Davis and I had faced some challenges in the last couple of weeks, but I was proud to say that our life as husband and wife had been such a wonderful experience. I loved waking up to that man every morning, just as much as I loved falling asleep in his arms every night. I even worked out in the mornings with him, although my workouts were lighter due to exhaustion of late. Which spurred concern from a very persistent man about me heading to the doctor.
So the previous week, after I was dizzy on more than one occasion, I made myself a doctor’s appointment. I absolutely loathe going to the physician. But I knew at this point, with the constant nausea and the feeling faint, something was wrong. Most likely my iron again; I always get low if I’m not getting enough protein to balance the lack of meat intake.I hadn’t told Davis, but the day I headed in to see the physician, I was going to have them take the IUD out. That way we could start trying for a child whenever we wanted.And I was going to surprise him with the news for his birthday at the end of the month.
Tony had been driving me to and from work, and Davis called me multiple times a day. Which I protested wholeheartedly to him, but honestly I love that he loves me so much, so I kept the protests to a minimum.
At the end of the week I was to fly out to spend time with my mother in Savannah, and Davis was taking Choo and himself back to his ranch to start to prepare for our new life there. After many long discussions and a couple of arguments, we had come to an agreement that we’d live most of the year in Texas, and spend the summers and Christmas in Boston.
The winter in Boston this year had been long and bitterly cold. To even go to my coffee shop across the street I had to put my winter boots on and leave my heels at the office, so I could just manage to walk across the snowy, ice-covered street.
Every day at one twenty, my beautiful cowboy came to pick me up from my office in his tailored suit and Texas drawl. I loved how he waited for me over by the elevator. I swear the sight of him in his dark gray wool trench, with that sexy smile that appears on his face when he sees me, made me swoon every time.
I made my way over to him this afternoon as he stood once again waiting with that smile on his face. He looked down at my chunky warm winter boots, and chuckled. I tried once again to fix my slacks over the bulky boots that bunched the beautiful tailored fabric around my ankles, with little success. “Hello, beautiful,” he grinned
“Quit laughing at me,” I told him. That had him laughing even more.
“I’m sorry, sugar, but I love you in boots,” he rumbled in my ear.
We went into the elevator and I snuggled next to him. “Maybe I’ll wear your cowboy hat, boots and a little play gun holster to bed for you, with nothing else on. Then we can play cowgirl and robber. You can be the bad guy I get to place in handcuffs, and bring you to justice,” I purred softly to him.
He groaned, wrapping his arms around me and kissing the side of my neck. “Damn it, knock it off. You’ve already got me rock hard so that I’m not going to be able to sit my ass down,” he growled.
I shrugged with a smile as the doors opened. I took his offered arm, and as we walked through the lobby his cell went off. “Mills,” he answered.
He stopped. “No, Fraser, I said I wanted that brought to the Houston office, not to stay here in Boston. No…no. I know what we came up with for New York. Yeah. No, I’m on my way to sort this out. I’ll see you in ten,” he told him, hanging up.
“Everything all right?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, sugar, but I have to head back to the office. There’s been some confusion in some deals that were supposed to go with me to Houston. Just wait in here for Tony, he should be here in just a couple minutes.” He kissed me, and that adorable crinkle made its way to his forehead. “I’ll see you tonight, cowgirl,” he chuckled.
He started to walk away when I hollered out to him, “Only if you’re bad, darling.”
I saw him mumbling something and I grinned, reading his lips saying “damn it.” I went to the front of the building to wait for Tony, but I was starving today. I was actually craving an egg and cheese bagel. And that’s exactly what I wanted right then. Pulling out my cell I walked to the street corner. Waiting in the crowd in the cold winter breeze, I texted Tony that I was heading across the street to my coffee shop. When he texted back arguing with me, I chuckled, putting the cell in my pocket.
I was waiting for the signal to change when someone caught my eye. Over in front of my coffee shop stood Grayson. He was tattered and messy; he looked overwhelmed and a little crazy. His jacket was thin, and he was inappropriately dressed for such a biting wind and subzero temperatures. He stood still, staring at me. “Grayson… Grayson!” I hollered out to him. I was about to cross the street when a large bread truck ran the light and went through the crosswalk, making all the people swear at it. When it finally passed by, the spot where Grayson had stood was empty. I looked all around the area, and ran across the street to where I’d seen him standing. My hands went to my hips in frustration and to stop their trembling, when a hand took me by the shoulder.
I screamed, causing people to stop and stare. I quickly turned around to see Tony standing behind me. My hand went to my chest as I hunched over with anxiety. “Oh my word, Tony. You just gave me a heart attack!” I breathed heavily.
He held onto me, looking around as people watched him. “Adire, you okay?” he asked, concerned. I nodded and stood, taking hold of his arm. His eyes roamed over me as he felt my body shake. “What the hell happened to get you all worked up?”
“I saw…I… I saw Grayson,” I told him, and shook my head. “He was right here, Tony. I called out to him. He was just staring at me, then he was gone. When you touched me I thought it was him,” I explained.
