|19| - "I didn't realise you and Louisa were so close." -
I received an email from a client in Paris today and it made me think of that wonderful trip we had together a couple of years ago. You complained about how much your feet hurt, but you persevered on that climb up the Eiffel Tower. I didn't say it at the time, but I fell in love with you even more that day, seeing you push through the pain and maintain a sense of humour, simply because we'd planned to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and you weren't prepared to back down. You're strong-willed, and it's one of the things I admire most about you.
Sighing to myself, I let the notebook fold shut and pushed it across the table away from me. Over the day, I'd been making my way through Nathan's diary-like entries, drinking in the words as if I was making up for lost time.
He'd had a lot to say during the period we weren't talking. Sometimes it was just a rundown of his day, and other pages were filled with anecdotes like the Paris trip. Any doubts I'd had regarding the authenticity of it were quashed when I stumbled across the odd explicit paragraph about how much he missed my body, where he'd describe in vivid detail all the things he longed to do to me. He really had written every time he thought about us and been honest about it, too-not leaving anything out.
As much as I wanted to carry on reading, I had a party to prepare for. Agonising over what to wear was nothing new for me, but this was worse than usual. I needed to make an impression. I needed to appear worthy. These unethical colleagues needed to take me seriously.
At a corporate Christmas party, I had to dress tastefully, and I also didn't want to look like I was desperately flaunting my skin. A lot of my outfits were designed for the club scene, but there was one dress that I'd rarely worn. It was longer than most, finishing just above my knee with a narrow V-neck that showed cleavage without it being too obvious. The sleeves were intricate lace and the fabric of the body was skin-tight. It was a beautiful dress-too formal for clubs and bars but ideal for a party like this.
Once I'd squeezed into the dress, I paid special attention to my make-up, applying an extra layer of foundation, thick eyeliner and even drawing onto my eyebrows to give them more defined shaping.
When I'd straightened my hair and slipped into some towering stilettos, I felt good about myself. That was exactly what I needed, too. Confidence had to emanate from my body.
I was spritzing myself with perfume whilst simultaneously checking I had everything in my bag when there was a knock at the door. Nathan was bang on time, and I wondered if he'd been loitering outside until the clock reached the time we'd agreed.
Scooping up my bag, I did a final sweep of the room before grabbing my coat and heading for the door. It was strange having Nathan knock to get into his own flat, but those were the boundaries we'd agreed.
That was what Nathan said when I pulled open the door. His eyes swept over my body, lingering without shame on my cleavage, hips and legs, before drawing upwards to meet my gaze.
"Isobel, you look..." He paused, swallowed to gather himself and then smiled. "You look incredible."
"You don't look so bad yourself."
It was a cliché line, but it was all I could think to say. Between Nathan's immaculate appearance in a black suit, his hungry look as his eyes devoured my body, and the erotic passages I'd read in his notebook, my mind was wandering down a dangerous route-one that we probably weren't ready to navigate yet.
"Are you ready?" he asked.
I nodded and stepped through the door, pulling it shut after myself then checking it had locked.