I carried a box through the corridor toward Tobias’ apartment. It was the last of ten or so. I wasn’t sure how I had managed to accumulate so much more stuff in the space of four months, but I had. I had felt comfortable enough to put down roots, and grow into the space I was living in. I smiled as I reached the door, it was open, Tobias had walked in with another box only a few seconds before me.
I closed the door with my foot and walked through the place that was now home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it already felt like home anyway. I walked into the bedroom and placed my box on top of the others, all stacked like a giant jenga puzzle. Tobias held out his arms and grinned.
“How did I get so lucky.” He murmured, engulfing me in his embrace.
“I’m stubborn and I didn’t give up easy.” I shrugged, smiling up at him. “Or something like that.”
Tobias kissed my forehead. “I love you.”
“And I you.” I whispered back.
I rest my head against his chest and listened to the rhythmic pumping of his heart. He was relaxed, which warmed my heart. He’d seemed on edge ever since everything had started a week ago. Once jimmy had accepted his job offer he’d relaxed a little too and the fact that nothing had happened since the woman in the office surely helped.
“There’s a fundraiser tomorrow night.” Tobias murmured. “As I’m sure you are aware.”
I nodded. Tobias had received the invitation only a few days prior, and he had me personally send back a decline.
“I think we should go. Together.” He replied.
“Why the change of heart?” I said confused.
“It’s related to the telecommunications company I want to do business with. If I show up, donate a large sum of cash, I figure it’ll go in my favor.” He said methodically, his voice low and serious. I smiled at his ever the businessman like thought process and pulled back so that I could gaze upon his face. He smiled down at me. “I also figured that the functions are heavily surveilled, You’ll be safe and we can put forward a united front, show people we’re the real deal.”
I nodded, the personal assistant in me willing to do whatever it took to help Tobias gain an important potential new client and as much as I proclaimed not to care what people thought our relationship was, the chance to show them we were 100% the real deal filled me with a guilty sense of satisfaction.
“You’re going to need a new dress.” He grinned. “We could stop by Klaus.”
I shook my head. “Not another house dress.” I exclaimed, placing my hand on Tobias chest.
“House dress?” He murmured, his voice was filled with confusion, he tilted his head and raised an eyebrow.
“A dress that cost enough for a deposit on a house Tobias.” I replied wryly. “It was gorgeous, but it was too extravagant.”
“You looked fantastic in it.” He reminded me. “And out of it.”
“And it continues to feed and clothe homeless women and their children as we speak.”
I had eventually parted ways with the dress when Tobias had returned to me. I no longer needed to hold onto the superficial scrap of material to remind me of our past, because we had the hope of our future to look forward to.
Tobias smiled and lifted his hand to my cheek, he brushed the skin and a stray hair away. “I picked your dress last time, so… where shall we go?”
I bit my lip and raised an eyebrow. “There’s a thrift shop near my old place.”
Tobias mouth fell open and she shook his head slowly. “Thrift shop?”
“Yes.” I mused. “I used to get all of my clothes there, the outfit I was wearing on my first day was from there.”
Tobias eyebrows narrowed and his eyes hardened. “Wait… your old place as in… weatherly.”
I nodded, amused by Tobias sudden snobby attitude. His grip on me loosened. “You want to wear a dress from a thrift store… in weatherly.”
“Yes.” I replied simply. “You did say it was my choice.”
Tobias frowned and shook his head. “I didn’t expect you to drop quite so far down from klaus… Hell even a mass made department store gown is more appropriate.”
I frowned in response, I’d expected a reaction, but perhaps not quite one so severe.
“I’ll make you a deal Tobias Clarke. If I can’t find a dress for under $100 dollars at the thrift store in weatherly that is appropriate for a fundraiser ball, then you can take me to Klaus and buy me the most outrageously expensive dress ever.” I said, making the bet only because I knew I would win. The thrift store had never let me down before, it had treasures in it that no one would have even thought to expect. I was going to blow Tobias’ mind, and let him see that there was more than ‘just the best’ out there to experience.
I stepped back and held out my hand, I watched Tobias as his eyes softened and glinted with mischievous intent. He shook my hand and exclaimed. “Deal.”
We left soon after Tobias had sent an email confirming our attendance at the fundraiser after all. I guided Tobias to the store, which had surely seen it’s better days. As we parked outside I took in the faded red sign above the store. There was rust around the edges of it, and the building itself was covered in flaky off white colored paint that I assumed must have once been white. I climbed out of the car and smiled at Tobias who looked less than impressed.
