If Love Were By Design, page 17
She put the paper down. “I’m not! It’s okay.” She turned away from it.
“It’s okay as in it’s really okay. Or it’s okay as in your shrugging off what you actually want to say?” He asked.
“It’s really okay. Don’t be sorry. I’m kind of getting used to it.” She sighed. “Andrea will be happy. The name of our store is front page news.” She smiled at him, although it was forced.
“Are you mad at me for doing that?” He asked.
“Not at all.” She reassured him and then added, “And you can hug me in public. I’m not going to let this change us. Just because we’re outside doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be ourselves. If it ends up in the papers . . . well, then it ends up in the papers.”
With a relieved laugh he drew her to him. They hugged and then slowly she let go. He released her when she did, but he didn’t let go of her. Instead, held her hand as they walked down the sidewalk. They tried to forget about it. He didn’t apologize for holding her hand either, and she was glad he was. She couldn’t help but think his touch felt like they were dating and she liked the idea of them together. However, it confused her because he hadn’t pursued her the night before but today he almost always had his hands on her. She didn’t know what to think about it.
“Okay. So let’s break this down slowly, because I feel like you’re not telling me something.” Kimmy said, sitting on Veronica’s futon. She had her legs curled up under her, and eating popcorn like she was watching an entertaining movie. “So,” she loudly crunched the popcorn as she chewed, “You got into a black bra and panties, and he rubbed your bare back, and then he fell asleep. And why didn’t you kiss him?”
“Because I felt stupid! How obvious did I have to be? Besides, the next morning I got up and he wasn’t in bed. He’s always there when I wake up! It freaked me out—I thought he left! I don’t want to throw out what we have. I don’t want to scare him off because I love him. I’m starting to think he’s friendly and that’s all there is to it.” Veronica blathered. “I really mean those words, too, I do. I love him.” She laughed feeling ridiculous. “Usually I say I like him, but that isn’t exactly how I feel.”
“I had Travis ask William if he feels the same way about you. He said he hasn’t gotten it out of him yet, but when I know, you’ll know.” Kimmy added, “But Travis did say he’s pretty sure William knows what he’s doing. Whatever that means!”
“I wish you wouldn’t involve him! I don’t want him talking to William about this. You’ve told him too much.” Veronica groaned. “You have to tell him to leave it alone!”
“He knows I’m serious about not telling William how you feel. Besides, I told him you don’t like to go fast. It’s probably for the best if William was in the dark a little while longer. How can he not take that hint? He’s totally blind, or extremely cautious about rushing you. I don’t know which one makes me feel worse for him. Poor guy.” Kimmy said.
“Go fast? We’re not even going? He’s acting like we’re friends. It hurts my feelings, because I’m in love with him. Listen to me, I sound like an obsessed nineteen–year old. This is how I got hurt last time. No, I don’t want to talk about this.” Veronica paused, but it wasn’t long before she going off on a tangent once again, “I mean he doesn’t love me back . . . he treats me like . . . like a close friend. We’ve been talking and talking and talking for months. How is that fast? Normal people would be sleeping with each other by now. Look at you and Travis. You’re living together! He knew what he wanted and went for it. I’m beginning to think that all William wanted was a friend and like an idiot I fell for him. He has hundreds of friends. I’ve met so many people since I started hanging out with him. He put me in the friend zone! Meanwhile, I’m going crazy. Listen to me; I’m not even making sense. Can I be more confusing?”
She held up her hand, “Okay, case in point of why I’m in the friend zone. I was totally making out with him in front of Aurora and then he only pecked me on the lips in front of Brice. What was that? I was standing there thinking, ‘Okay, kiss me again.’ Half the time I want to jump him, the other half wants to stare at him. Meanwhile, all we do is talk.”
“You need to kiss him again. Seriously, you are obsessing about this. At least you’d know one way or another.” Kimmy implored her, looking amused.
“I don’t think I want to know if it’s the ‘other’.” Veronica confessed.
“No, you want to sit in your condo on Tuesday night crazed over the question whether he wants you or not,” Kimmy said, sarcastically. “You could be driving over to his house in nothing up but a sexy teddy (okay, and a coat) and be waiting for him to come home. He gets home at seven, right?” Kimmy looked at the clock. “You have two hours.”
“I don’t have a teddy, Kimmy. I’m not sexually active nor have I ever been.” Veronica said.
“Does he know you’re a virgin?” Kimmy asked.
“No!” Veronica said.
“Good! That might make him worry about making it perfect, and trust me, you two need to bone and get it out of the way.” Kimmy said frankly. Veronica laughed, her giddiness was proof Kimmy was right. She had to do something, but not surprise him in a teddy.
“I could try telling him. No, I couldn’t speak the words. Do you truly think I should go over there in a teddy? Last time I took your advice it was a total fiasco. I don’t think I can. Seriously, it was scary when I thought he left. I don’t want to lose him.”
