Incandescence (Part I)

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Offerings

I spent the rest of the day with Bradley and his family. Victoria certainly enjoyed playing up her matriarch façade, all the while trying her best to intimidate me.

Once I could see past Victoria’s tactics, her interrogation became almost predictable, that said, Bradley’s mother made my mine look like a saint.

For lunch we ordered Italian and after a few hours, Bradley’s family left, leaving the two of us home alone.

‘You handled mothers’ antics well’ Bradley complimented.

‘I’ve had years of training with my mum’ I confidently replied as we both laughed.

‘You’re probably tired, why don’t you go to your room and lie down. Your room is the one right there’ Bradley pointed to the main room.

‘You might recall that I promised your mother that we’d stay in separate rooms’ I winked as I made my way towards the guest room.

‘I’m serious’ Bradley interjected ‘I’ve moved most of my clothing into the second room, so the main room is now yours. It’s larger and the view is much nicer, and seeing you’ll be stuck indoors for the next six weeks, it makes sense that you get this room. No arguments!’ he asserted the last words just before I could open my mouth to object.

‘Bradley, I can’t kick you of your room, it’s not fair, you’ve done more than enough’ I tried rationalising.

‘As I said earlier, this is now your room. If you’d like me to use it, you’ll need to invite me to join you. But until then, I’ll be using the other room’. Bradley smirked and watched me walk into his room.

Walking in, Bradley’s scent engulfed me and I instantly felt my body relax. Making my way to Bradley’s wardrobe, it dawned on me, other than the few items mum had packed, I didn’t have any clothes.

I walked into the living room and saw Bradley on the lounge flicking through TV channels. I sat down to join him ‘Couldn’t sleep?’ he asked.

‘Actually, I realized mum only packed me two dresses; I’ve got no sleepwear and I can’t go home to grab anything. You had everything planned except for my clothing’ I gave Bradley a sideward glance.

‘Why don’t you order some items online now, they’ll arrive by Monday. In the meantime, you’re welcome to prance around in your underwear, I’d love nothing more than for you to feel at home’ I could feel Bradley staring at me waiting for a reaction.

‘Women don’t prance around their homes in their underwear; I’ve no idea what you’ve seen in the movies, but I’m sorry to break it to you, it just doesn’t happen. Would you mind passing me that iPad so I can start shopping?’ I asked pointing to the iPad on the coffee table.

Bradley picked up the iPad and handed it to me. It didn’t take me long to fill my cart with clothing – mostly made up of strapless dresses and tops, shirts and shorts. I also grabbed a few pairs of shoes, underwear, swimmers and pajamas. I tried picking clothing that were easy to put on and take off; as I had no one to help me in Bradly's home. Whilst I appreciated his assistance, I could never ask him to dress me.

After an hour I was ready to securely checked out, but before I could proceed with the order, I realized I didn’t know the delivery address. Handing Bradley his iPad, I asked him to key in his address.

'51 items purchased in less than an hour, that would have to be a new world record’ Bradley joked.

‘Don’t go through my order’ I screeched, hoping he wouldn’t see the underwear in my shopping cart. I snatched the iPad off Bradley as soon as he keyed in his address and promptly submitted my order.

‘Relax, it’s only clothing’ Bradley chuckled before adding ‘In all seriousness, if you’d like to get comfortable you’re welcome to throw on one of my t-shirts’.

‘I might have to take you up on that offer later. But for now, how about we watch a movie’. I suggested.

We settled for comedy, and after it finished I got up to have a shower while Bradley prepared dinner. After showering I decided put on one of Bradley’s t-shirts and helped myself to a pair of his boxer shorts. To stop the boxer shorts from falling, I had to creatively twist and tuck them into position. I felt helpless at not being unable to feed my left arm through the sleeve; and not being able to pull my hair into a ponytail added to my frustration. I found myself walking into the kitchen annoyed at my situation.

‘Cute’ Bradley muttered to himself before adding ‘I didn’t think getting you in my pants would be so easy’.

‘I’m glad you think it’s funny; I mean what’s not to laugh at, I’ve been shot and can’t look after myself, I don’t have clothes and can’t even dress properly. I can’t even pull my hair into a ponytail.’ I was angry at Bradley even though I knew none of this was his fault.

Before I could continue my rant, he came over and held me in his arms and whispered ‘Sorry. Bad attempt at humor’. I rested my head against his neck and I stood there for a few minutes while he held me.

‘Crap dinner’ Bradley said as he quickly released his hold of me and ran back to the stir-fry that he had left on the stove. I stood there watching him hustle in the kitchen, while breathing in his scent that now lingered over me.

Fortunately, Bradley got to his stir-fry just in time and a few minutes later we sat down for dinner. I took a few bites before commenting ‘This is delicious. I never knew you could cook’.

‘There’s a lot you don’t know about me’ Bradley said before pouring us both a glass of wine ‘To getting to know each other’ he raised his glass and we toasted each other. I couldn't help but feel that as strange as this situation was, it actually felt right.

We ate the rest of the meal in relative silence, it was a peaceful silence where neither of us felt the need to talk.

After dinner I offered to clean up seeing as though Bradley had done all the cooking, but he wouldn’t allow it. I knew he was right as there wasn’t much I could do with one arm. Instead, I sat at the kitchen bench finishing my glass of wine while Bradley loaded the dishwasher.

It was then that I spotted my handbag, right where Bradley had left it when we first entered his apartment. I reached into my handbag and grabbed my phone. It was down to 8% battery, so I used the charger that was connected to the kitchen bench and then opened the group chat that I’d created a week earlier when I invited Bradley, Leonard, Amelia and Jacob to my place.

I started typing:
Hi everyone. I’m really sorry but I’ve had to skip town; I needed to get away from everything and clear my head. I didn’t mean to leave without saying goodbye to you all, but I needed to get out of town and away from everyone. If I am being watched, the last thing I want is for any of you to be targeted – I hope you can understand.

Hopefully the Police get a lead soon and I can return to my normal life. Until then, please take care of each other for me.

I'm hoping it won't be long before we can all have dinner together again xx

As soon as I hit send, I heard Bradley’s phone beep. I watched as he opened and read my message ‘Does your mind ever switch off?’ he asked as his fingers were busy typing.

Before I could respond my phone buzzed:

Bradley: Take care of yourself and don’t worry about work while you’re away. Let me know if you need anything

Amelia: Babe, tell me where you are and I’ll come and stay with you. You can’t be alone

Jacob: We can all take turns in taking care of you

Leonard: and I can bring you donuts. Where are you staying?

Me: Love you all, but this is the very reason I left without telling anyone where I was going. Please, just let me do this. Night everyone xx

And with that I received a few more messages from everyone and I let the chat end.

‘You handled that one well’ Bradley complimented.

‘I hope you don’t mind, but I need sleep’ I said while trying to disguise my yawn.

‘Let me show you how your bed works’ Bradley held my right hand and lead me to the bedroom.

‘Nice try Bradley but I know how a bed works’ I replied while shaking my head at him

‘Settle down angel’ he smirked while pointing to a remote control and I blushed knowing I had totally misread the situation. Seeing my embarrassment Bradley started laughing before handing me the remote. ‘It has an electric base’ he started ‘this should help you get into and out of bed comfortably. These buttons alter the position of the mattress and these ones here are for support’.

I thanked Bradley while taking the remote off him. Wishing each other a goodnight we both went to bed in our respective rooms.

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