A Sentimental Heart Ch. 10-11bytotallyatease©
He knew that Miranda was watching him -- with hurt and confusion.
"I'm staying over at mum's house tonight, so it makes sense to drop you off first Miranda." He glanced at her quickly through his wing mirror.
"Yes, of course... thank you." Her blue eyes latched onto his for a moment, through that mirror, hurt and questioning. 'What happened... what did I do wrong?'
He fixed his attention on the road ahead, and set the car in motion...
Marcus walked her to her front door and waited patiently while she dug through her bag, for her keys.
Only when the door was open did he speak.
"I wanted to say again... thank you so very much for everything that you've done for us today... and I need to ask more of you -- I'm afraid..."
Miranda looked up at him in surprise. "Yes of course, anything that I can do to help!"
She felt so pathetic, as her eagerness showed in her voice, and her eyes sparkled with hope.
"I need you to go into the office tomorrow, and get a hold of your brother -- I need you to get him back here on the next available flight..." he paused for a moment and his expression became preoccupied, so that Miranda just knew that he was running over the next few days in his mind, and what he should have been doing.
His eyes fixed on her suddenly. "I'll need you to hold the fort as best as you can -- for the next day or two..." he winced at the look of hurt that once more shadowed her face -- he knew that he sounded cold and impersonal, and that she was bewildered by his change of attitude towards her...
"I would appreciate your discretion Miranda -- for the next couple of days. I would rather the whole world and his brother didn't know of my family's casualties and catastrophes -- until I'm able to talk about it myself!"
She nodded her head and blinked away tears. "Yes of course M... Marcus; leave it all to me... you just concentrate on your family -- on your father."
"Thank you Miranda!" he smiled warmly at her for the first time since she'd arrived back at the hospital, with his mother in tow...
"You needn't have come back mother," he murmured gently whilst casting a reproachful glance at Miranda. "They've settled him down for the night, and so he won't even know if we're there or not."
"But I will know Marcus..." she stated firmly, although her bottom lip quivered dangerously. "I just wanted to kiss him goodnight," she whispered.
Twenty minutes later, mother and son were sat in the front of Marcus's little car, and Miranda was squeezed into the back... and Marcus had not addressed her once, since their return to the hospital...
I'll just let you get inside, and locked up; before I leave," he told her now in that painfully polite tone.
"Goodnight Marcus!" Miranda said in a brittle tone, as she quickly stepped over the threshold, and turned and closed the door before he could even respond.
She dropped the catch, and stood listening for the slam of his car door.
Seconds later she was rewarded for her patience, and the roar of the car's engine started up, and then faded as he drove away from her.
Miranda spent a sleepless night tossing and turning in her bed, and crawled from it the following morning feeling like hell in human form.
It hadn't helped that the moment she'd stepped into her bedroom, all she could smell was the very faint aroma of Marcus's aftershave.
Her bed was still unkempt; the covers were all rumpled up, and evoking images of her and Marcus in that bed... in each other's arms, touching... kissing... making love in such a gentle loving way, that his coldness this evening, had been like a slap in the face.
She didn't understand.
Couldn't understand what had happened, between her leaving him at that hospital, and returning less than an hour later.
She dragged herself to the shower, and then dressed for work, and let herself out of the home that she shared with her brother.
It was a busy day for her -- fielding questions with; "he's away for a few days on personal business... I'm not at liberty to divulge anything more... he'll be back in due course..." and empty phrases like that.
She slipped into her jacket at the end of the day, with a little sigh of relief, and picked up her bag just as her mobile beeped at her.
She pulled it from the front pocket of the bag and pressed the button to view the text.
"Just about to board the plane, see you some time tomorrow."
"Oh thank you Peter!" she whispered gratefully.
Miranda had a nice relaxing soak in a warm bath, when she got home; and then rather rebelliously -- since their funds were still tight, decided to order out.
There was an unopened bottle of wine sitting in the fridge, and she had already had two glasses by the time that her food arrived.
