Here We Go Again
There was a knock at the door and my stomach erupted with butterflies. My mom gave me a sidewise glance, as I rushed out of the bedroom and towards the door. I was hoping it didn’t show, but I was beyond and above excited about this date. But the smirk on mom’s face told me I was doing a terrible job at hiding it…
I opened the door and there he was. He was wearing a white T-shirt, dark jeans, and a suite-dark blue jacket, that made him look absolutely yummy! Then there was his face. His bright smile, his eyes, his sharp jawline--- He was like the yummiest and perfect piece of candy that I…
Erm-Ah-I---I’ll spare you the rest of that thought!
“Hi!” I breathed out, before I did or said something that would result in me embarrassing myself.
“Hi!” he smiled and did his signature blushing. And the way he smiled? Like I was the only one – the only person – in his life, that mattered. My heart skipped a beat and I realized that I once again was in need of a zookeeper…
“I hope I’m not too overdressed?” He gestured his clothes--- and gave me a perfect excuse to once again check his perfect, athletic body.
“Not at all,” I replied, having shamelessly given him one over (Oh come on! He asked me to! Don’t judge a girl for taking advantage of that *wink-wink*)
“Come in!” I said, stepping aside allowing him to enter. Yet it wasn’t until he was standing inside our little apartment, that I realize how abnormally tall he was. As in he literally had to crunch down to get in through the door and standing up straight, there was barely room for a breath of air between him and the top of the ceiling.
“Thanks,” he smiled, unfazed by his surroundings and I realized, that he’d never taken his eyes off me. My heart suddenly skipped a beat… “Oh, I-I got you this.” He then blurted out, picking something out of his pocket.
It was a small, white box, wrapped with a beautiful silver-colored silk bow.
“I didn’t know what kind of flowers you like and the only chocolates I could find were heart-shaped,” he grimaced, the awkwardness rolling off him in thick waves. And sure enough, his shy eyes and pink cheeks were testimony to the truth to what he spoke: “Which I thought it would be too embarrassing.”
Surprised by his thoughtfulness, I blushed. I muttered all the necessities: ‘didn’t have to’ and ‘thanks’, but really, it was a miracle that anything coherent got passed my lips. My heart had lodged itself in my throat and my mind was concluding all kinds of bizarreries from this. Mainly, that Landon liked me!
With a shake of my head – to clear my thoughts – and quivering hands, I opened it. And for the life of me, couldn’t stop the gasp that slipped passed my lips. It was a beautiful gold neckless with a small, simple yet beautiful red ruby.
“Landon,” I hitched in awe. “It’s beautiful!”
“You said you liked red,” he bashfully commented, while the smile on his face could light up a city.
“Yeah,” I admitted, absentmindedly and completely drawn in by the beautiful item. “It’s recently become my favorite color.”
I blushed hard when I heard myself confess to that. But I couldn’t help it, since it was the truth. Ever since I first saw his eyes, their color had haunted my dreams. And no, not in a bad way! More in a ‘panties drenched the next morning’ sort of way…
If possible, his smile widened and, I couldn’t help but think, that he looked like someone who just won the world.
“Help me put it on?” I quickly distracted myself--- and before I started to drool! He gently took the necklace off my hands and gently put it around my neck. I felt a slight shiver when his warm skin touched mine. I tried to hide it, but it sent a shiver down my spine, and – I think I dreamt it because I don’t think things like that aren't possible! – but I could have sworn I felt small sparks ignite where he touched. Nothing bad, but a delightful buzz, that made me want to lean into him.
He removed his hands all too soon and I had to force my body to turn around to face him again. He beamed at me, complimenting my looks – something that went way over my head, but I think I replied with yet another ‘thanks’. I couldn’t help but mimic his smile. He was so kind and gentle, like no other man I’d ever come across. He was handsome, but his selflessness and thoughtfulness towards others, made him seem almost surreal. And I more or less expected him to snap at me at any moment and I’d realize that it was all a lie. But you--- you just couldn’t fake sincerity like that and it… It made me---
“Are you going to stay out there all night, or do I get to meet the gentleman that’s taking my daughter out tonight?” Mom suddenly called from the living room, bringing us both out of our trans-like state.
