Chapter 5: Cooking with Fire
Alarmed, I try to move back, “excuse me!”
“I don’t want the fucking medicine, Julia. Go make me some juice.” I force my perverted mind to calm down. I nod and try to stand, he remains holding my wrist.
Testing my patience I suck my bottom lip into my mouth and count to ten before replying to him, “Red... I can only make you the juice if you let go of me.” I sound very condescending. He slowly releases his tight grip and I stand up. I feel his gaze on me as I leave the room. Heading to the kitchen I grab a stainless steel bowl and fill it with water and ice, I walk up to the stairs and back to his room with it in my hands, grabbing a hand towel on the way
As I return to the room, Reds bare back greets me. I pad across the open space and kneel next to the bed. Placing the iced water down, I dampen the cloth and ring it out before lightly placing my hand on Reds shoulder. “Sir...”
He turns automatically, “do you have the juice?”
“No.” I shake my head, he goes to turn back around but I clamp my hand down tightly, “let me put this on your forehead and then I’ll go get you some, okay?”
He doesn’t reply, but remains on his back and looking towards the ceiling. Good boy, my subconscious nods her approval. I shake my head at her antics and fold the cloth, lightly placing it on his forehead I lean back. He closes his eyes and I smile. The man flu seems to be a killer! Standing, I head back down stairs and get to work making his fruit drink, completing the concoction I return to his side.
Red grumbles his annoyance at being awakened, but as soon as he sees the glass in my hand he shuts up real damn fast. I help him sit up and place the tip of the glass along his lower lip, he opens his mouth and I tip it back. Within a minute the drink is drowned and he tries to slide back down. I tuck him in and ring out the cloth again before placing it on his head. For fifteen minutes I ring and replace the cloth, his breathing slows and his tense body relaxes.
Looking down at my tattered clothing I decide to take this opportunity to have a shower. I cringe while pep-talking myself into borrowing some of Reds clothing after all mine are a mess due to him. I make sure he’s fast asleep before locating a towel, long sleeved shirt and tight fitting boxers. I make my way into the bathroom and give Red one last look, his back is turned towards the bathroom.
I pull off my damp and torn clothes while simultaneously turning the valves. Warm water streams down from the oversized shower head above me. My muscles relax under the needles of water as I lather myself in soap. Rinsing off I grab the towel off the rail and dry my body, I then slip into the shirt that doubles as a dress and pull on the boxers... Which unfortunately slips right back down. I hold them to my body and scan his room for elastic or rope of sorts, settling for a plain black tie, I tighten the boxers to my waist.
I turn back to the bed and find Red facing the bathroom, he still looks asleep but I notice his chest moving a bit more rapidly than usual, his fever must have heightened! Sighing, I grab the bowl of water and head down to the kitchen. I refill it with cold water and ice and before making my way back to his room I locate a washing machine and drop my clothes and the towels in there. When I enter, Red is sitting up. Startled I stop at the door way, he looks up at me.
Biting the inside of my cheek, I wait for him to say something. He simply scans my body, probably wondering why I’m in his clothes, he then stops at the bowl in my hands. I slowly make my way towards him and curse as my eyes traitorously travel down his bare chest, past his defined abs and to the tempting ‘V’ at his hips. I curl my lower lip into my mouth and sit down next to him, he continues to analyse my movements. With unknown courage, I tell him to, “lay down.”
Obediently he follows instructions, I place the cloth on his forehead. “You can take the day off, Julia.” His voice is huskier than usual. He takes the cloth off his forehead and places it on the bedside table.
“You passed out before, what’s to say you won’t again!” I scold, dampening the damn piece of material and laying it across his forehead again.
“I can look after myself.” He glares my way.
I raise an eyebrow, “yes, you seem to be doing such a great job of it.” The comment is highly sarcastic. I notice his jaw click and an annoyed tilt conforms the side of his mouth. “I’ll be downstairs, okay. You won’t even notice my presence.” Standing quickly, I move away from him and head down to the lounge room. My bag remains lifelessly on the dinning table from this morning, I grab it and take a seat on one of the chairs.