She ate some of the food, but then found herself pushing it around her plate pointlessly, as she wallowed in memories of her time with Marcus; and fantasised about how he would come knocking at her door -- proclaiming his love for her and tell her that she had been mistaken over his attitude -- that he'd just been worried about his father...
She downed another glass of wine, and curled up on her sofa dreamily, deciding that her dishes could wait until morning... that there really wasn't any need to rush over anything...
That third glass of wine may not have been such a good idea, but it had certainly left her feeling more relaxed than she had felt for the last couple of days.
The sudden rattling of her letterbox had her glancing at the clock on the wall, even as she scrambled off the sofa. Now who on earth would be knocking on her door at nine o'clock in the evening...
Marcus of course!
"Oh... just a second!" she closed the door briefly so that she could take the safety chain off, and then pulled the door wide. "Do come inside."
'He looks tired,' was her first thought as she took his coat.
"How is your father doing? Can I get you a drink... have you eaten recently?"
He smiled down at her, although it didn't quite reach his eyes.
"He's holding his own thank you, and the doctors are quietly optimistic... and yes please, a coffee might help to keep me going... but I don't quite remember..." he trailed off as she looked up at him, and her breath fanned his face.
Warm and inviting... and the smell of alcohol was -- noticeable -- to say the least!
Something flashed in his eyes and Miranda stepped back instinctively.
"Go and sit in the living room, and I'll fix something for you... it's no trouble honest!" she hurried to say as he opened his mouth as though to argue the need.
His shoulders sagged wearily. "That's very kind of you... thank you Miranda."
He could hear her moving around in her kitchen, and Marcus sat on the sofa and let his head rest back, and his eyes close for a little while.
He'd missed Miranda today, after spending so much time with her recently and the way she had been, when he'd first heard about his father...
It was as though she had taken all of his fear and pain, and just absorbed it into herself, sending back only calm and reassurance.
At a point when he had been unable to function... to think or to act -- for himself or his family; Miranda had stepped into the breach, and had guided him along.
Today had been a long and tiring day, but his father was over the worst, the doctors were hopeful that -- with the proper care and attention -- his father could make an almost full recovery... although he would never be the same man again -- not the strong and vital man, that he had been before the stroke...
"It's not much I'm afraid..." Miranda placed a mug and a plate on the table in front of him, and sat down in the chair on the other side.
"It's plenty... thank you Miranda... you are very kind," he knew that he kept repeating himself but it was all he could say to her -- at this moment in time.
He picked up the plate and slowly began to eat the food, and it was only as he swallowed the first mouth full that he realised, just how hungry he was.
He throat went dry, and he had to reach for the drink, to wash down the food that had lodged there.
Even now Miranda was thinking for him, guessing that he would have spent the whole of the day at the hospital, and not thought of hunger or resting... or much else.
He'd heard Peter say how wonderful Miranda had been, when their own parents had died so suddenly; but he was only now beginning to understand what he had been talking about.
Miranda in her quiet understanding way; was a rock to hang on to.
She gave everything she had, and asked for nothing in return, and again he felt a rush of emotion for her.
But this was not the time for that.
"I've heard from Peter," she said suddenly. "He was just about to board his plane and he said that he'd be back sometime tomorrow."
"That's good to hear," he remembered why he'd sent Peter on this trip in the first place, to give himself the opportunity to spend some time alone with Miranda.
To try and sort out once and for all, these confusing feelings that he seemed to have whenever he was around her.
"Has it been very bad at the hospital today?" she asked quietly. "And how is your mother... and Amanda?"
He swallowed some more of the food and looked across at her.
"They're both doing okay thanks... tired and still worried about dad, but mum is being strong for Amanda and Amanda is trying to be brave for mum..."
"It's difficult for you all -- I know," she sympathised softly.
Her words were simple and probably said a thousand times by a thousand people, but the way that Miranda spoke -- the way that she looked at him...
Again he felt a warm rush of -- something, and he felt himself relaxing.
"It must be the food," he muttered softly to himself.
"Sorry?" Miranda leaned forward and her brow furrowed in puzzlement.
