He didn’t give her time to answer, instead she closed her eyes. It was the first time in years that she’d had nothing to do, that she’d lounged around with no agenda. If she didn’t feel ill she wouldn’t be here, and because she was ill she didn’t fully appreciate the freedom of the moment, but she also knew he was right. She’d struggle to make it to the bathroom alone, never mind the kitchen or back to the bedroom. No for a few more hours she needed his help, she just had to accept that.

Kate could barely keep her eyes open, and it was a while later that she woke to see him once again pottering in the kitchen in a pair of jeans and a vest, bare feet silent on the hardwood floor. For a moment she saw an insight into what? Her future? Mason cooking her dinner as she reclined and watched him, a feeling of contentment washed over her with that thought. This was normal, this was what most people aspired to. Peter would never look after her, but then she’d known that a long time...

He walked towards her, “Food’s ready, I’m really glad you’re awake. Do you need the bathroom? I’ve left some clean clothes on the bed if you want to freshen up.” Then offered a hand to pull her to her feet.

She nodded, “I will,” she took his hand and pulled herself up, then added, “and I’ll go myself.” Then turning back to look at him, she gave him her best smile, he didn’t deserve grouchy Kate.

Every step was a huge physical effort, but she made it there. She was relieved to see the neatly folded sweater and joggers that lay on the bed, and in the relative safety of the bathroom, she changed, and did the obvious. A splash of water to her still hot face was like a tonic, and by the time she lumbered back to the lounge, she was exhausted, but slightly more refreshed.

The small table near the kitchen in the open plan room was laid ready for her to eat, and she gratefully lowered into one of the seats. The chicken he’d cooked the previous evening had been shredded and added to some other as yet unnamed yummy items and made into a beautiful soup that despite her fatigue, she managed to wolf down very rapidly.

Sitting back she groaned her hands over her stomach pleasantly full after the last twenty four hours that had passed in a blur. She didn’t even know the time. Glancing up at the clock she saw it was almost six in the evening, normally she’d be leaving work to see Peter...the thought turned her cold. Suddenly that earlier conversation came back to haunt her and she stared at him. How did he know about Peter?

Kate slowly lifted her eyes to Mason’s and she could see his anxiety at the sudden change in mood.

                “What’s wrong Kate?”

                “How do you know about Peter?”

He sat back in his chair with a sigh; he’d known this revelation would only lead to resentment, more anger. But he was ready for it.

                “After you disappeared last week, I spoke to Paula’s parents, they told me the little bit they knew from your brother, that you had a boyfriend who got injured...I hoped you’d fill in the rest.”

He watched the emotions ravage her face as she tried to decide what was the best outcome, how to play this situation.

                “Kate, I like you, you like me, I know that even if you deny it. Can’t we at least be honest with each other?”

                “I loved him more than anything,” the tears still came when she remembered how happy they’d been, how perfect their love had been. “He was everything to me, he still is. Which is why I can’t be here, with you...”

Mason looked for signs of how she really felt, she used the past tense talking about their relationship, he knew that she was lying to herself, he’d heard that Peter was seriously brain damaged, was in permanent residential care. This wasn’t a relationship, but he didn’t know how to make her see that.

He took gentle steps, treading carefully, “sometimes we have to let go Kate, sometimes things come to an end.”

She shook her head vehemently, “you’re just like the rest, everyone thinks they know what’s best for me! I LOVE him Mason, why do you find that so hard to believe?”

His retort slipped out before he registered what he was saying, “because you slept with me, and enjoyed every second of it. And when you look at me I KNOW you’re desperate to do it again, I KNOW that Kate, so what I really want to know is, what the hell are you hiding from?”

Kate wanted to get away, to run, to hide, to lick the painful wounds that the world seemed intent on opening on a regular basis. But she was bloody exhausted, both from being floored by this awful flu, but also the stress and tribulations that her life was on a daily basis. She regretted so much succumbing to even going to her brother’s wedding, if she hadn’t she’d never have met Mason, never have been tempted to sleep with him, and never have given someone else access to her inner life.

She stood, taking a deep breath, “If I could leave here I would, but I don’t think I could really make it to the door. But I’m going to take myself to bed, I know it’s your bed...but I really don’t think I can sit here and justify why I love Peter to you. I made a mistake with you, a big mistake, but please don’t think that you’ve suddenly got some control over my life. You may not ‘do’ one night stands, but I apparently do.”

Mason sighed, watching her stagger out of the room, so much for playing it cool and showing her he understood. As it was he may well have blown it. Clearing the plates, he opened the fridge and pulled out a beer, this woman was more than driving him to drink. He desperately needed to either win her over, of get her out of his life.  As much as he hoped it was the former, he feared he’d be returning to Dubai with his tail between his legs all too rapidly.

Before he turned in for the night, or rather laid out on the sofa, his phone rang. It was Brandon, his business partner. His wife had had their baby earlier that day. This meant he was needed back in Dubai, soon, to give the new father some well deserved time off. Looking up to the sky in exasperation, he rued his indecision making with regards to Kate the last week or so, he had to act quickly, but if he told her the whole truth he knew he’d have no chance. Shaking his head he settled down to sleep, tomorrow would bring some big changes.

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