Chapter 13 - When It gets Awkward
There never was a day that Kate hated more than today.
Last night, her grandmother had been fast asleep when she had arrived and didn’t have the heart to wake her up to break the news about her tragic evening. But today, she thought, tossing the sheet a side as she got from her bed, today there was no getting around it.
She went about doing her daily routine, which first meant checking on her grandmother from right across the room from hers. As Kate stood by the door,watching the frail woman who had raised her after her parents had died in a car accident when she was only twelve ; tears prickled through her eyes.
Her nana stired in her sleep, shifting her weight to the left side of the bed. She looked so fragile and it made Kate feel so helpless.
How was she going to tell her grandmother that she was now unemployed? It would only worry her and cause her even more stress. No, Kate shook, she wouldn’t mention a word to her. She’d just have to pretend that everything was fine while she tries to find another job.
She then remembered the ‘help wanted’ sign that she had seen last night. Yes, that’s where she needed to go, right after she gets herself ready.
After a quick shower, she rummaged through her wardrobe, picking out a yellow flowery jumpsuit and put it on. Having decided to leave her hair loose, Kate sauntered into the kitchen and brewed herself a cup of coffee. It was the only thing that could get her through the day and today, she’d probably need more than just a cup.
The clock hanging on the white wall in the living room struck eight, which only meant that Mrs. Kirby was on her way up, at least that’s what Kate hoped. After last night’s emergency, she hadn’t heard from her and wasn’t sure just how serious her husband’s accident was.
And right on queue, the door opened up at the thought of Mrs. Kirby and in walked the plump middle aged nurse, wearing a frown on her face.
“Morning, Mrs. Kirby.” Kate greeted her cheerfully with a smile, thankful that she had made it in today.
“Morning, dear.” Mrs. Kirby replied, her expression unchanged as she placed her purple umbrella by the door and her bag on the coffee table.
“Something the matter with Harris?“She asked worrisome, convinced that it had to be.
She had met Mrs.Kirby’s husband on numerous occasions. He would always bring Mrs.Kirby to work and would come up to chat with her nana in the evening whilst he waited to take his wife home. He had insisted on them calling him Harris. They were a nice couple and Kate somewhat considered them as family.
“He’s fine, dear. It was only the car that got damaged. I think it was a miracle that nobody was hurt because if you had seen the state of both cars....let’s just say that I’ll have to take the bus for a while.” Mrs. Kirby said moving past her as she made her way into the kitchen.
Kate stood still at sound of Mrs. Kirby mentioning of a miracle and a wave of relief washed over her. He was fine. Harris was okay. She wasn’t sure how she would have handled it if the news had been different. For a brief moment it made her think about her parents and how they had not been lucky enough to make it out alive. But at least he was, lucky that is.
She forced a smile on her face and said, “Well, what’s important is that he’s still here, right?”
Mrs.Kirby froze midway of removing some eggs from the refrigerator and tilted her head to the side to look at Kate, “Yes, I’m grateful and relieved. He still wanted to walk me to the bus stop this morning, I had to scold him out of the idea.” She said placing the eggs on the counter, then turned around to face Kate who was now standing behind the kitchen counter.
“It don’t mean to pry, dear but...” she then stopped and she shook her head, as if changing her mind about telling something.
“What is it Mrs. Kirby? ” Kate quiered, placing her elbows on the counter that now separated them.
“There’s a man standing outside of your door.” She muttered.
“A man?” Kate asked, bewildered by whom it might be.
“Yes.” Mrs. Kirby insisted, walking over to the counter, “A very tall man, in a black suit. Curly brown hair.”
“He’s pretty hard to miss.” She said shrugging as she returned to the cabinet and took out a medium sized bowl, “kind of like secret service style. Startled me a bit for a moment there.”
Curly brown hair? Black suit? Secret service style?
Then it dawned on her.
Her face fell.
Ben! But It couldn’t be.
“Did he say anything to you?” Kate asked, watching as Mrs.Kirby started to whip what was meant to be her nana’s pancakes.
“Apart from goodmorning, no.” She replied, then her hand stilled over the whisk, “Why?” She askedn her face dissolving into a smile, eyes teasing Kate mischievously, “Is he one of your admirers?”
“What? No!” Kate answered in a rush, colours filling her cheeks. “Uh- -Nana is still a sleep, I’ve already checked in on her. I’ll just go and see what he wants while you get breakfast started.”
Mrs.Kirby chuckled softly, “Alright dear, but if you need pepper spray just say the word.”
Kate smiled back at her,“I doubt if it’ll come to that but I’ll keep it in mind.”
The door snapped shut behind Kate and true as Mrs.Kirby was, there stood Ben, Mr. Price’s bodyguard, a feet away from her door. She eyes scanned over him, taking in the attire that he was wearing.
Yes, apparently black was the only colour in his closet. That’s if he had gone home at all. Had he?
She casually folded her arms infront of her.
“Ben.” Kate addressed him with a brow jolted up at him.
“Ms.Dawson.” he returned in his same bland tone.
“Care to explain?”
“I’m on strict orders.” He simply said.
“From his royal highness? Why?”
Ben remained silent.
Her insides burned in anger. She hated, no despised whenever he would do that. So selective as to which question he would answer.
