Cultivating Trust

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Firing the Maid

Chelsea

The bed shifted as I felt Brandt leave it the next morning. Watching him as he entered the bathroom put a smile on my face. He left the door open as he took a shower and got ready for the studio, giving me time to study his body. He had a masculine face with a square jawline he tried to keep shaved. His incredible anatomy was muscular, starting at his chest and tapering to his firm abdominal muscles. Even his ass was sculpted in a way that mirrored the statues of Greek gods in ancient Rome. At a little over six feet tall, he still towered over my five-foot-eight frame. The golden blond mane touched his shoulders and it amazed me how he could come out of the shower, towel dry his hair, and then run his hands through it and have it coiffed perfectly. Men had it so easy. I stared at him like a lioness in heat, contemplating joining him in the shower, but I didn’t want to make him late his first day back in the studio to start on his second, incredibly important record, which would show the world of his talent.

Gorgeous as ever, I regretted telling him he could leave me, and I sighed. He caught me watching him and looked amused. “Now, are you sure you don’t want to come?” I shook my head. Ron would be there, and I didn’t have the guts to see him just yet. He would find out I came back with Brandt eventually but maybe by the next time we saw each other, he would be used to the idea of the two of us together. I had no intention of being in the public eye with him. We could be discreet. That would give Ron time to find it out on his own.

“No, I am still wiped out. I don’t know if it is the time change or stress of the last couple of days, but I think I’ll try to get a couple more hours of sleep.” He might have popped out of bed this morning, ready to face the day and anxious to start his new album, but I nursed a case of the doldrums.

Coming over to my side of the bed, he kissed me. I meant it to be a short kiss, but it turned into a longer one. He pulled back, “Make me late.”

I smiled, wanting to do just that but ended up pushing him away. “No. Get out of here. Go.” He smiled and stole one last quick kiss before running out the door. Falling back into bed, I waited until I couldn’t hear him anymore to let myself drift back to sleep. The lull of the ocean tide outside the French doors pulled me under easily enough.

Waking up two hours later, I startled to a woman staring down at me from the end of the bed. A shriek escaped me as I woke with a jolt, amusing her. “Who are you?”

She kept the smile on her face, “I am Brandt’s cleaning lady. Don’t worry, I am used to women being here. I can clean around you.” She went into the bathroom, as she caught me half-naked in bed, making me uneasy. I watched her flit around with a rag and a spray bottle contemplating my next move.

This ‘cleaning lady’ didn’t look like any cleaning lady I had ever seen. Tall and thin, she had long wavy auburn hair and deep-set eyes of bright green with too much makeup painted on them for just cleaning purposes. Her manner of dress seemed too skimpy for the task at hand also as she had on white short shorts and a tight tank top showing off large breasts.

Although she did not look like a cleaning lady, she wiped off the vanity top and mirrors as I slid down further under the covers. I watched and waited for a time when I could get up and get some clothes on. The clothing on my body comprised of what I referred to as my ‘Brandt Attire.’ It was the smallest amount of clothing he wanted me to wear; a white tank top and white undies. My clothes from the previous day scattered among the floor around me, and I couldn’t reach them without getting out of bed.

I decided the best way to handle it was to take the sheet and wrap it around me. Accomplishing my goal, I went straight into the walk-in closet and found my suitcase. Pulling out the first pair of anything I found, I quickly got dressed.

Finally presentable, I went out into the bedroom to find her picking up my clothes strewn around the room. It appalled me to see her reach for my bra. “I can get that,” I said and ripped it out of her hands.

“Now that you are out of the sheets, I can wash them. Where is the one you were hiding under? I will need that one too.”

“I can do the sheets,” I said, although the vicinity of the laundry room still remained a mystery.

She laughed at me, “Suit yourself.”

She went back into the bathroom and I couldn’t help my curiosity. “How often do you come?” Knowing how messy Brandt could be, I should’ve expected him to keep a cleaning lady. We shared a bedroom for a short time back in Wisconsin, and he wasn’t exactly into picking up after himself.