Booting up my laptop I start to analyse reports and systematically work through the tasks I’d normally complete at the office. An hour later I lean back and crack my knuckles, raising my hands above my head, I stretch. Red has remained in his room since I’d left. On several occasions I’d be tempted to head up and see if he’s alright, however, my pride is significantly stronger than I and has stopped me every time.
The quiet room is disrupted by the sound of my stomachs loud battle cry, standing I grab my keys, phone and wallet. Time to stock Reds kitchen! Just as I pull on my shoes, which clash horribly with my current attire, my bosses deep voice stops me, “where are you going.” I spin and look up at him, he’s got a white t-shirt and grey sweats on. He looks better, but the pale hue to his skin remains.
I think back to what he said and for some reason, the question doesn’t sound like one, instead, it comes off as more of an accusation. I hold my keys and wallet up, “getting some food.”
His frame relaxes and he looks down at me confused, “wearing something that short. I don’t think so.”
“Sir, I’ve worn shorter.” I look down a little on edge, his shirt is just below mid-thigh, trust me it could be a lot worse.
He stalks towards me and grabs my wrist tightly, pulling me roughly back across the opening and up the stairs, he leads me to his room and then walk-in-robe. I glare up at him angrily, but wisely keep my complaints at bay. He looks through his clothes and then curses in his mother tongue. Keeping hold of my wrist, he moves us towards a chest of draws, drawing it open he seems satisfied with its contents.
Without warning, Red pulls a thick hoodie over my head and body. It stops inches from my knees. “Sir, I am not going out like this!” I snap.
“Then don’t go out at all.” He shrugs absently while grabbing his wallet.
Seething silently I grumble my anger towards him and march back through his home and out the front door. I don’t notice he’s followed me until the keys are yanked from my tight grip. Red goes to move to the driver's side but I quickly move between him and the metal door. “You’re not fit for driving, sir,” I state.
“Move, Julia.” He pushes me aside as if I weigh nothing and slips inside my vehicle.
Oh... So he wants to play games. I very calmly walk around to the back of the car and take a comfortable seat on the drive way. Crossing my arms I remain motionless. A moment later the sound of a door has me steeling my position. “What are you doing?” I don’t reply. “Get up, Julia.” Reds rough voice causes slight panic. But my resolution remains intact. A minute later, keys are dropped into my lap.
I stand up happily and practically skip to the driver's side. Red’s already seated with an annoyed glint to his appearance. “Was that so hard?” I smirk, keying the ignition.
“This is the only time, Ms Williams.” He grinds his molars together.
I roll my eyes and mutter to myself, “you’re such a man.” Pulling out of his drive way, I head in the direction of the city, deciding to make a pit stop at my apartment. Red quietly follows me up to my home, the place is empty upon my arrival. I grab a duffle bag and pack some casual clothes and underwear. I then grab some files and documents. Quickly changing out of his clothes, I slip into some shorts and a t-shirt. Red takes my bag from me, as I exit my room, and leads the way back down to my car.
Placing my bag in the back along with his clothes, we settle into the seats and I head towards the closest shopping centre. “I’ll wait here.” Red mumbles, he then looks down at my legs, “never mind, I’ll just assist you as it seems you do not own pants, Julia.” He then continues, “add that to the list of things to buy today.” He then opens his door and steps outside, I follow him.
“Okay, enough about my clothes. Women wear much more revealing items if you saw half of the things in my closet—”
He cuts me off, “come here.”
I bite my tongue and move to the space in front of him, he opens the back door and pulls out his hoodie, I step back. “Seriously! No. I’m not wearing that again.” I cross my arms. He places a dominating hand on my hip and pulls me back to him. Grabbing the hoodie he wraps his arms around me and then draws the sleeves to the front, effectively tying it around my waist.
“Wear it like this or we go home.” He lays out the ultimatum.
My stomach begs me not to be a selfish cow, so I throw my hands up annoyed and then fix the hoodie at my waist. He leans back satisfied with his work, placing a hand at the small of my back he directs me towards the entrance. Feeling many sets of eyes following us I stop at a store and purchase some sunnies and a beanie for him to wear.
“I’m not wearing that.” He complains. I start to untie the hoodie... “Fine.... Fine!” He grabs the items off me and puts them on grudgingly. I hold back a giggle and then lead the way to the super market. Red grabs a trolley and follows behind me, I lightly hold the side of the cart as we walk through the aisles.
