Undisclosed Desires (High Rise Novella Two)

BOOK: Undisclosed Desires (High Rise Novella Two)
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Contents

Copyright

Undisclosed Desires

About the author

Other Harper Bliss books

HARPER BLISS

UNDISCLOSED DESIRES

High Rise Novella Two

Copyright © Harper Bliss 2012

Cover picture © Depositphotos / beerkoff1

Published by LadyLit Ltd - Hong Kong

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorised duplication is prohibited.

Warning: This title contains graphic language and f/f sex.

Please note: This is the second novella in the
High Rise
series and the sequel to
Fool for Love
. While the two main characters are different the story picks up where
Fool for Love
ended.

www.harperbliss.com

www.ladylit.com

Other books by Harper Bliss

Hired Help

Wetter

The Honeymoon

Learning Curve

A Hotter State

Summer Heat

Younger Than Yesterday

Endless Summer

Can’t Get Enough

All of Me

Fool for Love (High Rise Novella One)

New Girl

No Ordinary Love (High Rise Novella Three)

ISABELLA

“Claire was a proud serial monogamist.”
 

Isabella had found Nat waiting for her, sunk to the floor, an almost empty bottle of Scotch in hand, in front of her door after she returned from Maddie’s apartment. She now sat across from Isabella, her back slouched against the sofa cushions, her speech slurred and her eyes droopy. All it did was make her even more attractive, in that lost child bohemian kind of way Isabella found so hard to resist. She believed in causes and rescuing people from themselves. She was convinced Nat needed her. Even at well past midnight on a Sunday evening.

“Just like every other fool who came before me, I thought I could change her.” Nat eyed the glass of water on the coffee table, but didn’t reach for it. As if she had a point to prove. She shook her head. “Obviously, I couldn’t.”

Isabella had done her research months ago, after first recognising Nat in the elevator. It was all over the internet. How Nathalie Orange had left her native Brooklyn for Hong Kong to be with Claire. How she’d fallen for the neon-lit city and the peace she found in its crowded, anonymous streets. How the warm winters agreed with her night time wanderlust.

“She said she believed in relationships, just not forever.” Nat’s chuckle hesitated between pained and disdainful. “At least she was always honest. As if she warned me beforehand that, surely, at one point she’d lose interest.” She pushed some hair away from her forehead. “It didn’t hurt any less when she finally did.”

Isabella had to lean forward the catch the next words tumbling from Nat’s lips.

“Only more.” She sagged down a little lower, the muscles of her back giving way to the alcohol, slackening her posture. “She just left. Dumped me and went back to New York within a month. Moving on as if I’d never even existed. That’s when I decided…” Nat’s blue eyes glistened, a sudden tear moistening them. “That no one would ever do something like that to me again.” She didn’t bother brushing away the teardrop rolling down her cheekbone. “And guess what? They haven’t.” She balled her fists in mock victory.

Isabella ignored her shrink instincts. This wasn’t a therapy session after all, more like a drunk friend letting it all out on her couch—no doubt because she was, in fact, a psychiatrist by profession—but professional rules didn’t apply. She got up and sat down next to Nat, offering her the glass of water.

“Drink this.”

Nat held up her hands. “I’d prefer something with a bit more colour and bite.” She fixed her eyes on the liquor cabinet flanking the opposite wall.

“Do you have any idea how the Chinese treat alcohol poisoning?”

“Do you?” Despite the mistiness of her gaze, Nat was quick to respond.

"Not really, but I’m fairly certain it involves a concoction including donkey testicles.”

“You’re the doctor.” Nat grinned, a boyish, brazen smirk taking over her face. “I suppose I have to take your word for it.”

“At last, she accepts my authority.” Isabella held out the glass of water again. “Drink.”

Nat sipped carefully at first, then knocked it all back in greedy gulps. Licking the last drops from her lips, she stared into Isabella’s eyes. “Can I have some more?”

Those eyes, Isabella thought as she refilled the glass from a bottle of Evian. Who can ever refuse them anything? The clearest of blue, like the Hong Kong sky after a cleansing tropical storm, hiding oceans of pain and lifetimes of running away.
 

After downing another glass of water, Nat repositioned. She slung one leg over the other and folded her fingers behind her head, as if settling in for a long night of deep conversation.

“What’s your story, Doc? Why are you single?”

Isabella wasn’t used to being on the receiving end of a probing question. This one was easy though, and she had a well-prepared answer. “I was married for fifteen years. I felt like a change.” It was the truth.

Nat smiled and sucked her bottom lip into her mouth briefly while fixing her gaze on Isabella. “Fair enough, but you know, everyone needs a little tenderness now and then.”

“Is that what you call it? Tenderness?” Isabella wondered what was tender about bringing home a new girl every Saturday night.

“I have a lot of respect for my elders. I refrain from using crass language in front of them.”

“At least it excludes me from your advances. Being old and such.” It stung more than Isabella had expected.

“A dog like me?” Nat spread her elbows wide, pushing her chest forward. “No one’s safe as far as I’m concerned.”

“I’ll remember to double lock my door at night.” Isabella reluctantly peeled her eyes away from the cleavage peeking through the V of Nat’s t-shirt. “Now, can I give you some friendly advice?”

