Part Thirty Three
First class flying was amazing, she’d always flown that way with her father, but the last ten years her trips had been purely of the budget variety. The transatlantic service from British Airways was exceptional. Good food, comfortable seat that slid down into a bed, and a man ready to cater to her every whim. The cabin was full, maybe forty seats, and they were all mainly business men hunched over laptops. So the attentive concierge seemed to like chatting to her, about everything and nothing. There was a little more depth to his flirting than just innocence and she knew that if she dropped the slightest hint she’d have his uninterrupted company that night in LA.
It was slightly unsettling, as it made her think about her father and Adam’s mother all those years ago, and what had unfolded in the years after a supposed no ties night together. If there was ever the sliver of a chance that she was that kind of woman, that she’d do that, it evaporated immediately. So she took his flirtation at the flattery level and smiled, it was nice to know that he found her interesting of not attraction, and was just what her battered ego needed.
LAX was chaos. Dozens of people holding boards emblazoned with various names greeted the arriving passengers, but no one met Laura. She’d tried to work out the best thing to do. She had a beach front address for Adam, but her research told her it was more than twenty miles from the airport, that would be an expensive taxi ride. At every point of the journey she’d thought about calling him, telling her she was coming, but she still didn’t know what she wanted to say. Was she here because she felt sorry for him? That she felt pity that her father had snubbed him. Or that she wanted to show solidarity against her parents? Or was it because he occupied her every thought, every moment of every day and she needed to know if he felt the same?
Her laugh was harsh, she could kid herself it was either of the first two, but more likely was the latter...no definitely was the latter. But she needed to know his reaction to her before she played any of her cards. He might hate her as much as he must hate her father, and she couldn’t bare that.
So she was still without a ride. Car hire. That was her best option, not that she could afford it. She had a credit card, thankfully, and she figured at least with her own wheels she could escape if things didn’t go well. Self preservation was more important than anything; after all she had no one else to turn to, and nowhere else to go. She was on her own.
After filling out forms, showing her licence, signing her life away, and begging with pleading eyes she was handed a set of keys - to a convertible sports car that was costing a small fortune. Apparently it was the only car available without reservation. She didn’t believe that, the hire people worked on commission and she knew she’d possibly been fleeced, but she’d been travelling for ages, was jetlagged, shattered and more than a little fraught. So she took the car, and hit the Pacific Coast Highway.
And it was beautiful.
The top down, wind in her hair, Laura loved the drive and suddenly everything was worthwhile. The sat nav she’d also been coerced into renting led her to Adam’s address with ease. And it was spectacular! A modern glass building that was as elegant as it was interesting stood behind imposing gates just a few feet from a quiet coastal road. All the stress of getting to this point had taken over her thoughts, and now that she was here the reality of it all sunk in. She’d been determined to get here, but hadn’t thought beyond arriving at the house.
Laura took a few salvaging breaths, she needed to calm her racing heart, the nausea of anxiety. She’d parked the car beside the gate, then got out of the vehicle. An intercom system sat beside the gate caught her attention, but it was with trepidation that she pressed the button.
And nothing happened!
She checked her watch; it was five pm, middle of the night to her exhausted body, and suddenly starting to get colder. With a groan she used the remote control to reconnect the roof of the car, then climbed back inside. She’d wait it out.
Adam had had enough. It was Friday, and he’d had the week from hell. He was hoping against all hope that his mother stayed in Vegas. She’d gone there with her sister a few days ago, and the thought of a weekend free of her was amazing. He was thinking of taking his dirt bike off into the desert, or maybe some more surfing. He was disappointed that his beer buddies were all busy or out of town too. But then the thought of just watching the sunset with a beer in his hand was immense. He was halfway home caught in snarling traffic when his phone rang.
He groaned. He should never have taken her out to dinner a few weeks ago, the woman was like a limpet and had no restraint, and no idea what the word ‘no’ meant. She used to represent all he wanted, but his tastes had changed, as had his visions of the future. Gratuitous sex with a woman who only wanted fun was everything he’d been about, but since Laura...he shook her head, barely a day went by that he wasn’t swamped by memories of her.
With a groan he pulled over, he had no intention of getting a ticket from an overzealous policeman, then connected the call. He’d found out the hard way that if he ignored her she just threw herself deeper into his life. He cringed remembering her turning up at his work one morning, dressed like she’d just left a nightclub, at three o’clock in the afternoon. What the hell was he playing at? He should have severed these ties a long time ago.
“Hey!” He kept his welcome very impersonal, but she was too self obsessed to realise that. He shook his head, what the hell he was thinking letting into his life the first time, let alone the second time.
“Adam,” the whine of her voice annoyed him, but not as much as her pleas to join him at a hotel for a charity dinner that night. He had no intention of going anywhere with her, his dreams of a weekend to himself were not about to go up in smoke.
Hanging up on the reluctant IT girl, he powered his sports car back on to the Pacific coast Highway and ate up the miles to the haven of his home.
