so lost in contemplation that I didn’t see Peter standing in the shadows until I heard his voice, “Rachel?”
I looked up in shock, almost toppling backwards down the stairs. He jumped forward to stop me from falling, grabbing me by the upper arms and hauling me onto the landing as I scrambled to find my footing.
Once I was sure I wasn’t going to fall, I looked him straight in the eyes and lost my nerve.
He really was gorgeous and even after the fiasco the night before, my body yearned for his. Oh well, so much for my resolve!
“What are you doing here?”
“Rachel, you haven’t answered my calls, so I came here to talk to you in person. I need to explain about last night.”
I shook my head as I opened the door to my apartment, “I don’t think I want to hear it.”
Peter remained silent and when I turned around, he still stood outside my door, waiting for my permission to enter. Seeing the plea in his eyes, I shrugged my shoulders and tossed over my shoulder, “Come on in.”
“Thanks.” Peter entered and closed the door. “Rachel, I can’t blame you for being furious. But can we talk for a few minutes, please? . If, after I explain things, you still want me to leave – I will. No questions asked. I just need for you to hear me out.”
“Fine. Have a seat.” I sat in the armchair, not wanting to sit on the couch in case he chose to sit there as well. The way my body was humming along, I didn’t trust myself to not jump on him with all my passion.
“Lara and I have a pretty sketchy past. When we first started dating, it was a casual thing – at least on my part. The problem is, Lara doesn’t do casual. She’s very possessive and frankly a little neurotic in my opinion.”
I nodded, not commenting, but agreeing with his assessment of her personality
. Psycho would have been my word of choice, but neurotic worked just as well.
“Anyway, when I first tried to break things off with her, it got intense. She made some statements and created some issues that I didn’t want to deal with at the time. It was easier to go along with her idea of us being in a relationship for the time being. Especially because her father is one of my firm’s largest clients and I was in dire need to finish some contractual negotiations with him. I was afraid breaking up with her could ruin my company and career.”
Peter got up, unable to sit still, “I did break it off with her about six months ago after she tried to trap me into marrying her. We were at a party in her parents’ house, and out of nowhere she started showing off this ring. I’d never seen it before, and when her friends started asking if it was an engagement ring, she said ‘Yes’.”
I gasped, “She really did that?”
Peter nodded, “The worst part was when she showed it to her parents. I pulled her father aside and explained that the ring wasn’t mine and I didn’t know what she was up to. Her father jokingly said that she sometimes was a bit straight forward and insinuated that she had wanted a more formal relationship for quite a while now. Seeing my shocked face he promised to take care of the matter himself. He made sure anyone willing to listen knew that he had purchased the ring for his daughter as a gift.
The next morning, I told her I didn’t want to date her anymore and that we were through. She laughed at me and informed me we weren’t through until she decided we were.”
I felt sorry for him, this woman was harassing him, and he was trying to be nice to her on account of doing business with her father.
“She’s been following me around town, showing up at the same places I am and hanging on me every chance she gets. I haven’t dated anyone since I broke up with her because I was afraid something like last night would happen.”
“So what happened after I left last night? Did you go home with her?” I hated to ask, but I needed to know.
Peter looked at me sadly, “Do you believe I would do that?”
I shook my head, “No. Sorry. That was unfair of me.”
Peter looked slightly mollified and replied, “Thanks. To answer your question, I put her in a cab, called her father, and told him I was sending her home.”
“It sounds like she needs some professional help. I hope she gets it.”
“I don’t care. What I do care about is that she destroyed our evening and I was so much looking forward to spending the evening with you.”
Peter walked over to where I was sitting and squatted down next to my chair, taking my hands in his, “I want to find out where a relationship between us can go.”
“Peter, you leave next week. How is that supposed to work?” I asked, wanting to explore our relationship, but afraid of being hurt.
Peter grinned at me, “That’s what I wanted to tell you last night. The company I’m going over to train in Spain isn’t ready. I don’t leave for almost a month.”
I smiled at him, “Really?” I bit my lip as I looked into his eyes, already sensing myself give in.
“Yes.” Peter rubbed his thumbs against the back of my hands and then gently pulled me out of the chair so I was straddling his lap as he sat on the floor. He reached up, ran his hands beneath my hair and behind my neck before leaning in and nuzzling behind my ear.
