Once I’ve found a red top to go with the black skirt, I hop out with a skip in my step to see Theo still working on the coded lock. He looks determined to fit it in place and I tip toe over behind him to look around him to see what he is doing.
“I don’t need your help, sweety,” Theo growls under his breath, a little in frustration, not glancing at me.
“I know, I’m just watching,” I say, smiling, thinking about our kiss, “I need a code.”
“Don’t choose something you’ll forget,” he sounds mocking as he points this out and I clasp my hands behind my back, cheeks going pink at the insult.
“I won’t,” I snap, “I’ll do something I remember – something you can remember too. Hmmm... it’s 4 digits isn’t it? How about... 69-69. Someone like you should remember that,” I don’t know where my bold confidence comes from but I was sticking to my new theme.
Theo goes quiet as he continues to make the last finishing touches, I lean forward a bit more to see his expression. I spot a pretty satisfied smirk on his lips.
“You like it?” I ask, smiling myself. He suddenly straightens his back and turns to face me, his eyes devouring my confidence instantly. I take in a breath and read the interest in his eyes, “I meant do you like the code, not the 69 part – reference... bit.”
Theo blinks slowly and his mouth curves as he leans in to whisper in my ear.
“Watch yourself,” his half-hearted threat still makes me take an instant step back, cheeks blushing bright red. He also leans back, clearly trying very hard not to laugh, “You’re far too easy to fluster, Wren. I’ll take advantage of it... so be careful.”
I gape, mouth open, wanting to reply but no words manage to spill forth as he turns to pick up his phone and car keys.
Eventually I remember how to speak again.
“I-I’ll get my stuff too...!” I whisper, rushing around him to also grab my phone. I then search for my bag and find it in my room. I bring it out over my shoulder and see Theo waiting by the door. I smile but he is glancing at his phone. However, when he looks up and sees me, he narrows his eyes, looking pissed, ”What?" I ask, annoyed because I don’t even know what I’ve done now.
“Did I say you needed to bring money? Put it back,” he just says the words, dismissing any response I may have. He frustratingly looks back down at his phone, typing away again.
I bite my lip and turn to storm my way into my room, taking off my bag and chucking it on the bed. I turn back around and walk out, Theo still focused on his phone.
“I don’t suppose –” I trail off when Theo suddenly looks up.
“My parents are in the city having dinner, they’ve requested my presence... are you keen for some Greek food? They’re at Gazi on Exhibition Street,” Theo is keen to invite me and I’m already nodding before I can comprehend it’s his parents I’ve just agreed to go meet, “... what were you about to say before, Wren?” he adds, curiously.
“Heh... I was, ah,” I smile cheekily and add, “I was going to say, I don’t suppose you were texting your other five girlfriends before taking me out –” his face has dropped completely. He didn’t find it funny and my eyes pop out of my head in worry. I stick my hands up in surrender, dropping my phone in the process. I quickly lunge forward for it, pick it up and straighten my back, “I was joking, it was going to be a joke, it is a joke – why, ah... yeah, fuck...” my phone slips out of my sweaty nervous fingers again and I pick it up a second time. All the while Theo just watches me.
He looks concerned about my state of mind... who could blame him?
“I’m excited about this dinner,” I add, deciding to change the topic as I flatten out my skirt and pretend not to care I just dropped my phone twice in the last ten seconds.
“Good, let’s get going,” he holds out a hand for me and my heart skips a beat when I see the offer.
I grab his hand and he confidently gives mine a little squeeze. It makes my heart melt a bit. I felt it was his way of saying he didn’t care I was a clumsy clutz when I was around him.
Mr. Fox meows from the couch and I glance over my shoulder to see him looking at Theo taking me out the door.
“Maow!” I call back to him and shut my door on the way out.
I feel Theo’s gaze and I give him a tight smile.
“I don’t know whether you’re intriguing or insane, Wren – for the love of god, please don’t meow in front of my parents,” Theo sounds deadly serious and embarrassed by my goodbye to Mr. Fox.
I think his reaction is funny and typical for a white-collar young man from a rich ass family and background.
However, when I over think it... it makes me feel a little insecure.
On the way out to the carpark, I pray that his parents aren’t as intense as him.
He doesn’t make me any more nervous throughout the car ride, and we manage to talk about light hearted stuff. I’m impressed he chooses to steer away from any talk about domination and submission. It’s thoughtful, because I don’t think I could keep my confidence together if my mind was flustered with thoughts of him bending me over...
