A Journey of Passion Ch. 09by_Lynn_©
A Journey of Passion: The Holidays
This year he had so many things to be thankful for, Seth reflected. Shelby and Dallas both were smiling more after Rex's death. They both were healing and moving on as best they could.
Then there was Gabriela. She was the best thing in his life. His office staff even teased him about the way he'd changed since he met her. They assured him he'd always been a nice guy but now he looked happier to them. It didn't even surprise them when he took off in the middle of the day anymore.
Gabriela' daughter Nicole had a rough year when her fiancée took off with a coworker just two months before their wedding. It was a big adjustment to have her mom move away, too. She was about the same age as Shelby and the two hit it off as soon as they met.
He saw his mom in the kitchen with Dallas. Effie loved her great-grandson and spoiled him more than Seth did. They were frosting cookies and having a great time. Seth was sure Dallas was wearing more of the sugary confection than the cookies were.
Yes, he had so much to be thankful for, he thought once more.
"Grandpa, look," Dallas said when Seth joined them in the kitchen.
"Hey sport, you're doing a good job there."
"Your grandpa and I used to frost cookies when he was little like you, Dallas."
Dallas looked at the big man next to him with confusion. "You were like me?"
"That's right, sport."
"Will I grow up to be big like you, Grandpa?"
"You might even be bigger, Dallas," Seth told the boy.
"I saw a biggerer man at the store. His belly was so fat his shirt didn't button. I don't wanna be that big, Grandpa."
Effie held back her laughter at what she'd just heard from the young boy. It still amazed her how observant he was for his age. Dallas was almost three and a pistol.
Gabriela slipped her arm around Seth's waist and squeezed. "Having a good time?"
"I am, yes. It's been too long since I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. Thank you for doing this, baby."
"You're welcome, Seth. I love the holidays and I'm glad everyone could make it."
Seth gave her a loving smile and kissed her forehead. The noise around them faded for a moment as he inhaled her scent.
"Dad, can't you ever behave?" Shelby called out.
Gabriela grinned when she heard Nicole pipe in. "Yeah Mom, can't you ever behave?"
"You know, girls, it's a bit tough to resist when you have a man as handsome as mine."
They all laughed as she ran her hand over the curve of his bottom and winked. Effie saw the way her son looked at the woman and knew he'd found his other half. Gabriela had class that came from within. Her love for Seth came through in so many ways. Theirs was a rare and unique relationship envied by all around them.
Effie asked Nicole and Shelby to help her before shooing her son out of the kitchen. Gabriela and Seth made sure the table was ready and then helped Dallas into his chair. As the food came out, the noise level escalated.
Seth looked around the table and felt his heart swell. His family was all here with him on this Thanksgiving Day. He knew that he'd been close to not making it to this point. Gabriela brought him through that horrible time.
Yes, he had much to be thankful for, he told himself.
Thanksgiving was a huge success for them all. Gabriela and Seth were now getting ready for Christmas. Nicole was flying back down a few days early and Gabriela planned to go with her to finish their Christmas shopping at the local malls. Shelby looked forward to seeing Nicole again. The two got along well and talked often.
Dallas loved Gabriela. He struggled with her name in the beginning and somehow it came out as 'Gabry'. Grandma Gabry soon became one of his favorite people. The two always did a craft together that made him feel special. She was patient with him and explained things instead of ignoring him. Seth could see why Nicole had turned out to be the caring and intelligent adult she was.
Today Seth and Gabriela sat out by the pool and took some time for just the two of them. Saturdays were often busy for him in the real estate business but he'd delegated more work to his staff since Gabriela had moved in with him. She was his priority now, not work. He still couldn't believe all the changes in his life.
"I think we should celebrate next month," he said.
"Did you have something in mind?"
She didn't even have to ask what the occasion was. Gabriela remembered all too well the date he'd contacted her.
"I see this last year as a journey for us. We went through different stages to get to today. It's similar to a cruise. First, you have the beginning. Then you stop at all these ports to explore and discover what's there before moving on to another one. Each adds a bit more to make a complete trip."
"That's perfect, Seth. I love it."
