Desire Love and Passion
Author:Lesia Reid

chapter 11



Having now declared their love for each other meant they tried to compromise in their daily living. It also meant a surprise bouquet at her office on Monday, and a midday make out session at his office at lunch time.

“I have to go to China next week,” James said as he zipped his pants. “Can you take the time off?”

“When next week?” She asked.

“Tuesday,” he replied. “I should be back by Saturday.”

“I can’t make it,” she said. “I have a photo shoot until Wednesday.”

“You know,” he said, “since we’re living together now, we should sync our calendars.”

“That’s a good idea, but then you wouldn’t be surprised when I show up here for a lunch time quickie.”

“Those you can leave off the calendar,” he said as he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. “Speaking of syncing calendars, I have a very, very late meeting this evening. Can we stay down the street tonight?”

“Sure. I’ll have to run home for clothes, but that is okay.”

“Wait a minute,” James said. “If your photo-shoot ends on Wednesday, you could still make China.”

“I’ll be editing Thursday and Friday.”

“Are you sure you’ll be okay with just Henry and Daphne?”

“I’ll stay at my place.”

“No. We’re living together. No going back.”

“I better go if I’m going to get home and back to the office on time. I love you.”

“Love you too, Babe.”

She spotted him easily across the museum hall. He was with a tall beautiful woman. She could read all his body signs though it’d been years. He was flirting, and she, with her left hand on his shoulder was flirting back.

Though she had easily spotted him, the little alcove in which they stood, talking and, laughing was very private. The telltale giveaway was his bodyguards. They stood stiffly and slightly out of place in the crowd. Of course, if not for that, there were other signs. Their suits for example, didn’t come off a designer rack - but her dress had.

Her eyes rarely left them as she made her way towards the couple. They were sipping champagne, oblivious to everything around them.

Stacey was but a few steps away when a bodyguard stepped directly in front of her.

"May I help you?" he asked in a stoic voice.

"I was hoping to speak with James," she replied.

"He’s busy at the moment," the man replied.

"Do you know who I am?" she asked.

"I’m sure he knows who you are," James said stepping around Simon. The woman was gone. James had a slightly annoyed look on his face.

"I wanted to say hello," Stacey said.

The body guard stepped back and now there was no one between her and James. She glanced around furtively to see where the woman had gone. She was nowhere in sight.

"I haven't heard from you since the last dinner," Stacey said. “What has it been, three months? I called a few times.”

"I've been busy," he replied.

"I didn't realize you had a date for this event."

"I came alone," he said.

"Oh. You didn't have to."

Of course, she saw him when he’d arrived. He was alone.

"Actually," he said. "I don't mind going dateless. You get to meet some interesting people."

He was talking to her but his eyes had wandered off. Stacey followed his gaze. It was that woman. She was talking to Sir Donald Galleon, a noted deep sea expedition diver. There was no flirting this time, just a serious conversation. Sir Donald on the other hand looked as if he could barely contain himself.

“Excuse me for a minute,” James said.

Stacey watched as he moved off in the direction he was gazing. She watched as James shook hands with the diver. The three seemed to chat for a while then Galleon left. James and the woman disappeared to another shadowy alcove in the gallery. They shared a brief kiss before James whispered in her ear. She smacked him lightly, almost playfully on the chest then they shared another kiss.

When Stacey saw them together again, James was introducing her to his cousin, the King of England and his wife. Rumors were, the two did not talk, but that did not seem to be the case as they smiled and seemed to be having easy conversation.

“You two have to come for dinner,” the King said.

“Why give the press an opportunity to write nonsense about us?” James said.

“I’m sure once they see you with this beauty they will have better rumors to write.”

“We’ll think about it,” James said. “After all, we’re enjoying this period of privacy.”

“Yes, I noticed you arrived alone.”

“It was nice seeing you two,” James said. “And congratulations on the third little prince.”