"Nothing," Marcus sighed tiredly. "Just thinking out loud is all."
She reached out to pick up his empty plate and mug, and then stood up.
"You look so tired," she said with concern, "will you stay here tonight, try and get some sleep?"
Her voice was hesitant and uncertain, and he realised suddenly that she was wary of him, that she feared his rejection.
As though he could ever reject her!
He smiled and this time it did reach his eyes.
"I'd like that Miranda... very much."
Of course sleep was not the primary activity that night.
Oh for the first few hours, Marcus slept the sleep of the dead, lying next to the warm and comforting body that was Miranda.
But a few hours deep sleep was enough to revive him, and waking up next to her was just too much temptation.
She murmured softly as he gently rolled her onto her back, and kissed her cheek, her lips her chin.
He saw her lids flutter, and he leaned up and over her expectantly... but then a smile drifted and wobbled its way across her mouth.
"Just a dream," she sighed sadly, "go back to sleep Miranda, and dream."
He watched her in fascination as her breathing slowly deepened, and sleep once more claimed her.
So tonight he was to be her dream lover!
He remembered the other night when she had touched and caressed him whilst he had slept, and a little smiled tilted his mouth.
Tonight it was his turn!
Not for the first time, Miranda was dreaming, but oh it was such a dream!
She was dreaming of Marcus, he was with her in her bed; he was touching her flesh and kissing her skin.
She groaned huskily but refused to open her eyes -- to wakeup fully, only to find that she was alone -- again...
"Just a dream," she murmured again, and a tear of regret rolled down her cheek.
"Wake up Miranda..." his voice was so close, she could feel the warmth of his breath."
"Wake up!" he urged again as he leaned over her, and his lips found hers, to massage and manipulate, to encourage and seduce.
The pressure was butterfly light, and for a little while she resisted his persuasions.
But his hands began to stroke down her body, and cupped her breasts, and the bolt of sheer pleasure had her eyes wide open and her back arched, as she woke up fully and found that he did not disappear with the last waves of sleep.
She smiled up at him with pure delight, and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck.
"Oh Marcus... I do love you so!"
He captured her lips and kissed her deeply, as he dismissed the feelings her declaration had provoked.
His lovemaking had a note of urgency to it, that Miranda met head on, and actively encouraged, as he thrust hard into her and pulled her closer, holding her tighter.
He rolled over suddenly taking her with him so the she was lying down the full length of him, and as her legs slipped down to rest alongside his, he again thrust up hard, cupping her bottom so that she had no choice but to meet his thrusts.
He was buried deep into her, so deep that she felt she would explode... tear apart.
And in a way she did, when his climax came and he flooded into her, Miranda screamed out her own orgasm, feeling so whole... so complete, she fell down on top of him to cry and sob all over him, she had thought that he no longer wanted her...
They were meant to be together, she knew it; and somewhere deep inside him -- Marcus knew it too, he just hadn't realised it yet!
He made love to her twice more as the night gave way to morning, and each time it was with a need that had her heart swelling, and her hopes singing; and when he finally fell to sleep again, it was with Miranda wrapped tight in his arms, holding her as though he never wanted to let her go again.
She was busy making breakfast when he joined her in the kitchen the next morning, and as Miranda turned to smile at him, she saw the change.
He never quite met her eyes, and his smile never quite reached its summit.
His lips curved but they dropped again almost immediately, and the message was loud and clear.
Last night had been a mistake... he regretted what had happened, even though he had repeated it -- twice more!
She placed the food in front of him, and sat across from him with a bowl of cereal.
"Thank you," again, even though he looked at her -- his eyes never quite met hers.
He ate down his breakfast as fast as he could -- without showing ill manners. And the cup of tea washed it down nicely.
He glanced at his watch as he stood up.
"I should be going now," he murmured apologetically.
Miranda followed him to the front door.
"I hope that you find your father feeling better today... Marcus."
He turned as she said his name. "Thank you... and thank you again for all that you did... and for last night."
His tone was husky and again there was that faint note of apology there.
"You're welcome Marcus... anytime."
