Two weeks. I hadn’t heard a peep from Hudson or any other blackmailing goon. I sipped hot tea at my desk, checking emails for the fifth time that day. I was, dare I say, paranoid now? Maybe it was just the cold that had come over me basically overnight? They say stress can manifest into physical illness too. Perhaps that's what this was.
An odd email address popped up on my screen and I perked up. This was it, it was from Hudson. As I clicked it to open, I glanced up to be sure my office door was closed.
A simple message with the account number, a time, and a specific dollar amount appeared before me. I knew I had moments before it was due in the designated account.
I flexed my fingers and swallowed the bullet. I created a ghost account and named it after another small business account we already held. They were of little importance to the overall functionality of the company and would serve as the perfect cover. The money was added and sent off to be pending by noon today.
The rush of guilt quickly passed as a knock on my door caused me to shut my laptop rather quickly. I stood and took a long sip of tea before calling out to the person to enter.
“Good morning.” Alex strolled in with a little paper bag and a to-go container of soup for me.
“Alex, you didn’t have to-.” He shook his head shutting me up and sat the items down on my desk.
“I did. I’m your brother and it’s my duty. Also, my duty to tell you, Rue is back in town. She asked about you.” I couldn’t help the blush that crept up my neck. I knew she liked me when we were younger and it flattered me endlessly. But I liked boys and she knew it. However, it didn’t stop her from kissing me once in the shipping warehouse in front of both of my brothers as a final plea to consider dating her. I kindly let her down as I had before and we had been close friends since. She kept busy flying all over selling guns for fun and money. She was the best in the business and kept us stocked.
“Oh, I had no idea! I’ll definitely call her and catch up.” Awkwardness hung in the air and I didn’t know how to dissipate it.
“Look Lo if this about the other night, I’m sorry.” I shook my head and rubbed my sweaty hands together, pulling the right words out of thin air.
“It’s not. I’m just under a lot of stress right now and don’t handle that well sometimes. You know this.” He gave a reassuring nod and hugged me before leaving.
“I love you Loreina.” The words were genuine and purposeful. They hit me like a ton of bricks and I could hardly say them back.
“I love you more, Alex.” He winked and shut the door behind him.
I had hardly sat back down when the phone rang. I jumped out of my seat and picked it up. My knees trembled with anticipation. I knew it was Hudson, I don’t know how I knew, but I did.
“The money was almost late. I suggest next time you work faster.” The dial tone rang loudly in my ear as he abruptly hung up on me before I could even speak.
The rest of my workday went by as expected. One I had started to master the art of avoidance. When Neil would call I’d say I was on the other line with a client. Angelina sent a text to see if we’d want to come over for dinner this weekend and I claimed I had plans with Neil already. It was easy once you started. It was going to be impossible to stop.
As I walked in the door at home Neil met me with a glass of wine. I swallowed the lump blooming in my throat knowing it was the truth serum for me. Two glasses in and I’d be rambling all night.
“Hello, gorgeous.” His killer smile spread like wildfire to mine and I happily took the glass mentally promising to only have one.
“Hey, there handsome. Music too? Neil, you shouldn’t spoil me.” His arms wrapped around my waist and he pulled me in close. His lips left a hot trail from my cheek to the shirt covering my breast.
“I do have to, it’s our anniversary. Don’t act as though you forgot.” The truth was I had and it killed me inside. I had remembered sometime around lunch today and mentally made a last-minute plan.
“Oh right, I could have forgotten with all the work I’ve been doing.” I winked at him and pulled my hair down from its high ponytail. His fingers instantly found their way to my scalp and massaged all the tension out. I moaned out loud and when goosebumps met the surface of my skin I pulled away.
“I need a shower, join me?” He growled in victory and scooped me up in his arms, whisking us away to the second floor.
I stripped slowly, teasingly in the bathroom as the water in the shower warmed up. Steam billowed over the glass door as a signal it was ready to get in. His silk robe fell and a toned, still tanned man stood beneath it. My mouth watered at his already hard erection and I itched to have it inside me.
I got in first and let the hot water run down my front, easing the goosebumps that had covered my naked body outside the shower stall. A hard wet man met me at my back and wrapped me again in his arms to kiss a long trail down my back to my butt where he then let his hands follow the curve of my body down to my wet center. His two fingers worked wondrous circles stroking my sensitive nub until I was trembling above him just from one hand.
