We planned on doing something couplie today before heading off to the airport for our flight back home. Valerie was able to get us tickets for a later flight. Though, thinking on it now, I think she already had these tickets purchased. Her and Thomas had to of been in cahoots this entire time. But I must give Valerie props, she can keep one hell of a secret.
After another sensual workout, Thomas and I ended up falling asleep. Again. I don’t think either one of us has had a decent night’s sleep since I force us to part. And this is the first time in six weeks I haven’t had some sort of dream or nightmare.
My fingers are toying with the strands of Thomas’s hair, his head laying across my chest. If you would’ve asked me this is where I’d be in life, I would have told you, you’re wrong. But here we are, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel at peace laying here with Thomas. A normal peace I haven’t felt in years.
The sound of someone policeman knocking on the door startles me. Jumping, Thomas stirs, seemingly unfazed by the sudden pounding at the door.
“Copeland, open the god damn door. Did you fuck it up last night? I can’t get ahold of Ryann. And she’s not in her damn room.” Valerie yells and starts pounding on the hotel room door again. Shit, I should have texted and told her where I was. “Thomas, open the damn door!”
Thomas scrambles out of bed, mumbling under his breath. I watch him snatch a pair of black athletic shorts from his carry-on bag on the floor and throws them on before storming out of the room. Wrapping the bed sheet around me, because I have no idea where any of my clothing items are, I follow him out into the small living area of his room. Valerie storms past Thomas as soon as he opens the door and her eyes instantly go wide when she sees me. I feel a heat starting to creep up my cheeks – knowing I’m naked with only a white sheet covering me.
“Oh, shit, oh....oooohhhh,” Valerie whispers in an embarrassed horror as she covers her eyes. “Didn’t fuck it up.” She says as she swivels her head around aimlessly.
I can’t help but laugh as she attempts to direct the statement to Thomas blindly. Sitting down on the little couch, “Valerie, you can uncover your eyes.”
“Oh, thank god,” she says, flopping down beside me. “So, he didn’t fuck it up?” She’s excited for the details. All the juicy deets.
Shaking my head with a slight laugh, “No, he didn’t fuck it up.”
“And you’re coming back to Cali with us, right?” I nod my head, causing Valerie to clap her hands together with elation. “Fan-fuckin-tastic! It’s getting waaay too cold for my likening here. No offense Ry, but I’m ready to get back home.”
None taken. Because so am I.
Coming out to California, I had the mindset and goal to find someplace I belonged. Because I knew it wasn’t Colfax, and I knew it wasn’t Indiana. I just never thought I’d find my home in LA and be surrounded by amazing people who seemingly understands and love me. Now, to just divulge a massive secret I’ve been keeping from Thomas. Once I tell him, everything will be out in the open. No more secrets. And no more hiding. Not from him, at least.
“Me too,” I admit.
“Soooo.....” Valerie chimes, turning her attention to Thomas before looking back at me. “How is this going to work? Obviously, we’re gonna have to keep it on the down-low. I mean, Pearl can NOT find out about this. Or.....maybe it would be the shock she needs to keel over.” I watch her as her fingers meet and her evil scheming begins.
Thomas takes a seat on the coffee table in front of us and nudges Valerie’s knees, “No evil planning. I’m working on getting her out.” Valerie’s mouth forms a slight and surprised oh. “It’s going to take time. I need my lawyers to look over hers and Dax’s contracts. Because I don’t remember them signing or the renegotiating. But until I get that all situated, I’m having yours and Ryann’s contracts transferred under me.”
Wait, what? Looking over to Thomas in complete and utter disbelief, is he serious? He gives me an all-knowing wink. One that is supposed to be reassuring and that he has it handled.
Oh shit, he’s very serious. Pearl will no longer hold the cards to fire me or pull me in whatever direction she deems fit. She won’t be able to dictate my job at all. I’d be working under Thomas. But wait, how is this going to work with Valerie? She is Pearl’s assistant. Her job is to work under Pearl and only Pearl unless directed otherwise.
“As sweet as that is, Thomas, you can’t control my contract. I work for Pearl. I am her assistant.” Valerie says with slight melancholy. I know her patience for Pearl is nearly non-existent, and she would love to solely work for Thomas.
Thomas gives her a sly smile, “And what if I offered you a job working for me. You’d only have to answer to me and will no longer answer to Pearl. You’d be working with Ryann and continue to do what you’re doing now. Booking flights, hotels, confirming meetings, interviews, etc. You and Ryann work well together as a team. And, well, I think you should continue as a team, under my employment.”
Valerie squeals out, “You’re not fucking with me, are you? Like, there aren’t hidden cameras somewhere, or Ashton Kutcher isn’t going to pop out and tell me that I’ve been PUNK’D or anything.”
