The morning had warmed quickly, so Valerie suggested they take their breakfast on the terrace, allowing them to enjoy the backdrop of Table Mountain while they ate and talked. As Lorne poured more tea for Chloe and refilled the two coffee cups, he asked, "Have you heard further from London on the situation?"
"Yes, disturbing. Another woman has come forward claiming having been..." She paused to look at Chloe, then shrugged. "Claiming having been raped by Broughton."
"So, that's three now. The man has a problem."
"A big problem. If we're aware of three, there are likely more. I need to check my emails." She blew out a deep sigh. "I was distracted by the spa and then by concern about you."
"After breakfast." He glanced at his watch. "It's only seven forty in London, so there'll be no one in your office to reply."
"Yeah." She grimaced. "Another thing — the media have now linked me to you, and we're their new gossip darlings."
Lorne pursed his lips as he bobbed his head. "Makes you easier to find."
"I had my IT team trying to find you last week. Three full days with no success. I put a Security team on it Tuesday afternoon, and they had pulled blanks when I checked yesterday."
"Visibility will change now. The hacks and cameras have a reason to tail me. To tail us."
Valerie sat for a while bobbing her head, then she picked up her coffee. "Later. Let's look at something lighter. When's our flight tonight?"
"We're scheduled for seven thirty. Wendell, Clyde and Walter will join us, and Patrick will serve dinner after we've settled in at cruise altitude."
"That makes sense. There are more than enough seats, even beds."
"I had Wendell check the BA site once we regained phone connectivity. Tonight's flight showed oversold both front and back."
Valerie quickly reran her memory of the sleeping arrangements. We'll have to abstain. God, no! Just be quiet. "So, Chloe in the single across from us?"
"That's what I had thought. There are curtains screening each space."
Valerie chuckled to herself. Screening curtains, but not screaming ones. "Yeah, and we'll have our own loo. The others can use the front one."
"Exactly. Like a private family space." He squeezed Valerie's hand. "I love the idea of family."
"Do you want to add to it, Daddy? I'd love that."
Valerie stared daggers at Chloe while Lorne replied, "We've not yet discussed it, but if your mother wants to, then we all do."
Oh, God! Valerie's voice trembled as she spoke, "Yes, her mother wants to." She turned in her chair as tears spilled. "Hold me, Lorne."
He pushed his chair back and slid to his knees beside her, wrapping her in a tight embrace. "Yeah, I'd really love that." Their lips merged.
Chloe picked up her tea and sat back smiling and sipping as she watched.
After breakfast, Valerie went to the loo, her mind spinning as she sat. So fast. Everything's been so fast. From a first kiss last week to this. Am I being silly? Are we both being silly? She continued pondering as she finished, then she paused at the sink for a long while, examining herself in the mirror. Thirty-four next week. If we don't do it now... When?
She dried her hands much more than needed as she continued thinking. He's so easy with this. She laughed to herself. Likely part of his plan. A chess master with all the moves and their possible counter-moves seen clearly and far in advance. Am I being manipulated? She blew out a deep breath. If I am, I'm party to it. I'm to blame as well for leading him on.
Am I leading him on? Is this truly what I want? Wasn't my life full and satisfying before we met? She looked at the towel wrung tightly in her hands, then shook her head and stared again at her image in the mirror. God, girl! You spent a decade filling your life with work and Chloe, and satisfying your craving with fingers and toys and imaginary lovers.
She shook out the towel and hung it on the rack. Imaginary lovers. Why? Afraid of men? No, afraid of intimacy with them. Then why am I not afraid with Lorne? She nodded at her reflection. He's been broken as well. Two birds with damaged wings learning to fly together. She chuckled aloud. Getting hokey, but it's true.
Valerie placed a hand on her mound and pressed as she moved it in a small circle, her other hand cupping a breast and tweaking the nipple. Is this what I want? Will this satisfy me? She shook her head. Silly question, girl. You know fucking well you want a man doing this to you. A man? No, not just a man. Lorne. You know you want Lorne. She smiled at her reflection. Why Lorne? Because you know God isn't available. Yeah, that's why. Second-best will have to do.
She put a hand on her belly. I was fertile last week. Three more weeks to decide. She shook her head. No, the decision's been made. Three more weeks before our first attempts.
YOU ARE READING
Set in an environment of extreme wealth in contemporary London, this is a story of tender new love trying to flourish while a tragic past conspires to destroy. As Valentine's Day approaches, two lonely people begin breaking out of their social shell...