56. Hidden Feelings

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"Babe, I..."  Jay started but I cut him off with a kiss.

"I know Jay, I know."

"Do you know how fucking sexy you are when you stake your claim?"  He growled in my ear, causing goosebumps to rise over my body.

"Nope, but I'd like to hear about it."  I said suggestively and he laughed as he pulled me against him.

"I'm sorry Mia."  He whispered, so only I'd hear him.

"You have nothing to apologise for Jay.  I'll fight for you every time."  I replied honestly.

"That's just it, you don't have to fight for me.  I'm yours, you already have me."

"I don't doubt that for a minute Jay, I just need to make sure everyone else knows it."

"If they didn't before, they do now." He said as he pulled me against his chest and we held each other for a few minutes.

The truth was simple. Although I would do it time and again, had done it time and again, each time I waded through Jay's 'dirty laundry' it took its toll on me.

Over the next few weeks, the time when I should have been happiest, I was trying not to sink further into a slump. So, when Harper rang and asked to get together, I agreed happily.

"Do you want me to come babe?" Jay asked as I relayed our conversation.

"Not this time Jay, it's just for fittings, but when she presents them I'll really need your support."  I tried to sound unaffected, but I think he saw through it. 

"It's only for the weekend babe, I'll be back on Sunday night."  I tried to sound more reassuring this time.

I had a lot of thinking time during the flight, a lot of time to reflect over everything.  I was unimaginably happy with Jay, but still the fighting against 'every one else' was taking its toll and I was helpless to stop it.  For the first time since we'd met, I was looking forward to our time apart.

And that scared me more than anything ever had.

I didn't expect Harper to meet me at the airport, but she insisted. The same as she insisted I stay with her and Damien.

"Are you sure I'm not imposing Harper?" I asked and she just answered with a smile.

"Not at all, I'm really looking forward to spending some time with you. Besides the fittings."

I smiled at her obvious sincerity and remembered the first time we'd met. How much I'd liked her then and how I felt the same now.

"Thanks Harper, I really appreciate it."

"You know Mia" she said as she kept her eyes focussed on the road. "and I'll be so happy if I'm off track here, but I'm here if you want to talk."

I looked at her so quickly, I felt the crick in my neck.

"I spent so many years hiding my feelings and the last 12 months identifying those same traits in others." She continued. "I just wanted you to know I'm here if you need me."

I gave her a small smile, marvelling at how intuitive she was, but just wanting some time out from my thoughts.

"Thank you Harper, but I'm fine." She nodded as she focussed back on the road.

"Okay, we'll be there in just a few minutes." she said brightly and I smiled in gratitude.

The truth was, I was tired, exhausted even. Jay and I were fine but my late night thoughts were anything but. All my doubts and insecurities crept in once Jay was asleep and I lay awake craving that escape.

I'd had 18 years of stability and even though it had ended with me being completely blindsided, I'd never laid awake at night questioning my importance in our relationship. And I wasn't questioning it now...or was I?

"Mia?"

"Huh?" I asked blankly.

"We're here, are you okay?"

I forced out a laugh. "I'm fine.  sorry, I just zoned out for a bit."

Harper poured us each a glass of wine and we took it out to enjoy by the pool.

"Damien had a meeting tonight, he's sorry he couldn't be here to meet you but he should be back in a few hours."  She explained.

"So, tell me all about Perth.  How's Jay?  Your new job?"  She asked with obvious interest.

"The job is pretty much the same as I had here, there's not too much that's different so I was able to slot in fairly quickly.  And the people are nice.  Some of them I've met at one time or another which helps."

Harper waited for me to continue.

"And Jay?"  She prompted.

"Jays great.  Affectionate, considerate and still sexy as hell."  I laughed.  "Which reminds me, I need to let him know I'm here."

I pulled out my phone and wrote a quick text.

Hi babe, I'm here safe and sound.  Just enjoying a glass of wine with Harper.  I love you xx

His response was almost immediate.

Missing you already Mia.  Call me when you're tucked into bed?  Love you too xx

"Sorry."  I said as I placed my phone on the table and picked up my glass.

"Not a problem.  By the way Mia, I have some great design ideas and I can't wait to show you, but I also have this."  She handed me a sheet of A4 paper and I tried to make sense of what I was seeing.

"I just need your bank account details and I'll deposit your share."

"Wow Harper, this is incredible."  I whispered as I looked at the bottom line.

"I know."  She smiled.  "And I'm sure these new designs will sell just as well."

"Are they here?"  I asked, feeling the excitement that Harper was radiating.

She shook her head.  "No, they're at the studio, but we can go first thing in the morning."

Damien arrived shortly after and I watched the way he greeted her.  The way he kissed her, held her hand, touched her often, it reminded me of the way Jay was with me. 

"This is your room Mia, there's a closet here" she opened the door to show me "and an ensuite here."  My eyes were immediately drawn to the spa.  "Make yourself at home Mia, we'll see you in the morning.

I tied my hair up and washed my face as I waited for the spa bath to fill enough to hop in.

Once I was settled in the warm, soothing water, I rang Jay.

"Mia." He whispered and I closed my eyes as his voice wrapped around me.

"I miss you." I said honestly, my own voice thick with emotion.

"I miss you too babe, but I think we both know you needed this."

"What?" I asked alarmed.

Jay chuckled. "Calm down Mia, I just meant you needed a break from the craziness."

"I'm sorry." I whispered.

"Don't apologise Mia, just tell me what you're doing right now."

"Well," I purposely lowered my voice. "I'm sitting in a spa bath. Completely alone and completely naked."

Jay groaned and his voice deepened.  "Naked huh?"  He asked.

"Completely."  I teased.

And as I touched myself under Jays careful instruction, he let me know what I was in for when I got home.

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