Chapter 42: Tired Are You?
“What do we do now?” I enquired worriedly when we’d nearly reached the office building.
“Because we’re arriving together, do you mean?” he queried in response and dropped his empty cup of coffee into a litter bin we passed.
He smirked, but didn’t look at me. “So what if we are? Won’t have to raise any suspicion unless we behave in a manner that provokes it.”
My lips jutted while a crease formed between my eyebrows. “I’ve never had a secret affair like this before.” I supposed he was more schooled in the art of it, provided his previous relation to Violet. I’d have to take notes from his behaviour. Undoubtedly, he would know what to do, and how to behave.
“You’ll be fine,” he assured me and hooked his arm around my neck to bring my head under his lips.
“Ellie’s going to pick up on it,” I warned him. “She’s already suspicious.”
“Ellie’s trustworthy,” he argued.
“Though I like her, I’m not sure I share your impression. She did tell me about you and Violet. Granted, she was clearly reluctant, and only said it to help me away from lusting after you.”
Upon my exposé, he chuckled beside me, and I saw a large grin claim his beautiful mouth. “That was the exception to the rule. She’s been aware of Violet and I for ages, and she hasn’t told a soul. I trust her. She won’t tell, Cara, I’m sure. Besides, she adores you. I gather she told you simply because of that. But I get where your suspicion stems from, though in this instance, I don’t think it’s warranted. Her intentions were pure.”
I was a little surprised at his palpable faith in her. In general, he struck me as a suspicious man. Clearly, Elisabeth had gained his unquestionable trust, and that was something I considered quite the feat, taking who he was into account. It impressed me.
“Speaking of past lovers,” he said and eyed the Rolex of his arm around my neck. “I called Francesca after work yesterday, before our date.” He met my curious eyes. “She’ll be back in London this Friday. I’m saying this because I don’t want you to jump to any conclusions if you see her name in my calendar. I’m going to end things with her the next time I see her, but I want to do it in person. I reckon she deserves as much.”
My lips parted with surprise first, and then they transformed into a wide grin. Within me, I felt my guts turn into a gooey mess. He hadn’t meant to be sweet, but I’d found him profoundly tender regardless. “Will, that’s so decent of you. Thank you for warning me, and thank you for being that respectful toward Francesca. It means a lot to me.”
He winked at me. “I gathered you’d approve, but it’s merely a bonus that you do. I’m not heartless, Cara. Though,” he sighed, “I do dread it. I hate starting the waterworks, and I just know she’s going to cry. It wouldn’t be the first time.”
My brows furrowed. “You’ve made her cry before?”
He grimaced. “She’s very sensitive, and as you know, I’m quite blunt. Gets chaotic sometimes.”
I could only imagine, and it wasn’t a pleasant scene. “Will you tell her about me?” I asked. If he said yes, I’d advise him not to, because I considered it unnecessary.
“No. It’s none of her business. Besides, it shouldn’t come as a shock to her that I’m ending it. She’s well aware that what we had was only temporary. I’ve told her at least three times, and she’s confirmed that she understood as much.”
My heart ached for Francesca. Poor girl. She was going to have her heart broken. Even though it wasn’t my fault, I still felt partially at fault, because if it hadn’t been for me, perhaps she could have had him for a little longer. Then again, the longer she had him for, the deeper in love she would fall, so perhaps I was sparing her from increased grief.
He halted in his tracks and raised his hands to cup my cheeks. While his stunning orbs arrested mine, my blood simmered with delicious infatuation. I could hardly fathom that I had managed to grab his attention. It seemed too good to be true.
“You’re very compassionate, Cara. It’s fairly ironic, sharp-mouthed as you are, but I do adore that about you. You’re... complex.” His thumbs teased the corners of my mouth as he continued to study me engrossed. Suddenly, a crooked smile dominated his lips while his eyes twinkled with amusement.
“For three years, you’ve been my brother’s best mate. You’ve been so close. That reality has been fucking with my head ever since you walked into my office a week ago. I cannot believe Jason’s been hiding you away from me,” he said then. “The bloody bastard.”