“Let’s get this over with.” he muttered as he closed his door.
“You’re such a snob.” I mused walking toward the building.
“I’m not a snob.” He replied, sounding offended. “I just like to wear new clothes.”
“New… ridiculously expensive clothes.” I pointed out.
He sighed, and caught up to me, sliding his hand inside of mine. “So maybe I’m a slight snob. But I’ll be willing to eat my words if you can find a dress worthy of a multi million dollar fundraiser ball.”
I smiled and pushed against the dirty glass door. There were a few people in the store, but here we were nothing special. Unlike klaus overzealous shop assistants didn’t come running to our aide. I walked to the back of the store where the gowns were. Sure some of them looked as though they had come direct from the 80’s in a time machine. Some looked more suited to the corner of a darkened street and others were just shapeless sacks of colour. I looked at Tobias who was becoming more sure of himself by the minute. I gazed back at the rack and pulled the coathangers across, one by one knowing that eventually the dress would present itself. I was beginning to give up hope myself, although unwilling to let Tobias know that was the case I kept looking.
Then I found it. It was deep red, almost the colour of blood and whilst simple in shape, it was the kind of classic that just didn’t go out of style. The material was silk, and despite its current residence it was in pristine condition. It wasn’t fancy, it was some major fashion statement, but it was beautiful… and perfect. I lifted the price tag up and turned it over. A wide grin crossed my face, it was $87.50.
I lifted the dress off the rack and turned to face a bemused Tobias. He tried to look annoyed, but I could tell by the way his eyes grazed over the dress as I held it against my body he wanted to see me in it.
“I win?” I grinned.
He nodded, seemingly shocked by the fact as he turned and walked back through the store toward the counter.
“You’re that bigshot business guy.” the man behind the counter remarked as Tobias pulled out his Amex. The shop owner looked down at the card and shook his head. “No credit cards.”
Tobias sighed and I smiled as i opened my wallet and handed cash to the cashier.
Once we left the store Tobias let out an even longer sigh.
“Something on your mind?” I whispered as we approached the car.
“I don’t want to just be a big shot business guy.”
“You’re not.” I reassured him.
He unlocked the car and we climbed in after putting the dress in the back seat.
“I don’t even know if I ever even wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, I just did it because it seemed like the right thing to do and I was good at it.”
“What do you think you want to do instead?” I murmured.
Tobias placed his hands on the steering wheel and shook his head. “Forget I said anything. I wouldn’t change my life for anything Ruby, so there is no point thinking about what could have been.”
I frowned and clipped my seat belt into place. Tobias was wrong, if there was even a chance he wanted to do something else with his life then he was selling himself short if he denied the want. Life wasn’t something you could rewind. It was short and precious.
“You owe it to yourself to follow your passion.” I exclaimed softly. I knew enough not to push Tobias, he was headstrong, he always had been. If I prodded him too much he would retreat back into his shell and shut off.
“Passion you say.” He replied dryly. “I’m pretty passionate about you.”
I rolled my eyes and glanced at him as he started the car and pulled out of the car park. “You know what I mean Tobias Clarke.” I retorted. “And if you ever change your mind, I’m right here.”
Tobias nodded before driving to the exit of the parking lot. “I know ruby, but i promise. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”
When we made it back to the apartment Tobias walked me upstairs. He leaned in for a kiss after he’d unlocked the door, but didn’t walk through with me. I frowned and looked back at him, confused.
“I made an appointment with Dr Gertison.” He murmured. “Like you said I should.”
My stomach turned. I remembered our conversation from a few days prior. After Melanie had been into the office, after he’d exclaimed his aversion for becoming a parent. I tensed and held back my sadness at the situation.
“Good.” I nodded.
“I won’t be long.”
Tobias kissed me again, this time he lingered, ours lips grazed one another and for a moment my turmoil over the whole baby thing melted away into nothing. He pulled back and shot me a boyish smiled before walking back down the corridor. I closed the apartment door and locked it before walking into the living room. I closed my eyes and stood there, absorbing the silence.
We had only been together four months, fretting about becoming a mother seemed premature. But Tobias was my forever, I was with him for the long term, and if i was going to have a child with anyone it was going to be him. If….
Maybe it was just fear holding him back, maybe it was something more. Either way, we both had to find a way to move forward.