“Fucking hell!” roared Spencer, finally caught up on all things Alister-related.
It took all of five minutes for me to update him on mine and Isy’s chat and all of two for him to lose his cool. Not that I blamed him.
“He’s a scumbag,” I countered, referring to Malcolm–Spencer’s supposed lawyer.
“You can say that again. I’ve a good mind to call him right now!” he bellowed, shaking with anger.
I took pause, purposely dragging in some much needed oxygen. “If we alert Malcolm, we risk alerting Alister.”
A sigh was his only response.
“For that reason, I think we should carry on as though nothing has happened.”
“And in the meantime, we get Roger to do some more digging?” he contributed, seemingly in agreement with this plan.
“Yes, we’ll need him digging for sure. Evidence is vital in our defence.”
We took a moment alone with our thoughts, in too deep a thought to comprehend saying much else.
“I won’t sign another paper that passes his hands.”
By now, he had taken to pacing his office floor. The interior was much likes Scott’s, only everything was on opposite sides. His large desk was pushed up in the far corner and faced the floor-length windows. It was unnecessarily shiny and, if anything, a damn nuisance on the old senses. The smell of polish alone made me want to gag.
“Good idea. Christ knows what he’ll have you signing next!” I scoffed.
“I’m an idiot for trusting him,” he admitted, beating himself up.
“You’re no such thing,” I protested, leaving my seat to emphasise my point. “You can’t see, Spencer. He took advantage of that. None of this is your fault.”
“This is my fault. I should never have hired him. He’s disloyal.”
“Yes, but you weren’t to know that,” I stated, caressing his tense jaw. “People make mistakes all the time, Spencer. That doesn’t give men like Alister and Malcolm the excuse to ruin lives.”
“But they are ruining my life,” he whispered, close to breaking point. “You and Leila are everything to me and he’s manipulating that. Christ! I wasn’t there for you in the weeks that followed your mum’s death because of him. Those are precious moments we’ll never get back.”
“Moments that are irrelevant,” I insisted, full of determination. “I chose not to tell you because of what was at risk. It was me that kept you away, not them.”
He gently rested his forehead to mine, feeling for my waist at the exact same time. Often, when things got overwhelming, Spencer would seek physical interaction. It was his way of knowing I was close by without seeing it for himself. One touch was enough to initiate comfort and instantly, he relaxed.
“I’ll never stop fighting for you both,” he admitted, in search of my lips.
“Good, because I won’t let you,” I retorted, kissing him.
I took charge of the moment and walked us both backwards, hitting various obstacles on our way. We laughed and cursed our way through each crash but didn’t once stop. By the time we’d reached our intended destination, Spencer lifted me onto his desk and felt for my thighs beneath my dress.
“Knock, knock!” sang Scott, cautiously entering and rightly so.
Any sooner and the man would’ve gotten himself an eyeful.
“I thought I heard voices. How’s everything going?”
I rolled my eyes and quickly brushed Spencer off me. “Fine, Scott. Your business is in good hands.”
His need to be here a day after becoming a father was really unnecessary.
“It’s been twenty-four hours,” scoffed Spencer, recovering from our exchange rather brilliantly. “Is fatherhood really that stressful, you’ve resorted to work?”
Scott laughed. “No, I’m on a nappy run. Who knew kids could shit so much?”
Spencer and I shared a small smile, amused by Scott’s tone.
“Speaking of which, does the little princess have a name yet?” I asked, feeding my fingers through Spencer’s.
Once there, he squeezed.
“Yes, actually. But Rosalie will kill me if we didn’t tell you together, so can you both come around tonight after work for dinner? We’ll get a takeaway.”
Spencer nodded. “Of course.”
Spencer, seemingly happy with this arrangement, hugged me close to his side and planted a kiss on my temple.
“We’ll be there for six,” I confirmed, shooing him out the door. “Now, go get nappies and don’t show your face around here for at least two weeks!”
It appeared the infuriating man needed reminding of his paternity leave.
“She’s bossy, this one,” he remarked, firing his half arsed insult Spencer’s way.
“You’re telling me. I live with her.”
“After you asked me to move in with you,” I defended, squeezing his hand.
Their pair of us faked big smiles, even though on the inside we felt far from the relaxed couple we were pretending to be. So much of what we were experiencing was buried beneath, only there for each other to see. We didn’t want to burden other’s with our troubles and figured the more we could keep people from getting involved, the better. The last thing we wanted was to drag unnecessary baggage into this mess. The plan was simple. Keep things clear and concise. If we stuck to that, we had a fighting chance of winning.
“I’ll see you both tonight then,” smiled Scott, slowly backing away.
“That you will,” replied Spencer, removing his hand from mine and finally taking a seat.
I waited until Scott was out of sight before I spoke again, knowing he would likely stop for a chat with Cora before actually leaving.
“Isy recognised the name of the club when I brought it up,” I revealed, angling my head to gauge his reaction.
He offered up a shrug, unsurprised by my declaration. “She knew about me. We just never…”
“I know. She said she couldn’t give you what you wanted but was happy you’d found that with me,” I explained. “She also said she wouldn’t be surprised if Alister used this to his advantage.”
“He knows about us, then?”
I nodded, then followed it up with verbal confirmation. “Yes.”
