I could still feel Jake’s kiss on my lips, his touch. It was like a return to the past, a pleasant one when we were happy. I remembered the first kiss, the place where it happened. Everything had come quickly to my mind. Without sketching a grimace, either with pleasure or anger, John pulled my hand towards him, clinging to his chest.
“Why were you alone with him?” His jaw was clenched, letting the words hiss through his teeth.
“John, let me go! You scare me!” “I want to know! “He asked me, squeezing my arms even tighter.
“For God’s sake, John! Stop it." I jerked out of the grip, finally freeing myself. I could still feel his fingers tight on my skin.
“Answer me once!”
“What was I going to do? To run away from him. To tell him my mother will not let me stay with strangers. Your absurd, seriously!”
“I’m not kidding! What did he tell you?” he became more serious.
“We just talked!”
“Katherine!! Do not be silly. I know the man is a big-league player. So do not sell me donuts because you talked about the weather or politics. I was like an idiot, a total idiot, trapped by your friends, and you were here with the former love of your life. And you, as a person with common sense, played the polite host. And more than that, you humiliated me!”
He gestured hysterically, walking around the room like crazy, and I would not have been surprised if he started pulling his hair out of his head.
“What are you talking about? How did I humiliate you?”
“Putting me to show him my collection, he is apparently interested in vinyl. The man does not know anything about them. You are listening to me? Nothing!”
He howled like a mother bear in defense of her cubs, emphasizing the last words, to better understand her words.
“If that’s the case, John, why shouldn’t I return to the subject of your client who offered to take you back to New York by private jet?” Or does that not matter? You can do what you want without giving explanations, right?” “Tell me now! If it were not for that message on the phone, I probably wouldn’t have found out about it.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Kate! The topics are not the same.”
“Am I ridiculous? You make me laugh. It is the same situation. I did not hide anything from you. Everything happened right here, and nothing that should not have happened actually happened.”
“But now that I mentioned this, I do still have questions,” I told him, trying at the same time to make us both guilty of something and to get his attention on other things rather than Jake.
He went to the bar, pouring himself another glass of whiskey, three fingers full. It was a bit out of proportion, but he poured it all down his throat in one gulp, making the specific sound of heartburn once the glass was empty.
“Even silence is an answer, my dear!” Waiting for several minutes in silence, while he stared at the panoramic view of New York, I could not help but ask him everything had been bothering me ever since I found out about the Dallas story.
“If you love me, so disobedient, your love is eternal, and you are the proudest and happiest future father in the world. Why the hell did you not bother to call me? You could find a way to find me anywhere, and do not lie to me that the lines were falling. I had spoken to Rebecca on the phone that very evening.”
“Tell me! Did you cheat on me, John? Is that what you did?”
Between screams, I realized that they were coming from me. It was my voice, and I was the one screaming. Visibly nervous, he took a few steps back from the window, turned in one motion, and slammed the empty glass out of the glass window. Shards were scattered everywhere, and the impact of the blow was left on the window. Marked and surprised by this unseen reagent, fear seized me. When did I get here? I knew he was jealous and had an impulsive temper, but I would never have expected violence. I was afraid of him; of the person, he had become. For the second time in a day, he had screamed and expressed his anger without restraint. The tears that had flooded my eyes made me realize that this was not what I wanted. That I was tired of shedding tears, that I wanted that true love that he swears he carries me, without quarrels and aggression. It was not a way of life; it was clearly a path to disaster.
“Because that fucking bitch had hidden my phone, and she had sworn that if I didn’t spend the night with her, she would call you and tell you only lies. But I did not touch her.”
My head wobbled louder as the words came out of his mouth.
“Kate, I swear I didn’t touch her. She said she would not close the deal with us if I refused to bring me back. She put brass on his face in the last minutes before my flight took off.”
“What do I have to do with your business? I do not understand! why would he threaten you with such things?” I asked him in a torn voice.
“Believe me, I don’t know either. Everything went perfectly, as usual, a business meeting, but after she grabbed my arm and said that the business would fall apart if I did not meet the conditions.
“And you agreed, of course, you did not want to risk losing money?”
I wanted to hit him, so hard that he could physically feel the pain my soul was struggling with at the time.
