Chapter three - Kyla
It wasn’t until Daniel took me to get my car from the office and left again that I realised what I had agreed to. First thing tomorrow I was going to have to get him to cancel this whole fiasco. Getting Star Family Talent on board wasn’t the be all and end all of the business and lying to get a leg up really wasn’t our style.
And yet, I couldn’t help but think, what if.
What if this worked, what if Kystar went global. Everything we had been working towards for the last seven years would be ours. It wasn’t about power and it wasn’t about money… it was about being a success. Being someone my parents would have been proud of.
I hopped in my audi and forced myself to drive home. The urge to hang behind and work almost won out, but I knew that I needed the rest. Despite my annoyance at Daniels semi intervention the night before, he had been correct.
I walked through the front door of my house. It was on the outskirts of the city and the commute was sometimes a killer, but I had wanted something that felt like a sanctuary I could escape to. It was beautiful, but far too big for just me. Jeff had suggested I move into the city more than once, but I couldn’t give this place up. Not yet. It was home.
I placed my bag on the couch and walked up stairs to my bedroom. Like taking a leap of faith I fell into my bed and closed my eyes.
I woke a few hours later and called Jeff. He didn’t answer so I left a message and went down stairs.
Jeff called back an hour later to say he’d be over for dinner. Of course because I hadn’t seen him for almost a week I went a little overboard and rushed to the grocery store to buy a roast. I spent the remainder of the afternoon preparing dinner. I was a businesswoman at the end of the day and I was proud of that fact, but I was also proud that my Mom had taught me how to make amazing meals. It made me feel closer to her. It was around 6pm when I lit the candles on the table. Jeff would be here any minute and I wanted our night to be as romantic as possible. The roast was almost ready and the house smelled amazing. I flattened down the front of my red dress and picked up my glass of wine. I was about to go and sit down and wait when my phone bleeped. I picked it up and looked down. It was a message from Jeff. I unlocked the phone and read the message.
Sorry Babe. I can’t make it. I have to finish this off. I’m so sorry. I’ll make it up just as soon as this case is done. - Jeff.
I frowned and looked at the roast in the oven. There was no way I could eat it alone. I was about to bin it, but that didn’t sit right either so I found Daniel’s name in my contacts list and for some reason I called him. It rang a few times, and I was about to disconnect when finally a breathless Daniel answered.
“Kyla?” His voice was barely a whisper.
“Oh god. Please tell me I didn’t catch you… you know.”
There was an awkward pause, and I felt my skin flush, but Daniel chuckled and replied. “No, I was in the shower I heard my phone in the kitchen. I ran.”
“Oh. Sorry. You know you shouldn’t run on wooden floor with wet feet. You could slip over and hurt yourself.” I found myself saying. I shook my head and sipped on the wine, clearly I’d had too much to drink. I sounded like an actual nagging fiance, not a fake one.
“I know. I’m sorry.” Daniel replied, like me telling him off didn’t even bother him. “What’s up anyway?”
“Uh, well… It doesn’t matter. It’s kind of silly really.” I mumbled, unsure of why I had called. Inviting him over was stupid. We saw enough of each other at the office, now it was beginning to bleed into home life.
“Are you having second thoughts? Because I get it. I really do, and we can call and end the whole thing tomorrow if you want.” He said
“I’m not super amped about the whole thing Daniel.” I sighed. “But no, I’m not having second thoughts.” I lied. “I guess I’m just concerned… What’s our story. What do we say?”
There was another pause, and then after what seemed like an eternity Dan finally answered. “What are you up to tonight? We could hash it all out?”
“Actually it’s funny you’ve said that.” I smiled. “Jeff kind of stood me up, and I’ve got an almost cooked pot roast in the oven. Maybe… if you haven’t eaten we could eat dinner at the same time?”
“It’s a date.” Daniel replied, his voice stopped short, and then he quickly spoke again. “I mean, sure, yeah, I’ll be over as soon as I can.”
“Oh cool. See you in a bit then.” I replied, brushing off the semi awkwardness between us. I ended the call and put my phone on the bench. So I wasn’t going to be having dinner with my real fiance, but at least a fiance of some kind was going to eat the food I’d made… even if it was just a fake one. I checked on the food but decided the mashed spud needed more rosemary so I went outside and grabbed some from the herb garden.
Before I could head upstairs to change the doorbell rung. I kicked my black stilettos off and walked barefoot to the front door. I opened it and smiled at Daniel. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and he looked entirely more comfortable than I currently felt. He pointed to my dress and smiled.
“Nice dress… Should I have worn a suit?”
I shook my head and wrapped my arms around my waist. “Jeff was meant to come over remember.” I replied. “I might go change. Help yourself to a beer or a glass of wine.”
I closed the door as Daniel walked inside then walked over to the stairs. I was halfway up them when Daniel called out. “You really do look nice.”
