Authors: Emma Thorne
Tags: #Erotic Romance
Hey babe, I’m home,” I called.
With travel mug in one hand and a portfolio under my arm, I attempted to slip my house keys back into my purse and fumbled. Everything in my hands crashed onto the stone entryway of the condo.
“Fuck! Sorry! I meant to say fudge, or drat or something else!” I called down the hall scrambling to clean up my mess. Henry hated when I swore. My purse had toppled open, contents spilling; I chased a rolling tube of lip gloss, and then I saw it. My cell phone landed face down on the hard stone. I braced myself.
The face was . . . smashed.
“Son of a bitch, I mean beach,” I muttered to myself. Staring at the cracked glass I couldn’t help but think it was a sign from the universe; a metaphor that could not go unnoticed. Hey Callie, in case you haven’t picked up on the shit show that is your career, you are having a really bad day.
Thanks Universe, I appreciate the sign. I wished I could flip off the universe.
My cell phone contract wasn’t up for another six months. This butterfingers move was going to cost me a few hundred dollars that I could not afford.
“The firm got the design job,” I said, slipping off my shoes and hanging my thin cardigan on a hook by the front door. “A $10 million project, top floor of the Smith Tower. Of course, Roxanne blamed me for the weather today, but she did use my designs even if she didn’t tell the client they were mine. I knew they were mine and the client loved them. So there Roxanne you big meanie.” I rounded the corner into the kitchen fiddling with my broken phone. “Have I mentioned yet how ready I am for our vacation . . . ?”
I glanced up to see Henry sitting at the kitchen bar beside Sophia, one of the paralegals from his office. Sunlight filtered into the kitchen from the floor to ceiling windows that faced downtown Seattle. There were two half empty glasses of red wine on the counter and their chairs were very close together.
“Oh, sorry,” I said, feeling awkward and embarrassed in my own home which was stupid. “Hey Sophia, I apologize for my rant there.” I smiled figuring if I didn’t act embarrassed the situation might be less embarrassing.
It didn’t help that Sophia was one of those beautiful pixie creatures with short blonde hair and bone structure so fine she could carry off any hair style. She radiated natural calm beauty.
I felt the exact opposite of calm natural beauty with my sweat stained silk tank and humidity styled wavy hair.
“You’re home early,” Henry said, standing. “Sophia was just leaving.”
Henry was Sophia’s mentor. They’d been spending late nights working on some legal briefs so I wasn’t surprised to see her at the house, especially on a day that Henry worked from home. I just wouldn’t have overshared about my day, and I was a little pissed at Henry for not giving me the heads up she was here.
“No, she’s fine,” I said, cheeks burning. “I just didn’t realize you were both here. You should finish whatever you were working on, like briefs . . . or whatever.” My voice trailed off as I wondered why there were no papers on the counter, no leather bound books, or no open laptops.
“I’ll go,” Sophia said standing. “I’m so sorry, Callie.” Her voice dropped to almost a whisper.
“No need to apologize,” I said, her comment confusing me. “Look my day sucked, you two can keep working. I’m going to get packed for our road trip.” Then as if in slow motion, I caught a glance between them.
Sophia to Henry, their eyes met, and then dropped to the counter as she fumbled for her purse. Where was her briefcase anyway? Lawyers were always walking around with leather briefcases.
“No, it’s best,” she said. “I really need to go.” That’s when I noticed that Sophia wore a short skirt, a very, very short skirt and a white blouse that was rather transparent and quite inappropriate for work. She had to struggle to not flash her panties at me as she ran into the living room to pick up her sweater, which was on the rug in front of the fireplace. Her heels lay next to the couch. Why were her clothes strewn around the room?
My pulse roared in my ears.
“Holy shit, I mean shoot,” I said, my head suddenly swimming with heat. “Is something going on here?” I asked, a strained smile crossing my face. My voice sounded oddly loud in my roaring head.
“Nothing is going on,” Henry said, his voice deepening as he moved toward me. Sophia stood by the couch wide-eyed. She looked like a startled doe facing an oncoming car. “Let’s not jump to conclusions without all the facts, Callie,” Henry continued.
It was such a lawyerly thing to say, I was instantly annoyed.
