The plane ride was quiet and long. Seemed so much shorter on the way to the island. I suppose the looming doom waiting for us back home was making the trip drag on nineteen hours and two stops for fuel, long.
An old black and white film aired on the tv but Neil and I just snuggled on the couch wrapped in a blanket. Neither of us was interested in the choice in the movie. Even though we requested it.
“I know I can’t tell Alex right away but how do I keep it from him? How am I even supposed to tell him? How do I know when it’s right?” Neil’s heavy sigh made his chest fall and I slid more into his body. He didn’t answer me at first so I glanced up to read his face.
“He will be mad like you were. But once we explain, once Howie explains he will understand. I will be there with you, we both know his anger issues.” I just traced the pocket of his t-shirt with my finger and nodded.
“I guess I feel guilty knowing and he doesn’t know anything.” Neil responded with a kiss on my forehead before turning out the overhead light, hoping it would turn off my racing mind too.
It must have worked because when I woke up we were landing at the airport. I sat up and buckled in as we were supposed to, Neil following suit.
I wrapped in a long sweater and slid on my leather knee-high boots over my leggings before exiting the plane. It wasn’t quite fall anymore but winter was still a few weeks off. Breezy and cool temps met us at the stairs on the tarmac.
As the usual driver for Alex pulled up I couldn’t help the lump in my throat. He got out of the car and ran up to me, taking me in his arms and spinning us in a quick circle.
“Hey, little chick! How was the island? Your tan is gorgeous!” I just smiled and kissed his cheek. Neil stepped in and saved me with a handshake.
“It was beautiful but that nineteen-hour flight kicked our butts. I think we’re going to head back to our place and crash for the night.” Alex nodded and gave me one more glance. He could tell something happened. He had the nose of a hound when things were up, he could smell it a mile away.
“Alright. Sure. Angelina is having dinner tonight with Gray if you two want to join us and unwind a little.” he left the invitation in the air as our car pulled up next to his.
“We’d love to Alex, send me a text what time.” he agreed and gave me one last kiss on the cheek before heading off.
Back home, Neil’s house had quickly become mine too. My coffee pot stuck out like a sore thumb on his counter, the neon blue not matching any of his grey and white decor.
I headed there for a cup when I noticed that the time, it was only eleven in the morning. I put off caffeine and decided on a nap instead.
I walked down the hall in search of my favorite redhead to make an offer for snuggle time when I noticed a door I had never been through had a light shining from within.
“Neil? Are you in there?” no answer found me through the door and I grabbed the handle. It was locked so I knocked. No answer again. So I tried my bobby pin in my hair and the lock popped with ease. Not that the interior door locks were anything difficult.
As I turned the knob to enter a hand took my shoulder, firmly pulling me back. I turned and saw my handsome Irishman looking very annoyed.
“What are you doing?” I blushed and bit my bottom lip. A winning combo to get me out of trouble when he caught me.
“I was looking for you.” He folded his arms over themselves and didn’t look impressed with my vague excuse.
“I think you were breaking and entering.” I slid the bobby pin back in my hair and crossed my hands together. Going for the most innocent look possible.
“I may have also done that.” He scoffed and pulled me by my waist closer to him so he could kiss my lips softly.
“There are no secrets here. All you have to do is ask, don’t sneak around.” I offered him a nod and threw a thumb over my shoulder, bringing the attention back to the locked, well now unlocked, room.
“What’s in there?” He sighed and gave my hands a squeeze. I could see in his grey eyes he was slowly buckling.
“You are infuriating, you know that?” I flashed him a million-dollar smile and backed up against the door. He reached behind my butt and turned the doorknob. Groping my ass on the way inside.
“This my dear is my gun room.” I turned around, his arms still hanging around my waist.
As the wooden door swung open my jaw met the hardwood floor beneath my feet. All four walls, less the back of the door, held guns. A portion of one of the walls contained only knives of various shapes, sizes, and finishes.
They were sorted not by the size of the weapon but by the caliber of the ammunition for each.
“Let me show you some of my favorites. Here we have the Beretta PX four storm in a forty-five caliber. I carry this daily. Here is my newest variety of little pocket pistols that I’ll pack as a backup in my boot. Oh, and of course the sniper, your favorite.” He walked to the far corner and took down the gun of my dreams. The Barette 50 caliber sniper rifle. I turned the weapon in my hands, examining it closely. It had been years since I held one.
“So it is this something you’ve always had or was this because of recent events? He grinned at me and shrugged.
“The collection grew when you came into my life and my stock of ammo doubled when I found out about Johnathan. You may use any you like. Have the rifle. I can see how much you enjoy it.” I couldn’t hide my excitement as I held it up to see down sights, crystal clear view. Perfectly balanced weapon. This was a work of art.
“Let’s you and I go upstairs and get some sleep, we’re having dinner with Alex tonight.” He agreed and we locked up the gun room. He promised to make me a key as well.
The warm blankets held me captive while the shower running told me Neil had already gotten up to get ready. I snuggled down, determined to get just five more minutes of sleep.
As I finally drifted back off to sleep the blankets began to slowly slip off of my body. I grabbed them and was met with resistance. As my eyes found Neil at the end of the bed, his mischievous smile grew. Before I could beg for mercy he snatched the bedding off in one swift tug. I instantly shivered and drew my legs up to my body for warmth.
“Come along Ms. Rossi. You don’t want to be late for dinner with your family.” I rolled my eyes and grumbled under my breath as I slid out of the bed and searched madly for a thick sweater. I was not happy to be back in cold weather after weeks in the warm sunshine.
Jeans and tall boots finished off my look along with my sweater as I made my way downstairs. Neil stood in the kitchen with a glass of a small shot of whiskey in his hand.
I stood for a moment and watched the emotions cross his face. Frustration at Gray and Shamus for keeping these details from us for so long and now having to keep face with Alex and Angelina at dinner too. I knew it’s how he felt because I felt the same way.
“That suit looks nice, I like it.” He spun on his heel, caught off guard. His eyes scanned my body hoping to see more skin but the cold weather didn’t permit bikinis and thin skirts. He appeared saddened when I was all bundled up.
“Those jeans look fantastic, painted on?” I offered him a sarcastic nod and headed for the door where my pure hung on a hook along with my coat and scarf.
He held my coat open for me to slide my arms into and I pulled my long hair through that I had decided to keep down.
He grabbed his car keys and gave me a peck on the lips before we departed, the weight of the secret heavy on our shoulders.