After Dominic left for work Molly and I spent the day hanging out. It was laidback and easy, and she loved it. Not quite as much as she loved the fact I was taking her to ride at Mom’s again through. As we drove there she wouldn’t stop talking about Blondie. Mom took Molly to change into my old riding gear and I waited in the stables watching the dark brown horse eat hay. Technically he was mine, but Treacle was the kind of horse who did his own thing. Mom had bought him with the intent to teach me to ride, and granted, she had done that. I could sit on a horse and not fall off, but I had never loved it, and it seemed my horse, Treacle had known that. He liked to hang out in the stables or the paddock and didn’t much like being ridden. We had an understanding. It wasn’t like the bond Mom and Cookie had, her brown and white horse, or Molly and Blondie, but nonetheless it was a bond.
A short while later, while Molly was riding blondie in the paddock my phone started ringing. I walked away and pulled the phone from pocket.
“Hello?” I answered, please Treacle... don’t neigh.
“Felicity.” Dominic’s voice sounded colder than an icy winter night, he was angry. “Why isn’t Molly at dancing?”
“Um.” I managed to reply, although I sounded as weak as I felt. I’d been caught out. I looked up at my Mom and Molly, I’d failed them.
“And why hasn’t she been there in since you started work?” He continued, his tone was relentless. I wasn’t coming back from this, I wasn’t going to walk away from this with a job. My stomach churned.
“She doesn’t like it.” I murmured finally. “I couldn’t send her when she just came out crying.”
“She doesn’t like most vegetables either, but she still eats them.” He replied. “You had no right to pull her from the classes Felicity. She’s too behind in the syllabus now, and won’t be able to catch up with the rest of her grade.”
I frowned, he didn’t even care that she didn’t want to be there, just that she couldn’t catch up? I pushed the simmer rage down and took a deep breath.
“Dominic. Please, just hear me out...” I pleaded.
“No, you listen, you are her nanny, not her Mother. You don’t get to make big decisions like this okay.” He was right and there was no excuse. My heart sunk in my chest. This was bad, really bad.
“I’m sorry.” I said, for little good it would do.
“For fucks sakes Felicity, why couldn’t you just follow my goddamn rules? I’m on my way home and I want you waiting in my office when I get back. Understood.” He was brusque, and even then I could tell he was holding himself back.
“Yes.” I squeaked.
Dominic cut the call, I looked at the phone for a moment before shoving it in to my pocket. I walked back over to Mom. “We have to go.” I murmured attempting to hide my fear.
Once Molly had jumped of Blondie and changed back into her clothes we left. She was none the wiser, she was happy relaxed even. But none of that mattered when Dominic was so angry with me I was probably going to be out of a job. We arrived as Dominic did, which wasn’t ideal given the order he had barked at me on the phone. I couldn’t even follow a simple instruction. I walked with Molly inside and told her to go read in her room while Dominic and I talked. She looked at me, her happiness instantly dwindled to nothing, she knew.
In silence I followed Dominic in silence as we walked to his office. Once we were inside he walked over to his desk and sat down. He pointed to the other chair, but didn’t say anything. I listened to his unasked question and sat down.
“Where were you?” he said. “Where was my daughter?”
“My mothers.” I whispered looking up.
His eyes softened and he tilted his head, perhaps he wouldn’t be so angry after all.
“Molly likes horses and Mom has three, I took her there instead of her dance classes. She’s a natural rider...”
Dominic’s eyes narrowed and darkened simultaneously his mouth twisted, he punched the desk hard and then stood up, pushing his chair back against the wall. “You took her horse riding?!” he bellowed.
“Yes.” I admitted, I looked down.
“You said you wouldn’t lie to me.” He said, his voice soft all of a sudden. “At the cocktail party. You said you wouldn’t lie, but you’ve been lying the entire time. I can’t trust you Felicity.”
His shadow filled the room, his voice might have been soft, but it was also menacing. A million thoughts ran through my mind at once, without trust there was no point me being here. I was gone, unemployed, fired and it scared me. It scared me to think just like that Molly’s beautiful smile could be just a distant memory, that her laugh would soon silence, and it scared me to walk away from Dom, even if we had fallen at the first hurdle.
It scared me but I understood, I had crossed a line, I had broken one of the more reasonable rules Dominic had set.
“It’s okay. I understand. I’ll pack my things.” I said in reply, offering the resolution he was leading toward. I refused to look up, afraid to look at the man who only hours ago I had been with so intimately. I’d monumentally fucked up, and now the people I was doing this for had to suffer.
