Authors: Kristina Weaver
PART 2 of 3
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This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to events, businesses, companies, institutions, and real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
I do not react in any outward way. At least, not then, and most definitely not in Gregory’s presence. To be honest, when he’d said the words I’d pretty much just stood there, frozen and speechless as they sank in and marinated my brain.
These things happen. I have to keep reminding myself of it four days later as I sit at my desk, arranging meetings and a whole host of things for Gregory.
Yeah, don’t even judge me. I have no choice but to do what he wants. I consider myself lucky that he’d allowed me to just walk out and go back to my desk without pressuring me immediately.
Hell, it’s been four days of constant meetings, and car rides to those meetings, and…we’ve been together
. I think he’s giving me time not to have a nervous breakdown before he puts the screws to me.
I snort and stack the documents I’ve just printed, when a feminine trill reaches me from the doorway and I look up to see a blonde goddess walking my way.
“Oh, hi. I’m Selena.”
Looking at the fiancée of the man you’ve recently banged and keeping yourself from crumbling into a confession-riddled heap as you kiss her feet and beg forgiveness…not the easiest thing in the world.
“Ah, er, hello. I’ll just buzz Mr Lucas,” I say weakly, keeping my eyes downcast.
So sue me, I am terrified she’ll take one look at me and know what I’ve done. Explaining that I had no clue he is engaged isn’t much of a consolation anyway, and I wouldn’t blame her if she punched me and picked me bald.
“Hannah,” he breathes into the phone, making me aware that my time is up as far as the stay of sexecution is concerned.
“Mr Lucas, sir, Miss Jeffries is here to see you,” I say calmly, though my heart is pounding and I feel awful.
Is it right to feel like I’m being betrayed here? Probably not, but as he clears his throat and tells me to show her in, I feel used and betrayed and…hurt.
But a little okay, considering he’d just told me the goddamned condom broke and he has no intention of letting me go until he’s used me up. God. I should tell Amber she can deal with him herself and take Nana and just skip town.
I know it, I know it’s the most sensible and rational thing to do, and yet as I rise and show Selena Jeffries into his office, I know I’m staying exactly where I am.
I watch as he leans in to place a soft kiss on her cheek and greet her warmly.
“Will that be all?”
That’s right, Han, be professional.
When he looks up at me over her shoulder, his eyes guileless and unmoved, I know I am in deep shit. Gregory Lucas feels no shame in owning me even as he kisses his fiancée.
“For now, Hannah.”
I turn and walk out, keeping my spine stiff and unyielding the whole hour I am forced to work while another woman — his woman — is in there with him, doing God knows what.
When she finally comes out, Gregory steering her toward the elevator, I force myself to keep working and not look up. Guilt or jealousy, I don’t know, but I feel wretched.
“Come into my office please, Han.”
I don’t want him to call me Han. Or Hannah. Or darlin’. I want to be Miss Newman again. Miss Newman isn’t a foolish ninny or a two-timing—
“I’ll be right with you, Mr Lucas. I just have to send this email,” I say, keeping my eyes on the monitor.
“Now, Hannah. We need to talk,” he says implacably.
But I don’t want to! Why can’t he just leave me alone while I wait to go to the doctor’s? The minute I get a negative result, bakery or no bakery, I am so out of here.
I’m a fool, but I’m no idiot, and I know that staying any longer than that will not only destroy me, but will push me back into that dark, trapped place where I existed three years ago.
I rise, collecting my notepad and pencil, to follow him into his office, tensing when I hear the lock snick into place. He steers me to the seating area on the right and waits for me to sit before coming down beside me.
“Hannah, look at me please.”
I do, keeping my face blank as I meet his hard, determined eyes.
“We haven’t spoken since Monday.”
No, I know, I’ve done my utmost not to be alone with him long enough to have this conversation, and he damned well knows it. But as I’ve said, my reprieve is up, and I know he won’t stop until he gets what he wants.
“I’ve made an appointment at the doctor for week after next. When I know, you’ll know,” I say in a no-nonsense voice I am immensely proud of.
He leans back with a huff, and I see the frustration written all over his face. This can’t be easy for him. I mean, the man is so used to getting his own way in all things, so my attitude is probably a foreign concept, like snow in June.
“You’re skirting the issue here, Han.”
“I am not your goddamned ‘Han.’ Or ‘darlin’.’ Or any other thing you want to call me!” I hiss, coming to my feet with a speed that leaves me dizzy. “I work for you. End of story.”
He’s upset now, angry that I won’t just fall in with his plans, as if by some quirk of fate he’s only now meeting resistance from a woman. I want to laugh, a real, out-loud belly laugh, because his expression reminds me of a sulky child’s.
“You forget so easily what we shared?”
Oh, so now he’s going to look at me with scorn? I wasn’t the one who’d fled the bed with a haste that signalled more than fear of commitment.
“We shared one night,” I laugh scornfully. “One hour’s worth of ho-hum sex that I’d rather not repeat again. Thanks though.”
So what if it’s a bald-faced lie? I’m not proud of how traitorous my body is, but I am so on board with the reasonable part of me that insists that sleeping with Gregory will be the biggest mistake I have ever made.