“Freckles!” I cursed under my breath and once again felt my cheeks heat up. Without thinking too much, I guided Landon into the small space and introduced him to my mother: “Erm, Mom, I want you to meet Landon Stone. Landon, this is my mom, Cecile Smith.”
“Nice to meet you, ma’am,” he shook her hand, like a perfect gentleman. Mom smiled back and tried to get up – to which Landon automatically reached out a hand to help her.
“You need an extra pillow?” he asked, although she was – as always – perfectly hiding her discomfort. My eyes widened at how quickly he caught on to that.
“Well, aren’t you a knight in shining armor,” Mom grinned, giving me an impressed look behind his back.
“Erm, ah…,” he stuttered and instantly blushed, becoming his usual awkward self within a blink of an eye. “T-thanks?”
“I’ll just go get my jacket,” I decided to put an end to his discomfort and leaned down to hug mom. “Please don’t scare him away?” I whispered, to which mom gave me one of her infamous ‘ME?!’ look. I grinned and hurried back into my room, which was a mess because of said date.
For now, I just prayed that he was still there when I got back out….
When I got back into the living room, Landon’s face was a beetroot red but smiling, while my mother was laughing louder and more sincere than I’d heard in a long while.
“Lexi,” Landon’s attention instantly switched to me, as he got up. He gave me another quick over, smiling. And again, I got that feeling like I was the only one in the world that he saw like that.
“Whatever she said, I’ll deny everything,” I said, pointing to my mother before I leaned down and gave her a quick kiss. “Bye Mom!”
“You kids have fun,” she smiled at me before she turned her attention to Landon. “And take good care of her now.”
“I will,” he said, his intense eyes looking further into me than any man had ever gone before. “I promise.”
My heart jumped a beat, and before my deranged, hormone-ized body took over, pulled him into my bedroom, and ravished him, I took his hand and led us out of the apartment and the apartment building.
“I really like your mom,” he said when we reached the pavement.
“Thanks,” I smiled, happy that they got along. And yes, had I heard it from any other man, I’d be reluctant to believe them. But I had a feeling that Landon couldn’t lie to save his life – also if he was trying to impress a girl. “And I’m sorry if she made you---,” I tried to find another word than ‘awkward’.
“Not at all,” he grinned, casting a last glance at the building we just exited. “Is it just your and her?”
“Yeah,” I nodded, decided just to confess my ‘sins’ to him straight off the block. “I’m what you would call an office fling gone bad.” He gave me a questioning look. “Mom was my father’s secretary.”
“Oh,” he managed to say, without sounding judgmental or overbearing. “Married?”
“They both were,” I told him, feeling a bit sheepish. I knew that most people who found out had a moral fit--- but Landon seemed strangely calm about it. “Mom’s husband demanded she had an abortion, but she didn’t want to,” I continued, still wary of Landon’s reaction. I noticed his jaw clench at the mention of abortion, but his shoulders visibly sagged, when I told him, mom didn’t want to. “My father and his wife offered mom money to give birth to me, hand me over to them, and then forget all about me.” Landon’s eyes widen in surprise. Like the thought of someone giving up their baby was absurd to him. I smiled, relieved at his reaction. “Mom chose to run away and never look back.”
“So--- Smith?” he asked and I knew what he was implying.
“Mom changed her last name,” I confirmed his suspicion. “Her original name was Rossi.”
I don’t know why I blurted out all of our secrets to this man – a man who in many ways still was a complete stranger. But I did. I don’t know what it was, but within the depth of my guts, I knew I could trust him. Even when trying to argue with my logic, that I shouldn’t, my subconscious all but scoffed at me, asking if I’d suffered some kind of brain damage.