“Thanks.” I smiled and kept walking.
I changed into a pair of jeans and a singlet then walked downstairs. Daniel poured us both a glass of wine while I served dinner. We sat down and ate in silence for a while, but it wasn’t awkward in the slightest. In fact it was kind of nice to have company at home.
“This is amazing, that fiance of yours has no idea what he missed out on.” daniel said.
“It’s just a roast.” I replied. “Mom cooked one every week before she died. Even when I moved to New york, she still made one for dad.”
Speaking about my parents made me feel sad, it had been a few years, but I missed them dearly. I had seen them so infrequently and it hurt to have that knowledge locked within me.
“So she figured the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach.” Daniel added with a soft chuckle.
“Yeah. She was old fashioned. She wanted me to get married right out of college, pop out a few babies.” I sighed. “I wish they had lived to meet Jeff.”
“Well, I don’t know about the marriage and babies thing, but the food thing I can get behind.” Daniel replied. “They’d be proud of you, you know. You made something of yourself. You did what you set out to do.”
I felt a smile creep onto my face. I nodded and looked up at Daniel. “Thanks.”
“So I guess we should talk shop.” He said a few moments later.
“Yeah.” I replied as I picked up my wine glass and drained the remaining contents. Daniel must have picked up on my unease because he laughed softly.
“It’s going to be okay. We’re professionals.”
“That exactly why we should be doing this.” I shot back. “What kind of professionals lie to gain favor.”
Daniel laughed again, this time it was louder, freer. I looked up at him and found him looking at me with a smile that touched his cheeks. He placed his fork down and lifted his wine glass to his mouth.
“A lot of them. Usually illegal tactics too. The way I see it, we’re only lying about being a couple. We are solid as a team, and we aren’t about to falter.”
I nodded, he had a point. It wasn’t like we were going to commit tax fraud or launder money. We were simply saying we were engaged when we weren’t.
“Well everything I said before stands. No kissing and no shared room.” I muttered, not quite believing what I was speaking.
“Great. After dinner we’ll write it all down, a point of reference if either of us forget.” Daniel offered.
After dinner Daniel insisted on clearing up. It was strange to see the man I had worked with over the last 7 years, who I had basically despised in high school standing in my kitchen washing my dishes. I had a dishwasher, but he said he preferred to hand wash so I left him to it and grabbed my laptop from my study.
He walked into the lounge where I was sitting about fifteen minutes later with a glass of wine in each hand. I had probably had more than my share of wine today, but I took it anyway and pointed to the seat. “Let’s do this.”
I typed up my conditions, and added the one Daniel had mentioned as well.
“Anything else?” He said
I frowned and looked at Daniel. Daniel the player, the guy who had been in a relationship with only one woman before well over 7 years ago. I nodded and bit my lip.
“No sleeping with other people.” I whispered. “I know you enjoy the thrill of the chase… but we need to keep up appearances.”
Daniel nodded and pointed to the computer. “Fair enough, type it up.”
I felt my eyebrow raise in surprise, and I hated that I was so obvious. I looked over at Daniel, who just shook his head and pulled his phone out of his pocket.
“I should head home soon.” He replied.
“Oh? Do you have plans or something?” I replied, as I saved the document and closed the laptop lid. He shook his head again and shoved his phone back in his pocket.
“Or something.” He murmured.
I nodded and placed the laptop down. “I guess I could do with an early night.” I admitted.
“I’ll see you at work tomorrow.” he said standing up.
I stood up and walked behind Daniel toward the door. He turned to face me for a moment and smiled. “It’s going to be alright you know. I promise.”
For once I let myself believe Daniel Jackson. Business wise he had never steered me wrong. So we were on different pages personally, but professionally, especially where our business was concerned we had always been on the same page.
“No, thank you… Dinner was amazing.”
“I’m glad someone got to enjoy it.” I smiled.
“I’m sorry it was just me and not your fiance.”
I smiled and shrugged. “You’re not bad company Daniel. I actually had a nice night.” I replied, surprising myself. Once upon a time the thought of spending the evening, let alone two evenings with Daniel would have made me laugh. We were business partners and that was it. But something had changed, almost overnight it seemed, except at the same time nothing had changed at all.
“I did too.” daniel replied. He placed his hand on the door handle and pulled it down. For a fleeting moment we shared a glance, it only lasted a few seconds and almost as soon as it happened we both looked away. It was nothing, but still it had never happened before, and now it had.
Daniel left without another word, and I closed and locked the door behind him. I stood there for a minute trying to decipher why I was so confused only to confuse myself even further. I sighed and a pushed the odd thoughts away.
My bed was calling me, a good night’s sleep was calling me. Tomorrow we would start preparing for the career move of a lifetime, only now it seemed like it came with baggage that just might break us after all.