If Love Were By Design, page 14
She gasped when she started to read the article. It said, “It looks like love in the Big Apple for William Berks. The mystery woman seen kissing him at The Maricopa Bar was later discovered to be none other than Veronica Mitchell, the former shoe designer for Marcus Yutan who has her Yutan VM shoes. Sources say they’ve been dating for months. This is very unlike the elusive Mr. Berks to be dating someone so long. It’s proof he’s serious about her, and plans to propose soon . . . .” Veronica swore.
“Is everything okay, Miss Mitchell?” Norma asked.
Veronica jumped, clutched the paper and tried to hide it by concealing it behind the counter. “Yeah.” She lied.
Norma wasn’t fooled. “I’m taking out the trash. I could throw that away.” Norma said.
“Oh, the paper? I’ll do it.” She said. However, she didn’t throw it away. She hid it under a pillow until Norma was gone, and shortly Kimmy arrived. Veronica buzzed her up and waited impatiently until she heard the knock on the door.
“Wow! He has a nice place!” Kimmy said when she walked in rolling a suitcase behind her.
“Look at this!” Veronica demanded, shoving the paper into her hands.
“Oh, that—I saw it. I saw the one two weeks ago when the paper was wondering who you were—the girl who keeps spending time with the ‘famous New York bachelor’.” Kimmy rolled her eyes. “Although I was curious about the kissing picture. How did they alter that photo? I mean, if it’s not you, then you have a twin in New York or it’s totally faked. Either way it’s trash and I wouldn’t worry about it, Veronica.”
“No, that’s definitely us kissing.” Veronica admitted.
“What?” Kimmy’s suitcase crashed to the floor. “Get out!” She laughed.
“Remember Aurora? Well, she was all over him, and he told me he’d put a restraining order against her if he didn’t feel weird about it. I felt bad that he wasn’t able to shake free of her, I was drunk and mad at her. I told William to tell her that he loved me and not her, and then I hauled off and kissed him. It was stupid really, and this paper is using it to make it sound like . . . like we’re practically engaged. It’s all ridiculous.” Veronica said.
“Wait. You kissed him! I’m so proud of you!” Kimmy said.
“No, it was nothing.” Veronica said.
“Did he kiss you back? Was there tongue?” Kimmy asked. Veronica said yes, but added, they were both drunk. “Okay, so let’s slow down. What exactly did he say to Aurora when you told him to confess he loved you?” Kimmy asked.
“I think he said, ‘I won’t deny it.’” Veronica said.
“Okay, and last night what did he say when you got off the phone. Did he pretend he didn’t hear it?” Kimmy asked.
“No. He asked if you believed me when I said he was friendly. And I was embarrassed he heard that, and then . . . crap, I can’t remember. No wait, he told me not to be embarrassed, and then . . . I don’t know.”
“Think! You said you would memorize this!” Kimmy pressed her.
“Oh! He thought it was funny. That’s right. But this doesn’t matter. I’m telling you about this newspaper article!” Veronica reminded her.
Kimmy tore the paper in half and threw it on the counter. “It’s trash, and William is great! So stop reading that or it will freak you out. Then you’ll stop talking to him. It will be a waste! If you ask me he’s in love with you. I’ll bet he meant it when he said he did love you. Poor guy, is probably going nuts waiting for you to make a move. You like torturing men more than I do: I use lingerie and you use abstinence.”
“Me freak out? I heard you freaked out and that’s why you and Travis broke up. That’s a waste, if it’s true.” Veronica accused her.
“What? What exactly did you hear?” Kimmy asked with wide eyes.
“Something about Travis saying he loved you and you broke up with him or stopped talking to him after that.” Veronica replied.
Kimmy started to tear up. “I made the worst mistake. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“So, you still love him.” Veronica said but it was really a question.
“I’m such an idiot! Everything was going so fast, and when we finally slept together I was expecting something fun and . . . . It’s not what happened—he ended up making love to me and telling me the entire time that he loved me. It was the sweetest thing. But the next day (and at first) I was confused. I thought we were having fun! He turned it into something serious. And when I realized I wanted a serious relationship, he’d stopped calling me.” Kimmy wailed, “He hates me!”
“No, he doesn’t!” Veronica reassured her.
“Why did William tell you? Is he mad? Is he hurt? What did he say?” Kimmy asked.
“William asked me to bring you on this trip so Travis could see you again.” Veronica confessed. “Travis asked William to do this.”
“Oh, my gosh!” She started to cry. “That’s so sweet!” Kimmy thanked her for secretly planning it. “Although I would have packed differently if I had known. I have a nightie I would have brought that is sexier than the shorts and t–shirt I packed.”