Even now, I blush thinking about what he inevitably wanted to do to me.
My very own Christian.
“... Wren, so?” Theo prompts me to answer his question, we’re walking into Gazi now. I glance up at him, eyes wide because I didn’t listen to a word he just said.
“I was day dreaming... what?” I ask, completely mishearing him and freaking out when his eyes narrow.
“I asked you, if you were happy to be introduced as just my friend for tonight’s dinner?” Theo is deadly serious and my heart cracks a tad... oh...
“Wh –... ok, but, why?” I ask, confused. I didn’t know why I instantly felt so upset, I guess I had no idea what I was to him. Could I call myself his girlfriend? I had no idea.
Then the thought occurs to me... what if this whole time, he never wanted a girlfriend? What if he just wanted a Submissive? What if he was using me to fulfil his kinky needs, not because he actually cared about me as a person?
“My parents are very traditional... as you well know, I was engaged not long ago. They really loved Cynthia... they won’t appreciate me moving on so quickly. I have to give them time, is that okay with you? Please don’t be upset, Wren, you’ll have a great dinner. I guarantee you’ll love the food here,” Theo is for once, sounding a little nervous as he explains. It both annoys me and makes me feel a little more confused.
I didn’t know how to react now.
I just nod and follow him in, trying to close off the emotions flooding out of my heart.
He’s embarrassed about you, Wren, and maybe he isn’t sure how serious he is about you just yet.
That thought suddenly destroys all my confidence. It also makes me angry.
“This is my dad, Alex and my mum, Gaia,” Theo is already introducing me. I had been so consumed by my thoughts I hadn’t even looked at my surroundings, I had blindly followed. I haven’t much focused on the table we’ve stopped by until Theo speaks. I quickly focus, however, on the older couple sitting opposite each other on a 4-seat table by one of the windows, “... this is Wren, my newest employee.”
Gaia smiles warmly at me while Alex just seems to blink and stare me down.
“Nice to meet you,” I pipe up, as graciously as possible while Theo pulls out a seat next to his mother for me to take.
“Have you two been at work late?” Gaia asks, sweetly. It lightens my heart, at least she seemed nice.
“We just finished, I thought I’d shout Wren out for being a very welcome addition in the work place,” Theo smirks as he sits opposite me, I’m already fiddling with my cutlery. I try to ignore Theo’s obvious annoyance while I play with the fork and knife.
“You’re very pale, darling,” Theo’s father, Alex, speaks up, his judging stare hasn’t left me and I suddenly glance at him, looking very nervous.
“Dad... give her a break, her apartment was evacuated earlier this week and everything got ruined by the sprinklers. She’s had a stressful time. She deserves to be treated well,” Theo sticks up for me, making me feel better.
“I can’t wait to try some of this food, I love Greek –” I decide to cheer up a bit, but my easy-go-lucky ambition doesn’t last long.
Alex interrupts me, with his loud easy Greek tone, it travels to my ears and makes my blood thin.
I was easily intimidated by him and I knew he wasn’t an easily impressed man.
"Everyone loves Greek food,” he smiles arrogantly, “You better finish everything on your plate, it’ll help fatten you up a bit more –”
“Leave her alone, Alex, she just got here,” Gaia sticks up for me, “What background do you come from, sweetheart?”
“I’ve got an Irish background, convicts and all that,” I say proudly, I grab my fork and stick it into some of the bread in the centre of the table that had come with an earlier entrée, “Apparently my ancestors stole some bread, so that’s my ‘infamous’ background.”
“Hmmm...what are your interests? Do you like fashion?” Gaia seems slightly offended and disinterested that I’m not Greek. I glance at Theo to see him looking uncomfortable with his mother’s question. I mean... fashion?
Cynthia had worked in the fashion industry.
“I’ve never understood it, to be honest,” I answer, truthfully, “I feel the fashion industry consistently glorifies one body type and they exclude all the beauty and potential in everyone else. If I had to narrow down my interests... I’ve always liked cats, my car... tv shows... I like the idea of working hard and going on a holiday. Fashion, though? It’s the last thing on my mind,” I feel irritated, but I think I’m just hungry. And I hope my honest response will ease Gaia and Alex... but they both give each other a knowing look at my words.
Gaia seems very unhappy with my answer.
I even feel Theo’s foot pressing against mine, as if in a warning.
“She’s a fantastic worker,” Theo quickly changes the subject, “Mum, how has the renovations on the old mansion I bought in Toorak been going?”
