I sat across the table from him, admiring his flawless skin and perfect features while I toyed with my chopsticks. I had been contemplating telling him the entire truth about Lydia, and asking him why he was lying to me about knowing her throughout dinner. The guilt I felt over keeping something from him made it hard for me to swallow my food. I knew he would be beyond livid with me, and I just didn't want to spend his last night home with him angry with me.
"Do you not like sushi?" He asked eyeing my barely touched plate.
"No, I do. I just am not very hungry right now."
"Not hungry? Is everything okay Ali?"
"Yes" I lied. "I'm just going to miss you." I gave him a halfhearted smile. He reached across the table taking my hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.
"I'll be back soon. Ali you are going to have to get better about this you know. I don't think I can take you being upset every time I have to leave town."
"Sorry" I replied softly. I knew I was pathetic but I was going to miss him.
"No, it's nothing to be sorry over. It just bothers me that I can't fix it. I don't like to see you upset"
"I'm just pouting. I'll be fine" I tried to perk up for his sake. I didn't want my mood ruining the evening.
"Which reminds me" He said releasing my hand "Be careful while I am gone. I have confidence in Norma and Richard but you need to keep yourself out of trouble too."
"What do you mean?" I asked my tone overly defensive.
"Just what I said, be careful. I don't want anyone having to come find you in the woods or anything." He winked. I let out a little sigh of relief he was referring to that whole mess with Kurt not my upcoming adventure with Heather. My guilt was clearly getting the better of me.
"Am I going to be apologizing for that for the rest of my life?" I asked hating that he had even brought it up.
"Maybe" His full lips pulling up at the corners into a brief smile before settling back down into a serious line. "I just don't want to have to actually kill anyone this time, and if something ever happened to you I would."
I exhaled slowly. I believed he really would kill someone over me. God knows he came close to doing so with Kurt. I got up from my seat and walked around the table towards him. I wrapped my arms around his neck as I climbed into his lap.
"Delaney I know you would and I love that about you. You make me feel safe" I kissed him lightly. He stood up cradling me in his arms and nuzzling my neck.
"You will always be safe when you're with me. It's when you're not with me that I worry. Just promise to be careful while I'm away." I nodded as I planted another kiss on his delicious mouth. "Good girl" he mumbled against my lips. "Let's see what I can do to help you work up an appetite" I giggled as he carried me out of the kitchen and into the bedroom. I supposed telling about Lydia would just have to wait.
I woke up because I didn't feel the heat from his body next to mine anymore. I squinted at the alarm clock 5:30 A.M. He was already gone and on his way to the airport. My heart sank this was going to be a long week. I noticed a note on the pillow next to mine.
You look like an angel when you sleep. I will home soon. Remember Norma and Richard will be back today. I'll touch base when I can.
I sighed and folded the letter back onto the pillow. So many thoughts were swarming through my head. I wondered where he was going, and if he would be safe. Now that I knew what he did, his business trips seems less business and more dangerous to me. I also thought about my upcoming road trip to Georgia. I should have said something to him, but it was too late now. I felt as the wheels were in motion and there was a force beyond my control pulling me towards this Lydia person. I knew I would never be able to rest until I found her. Never.
I lazily got out of bed and started to get ready. Heather and I had planned to meet at school early to discuss our plan.
She was waiting for me in the courtyard outside the gymnasium. It was our usual meet up spot.
"Hey Ali!' She smiled brightly at me as I approached. "Have you changed your mind or are we still going on a road trip?" She laughed excitedly.
"No, I didn't change my mind. Did you? You still want to go?"
"Umm yeah of course I want to go. You know I love this shit." I laughed
"I know you do. It's kind of scary actually." She rolled her eyes but i continued anyway. "So I'm going to have to say that I'm staying at your house on Saturday night. Mr. Delaney is out of town, but Norma and Richard would totally tell him if I just disappeared"
"Yeah, I figured. Plus my mom is oblivious and probably won't even notice if we are there, much less if we were gone for an extended amount of time." Heathers mom was a silicone, collagen, bleach blond train wreck. She was too busy hoping from one man's bed to next to worry about what Heather was up to. Not that Heather minded all that much. She seemed pretty content having the run of the house. Besides her mom tried to make up for her absence by giving Heather whatever she wanted. It was purely by the grace of god the Heather was as "normal" as she was.
"There is one other thing though." I said looking at her hesitantly. "We need to take your car, I can't take mine."
