Chapter 28. New Freedom and a New Life
Every chance we could steal away alone, we did. The next day, Ryan and Brandon took Megan out for lunch, or that’s what they told her to lure her out of the house. When they returned around four that afternoon, with Angie as well, Meg bounced into my office and caught me at the tail end of a conversation. I couldn’t concentrate on the donor’s last words since my eyes were stuck on Megan. I almost didn’t recognize her at first. Her hair was cut short with the ends flipped up and blonde highlights shone through her auburn hair. She waited to see my reaction.
“Look at you!” I exclaimed, getting up from my chair. I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her, then stood back and looked at it again. Meg giggled at my response and Brandon, Ryan and Angie had congregated in Meg’s office to hear the reaction as well. Angie high-fived them as Ryan and Brandon congratulated themselves. I kept staring at Meg. She looked radiant with a wide smile on her face. Before long, Meg was upstairs chatting with Angie. Anna was hard at work in the kitchen, thrilled that she had a whole house to cook and care for this weekend. Since her husband’s death last year, Anna spent holidays with me and I tried to be here instead of L.A. or Florida. Last year, I flew Mom and Lilly and her kids in from Florida and California for the holidays so the kids could have a white Christmas. We had a blast tubing and skiing down the slopes that week. When I think of it, I wish I would have known that Angie was alone last year. I would have brought her home and kept her then, maybe keeping her out of Connor’s hands altogether.
Meg and Angie bounded down the back staircase and offered to set the table for Anna while Sean and I joined Ryan and Brandon in the front room for a drink.
“Where’s Meg?” asked Ryan.
“She’s setting the table with Angie.”
“I really wanted a Martini.”
“Ask her, I’m sure she’ll oblige.”
Ryan called Meg on the intercom and Anna answered and said she’d relay the message. Within minutes, Meg was behind the bar with Brandon assisting her.
He could crack the ice and open the bottles, but the measurements of the spirits were solely up to her. I was having a Guinness with Sean while Meg made a pitcher of Martinis. When she handed them out, Brandon and Ryan each took one. Then she realized her error. The old Megan would have poured the other two down the sink, but this Megan ate the olives out of one glass then drank the Martini, not just a sip, but the entire martini in one belt, totally shocking all of us.
“Not bad, but not my best,” she replied.
“Wait, you can make a better Martini than this?” asked Ryan incredulously.
“I have in the past. I think I’m just out of practice. I had better go see how Angie’s coming along with setting the table.”
Meg left the room and the four of us sat there dumbfounded.
“Was I dreaming or did Megan just drink that Martini?” asked Brandon.
Still unable to believe it himself Sean answered, “No, she drank it all right.”
“God, with all the meds she’s on, I doubt if it’s recommended to drink alcohol,” Ryan interjected.
“The nurse will be here after dinner. I’ll ask,” I answered. Not thinking much of it, I just said to shut them up about it.
“Our health nut, Megan, just drank a Martini,” repeated Brandon. “Personally, I think a call to Ruby would be more appropriate.”
“Maybe she’s realized that life was too short to be so straight-laced. So what if Meg’s just trying to live a little,” I added, hoping to ameliorate the issue. We were still discussing it when Meg returned to wash the pitcher and glasses. She picked up the last filled martini glass that set on the bar, plucked the olives off of the toothpick and popped them into her mouth. I came over to see what she was doing.
“How come olives taste better when they’re drowned in vodka?” she asked with a smile.
“What’s going on?” I asked in a low mumble.
“Nothing, I just wanted a Martini.”
“You don’t drink.”
“Never mind, but I don’t think it’s wise to be drinking alcohol with all the medication you are on right now.”
“Why? I might sleep better tonight.”
“So remind me to slip you some brandy before bed. I’d like a night of uninterrupted sleep for a change.”
“Hmm, I’m sure we could dream up a better solution than a snort of brandy.”
“Really?” I asked, leaning over the bar, “Just what are you proposing?”
“Sleep with me,” she whispered, knowing we were still in the mixed company.
“I already do that,” I said, joining her behind the bar.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Have you fallen out of your tree? The last thing I need is you wigging out during foreplay,” I said in a lowered tone while they left the den.
Meg giggled and picked up the Martini glass that still brimmed with Vodka and Vermouth straight up.
Taking the Martini from her and pouring it down the sink behind the bar before she had the chance to pour it down her throat. I asked, “And how do you know that it’s me and not Davenport?”
“You smell different,” she replied as the trio left the living room to check on dinner and visit with Anna and Angie.
“Yeah, what is it with this nose of yours?”
“I’m very sensitive to scents and odors. Besides, you do something Randy never did. Well, any man in my life ever did for that matter.”
“You hold me and kiss me like you adore me.”
“That’s because I do.”
“He never did. When it was over, it was over. With you, it’s as if that doesn’t matter right now.”
“Uh . . . right. It does matter to me, but you don’t need sex to add to your confusion.”
“Do you know what I need, Alex?”
“Just what you’ve been giving me,” she replied, cupping my chin with her palm. Her thumb rubbed against my evening beard then pulled my lips to hers for a brief interlude. I kissed her until we heard a throat clear behind us, alerting us that we weren’t alone.
“Dinner’s ready,” relayed Anna, before she left the doorway for the kitchen again.
I took Megan by the hand and led her from behind the bar and pulled her against me.
“You look incredible,” I said, pecking a kiss on her lips.
“I miss my hair.”
“I know, I do too, but hair grows.”
“Yeah, it does.”
“This look is adorable on you though,” I replied, teasing her with another kiss. Meg giggled at me. What a wonderful sound! I teased her neck with the gruff of my beard just to hear it some more. Another cleared throat diverted our attention from each other. Brandon stood there with a brow raised and his hands on his hips.
“You are holding up dinner.”
Meg’s face went red with embarrassment and her countenance fell. I wrapped my arm around her waist and we walked to the dining room, attached at the hip. As I held her chair for her and she sat down, all eyes were on us, and I didn’t care in the least.
When Anna put the bowls of salad on the table, I wanted to be alone with Megan, but I knew that wasn’t possible, so I made the best of it. Meg ate her dinner and joined in the conversation. I loved seeing her face light up when Brandon cracked a joke or Angie relayed a story from class. Before the trauma, Meg rarely laughed or giggled. She was sarcastic and cocky back then, never exceptionally happy. Although what Davenport did to her was awful, it changed her for the better, whether she wanted to admit it or not.