As I sat with my bottom perched on a chair across from his, I did everything in my power to remain calm and not rip his head from each pathetic shoulder. Instead, I visualised it. Malcolm’s smug little head rolling around on the floor was quite possibly the only thing stopping me from blowing our cover by questioning his betrayal.
“With the court case coming up, we really cannot afford any more public scandals,” he scorned, pissing me off even further.
“Of course,” replied Spencer, miraculously keeping his cool. “No more. All my secrets are out.”
Malcolm’s beady eyes briefly swept over my face, daring me to confirm the same thing.
“Like Spencer said. No more secrets,” I reiterated.
His smile was sickening. The man was a fraud. A selfish, greedy fraud that had no consideration for anyone other than himself.
“There are a few things that need your signature,” he continued, presenting Spencer with a stack of papers.
We both tensed.
“I can read them through for you as usual,” he suggested, casually.
“No need. I’m actually in a bit of a hurry,” retaliated Spencer. “I can take them home and have Jessica read through them for me.”
I saw the moment Malcolm panicked. He wasn’t expecting Spencer’s proposition and faltered in the face of such a thing.
“That’s alright. How about we sign them next time? No rush.”
Spencer smiled. “Perfect. See you in a few weeks, Malcolm.”
“Indeed you will,” he responded, fixating his gaze on me. “Lovely seeing you again, Jessica.”
I offered no more than that. To be honest, I was struggling. This man was responsible for a lot of our suffering and although we needed to remain casual for the sake of our plan, I wanted nothing more than to scream at him.
Outside, Spencer grabbed hold of my hand and kissed the inside of my palm, gifting me his sincerity. “That was hard.”
“Tell me about it? I wanted to strangle him.”
He chuckled and so did I, needing the light sensation that often came with laughing.
“Do you think he suspects anything?” he asked, pulling his phone out to send for Clive.
“No, he hasn’t a clue.”
In no time at all, Clive pulled up in his SUV and smiled upon seeing us. “Good meeting, boss?”
He always did take an interest in Spencer’s affairs and I found it nice of him to do so. There wasn’t a bad bone in his body and I secretly enjoyed that someone like him was looking out for my man. People like Malcolm could so easily take advantage of his situation and it was important that he surround himself with good, honest people. People like Clive.
“Great, thanks. Hope we didn’t keep you too long,” he replied, assembling his seatbelt and reaching for my hand.
I offered it to him as soon as I clipped myself in and held on, squeezing from time to time. Not once did he let up the entire car ride back to Maidenhead and instead, took to looking out the window towards the magnificent scenery. When I first moved here, I thought for sure I would miss London life. With easily assessable public transport, life in the capital was certainly convenient. From as long as I could remember, I’d always wanted to live there, drawn to the hustle and bustle of it all. Now, however, living in the midst of the country, I found I didn’t miss it one bit. Perhaps that had more to do with the company I now resided but I didn’t care. I was no longer faking my happiness. All things considered; the custody battle and my mum’s passing, I could honestly say I was in a good place. Sure, I still missed her but I was grieving for her in a healthy way. In a matter of weeks, I truly believed this entire situation would be behind us. Because bad things happened to bad people and Alister was one of those people.
“I can hear you thinking from here,” whispered Spencer, amused.
“I like it here,” I stated, once more looking towards the greenery that stretched for miles. The sun had long set but left in its wake was an orange glow that casted a marvellous radiance over the rolling countryside. Fields could be seen for miles and miles, perfect, pleasant and peaceful.
“It’s quiet. That’s why I like it,” he revealed, clutching my hand and bringing it up to his lips. “I enjoy it more now that you’re with me.”
I grinned at my reflection in the window and tuned to face him. “Aren’t you the charmer?”
He laughed and I caught Clive smirking too, confirming that our trusty driver had been listening in on our conversation.
“Anything for you, my love.”
I rolled my eyes at his playful retort and kissed him briefly on the cheek. His face, flush from the car’s heating system, felt warm against my lips, not to mention rough. He had long surpassed his trip to the barbers and the sudden need to tell him entered my head.
“You need a shave.”
“I’ll make an appointment for the weekend,” he advised, feeling for his roughened jaw.
“Or I could do it for you?” I suggested, outlining his chin with delicate fingers.
Both brows raised in a clear state of shock. “Really? You want to shave me?”
I ridiculed his disbelief and tried not to let his reluctance offend me. “Sure. How hard can it be?”
As it turned out, shaving another human being was extremely tasking. Spencer laughed the entire time I lathered his face with shaving cream and, as expected, sharp object, moving target…not a great mix.
“Baby, stop moving!”
“I can’t help it. I’m extremely ticklish in certain areas,” he protested, pulling on my hips and seating me down on his lap.
From my new found position, I was able to access more of his face.
“What? Even this area?” I asked, purposely gliding my fingernails under his chin.
A high-pitched giggle formed in the back of his throat, unleashed by my need to continue my attack. His laughter was music to my ears, consuming me all at once.
“Why do I get the feeling you’ve never done this before?” he asked, growing wary as the razor neared his cheek.
“Because I haven’t…”
His eyes went wide with fear, though he managed a quick smile. It seemed, amongst his caution, he wanted me to do this. He often made appointments to have the local barber’s sort him out and that must’ve been a pain in the arse at the very least.
“I used to take tasks like these for granted,” he shared, tilting his head in the opposite direction in which I was working.
“Shaving?” I asked, taking my time on his left cheek.
The metal blade worked over his face in smooth motions, ridding tiny hairs in its wake.
“Yes. I miss it.”