“I thought you’d never ask, Doc.” Nat let her hands fall into her lap, fatigue suddenly conquering her face—that and the amount of Scotch she’d ingested.

“For the next two weeks, don’t give in to your baser instincts. Don’t pursue
tenderness
as if there’s no tomorrow. Focus on something else. For instance, why after three years, you still feel the need to get shit-faced in remembrance of Claire leaving you.”

“I get shit-faced on a much more regular—”

“I don’t need arguments,” Isabella cut her off. “I only need a yes or a no.”

“Fine. No sweat.” Nat uncrossed her legs and rested her elbows on them, her breath so close Isabella heard it sing in her ears. “But quid pro quo, Doc. It’s the least you can do.”

“What do you have in mind?” Intrigued, Isabella leaned in a little closer.

“You let me set you up with a friend of mine.”

A small pang of disappointment flared in Isabella’s stomach. “Deal,” she said anyway.

NAT

Nat wasn’t completely oblivious to Isabella’s interest in her. She noticed it in the twitch of her muscles as she restrained herself from putting a hand on Nat’s thigh. In the widening of her pupils when Nat shed that tear earlier. In the way her features deflated when Nat suggested she’d set her up with a friend. For a shrink, Isabella had a really bad poker face.

“Sophie’s a class act, I’m sure you’ll like her.” All this banter of other women—and the sudden promise of abstinence—had gotten Nat’s mind off Claire. She had to give Isabella that. Truth be told, her yearly pilgrimage into complete drunkenness because of Claire was bordering on ridiculous, but one day a year of self-pity wasn’t too bad. Nat cursed herself because she was the last person to believe her own lies. “When are you free?”

“I’ll let you know.” Isabella massaged her temples. “What will you do with all this time freeing up in your schedule?”

“What I always do when I have some time on my hands.” Nat straightened her back, getting ready to leave. “Dream of a better future.”

“I’d love to know what that entails.” Isabella’s eyes flashed with intensity again, one last sparkle before the day ended.

“Let’s save that for the next session, Doc.” Nat winked at Isabella and stood up. “I’ll let myself out.”

Later, alone in bed—and in the flat, as Alex spent most nights at Maddie’s—Nat wondered if this was what an existential crisis felt like. Or if it was all still down to Claire. Claire, the one woman she couldn’t have, who, out of the blue had turned up on her doorstep and told Nat she’d broken up with Amy and that she was available now. Claire Foster and Amy Perez, banker and literary agent, New York’s ultra-power lesbian couple, at least throughout 2005 and a good chunk of 2006. You couldn’t find a woman more loyal than Claire, until she was done with you. Then you might as well not have existed anymore.

Nat had managed to keep hold of her for three years. “Longer than anyone else that came before you,” Claire used to tease, in better days, before her heart programmed to serially kill relationships prevailed again.

It has been three years since those three years, was the last thought drifting through Nat’s mind before she dozed off. Maybe it was time to get her act together.

* * *

The next day, while crafting an elaborate email to Sophie in which she raved about Isabella—an easier task than expected—Alex stormed in.

“You’re up early. Date with the muse?” She joked. She had that satiated look about her only young lovers display during the first months of courtship.

“You know me too well, Pizza.” Nat flipped the lid of her laptop down. “Actually, I’m working on a master plan plotting the happiness of one Miss Isabella Douglas.”

“Really?” Alex settled on a chair opposite from Nat. “Are you making arrangements to offer yourself to her on a silver platter?”

“Nice try.” Nat pouted her lips. “But we both know I’m in no state to fit into anyone’s plans during their pursuit of happiness.”

“You’d be surprised.” Nat noticed scratches—old and fresh ones—on Alex’s shoulder. “And don’t sell yourself short like that.”

“I’m arranging a blind date with her and Sophie from my book club.”

Alex raised her eyebrows and wolf-whistled. “You’re setting yourself up with some stiff competition there. Sophie’s gorgeous.”

“That’s the whole point. And let’s leave me out of the equation, please. I know you and Maddie are desperate to go on double dates with us once the novelty of your affair wears off, but it’s never going to happen. I like her, just not in that way.”

“Whatever you say, Orange. But remember, I know you too well.” Alex shoved her chair back and rose. “Want to grab some lunch?”

“Not today. I’ll be living a more indoor lifestyle for the next two weeks.” Nat opened the lid of her laptop again, the email to Sophie brightly flickering on the screen.

“What the hell is going on here?” Alex planted both her hands on the wooden table top. “What have I missed?” She fixed her eyes on Nat.

“I made a deal with Isabella last night.” Nat hesitated a split second too long and Alex jumped in.

“Last night? When? I thought you went out?”

“I ended up having a late night conversation with Isabella and we agreed that I could organise a date with Sophie if I refrained from picking up girls for two weeks.”

Alex sank back down into her chair. “This is a historic moment, Orange.” Alex reached across the table and grabbed Nat’s arms. “It took her one conversation to get you to do what I’ve been trying to accomplish for months.”

“Apparently you don’t seem to have the same powers of persuasion.” Nat shook Alex’s hands off her. “And don’t go making more out of it than it is. I’d like to keep Isabella as a friend.”

BOOK: Undisclosed Desires (High Rise Novella Two)
4.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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