Stacey caught the woman just as she entered the posh wash room.

“Hi,” Stacey said.

“Hello.”

“I’m Stacey Adams,” the woman extended her hand.

“I know,” Willow said taking her hand.

Stacey was using her married name.

“I noticed you were with James earlier,” Stacey said. “Are -.”

“None of your business,” Willow said before Stacey could finish.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me,” Willow said. “If you have questions about James, ask him, not me.”

Stacey was completely taken aback by the response. The woman had summed her up in one quick glance and worse, she hadn’t even supplied a name. Stacey watched as the woman applied lip gloss, smiled at her deviously then left the restroom. Stacey was furious.

Maybe it was the jealously that Willow had seen in Stacey’s eyes or maybe it was because of their ruse of meeting like strangers at a party, but as soon as he got in the house that night, she wanted him.

She met him at the door. She went into his arms immediately. Her mouth glided down his neck as she pushed off his dinner jacket. She pushed him against a wall and pushed up against him.

He was surprised and loved her attitude. He turned so she was against the wall and pressed his lean muscular body into her, kissing her neck as she reached for the zipper of his pants. His hands pushed the designer dress up. She felt a tug at her briefs. She heard and felt them ripped away from her. He lifted her slightly. Willow moaned as she felt him enter her body. She adjusted herself so she could wrap her legs around him. She ripped at his shirt, wanting to feel him naked under her arms.

James could feel the outlines of her garter belt and he loved it. He loved that she still wanted him as much as he wanted her. Moving in had not slowed their love making but had tempered their desire somewhat.

He had never been this hard or rough with her and she was encouraging him, her hands finding the wall behind her, her back arching and she was moaning his name over and over. He felt her tremble against him, felt the first wave of her orgasm push against him. He slammed into her again. He twisted her head and bit into her neck as he came deep inside her.

“I was worried we were fizzling,” he said.

“That will never happen,” she said. “We’re still missing wine and candles.”

“Why haven’t we done that in the six months we’ve been together?”

“Who can think candles when I just want you?”

She pulled down her dress and he pulled up his pants and zippered them. He took her hand and they went upstairs. They undressed and had a warm shower together.

A loud scream woke her from her sleep. She turned to look at him. He was screaming in his sleep. His hands were balled into fists and he was tossing and turning. For a moment she was frightened. He had never done this before. She reached out and shook him. He pushed her away with such force she tumbled to the edge of the bed. Her side rammed against the bedside table as she tried to get her balance. She was shocked.

He was mumbling incoherently now and still tossing. He was sweating profusely now. He was still sleeping, still dreaming. This time she climbed on top of him. With all the might she could muster, she held his hands at his sides.

“James!” she shouted.

His eyes flew open and he looked at her dazed and confused still thrashing beneath her.

“James,” she said his name again and this time it registered. She felt him relax under her grip. “Honey you were having a bad dream.”

“Did I hurt you?” he asked.

“We’ve had rougher tumbles,” she said. “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” his reply was breathy.

“What were you dreaming about?”

“I don’t know.”

Willow knew he was lying, but she didn’t push. She got off him and laid beside him, pulling him into fierce hug, trying to beat the nightmare away.

James saw the bruise just below her waist as she was getting dressed in the morning. He didn’t ask about it. He tried to remember if he could have hurt her downstairs when they had ravished each other. He didn’t think so. He felt even worse when she winced pulling on her skirt.

“Are you okay?” he asked her as he pulled on his jacket.

“I’m perfect,” she said. “I have to remember walls are not kind to backsides.”

“I’m sorry if -.”

“Not your fault,” she brushed him off easily. “It was my idea, remember. No more mid-week partying.”

He nodded.

He thought about her all day. He knew something happened in the night. Did he hurt her? He just wasn’t sure.