“Kate, you have every right to insult me, you can just hit me if that solves something. But please believe me!”
I did not want to believe anything, because my mind could not think clearly anymore. I just wanted to sit and stare blankly until all the problems were gone. But it was impossible. I faced him many times, but not now. I wanted to be alone. I had not felt well all night since Jake had kissed me, but I still tried not to be rude to Rebecca and her boyfriend, Mike.
And now, after the horrible quarrel I would have preferred to forget, Nausea and dizziness intensified. I went up the stairs to the bedroom. John shouted at me.
“Kate! Please listen to me!”
He went upstairs to my bedroom.
“Leave me, John! Leave me alone!”
“Don’t do that, it’s Christmas night and I want to spend it with you. I behaved like a fool, an idiot, a complete fucking asshole with you. But when I found out you were alone with him, I could not control myself. You wanted to marry him. Kate, the guy is not okay. It never was and never will be. I know what his intentions are, I can tell by his looks. He has movies with you in his head; he probably imagines scenarios with you. He is a predator.”
“That’s enough! You should have thought before you started this discussion before you yelled at me and started drinking and then breaking the glass. I am afraid of you. And right now, I would rather be with anyone but you.” He stood without saying a word. Despite drinking an amber drink, he seems more awake than ever. I looked at him in his clear, glassy eyes that only betrayed the signs of tears. I did not want to give up, I would not do that. Overwhelmed by emotions and nerves, I slumped on the bed, just wanting to lie down.
I felt exhausted, it had been a hectic day and full of quarrels. The only solution I could find reasonable and unique that I could think of was for Jake to disappear.
I will try as much as possible not to see him again, even if that means not seeing Rebecca either. But every wish comes with a price. And I was more than willing to pay for it.
After few moments of silence, he approached slowly but firmly on my side of the bed and knelt beside me.
“Are you okay, Kate?” His thick but gentle voice had made me forget almost the entire discussion earlier.
I had planned it to be a beautiful night, a special night with a strong meaning. It was going to be our first Christmas in three. He held out his hand to my hand, touching it shyly. I did not withdraw it, but I really longed for its touch. Seeing this, he had the courage to continue. He had put his cheek against my hand, his cheek furrowed by his sharp beard.
“Honestly, I’d like a good few hours of sleep. And if you can bring me the pills the doctor recommended for nausea.”
“Of course!” He got up immediately, taking quick steps to the bathroom.
“It’s in the closet ..”
“Kate, I know! Do you think I am not paying attention to where you leave your things? And especially the medications you need?” He had returned immediately with a glass of water in one hand and the required pill in the other.
“You’re probably still in this state of melancholy. But know that I will wait and do my best for you to get over it faster. I will not give up, Kate! And I keep my word, if it is needed, I will eliminate the man.”
Not knowing exactly what condition he was talking about, I asked for clarification immediately after I swallowed the pill and sat back in bed, feeling the soft, fluffy pillow under my head.
“I love you, Kate! I love you so much that if we weren’t two human beings, you would certainly be a poem, and I would be its author, and believe me, even with white lyrics, you would be a damn beautiful one! Sounds cheesy, doesn’t it? But everything I tell you comes from my soul, and that is what I feel when I think of you when I see you when I miss you.”
“Now, I’m starting to regret wasting my time sitting next to each other without making any moves sooner. I hate myself for that.” He stated.
I could not tell him anything, I simply could not. But listening to him, I realize that sometimes people create problems on their own, maybe just out of boredom, routine, or the desire for adrenaline. My problem was stupidity, and the name was Jake. But every problem has a solution, and I knew it. John’s judgment may be correct, I was under the influence of old feelings, and I had to fight my own ghosts of the past.
I knew I loved John, and I thought I loved Jake too, but tonight, after he kissed me, my feelings were clear. Or so I thought and hoped they were true.
After a few moments of silence, he got up, walking around the room with his hands clasped behind his neck, he could see that he was tense, angry and he desperately wanted to end all this madness. I would have liked to hug him, kiss his face, undress him from his linen tunic and take out his cotton pants that fit perfectly on his firm and toned thighs.