“Don’t think of it that way. Imagine instead it ends up being happily ever after for you two. I know it will! And what if it all starts tonight? You could be making out with him in less than three hours, comfortable knowing that he’s as obsessed with you as you are with him. You’ve probably tortured him by being so guarded. He’s got to be thinking of you constantly and wishing you’d made this move months ago. Poor guy! He’s probably more worried about freaking you out than you’re afraid of making him uncomfortable and chasing him off.” Kimmy said. “You can do this! I’ll even go with you to go buy a teddy. You went with me. It’s the least I can do.”
“I don’t know.” She paused and without thinking she added, “Okay.”
They went to an elegant lingerie store and found several nice teddies, one of which was white with a plunging neckline (past her bellybutton); Veronica knew she’d look terrific sitting on his couch when he arrived home. She bought the teddy and a pair of sexy white heels. Then she switched outfits in the changing room. She wore her red button–up wool coat that came down almost to her knees. If it weren’t for the shoes she would have looked like she was going to work or the grocery store.
“Now go! You can do this! He’s in love with you and I know it! You’ll seduce him by asking him, ‘How was your day?’” Kimmy grinned and encouraged her to drive over to his place.
Veronica kept circling his building as she tried to decide if she was going to go up. It took her a while to build up the courage. Every time she had almost convinced herself to park and go up, she freaked out and drove around the block again. It was nearly seven when she finally parked her car. Her heart was pounding as she reached for the door handle. For a moment she thought about not getting out. But going home and forgetting about it wasn’t a possibility, either. She got out of her car feeling shaky and nervous. This was the craziest thing she had ever done. Why was she listening to Kimmy? She wasn’t brave like Kimmy! If she were smart she would go home, change and come back over and admit to him how she felt by talking.
However, she found herself at the elevator. Waging a war of mixed emotions, she keyed herself up. As the elevator doors slid open, she braced herself against the wall and tried to catch her breath. She could do this! Or maybe she couldn’t. What was she doing? She was going to ruin everything! But he was worth it! It took a moment to find her feet, and as the door were about to close she quickly got out. She didn’t think she could go through with it!
Suddenly determined, after coming so far, she knocked on the
The door swung open and Veronica jumped. She looked up and smiled, but her smile twitched when she saw an older woman around thirty opening his door. She was a beautiful brunette with brown eyes. She had long legs, a thin tall body, and wore black slacks with a purple top that was tucked in. Her smile didn’t last more than a heartbeat. “Um,” Veronica blinked. It was surprising to see a woman in his condo.
“Oh, you’re not Chinese Food.” She observed.
“No.” Veronica said quickly.
“Get back here! I want a kiss. I haven’t seen you in forever!” Veronica heard William yelling from down his hallway, and then a door closed. Veronica felt sick. Suddenly she realized she wasn’t looking at a woman, but someone he was romantically involved with, and from the sound of it, an old lover. She tried to smile but she felt like crying. The woman ignored his comment. Veronica felt like she was about to throw up any second, but despite it, she couldn’t help but notice what a perfect match for William she was.
This woman dressed well, as Veronica would imagine William would love a woman to look. She was beautiful, and more age appropriate. She oozed confidence, and even looked friendly. Veronica hated to admit it, but she could see why William would love her—she looked like a nice, decent person. It would have been much easier if she was a hag like Aurora, at least she could have instantly hated her.
“Are you here for William?” She asked smiling.
“No.” Veronica stressed and shook her head for emphasis. “Sorry.” She had to get out of there. She quickly turned and pressed the button to the elevator. The woman closed his door. “Come on!” She whispered to the elevator. She pressed the button to the elevator frantically several times. “Come on!” She choked back tears, but despite her trying hard not to, she began to cry.
Veronica didn’t know how she got through the next few days, but she was relieved when the weekend finally came, because she could hide in her apartment and lay in bed. She spent all Friday night crying and when she woke up Saturday she started crying again. Kimmy kept calling to find out how it went, but Veronica couldn’t bear to answer her questions. She even avoided William’s call on Thursday night thinking he would want to see her Friday, but he didn’t leave a message, and since then he hadn’t called. She didn’t know what was worse. Him not calling and knowing it was proof he was trying to gently tell her he reunited with an old lover, or the humiliation the night she had gone over there in a teddy to find another woman there, instead.
She cried so hard and for so long that on Saturday she had a splitting headache, and her face was red and blotchy. She took a shower, and stood under the hot water trying to relax. However, it didn’t work. She got out, dressed in pajamas, and then sat on her couch to watch television. It helped to distract her. She was beginning to get into a funny sitcom she had never seen before when her phone range. It was Kimmy. She let it ring, and had her answering machine get it. “Veronica, are you alive?” Kimmy asked with a laugh. “Are you with William? You’re not answering your cell, either. I’m eager to find out what happened. I’m guessing you’re still boning him and that’s why you’re not calling me. Who knew you were so sex crazed? Call me!” She hung up after laughing. She called back a few minutes later. “It’s me again. I called William, and he said he hasn’t seen you since last weekend. Where are you? What happened? I’m officially freaked out! Call me or I’m coming over in ten minutes! You have ten minutes. I hope you’re okay!” Veronica picked up the phone but a second too late. She was glad she missed her, and wanted a little more time to prepare herself to talk to her. She had to tell Kimmy what had happened, even if she wasn’t ready. It took her a few minutes, but she picked up the phone to call her back.