He pulled open the front door and stepped out onto the path.
"Goodbye Miranda -- take care of yourself, and ask Peter to give me a call when he finds the time."
He was already through the gate before she had her breath to utter that one feeble word.
She closed the door sadly knowing that she had said the wrong thing last night... one little sentence, and now she just knew that Marcus now felt under pressure from her, awkward and maybe even obligated towards her.
"Oh why did I tell him that I love him... now it's going to be impossible working with him, I'll need to find another job;" she murmured softly, "we both agreed that working together would be difficult if we developed a personal relationship..." She smiled to herself suddenly, as she stopped at the foot of the stairs. "Maybe that's the answer?"
She walked upstairs to take a shower and prepare herself for another trying day of fielding questions, without betraying Marcus's confidences.
It was still quite early in the morning and her shower was a leisurely one, where she gently ran her hands down her body, following the path of Marcus's kisses... his hands, his tongue.
There were small marks here and there, around her nipples and at the top of her thigh, where his worshiping had become a little more -- enthusiastic.
She smiled softly as she tenderly stroked over his 'love-bites'.
It was another difficult morning, and Miranda stayed at her desk through her dinner, having called down to the local cob shop, and asked if they could bring something up for her.
Peter came strolling in at just after two o'clock, and it was all she could do not to rush over to him, and fling her arms around his neck -- and then sob all over him.
"You look tired," she observed sympathetically.
"It was a long flight, and it'll probably take me a couple of days to get back to normal again," he shrugged his shoulders dismissively.
He strolled over to Marcus's desk and sat in the chair tiredly. "I dropped Mrs Rogers off, on my way in... I don't think you can expect her back until after the weekend though -- she looked exhausted, poor thing."
He paused for a moment before looking directly at her. "Has there been any word on A... Marcus's father?"
"The doctors think that he has a good chance, that with the right treatment he could make a very good recovery."
"That's something then... and have you seen anything of Amanda?"
"A little," she admitted slowly, "she was with her mum and they were both trying to be strong, each for the other," she smiled a little smile, as she pictured the mother and daughter together... so much alike, and yet so very different.
"Marcus asked if you could call him, when you got the chance," she said as she stood up.
Peter picked up the phone and began thumping in a number that he obviously knew very well.
"Hi Marcus, its Peter here... yes I've just got into the office..."
"I'll go and make us a cup of tea," Miranda murmured as she picked up her mug and left the room.
The pressure came off Miranda -- once word got around that Peter was back; but as the afternoon wore to an end she worried for him, he looked so very tired.
"I think that we should treat ourselves to a taxi tonight," she said as she slipped her jacket over her shoulders.
The week continued in the same vein, the staff at Phillip's Pharmaceuticals, knew that something had happened with Marcus -- they just didn't know what, and so people were on edge and more than a little bit snappy.
Most of it went Peter's way and Miranda watched how he shrugged it off and dealt with the person sharply, making sure they knew their place and dealing with their problem competently -- more than competently in fact.
As the weekend approached she noticed the change -- once they knew that Peter was running things, and seemed to be more than capable -- they started to relax again -- figuring that they'd be told what they needed to know -- when the needed to know it.
It was Friday afternoon when Marcus came strolling in, and about half an hour after Peter had nipped out for some lunch; and Miranda was typing up some documents.
"Good afternoon Marcus," she exclaimed in surprise, "How is your..." she trailed off as she didn't want to appear indiscrete in the work place -- not after his specific request for her to keep his personal business -- private.
"He's doing very well thank you Miranda -- I'm sure that Peter has kept you informed of his progress?"
She nodded her head, a little and forced a smile that hid the hurt -- that now she was forced to get any information, second hand and begrudging from Peter.
Peter had been in touch with Marcus on a day to day basis -- keeping him updated of any problems and decisions, which he'd made or dealt with.
And Peter had also been disappearing for a couple of hours each evening, 'popping out for a bit,' was how he put it, without any further explanation.
Miranda knew that he was out with Amanda, but figured it was none of her business -- if he didn't wish to talk about it.