He knew what the nightmares were about. They had started creeping back into his life the moment he had decided he wanted to ask her to marry him. They started subtly at first, a tiny glimpse here and there, but then they got bolder and he was losing control. He had only been searching for small pieces to tell her. There were small bits that would not have exposed the monster that was buried inside. He just had to find them.

He was better with her. He hadn’t done the right thing with the aid package because he wanted to. He did it because he knew she expected him to. She had told him that in her kitchen.

It took him two years to bury the monster, to lock it neatly away in the far corners of his mind. The box came undone with four words, I love you James. He’d struggled to get the lid back on. Their lovemaking hadn’t lost its spark because of her or anything she did. It was because of him. Because every time he held her, every time he buried himself inside he could feel it there, scratching at the surface.

She was on her laptop when he got home. She’d already showered. He saw the tiny wet spot on her blouse when he bent to kiss her. She had an ice-pack on the bruise.

“How was your day?” he asked.

“Short,” she said. “How was yours?”

“I’m thinking this next trip to New York will be my last as a trade envoy,” he said. “I think it’s unfair leaving Cassandra with the new CEO.”

“Is he being a brute?”

“She values a paper education over real life experience. Hence Cassandra does not meet her standards.”

“How good is this CEO?” Willow asked.

“She’s on top of everything. I just think that while she will make the shareholders very happy, she will run the office as a twentieth century well-oiled machine rather than a twenty-first century retreat from overbearing bosses.”

“Have you spoken to her?”

James watched her wince as she adjusted in the chair.

“Are you okay?” he asked again.

“Yes. So, have you spoken to her?”

“I was thinking maybe if I invited her and her husband over for dinner with us and Cassie she might loosen up a bit.”

“Dinner is a good idea, but all bosses are different,” Willow said. “Without Nancy, I think my company would fall apart at the seams. I don’t care about balance sheets and showing up at the office at eight in the morning. I would rather be outside with my camera. I get a paycheck and a quarterly report of how the business is doing. Even when we weren’t making money I couldn’t get up the effort to care about the balance sheet as much as she did. Maybe you should allow her to get her own assistant and assign Cassandra a different job.”

“Cassie is my eyes and ears when I’m away.”

“But you hired this woman to be you. You don’t need eyes and ears.”

“I’m sleeping with my brains.”

“Or maybe I’ve screwed all your brains out.”

“Naughty, naughty.”

Her laugh was cut short as she winced and held her side.

“What’s wrong?” James asked.

“Nothing.”

“Will?”

“I hit my side last night,” she confessed.

“Did I do that?”

“You were sleeping.”

“Damnit!” he swore.

“It’s nothing.”

“It is everything,” he said. “How did it happen?”

“I tried to shake you away and I guess you got spooked and threw me across the bed.”

“I am sorry.”

“You were having a nightmare. It is nothing.”

It was not unusual for Willow to go to bed before James, but it was unusual for him not to show up. When she woke at five in the morning, she found his side of the bed still perfectly made. She pulled on a short silk robe over her camisoles and briefs and went looking for him. He was not in any of the guest rooms or the office or the common rooms. She was about to give up when she thought about the basement. She had never been down there.

Now she descended the stairs, the automatic LED lights guiding her path. The stairs ended in a long hallway. She moved quietly through the gloom. There was a door to her right, she pushed it. The room was empty. In front of her, a dim light streaked out from under another door. The door was closed, but unlocked. She turned the handle when she heard sounds behind the door. Grunting, growling, she was not sure. Gingerly she pushed it open. He was sleeping, tossing turning, fighting in his sleep. Pillows were strewn every which way.

“James,” she said his name in a whisper.

He did not respond.

“James,” she almost shouted his name.

He jumped off the bed immediately. He looked haggard, frightened. He didn’t look at her immediately, but he’d heard her. Now he turned to the door where she stood.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded.

“I came to find you,” she said.

“Why?”

“I -.”

“You know what,” he said. “I don’t need to know. I don’t care. Just leave me alone.”

