Whisper softly or you're dead

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Chapter twenty.

New beginnings grow from friendship.

Sunday came, and Kate’s mood improved. Defoe was to pick her up at noon. It was warm but breezy. She dressed in a cardigan and jeans with a tank underneath and wore a boyish looking baseball cap. Bronzed and buxom she filled her clothes out well and felt the eyes of the male residents in her apartment block follow her to the sidewalk where she waited for her lift. Petite, she worked hard to remain slim and was fit and lithe.

Defoe was on time which augured well. He opened the door of his open-topped Mustang and drove speedily and confidently toward the bay.

‘‘The weather forecast said it might rain this afternoon so we had better walk before lunch. I’ll put the roof up just in case it pours.’’

Parking was hell, but they managed to find a space not too far from the promenade. It was old-fashioned with kiosks made to look Victorian and servers dressed in costume. It was high tide and the waves crashed across the paving stones. The wind was rising and blowing her hair out of the tight knot she had tried to confine it in.

Defoe put his arm around her and shielded her from the fiercely developing gale, warming her up.

He pushed an escaping curl from across her face. She shivered as the storm clouds began to gather and he took off his jacket and folded it around her shoulders, gathering her to him. She protested but he said, ‘‘Believe me I have suffered far colder and harsher conditions than this in the Marines. I’m largely inured to the cold and damp. Besides it gives me a reason to hug you to keep me warm.’’

She put her arm snuggly around his waist. It was nice being cherished and protected by a man for a change. Her previous lover had not been an affectionate man. He was not the protective sort and displays of public affection by him were very rare. She now realised what she had been missing. Defoe was a cool detached man, but his eyes warmed up when he looked at her, the look of a man who liked what he saw.

They walked around the bay for an hour but came back as the weather worsened. The gale was coming in from the sea and violently pitched a wave over the promenade. They ran back too late and were covered by the water and spray. Shaking themselves like wet dogs they ran towards the restaurants. Defoe looked at Kate, his pupils dilating as he took in her wet top sticking to her and outlining cold erect nipples.

‘‘Hm, I think you had better wear my shirt. I appreciate the view, but you resemble an entrant for a wet tee shirt competition. You won’t be welcome in a family restaurant.’’

He found a table while she changed into his shirt in the wash room. She had appreciated his fine musculature when he had removed his shirt. He might now be a pen pusher, but his six-pack showed he must work out each day. He had not a pound of excess flesh on him.

He ordered the food they both liked. His hair was now dry but ruffled, no longer the urbane psychologist but a good-looking man dressed in a figure hugging cardigan and tight jeans. He looked like any man out for a day with his girlfriend. She looked casual but elegant in his long linen shirt with sleeves rolled up and her jeans.

He wondered what she would look like if she had got out of his bed and put that shirt on to cover her lush curves. He had hoped she would wear shorts and show those long, bronzed legs but the weather had put the mockers on that. Her wet shirt had showed him breasts that were firm and a neat waist. Working in the gym had toned her body without adding ugly thick muscle. A small woman she looked chic, even in a man’s shirt.

He turned on the charm. He had no intention of losing this woman in the immediate future. Cold and wet she had not moaned as his other dates had done when caught in a storm. She had just laughed and borrowed his shirt when she had been drenched. She was a sport.

They shared jokes over the lunch watching the storm get worse. Warm and dry they didn’t want to leave. Kate looked at her watch. They had been there two hours and time had flown. It was getting darker. When there was a storm, the light fell quickly near the sea.

‘We had better leave,’’ said Defoe, ‘‘before we get caught in the eye of the storm.’’ Settling the bill and taking her hand, he shielded her again from the wind as they ran towards the parking area. They made it without getting totally drenched and he drove fast to her apartment.

‘‘You had better go in before you get a chill.’’ He took her key and opened the door, checking it was safe to enter and allowed her past. She invited him in. It was still only four thirty.

‘‘Have a look around,’’ she shouted from the bedroom as she changed out of his shirt. She resembled a quick-change artist and came out rather too quickly, worrying he might think she would invite him in before she was ready to bed him.

‘‘Would you like a tea or coffee to warm up?’’ she asked rather nervously.

‘‘Tea would be fine without sugar please.’’ He followed her into the kitchen, looking around and liking the warm but simple décor. Neat but not obsessively so, the kitchen was a room in which she clearly spent a great deal of time. It reflected her, warm with eclectic tastes. She said, ‘‘I like the garden especially. It is why I chose this place.’’