I snickered and lifted my hand to caress his stubbly cheek. “I’m quite sure he wasn’t trying to hide me. You’re just too busy to have a look around.”
His smile turned into a smirk. “Valid point.”
I looked to his Rolex. “You need to get a move on it, Will, or you’ll be late for your meeting. You can drool over me later.”
He laughed wholeheartedly at my confident statement and shook his head to himself. His laughter was always such a bewitching sound, and especially when I was the cause of it, so I took a moment to savour it.
“Cara... My Cara,” he uttered through his sincere laughter and leaned in to plant a firm kiss to my mouth. My heart jolted at his phrasing, and then at the taste of his lips. My Cara. Shockingly, it didn’t scare me. On the contrary, it made my stomach tingle with myriad butterflies. I felt capable of soaring.
When he pulled away, he rubbed his nose to mine and smiled to himself. “I want to ask where you’ve been all my life, but clearly, you’ve been kept safe by my brother in recent years.”
“Safe,” I quoted amused.
“Safe indeed,” he crooned and trailed his index finger from my jaw, down the slope of my neck, and continued till he reached the spot of my ribs protecting my heart. There, he halted, and stared intensely into my eyes. “This won’t be yours for much longer.”
Knowing it was already his for the taken, my lips trembled. Hopeless, I gazed back at him, trapped in his magic.
“Silenced again,” he teased and pecked my nose. “’Cause we both know it’s true.”
I pulled out of his hold and sent him a wry look. “I’ll be stealing yours first,” I challenged. He merely looked at me, and his expression was unreadable. In his eyes, I detected conflict, but of what kind, I couldn’t gauge.
“To work,” he then said and approached the building again.
After having reached our floor, I was startled to find John Night waiting by Ellie’s desk. Bollocks. Not only was I later to work than usual, I was arriving with none other than his progeny, whom I’d been sharing beds with all night. Anxious, I worried his piercing blue eyes could tell merely by a glance. Lying wasn’t my forte. And it was weird to encounter him again, in this formal setting, while knowing I was dating his son and falling in love with him by the second. It made me wonder how we would tackle this situation if ever we decided to get serious. Would we tell John everything about how our relationship bloomed? Or keep this part of our romance hidden?
“Morning, John,” William said, and his decision to address his father formally threw me off. I was definitely asking him about that under appropriate circumstances.
John’s eyes flickered between his son and I before he looked to his own Rolex. “Morning, Will. This must be the latest you’ve come to the office since I hired you,” he answered bemused and then looked back to his son.
William shrugged his broad shoulders beside me. “Problem?”
John chuckled. “Not at all. Just unusual. Change in patterns. What gives? You feeling alright? You look...” he paused, searching for a word, “elated.” His eyes narrowed for a brief second, and my heart clenched in horror. Could he tell?
“Yeah, I’m feeling great. Just had a late night, so I went to the gym later than usual this morning. Porter & Co case is a tough inquiry. But since I knew I was coming in a bit late, I told Cara she didn’t have to be here until eight thirty either.”
I stiffened at the mention of my name, as I hadn’t seen it coming, but when I processed his statement, I was overcome with both gratitude and relief. He’d defended my tardiness, despite the fact that I hadn’t verbalised my concern about it. Would he ever cease to astound me? He was far more perceptive than I gave him credit for.
John studied me then, and I dared not question how pale I looked. From the corner of my eye, I saw Elisabeth analyse me intrigued, from head to toes. Could she recognise William’s shirt? I hoped not. It was a basic white garment. Even though it wasn’t my style, it didn’t stand out.
John started laughing. “Cara, if I may remind you, Will’s your superior. Not I. There’s no need to look so ashamed. If he says he doesn’t need you until eight thirty, that’s what you listen to.”
I nodded feverishly and went straight for my desk, eyes fleeting. So I looked ashamed, did I? In that moment, I despised my open book of a face. Thankfully, he’d assumed I looked ashamed only because I had arrived later than usual, and not because I’d been naked with his son last night.
