“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”
As Michael stood with Chloe and the workers in the hallway, he contemplated the sudden hostility between the cousins. He had observed the three of them on countless occasions and it was safe to say that three were almost always in sync with other. They spoke through simple glances and body language.
He remembered how they would lean in and whisper something in Violet’s ear if she was looking too lost or stiff. Before leaving the reception the previous night, Chloe had just brushed her hand across Violet’s cheek and he knew that the gesture had somehow managed to reassure Violet. He looked speculatively at Chloe and wondered again about the obvious discord between his wife and her.
He busied himself with providing his home address to the workers and gave them directions to reach his house.
“We know how to get there Mr. Falcon. It’s a bit difficult to miss,” the worker joked.
He gave a brief smile and turned away to address Chloe. “Can you find out what is taking her so long?”
She raised an eyebrow and told him in a cold voice, “I am not the one who made the comment about happy homes to shake her up.”
His face remained blank. He took a moment and steadied his anger before answering in an equally cold voice, “Let’s talk in the living room.”
He grabbed her elbow and led her firmly towards the room. He felt her stiffen and knew she wanted to wrestle her arm back but he tightened his grip a bit and she settled, not wanting to create a bigger scene than the one she had already made.
“Look I don’t know what sort of relationship you have with others, but I will not tolerate that sort of attitude. Just because you’re my wife’s cousin-”
“Ha! Wife! You bastard! You-”
“What’s going on?” Violet asked from the doorway.
Michael turned his head to look at her and almost missed from saving himself from a kick to his nether regions. He pushed aside Chloe’s knee, making her stumble into a chair.
“What is going on?” Violet asked again in a slightly panic stricken voice as she rushed into the room. She helped Chloe stand up and turned to look at him with a questioning gaze.
“Don’t ask me! I am not the one resorting to violence to deal with disagreements,” he said coldly. He narrowed his eyes at Chloe but she refused to meet his gaze.
“I’ll deal with the movers.” She shifted her gaze to look at him and he noted with some alarm that she looked distressed. She looked between him and Chloe, trying to decide which problem to deal with first but he was in no mood to babysit. He swiftly turned around without waiting for a response, kicking himself mentally for wanting her to come with him. He was almost at the end of the hallway when she spoke up.
“Michael! Wait! I am sorry; I don’t know what is wrong with her. What happened between you two?”
“You should ask her because I don’t have any clue.”
She bit her lip and swiped at the lock of her that had escaped her pony. His hand twitched. He wanted to kiss off the frown and confusion from her eyes but he knew he wouldn’t want it to stop there. He had already come close to taking her on the bed with the door open and he didn’t want to give all the workers and Chloe a matinee show, he thought wryly.
“Why don’t you go and talk to her and I’ll handle the moving part? I’ll be careful with all your things.” He smiled to reassure her though that was the last thing he wanted to do. Seeing those paintings irritated him for some reason but the distress in her eyes alarmed him more. She bit her lower lip again and he almost dragged her against him to kiss her senseless, but then she smiled, a small, hesitant and shy smile and he forgot what he was thinking.
“Thank you,” she said ducking her head. Then looked up and with surprising alacrity kissed him on the cheek and raced back to the living room. He felt his eyes widen and his smile spread. He chuckled and shook his head side to side, finding the entire situation ridiculous.
She was way too shy and skittish and, very easy to read. She was also beautiful and the best part was that she didn’t even know she was beautiful. Her choice of outfit this morning revealed that she obviously chose comfort over style. He wondered how fast he could get her to get out of those jeans and t-shirt once they reached home but sighed when he saw the movers waiting in the hallway.
“Come on, I’ll show you the way.”
He led the workers to Violet’s room and gave careful instructions about handling the books and the paintings. He walked out of the room to talk in privacy when James called him. He flipped his phone shut after a long gruelling conversation. Demetri Stoltidis was a bastard he thought with a chuckle. A clever bastard, he amended with grudging respect.
He was a ruthless businessman and wanted to make the maximum profit from a failing company. Well, Michael could be more ruthless and had no plans to part with more than the company deserved. But regardless of his business ethics, Michael liked the guy. He was intelligent and brilliant at building famous nightclubs and Michael was thinking of opening one. Maybe he could collaborate with Demetri and hire him for his expertise.
His train of thought was broken when Violet stormed out of the living room and almost crashed into him.
“Woah! What’s the hurry?” He asked steadying her when she stumbled.
She looked up and looked away but not before he saw the sheen of tears in her eyes.
“Hey! What happened?” He looked behind her but didn’t see Chloe coming out of the room. She sniffled and took a step back, making his arms fall from her shoulders.