“Mondays. More often now that he is back from touring. He should’ve been back a couple of weeks ago.” She would be here twice a week picking up after me? No one had cleaned up after me since I lived at my parent’s house. I could be particular about things, and I especially didn’t want anyone touching my underwear.

“Well, he stayed in Wisconsin for a little longer than he thought.”

“Wisconsin? Is that where you are from? I noticed the accent. Huh, I never thought Brandt would bring some girl home with him. Well, will wonders ever cease?”

“I don’t have an accent.” Do I?

She came back out of the bathroom and looked at me. “Look chickee, I hope you still got money for the ticket back. Brandt isn’t one to keep a girl too long.”

My face showed my surprise. “It isn’t like that.”

She condescendingly nodded her head, ”Cami was his longest and even that surprised me, but I was here long before her, and it’s been a revolving door since. I am just saying that you shouldn’t get too cozy.”

Maybe it was the way she spat the words at me or the words themselves, but it made me angry. “Look I don’t know you at all, but as far as I am concerned, Brandt does not need a cleaning lady anymore.”

“Are you firing me?”

Could I fire her? I didn’t care. I didn’t like her, and I didn’t want her touching my things. “Yes. I am sure Brandt will pay you for today, but he doesn’t need you anymore.”

Standing in front of me with a cold look on her face, she showed her displeasure. “Whatever. Wait till Brandt finds out. I’ll be back.” She threw down the rag in her hand and started to leave, “I hope you didn’t unpack yet,” she said and then went down the stairs. She must have let herself in, and I hoped she left the key. If not, I would need to tell Brandt to get new locks.
shit

shit, now how would I tell Brandt?

Would he be mad? How could I come in here and fire the staff? Did he have anyone else working for him? Butler? Cook? There was so much I needed to find out about him, but for right now, he couldn’t be too mad if I finished the cleaning, right?

The bucket in the bathroom housed all the cleaning products she left. I would need more rags, but I didn’t even know where they were kept much less where a broom and a vacuum were hidden. I searched the house, turning it into a little scavenger hunt.

Starting in the kitchen, I found the broom and dustpan in a small closet by the back door but didn’t find the vacuum. I opened the door to the office and peered in, seeing a closet behind the door. Brandt had brought me through the house, but I needed time to explore on my own. I remembered when he showed me this room; it took my breath away. Two whole walls were bookcases. They didn’t have many books on them, but I planned on rectifying that. The time I spent licking my wounds after a failed pregnancy, and even worse, a toxic relationship, lent me all the time in the world to read. Books gave me an escape and I wanted them to always be a part of my life. These shelves would look regal with old-fashioned bound books, including all the great classics. The ones that stood the test of time. The ones I had always wanted to read.

Walking over to the bookshelves, I glanced at the occasional trinket or photo. Only a few photos lined the shelves, one of which was of two older people I assumed were his adopted parents. Both had dark hair and kind smiles on their faces. They appeared younger in another photo and had three kids sitting around them. Brandt was in this one, and he looked to be about twelve. Beside his father was a boy approximately seven, and a little girl, approximately five who sat on his mom’s lap. Both younger kids had the same dark hair as their parents. Only Brandt had blond hair and blue eyes. No wonder he felt like an outsider. It looked obvious he wasn’t their natural child. What it must have been like for him explaining it to everyone that asked. I was sure they did ask. Kids could be cruel, but I had seen adults do the same.

Putting down the picture, I picked up the only other one on the shelf below it. This one had a picture of Brandt and a woman making me certain it was his ex-girlfriend, Cami. The background familiar, I looked out the window at the ocean and realized they took the picture on this property. When I turned back to the picture, I looked more closely at Cami.

So, you were the only one to last a while?

She had a nice enough smile and had blond hair and blue eyes. Actually, we looked similar. Not in the face department, and certainly not in the body department, but both blond, both blue-eyed. It made me a little self-conscious. I didn’t want to think of myself as a replacement, but it sat in the back of my mind. Didn’t Ryder say that Brandt had a thing for redheads? Apparently not any longer.