“Do you think he would go public, even though he’s involved too?”
I scoffed. “Alister Branning has no connection to that place. As far as we and the public are concerned, they’re different people.”
Spencer shook his head. “Proving it would be difficult. Our only link to that lifestyle is Red and they have tight security. Roger found out but he works for a company that specialise in this sort of thing.”
“Hmm,” I replied, joining him by sitting on his lap. “I guess I’m being paranoid. I still can’t believe someone we trusted is working with him.”
He pulled on my waist and drew me closer to his chest, rendering our efforts with regards to professionalism dead in the water. “Money can make a person do almost anything, Jessica. Greed is our biggest downfall as humanity.”
“I’m angry,” I countered, slowly succumbing to my rage.
“And I’m livid, but you’re right. If he finds out we’re onto him, so does Alister.”
I nodded. “So we carry on as normal. Can you do that?” I asked, a little apprehensive.
I received a very enthusiastic head nod in response. “It’ll be hard but I’ll manage. Get Roger on the phone.”
I pulled the phone from its receiver and set about dialling his number. By now, I knew it off by heart. I’d called it enough times to recite the damn thing in my sleep, which was sad really, given the situation. It started ringing almost instantly and I handed the phone over to Spencer, happy for him to take over. It felt like an eternity before Roger answered and once he did, my man wasted no time what so ever.
“Hi, Roger? It’s Spencer Michaels. Are you free this afternoon?” he asked, loosening his tie. “We need to talk.”
Rosalie was positively glowing by the time Spencer and I arrived at six O’clock on the dot, armed with all sorts to accommodate the new arrival. Scott had rang not long after he left the office to see if we could bring more nappies with us–because a pack of fifty wasn’t quite enough! He was certainly overcompensating but I wasn’t about to stop him. You could never have too many nappies with a new born baby around and although a little extreme, who was I to judge?
“I haven’t slept a wink,” informed Rosalie, resting her head against the arm of the sofa. “I can’t stop staring at her.”
I smiled. “I don’t blame you. She’s perfect.”
Little Sophia was fast asleep in my arms, wearing a dinosaur onesie far too cute to go unnoticed. The green/ blue combo was truly fierce and looked out of place against her delicate face. Still, I loved the outfit and couldn’t quite resist capturing a mental image of it.
“Has work been stressful?” asked Scott, taking it upon himself to gently caress Rosalie’s hair.
The pair snuggled closer together.
“Not at all. Everything’s fine,” ensured Spencer, stuck in his position to my immediate right.
Sophia had first grabbed his finger roughly twenty minutes ago and was showing no signs of letting up.
“Monday’s presentation is all set to go and the builders are making good progress on the Tuscany sight.”
“We’ve organised a visit for next week,” I interjected, finally removing my eyes from Sophia long enough to engage in normal eye contact. “But for now, no more talk about work.”
“Yes, I agree,” delighted Rosalie, leaning further into Scott’s comforting touch against her scalp.
It was then when I noticed Spencer doing something similar with me. His fingers brushed through my long locks, as if doing so subconsciously, and gently tugged. It was very relaxing and perhaps a little soothing.
“Shall we ask them, babe?” enquired Scott, smirking down at his fiancée.
“Ask us what?” Spencer stilled all movement on my hair and awaited further elaboration.
Rosalie proceeded to sit up, staring across to her peacefully sleeping baby. “We’d like you both to be Sophia’s godparents.”
For a moment, I was completely blown away and couldn’t speak. I could think of no greater honour than being a godparent to their daughter and simply didn’t know how to express that. There were no words. Nothing that could accurately showcase my gratitude and joy.
Before long, unexpected memories of Charlotte came flooding back, warming my heart from the inside, out. Since opening up about my daughter, I found remembering her was less of a burden and more of a delight. Not a day went by that I didn’t think about her but I was slowly starting to learn how to appreciate her memory. Because of him. Spencer.
“We’d love to!” I offered, staring directly at them.
Spencer could do nothing but nod.
“Spence? You okay?”
Scott’s concern was fair, given how the man sat next to me had yet to say anything on the matter.
“Fine, I’m just-” His voice broke, alarming me. “You’ve no idea what this means to me right now. With everything going on, I often question my abilities as a father.”
“Spencer Michaels, you better not!” implored Rosalie, jumping up from her seat to approach him. “You are exactly what we’re looking for in our godparents to Sophia. Both you and Jessica tick all the boxes.”
“Too right! She’s not stopped holding your finger since you got here,” imputed Scott, remaining firmly in his spot on the sofa. “She knows her uncle is nearby.”
Spencer smiled at their enthusiasm, no doubt overwhelmed by such dedication. His gaze then slowly wandered over to mine, filled to the brim with nothing but appreciation. I knew what this moment meant to him. Everyone thought he was a great dad and of course, he thought it himself. But it wasn’t that simple. Having someone threaten that title was bound to have an effect and no matter how confident he was, it still felt like a punch to the gut. Alister and his team of followers had planted seeds of doubt in Spencer’s mind long ago and no amount of wishing could take that away. We could, however, fight against the weeds in amongst the bunch. My man was a brilliant dad and would soon become a fantastic role model for Sophia. No one was perfect and we all made mistakes. Alister thought he could get away with his vindictive plan. Little did he know, he was messing with the wrong people.