"What? Why? I was looking forward to a road trip in the new Range" She looked surprised.
"I know, I'm sorry but there's a tracking device on it" I mumbled somewhat embarrassed at the way Delaney had me under his thumb. She burst into laughter.
"Oh my God, Mr. Delaney is a little overbearing isn't he."
I shrugged "Well yeah, but there is nothing I can do about it. So it is what it is."
"Okay, we can take my car, but you have to pay for gas, and have you figured out what you're even going to say to this Lydia broad when we get there?"
"No. Not at all. I figured it would just come to me when I saw her." I answered.
"Just come to you? We are driving 7 hours there and another 7 back and you have no plan?" She threw her hands in the air exasperated.
"Heather it will be fine. We have the entire drive to come up with something. Just don't say anything about this to anyone not even Jarred. Mr. Delaney would kill me if he found out somehow. Like seriously he would kill me."
She smiled slowly "Do you call him Mr. Delaney all the time? It's kind of formal for your guardian isn't it. Couldn't you just call him by his first name?"
She caught me off guard with that question and I felt myself begin to blush for no apparent reason. "I call him just Delaney. I don't particularly like his first name."
"Well, I wanted to tell you the other day when I saw Mr. Delaney drop you off I almost passed out. Ali he is fucking hot. Holy Hell, almost makes me want a guardian" she winked at me and my blush just deepened, my face burning.
"I don't see him that way" I lied. I was such a terrible liar. There was no doubt. Heather saw right through that. She was quiet for a moment studying my reddened face. She gave me her "you're full of shit" look and thankfully dropped the subject
I was grateful when the bell rang starting the day. Promptly I dismissed myself and headed towards class.
I felt sad on the way home from school. Actually lonely was a better word. I missed Delaney terribly and he hadn't even been gone an entire day yet. I wondered what he was doing, who he was with, and whether I should call him or not. I decided not to call. I didn't want to bother him or seem needy. Just because I was needy didn't mean I had to act like it.
The gates to the house were open and Richard was in the driveway washing his car. I waved at him from behind the steering wheel and he smiled waving back. I still couldn't believe this guy standing in front of the house who looked like he was plucked out "Anywhere Ville Middle America" was an agent of any kind. His eyes followed the car as I parked.
"Hey Miss Ali how are you?"
"Hi Richard! I'm good. It's nice to see you. I missed you guys"
"Thanks, Norma is inside she is pretty anxious to see you" I waved as I headed into the house.
I opened the front door and was immediately greeted with the scent of something delicious coming from the kitchen. I quickly walked to the kitchen and found Norma standing over the stove. Her black hair pulled back in a no nonsense bun and an apron covering her khaki slacks and knit shirt. She noticed my entrance and came over embracing me tightly.
"Ali! I missed you." I hugged her back happy to see her again. She was the closest thing to a mother figure I had now a days.
"How was your trip?" I asked once she released me.
"Now Ali honey, Mr. Delaney said he told you what our job really is. So you know we weren't really on a trip. It was a short assignment, and I'm happy to be back." The way she was so nonchalant about the whole situation was beyond me.
"He did tell me" I paused trying to find the right words to explain how I felt. "It's hard for me to wrap my head around honestly. No offense but you and Richard seem so, I dunno … normal." She laughed taking my hand and led me to the stool.
"I'm sure it's a lot to take in honey. Usually the people we are working for know who we are and what we do. This was the first time we had to pretend to be something else. I wondered if he was ever going to tell you."
"Well he did, and I'm still processing it." I looked at her. She was genuinely smiling her eyes kind. "Norma, you shouldn't be making me dinner and cleaning and stuff. You know, since you aren't really the housekeeper."
"Ali, it's not a problem, plus Mr. Delaney told me you were near starvation while I was away."
"I would hardly call it starvation, but yes I missed your cooking" I sniffed the air and rubbed my belly. "Norma, can I ask you a question?" She nodded concentrating on my face. "What exactly do you and Richard do? Mr. Delaney said your security people?" She chuckled.
"Well Mr. Delaney has never been a man of many words, so yes in short that's what we do. Richard and I are usually assigned to the family of someone famous or infamous whatever the case may be to protect them in a way the police can't or won't."
"Is it dangerous?" I asked. Feeling thankful that she was a little more forthcoming that Delaney.