“Come near me!” I said softly. He stopped across the room, spread his hands from the back of his neck, smiling shyly and lightly. Once in bed, I wrapped my arms around him, resting my head on his chest. Without saying anything, we stayed in bed and we both knew that the fight was over and that everything was in order, for the moment, in our relationship. Just as he had revealed that he would not stop at anything to be with me, so I knew that I would not be able to give up on him easily.
It was Christmas Day. The dawn of the day had appeared long before I woke up, but it seems that John, in the morning as always, was there to see how they were preparing for a new day. He lay in bed, leaning against the bed headboard, covered only up to his waist with a silky sheet, leaving his chest bare. Such a view always made me wake up happy and never to forget I am in love.
“Good morning, sunshine!” He greets me and smiles at me.
“Morning! I had answered lazily, while I was secretly looking at this attractive man next to me. He knew what I thought of this image he offered me, and he was not shy to expose himself each time. I had taken it as a sign of reconciliation and repentance on his part. He wanted us to bring back the ship that had left the pontoon back where it belonged. And I had to admit, I shared the same idea. Leaving the book, he was reading on the nightstand, and his glasses, which he rarely used, he turned to me, asking me what my plans were for the day.
“Are you going somewhere?” I asked him curiously, knowing that anything could happen and that he would be called to the office even today.
“No, baby! “he started to laugh.
“I apologize. Let me reformulate! What are our plans for this day?”
“Hmm! Better now!” I set aside a few seconds to make a quick itinerary in my mind and concluded that our plans would be limited to just lying in bed, walking to the kitchen, and back to bed. And in the evening, we will enjoy a hot bubble bath.
“Sounds deliciously good to me! But I will have to think if something I missing here.” Mimicking his fingers under his chin, as if his plans were different from mine and now, he was thinking about them, he had told me that he would plan to stay in bed, bring food to my bed and then pamper me with a bubble bath. and a relaxing massage. I had remembered that massage that had put me to sleep, because it had been a relaxing and welcome one, considering how tense I had become lately.
“Okay, but only this time,” I replied as if it were an effort to do as he had said, but honestly, I could not wish for anything more. Then he did not waste time, and took me in his arms, just to kiss me so sweetly and tenderly, as only he could, when I’d heard his phone vibrate on the nightstand, where he’d put the book and glasses a few minutes ago.
“It is Dad!” he told me seriously after taking the phone to check it.
“Yes, Dad?” I could hear his father’s voice, Thomas North, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying.
“Sure! If necessary. Yes, I will ask her. But she will agree. And we wanted to see you for a while. Hello mom!”
After he talks two more minutes, he hung up, sighed deeply, while I waited curiously to find out what her father had told him. Seeing that he still could not muster the courage, I urged him to speak.
“So? What did he want?”
“Well, first of all, my parents invited us to dinner.”
“Perfect, we have the opportunity to give them gifts in person. I have already prepared them and tell them about the baby if you want too of course.”
Every Christmas, his parents would go to a mountain resort in Europe to ski, and we did not have the opportunity to give them presents in person, but we had to send them by courier to get home before they arrive from vacation. But, at any other holiday, we were present in their grand house. Their parties were special, welcoming people. His father was different and shows that he felt more at ease in his own house, he was even more funny and talkative than he does in his own company. At the firm, he seemed like a tough, cold, impenetrable guy, but I realized later that this attitude was part of the whole game of business. He had to be serious to be taken seriously, he had to be cold not to show how much this company mattered to him and how affected he was when he lost a contract or ended abruptly. He was fighting, he had put his blood and sweat in this company, which he had developed since he was very young, with a lot of patience and skill. He often said that sometimes you must lose to win, speaking from his experience. And indeed, it was probably harder at first until it got a name in the world of moguls. And he did exceptionally well. He could easily have taught economics and business to how to excel and stay in the top positions. But he was not a man who liked to expose and be boastful of what I had, instead, he was a modest and very pleasant man to talk to and to learn from. He had a house on the outskirts of the city, in a residential area, and expensive cars, but all this just to pamper his wife, whom he loved like the back of his head. Even after forty years of marriage, they were as in love as on the first day. No wonder John had inherited his romantic and passionate side. He had set a good example - his parents. His mother was a stylish, fine woman, never too exuberant. Consider that less is more. Her clothing style always consisted of two pieces, a cambered suit, and a skirt over the knees, but only slightly. He looked impeccable, and the colors she chose always highlighted his beautifully contoured and delicate features. Her speech was gentle and carefully chosen. I always felt welcome in their house. If John loved me, so would they.”