“Are you alright?”

“Just go,” he said.

“James, do you want to-?”

“Go! Leave me alone! Get out of my house! Just go!”

Willow was shocked. The look on his face was menacing. She had never seen him like this before.

“James -.”

“Didn’t you hear me? Go! Get the fuck out of my house!”

His words were cruel and it punched her in the stomach like no other blow she had ever gotten in her life. He was being deliberately mean and cruel. She stepped back through the hallway and fled.

Willow grabbed her laptop, her favorite camera and her purse. She didn’t need anything else. She wanted no reminder of the things she had done with him.

The house was void of inside security by choice. So Simon only saw her when the front door was opened. She was dressed in a silk robe clutching a laptop to her chest, and a camera and purse slung over her shoulder. He immediately left his station to investigate.

“Miss Barnes, Miss Barnes,” he yelled racing from the adjoining security suite.

She kept walking. Willow was busy battling the tears that had welled up in her eyes. He had been so nice in the evening when he came home. They had joked. How could he have changed so drastically in just a few short hours?

“Miss Barnes,” Simon caught up to her.

She stopped.

“Is everything okay?” Simon asked.

“Yes, yes,” she said struggling not to sound like a whimpering child.

“Where are you going?”

“Home.”

“Hang on. I am calling Giles. He can take you home.”

“I’m okay,” she said and resumed walking.

While Simon walked alongside her, begging for Giles to pick up the phone, Willow punched in the security code that would open the gate.

Simon could not leave his post, but he could not let her go walking into the woods in the dark. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief when Giles came on the telephone. While he was busy explaining himself to Giles, Willow was off the property. She was gone, her robe barely visible in the darkness before dawn.

The sound of a vehicle behind her did not stop her trek. The car came to a halt and someone came out.

“Willow.” It was Cassandra.

Willow turned to look at the woman standing in front the car, the headlights turned off at the moment.

“Where are you going?” Cassandra asked.

“Home.”

“Where is James?”

Willow wanted to yell something, wanted to yell she was not his keeper, that she didn’t care where he was. She said nothing.

“Come on,” Cassandra said. “Giles can take you home.”

“No,” Willow said. “I can walk.”

“If you decide to walk, then I’m going to have to walk with you,” Cassandra said. “And I’m sure the last time we were both on a treadmill you spent twice as long as I did.”

“You don’t have to walk with me,” Willow said. “I know my way.”

“Listen, I don’t know what happened between you and James, but I’m sure he would prefer if we took you home.”

“And I am certain he doesn’t give a damn,” she started laughing as she said it. It was a crazy hysterical laugh that echoed through the quiet secluded piece of real estate.

Once she started laughing, she couldn’t stop. She turned to keep walking and had a terrible case of the giggles. She wanted to cry, wanted to feel sorry for herself, but instead, all she could do was laugh. Another car came up behind the first. Willow didn’t even notice it. She did not see it through her blind laughter.

She felt strong hands on her shoulder as she tried to walk in a straight line on the narrow road. It was him.

She turned and punched at him. She shook him off.

“Don’t you touch me,” she snarled.

“Will I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t -.”

“Don’t say anything,” she warned. “Don’t say a word.”

“Will,” he tried to pull her into an embrace. She pushed against him, pushed away from him and started walking again.

He reached for her, and she swung at him. He caught her hand but her long camera came around and clocked him on his side.

“Stop it,” he said.

“Let go!” she screamed at him.

“Stop it,” he said again. “You know I wasn’t myself.”

“Oh you were yourself, alright. Now let go or I swear there will be no rock you can hide under ever again.”

He let her go.

“Don’t ever come near me again,” she said. “And here’s a suggestion, you want your privacy, move. And you better make sure when I get up tomorrow morning my car is in my driveway.”

“I love you,” he said.

“Don’t say that!”

“I love you,” he repeated.

“Fuck you!” she spat at him and walked away.