“What do you want for dinner?” I question turning to face him.
He shrugs, “I normally have something delivered.”
“I specialise in stir-fry, Hokkien noodles and pasta dishes. Take your pick, Mr Alfonsi.” I move to the front of the trolley and halt it while looking up at him patiently, waiting for his decision.
He gazes down at me, “I don’t mind, Julia.”
“Hokkien, it is.” Normally he makes all the decisions, what’s the issue with choosing a simple meal. Together we move around the market, fluidly. He pushes the trolley, occasionally grabbing my wrist or the back of my clothes to stop me from being run into. I load the trolley up and decide to also add doubles and triples of certain items. We move to the checkouts.
I head for the exits, only to have the back of my shirt be pulled, again. “Will you be leaving the house at all this weekend?” The question confuses me.
“No, we have everything and I can work from your house.” I shrug.
Red coughs and then clears his throat before replying, “never mind buying clothes then,” he keeps his hand firmly on my back, while the other directs the trolley.
I decide to let him have this small victory, really not looking to pick a fight with Mr. Dominant anytime soon. I unlock the car and together we place the bags in the trunk. Red closes it and I return the trolley, cleverly keeping the keys on me. Reds already sitting in the car when I return, he has my phone in his hand.
I buckle up and start the engine before taking my phone off him, looking down at the screen I smile fondly.
[Chips or popcorn, for tonight?]— Marco
Shit! I completely forgot about our movie night... I look up towards Red, he’s turned towards the window. I notice his tense jaw and clenched fists, he probably feels like crap. Looks like I’m rain checking. With that decided I send a quick text back, before reversing out of the parking space.
The trip back is uncomfortably silent, I can almost hear Reds anger... At what, I don’t know. The tension begins to get too much and I thank my lucky gems when we arrive outside his house. He opens his door and I wait for him to exit, needing a few minutes to myself. “Aren’t you coming.” The words are silent, cold and filled with rage. Before I can answer he continues, “or do you have somewhere else you need to be tonight?” I can sense the question in this.
I step out of the vehicle and open the trunk, grabbing a few bags I reply, “I told them I couldn’t make it.”
“Them?” He seems a little more relaxed.
I walk towards his front door after he grabs the remaining bags and press the code into the electronic keypad. He pulls the large metal door open for me, “yes them. Maria, Daryl, Robin and Marco.”
He places the items on the island and takes a seat on one of the stools, resting his chin on his hand. I take note of his gaze but decide to ignore him and the conversation, I make quick work of emptying the bags and storing all the groceries. I then pull out all the necessary items to cook the meal. I thought Red would head back up to his room and rest, but instead, he remains in the kitchen with me, silently watching my every move.
I begin to slice all the ingredients and glance up, only to find his eyes burning with a dark kind of hunger, the knife slips in my hands and a searing jolt of pain causes me to yelp out. Red is instantly at my side, he grabs my injured hand and without any warning whatsoever he raises it and sucks the cut finger. My mouth drops open and I watch him as he glares down at the knife. “I’m fine, sir...” He doesn’t seem to hear me, “Red, I’m okay.”
The glare that was directed towards the knife is now coming to my way full force, “who said you’re allowed to hurt yourself!” He scolds, wrapping an arm around my waist and taking me to the sink. I remain silent as he allows the water to rinse my finger. “You’re so careless! Fuck. Julia, I swear to god—”
This time I cut him off, “I’m sorry, Red.”
“You best be.” He sighs, “I’ll do the cutting, si.” I nod. “Good girl.” He cleans the cut and applies a bandaid, he then takes my position and begins slicing the vegetables.
Once he’s finished cutting, I start tossing the ingredients together with sliced lamb and pre-prepped noodles. “I can stir it, sir. I cut my finger... Not my hand.” I finally snap when Red attempts to take the spoon from me for the eighth time. I feel the heat from his body against my back and hold my breath, one hand rests on the counter next to me, while the other wraps around my hand and the spoon.
His breath hits my neck as he speaks, “then at least let me assist...” A unfamiliar shiver of pleasure runs down my spin just as Red tightens his grip on me, and moves the hand resting on the counter to curve around my waist...