"Usually no, but it can be. So we are always on alert and prepared just in case." She walked over to the pot and stirred whatever that was in there giving off that fantastic smell.
"What does that mean? Be prepared how?"
"Richard is probably the best marksman in the country, there isn't a target he can't hit, or a gun he can't shoot, and me well I'm excellent with knives and martial arts.
"Knives? Why doesn't Richard just teach you how to shoot? She picked up small knife off of the counter and flung it with amazing accuracy towards to calendar on the opposite wall. I looked and saw that it landed on today's date. "Because a gun can't do that, and you would never expect the housekeeper to be able to do that. It's quite effective."
"Holy shit Norma that's awesome! Can you teach me how to do that?"
"I don't see why not. But I'll have to run it by Mr. Delaney first." I made a face at her. She knew as well as I did that he wouldn't be happy about it. "Oh honey, I'll talk to him about it. I would have hoped you guys got a little closer while we were gone. You know developed your relationship a little. He really isn't as bad as you think."
I had to bite my lip to keep from smiling. If Norma only knew that all we did over the past week was work on our … relationship.
We ate dinner together and chatted about school and random nonsense. I tried to help her clean up but she was stubborn and shooed me out of the kitchen. I excused myself and retreated to my bedroom for the evening.
I tossed and turned and just couldn't get comfortable. It felt strange lying in my own bed. It was a little unnerving how quickly I became used to sleeping beside Delaney. Accustomed to his strong arms wrapped around me, to waking up in the middle of the night to him inside of me making love to me. This was going to be a long lonely night for sure.
I was wondering why he hadn't called me as yet and was trying not to overanalyze the situation. The man was away working, not on vacation. But it was 2 am and I wondered what he was up to.
His ears must have been burning because my phone began to vibrate on the nightstand. My heart leapt when I saw it was him.
"Hello" I said quietly into the phone. Unnecessarily nervous someone would hear me, and half thinking he dialed me on accident.
"Do you miss me?" His low sexy voice coming through the other end of the phone sending tingles down my spine.
"I miss you so much." I replied. "How are things? How is your trip?"
"Everything is good here. How was it with Norma and Richard?"
"It was fine. I was worried it would be awkward but it was great. Norma is even going to teach me some things."
"What kind of things?" A hint of amusement was hanging in his voice.
"Did you know that she can throw a knife across the room and have it hit whatever target she wants accurately?"
"Well those kinds of things."
"Good God, Ali I don't know if I like the idea of you slinging knives around" he was sort of laughing but mostly serious. "I'm going to talk to her about her upcoming "lessons" with you.
"Well don't ruin it. I really want to learn. It all seems so appealing. Maybe you can tell Richard to teach me how to shoot." He sighed at my excitement
"Well I think I may like that better than the slinging of knives."
"Really?!" I said almost giddy.
"God I miss you." He said lowly almost as if he was saying it to himself. I asked him to repeat himself, positive I was mistaken in what I thought I heard him say. "I said I miss you Ali. I really do."
"You miss parts of me" I teased.
"Well yes, but I think I miss the way that beautiful face of yours lights up when your excited or happy about something the most."
"Really" I couldn't keep the shock from my voice. He began laughing
"God Ali! You have no idea how I feel about you do you?"
"No, how do you feel about me?" I couldn't help it. I know it wasn't sexy to ask, but I wanted to know.
"Let's just say I'm here in my hotel room calling you in the middle of the night instead of out carousing." I giggled. "I feel more for you than you think." He finished.
"I can accept that." I replied.
"Good, now what are you wearing?"
"Oh my gosh stop!" I teased "You know I don't have any sexy pajamas, besides I sleep naked when I'm next to you."
"That's how I like you when you're next to me. Do me a favor?"
"You should never agree to anything so enthusiastically Ali, but I want you go buy some sexy nighties and wear a different one each night I'm away. Send me a picture each night so I can properly visualize you."
"Kinky aren't you?"
"Ali, I haven't even begun to show you kinky yet". I laughed
"Well those are some other lessons I would like to start as well"
"Yes we can start those as soon as I get back. Now go to sleep baby. I'll be waiting for my first picture tomorrow"
"Okay, Delaney good night."
I was smiling as I hung up the phone. I wanted to say I love you, but didn't have the nerve. I wanted to tell him about Lydia but didn't have the nerve for that either.
I pushed those thoughts out of my head and pictured my naked Delaney in bed next to me and drifted off to sleep.