Gabriela knew that no one saw Seth as she did. To friends and family he was tough, in control and confident at all times. He was so much more with her. Small things like comparing the past year to a cruise would shock others. She knew he was deeper than they realized.
They talked about places they'd traveled to for a while. Gabriela had never been out of the United States and loved hearing about Seth's trips to other countries. It didn't even bother her that he'd gone with his then-wife at the time. The woman was a part of his past just as her ex-husband was hers.
"Did you ever think we'd come this far in a year?" Gabriela asked.
"Erik said you were the one for me. He called it karma or fate, I think. Then I looked at your picture and felt this tingling shoot through me. It was almost like a zap to my heart. I knew it was crazy and things like that didn't really happen but I couldn't stop staring at your eyes. Erik thought he talked me into sending you that e-mail but I would have anyway. I felt that you'd be important to me somehow."
"I love you Seth."
"Baby, I love you, too."
"Your e-mail didn't have anything specific or unusual to it. I read it and smiled. Your words hit me as real and honest not just put there to get a date. It was so odd how I could feel things from them. Yes, destiny brought us together."
"We've been on a journey unlike most people ever take. Our relationship took us through struggles many couples never see. You and I have only grown stronger with each bump in our path. I know our future won't be perfect but our love already has proven it can get us over the rough spots," he said.
"I agree, Seth. We're not like any other couple I ever knew. You and I learned early to talk and that's key."
"It is, baby. We're forever."
They both forgot about making any special plans. Their entire life was already more than they'd ever expected to find with another ever again.
As soon as Thanksgiving was past, Gabriela decorated the house for Christmas. Effie was on her way over for lunch and she was just a bit nervous. Seth's mom was great but she'd invited herself over on the premise they needed to talk about holiday plans. Now Gabriela straightened things unnecessarily as she waited for Effie to arrive.
Soon Gabriela heard the dogs bark and went to the door. Effie was just parking her car as she walked out to meet her.
"Hello, come on in."
"There's a bag on the backseat. Grab it for me, will you child?" Effie asked.
They went on in with Gabriela carrying the heavy bag and Effie loaded down with a covered bowl.
"Just set it over there and I'll show you after lunch. I'm starving."
Gabriela set out a platter of deli meats and cheeses along with fresh bakery buns. Then she grabbed some bowls for the fruit salad Effie brought. It was simple fare but delicious. They had a pleasant meal and shared in the cleaning up afterward.
Effie went into the living room and sat on the sofa with the bag she'd brought at her feet. "I thought you might be interested in seeing these."
Gabriela watched as she pulled out three photo albums. Seth's mom handed her one to start with.
"This is his baby book. I didn't get a lot of pictures of him because we didn't have much money then. Sometimes, I'd get a neighbor to snap a few since we didn't have a camera until he was two years old. Dallas looks just like him in some of these."
She took her time looking at the assorted poses. It crossed her mind that Seth had been a beautiful baby.
"My son never used to be sentimental. At times, I even wondered if he felt anything at all. His divorce was long ago but he never was serious about anyone. Some of the women he dated were only after his money, too."
"Yes, there is always that kind of person in the world, it seems."
"You aren't like them, Gabriela. My son has sides to him I am guessing only you know. He's deeper than most people realize. It's obvious he loves you very much," Effie said.
"No, I didn't even know about his money in the beginning. He could be broke and I'd still love him, Effie."
"You're good for him. I don't begin to understand everything about that other business he was involved in. He tells me you're the reason he made it through those days in the hospital."
"It was easy, Effie, and he'd do the same for me," she replied.
The two women looked through all the albums. Gabriela loved seeing him as a child. She felt it gave her another look into who he was.
"Thank you, Effie, for this."
"You make my son happy, Gabriela. I'm old but not blind. He'd give you the world if he could. I can see you aren't the kind to abuse that, though."
"No, I won't. Seth completes me. Without him, I have nothing," Gabriela said.
"You'll make him a fine wife."
Gabriela laughed at that. "Well, we haven't gotten that far yet."
"You will, child, you will. Take my word for it. My son isn't stupid. He won't let you go."
Seth stood in the kitchen and listened to his mother. No, he wasn't stupid at all. There was no way he was letting Gabriela go.