“We have an hour before we’re supposed to leave. Let’s leave early and we’ll go buy something real quick. But we have to hurry. You can’t try on a million things or we’ll be late.” Veronica warned her.
“No. We’ll get a couple things and call it good. One of them is bound to fit right. Then we will go straight to the airport.” She had Veronica go get her stuff.
Kimmy and Veronica were late getting to the airport. It had taken forty–five minutes to stop for lingerie. If it weren’t for standing in a long line to pass security they would have been at the boarding gate ten minutes ago. They sprinted to their gate and William had still beaten them there. He was sitting in a chair by the window waiting. The moment he saw them he stood. They didn’t slow down until they were mere feet from him. “I’m surprised you two got here after me. I thought I would be the late one.” William said. “I was actually about to call you to make sure you were on your way.”
She and Kimmy were out of breath, so Veronica smiled timidly and said, “It took awhile to go through security, besides Kimmy wanted to get . . . pajamas.” William graciously pretended not to get what she meant.
Kimmy panted, clutched her chest and asked, “So where’s Travis?”
“He’s late.” William said, surprised she knew he was coming. “We can board. They already called first class.”
The three of them made their way onto the plane, and the moment they sat in their seats Kimmy leaned across the aisle and asked William one last time where Travis was. “Did you call to see if he’s coming for sure?”
“I talked to him twenty minutes ago. He’ll be here.” William assured her. He then turned to Veronica and winked. “Have you been to Colorado before?”
“No.” Veronica said truthfully.
“We are going to stay at my cabin there. It’s pretty rustic. I hope you’ll like it.” He said.
“Did you see New York City Slander this morning?” She asked. He squeezed her hand and said he had. He apologized for it. “You don’t look that upset.”
“I’m used to it, but I’m upset because I know it bothers you.” He explained. At that moment Travis arrived and was greeted enthusiastically by Kimmy flinging herself into his arms and passionately kissing him. “Well, this is working out a lot better than I thought it would.” William said and turned around.
“I asked about Travis and she started crying. She loves him.” Veronica said.
“So, then it will probably be only you and me this weekend.” He said. “Even better.”
They flew to Aspen, rented a car, and drove another two hours to a small cabin that had a private beach on the lake. It was an old log cabin with a lot of character: a wood–burning stove, a stone fireplace, and an upstairs loft that was one open room. As Veronica suspected Kimmy and Travis went upstairs to “unpack.”
“Let’s go down to the beac
“You’re quiet. What are you thinking?” He asked.
“I was thinking about how much I like it here.” She said.
“Good, I thought you were worrying about that stupid article.” He quickly changed the subject, “So tomorrow, we’ll go grocery shopping and go get my boat. Then we can take it out. I’ll take you to get huckleberry daiquiris. They’re good. I have them every time I come here.”
“How deep is this water?” Veronica asked while staring into the water.
“About ten feet.” He said and stood, “Come on.” He held out his hand for her. She took it and he helped her up.
“William!” She yelled as he tossed her into the water. She gasped from the cold water as she popped back up. A moment later she felt the splash William made as he jumped in beside her. He laughed when he emerged. “It’s so cold!” She said.
“We’ll get used to it.” He said still laughing.
“I can’t believe you jumped in with a suit on!” She teased him.
“I should take it off.” He started unbuttoning this shirt. “You don’t mind, do you? I’ll leave my boxers on obviously. I’m wearing some of your shoes too, so I’ll regret that later.” He removed his shirt and tossed it on the deck.
“It’s so cold!” She chimed. “You could have waited to do that when the sun was out tomorrow.
“You’ll get used to it.” He promised again. He took off his shoes, and then his pants. “Let’s swim out and warm up.”
They swam about twenty feet out, and started to tread water. “There’s a big rock around here, I always have to steer around it with my boat. If you find it let me know.”
“Okay.” She said.
“You’re right. This water is freezing.” He laughed.
“The sun isn’t out! You were crazy throwing me in!” She said, and then added, “You’ll get used to it!” She laughed.
“You would have said no, and I wanted to swim with you.” He smiled. “Your hair is already curly again. I don’t think you should straighten it, anymore. I really do like it curly, even though you don’t.”
“I guess it’s not bad when it’s long.” She said.
“I want to see it grown out.” He said. “So be straightforward, what would you change about me?”
“That’s a weird question.” She laughed. “Nothing, you’re fine the way you are.” She almost told him he was perfect, but caught herself and used the word “fine” instead.
“No, seriously, I promise I won’t get upset about it. I want to know what you would change about me.” He said.
“I wish you had better clothes washing skills.” She smiled.
“You’re teasing me!” He laughed. “Oh, here’s the rock.” He stood on it, and suddenly he stood six more inches out of the water. He pulled her onto the rock. He had to hold onto her arm to keep both of them balanced on it. “How long do you think we should stay out here before it’s safe to go inside to dry off?”