I moaned in delight as he found a trigger spot and shivers raced up and down my spine. My arms tightly wrapped around him, I pressed myself closer to him, inhaling his unique scent and wanting more.
“So are you willing to give us a chance?” he asked, placing little nipping kisses along my jawline.
I nodded my head before capturing his mouth with my own. He was playing a game and I was ready for more. “Kiss me,” I told him when he didn’t seem inclined to take over the kiss.
“With pleasure. Mind if we take this somewhere a little more comfortable. No offense, but your floor isn’t very accommodating.”
I chuckled and scrambled off his lap, pulling him to his feet in the process. “Follow me,” I said as I led him down the hallway to my bedroom. He removed his clothes at the same time I removed mine. We both fell to the bed, rolling into each other’s arms, reveling in skin upon skin contact.
Peter smoothed his hands up and down my body, fueling my desire and his to an inferno. When he finally leaned over me, I made room for him between my legs, wrapping my legs around his hips and arching to meet his touch. He carefully joined us together, having taken time to don protection before climbing onto the bed.
I loved how he took care of the important things!
When he found a ticklish spot on my side, I giggled and he smiled against my neck. Pushing his hand away, I let my hands roam across his shoulders and down his sides. He didn’t appear to be ticklish. I admired his muscled body and was in heaven. Everything about him made me feel safe and protected.
After taking us both the heights of pleasure, we lay in each other’s arms for a long while. Peter told me about his childhood and his love for nature and I shared some things about myself. At some point, I got up and made some sandwiches, which we ate in bed.
I enjoyed the easy camaraderie we settled into, and before long we were snuggled in each other’s arms again. Peter woke me twice more during the night and together we climbed the mountain of passion. I slept, encased in his strong arms and dreamt about a future together.
We spent the next day together, shopping for food and then cooking dinner. Peter announced that he had to attend a big fundraising dinner the next evening and asked me to be his date. It was a black-tie affair, at $1,000 a plate. I had never been to such a lavish event, but promised Peter that I would come up with a suitable dress and be ready by 5 o’clock.
Peter left early and I made a phone call to my friend Clara. Clara was an aspiring fashion designer and had contacts with all the premier clothing outlets in the area. I explained what I needed and she promised to help me out the next morning.
I met her downtown and she took over. By the time I returned home, I had a new dress – borrowed, but it was gorgeous and I didn’t mind, new shoes and a can-do attitude. I had expressed my hesitation at fitting in with Clara and she had laughed at me. She reminded me that everyone who would be in attendance put his or her pants on one leg at a time, just like me.
We had shared a laugh and I realized that she was right. The sole difference between the high-society people and myself was money and money couldn’t buy one a personality. I dressed and looked at myself in the mirror with a critical eye. I looked fabulous!
Peter agreed when he arrived thirty minutes later to pick me up. His low whistle had me blushing and when he circled his finger, I did a little pirouette, pleased at the expression in his eyes. “The dress is lovely, but shall I tell you what I’m looking forward to most about this evening?”
I nodded, “What?”
“To get you out of that dress after the party,” he informed me with a leer and a waggle of his eyebrows.
I giggled and he escorted me out to his Porsche.
The fundraiser took place in the ballroom of the area’s most prestigious hotel. As we walked around, I was shocked to see how many famous people were in attendance. Many of whom acknowledged Peter by name! I was going to have to get used to this.
When we took our seats for dinner, I was aghast to see that we were sitting at the table with the Bishops. “You didn’t tell me we were going to be eating with Lara’s parents,” I whispered nervously.
Peter whispered back, “Sorry. I tried to get our seating arrangements changed, but her father’s the organizer of the event. It’ll be okay. He and his wife are very nice people. Lara doesn’t attend this particular event, because there are too many business-related speeches. Not enough excitement for her.”
My tension started to ease until I looked up and saw Lara sauntering across the ballroom in a gorgeous black evening gown that hugged her figure. It contrasted perfectly with her red hair and the diamond earrings she was wearing. Her Louboutin high heels were also black with the signature red sole. Everything about her exuded style, elegance and richness. Every eye in the room tracked her progress, including Peter’s. Nudging him, I said, “I thought you said she didn’t come to this event?”
As Lara approached the table, I realized the only vacant chair at the table must be for her. She glared daggers at me, which melted away as she turned them on Peter. Giving her parents both air kisses, she then turned and did the same to Peter, completing ignoring me in the process.