Why did he still have her picture? Maybe he didn’t have time to get rid of it before he left on tour? Or maybe he still had feelings for her? Either way, I needed to figure it out before it drove me crazy. I didn’t come all this way and put myself out there to be a knock-off of the woman he really loved. Although I didn’t need constant validation, I did need to know where I stood. I put the picture back on the shelf thinking he could get rid of it how he wanted.

Looking further down on the bookshelf, I saw the only other thing on it: Brandt’s sound system. Turning on the power, it came alive and caught me off guard as the sound bounced off the walls and the lighted device lit up the room. A menu flashed across the screen to produce the sound in each room of the house, even the spare bedrooms and bathrooms. Well, I planned to clean every area, so I lit up the whole house and hit the shuffle button. Loud music started to play and required me to adjust the volume to a more reasonable level. Songs similar to the hard rock his band delivered morphed into a more demure favorite of mine; Mozart. He listened to Mozart?

With some music playing to help me clean, I got started. I decided the whole house needed it and would start at one end and work my way to the other. It would be a good way to get to know my way around starting with the kitchen.

Brandt really didn’t have a lot of items to work around. With him not being a cook, the kitchen was spotless and the pantry empty. We needed to get more groceries and I put it on my mental list of things to do figuring it would continue to grow as I cleaned.

The music switched to quite the eclectic mix. From Mozart to Jazz to Rock to Blues. Classic artists segued into bands I had never heard of before. Some songs were dark and ominous, and others were lighthearted with deep meaning. A female singer stood out among the others and I ran back to the office to find out who she was. The system displayed one word: Sophia. I stopped it there and played all her songs in a row. Each of them spoke to me as if written about some aspect of my life and I fell in love with her music, her sound, her voice.

The cleaning continued as I worked my way across the house, dusting, and vacuuming. Much to my dismay, his old ‘maid’ kept the house rather tidy. I found the washer and dryer in the basement, the one room that I hadn’t seen yet. It wasn’t much to see. Besides the washer, dryer, and water softener, the room was barren except for patio doors on the far end that went out to a small cemented area with another fabulous view of the ocean. Oh, how I loved that view.

After hitting at least every room once, and some twice, my exhaustion came on full force. I worked through lunch, only stopping to eat the snack bag brought home from the plane and a can of soda I found in the refrigerator. By the time I finished making our bed with the freshly washed sheets, the sun lowered in the late afternoon sky. I thought of going grocery shopping, but I really didn’t know where to find a store. I could use Brandt’s car, but I feared getting lost with my absent sense of direction. Just as I completed tucking in the last of the sheets, I backed up into someone and screamed.


Brandt

When I pulled into the studio parking lot this morning and walked through the door, the excitement of the day hit me. We left our first recording company for a bigger one, and I couldn’t help but think of the notoriety this label would bring us. We had been working the circuit for a long time and finally had companies pursuing us as our reward. Social Offender still had so much to prove. We were making it, but in a business like this, unpredictability was the way of life.

Ron, our band manager, waited for me in the lobby. “I wasn’t sure if you were going to show up. I thought I might have to hire goons to get you here. I guess I didn’t think the Wisconsin pussy was that good but at least you are here now.”

“Yeah, I am only here because Chelsea agreed to come back with me.” Although it was none of his business, I wanted him to know where our relationship stood.

His face turned crimson, “You brought her back with you? Do you fucking know what you are doing? What if it leaks?”

I tried to calm him down, “It won’t get out. We already talked about it. Chelsea doesn’t want to be in the limelight anyway. We can keep it private. Don’t worry.”

His look of disdain didn’t change, “Don’t worry? Don’t worry? What the fuck are you thinking? Your whole next album is set to make those nub-breasted teenagers cream in their pants for you, not to mention your older female fanbase. They are the ones forking out cash and scrambling all over themselves to let you stick your dick in any hole just to get a chance at the Brandt Roberts. How the fuck is that going to work when you’ve got pussy at home? Don’t fucking worry? Are you serious?”

I still didn’t know why this turned into such a big deal. Ron may know his shit, but the whole success of the record couldn’t hinge on whether I had a girlfriend. Lots of singers were married or attached in bands. The rest of the guys were single so why should I stay that way?