He went to the garden and came back. ‘‘You have talent,’’ but he looked grim. ‘‘For a lone woman, you have little security in this place. These windows and doors should be made of security glass. The alarm system is out of date. Anyone could get in without any skill.’’

‘‘I think I am pretty safety conscious. I asked the realtor to put in strong locks when I moved in. You’re right about the alarm system. I booked a security expert to improve them, but he let me down. I will ring another.’’

‘‘You need to quickly. You need extra security than this. Your job places you in danger. Your face has been in the newspapers often recently. Some creep may think you are fair game if you have put his friend or relative in the can.’’

‘‘You worry about me too much.’’

‘‘It is my job to worry about you,’’ he said. ‘‘You are my Woman.’’ He took the cups from her hand and placed them on the table. Walking closer to her, he made her back against the work surface, trapped. She felt time stood still as he put his hand on her waist holding her immobile and with the other he tipped her chin up until they met eye to eye.

‘‘I want to take good care of you Kate Masters,’’ he said and bent to take his first kiss.

Kate closed her eyes and he tightened his hold as she leaned forward to meet his lips. She tasted of strawberries and coffee ice cream and the wine they had tasted together. He knew he still had an upward struggle making her want to date him. Her professionalism made her build up barriers against him and he was steadily, determinedly tearing them down.

Deeply feminine despite her boyish clothes and sparky sense of humour she smelt of her scent of vanilla and roses. He inhaled the smell and deepened the kiss, pulling her tight against the length of him, wanting to be as close as was humanely possible to this young woman who delighted and intrigued him. She was like opening a well wrapped Christmas present, the top layers merely offering a tantalising glimpse of the pleasures to be found inside to the one who unconcealed them.

Kate wanted him. For years, she had pretended he was like the other guys who worked at the precinct. She had avoided him like the plague and been off-hand with him when he sat next to her in the canteen and he told her his black humoured jokes. It was not until he had warned her about Chase that she thought he might want to date her.

In his arms, she could not pretend any longer. As he deepened the kiss she responded just as passionately, holding him tightly to her as her arms wrapped around his neck. He smiled and when they came up for air he hugged her.

‘‘I have been wanting to do that for years,’’ he said. ‘’You wore a hands-off, do not touch label. I was scared to come close to you. I thought you didn’‘t like me much although I liked you. You were the prettiest, daintiest thing I had seen in years.’’

‘‘I thought you were like the other men at first, mocking me and then treating me as a challenge. Later I realised like me you didn’t date work colleagues, but I was drawn to you.’’

‘‘I grew on you like mould,’’ he joked self-deprecatingly but both were private persons. ‘‘We will keep our relationship to ourselves. Best not let the others know or we will never be allowed any peace.’’ She nodded resting her head against his shoulder. Big as he was, he gently smoothed her hair and kissed it and he put her away from him. He would not rush her though it was killing him holding back from seducing her. Every night he dreamed of her. He had this image of her in his bed, her golden hair splayed across his pillow, her luscious body curled against him; his arm around her holding her close. Going slowly with her was the hardest thing he had ever done. He was not normally slow in coming forward and in his time in the Marines he had played the game, collecting notches on his belt. He had now grown up and treated women with the respect they deserved, only dating mature women, unlike the many immature chics who hung around the Marine camps.

She handed him his cup of tea. He looked around him and said tentatively, ‘‘I would like to send a guy I know who owns a security firm around here to set up stronger locks and a better alarm system if you would be agreeable.’’

She pursed her lips and frowned. She could afford the system and his friend might be more reliable than the other she had called. Her antennae were twitching. Would Defoe now interfere in her life and dictate to her now he considered her his ‘woman’? She was used to making her own decisions. Her former lover had barely interfered in how she ran the

place when he lived there. Perhaps he did not care enough about her safety. Defoe made it clear he cared about her.

‘‘Very well, providing he talks with me before he installs it.’’

‘I’ll only make the contact and then after that he is all yours,’’ said Defoe feeling her hackles rise. She was too independent, this lady of his. ‘‘I’ll see you at work tomorrow, but I‘d like another date with you.’’

‘’So would I,’’ she replied and gave him a last kiss on his cheek. Tearing himself away from her, he picked up his shirt and he took his leave. He would see her at work tomorrow. He would walk her to her car after work and make another date.

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