Peter grabbed my hand beneath the table and squeezed it in encouragement. “Stay strong. I’ll get us out of here as fast as I can after dinner.”
I nodded and decided to enjoy the evening and pretend she wasn’t there. As dinner progressed, the conversation turned to the upcoming project in Spain, which was being done for the merger Lara’s father had negotiated.
Another fact I was not aware of!
It seemed there had been some problems, which was part of the reason for the delay. Everyone seemed to be okay with the changes until Lara spoke up, “Father, did you tell Peter the good news?”
Her father smiled at her indulgently, “Why, no. I don’t believe I have a chance to.”
Lara threw a triumphant view to Peter as she broadcast her news to one and all, “I’m going to Barcelona as well. Father wants someone from his company to oversee the merger and thought I would be the perfect fit since I speak the language so well.“
Peter’s mouth dropped open but no sound came out.
He didn’t know about this till right now!
“Mr. Bishop, I assure you we can handle things just fine. There’s no reason for Lara to give up a month of her life here in the States to watch over things in Spain.”
“A month?” she trilled, laughing and shaking her head. “It’s going to be at least three months before I’m satisfied that everything is working well. In fact, father and I discussed this and it could take closer to a year before everything is up and running smoothly.”
Peter shook his head; “I can’t be in Spain for a year! We planned for three months and…”
Lara lowered her voice to a vile whisper, “You will stay as long as I deem necessary. It’s in the contract. Check it out with your partner if you don’t believe me.”
Peter looked shell shocked and excused himself from the table, pulling me with him. Once outside, he fumed, “That conniving little witch!”
I tried to think of something to say, but nothing came to mind that would make the situation any better.
“Rachel, I promise you I didn’t know this was happening.”
“I believe you. It’s obvious that she wants you back and is willing to go to any length to make that happen.”
“Look, let’s just get through this evening. I have to give a small speech and then we can leave, okay?”
I nod and follow him back to the table where Lara is in full command of the conversation. She seems to enjoy the attention she gets and captivates everyone with her vivid narration of delightful society events.
When Peter excuses himself to go prepare for his speech, I take the opportunity to slip away to the ladies room. After taking care of business, I leave the stall and am alarmed to see Lara waiting for me.
“You know he’s never coming back from Spain without me wearing his ring on my finger,” she declares.
I look at her in the mirror and reply, “So you say. I believe Peter has a choice in the matter.”
“No he doesn’t. He wants me. I want him. End of story. You should just leave now. I’ll make your excuses to everyone.”
I turned around, tossing the used paper in the waste receptacle, “Not on your life. Peter’s told me all about you. He doesn’t want you.”
“Is that why he spent the night with me after you ran out of the restaurant? Didn’t feel like he didn’t want me? He’s spectacular in bed, but you know that, don’t you? Don’t worry, I have nothing against his little escapades as long as he comes back to me.”
I was trying not to believe her, but her poisoned arrows stuck.
Had Peter lied to me about that night?
I shook my head, “I need to get back. Peter’s about to give his speech and I want to hear it.” I left the ladies room, sensing her glaring at my back as she followed me to our table.
She chose to sit in Peter’s seat and there was nothing I could do about it. I turned my back on her, determined to ignore her attempts to ruin the evening and pasted a smile upon my face. Peter began his speech, seeking out my eyes and smiling when I nodded at him in encouragement.
He was about halfway through his speech when my shoulder suddenly got warm and I turned to see Lara holding a lighter to the ends of my hair. Horrified, I jerked away from her.
She was an evil witch!
The ends of my hair had already started to burn. She jumped up from her seat, grabbing the huge floral arrangement in the center of the table and dumped the entire thing on my head, “Oh dear! Please, somebody help her.”
The commotion was instantaneous and I found myself surrounded by people wanting to know what had happened. Lara sat silently by, enjoying the commotion and I saw her tuck the lighter back in the bust of her dress.
Peter reached me, his speech forgotten and I tried to tell him what had happened, but he just looked at me like I had gone crazy. That was enough for the evening! I excused myself on the pretense of cleaning up. Peter reluctantly watched me head towards the ladies room. Once out of his sight, I made a beeline for the front doors of the hotel and hailed a cab to take me home.
So much for enjoying the evening! Since when had dating become hazardous to your health?!