“Of course you have a mansion... in Toorak,” I can’t help myself, I mutter it quietly under my breath. I had, unfortunately, interrupted Gaia’s reply and the father is glaring me down.
“I bet you’re from the western side of town, Wren?” Alex asks, chuckling while also interrupting Gaia, “Your name is interesting... so you were named after a bird? Theodore means he is god given and he is very gifted. Very talented. He deserves the best, in everything in his life. Work, family... a woman...” Alex smiles on this last part and I pretend to smile innocently back. I also nod, but I don’t know what else to do.
From that point on I let the three converse and I say as little as possible.
Theo seems embarrassed but I don’t know if it’s because of the way I’ve been talked to or if I’ve been the one to disappoint him.
There is a highlight throughout the dinner; the food. The food is amazing. But that’s it.
By the time it’s over, I’m relieved.
We’re all up to pay for the dinner and Theo makes sure to stay by my side.
“You okay?” he whispers it into my ear and I glance up to see him worried. I instantly smile and nod.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” I answer just as quietly, eager to get out of this place and be alone with Theo. I suddenly understood why people had issues with in-laws...
...um, Wren, you aren’t married, they aren’t your in-laws, how in deep are you?...
My subconscious freaks me out, but now it’s time to walk out.
Once everything is paid for we all exit out the door together. This was the moment we got to separate – thank god.
Theo’s parents face us, and my hand is already raising to wave goodbye.
Except, of course, it’s not goodbye just yet. The parents were about to put the cherry on top of the ice cream.
“Theodore,” Gaia ignores my eyes and focuses completely on her son, “Come by this weekend, sweetheart, we have some family friends coming down from Greece. They have a lovely daughter you may like to meet. It’s a good opportunity, we wouldn’t want you to miss it.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Theo answers quickly, “Goodbye mum, dad. Let’s go, Wren.”
I watch as they don’t bother to say goodbye to me, but they do farewell Theo. Heart hurting, Theo quickly holds my arm and spins me, swiftly taking me with him towards his car.
“What the heck?” I whisper at him, feeling very odd now, “They really don’t like me.”
“You’re just a friend in their eyes, don’t read into it,” Theo is short as he opens the car door for me and I slide in. I flip my phone in my hands repeatedly in a nervous habit as Theo hops in the other side.
“I think they really disapprove of me, even as a friend or employee... Theo... why did you take me to meet them?” I ask it out right, the question was on the forefront of my mind.
“I’m changing my life,” Theo answers quietly.
I didn’t expect to hear that from him.
He puts the car into gear and we are soon off into traffic, while my eyebrows furrow in confusion.
I look out the window at the crowds of people walking around Melbourne and the city lights. I wasn’t too angry now, but I was certain there was so much about Theo I was yet to learn.
“Wren...” he speaks up again, and I quickly turn to see him staring at me while we’re stopped at a red light, “My life has been pretty boring without you in it. Don’t worry, I’m not letting you go anywhere.”
“That’s sweet but... do you want me as a girlfriend or just as a Submissive?” I ask, quietly. I hoped he’d answer me but I was also terrified he’d ignore me.
My heart races as he looks ahead to drive, suddenly frowning in concentration.
He didn’t want to answer!
“Forget I asked,” I whisper, feeling gross.
“I don’t distinguish between the two, sweet cheeks,” he sees the struggle on my face and he suddenly reaches over and grips my thigh with his hand, squeezing my leg, “No, no... no tears, sweety, I have so much I need to find out about you... before I work out the rest...”
Before he worked out the rest?
I wanted to force the answer out of him, but I wait to see if he’ll elaborate.
He doesn’t explain and I’m too afraid to push him further.
“Likewise,” I choose to say, “I also need to learn more about you.”
“That’s what I want to hear... so Wren, I would like to stay over, any objections?” Theo asks.
“What would you do if I said no?” I ask, slyly, trying not to cheekily smile.
“You should know I’d convince you to say yes,” Theo grins at my easy response. I was building confidence with him and he knew it.
“You can stay over... but do you know why I’m saying yes?” I bet he couldn’t guess.
“Hmmm?” Theo gives me a hooded look, curious.
“I haven’t pissed you off, so I’m safe tonight,” I continue to smile but he just smirks and stares ahead as he drives, not answering me.
My heart and stomach both simultaneously flutter.
Perhaps not responding to me meant I wasn’t safe at all.