There was a knock on her door. A second later she heard the rustling of keys. She jumped up off the couch and gasped. It could only be one person. She dropped the phone onto the couch. Her front door opened before she had a chance to react. William immediately saw her and said into his phone, “She’s fine. She’s home. I’ll talk to you later.” He hung up. He came into her apartment. “Why aren’t you talking to Kimmy? Are you mad at her?”
“No.” She said. It hurt to look at him. She sat so she didn’t have to face him. He came to sit next to her.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, instantly worried when he saw her. His question provoked her to tears.
“Nothing. I don’t want to talk about it. I’m fine. I will be fine, anyway.” She said. She wiped her tears from her cheeks.
“Hey!” He said in an overly soothing voice. He put his arm around her. “Hey! Come here.” He hugged her. Why did it have to feel so good to be held by him? His arms reminded her of what had happened Tuesday, and it felt like a fresh cut. She cried even harder. She rested her head on his shoulder, and thought about the other woman. They were friends—and he was merely comforting another weeping friend. That was all it was. At least she knew now that he didn’t feel the same way. It was so clear to her now that he never felt attracted to her. That was why he never made any real advancements. She was a fool to fall for him. Any day now he’d tell of the other woman, and that they couldn’t continue to be friends. She couldn’t bear the thought and tears streamed from her eyes. She cried bitterly knowing she was losing him. “What’s wrong? Tell me.” He rubbed her arm and squeezed her.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She pleaded.
He took a deep breath, and exhaled. “I wish you would tell me what’s wrong.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She chimed. “It’s stupid, and I’m being an overly emotional girl.”
“Well, come with me then. I’ll cheer you up. You can come boating with us today. I have my sister and her two girls with me. They have been with me all week, and I haven’t seen them in forever so I can’t cancel on them. Besides, I’ve promised my nieces to take them on the yacht; and three–year–olds that wait an entire week for something get very impatient. I left them on the yacht when I came over here.” He rubbed her back, “Come on. Come with me.” William said.
“Your sister has been staying at your condo?” Veronica asked to clarify. Him saying he wanted a kiss when she was standing outside her door suddenly made sense; he was talking to her girls and not her. She started laughing and crying at the same time. “I need a hug. A real one!”
“I am hugging you! This is a real hug.” He said.
“It’s not very hard! I’ve had restraining orders closer than this.” She jested. He squeezed her until she groaned, “Okay.” Then he held onto her with the same pressure until she asked him to release her.
“So come with me. I can’t leave you here. I don’t want to.” William said and then stood before offering a hand to help her to her feet. “And I’m stubborn too, so I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“Where are you taking me?” She asked.
“The bedroom to get you warm boating clothes.” He said and led her to the bedroom. He pulled out a pair of designer jeans, a long–sleeved thick shirt, and a cashmere sweater from her closet. He then tucked her hair behind her ear and looked at her one last time. He flashed a half smile, but he looked pained to see her sad. “I’ll wait for you in the living room while you change.”
“You’re Veronica?” Nora asked the moment she saw her. “I saw you Tuesday. You stopped by.”
Veronica flushed pink and forced a smile. “Tuesday?” William asked before Veronica could say a word. He looked at Veronica, shocked.
“I’m Nora. William’s older sister by the way.” She said.
Veronica said it was nice to meet her, and then asked, “And you have two girls? Where are they?”
“It’s past noon. I had to put them down for a nap. They’re in one of the cabins. They sleep until two usually. It was actually easy putting them to bed because I told them pirates sleep on boats.” She laughed. She looked at her brother again, and poked his arm to get his attention. He was still watching Veronica. “Are you going to get this boat underway, or what?”
“Um, yeah.” He exclaimed and jumped into action. “I’ll go tell the captain we’re ready.”
“That’s a good idea.” Nora replied. He took one last glance at Veronica before leaving. Veronica relaxed slightly. “I’m so sorry. If I knew Tuesday that you were Veronica when you came over I wouldn’t have let you leave. I think he was getting the girls ready for bed at the time, and William and I were about to watch a movie. You should have said.” Nora smiled. “You could have watched the movie with us.”
“No, it’s okay, I didn’t want to intrude. I’ve never actually popped by his house before. So, it was fine.” Veronica said, smiling while thinking it would have been terrible if Nora had asked to take her coat. It was for the best she had left.
“It’s no intrusion. He tells me you two are best friends.” Nora proclaimed and smiled.
“We are.” Veronica affirmed with a nod.
“How long have you two known each other?” Nora asked.
“Not long, over four months.” Veronica replied and then asked, “So, how long are you staying?”
“We leave tomorrow. I have stuff to do back home.” Nora said. “Do you want to go below deck? It’s cold.”