“I think it’s for the best-”
Before Dominic could finish talking the door flew open and Molly ran in. I looked up at her, she looked terrified.
“If you make her leave I’ll never talk to you ever ever again Daddy.” She clung to me, her arms were tight, surprisingly so for a little girl. I wanted to assure her I’d never leave her, but I couldn’t... it wasn’t my place.
“Molly. Go clean yourself up for dinner.” Dominic asked softly.
“Promise me Daddy.” She pleaded. “Promise me you won’t make her leave.”
Dominic studied his daughter, while I studied him, his nostrils flared, and his dark eyes softened. “Molly.” He said finally. “Go wash up for dinner.”
Molly leaned in and kissed me on the cheek “I mean it Flick. Please don’t go.” She stood, but before she left she sighed loudly. “Please Daddy.” Without waiting for a reply she walked out of the room and closed the door behind her. I wanted to smile at her strength, but I didn’t.
Dominic walked back to his desk and sat down. He drummed his fingers across the top. “I had a sister, Melisandre. She was Molly’s age when she died.” He explained.
“I’m sorry.” I replied.
His eyes hooked mine and demanded my attention, his lips drew a thin line and his head fell back slightly. “She was thrown from her horse.” He breathed out, his gaze fell from mine. I closed my eyes and ignored the tears that had automatically filled them. How could I have been so thoughtless? I’d unwittingly put his daughter in the same position his sister had been at the same age.
“Oh god.” Guilt filled my bones and my heart. “I didn’t know.. I... I’m sorry.”
Dominic didn’t look back up at me, I saw a trickle of emotion straining to break through his rough exterior, and he was doing everything he could to keep it together.
“She hit her head. At the time the doctor said she was fine, that it was just a concussion, but when we went home she had a seizure, passed out and never regained consciousness.” His words were slow and deliberate, He looked up at me, his eyes once more locked with mine and it all clicked in to place, The reason why he had looked after me after I fell, the reason why he had put aside his icy cold exterior for a night. I felt sick, nausea rolled through my gut and I shook my head. Since I’d been here I had done nothing but bring back some of the most painful memories that had fractured him and made him who he was. How could he even stand to look at me?
“I’m sorry.” I choked on my tears. “I didn’t know.”
Dominic looked away, he stood up and walked around the desk, sitting on it in front of me, he pulled a tissue out of a tissue box and handed it to me. “Please don’t cry.” He murmured. “Of course you didn’t know. I don’t tell anyone. I have rules to prevent issues arising. I knew you were never going to follow them when i hired you, this is my fault.”
His fault? Maybe he was insane, because this was all on me. Fuck his rules... I was breaking him.
“I did this, you should fire me.” I whispered as I looked down, it hurt to say it, but it was the truth. “I’ve broken almost all of your rules.”
“You have.” He agreed, there was no hint of anger in his voice anymore, even though there should have been.
“I’ll hand in my resignation.” I offered
Dominic sighed. “No. I won’t accept it, you signed a 12 week contract and it’s watertight. Molly loves you and she hasn’t been as happy as she is right now ever.” He said. “I’ve wrapped her in cotton wool for a long time, and you came in and showed her more about living in less than two weeks than I’ve ever allowed her in almost 8 years.”
But it wasn’t my place, he had even said it.
“She doesn’t really want me Dominic. She wants you.” I replied. “You’re her dad and I’m just the nanny.”
“You underestimate the effect you have on people Felicity.” He said. I looked up, my eyes watched his lips, I remembered the affect he and I had on each other, but that didn’t make it right. The same went for Molly. I was in charge of her care and following the rules and plans set for me for her.
“Why aren’t you angrier? Since I’ve been here all I’ve done is remind you of the past. I put Molly in danger.”
She had never really been in a great amount of danger, Blondie was as tame as they come, but given what had happened now I understood why he did what he did, why he was the way he was.
“Maybe it’s time I dealt with my past instead of supressing it? And felicity, the world is dangerous.” He sighed and dropped his head down, “I didn’t even know Molly liked horses. I didn’t know she didn’t like dancing. She’s always reminded me of Melisandre, and so I picked the safer of Melly’s two loves for Molly.”
He stood up and walked back around to his seat while he ran his hands through his hair. “I won’t make you stay.” He said finally, going back on his earlier statement about the contract. “But I’d really like it if you did... Molly would too.”
“If I stay I’ll follow the rules religiously.” I replied, unsure I could keep the promise.
“Felicity.” He tried to intervene, but I shook my head, he stopped.
“And.” I said, with hesitance and a heavy heart, despite the short time I’d known him. I had touched him, tasted him, wanted him, maybe I even needed him. “What happened, can never happen again. You’re my boss...”