“Kate, there’s something else.” His gaze did not look too cheerful, but rather sad. “I need to go to the office for a few hours. It seems that our associates from Israel do not really care that we Americans and the rest of the world are celebrating something important. They only think about business and money.
“But that is good, isn’t it? It is a plus. Do you want me to come too? Maybe I can help with something.”
“No, Kate! It is just the two of us, Dad, and me. Plus, the guard. I will try as fast as I can to finish because I want to catch some time with you until we go to dinner. He said my mother cannot wait to see you.”
“And we could tell them now, right?” I smiled.
“Why not? I cannot wait to see how they will react when they find out they will be grandparents.” His smile returned, and I could read the happiness in his eyes.
“By the way, how is my cookie doing this morning?” He approached my belly, lifting my blouse to reveal the belly in which the fruit of our love grew. I could feel his soft, fine lips on my skin, making me make sounds of pleasure.
Every time he put on her cheek or kissed me on the stomach, I shuddered with pleasure. It was a new feeling, knowing that he and our baby are my families and that no matter what happens, the family must be loved unconditionally. After lingering for a while trying to hear a sound, and the gang as I was terribly amused to see a man of his stature, with a thick voice trying to thin his speaking the baby’s tongue, he stood up.
“I kind of need to go!” He bit his lower lip as if wondering if it was okay to leave or not.
“John, I’ll be fine! I will get ready while you’re gone, and I’ll try to get more out of the mess.”
“No! Do not get out of this bed. Clara will take care of this in two days when she will return.”
“But, John, are you crazy? I could not leave everything like that. Stop protecting me! I am not sick, I’m just pregnant and quite capable of picking up some plates and wash them.”
“Honey, I’m just saying, I don’t want you to overwork yourself and extenuate. You just must relax.”
I got out of bed, putting on a pastel pink satin robe. I wanted to face him, and make him understand once and for all, that I am not made of porcelain and I do not risk breaking myself at the slightest touch.
“Damm, you’re stubborn as a mule! I almost feel like staying home, just keeping you in bed, and screw the meeting.” Putting my hands on my hips, I retaliated.
“You know very well that you will not do this! So, run now.”
Snorting, and looking clearly unhappy with the fight he was having with me every time this subject came up, he walked over to his dressing room and chose a cherry satin cotton shirt and a pair of ivory trousers. With every move he made as he covered her body with the chosen clothes, John made me unable to think but to act like a cat ready to jump to attack to procure food. But it would be mine later in the day. Until then, I could enjoy him, his tense biceps, his well-sculpted abdomen, the way the boxers fit on his buttocks like a second skin. It was a real delight just to look at, but when he touched it, this part became even more interesting.
“It’s ok to look. Only the first three seconds, after which you will have to pay.”
“I saw you checking me out. And believe me, when I come home, nothing I do to you will compare to that.”
Indignant, I asked him was he was talking about.
“You mean we can make love, until we both fall exhausted, and run out of breath, but I’m not allowed to pick up a plate. Explain to me how this works!”
I crossed my arms under my breasts, waiting for his answer. After pouring perfume, which had spread the fragrant vapors throughout the room, he descended the stairs unscathed.
“John? I’m talking to you.” He turned abruptly, looking up.
“Isn’t a man allowed to think of an answer more of them 10 seconds? “He smiled in the corner of his mouth, with a raised eyebrow, which made him even more attractive, and he knew he would meet me with this expression on his face. And then he continued his way to the door.
“John? I am serious!”
“Check your phone in five minutes!”
And then the door closed behind him, and I was left with my hands clasped by the upstairs railing. I was holding the phone in my hand, waiting for the five minutes to pass. Now, last night’s fight seemed so far away from us. As if it had not happened, but the memories from before the heated discussion with John were still alive. I wanted to shoot, he reprimanded me, he tortured me. I hated Rebecca at that moment, but a thousand times more Jake, who doesn’t even deserve to be named.