“You here for the meeting?” I heard Will ask behind me.
“Yes. I was hoping to have a word with you in private before then, but since it starts in three minutes, it’ll have to wait until after. Nothing imminent, though.”
I stole a glance at Ellie while I pulled my chair out and reclined into it. She was pursing her lips to herself and typing away onto her MacBook. Clear as day, I could see that she was dying to spill her questions, and I dreaded them already.
My face had been pale, but by the time my bum met with the chair, a wave of heat breezed my face to the extent that I wondered if my cheeks would burst. It felt like William had just thrust into me again. Could I get any sorer than this? My eyes glued to his broad back when the two men journeyed toward his office, but all of the sudden, my crush turned his head to look at me. When he saw the new colour of my face, his eyes noticeably widened. If he grasped the reason behind my blush, I did not know, but nevertheless, his lips formed a smug smile as he sent me a knowing wink.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Ellie bent toward me and grabbed hold of my dressed thigh with her left hand. I’d barely had time to recover at all.
“Will’s never late, Cara. Never,” she whispered severely amused.
I didn’t look at her. “He was today,” I dryly stated.
She chuckled. “I wonder why,” she cooed and leaned away again.
Still, I refused my eyes to travel in her direction. There wasn’t a chance I was spilling our secret. If anyone were going to enlighten her, it would have to be William. While I adored Elisabeth, I didn’t consider this any of her business. Furthermore, I was not inclined to risk jeopardising my internship just to suffice her curiosity. Too much was at stake. In all honesty, I wasn’t ready to talk about it either. I was still processing the truth of my circumstance myself. I wouldn’t know what to say, or where to begin.
Sure, I’d been infatuated once or twice before, during my teens, but I’d never acted on it. This entire experience was a novelty to me. Falling in love with somebody, and furthermore having the interest be reciprocated, was entirely an alien sensation. I didn’t know what to do from here. Hopefully, William did.
Elisabeth and I were called to attend a meeting with Frederick before lunch, to aid him with a case he was working on. His client, Harold Baxter, was a broker and had been accused of trading on inside information. The case was likely to go to court, and so Frederick was currently completing the investigations before he would contact a barrister to defend Mr Baxter during the trial.
Frederick was one hell of an impressive solicitor. I’d felt dumb and young while I’d listened to him and Elisabeth, dribbling down notes and trying to make myself useful.
I was currently seated in the cafeteria for lunch with Andy and Ellie. I hadn’t seen William all day, and part of me worried about him. He’d barely caught any sleep last night, and I knew it was my fault. I hoped he wasn’t having a terrible day because of it. After a quick look at his schedule before heading down to grab lunch, I’d seen that he would be occupied with Lawrence all day, as they worked on the Porter & Co case together.
Last night, he hadn’t been lying when he’d stated that today was going to be tough on him. I regretted that I hadn’t made it any simpler. I wasn’t affiliated with the role of a girlfriend, but I was quite confident that making his life easier was part of it. I wasn’t supposed to weigh him down. I wasn’t supposed to apply more pressure onto him. I was supposed to serve as a support system. Then I reminded myself that I wasn’t his girlfriend. Oddly, that only made things worse.
“Well, this is a depressing lunch,” Ellie commented while she dug her fork into her salad. Seated beside one another, Andy and I lifted our gaze simultaneously. Apparently, we’d both resorted to contemplation around the same time.
“Sorry,” we uttered in perfect unison before we turned to smile at each other.
“What’s eating you?” Ellie queried worriedly, brown eyes flickering between us.
“You go first,” Andy told me.
“It’s nothing,” I firmly replied. “I’m fine. Just tired.”
“Tired are you?” Ellie echoed amused. I despised that I couldn’t control my blush, because I turned the colour of a tomato. Surprised, Andy blinked beside me while he watched my new shade.
“Don’t tell Will,” he warned, picking up on the insinuation, and raised his finger at me. “I mean it, Cara. He’ll be pissed. We both saw him last Saturday. And he’s a bloody pain in the arse when he’s pissed.”