He abruptly stopped and I yearned for his touch to bring me over the edge I could see now. With one foot he spread my legs wider and pushed me to lean forward onto the cold tile wall. Excitement filled my every fiber as I knew this position well and it always left me trembling. This time did not disappoint as he slid into me slowly and methodically. His one hand supporting my waist while the other stroked my nipples that were starved for attention.
Loud moaning filled the steam dense space and the sound of sex rang through the air. Grunting and skin-to-skin slapping pushed us both so close to the edge but it wasn’t until my hand found my clit and gave it a few complimentary strokes that I came undone. My orgasm was so strong this time that it brought tears to my eyes.
My thighs shook and nearly gave out on me as Neil caught me just in time.
“God damn it, Neil… I need the use of my legs.” his laughter boomed through the bathroom as he took the body wash and quickly washed us both clean.
“Come get dressed, I have something for you downstairs.” I did as he asked and threw on a sexy set of lingerie and a simple white cotton dress. He replaced his robe with a pair of silky workout shorts and took my hand to descend the stairs.
The living room was alive with candles lit, red rose petals all over the couch and two silver domes covering what I assumed was dinner.
“Neil, what is all of this? We never celebrate so extravagantly.” His eyes held humor and his mouth muffled a shit-eating grin. He held out his hand and motioned me to sit down at a place setting.
“And I want to change that. The time I spend with you is so special to me Loriena Rossi. I cannot get enough. I’m jealous of your work because you drown in it some days.” I had been keeping to myself lately and working harder on projects that I could have let go of.
“I appreciate this so much. It’s all so beautiful.” He nodded and opened his plate cover and nodded at me to do the same. His steak was cooked to perfection, a baked potato and bacon-wrapped asparagus complimented his main course and I couldn’t wait for my own. As I lifted the cover disappointment hit me. My plate was empty. My face must have said it all as he quickly rushed to his feet and ran to the kitchen to sort out the mistake.
I took a sip of the wine as he returned empty-handed. I was so confused. It was obvious his chef had a hand in the arrangements as it wasn’t here before we had showered. Where was my dinner?
“Baby I’m sorry there was some mix-up, this was all that was left in the kitchen.” he dropped to one knee and held out a little black velvet box. I was again confused for a split second before the weight of the evening’s setup hit me. He was proposing.
“What- Neil? Uh?” I couldn’t form a coherent sentence as he opened the box and revealed exactly what I thought lay inside an engagement ring. One single diamond held up by a classic yellow gold setting sat neatly inside the black pillow.
“Loreina Rossi, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” My chest grew tight from the rush of emotions. My eyes blurred with tears and my hands shook as I stood to come closer to him.
“Yes, Neil. I want nothing more than to become Mrs. Neil Flynn.” He jumped up and grabbed me by the waist, hoisting me high into the air and spun me in circles.
“Neil! Put me down! I’m gonna puke!” With the threat of vomit, he lowered me to the ground and stopped the world from continuing to spin by kissing me long and slow. We were both panting as he rested his forehead against mine to catch his breath so he could take the ring from the box and slid it on my finger.
“You’ve just made me the happiest man alive Loreina.” I couldn’t help the embarrassed giggle as my stomach growled loudly. Interrupting our intimate moments.
“You did plan a dinner for me too, didn’t you?” His laughter rattled my chest and he smothered me in a tight hug.
“Of course I did. You can have this plate here, I’ll go get the other from the kitchen.” As he jogged off to retrieve his meal, I spun the ring on my finger and wondered if I should just confess here and now about what was happening between Hudson and I. It wasn’t likely Neil would notice the money being transferred as we had hundreds of transactions a day process from our several main accounts. But I couldn’t take the lying.
“Dig in, please. I know you’re hungry.” he finally joined me on the big fluffy pillows on the floor around the coffee table.
“Neil I just wanna say something,” He stopped cutting his steak and gave me his full attention. “I love you. Tonight has been so special. Thank you for being so perfect.” I couldn’t force the confession to the tip of my tongue. It was stuck.
“I’d do anything for your happiness Loreina, you know this. Just having the pleasure to share my life with you is always going to be enough for me.” My tears flowed freely and I grabbed the red cloth napkin to clean myself up. What a mess I’ve created. How would I ever clean it up all alone?