Apparently I’ve become a comedian, because my proud little speech is met with laughter and a look that spells out just how much he believes me.
“It was perfect and you know it. Stop trying to piss me off, and sit down, Han. We have to talk about this.”
I sit, but only because if I don’t he’ll probably make me. The door is locked, and I’m not getting out of here until he’s good and ready to dismiss me. Again.
“What do you want to talk about, exactly? The fact that you treated me like crap? No,” I say, holding out a hand to silence him. “I am not even a little interested in whatever bullshit story you want to peddle me. You know what you did.”
“What about the fact that you’re engaged to another woman?” I ask, and I can’t keep the hurt and anger from my voice. “You pursued me to the point that I wanted — never mind. But the fact remains, I told you this wasn’t a good idea, and you did it anyway. And now you want more?”
This is worse than I thought. He’s worse, because as I talk his face becomes expressionless and I know I’m wasting my breath.
“I just met the woman you’re going to marry, for God’s sake. What kind of lowlife are you?”
“The kind who isn’t willing to give you up just because of a marriage license, Hannah. Now get used to the fact that we’re together,” he growls, pinning me to the spot with a look that brooks no argument.
“Stop fucking saying that! My name is Gregory. Use it. Now get back to work. I’ll be by to pick you up at eight. Be ready. Oh, and darlin’?” he says, dragging the word out like a caress. “Don’t make this harder for yourself than it has to be.”
That’s all. That’s the sum of our ‘talk’. I leave him without a backward glance, cursing him and myself as a thrill zings through me. I’m more excited at the prospect of being with him again than I am appalled by what we’re doing.
“What! You can’t honestly mean…he’s an asshole, Hannah!”
“Come on, Chris, please try to understand. I really like him.”
It’s seven on a Friday night, and I’m an hour away from what I now think of as the gallows date. I literally feel as if I’m walking to my own doom. You know, figuratively, and instead of telling Chrissie the truth about Gregory and his two-timing ass, I’m asking her to babysit Nana while I pretend to actually like Gregory.
It sucks that this is now what I’ve been reduced to, a woman with no clue as to what will happen. Which means no control, and that’s almost worse than knowing I’m about to sleep with a man who’s committed to someone else.
I really hate Gregory Lucas.
“Gooood! I can’t believe you’re falling for his smooth talking,” she mutters, throwing her hands up in disgust.
If only she knew how untrue that statement is. I’m not falling for anything. I’m already at rock bottom with no way up.
“Just help me out. Please,” I beg. “I’m not promising anything here. It’s just a date for him to explain things. If I’m not liking what I hear, I’ll throw a drink in his face and leave.”
I see her capitulation and hug her when she finally just nods and grabs her key, closing her door to follow me into my place. The reason I’ve been forced to this is that the ‘helper’ I’d hired quit this afternoon. I could have asked why and tried to convince her to stay, but honestly, I know exactly why a week in had been enough for her.
“Oh hello, Christina, dear. You’re looking particularly fetching this evening. Did Hannah tell you she’s going on a date?” she asks excitedly, and I roll my eyes heavenward.
“I wouldn’t get too happy there, Nana,” she warns, making a beeline for the kitchen and the knife set. “The guy is an absolute A-hole.”
Great, thanks a lot, Chris.
“Why, is that true, Hannah? Is the man an A-hole?” she asks, so seriously I choke on a laugh and throw Chris a fulminating glare. “I would hate for you to get hung up on a man who is not worthy of you.”
Bless her heart.
“I don’t know yet, Nana. It depends on what he has to say tonight. Now, I want you to listen to Chrissie while I’m out, all right? She’s in charge.”
“I’m not a child, dearest.”
“Tell that to someone who hasn’t seen you hide bread rolls in your underwear, lady.”
I leave before another argument can ensue and rip the dress I’d bought at the thrift store off the hanger. I like it, with its pale pink, knee-length skirt and sweetheart neckline, but I’d spent money I can’t afford to spend now that I have a helper-please Jesus let me find a new one soon-to pay.
Forty minutes later I am showered, dressed, and made up enough that the dark circles under my eyes aren’t on show, and I look presentable enough to feel better than I should.
As I pace my room and wait for the doorbell to ring, I allow a small measure of guilt free of the tight leash I have it on. I’m lying to everyone I care about — Nana, my best friend — because I feel awful about admitting I’m about to engage in an affair with a taken man.
God, that test had better be negative, because if it’s not, I am in such deep trouble.
I hear Chrissie’s voice and a deep laugh of amusement and rush out to see Gregory standing in the doorway, smiling broadly at Nana.
“You seem nice enough, I suppose,” she’s saying, and I watch something flicker deep in his sherry eyes as she gives him a thorough inspection and nods decidedly. “At least you’re clean. Now remember what I said, young man. Be good to her, or I’ll find you. I’ve absolutely nothing to lose at my age, and that makes me more dangerous than you know.”
It’s ridiculous, but I want to laugh right now. And apparently so does he, if the twitch of his dimples is any indication.
