Chapter 58 - The Devil In Daylight
“Digital or non digital?”
Kate smiled at herself as she made her way out the pharmacy with her white paper bag containing two of each in her hand - at the amused look that the middle-aged pharmacist gave her when she asked whether there was a difference or no
“Well, there’s no difference really. They’ll both tell you whether you’re pregnant or not. But if you’re anxious to know then the digital pregnancy test is the one that you’d probably want. It’s faster. ” The lady behind the counter had said.
“Oh? I thought that maybe one of them was probably going to have a playback audio saying you’re definitely screwed if it turns out positive.” Kate had laughed.
The lady had laughed then, telling her that maybe she should write to the pharmaceutical companies about possibly of have one of those in the future.
The street was always busy during lunch hour and it made no sense for her to go back to Taylor’s office only to head out again. After walking two stores away from the pharmacy, Kate pulled out her phone, dialed his number and waited. When the call went unanswered, she tried again.
After the fourth unanswered called, Kate hissed a curse under her breath then turned around abruptly, deciding to go back to Price Empire. A surprised gasp escaped her when she bummed into someone causing her bag to slip from her hand, landing on the hard ground and leaving her items scattered on the ground.
“Oh, crap!” She hissed, dropping to her knees and began picking them up as quickly as she possibly could.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” She heard a voice say and her head immediately snapped up.
It was an old man, dressed in black suit probably in his eighties staring down at her and her heart melted when he bent down grabbing at the last box that had landed next to his feet and handed it over to her after stealing a quick glance at it.
Kate flushed when he widened his eyes at her and cringed inwardly when he lowered them lowered to her belly.
“Here,” the old Hispanic man said offering her a hand, “let me help you up.”
Without any hesistation, Kate grabbed hold of his hand and stood up, stuffing the boxes in her handbag.
“I’m really sorry,” She said in a haste, “I should have looked where I was going. Are you okay?” She asked with her face pulled into a worrisome expression.
The man nodded and his eyes scanned over her. “I’m fine.” He said, his lips twitching at the side. “Getting old, but fine.”
“Right.” She said unconvinced, over him for any signs of injuries. “I’m honestly really sorry about that.”
The man placed a hand in his pocket and casted a quick look around the busy street before looking at her again.
“You’re apologising for me getting old?” His thick grey brows touched.
“Uh, no.” She could feel the colours in her face flood in. “I meant for bumping into you. I mean we’re lucky I didn’t knock you over. You know, like on one of those Ryanair planes where people tend to push the granny to get the seat?” She rambled, then bit her tongue, horrified that she had compared him to an old woman.
“Oh God,” she cringed with embarrassment, covering her flushed face with her hand. “I’m sorry. I’m so bad with apologies and my tongue obviously has a mind of its own --”
The man’s laugh caught her off and she slowly removed her hand from her face and smiled. ” You’re laughing at me.” She said, pouting lips as she tried to hid her own amusement.
“I’m sorry, it’s just,” his eyes held hers and they sparkled with delight. “I get it.”
Kate frowned, “Really? Get what?” She asked. Get why she had just compared him to a granny?
“Never mind. ” He shook. “I think I should be the one to apologize. I could have hurt you and - your baby?? I mean if it all goes well with the tests.”
Her lips moved to tell him no, that she wasn’t pregnant but then decided that explaining that she was buying it from a friend of hers was probably too much information to share with a stranger. So instead, she smiled and said,“Oh, well it’s a good thing that neither of us got hurt then.”
The man smiled, ” Yes, good thing.”
He lifted his right arm, turning at his wrist and checked for the time before giving a quick nod to the driver of a black Land Rover who was parked a few feet away from where they stood.
“You know,” he began, “I was waiting for my daughter. She’s in there shopping,” he said pointing towards the Chanel store. “And if you’re not too busy, would you like to join me for lunch while I wait for her? It’ll be nice to have the company and I can’t remember the last time a stranger made me laugh.”
A stranger. Yes that’s what he was to her too and she could still remember her grandmother always telling her while she grew up to never, ever, accept rides from a stranger.
“The world is far too big and far too cruel. I’d hate to have to live in it without you.” Is what she would always say.
She stared at him for a moment, her eyes skimming over him, assessing the ageing lines on his face, to his soft black eyes then finally glanced past him to the black tinted car.
The whole scene screamed Amber-alert and the right thing to do was to just politely decline then run back to Taylor’s office without even so much as looking back.
“Uh, actually, I was supposed to meet up with my boyfriend.” She said, taking in the disappointed look that had quickly replaced his smile. “But you know what, how about I just text him and he can meet up with us?”
“Perfect.” He said, clasping his hands together. “And we don’t have to go far. I had already made reservations for two at the Valentino’s, the restaurant right across the street. I’m sure that I can have them switch to four. My daughter is going to love meeting you.”
There was something in the way that he said it that brought shivers down her spine and as they walked past a black tinted car, her intuition kicked into high gear, warning her that something wasn’t right when the drivers window rolled down and the old man shook his head at the driver and signaled him to the restaurant right across the road from where they were walking.
“What did you say your name was again?” She asked, a low smile curved at her lips.