Clicking the control attached to his car keys, the roadside gate rolled back as he approached and he swung the car into the courtyard outside the house. As he did he noticed the car parked on the roadside, his was the last house on this stretch of coast road, so it was unusual to see another vehicle there. Climbing out of the car he was about to ignore the other vehicle, but his curiosity, and his desire to be left alone, got the best of him.
As he approached the car, a cute sporty two seater with rental plates, he was almost bowled over with emotion. Asleep in the driver’s seat, blonde hair splayed out over the headrest, looking gaunt and paler than he remembered was Laura.
Supporting himself through his momentary dizziness with a hand on the roof of the car, his overactive mind tried to work out what was happening. Shaking his head free of the confusion, he gave himself a moment to drink in the vision of her. She’d come here, to him, and it felt amazing.
Adam sighed, then opened the door to the car, shaking Laura’s shoulder gently.
Her eyes popped open and she yawned, then smiled, and Adam’s body zinged in to life, the life he’d lost the last two months.
“Laura!” His voice was a soft breath.
Laura was fuzzy, she’d been deeply asleep when he’d woken, but the first sight on waking had been Adam, and she loved that. She knew her eyes were wide with wonder, and she couldn't fight an inelegant yawn.
Adam chuckled, a deep arousing sound, “you ok? You look shattered!”
She grinned, “It was a long trip.”
“And I wasn’t here.”
Nodding Laura swung her legs out of the car and uncurled to her full height, a few inches shorter than Adam. “I spoke to my parents...I can’t believe my Dad, our Dad...”
He raised a hand to halt the conversation, “I can understand his anger, I waltz in then ask him to date his daughter, only surprised he didn’t hit me!”
“Bullshit Adam,” she was adamant on this one, “I am not some bloody Rapunzel locked in an ivory tower, and he is your father too! He has no control over who I date, and he should support you unconditionally. I am furious, and embarrassed. It’s disgusting.”
Adam sighed, “you’re his daughter, there is far more to that relationship than I can ever begin to understand. I don’t blame him, not now.” She didn’t need to know how hard it had been to get to that place, how low he’d sunk and how angry he’d been. Or that it was all nothing now that she was stood in front of him looking sleep kissed and more desirable than his memory could have ever recreated. He wanted to drag her into his arms, kiss her with the passion that was threatening to erupt like a volcano, and SO much more.
“I think you’re being far too lenient, but then you are a nice guy. I told my Dad that, that he should be proud to have you as a son.”
He grinned, “really? I bet that went down well!”
She shrugged, “I don’t care, not really. He has been a dictator of his little world for far too long, and I walked out! Grown up and typical me! I know, you don’t have to remind me! I don’t know how that makes him feel, he probably doesn’t care.” She sighed, “but I had to come here as soon as I could, to apologise for him. He should never have treated you like this.”
“I’m not a fifteen year old troubled teen seeking the respect of his father...”
She stopped him, “the fact that you spoke to him tells you that he’s important to you. And you’ve got close over the last few months.”
Shaking his head he was quick to deny that, “it was important to YOU. That was why I spoke to him. To be honest, after thirty years with Mike Purcell there’s little that Stafford Marshall can do or say to hurt me.”
Laura sighed, it was music to her ears, whether this was just his saying what he knew she wanted to hear, or whether it was the truth, it was working. She was becoming warm and gooey at the thought of this man putting her above anything else.
“So you cashed in your free flights?”
His subject change jolted her out of her reverie, “yep. I’ve broken the trip to Hawaii up. I’m going to go and see Ben and Alana eventually, they get married soon.”
Adam gulped, he’d hoped to hear that she was here for months, ready to explore what lay between them, to know he was a stop off en route to something more hurt him. “So how long are you here? Will there be time to show you around this City?”
As Laura made to answer, a taxi pulled up to the house, it had come from nowhere.
A pair of glossy red heels on the end of a pair of interminably long legs preceded a beautiful brunette out of the back seat.
Laura grimaced as the woman purred, “Adam darling, the dinner starts in an hour!”
Adam looked at Kristi and groaned, “it’s not what you think!” He hissed before the woman descended on them. It was his own fault. In the past when she’d refused to take no for an answer she’d turned up at his house, coaxed him out with her body and exotic promises. God, he hated himself, for letting that be enough! He looked at Laura’s distraught face and felt as though his world was ending.
Laura took in the beautiful woman who was everything she wasn’t, curvy, elegant, a lady, hell even her hair colour was the opposite of her. She was gutted, but she’d always known at the back of her mind that he might have moved on. But it was awful to see it in such Technicolor detail.
Plastering on a smile she turned to Adam, “sorry! I mean arriving here without warning, of course you’re busy!” The other woman was now in front of them, looking between the two of them in a confused manner. “I’m Laura, Adam’s sister!” She said the words to create the distance and the rift needed to end this disastrous situation.
“I’m Kristi!” the other woman purred. “And you...” she turned to Adam and placed a hand on his chest, “need to get your tux on a-sap!”
He made to protest, but Laura smiled genially, “I came to apologise, mission accomplished! Have a great day!”
She was in the car before he could protest, and out of his street before her tears started to fall.