He was in my face, and I didn’t like it. I realized he had done a lot for the band, but he would not make me suffer over the first woman who had made me feel like a million bucks. “Ron, what I do in my private life is just that, private. I practically had to beg her to come back with me, and I will not give her up. You did a great job getting us to this point and if our songs don’t take us the rest of the way, then maybe we aren’t as good as I thought.”

“Do you really think this is all about you? Did you consider the other guys in the band? You are the leader. The fucking pretty boy with the voice. The only reason women are throwing themselves at you in the first place is because of me. I took your asses out of the shitty little nightclubs and put you out front. Every fucking blow job you got in the last year was because of me. I made you and you owe me, and I will not let some golden-haired cunt ruin that.”

Red shone brightly in front of my eyes and I snapped. It was one thing to bitch at the band or me, Ron had been doing that for the last year, and we let him because we were all making out for it, but I would not let him do that to Chelsea. I grabbed him by the collar and threw him against the wall. He didn’t even struggle, shocked that anyone dared talk back to him. A low growl of warning erupted from me, “Don’t you ever talk about her like that again. Do you hear me?” We were alone, and no one would be able to hear me anyway, but I needed to show him I barely kept my restraint. “Say what you want about me, but if I ever hear you talking about Chelsea that way again, you can find yourself a new golden boy.” We stared each other down as my muscles tensed waiting for his next move.

Ron realized I wasn’t backing down and needed to come to grips with the fact he couldn’t push me around anymore. A whole year of putting up with his condescending bullshit would wear on anyone. I saw my message register in his eyes along with... fear? He kept his poker face on and pushed my hands off him. “Don’t you ever touch me like that again.” We stared at each other in a stalemate waiting to see who would break first.

“Fine. Do it your way. But she better stay in the background, and you will need to hire someone to help with this.” He meant someone at Wolfe and Associates. They handled difficult PR and kept certain things out of the media. I had already intended to call them anyway.

At that point, Quade showed up. “Hey guys, ready to rock this album?” Although he didn’t notice the tension right away, it didn’t take him long to see our animosity towards each other. With my point stated, the conversation turned in a more jovial direction.

“Just waiting for the band to show up. Isn’t that right Brandt?” He played it cool, and right now I just wanted to start this album. When we signed with him we gave him creative rights with the intention that we would get control eventually, and I just decided now how soon.

Things slowed down during the rest of the day, more talk than action. I knew my reluctance to return to California caused some of the reason for our delay, and I wanted to at least apologize to the rest of the band. If I had been back here last week, we could have practiced some before recording, but as things go, I wasn’t about to change the past knowing how much joy Chelsea being with me now had brought me.

I got my chance to apologize as we headed to our cars at the end of the day. Everyone seemed fine with it except JJ. No shock there. He was usually on Ron’s side, and if Ron had already gotten to him, then I might as well have saved my oxygen.

During the ride home my thoughts turned to Chelsea. Was she the one? Yes, she had some quirks, but nothing I couldn’t live with. Did I even know her enough to make that decision? Well, no, and therefore we would take it slow. I thought back to her religious father and felt guilty about how I left things with him. He didn’t think I was worthy of his daughter and I could see why. Even I wasn’t sure if I would ever be worthy of her and I knew she felt like she let him down by coming out here to be with me.

He didn’t think we would make it together. I wanted to prove him wrong, show him I could be the man she deserved, or more likely, prove it to myself. I wanted to be the Superman she thought I was. She said she needed me. I never knew the power of that one little statement. She had a way of making me feel like the best person on earth.

Once home, I walked in on music playing on the sound system. At least Chelsea figured that out as I didn’t have much time to show her my house. I looked in all the downstairs rooms and noticed they had been cleaned. My cleaning lady came in today and I forgot to warn Chelsea and hoped she wasn’t still sleeping when Brandi showed up.

Chelsea was in the bedroom making the bed. She faced away from me and I could see her fabulous slim figure and incredible hard ass moving to the music. Taller than the women I usually date, she still stood shorter than me in heels. Her blonde hair was a couple of shades lighter than my own, and her eyes seemed that much of a brighter blue against her porcelain skin. Her smile warmed up a room and just watching her, I realized my body craved hers like a junkie.