“Alright.“She said, keeping herself composed, once she noticed that he wasn’t going to say anything more.“I take that as a yes to Taylor having you dog watch me. But if you are here, then who’s saving him from himself? We both know that all that ego is bound to be self-threatening.” The sarcasm in her voice couldn’t be missed.
Ben’s lips twitched, then fell into place but he still said nothing.
“Were you here all night?”
He merely nodded back.
“You plan on being here all day too?”
He didn’t reply. Instead his brown orbs stared back at her and Kate could all but fell pure awkwardness.
“Alright,” she said trying to make light of things, “well at least, I know that my grandmother will be safe while I’m out.” She stated offering him a sweet smile
“Not happening, Ms.Dawson.”
“Ah, he speaks.” She snickered, “And just what do you mean by not happening?”
“I have strict orders to keep you here.” He replied eyeing her door in the process.
“What?” She asked, baffled, smiling in disbelief.
Last night Taylor had mentioned remaining at home until he could figure out what to do with her, but she hadn’t thought that he literally meant staying inside her apartment. This was ridiculous!
“You can’t be serious?” Her eyes widened as he tilted a brow at her, his face unchanged.
“You’re serious?” Her voice hitched in outraged, “But I have somewhere to go and it’s urgent.”
“Your orders are to stay here until Mr. Price arrives.”
Kates eyes bulged out of her head.
“Here? He’s coming here? But why?”
“A whole lot of help you are.” She scoffed angrily at him then noticed that some of her neighbours were giving her side glances as they roamed about the hallway. Most of the looks were for Ben benefit. He was drawing all of attention.
She had forgotten about her freaking nosey neighbours.
Her hand went to the knob and tilted it open.
“Well if you insist on staying, then you might as well come inside. Can’t have you scaring my neighbours now can we?” She said with tight smile, nodding at a few of them who were just standing by their door looking at Ben.
“Uh-- Kate.” Mrs.Kirby’s eyes went from Kate to Ben. Unsure of how to react.
Kate motioned Ben to have a sit, to which he declined.
“I’m not going to have you stand there all day. Just sit down, you’re making Mrs.Kirby nervous.” Kate hissed through clenched teeth, “And she usually uses her pepper spray when she nervous.” She added.
It was bad enough that she’d have to explain this to her nana’s overly curious nurse but having him standing in her apartment like a center piece was going to make things awkward. For all of them.
After a few seconds, Ben moved over to the dining table and pulled out one of its wooden chair. Kate heaved a breath of relief at the sound of the wood creaking under his weight. She then turned to find Mrs.Kirby, impatiently waiting for her to explain.
“Mrs.Kirby,” she began, “This is Ben.” Signaling over to were he now sat. “He might be here for a while, it’s -uh- work related.” She lied.
She had to. She didn’t want her grandmother finding out about this.
“Oh.” Was all Mrs.Kirby said before returning to her heated pan on the stove.
“Have you had breakfast Ben?” Mrs.Kirby asked as she poured consistent mix into the pan.
Kate jumped instantly away from the door.“Oh, no Mrs.Kirby, please don’t worry--”
“Yes.” Ben’s voice cut through hers.
Could you be anymore polite?
Kate rolled her eyes at him, as she moved into the kitchen to pour herself some coffee. Steam rose from her cup as she brought it to her mouth, then softly blew on it. A satisfying moan escaped her mouth as the scent filled her nose. Her eyes were closed, savouring the bitter taste as the hot liquid glidded down her throat.
It was just what she need, to be able to deal with Ben and Taylor and ...
The sound of Mrs.Kirby clearing of throat made her eyes snapped back wide open. And she flushed. For a moment there it had only been her and her cup of ‘wake-me-up’. Mrs.Kirby signaled over to Ben, who’s mouth was quirked slightly and was shaking his head.
There was an awkward silence that hang of the room as neither tried to engage in a conversation and it was just the way Kate wanted it. No talking meant no questions being asked and no questions meant that she would have to lie anymore that necessary.
Kate shrugged her shoulders at her and grabbed an empty cup and pour some coffee into it.
“Here.” She said trusting the cup at Ben, who seemed to hesitate.“If you shake your head no at me one more time, I’m going to pour this damn cup on your head.”
“Thank you.” was all he said as he placed the cup on the table infront of him.
“See? You’re a working progress.” She said, taking a seat next to him.
Kate brought her cup to her lips once more, eyeing him underneath her lids, contemplating how she was going to get out of here without being noticed.
There was the fire escape but was it safe?
Well she was about to find out.
“Breakfast’s done Kate. I’m going to check on your grandmother now.” Mrs. Kirby announced before she fled the room.
Kate sat with her eyes still on Ben, who hadn’t touched his coffee, then sighed, “You know it’s going to be a very long and depressing morning if you insist on sitting there not saying anything.”
His mouth opened.
Just when she thought that he was about to say something, there was a knock at the door. Kate’s brows knitted into a fine line. She gazed at Ben, eyes silently asking him whether it was Taylor. As if he had understood her, Ben shook his head then eyed the door once more as the knocking persisted.
She got up from her chair, straightening her clothes, then walked over to the door, drawing in a deep breath before she opened it.
Her eyes grew wide and skin paled at the sight of the person on the other side of the door, who was staring at her dead in the face. Her shocked expression then masked into confusion.
What the hell is he doing here?