He looked around us. “Son of a bitch!” he swore under his breath. He took me by the arm to help move me out from the middle of the busy walkway, and grabbed his cell. “Davis…yeah I’m with her right now. No, that’s not the problem…she saw that man you told me about… Yeah, I’ve got her. No, no… Yup, I’m on it.
“Come on, darlin’. I’ve got my orders,” he told me, starting to walk us away from the coffee shop.
I stopped him. “Can you come into the shop with me so I can get something to eat? I’m famished, Tony, honestly…” I exclaimed.
He looked around us once again. “Shit!” he swore under his breath once again. “Yeah, come on. But we need to be quick about it or your husband will lose his damn mind!”
Tony stayed at the Thompson Agency for the rest of the day. Davis came in later to pick me up, but I told him that I had to stay late to finish up a project. That didn’t get a very favorable response. So I informed him that he should just head home, and as soon as I was home we would sit down and talk over what had happened this afternoon.Instead he and Tony sat in the lobby, making calls and discussing “matters,” I was told. What those matters were…I really didn’t want to even contemplate at that moment.
Late into the evening, I was finally finished. I was the last one to leave the office that night; that’s how much work I had to finish before tomorrow morning. Phillis the night maid was vacuuming as I turned my light off and waved her a good evening.
My head was throbbing, and I was hungry again. No, I was absolutely starving at the moment. My coat was in my hands and I was thinking about when I should try to call Yvette again, as I walked to the lobby where the men were still deep in discussion. I frowned at the looks that they both wore. They had been here a good four hours, and from the looks of it had come to some decision. I put on my best tired smile before they saw me enter the area. “I’m finally finished,” I exclaimed. The conversation stopped as I made my way closer.
Davis got up from where he sat, and Tony followed suit. “Good, let’s get headed home then, sugar,” he replied, helping me on with my jacket. He took me protectively by the waist, as Tony had already gone to the elevator and headed downstairs.
He was quiet on the drive home, even going so far as having Tony drive us to the brownstone. When we opened the back door I could hear Choo’s little barks coming from the laundry room. “Did anyone come home to take care of him?” I asked, concerned. Davis threw his jacket onto a chair, following me. “Yes, sugar, he’s only been in there for an hour or two. I had him in a doggy day care when I knew we weren’t going to make it home,” he told me.
I opened the crate door and he came running to me, all kisses and tail-wagging, whimpering from not seeing us all day. I felt the presence of a very tense man behind me. He stood there silently, and I knew he wanted to have a major discussion over the events of the day. “I’m flying us back to Houston first thing in the morning. I’ve already got everything set up for a six a.m. departure,” he said quietly.
That made me turn quickly. “Davis, I can’t leave. I have a presentation tomorrow at eight. It’s very important that I’m there. And I don’t know if you remember, then I’m heading to New York for a couple of days, to get updated on a new project with the Lillian Foundation before I head to Savannah.”
He shook his head at me, and crossed his arms over his chest. “No, Abie, that’s not happening. I’m taking you home to the ranch,” he ordered again.
I picked up the puppy, heading for the kitchen. I knew precisely what I was going to do, and it wasn’t heading to Houston. “Davis, I know I saw Grayson today. But I refuse to let that dictate my life. I’ve already informed the police where I saw him, and they’re looking into the matter right now,” I told him, placing Choo on the floor. I headed to the refrigerator to pull out some ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomato…maybe some mayo too. “I’m sure they’ll have that man in custody by the morning light,” I placated him.
He leaned up against the table, staring at me in disbelief over the situation. “Honey, we don’t know that for sure. If we get a call informing us that he’s off the street, then great. By all means head to work, but until then I’m not going to be able to think straight, knowing he’s loose and wandering around the city. And he obviously knows where you work!” He threw his hands up angrily at how I was handling this.
I started to make my sandwich. “I’m going to lose my job, Davis. They’ve been very patient with me and all the things that’ve transpired in my life lately. But my life for ten years has been that company, and if they can’t depend on me now, then I’m of no use to them,” I said, taking a bite. Damn, it was good!
Tony walked into the kitchen, and I stared in question at him, then shot a glance over to Davis. “I’ve set myself up in the downstairs room. If you need anything else just call,” he told Davis in that same Texas drawl. Then he smiled politely over at me. “Night, Adire.”
“Night,” I said, stunned, to his retreating back. My head turned to my very pushy man. “You made him stay the night, Davis?” I questioned him (and his sanity).
His fingertips went to his face, rubbing out the frustration he was feeling at the moment. “Of course I did. I’m not legal to carry a gun in the state of Massachusetts, but Tony is,” he said soberly. That made me turn around, shaking my head, as I made another sandwich. “A gun, Davis? Really…a gun?” I asked, baffled by his intensity. Grayson was sick, and I believe that’s what happened with Yvette. I wanted him caught and punished for his crimes, but also treated. Not shot dead by a cowboy.
“Damn it, Abie, yes a gun!” he growled. “That’s what is needed to protect…” He stopped talking and stared at me. “What the hell you are eatin’?” he asked me now, switching from giving me orders to questioning mode.
I took another bite, going to the fridge for something to drink, and gave Choo a piece of meat as I walked by. “A sandwich, darling. I’ve been extremely hungry lately. I think I’m finally getting over that nasty bug I caught,” I answered him.