Thomas shakes his head, “No. Val, this isn’t a prank. My lawyers have drafted up a new agreement if you’re interested. And I was hoping, once Pearl is gone, you’d take over with any and all PR.”
Valerie looks at me – surprised, with tears of excitement glossing across her eyes. “You’re seriously serious.” Thomas nods his head again, “I want a raise.” Valerie blurts. And I can’t help but chuckle. “And a new computer.”
“Done,” Thomas says with ease. “Anything else?”
Valerie bites her lip as she ponders for any other demands she could possibly make. I know she’s been wanting to work on her paintings more. And with her essentially being on call 24/7 for any demands Pearl may have, the time isn’t always there for Valerie to do what she really loves. Half the time, I think it’s Pearl’s way of being cruel. Having Valerie run to her P.O box late one night – to tracking across the county to pick up some organic Durian. And I’m still not sure what the hell a Durian is.
“I want a set schedule with hours. And not called on to randomly pick up some thousand-dollar moisturizer because you’re too lazy to lug your slothful ass across town during rush hour.”
Thomas arches a very confused and baffled brow and looks to me. My expression, hopefully translating to, yes, yes, that happened. “Did she seriously.....” Valerie nods her head as Thomas shakes his in complete disbelief. “Valerie, you’ll have set hours. There may be times you’ll be called. But I promise it will rarely happen. And I will not have you hauling to pick up some damn moisturizer.”
Valerie jumps off the couch and collides with Thomas – hugging him. “Thank you, thank you! A thousand thank yous!”
Thomas returns the hug, “So, I’m assuming this is a yes?”
“Oh, my gosh. It’s a fuckin’ yes. I owe you!”
He chuckles, “No, I owe you, Val. You’ve stayed by my side through all of my shit. Even trying to talk reason into me. You didn’t walk away once. No matter how unreasonable I was and am. This is only a small payback I owe you.”
Is he going through his steps?
The thought sends my heart fluttering with a hope and admiration for the strides he has taken thus far. He wants to change. He is trying to change, and my love for him only grows at what I’m seeing right in front of me. And I hope and pray his success continues and I only help and not hinder him in any way. I think that’s what scares me the most. His achievements being roadblocked by me. I’ve heard horror stories of recovering addicts getting together, and according to Max, when one goes, the other follows too.
But that can’t be true, right? I mean, Teresa is twenty years sober, and her partner is fifteen years sober. They’re still going strong on their road of recovery and in their relationship. What’s not to say we can’t find the same path too? Because it sure feels like even when Thomas and I are separated and across the country, this energy between us is bound and determined to reconnect us.
Valerie pushes her hand into Thomas’s chest as she sits back into the coach. Snapping me out of my thoughts, I return my attention to an emotional Valerie and a now slightly awkward Thomas. A smile across my face as everything starts to fall into place. But I also know where there is a calm, there is a storm waiting to unleash the next hurdle for us. For all of us.
“Stop, or you’re going to make me cry,” Valerie says as her voice becomes a little shaky. “Okay, so what’s the plan now? Pack up and head out?”
Clasping the sheet around me tighter, “Well, I’d like to actually get into some clothes first.”
“Or stay naked,” Thomas muses.
Valerie clasps her hands over her mouth, snickering. Rolling my eyes, I swat at Thomas’s knee. Only to fail as he grasps my hand and pulls me into his lap. I squeal out as I wrap my hands at the nape of his neck. His lips connect immediately to mine, and the thoughts, that were lingering dissipate into nothing more than empty worries.
Valerie shrieks out as she jumps from the couch – scrambling for the room door. “As cute as you two are together. Let me leave before you two do the deed.....again. Ry, I’ll meet you in your room in like thirty.” She pauses, looking back. “Ahh, let’s make it like an hour.”
“Smart move,” Thomas purrs against my lips. I let out a giggle before the kiss deepens and his tongue slips with mine.
With the sound of the hotel door shutting behind Valerie, Thomas swoops me up and whisks me back into the bedroom for another fun-filled hour of worshiping my body. Something I’ve never known until Thomas. The way he takes his time to appreciate my body, to tell me what he loves, how beautiful I am. Because of Thomas, I feel like I’m finally seeing me for me. Not the past version of me I once was, but the woman I’ve grown to be. And because of that, I’m loving myself more than I did before.
Thomas gives me a courage I didn’t know I needed. A courage I didn’t know was within. And watching Thomas speak from the heart, and wanting to right wrongs that he sees within his life – now, I feel an unknown courage to take the next steps for my life. A life I now can’t imagine without Thomas.