“I would never hurt your granddaughter, Mrs Newman,” he says, looking up at me intently. “Hannah.”
I could stand here and drag things out. I mean, Nana is by no means easy to deal with, but I grab my things and walk to join him instead, striving for a calm I don’t feel.
“You be good now, you hear? Chris, if she gets testy there’s a tranquiliser gun in the closet,” I joke, waving and pulling the door closed behind us.
It’s only as we’re stepping out of the building that he speaks, and I gnash my teeth to keep from cursing immediately.
“I didn’t realize your grandmother lives with you. That must be…difficult,” he observes, handing me into my seat.
Difficult? No, difficult is becoming this liar I now am. My nana is child’s play compared to this.
“She’s seventy-three years old, and she’s gotten herself kicked out of almost every home she’s been in…there’s no other choice,” I say, leaving out the startling truth that I enjoy having the old bird around.
I know, I’m just as surprised. Turns out Nana is a great conversationalist, when she’s not going bonkers, and after everything that’s happened I relish the distraction.
“Don’t,” I warn darkly.
“Eccentric,” he growls, throwing me a dirty look as he changes lanes and speeds up. “I was going to say
. I like her. She doesn’t suffer fools and she says it straight. That’s a rare quality that I’ve found only in you.”
I ignore the compliment and look out the window, tensing when I notice where we’re headed.
“I don’t want to go to your house.”
He grunts and speeds up, telling me without words how much he cares what I want.
“We need to talk somewhere private, and—”
“So go to your place in the city,” I insist.
I’d sworn to myself I would never travel this route again, and now that I am I know being in that house…I’m only human. I have too many feelings swirling inside me right now to stand in that house and be the cold, detached Hannah I need to be.
“Sorry, darlin’, this isn’t up for discussion.”
What a surprise, I think, huffing back in my seat and folding my arms as I glare out the window. By the time we reach his home I’m well past hungry and irritable enough that I have high hopes for the course of the evening. Although, admittedly, it has not been easy to work myself up into a dander with him sitting so close, his smell wrapping around me, intoxicating me with memories of our one night together.
“Here we go. Wait for me to come around,” he orders, forcing my hand away from the door to wait and scowl as he opens it and takes my hand, pulling me out and into his heat. “It’s just you and me tonight.”
I mutter under my breath and force myself to follow as he unlocks the door and leads me in, the heat of his hand enveloping mine sending tremors into places I don’t need
“Take a seat on the sofa. I’ll get us drinks and a plate.”
I haven’t really had much opportunity to explore his place, and I’m pleasantly surprised when I see a comfortable living room with off white sofas and a sturdy coffee table.
I sit on just the edge — come on, who buys white furniture knowing
coming over — and wait nervously.
“Here you go. Rose’s famous beef stir-fry,” he says, setting a plate in front of me on the table with a glass of milk.
“The test won’t be positive, so you can shove the milk.”
Okay, that was just unnecessary, Hannah.
Instead of getting upset, he just smiles and quietly begins eating, glancing up to check that I am doing the same.
“I’ve arranged an appointment for you with a leading obstetrician. I’ll be accompanying you, of course.”
“But…I’ve already made an appointment with my doctor. And I can go by myself.”
If he comes with and that test comes back positive, there’ll be no escape for me. I’m not planning to terminate or anything like that…it would just be nice to have the option of not being completely taken over from the get go.
“This isn’t up for discussion, Hannah. I’ll take you, and we can go from there. Now then, as far as we are concerned—”
“There is no ‘we,’ Gregory. You’re engaged to another woman, and as far as I’m concerned, well, I don’t even like you,” I say steadily.
This goes way beyond him being overbearing and into the realm of dominant, and as you can tell, I’m not really one to let a man take control. I like managing myself, thank you very much, and the fact that he thinks he can just barge in and wrest my precious control from me pisses me off.
“There most definitely is a ‘we,’” he insists, his voice calm and clear, letting me know he’s more than serious.
“Because I want you.”
“That simple? You want me, and despite your poor treatment I just have to accept it?” I ask.
It’s strange. I’m not that enamoured of him right now, but it’s getting easier to speak to him rationally now that I’ve accepted his refusal to back down.
“That simple. I’ve wanted you since the moment you walked into your office and almost dropped your coffee cup. I always get what I want, Hannah. Always,” he warns, and a shiver runs through me at the knowledge that he’s warning me not to even contemplate anything else.
“You don’t feel guilty sleeping with me while your fiancée plans your wedding?”
“Selena is not up for discussion. You play your part, and I’ll worry about Selena,” he says darkly, his voice a soft threat. “You keep what we have to yourself when she calls or comes in, and we won’t have any problems.”
Well, that puts me in my place.
“You’ll leave Amber and her bakery alone?”
“And if the test is negative you’ll let me go.”
It’s not a question. Maybe I’m hoping a statement will swing some power back my way. I should know by now that any semblance of power is not mine to take.
His smile mocks me, and I feel unaccountably thrilled when he pushes closer and cups my face in his hands, bringing my eyes to his.
“You’re mine until I say otherwise.”