He walked closer to the counter where I’d prepared my food, looking everything over. “Sugar, that’s ham,” he blurted out at me.
I opened a can of ginger ale and took a sip. “Yes, it sounded good,” I told him with a shrug. “I can make you one, if you like?” I offered.
He ran his hand through his hair as I made a third lettuce-wrapped ham, cheese, and tomato sandwich. “Have you thought…? No, but I don’t know. Maybe?” He stopped then, quickly, like he was in disbelief.
“Just spit it out, Davis. For heaven’s sakes,” I sighed.
He leaned against the counter next to me. “Well maybe…have you thought…?” he began again, but then my cell rang. He was staring at me strangely as I went to answer my phone, praying it wasn’t Grayson on the other end.
“Hello?” I said, not taking my eyes off my husband.
The person was quiet, and I shut my eyes, thinking Grayson had called me. Then I heard sniffling. “Sweet pea,” came Lucy’s voice.
“Lucy, what’s wrong? Is Mom in surgery again? I just talked to you guys the other…”
“Baby, I don’t know how to tell you this. But your momma passed,” she cried into the phone.
My legs felt weak, and the world tipped on its atlas as I started to sway where I stood. Strong arms took hold of me, helping me to a chair. Davis kneeled in front of me with his hands on my knees for support, and I grabbed hold of them in a death grip. “What? No, Lucy… When? No…”
“I’m sorry, sweet pea, but she’s gone. There was an aneurism in her brain that no one knew about. We were just watching TV together, and then she was just…gone.” Her voice sobbed on the last word.
I dropped the phone as a sob tore from my chest. My hand flew over my face as I tried to stop the tears that were rushing from me. “This can’t be true, it just can’t! I was flying over next week to see her. They said she was doing very well with the treatments!” I cried into my hands.
“Abie, honey…” Davis took one of my hands from my face to make me look at him. My chest heaved with the pain that overwhelmed me and I couldn’t breathe.I met his beautiful eyes, and my arms flew around his neck.
“She’s all I have, Davis. All I have left in this world!” I cried. “No. No, no, no! I won’t accept this. I need her, Davis! Please God, no, don’t take her from me!” I wailed in his arms.
Davis picked me up and sat on the chair with me in his lap. Reaching down, he picked up the forgotten phone that I had dropped. “Hi Lucy… I see, I’m so sorry. Yeah, yeah I understand. No, I’ll make sure we get down there. Yeah, that’s what I was thinkin’. No, I think we’ll head out in the morning. Yeah, yeah, okay, same hospital… I will. Yeah sweetheart, I’ll make sure she’s fine. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of her. You take care of yourself now, and we’ll see you in the morning. It’s no problem…you’re welcome. Yeah, you too. Bye,” he told my second mother, and hung up.
His arms wrapped protectively around me. “Honey, I’m so sorry,” he whispered. My body shook with grief. I couldn’t speak, I felt broken inside. My mother, my beautiful mother whom life had treated so abominably, had been stolen from me once again. But this time I couldn’t even make my way to her to say goodbye.
Years of going to see her, drawing her pictures when she was in the hospital when I was young, came rushing to me. My teen years, when she tried so hard to stay put in the world to be with me and Aunt Sally, and the crazy things Aunt Sally and I would do to make her laugh. Then Lucy came… Oh my gosh, Lucy. She was devastated. She loved my mother so much, protected her more than any man could’ve ever done, and now she was all alone in her grief in Savannah.
Alone…that’s what I was now. She might have been considered flawed to any other child, but to me she was everything. She was beautiful, she loved me even when she had a hard time with the world around her, and now she was gone, and with that… I was alone. A sob tore from me at that, and it caused actual physical pain as it escaped. “She was the only family I had left. I’m all alone in this world. She loved me unconditionally, even with all my faults; I was her kitten. And now I don’t know what to do!” I cried harder.
He rocked me in the chair. “No, Abie, you’re not alone. You’ve got me, and I will never leave your side. You’ll always be my sugar, and I’ll love you unconditionally…forever!” he whispered fiercely into my ear.
At his words of love I cried harder, clinging to him like a raft adrift on a stormy sea. I loved this man so immensely, and he was here for me, loving me just as fiercely as I loved him. My hands went into his hair and I wrapped my arms around his head, needing him to hold me tightly; afraid if he didn’t, I’d lose myself in grief.
He picked me up from where we sat and walked to the back stairs. “Come on, honey, let’s go upstairs and get ready for bed. We’re going to have to leave in the morning,” he told me, carrying me up the stairs.
“Choo…” I whispered as tears continued to fall.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get him in a minute. Let’s get you taken care of first, then you can go to sleep,” he soothed me.
“I can’t…sleep… Davis!” I hiccupped.
He nodded. “I know, sugar, but let’s get you in the shower, and have you go rest on the bed. It’s been a long day, and it’s turned into an earth-shatterin’ night.” He kissed my head, hugging me tightly to him. “You’re tired, honey, but I’m right here for anything you need, even if that’s for me to hold you through a night full of tears,” he murmured, as he shut the bedroom door behind us.