Was it possible to feel like she was meeting the principal at her age, Gabriela wondered. She looked in the full-length mirror once more before walking back to the closet.
"This outfit is all wrong. They'll think I have no taste. What was I thinking anyway?" she muttered to herself.
She peeled the dress over her head and tossed it onto the bed. Hangars of skirts and slacks all slid to the side as she rummaged through them. She was getting ready for Seth's staff Christmas party and she was nervous. Gabriela had met a few of the employees but not all of them. Spouses and significant others would be there to make for a large group.
"Talking out loud again, I see."
"Seth, you scared me."
"Too busy shoving those clothes back and forth," he said with a grin. "So what's the problem here?"
"Nothing I have looks right. I want them to like me and —"
"Hold on, baby." Seth already knew what she was going to say and stopped her. "Take my word for it, they already like you. What you wear won't matter."
"But, I don't want to look old or fat or out of style ..."
"There's nothing you own that does any of that, trust me. You're gorgeous and you have excellent taste. Just look who your man is."
His last comment seemed to break all the tension in her body. She leaned over and kissed him before looking again through her clothing.
"It's a bit cooler today so I think this works. Besides, the color matches your shirt."
Seth glanced at the sleeveless dress she held in front of her. "I love that one on you. Of course, it's better yet when it's off ..."
He reached for her and pulled her against his chest. Their lips met in a slow teasing kiss as his fingers walked across her spine. She moaned when he cupped her cheeks and ground himself against her.
"I need you," he whispered.
Hands tore at clothing and ripped it off until both were naked. Hot wet lips latched onto her nipples at the same time two fingers dipped into her creamy center. Her nails dug into his shoulders leaving crescent shaped marks sure to bruise later. Seth shoved her against the wall before lifting her over him. Smooth shapely legs wrapped around his body. The shift in position placed the tip of his aching shaft in the perfect spot to sink into her depths. Seth groaned at the way her muscles tightened around him. They moved together in a heated rhythm that spoke of their deep need for each other.
Gabriela didn't even feel the rough wall scraping her back as he pounded her. His chest crushed into hers until her body screamed for release.
"Yes, oh baby, yes, now," she wailed.
She clenched tight and coated him with her juice. The intensity took his breath away as his orgasm almost brought him to his knees. Still shaking, he lowered her and held her close.
"Oh honey, you make me lose control so fast."
"Mm, I love it when you do," she murmured into his neck.
"If we didn't have to leave soon, I'd show you what else I can do."
"Oh my god, your staff. Seth, we have to get ready."
"I'm the boss, remember? They'll wait for me," he said with a grin.
"They're used to you being late are they?"
She knew better but loved teasing him.
"Wear the blue, baby. You know it's my favorite color," he said as she headed for the shower.
"I'll wear it for you. After all, the only one I have to impress is you, right?"
"You did that a long time ago, Gabriela. Now all you have to do is let me make you happy."
"You did that a long time ago," she replied with a wink.
The party was already going strong when they walked in. Gabriela and Seth knew they were late but figured that no one would care. He was the boss after all.
"Hey guys, glad you could finally make it," Erik said. "I was ready to give up on you."
More of the staff noticed them and Seth motioned for everyone's attention.
"I know that most of you here have met my lady. For the rest of you, this is Gabriela Bartolome. A friendly warning, people, she's mine."
Seth grinned as boo's erupted around the room. Gabriela laughed at the good-natured ribbing Seth was taking.
The caterers had a buffet set up for them. Everyone wandered from his or her table to Seth's at some point. No one wanted to miss a chance at talking to the beautiful woman that captured Seth. A few of the staff had been with him for several years and were glad to see him happy. They knew the women he'd dated in the past had been all wrong for him and Gabriela proved it. She was nothing like those pompous arrogant bumble heads.
Gabriela helped Seth pass out the gifts they'd purchased for his staff. Most years he picked up generic Christmas items but Gabriela wanted to do something different. First, they'd gone to the outlet mall and procured baskets for everyone. Then she'd searched and found glass-blown ornaments at a little shop in town. A stop at the local candle factory brought a smile to her face at the choices for the holiday. A couple more stops and she announced they had enough.