“I didn’t,” He said, “But I’m Dante.”
Dante? Kate frowned. Why did that name sound so familiar?
“Well, Dante. I’m Kate.”
“Will that be all?” Carla asked, leaning back against her chair.
Taylor gave her a bland look before he checked his watch. “Do you have somewhere better to be?” He asked abruptly, arching a brow at her.
To say the least, he still wasn’t convinced about her whole story. If she was still the same Carla Gray that had stood before him years ago, blackmailing after only minutes of declaring her love for him - then his intuition was dead on. She really was just another snake in the grass.
“Yes, actually.” She said, offering him a nervous smile. “I was supposed to be packing my suitcase. Tom is taking me to Paris.” She replied, swinging her right leg over the other.
“Oh? How nice of him.” He said with an air of sarcasm attached to every word.
Carla sighed, placing her foot back to the floor in annoyance, “I’ve told you everything, Taylor. That Carl guy called and asked to meet up, which I did. We had dinner and then he started questioning me about you and why I felt the city.”
Taylor’s jaw twitched at the side and when she stared a little too long at his hard complexion. He didn’t like that familiar look in her eyes, the one that told him that she was still hung up on him.
Carla blinked, shifting uncomfortably in her seat when she saw him staring back at her with a grim impatience etched onto his face. She lowered her head, intertwining her fingers nervously together - averting his eyes so that he wouldn’t see the regrets that was still there, in her eyes.
“I’m not a complete idiot, you know.” She told him, “I learned from my mistake the first time around and I told him to let it go.”
His brows jutted up. “Really?” He sneered, regarding her under heavy lids.
“I did.” She exclaimed, then let out a heavy breath. “And I also - I told Tom about us.”
Taylor’s narrowed speculatively at her. Was this some kind of a joke? He wondered savagely.
If she really had told Tom about them, then why wasn’t he in here raining all kinds of hell about him screwing his fiancé?
He let out a vexed sigh. “Explain yourself,” he ordered. Anger seared him. Wondering whether that was her plan all along. To come back and make a complete mess of his life.
Carla ran a smooth tongue over her lips and pulled the bottom one between her teeth, tilting her head. “I told him that we used to, uh - date.”
Date? Taylor’s upper lip pulled in an unflattering sign of mockery.
“You don’t have to worry though,” she added,“I didn’t say anything about that night at the hotel and I would appreciate it if you didn’t either because I really want to make this work with him. Move on, just like you said.”
“I didn’t ask you hear talk about your love life Carla.” Taylor snapped witheringly, “and I don’t appreciate being told what to do. Whatever you say to Tom has no importance to me. And in this case, you stand to lose more than me. You followed me in that office, so you must have known what would happen. But just know that it was a careless slip up on my behalf. One that will never happen again.”
“Because of her?”
“The red head who looked just about ready to jump me when your secretary came in.” She explained, then her smile dissolved when the side of his lips curved up - somewhat...amused.
Her eyes widened at the realisation. “You’re in love with her, aren’t you?”
“I don’t see why that is any of your business.” He said, his voice unsympathetic.
“Well,” she sighed and her eyes glazed over. “I guess that answers my question, doesn’t it? She got what I could never have.”
“Do you honestly believe that I could love someone who goes behind my back, snooping around for something - anything that would make a great payday? I may not have loved you Carla but I trusted you. And what you did -”
“All I wanted to know was what you were hiding in the middle of the Indian Ocean.” She said cutting him off. “You didn’t want things to be serious but I thought that if maybe there were no secrets between us then that would change. That you would change and you would love me back.”
Taylor studied her elfin features. Her pale, almost translucent skin from lack of sunlight. He couldn’t explain why the pain in her voice tugged at his heart. Maybe it was he finally understood how it felt to love somebody and the mere thought of the love not being returned...of Kate not loving him back. His tensed shoulders relaxed. He had been too harsh on Carla, not that she didn’t deserve it but throwing her love back in her face was cruel. He had been cruel and he finally understood that.
His phone vibrated on his table. He grabbed it and frowned down at the text Kate had sent him.
Kate: I tried calling you for times already, you must still be busy. I’m at Valentino’s restaurant. Got invited for lunch by a very nice and handsome and very mature gentleman. Join me when you’re done and I hope it's soon because he's quite a charmer.
His lips tightened and he fought to keep it in place, stifling the laugh that tickled his throat. She was trying to make him jealous. It was cute. It was probably pay back for him allowing her calls to go to voice-mail.
It was when Carla leaned against his table that Taylor realised that she was still here. He place his phone back on the hard wooden surface of his table, pushing back against his chair and rose to his feet with every intent of ending this meeting. He had promised Kate that they were going to spend the rest of the afternoon together and that was exactly what he was going to do.
“Listen Carla, I’m not hiding anything there that should concern you or anybody else for that matter. And for your sake, I hope that you are telling me the truth because if I find out that you so much as gave him a reason to meddle in my affairs -”
“I didn’t.” She interjected, “I swear.”
“Then I guess you have nothing to worry about.”
“I guess not.” She said.
“Good.” He gave her a brisk nod, then gestured towards the door. “Now if you’ll excuse me. I have somewhere else I need to be right now.”