Chelsea had washed the sheets already? We didn’t even put any of our fluids on them... yet. She didn’t notice how close I was until she bumped into me. She jumped and screamed, and I felt a little guilty about inadvertently sneaking up on her. “You had to wash the sheets already?”

She just smiled at me as I shook my head, “Yeah, I figured we would need to buy some more soon.”

Not wanting to yell over the music, I walked over to the hidden control panel. “I see you found my sound system.”

Her mouth dropped open when she watched me access the hidden control panel from behind the bedroom picture. I had most of the rooms set to a control panel on my phone as well. Besides a link to my electric system, a wall safe had been placed in there by the previous owners. Another wall safe hid in the office below us. By my guess, the previous owners dealt with some devious shit. Although if it weren’t for their devious shit, I wouldn’t have gotten such a good deal on the house.

“You listen to Mozart?” I made my way back over to where she stood.

I shrugged, “I think to be good at music, you have to appreciate other people’s style. There is a lot of good stuff out there, from classical to country. If I only listened to rock, it would stifle creativity. Bands die that way.”

It didn’t surprise me when she said, “I like Sophia. I like her music, and she has such a nice voice.” She did have a nice voice and a nice body too, which had gotten her far in the business. I wondered if she hated to use it to propel herself forward. I never minded that about the business until Chelsea came along. It reminded me of what Ron called me, ‘the golden boy,’ and how the band’s popularity centered around me being attainable. Then I thought about the fact I needed to keep Chelsea hidden to make sure my star continued to rise. Being a sex symbol came with its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t let it ruin us.

“Yeah, she does some great work. Do you want to meet her?”

“Do you know her?”

“Yeah, we met. She is out on a tour now I think, but I can bring you backstage some time.” I didn’t mention a brief affair, but it wasn’t relevant.

She had a big smile on her face when she said, “That would be great.”

Closing in on her, I wrapped my arms around her slim waist. Chelsea felt great snuggled into my body, smelling of a mixture of lavender and cleaning fluids. She had been such a clean freak back in Wisconsin, but she didn’t need to worry about that now. I smiled at the thought of her driving Brandi crazy.

“So, what have you been doing all day?”

“Cleaning.”

Maybe Brandi didn’t come today? “Cleaning? I thought Brandi was supposed to come to do that today?”

She let go of me and leaned back to talk to me, “Ah... I fired her.”

“You fired her?”

“Brandt, you don’t need a maid. I can do this for you.”

“Chelsea, I didn’t bring you all the way to California to make you my domestic slave.”

She took a deep breath, “I didn’t like her. Besides, she didn’t look like a cleaning lady.”

Running my fingers through my hair, I couldn’t help be a little mad, “She isn’t a cleaning lady, but needs the money since leaving the business.” I could tell the wheels were turning in her head. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the business.

“Show business?”

“Ah... adult business.”

She sounded incredulous, “She is in the porn business?”

Now how to explain? “She was in the porn industry but almost has her doctorate now. I gave her some work to get her by.”

“Well, I didn’t like her, and I didn’t like her attitude. She told me I was part of your revolving door.”

Brandi said that? Yes, I guess I could see her saying that. “She is probably just jealous.” Brandi and I had a short fling, and I always had the feeling she wouldn’t mind starting it up again. Not that it didn’t stop me from enjoying her from time to time. Should I have told Chelsea? I didn’t think she would understand.

Before I had time to decide, she figured it out on her own, “You slept with her, didn’t you?”

“We had a thing a long time ago.” She made it out to be more than it was.

“You slept with a porn star?”

She had a look of disdain on her face, and sometimes I didn’t understand her ‘holier than thou’ attitude. “Chelsea, it was a long time ago, and I wanted to help her out by giving her some work.”

“Help her out? As in getting her a legitimate job? She could work in manufacturing or waitress at a restaurant. Instead, she comes in with barely any clothes on to wash your underwear?”

“Listen, she needed references for jobs that don’t include the porn industry, and I needed someone to clean up after me. I paid her well. She has a daughter to support all by herself.” This seemed to make her think.