“Actually, Andy,” Ellie said and cleared her throat. I glared at her then, mutedly begging for her to shut up, even though Andy was William’s best mate and would probably hear all about it as soon as they found time alone. “Both Cara and Will were late to work today,” she continued amused.
Andy froze beside me. “What?”
“Yep. William was late, and they arrived together. And he’s not ill. On the contrary, he looked to be in a bloody good mood. John noticed, too.”
Both turned to stare at me then, and I started shaking with my annoyance. “Oh, my God! Leave me alone!” I barked under my breath and glared between them.
“So that’s that,” Ellie cheered delighted. “What’s on your plate, Andy?”
He sighed. “I think I knocked Chloe up last night,” he replied, voice devoid of emotion.
The air stormed out of my lungs while I depressed into my seat. That was one way to declare it. Mirroring my reaction, Ellie stared flabbergasted at him.
“Yep,” he groaned and nodded his head to himself.
“But I thought you were staying at a hotel for the time being?” Ellie questioned feebly.
He ran his hands through his hair, repeatedly, as he leaned backward and looked to the ceiling. Panic was feasting on him, and it wasn’t a pleasant sight. I pitied him tremendously in that moment.
“I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t feel like myself when I’m not with her, and don’t you dare call that co-dependency, because it isn’t. We’re just not meant to be apart,” he confessed, and he was speaking so fast that the words were sprinting out of his mouth.
“She called me after work yesterday,” he continued, “crying her eyes out, and asked if I could come over so that we could talk. When I did, she said it didn’t matter anymore; that we didn’t need to have children. She just couldn’t stand this distance between us anymore. And I know how irrational this sounds, but that completely flipped everything upside down for me. The fact that she was willing to put her baby-idea at rest, just to be with me; that she was willing to let go of something she’s wanted for so long, just to make me happy, and so that we could be together; well, it made me realise that I’ve been a fucking dick about all this.
“So we ended up having sex, and this morning, I told her not to take her pill. And now I’m freaking out. But not in a bad way. I’m just... shocked at myself. If she does get pregnant, I’m going to be a bloody dad. Can you imagine that? Me?" He pointed to himself and then shook his head from side to side, seemingly disbelieving.
My lips had parted, and I struggled to close my mouth again. I hadn’t seen this coming at all, even if William had called it. Ellie’s eyes turned wet in front of us.
“Ellie, please don’t,” he pleaded and pointed his finger at her.
“I’m just a little touched,” she excused herself. “Do you think she listened to you?”
Charmed, he chuckled. “She’s been texting me every fifteen minutes, asking if I’m sure, and that she’s still got time to take it. But I’m not going to have a change of heart. I’ve had months to consider this, and last night, I finally made up my mind. And when I make up my mind about something, it’s usually final – especially things of this nature. Either way, don’t tell anyone about this. Like the fact that William and Cara are finally having sex, this is strictly between us.”
I gasped, shocked again, while Ellie resorted to her snort of a laughter in front of me. Impulse ruled me when I smacked Andy’s shoulder. With poorly stifled laughter, he turned toward me.
“What? We’re not morons, Cara.”
“Have you told William about Chloe?” I asked to change the subject.
“No. I haven’t had time. He was busy fucking you, and I was busy fucking her.”
I smacked him again. Cheeky bastard. His laughter roared.
“Don’t tell him,” he said when it quieted in volume. “I want to be the one to do it.”
I sent him a genuine smile, because I knew William would relish the news. He’d been on Chloe’s team since the start. “He’s going to be happy,” I stated.
“Yeah. Tell me about it. I can already hear his ‘told you so’.” He shuddered at the end.
“I reckon Will is going to make for a brilliant uncle,” Ellie chimed in.
“Without a doubt,” Andy agreed. “Though, let’s not jump the gun. She might not get pregnant.”
“Would you try again, if she doesn’t?” Ellie probed.
He nodded. “Yeah. Like I said, I’ve made up my mind. And honestly, feels great to sleep in my own bed again.”
I rolled my eyes at how he managed to make light of this, but giggled nonetheless.