Seth thought they'd need bigger baskets but she just laughed. He'd discovered long ago how organized she was. She put all the gifts in rows and the baskets went under the table when they got home. They hauled out the candies they'd made and soon had an assembly line going. Seth added several gift cards to each one as they went. The finished packages looked fantastic to him and he made sure she knew it.
The staff approved as well. Seth heard them talking about what good taste his woman had and smiled. He already knew that, of course.
One by one, they all left until Seth and Gabriela were the only ones remaining.
"Let's go home, love," he said as he reached for her hand.
Something made him think back to the day he'd left on his last mission. Seth and the others on the team went overseas to rescue a kidnapped senator and his wife. They'd worked together several times and were all well trained.
The timing for his trip was horrible. He'd only known Gabriela a short time through the computer and telephone. They talked about meeting since she lived in another state but it hadn't happened yet. His only hope was the mission would go smooth and he'd return in days. No one can plan for ambushes by the enemy, though, Seth knew. His main thought when he'd come out of the fog brought on by the drugs was getting word to Gabriela.
She'd been his rock for all the months he'd been stuck over there in the hospital. Never hinting at frustration or impatience, she'd kept his spirits up and helped keep him sane. Five months of hell over there and she'd stuck with him. She amazed him.
He loved her with all his heart. Gabriela changed him. Or maybe he only realized how unhappy he was inside while he was laid up. He didn't know for sure but she was his and that was the most important part.
Seth looked out his office window and saw the way the sun sparkled off the buildings. She wasn't truly his yet but he was going to change that, he decided right then.
"Jill, I'm out of here for the day," he told one of the office girls as he shoved the door open and stepped outside.
The middle-aged woman stared after her boss and stopped typing. More and more Seth was taking time from the office but it was still unusual to see. The staff knew he worked hard and didn't expect them to do it all for him. His behavior had changed since Gabriela came into his life, though. He was happier and it showed.
Seth walked into his favorite jewelry store a short time later and nodded at the owner. He strode over to the small counter for private showing and grinned.
"It's time, Ralph."
"Yes Mr. Flynch. If you'd give me an idea of what you have in mind?"
He looked through the glass cases and shook his head. "I'm looking for unique, Ralph. Something that has class and isn't gaudy."
The older man unlocked a cabinet down by his feet and brought up a red case. It held four rings of assorted stones and carats. Seth picked up the first one to get a clearer look. Each ring followed as he held them to the light and twisted them on his pinkie.
"Give me the specs on this one, Ralph."
"A beautiful selection, the pear shape center diamond is two-and-a-half carats. Each one-and-a-quarter carat side diamond is the same pear shape. It has sixty-eight bead set diamonds with a total weight of just under a carat. The platinum medium and intricately detailed band lends an old-world charm."
"The clarity ...?"
"You won't be disappointed. Only an expert can detect the slightest of flaws with a specialized microscope."
"Certification is through ...?"
"It's certified through the Gemological Institute of America, Mr. Flynch."
"Ah yes, GIA, the world's authority in gemology and diamond grading. It's beautiful. Ralph, as you know."
"It's an amazing piece that's well worth the price," Ralph said.
"And that would be ...?"
"The price is $74,300.00, Mr. Flynch."
Seth didn't react to the number, showing he was expecting something close. "I'll take it, Ralph."
"A wise choice that I'm sure will make your lady very happy."
They took care of the details and Seth left. He couldn't wait to get home to Gabriela.
Seth drove up the winding road with one thing in mind. Of course, Gabriela was always on his mind. His purchase that afternoon made him want to strip her and take her hard and fast. He needed to feel her heat, to pound into her, make her his, until she screamed. The intense desire for this woman clawed at him day and night. She'd bewitched him and he loved it.
He pulled his Cayenne into the garage and jogged into the house. Gabriela didn't know he was coming home early. The scene in front of him in their bedroom stopped him in his tracks.
Gabriela stood by her dresser wearing a scrap of material for panties and matching bra. The creamy color set off her tan to perfection.
"Do you have any idea what you do to me?"
He stopped in front of her and skimmed his fingers over her arm. "I need you."