Chelsea calmed down and looked mindfully up at me. “Sorry Brandt. I should have talked to you first. I still don’t want her back. You guys had a thing and well...”

“And I should have told you about her. I forgot that she was coming today.” Bringing her back in my arms, I tilted her chin up to look in my eyes, “She won’t be coming back. I can talk to some people I know and get her another job.” She smiled at me and I knew I did the right thing. Besides, I didn’t want her back if she was giving Chelsea shit anyway.

“Really?”

“Really. But I need someone to clean my house, and that is now your responsibility. You are in charge of hiring someone. I will ask around about a cleaning service to contact, but you have to do the interviews.” It would give her something to do instead of waiting for me all day long. I got the feeling that she wanted to stay busy.

“Oh, don’t worry, I can contact a cleaning service. I will try to find one in the area.” She didn’t understand and why would she? It was still hard for me to be so defensive all the time.

“Chelsea, we need one that is discrete.” Her confusion turned into deep thought as she mulled it over. I hoped she understood. She would need to get used to it. People go through celebrity’s garbage for Christ’s sake. My life wasn’t as bad as some of the more famous bands out there, but I hoped we were headed for bigger and better times. My life wouldn’t necessarily be my own after that. I needed to start being more cautious now. Especially with Chelsea here. I still found it hard that this was what it took to be famous.

“So, are there any more surprises for me? Any stripper cooks or anything?”

I laughed, “Domenico comes and does the pool and groundskeeping, but I swear I never slept with him. He might have asked, but I don’t speak enough Spanish.” Her laugh echoed in the room.

Standing so close, I heard her stomach rumble, “When did you eat last?” I got the feeling she didn’t eat right and it bothered me. She looked after me with my diabetes, but she didn’t take care of herself as well. She was too skinny, and I thought I now knew why. “Chelsea, did you eat at all today?”

“I had some chips from the plane.”

“Chelsea--”

She stopped me, “Hey, you really have nothing to eat in here, and I was afraid to go grocery shopping. You don’t understand my lack of direction. I would likely end up in Canada or Mexico before finding my way back. My only hope is not crashing your fancy sports car, so I can sell it for a plane ticket to return.”

I laughed, “The car has a navigation device installed in it.” She wouldn’t even sit in it yesterday. She didn’t like that I ‘gave’ it to her. I should have sat back and thought about it. Chelsea had lived in the same area for her whole life and moved a great distance to be with me. She took a risk to be with me and I needed to be patient with her. “Well, we are going out to eat and then grocery shopping. And you are driving.” I saw her cringe, but she needed to find her way around eventually as I didn’t intend on letting her move away from me, ever.


The Chinese place I suggested could get us in right away. Chelsea didn’t take long to look over the menu, but disappointing me when I heard her order a hamburger. Why the hell would she agree to Chinese if she didn’t like it? If she did things just to appease me, I would never get to know the true her. It confused me on how she was so willing to please me with some things but others she dug her feet in and wouldn’t budge.

“Chelsea that is not exactly Chinese food.”

“I tried Chinese food a couple of times in the past and don’t like it.”

I shook my head. “If you didn’t like it then why did you agree to eat here?”

“You said it was your favorite. Besides, they usually offer something here I can eat. See, they have hamburgers.”

“You’ve got to stop doing things because I want to do them. I need you to tell me what you like. How am I supposed to get to know you?”

She knew I was right, “Fine. I don’t like Chinese food.”

“Well, you can’t expect to eat a good hamburger here. What don’t you like about Chinese food?”

“I don’t like duck sauce or soy sauce, but I do like egg rolls. Come to think of it, there were some crab things I liked too.”

It was a start, “There are other things you would probably like. Can I order for you?”

She smiled at my take-charge attitude, surprising me that Ms. Independent agreed to it. “Okay. Give it your best shot.”

Motioning to the waiter, I ordered Moo Goo Gai Pan, and when it came, she delighted me by devouring the whole plate. She had such a good appetite when she remembered to eat. Seriously, who could forget to eat? We went into our easy way of conversation. I told her about the first day at the studio. When we were back in Wisconsin, I got the notion she already didn’t like him, so I kept the ‘Ron’ parts more about creative differences and less about her. If she knew he felt threatened by us, it would give her more ammunition to dislike him.