“Lis.” He whispered the name he had called me when were together, when I was falling apart with him in his bed and it felt like a stab to the the gut with a searing hot knife. I shook my head, I had to keep my composure.
“Ms Taylor. You need to call me Ms Taylor.” I managed to say without falling over my words.
“Please don’t do this.” He pleaded, he went to say something else but he stopped.
“Mr Coran, it’s this or I leave completely. I messed up. I was projecting my own shitty childhood on to your daughter and allowing her the childhood I’d wanted, the one were my thoughts and wants mattered.” I said it, realizing it for the first time. “It was selfish of me, exceedingly so. I was grossly negligent.”
I’d never done what I wanted, I had no career, no life, no friends because I cared too much about what overs needed or wanted, and this was no different, except this time I had let my own past interfere with helping someone else. A child.
“Felicity. You empathise with her, god nows the kid needs it. With a cold son of a bitch like me for a father....“I looked up and shook my head.
“You’re not cold, as much as you tell yourself you are. You love her with all that you have. You’re just scared to let her love you back.” I stood up and walked over to the door. “The problem is she will always love you. So keeping her at an arm’s length isn’t going to work.”
“Mr Coran, please.”
“Fine.” He replied, his tone became bitter again almost. ”Ms Taylor. Promise me you won’t leave.”
“If you can agree to the conditions.” I replied, realising how ridiculous I sounded when I had no right to make conditions. I was the one that had put Molly’s life in danger, I was the one who had monumentally fucked up.
“That’s what you want?” He questioned, walking towards me. I almost gave in, as he zeroed in on me, as the smell of his cologne wafted through my senses, I almost faltered. It wasn’t what I wanted, but what I want wasn’t what mattered right now. Not here.
“Yes, Sir.” I replied
He stopped and the corners of his mouth twitched, He nodded. “Fine, you can leave now Ms Taylor."
I walked out of the office and ran to my room only just managing to withhold my tears until I closed the door behind me. The way he had said Lis killed me inside, I yearned to hear it again, and more than I had ever wanted anything I wanted his body against mine again. I wanted to fall asleep in his arms, listening to the rhythmic beating of his heart and wake still there. I wanted it with him and only him. Shit.
It hit me like falling down the stairs had only two short weeks ago had, hard. I’d fallen in love with him.
I knew I should have told him I couldn’t stay, I knew I could have come up with some kind of lie to leave. Even if he would have found out it would have been the lie that ended me. He already didn’t trust me, a fact that burnt me to my core.
But now my heart was involved, everything became so much more complex. Leaving and staying were both as impossible as one another
At dinner that night the air in the dining room was frosty. Dominic continued to break his no talking at the table rule, but he only spoke to Molly and Harvey. I may as well have been a napkin holder, barely useful, but just functional enough to keep around. I helped Amelie wash up, certain to make use of myself somewhere else. She was grateful, and I was able to gain some interaction, but once we were finished she finished and went home. I stood in the kitchen, drinking a large glass of wine, wondering how to fix the awful mess I was in when Dominic walked in. He looked at me blankly then walked over to the refrigerator.
“That’s a large glass of wine Ms Taylor.” He enunciated my name, make it clear he was going to play by my rules even If I had trouble playing by his.
“Yes.” I replied.
“You already had three at dinner.” He murmured. “Everything ok?”
“I wasn’t aware you were paying attention.” I said after I’d taken a long sip.
“I was paying attention alright Ms Taylor.” He mused. “For the record, I’ve pulled Molly from Dance as of now. I called your Mother and she’s going to teach her to ride properly.”
“What?” I remarked half annoyed, although I wasn’t sure why.
“You said you will follow my rules as of now right?” he said with a smile.
“Of course... but...”
“But, Molly loves to ride horses. Who am I to deny her that?” He said taking the wine from the fridge. “Would you like a top up?”
I shook my head and placed the wine glass down, I already felt lightheaded from the three at dinner, and the only reason I was still drinking was because I was so goddamned confused about Dominic, but now it was backfiring. Dominic poured himself a glass and then put the wine back.
He walked over to me, only stopping a few inches from my face “I want you Ms Taylor. Come to me tonight if you feel the same. Please.” he turned and left leaving me alone.
Want. I almost laughed, I’d gone so far passed want it was dangerous. I needed him, loved him and it was the only reason I had stayed, but it was also the main reason I should have left the house and never looked back. A man with such deep-seated issues, a man who could never love me back the way I loved him.
He wasn’t going to play by my rules at all... he was going to bend them just as much as I had bent his.