“You know what I miss?” I asked, gliding the razor along his chin. “Being able to touch my toes.”
Without warning, he scoffed and caught his chin on the razor, drawing blood. I quickly retreated my arm, and grabbed a tissue, holding it to the small wound.
“What has touching your toes got to do with shaving?” He laughed, indifferent to his minor stab wound.
“Well, as we get older, our bodies betray us. I can no longer touch them and you can no longer see.”
“Your point…” he prompted, guessing there had to be one.
He knew me too well.
“It’s okay to not be perfect at everything. Me? I’m intelligent, observant and hilarious.” He smiled as I paused briefly, basking in my own pig-headedness. “But I can’t touch my toes like I used to. And you? You’re brave, sexy and a damn good Dad…”
“But I can’t see like I used to,” he whispered, making sense of my randomness.
I made quick work on his right cheek, managing the entire thing without causing injury and afterwards, ran a warm flannel across his face. All remnants of shaving cream were gone, as was the previous stubble gracing his face.
He felt for his jaw and smiled, seemingly impressed. “Much better.”
I binned his disposable razor and grabbed hold of the shaving cream, keen to tidy up our, now, messy bathroom.
“Do you really miss it?” I asked, pulling the plug on the sink.
I watched as the water spiralled downwards.
“Shaving? Not as much as some things,” he admitted, wiping his face on the hand towel. “I tell you what I do miss though. Driving.”
A sudden idea popped into my head and before I could stop myself, I sat on his lap again, bringing my mouth to meet his ear.
“You don’t have to miss it,” I whispered, kissing him afterwards. “Do you trust me?”
He offered me a look in the form of scepticism, though proceeded to nod, thankfully going along with my plan. His eyes were a brilliant green under the bathroom lighting and reminded me of trees in the summer time. Once again, it baffled me just how useless they were but I didn’t let myself dwell on that for too long.
“Come with me,” I encouraged, pulling on his arm and all but forcing him down the stairs.
He stumbled on the bottom step but I kept him sturdy, though perhaps it was my fault to begin with. I was far too excited, yet wanted to initiate some of that feeling into Spencer. He missed the thrill of driving but he didn’t have to. Not if I had anything to do with it.
“Where are you taking us?” he asked, inquisitive as ever.
I grabbed the car keys from the kitchen counter and instructed him to throw on some shoes, which he did so in an instant. Afterwards, I guided us both towards my car and opened the door to the driver’s side, smiling to myself like an idiot.
“In you get,” I demanded, sensing his surprise.
“Trust me. Get in.”
In the end, I needed to nudge his side and pat him on the bottom before he made a move and even though compliant, he still seemed unsure of my plan.
“Ready?” I asked, climbing on top of his lap.
His hands instantly went to my hips but I soon positioned them on the steering wheel, getting myself comfortable. It was a tight squeeze and I found myself having to bend my neck a little but I didn’t care. Not one bit. The things this man had done for me in the past were incredible. The least I could do was gift him this one joyous occasion.
“Put your feet on top of mine,” I instructed, feeling for the biting point.
He did as he was told and laughed against my hair, squeezing the steering wheel.
“You’re crazy, do you know that?” He smiled and positioned his chin on top of my shoulder, kissing me briefly on his travels.
“So I’ve been told. You ready to drive again, Mr. Michaels?”
“You bet your bony arse I am,” he chuckled, moving me into a slightly more comfortable arrangement on his lap.
The way I was previously seated must’ve been painful for him. “You don’t normally complain about my arse. You love it really,” I sassed, starting the engine.
“I love spanking it,” he teased, tensing up as I backed the car out from the drive.
He held his breath and gripped harder at the steering wheel, out of practice by a long shot.
“You okay back there?”
“All good,” he replied, kissing my neck once more.
As we cleared the last few inches, I moved his left hand towards the gear stick and brought our feet over to engage the clutch.
“Put us in gear.”
He slipped us into first and off we went, cruising down the deserted road. All around us was darkness; the car’s headlights being our only source of direction. I briefly looked up and found thousands of stars winking back at me, amidst the navy blue sky–another thing I loved about living here. London didn’t have the luxury of stars, thanks to its many artificial lights and industrial pollution. Such a shame.
“Second?” he asked, breaking through my stupor.
With the clutch down, he slipped us into second and smiled as I pressed further on the accelerator, building up our speed. In no time, we were up to fifth and doing sixty along a huge stretch of deserted country road, certainly breaking a few laws in our need to do so.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
Unavoidable joy spread through my body at hearing his appreciation. “You don’t have to thank me.”
“Yes, I do,” he insisted, feeling the speed of the car drop and anticipating our need to go down a gear. “I love you, Jessica.”
I smiled into the darkness of our interior, elated by his declaration. I’d never tire of hearing him say those words. He loved me. And no matter how much I heard him say it, I’d never quite believe my luck.
“Ti amo, Spencer,” I replied, slowly decreasing our speed until we came to a controlled stop.
With the engine off, the car filled with our shallow breaths, drawing attention to the endless adrenaline pumping through our blood.
“That was incredible,” he revealed, pulling on my waist and burying his head in my hair.
We stayed still for quite some time and simply allowed time to slip away from us. Nothing else mattered in that moment except for each other. All of our previous pain and suffering vanished and with it, our current thoughts and worries. Yes, our plan with Isy was risky and yes, there was a chance it wouldn’t work but right now, I didn’t think about that. Neither of us did. Instead, we concentrated on only each other. We were alone in this car, with nothing but the stars keeping us company. And, for the first time in a long time, I felt at peace. Finally.