“I want you to come and watch.”

She shook her head, “I can’t. I got a call from the gynecologist’s office. My appointment is set for tomorrow. How could you get me an appointment in such a short amount of time?”

“I have some pull.” It made me feel a little better about the amount of money I paid that office. I wanted her to locate a doctor around here, so we could stop using the rubbers. I hated using condoms with her. I didn’t know everything about women but felt her anxious mind made her needlessly worried. How could I complain though? She mentioned it to keep us from getting pregnant knowing it would complicate matters right now.

Chelsea wanted kids but the thought never crossed my mind. Not that I didn’t like them, I just never saw them being a part of my life. Being adopted didn’t help. My childhood gave me such mixed feelings I knew I would never bring them into this world without being one hundred percent sure, but this certainly wasn’t the time.

“I need to worry about finding my doctor tomorrow.”

I shook my head, “It isn’t difficult. You will do fine. Besides, I don’t want you to miss the appointment. I can’t wait to go back feeling you from the inside.” She blushed, making me laugh. I had never dated such an innocent girl but loved the interactions we had.

“Brandt when I was cleaning the office, I found a picture of you and Cami.”

I had forgotten about it. “Oh that. I didn’t realize it was there.”

She hid her look of unease, shielding it with curiosity, “Does she have a key to your house?”

“I guess she does. She never gave it back when we broke up. Does it bother you?”

“Yes. Do you think we could get new locks?”

I shrugged, “If it makes you feel better than sure, but I don’t think she would use it.”

“I would feel better, yes.”

Knowing her mind was still working overtime, I heard her go on, “I look like her.”

Her comment caught me off guard. “You both have blue eyes and blond hair, but I don’t think you look anything alike.” She didn’t believe me, I could tell. “Chelsea, our relationship is different from what I had with Cami. I don’t like comparing apples to oranges.” She smiled, but I sensed more under the surface.

“You loved her though.”

I loved her, and I loved Chelsea. It confused me as well since they were worlds apart. I didn’t love Chelsea the same way I loved Cami. Cami was a fun time mixed with a lot of doubt and suspicion. What I had with Chelsea was true, and I didn’t want to make any assumptions, so I guarded my words, “Yes, I loved her. But Cami and I fought a lot. We had fun, but we had more of a superficial relationship. She wanted more than I could give her and she left soon enough to find it, and it hurt. But I am over it. How could I not be when I have you?” I didn’t want to talk about Cami with Chelsea. Maybe because I lost one love, and now it scared me how easy I could let it happen again. I never intended to fall in love with her, and I wondered if I was setting myself up for more heartache. Loving Chelsea scared me in a way I had never felt before. I was still on the fence about whether she was here to stay or just out of my reach and would leave when she realized my true character knowing I was never good enough for her.

Clapping my hands together, I remarked, “You really need to get out more and see the area. How about after I get home tomorrow, I take you around and show you the town?”

Her face lit up at the thought, “I would love that.”

“Good, but there is still one more stop we need to make before the grocery store tonight.” She didn’t understand my meaning as I quipped, “I am getting you your own phone.” She rolled her eyes and was about to put up a fight. She didn’t like technology, unlike the other inhabitants on this planet, but she would need one in California.

“Brandt...”

“No arguing. I need you to be able to get a hold of me when you need me, especially if you are as directionally challenged as you say you are. I will not have you running around with me worried about you.” I didn’t leave her any room for discussion, and finally, she gave in with a sigh.

The only other topic of conversation focused around her looking for a job. Why should she? Everything she needed was at her fingertips. A big house, a car, she even had full range to go shopping for whatever she felt necessary. I would leave her some spending money, but I didn’t care what she used it on. I could put her on my credit card too. She would need more clothes than what she had packed. “You just got out here. Enjoy yourself for a while. There will be plenty of time for that later.”

Kissing the top of her nose, I went back to my meal. I figured she just needed a little time to get used to the idea.

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