“Oh.” She laughed. “I have no idea. Probably Sunday.”
“We could go get my boat, and sleep in it tonight. It’s not a big boat, but there are cushions in the bow to sleep on.” William said. “It’s either that or the couch inside. And let’s face it, I’m not a gentleman and I won’t sleep on the hard floor. We’d share it.” She laughed, and they agreed to go get the boat. “Good. We’ll have more room.” They lingered in the water only a few more minutes until deciding they weren’t warming up.
It was nearly ten o’clock when they arrived back at the cabin with the boat. They had even got gas and a few groceries. They tied it up to the dock, packed all the groceries away in the cabin fridge as quickly as possible, and then changed into pajamas before taking blankets and pillows down. He tossed them into the bow, and then took a pillow and blanket for himself and asked, “Do you want me to sleep on the bench in the back? Does it bother you when I fall asleep next to you?”
“I wouldn’t say it bothers me.” She said.
“I never know what that means.” He said and grinned.
“It’s fine.” She said.
“Then I’ll sleep in here in case it rains. I’ve had that happen before and it sucked! I was in a bad mood and couldn’t go back to sleep.” He made the bed. “Should we start a fire pit on the beach and warm up? I can go up for those marshmallows or hot dogs.”
“You can if you want, but I’m not hungry. I have jet lag, and it’s been a long day.” She added, “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll go to bed. Like I said, I’m boring.”
“Actually I feel the same way, but I didn’t want to say, ‘let’s go to bed.’” He laughed. “I’m still not entirely sure you don’t mind me sleeping next to you. Would you tell me if it bothered you?”
“Honestly, I’m fine.” She said.
He sat, took off his shoes and socks, and then lay on the left side of the cushions. Veronica took off her shoes and socks too and put them beside his. She crawled into the bed and lay down, and then covered herself with the blanket. They talked and laughed until the waves slowly put them to sleep.
Veronica woke up in the middle of the night shivering. If she had thought she was going to be sleeping in a boat with no heating, she would have brought warm pajamas. She felt like an ice cube. Veronica sat up, and then gathered her pillow and the blanket. Despite her fatigue she couldn’t sleep out in the boat, and wanted to go up to the cabin and make a fire before going back to bed.
“What are you doing?” William asked her groggily. He turned toward her as he spoke.
“Go back to sleep. I’m cold. I’m going up to the cabin to make a fire before I sleep on the couch.” She said.
“Here,” he said, lifting his blanket, “we’ll share them.” Veronica dropped her pillow by his before lying down and he placed the covers over them. He put his arms around her and she scooted towards him. “Veronica! You’re freezing!” She laughed.
He began rubbing her back from her neck to her hip. A moment later his hand slid behind her knee and he pulled her leg over him so her thigh was resting on his hip. “Now I’m awake.” He complained as his hand ran up the length of her entire body.
“I could have gone up.” She said and laughed.
“No. We’ll get a comforter if we’re going to do this again.” He said. She snuggled closer to him. Once again he caressed her back and leg; she closed her eyes, feeling content and became even more aware of his touch. It was seductive enough that it caught her breath, and made her heart race. He was giving her goose bumps and she was thankful she had the excuse of being cold. He was turning her on. Maybe it was all in her head, or possibly she was hoping he liked it, that led her to believe that he too was breathing harder. And she wasn’t positive but she thought that he had grown hard against her leg. Nevertheless, neither of them spoke despite not being able to fall asleep for over an hour.
The next morning Veronica woke up with her head on William’s chest. She slurped up drool. It didn’t take her long to realize there was a wet spot on his shirt. The embarrassment of it shot her upright out of bed. William awoke when she stirred. “Where are you going?” He asked her as she opened the door to leave the boat. He reached for her hand. “Wait, Veronica!” She froze and then turned back to look at him. “This whole taking off every morning thing isn’t working for me. Either you’re lying about being okay with me sleeping next to you, or . . . get back here!”
Veronica laughed, “Are you . . . are you bossing me around?”
“Maybe,” he said, smiling. “If it’s working, because me asking you nicely never does. So come here.” He tugged on her hand that he was still holding. She returned to his side. “How were you laying, because that was perfect? I was comfortable and warm.”
Veronica didn’t return to her exact spot because she didn’t want to lay in drool. Instead she rest
“After I was warm I slept well.” She said. “Except that I had lots of weird dreams of being on water.”
“Yeah, so tell me about your bizarre dreams.” They talked about them for a few minutes, until there was a pause and William broke the momentary silence by saying, “What kind of shampoo do you use? It smells like vanilla.”