So yeah, I might be going a teeny-tiny little bit mad…
“Italian?” he asked, and this time wasn’t able to hide the surprise in his voice. I nodded. “And your father? You know his name?”
“Walter Bruce,” I told him again. “Which is the one thing I don’t get. Who in their right mind starts an affair with someone called Walter?!”
“It’s ok if you don’t want to talk about it,” he continued, reading my mood perfectly. Talking about where I came from was---
“But I do want to ask you,” he said in a serious tone and stopped to look at me. “You’re mom. Is she’s sick?”
“No,” I replied and again found myself confessing personal issues to him. “She fell at work and broke her back. She had to have surgery, but it didn’t go as planned.” I couldn’t help the pain that shot tough me, at the thought of the hell it had been going through all of that.
“She’s in bed because of the pain.”
“But,” Landon frowned, stepping closer; his heat and concern wrapping around me like a blanket. “The workplace and hospital--- they cover her care, right?”
“Unless you know a good lawyer who’s willing to sue a hospital and will work for free…,” I shrugged, without trying to draw out more of his sympathies. That he gave for free! “We got some compensation, but…” I sighed, feeling frustrated by the mountain I knew, we still had to overcome. “She needs another surgery.”
“You’re amazing, you know that right?” he surprised me by saying. I looked up--- and found my heart yet again jumping out of my chest, seeing the adoration and admiration in his eyes. “Your mother is very lucky to have you as her daughter.”
As beetroot red, as Landon was when he was with my mother, paled in comparison to the red that flashed across my face at that moment. My breath hitched and when I spoke, it came out as a high-pitched squeal, making me – if possible – blush even more.
“Thanks,” I said in said squeal and mortifyingly embarrassing voice.
Oh, where is a hole in the ground when you need one?!
I knew that a lot of people in my shoes perhaps wouldn’t have made the choices or sacrifices I made in order to take care of my mothers. Quit school, work ungodly hours and have no social life because my mom needed almost around the clock care. She could still go to the bathroom alone, but someone – that’ll be me! – had to help her get up and down, in and out of beds, stools and – yeah, you’ve guessed it – toilets. Even now, going on a date, I was frightened and nervous about leaving her alone for a long period of time.
So hearing Landon say something like that--- it meant something!
“And honestly, just say the word and I can help you out,” he continued, still looking like a businessman out to make a deal. “Getting a lawyer and get her care until you get real compensation. Like a loan.”
“A loan?” I echoed, my eyebrows raised suspiciously.
“Yeah,” he replied like it was logical. “Once you have the money, you’ll pay me back.”
“And if I can’t?” I questioned – because there was no way in hell, I was about to become some kind of charity case!
“I’m sure we can make other arrangements,” he said, glancing my way. Now, hearing those words from any other man, and I would have slapped him--- actually, I’d be more likely to kick him in the balls, for even suggesting ‘other arrangements’! But Landon?
Wait for it---!
“A third date, perhaps?” he asked with a shy smile.
See what I mean?
“How about we get number two underway first?” I grinned, feeling giddier and more nervous than a teenager with a crush.
“Alright, Miss Smith,” he said, holding out his arm for me to take. “Where to?”
“This way, Romeo,” I said, pulling him along. It wasn’t a long walk from where I lived and to be honest, had been the first thing I thought of when we started talking about seeing each other again.
“Is that…?” Landon grinned in a mix of surprise and laughter. I’d taken him to an amusement park at the bay. I sued to work here in the summer when I was younger. I nervously bit my lips, hoping it wasn’t too lame compared to the stuff he’d be able to impress me with. When we made this deal, I’d insisted, that if he offered the first date, I got to decide the next.
And I knew the owner, who would let us in for free!
Sort of embarrassing to take a millionaire out on a cheap date, but literally: this was all I could afford…
“What’s wrong, tough guy?” I mused, trying not to let the embarrassment show. “Too scared to go on the Ferris Wheel?”
But to my surprise, Landon flashed me the biggest smile and like a child on Christmas, grabbed my hand and all but ran in.
