Killing Julie

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Chapter 52

When they awoke a few hours later, he left, needing to get home to walk Kier and prepare for a 9 AM tee time with several board members from St. Philomena’s Hospital. Sliding out from under the covers, he kissed her again.

“I have to meet with the folks from St. Phil’s regarding the takeover, Roar. I’ll call you when I’m done.” She had nodded, said she understood, and fallen back asleep.

When she woke, she got her juice and ambled out to the living room, feeling none of the sense of abandonment that some of her college friends had talked of when they woke to an empty bed. Of course, his meeting with St. Phil’s had been a long time coming. Who in Pittsburgh didn’t know the drama of International Medicine attempting to swallow the little religious hospital run by the Sisters of Merciful Charity? So, no, she felt nothing remotely close to being abandoned.

Juice in hand, Rory sank onto her couch, letting the oversized cushions swallow her. Cleo, the kitten she’d rescued from the shelter last week, jumped up onto her lap. With her feet propped up on the ottoman, Rory studied Dirk’s latest painting. She was gloriously exhausted.

Gently swirling the juice in her goblet, she thought about last night, remembering every detail. Remembering that exact moment when her lips touched his. Remembering the look of surprise on his face at her forward behavior, a look so quickly replaced with desire. She felt herself blushing even now, remembering how he had looked at her, insisting on undressing her. That’s my job. Yours is to allow me. She had. Allowing him to kiss her neck and shoulders, to unzip the dress, trailing kisses down her spine to the hollow of her back. Easing her dress down and discarding it on the floor, laying her back, turning her over onto her back. Lowering his mouth to her breasts and her to the bed.

She blushed even more remembering just how bold she had been, arching upwards in offering and crying out a single syllable when he entered her, one that came on its own, unbidden by her conscious mind. Drawn out by his touch.

Yes. Just one word.

Yes. How powerful those three letters, that one sound.

Yes. Just one word and her world changed.

Did I really do all that last night? Riding him, controlling the pace, fast then slow then… did I? She giggled. I did.

“He has a dog, my little fuzzball,” she said, scratching Cleo behind her ears. “Think you can handle that?” The cat purred in response. Downing the rest of her juice, Rory decided it was time to get moving and get to work.

Her mother came to mind while she dressed. Not once after the car accident that killed her husband and son did Isadora bring a new man home. Not once did she date, preferring to live with her memories rather than risk making new ones. Besides, Aurora, most men want only what you can give them. Don’t forget you’re a Haverly and heir to a fortune. True, living alone was nice. It afforded Rory a peace she hadn’t known since before her father and brother died, but living with someone – someone you loved – surely that was better. Then you had someone to laugh with, to have a glass of wine with, to write with.

Cade would be nice to live with, she decided. Nice? She smiled. Nice connoted quiet, connoted pleasant and unexciting. Cade was not quiet and far from bland. After last night, she knew for sure, that Cade was anything but bland. Cade would pester her, tease her about her foibles, and laugh with her. He’d order out with her and they’d eat in the formal dining room just because it might be a Monday and what the heck. He wouldn’t fuss about dust or clutter, and he’d read her work without being asked. He’d make love to her, and they would both enjoy it.

Imagine that, a man wants me. One I didn’t plan on, didn’t even think of, and I didn’t do anything but be myself. The wonder of it amazed her. How many well-meaning people often told her that no man would want someone as stubborn and as aggressive as her?

Don’t you know anything? One of Paul’s favorite phrases, but now it was only a memory. She knew now that she knew too much, was too intelligent and too capable. That had terrified him beyond words, though not beyond actions. He needed her to cower, and she hated that she had.

“I’m not dead yet,” she said, checking her reflection in the mirror once last time before leaving for work. “In fact, I think I might just be starting to get the hang of living.”

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