“Nothing. Is the packing done? Were they careful? Did you tell them to be careful?”
He stared at her for a few moments trying to figure out if he should press her to reveal the cause of her tears but the vulnerable expression made him think twice. She obviously didn’t want to talk about it and he wasn’t really good with tears anyway. Maybe she would tell him if she wanted to tell him, he decided. Coward, his conscience whispered but he ignored it.
He nodded and gestured to the almost empty room. She looked around him and nodded. A few workers were gathering up the last of her books. The desk and bookshelf had already been taken out and the room looked empty now. There were no paintings on the walls and only the photographs on her nightstand remained. She walked towards them and packed them up in a thinner box.
“Let’s go,” she said walking towards him.
“You don’t want to say goodbye or anything?” He was surprised. Didn’t women like saying goodbye? They appeared to be pretty angry if he ever never said goodbye before breaking up, he thought in puzzlement.
She shook her head and walked out. He shrugged and followed after her. He expected Chloe to come and say goodbye but neither did she appear nor did Violet look for her. She bypassed the wall of photographs and headed straight out of the door.
Well, this was obviously not a small disagreement and he wondered about the cause of the sudden hostility between the cousins but Violet seemed determined not to talk. By the time he reached the car park, she was already waiting near the passenger side. She looked mutinous, he thought. Her lips were pursed and in a straight line. Her eyes revealed nothing but the strong clenching of her jaw and the stiff body language obviously betrayed her anger.
He sighed. He wanted to discuss more about their marriage but her mood was enough to warn him. He had really wanted to know her thoughts about the marriage now that the situation had somehow changed. That is why he had made the comment about “our house.”
It had started out as such a nice day, he thought with a small sigh. He had woken up with her in his arms, had kissed her passionately twice even before the morning was over, and would have done more on going back home if she would have been in a good mood. Maybe he could joke her out of it he thought with sudden clarity.
Yeah right, because you’re just so good at cheering people up, he thought sarcastically. If Ian or Josh were in a foul mood, he would give them a piece of his mind and tell them to suck it up. Since he had never had any female friends, he didn't know how to deal with their anger.
They reached the house before the movers and he led the way towards the room he wanted to give her as a study. There was a couch arranged around a coffee table and the room had a French window. He turned towards her and waited expectantly.
She looked wondrously around the room and immediately gravitated towards the window. The window had a view of the gardens and the scent of freesias wafted in when she opened them. He waited for her to turn before telling her that it was hers.
“Mine?” She looked at him wide-eyed.
“Yes yours,” he smiled liking this expression better than the previous indifferent one.
“You don’t have to give me such a big room. I don’t need such a big one.”
“I think your books would disagree,” he said in an amused tone. “We can buy you a bigger bookshelf to accommodate all of them,” he said with a smile.
“No! I mean, I need a new bookshelf but I’ll buy another one. As in, I don’t want to replace this one.”
He nodded thoughtfully; so she was sentimental.
“Can I hang the paintings here?”
He stiffened at the question. He struggled with his emotions for a few moments before he nodded and turned around.
“Thank you, Michael,” she said again.
He turned around and stared thoughtfully at her.
“I am afraid a thank you is not going to suffise.”
“Meaning that I need some sort of gift too.”
“Oh! Would you like a book to read? I have many,” she said with an innocent smile.
“No no, I don’t want to read,” he chuckled as he walked towards her.
“You don’t?” She looked positively aghast.
“Nope, but there is another way you can thank me,” he slipped his arms around her waist.
“No wait, why don’t you want to read?” She slapped a hand on his chest and looked up at him.
This time he laughed and said, “Because I am more interested in doing this,” and swooped down to capture her lips.
He was laughing when his lips touched hers but, the laughter disappeared as his blood heated with every passing second. Her hands were trapped between their chests but, she managed to free them and wrap it around his neck in a hesitant move. It heated his body more and made his imagination run wild. He wrapped his arms more fully against her body and pulled her close, wishing he had closed the door so that he could just take her on the couch.
Maybe it isn’t a bad idea, he thought in his lust induced haze. He led her gently towards the couch and was going to flip them over so that she would be on his lap when his phone vibrated. She pulled away but his mouth followed.
The ringing died down but picked up again. He separated from her with a groan, and grabbed his phone from his too tight jeans.
“Hello! This better be bloody important” he barked into the phone.
“Sir, I am Tony from Davy’s Movers. We are outside the gate and don’t know the security code,” the worker said in a nervous tone.
“Yeah, I’ll let you in,” he said with a sigh.
“You’re so big,” Violet said in wonder and ran a finger over the bulge in his pants.
He choked on his breath.
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