“Come on!” he hollered, pulling us to the first and closest ride. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so excited in my life – nor have I laughed and smiled so much in my entire life! Landon was down to try and do just about anything.
The picture of a child let loose in a candy-store came to mind…
“M’Lady! You’re candy-floss,” He said in a knightly manner, handing me the pink fluffy cloud of sugar. I curtsy, like I was wearing a ballgown and not a flowery-knee-length dress, playing along with his antics.
And everything was going well, until…
Suddenly Landon tensed up. His body was rigid and alert. His head whipped up, eyeing the crowd with an almost predator sort of gaze. And I could have sworn that under his brown lenses, his red eyes flashed a dangerous black.
“What?” I asked alarmed. I’d never seen this side to him. It was wild--- animal-like. Power and authority suddenly oozed off him making my heart drop, while also--- instinctively I wanted to move closer to him. As if something inside me urged me to do it. To seek protection from him…
Instantly – almost like he just remembered that I was there – he turned his attention back to me, eyeing me in a way I wouldn’t describe. Like he was afraid, that I’d disappear right from under his nose…
“I just had a feeling that we're being watched,” he breathed, trying to sound calm. But the second he said it, he stepped closer, as if wanted to shield me with his own body.
“Everything alright?” I asked, not liking the idea of ‘being watched’ at all.
“Yeah, sure,” he offered me a half-hearted smile and shrugged. “It’s probably just some photographer or something. Don’t worry about it.”
I was halfway through a nod when what he said, finally hit me.
“Does it happen a lot?” I asked, suddenly feeling WAY more exposed than I did a second ago. But by golly, what did I expect, going out with a millionaire? A very famous millionaire at that…
“More than I care to admit,” he said dismissively – trying as usual not to blush – and paid the candyfloss man. He turned his head one more time around, and – yeah sure, color me insane – I could have sworn he was sniffing the air. But whatever he did, it apparently seemed futile, because moments later – and I’m not making this up! – there was a frustrating growl vibrating in his chest!
I’d just opened my mouth to ask if he was ok, but he cut me off, with another suggestion:
“Would you like to take a walk on the pier?” he asked like there was nothing wrong. Yet his words--- it seemed like he was begging me not to argue with him, and just do what he wanted. As if he was trying to protect me…
Before I’d even managed to think, I nodded and let him follow me to the mole. Relieved, he walked as close to me as humanly possible. There was barely room for air between us, yet he managed to remain a perfect gentleman and didn’t brush against me or put his arm around me, as to claim me. And on every other date – I would appreciate it. But right now? I wanted to have him closer. I wanted to feel him, to have him assure me, that whatever was behind us, he’d protect me from…
As if sensing my thoughts, his head whipped around one more time, scanning the crowd. And once he was done, a satisfied smirk crept across his otherwise innocent features.
“They’re gone now,” he assured me pausing at the end of the line.
“How do you know?” I asked, looking behind us--- but not seeing anything that would suggest someone was retreating. And besides, weren’t we even more exposed out here? There weren’t that many people out here and---
“They can’t get you alone,” he said, answering the question I hadn’t asked – but apparently was written all over my face. “And they’re gone. Just trust me on that.”
I nodded, instinctively believing in him again. The sun was setting, and the temperature had dropped considerably in the last couple of minutes. A cold breeze crept up my arms, giving me goosebumps, despite the jacket I was wearing.
“Here,” he instantly said, taking off his jacket and gave it to me. I took it, noticing it was even warm to hold.
“You’ll freeze,” I exclaimed, trying to give it back. But he just laughed and replied, by holding out his arm for me to take. A little hesitant – as I still remembered the weird sparks, that I’d felt when he put on my necklace – I put my hand on his arm. My breath hitched when I felt them again, but--- I also found myself completely unable to pull away. They were so pleasant and comfortable, I found myself wanting to pet the man.
It was official: Lexi Smith, you’ve lost your mind…
“I feel sparks,” I muttered--- like a bloody idiot!