As he stood there looking at me, I took in his unbuttoned golf shirt and casual jeans, he never wore casual clothes like this with work people. He changed whenever he had an appointment. He said it was part of his plan to make partner; he never missed an opportunity to impress his team. And yet here he stood in casual dress with little miss scantily clad. His cheeks flushed, his light brown hair ruffled. He looked messed up, he looked . . .
“Disheveled,” I said, as Sophia brushed passed me mumbling some more awkward apologies as she headed to the door. “The facts are you look fucking disheveled.” My voice rose.
“I’ll call you Sophia,” Henry called after her. “And there is no reason for profanity Cal.”
“I disagree counselor,” I said, eyes darting from the kitchen table to the rug in front of the fireplace. “Did you two just have sex in our living room? Please tell me this isn’t what it looks like. Oh my God, I’m going to throw up.” I looked at the deep shag rug that Henry and I had joked about breaking in when we purchased it from that high-end furniture store a year before and my stomach clenched.
We’d talked about it, but we had never made love on that rug. Not once. It suddenly felt like such a failure, such a horrible mistake to not have sex on that stupid shag carpet. But it wasn’t like we had a bad sex life. We had a good sex life. A normal sex life. It was predictable, dependable, and sure we hadn’t had sex in a couple of weeks but that was totally understandable. I’d been working late nights preparing sketches for the Smith Tower Penthouse and Henry . . . well Henry was always working because he was going to make partner and making partner took long hours and sacrifice. This was the deal. We both understood it.
It occurred to me that Henry hadn’t answered me. I looked at him panicked. “You need to start talking and explain this. It doesn’t look good Henry. Start talking. Start talking to me now before I freak the fuck out.”
“You need to stop swearing.”
“You know I swear when I get nervous. I’m working on it as a part of my personal growth plan!” I shouted as I paced in the kitchen clutching my arms across my body, and feeling queasy and cold with fear.
Henry exhaled audibly. “We did not have sex,” Henry said, then in a softer voice. “I wouldn’t do that to you, Callie. I would never have sex with another woman while we were committed to each other.”
“Oh, thank God, thank you,” I bent over clutching my belly. A wave of relief moved through me and my eyes flooded with tears. Half laughing and crying, I sat down at the counter where just that morning Henry and I had shared breakfast. He had given me a pep talk before the big presentation reminding me that I was paying my dues as a junior designer and my job right now was to stay below the radar and make the firm look good.
My coffee cup sat by the edge of the sink. I lived here. This was my home. This was our home. I suddenly felt very stupid and very emotional.
“I’m sorry, that was just so weird, the two of you,” I laughed and ran my hands through my hair then covered my eyes. “I seriously thought you two just had sex. Crazy, right? I think I was projecting a bunch of work drama on you. I’m sorry, honey,” I said, looking up at him. “I shouldn’t have doubted you. Can we just open a bottle of wine and figure out which B&B we want to hit first on the coast tomorrow?”
I looked up to see Henry exhale and look at the ceiling, again. The tense look on his face chilled me. “You had reason to doubt me.” He squinted his dark brown eyes as if speaking caused him pain.
“But you didn’t have sex,” I whispered, the knots returning to my stomach. “I don’t understand . . .” I let my voice trail off because even as I said the words I knew it wasn’t true. I did understand. I knew exactly what was coming next even if my heart and mind wanted to stay blind and dumb.
Henry sat down next to me and reached across the countertop to hold my hand. I let him. I wanted his touch. In fact, I wanted to go back in time and rewind the last fifteen minutes of my life. “Please don’t do this,” I whispered, feeling sick and weak. “Please, Henry.”
“I was going to talk to you tonight,” he said, his voice low and steady, his eyes locked on my face. “There is no good time for something like this Callie.”
“Don’t do this Henry,” I repeated, hating the pleading tone of my voice unable to stop it. I had loved this man for five years. He was my world. We had plans, not just road trip plans for the week, but life plans. We were partners. We loved each other. I belonged with him here in this condo. I’d been with Henry for so long my brain could not imagine an alternate ending.
“Sophia and I didn’t have sex, we have never had sex,” Henry said, still holding my hand. “Sophia and I are in love.”