“What?!” Landon replied, unable to hold in his surprise.
Why is it, that reality hits you only AFTER you’ve messed up?!
“You’re hot!” I exclaimed instead – like that was making things better! “Warm! You’re skin, it’s--- warm!” I continued to embarrass myself, taking my hand back as if I’d just burned it. But the half-satisfied, grinning smug on Landon’s face--- Oh, he definitely liked what he was hearing. And the sad part was: it wasn’t a lie!
“I’m naturally hot-blooded,” he said instead, so I – thankfully – could finally breathe again. “Take me back here in summer and we’ll have a real issue.”
I smiled and nervously bit my lips. Thankful, that Landon was the kind of man, that let me get off the hook by saying something like that. Not that I hadn’t already told him countless times already that he was hot, but the situation was sort of different when you’re having an argument and when you’re on a date!
“So,” I sighed, enjoying the warmth and scent – yes! Scent. The jacked smelled like Landon and it was divine! As in ‘my trousers are wet now’-divine! – that his jacket provided. “This isn’t totally lame?”
“Are you kidding me?” Landon smiled back at me, with his usual boyish charm. “I feel like I have to outdo you by a helicopter ride or something.”
“Sound---nice,” I gulped. So… was this a good time to tell him, I’m terrified of heights?
“Hmm, I guess I have to learn how to fly a helicopter then…” he muttered jokingly, while also traces of truth were in there. I laughed – relieved that I still could avoid disaster.
“If it’s any consolation, I’m terrified of heights,” I confessed, feeling more than happy that my feet got to stay on the ground. Right where I liked them!
“Really,” he asked, almost challengingly. “You don’t look like the type of girl who’s afraid of anything.”
“Why thank you,” I replied, taking the compliment he didn’t deliver very well. “But yes, I am deadly scared of heights and I have a phobia of tomatoes.”
“Tomatoes?!” he frowned, and I leaned closer to him.
“I don’t trust a fruit that looks like a vegetable,” I whispered, enjoying the look on his face when realization dawned upon him. “The last one was a joke,” I explained anyway, enjoying seeing him grin from up close.
“I got it,” he whispered back, also leaning closer. We were face to face now. I could feel his sugary breath on my cheeks, and his scent--- oh, who do I describe it? Like sweet herbs and-and just MALE! Just this distinguished smell of pure masculinity and authority, that---that just wrapped you up, swept you off your feet, and instantly let you feel you were safe and-and loved…!
For a second, I closed my eyes and just enjoyed it. I didn’t open them again until I suddenly felt the sparks from Landon’s hand that gently tugged away a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
“How is it that the girl of my dreams has been right under my nose this entire time and I never noticed her?” Landon sighed dreamingly, still looking straight into my eyes.
Now it was my turn to blush.
“A maid is very easy to overlook,” I tried to cover up my red face--- and to distract myself from the direction my thoughts were taking. “We only get noticed if we don’t do our jobs.”
He blushed and I could see the regret and shame in his eyes. Instantly I regretted my words and wished that I could kick myself.
“But hey, don’t feel bad. A good maid is like playing spy,” I joked, trying to make him feel better. “If you get in and out without being seen you’re doing it right.”
It looked like it worked because his beautiful smile was back. And I could breathe easily again…
“Can I kiss you?”
Until I heard that question!
Surprised I looked up. Wow! He actually asked permission! Wait! He asked?! Damn, how do you say ‘yes’ without sounding desperate?
“You may,” I replied nervously--- and instantly cursing myself on how bad it sounded.
But that was quickly forgotten the second he leaned closer. His soft lips brushed against mine and instantly those hot, amazing sparks seemed to jolt my entire body to life.
The kiss was short, but tender, just barely making contact. The only prof I had, that he’d even touched me, was the buzzing electricity that coursed through my body. I all but felt disappointed that it was over so soon…
As if sensing my thoughts, his arms suddenly wrapped around me and his lips pressed once again against mine.