Cilla and Adam Ch. 01byDawnJ©
Reverend Barnes took his place on the podium with the other ministers, and his family sat in their usual pew on the right of the altar. Cilla had always loved going to church, and the music had always soothed the place inside her that remained scared and lonely, no matter how happy she appeared to be. Today, as she listened to the choir sing, and as she joined with the congregation in singing the sweet old hymns, her spirit soared, and she felt at peace for the first time in a long time.
All too soon, it was time to go. She found herself being hugged by a number of family friends she hadn't seen for a long time, including Andrew Sayers, who had once proposed to her. She looked into his face and recognized the affection he still had for her. She sighed, and smiled at him, letting him kiss her cheek.
"You look a bit under the weather, Priscilla," he said. His hand was warm around her shoulder as they strolled together out of the church. "Are you all right?"
"I'm just getting over the flu, Andy. I'll be fine. Thanks for asking."
Suddenly he stopped. Cilla looked enquiringly across at him, and he said,
"I wish I knew what to do to make you love me." He bent his head and kissed her cheek again before she could move away, and she saw regret in his eyes.
"We agreed we wouldn't talk about this again, Andy," she reminded him, gently scolding. "I love you like a friend, but that's all. Stop looking at me that way, please."
Andrew withdrew his arm, and smiled ruefully at her. "Sorry, Priscilla. It's just that every time I see you, I feel the loss again."
"You cannot lose what you never had, Andy," she said calmly. "Now, look at Emily over there, dying for you to come over and make her day."
Andrew followed her eyes to where a short, thin young woman, blessed by God with luscious lips and breasts, stood looking their way, trying not to appear to be staring.
"Go on, Andy," Cilla urged him. "There will never be anything with me. Why not see where that road leads you? You know what they say -- nothing ventured..."
"...nothing gained," he finished. "Okay, friend." He smiled at her as he walked away toward Emily, whose eyes lit up when she saw him approach. Cilla smiled and turned away.
"You just love setting people up, don't you?" Penny asked behind her. "Emily's been making doe eyes at Andy for more than three months now, yet he needed you to help him see it."
"Hey, he was getting nowhere fast with me," Cilla said laughingly.
"Yeah," Penny agreed, "and now that there's sexy Mr. Dalgleish..." Her words trailed off.
"It's Dr. Dalgleish, actually," Cilla corrected her, "though what he has to do with anything escapes me."
"Yeah, right!" Penny said disbelievingly.
The girls finally made their way back to the car, and as they drove off, Reverend Barnes asked,
"Honey, are you up to eating out today?" He looked at Cilla as he spoke.
"Only if Mama is okay with it," she answered, looking at her mother.
"I haven't cooked anything today, dear," Patricia said. "I was a little late getting up this morning. Breakfast was all I could manage."
Cilla wondered why her mother's cheeks were suddenly pink, as she intercepted the look that passed between her parents, and when she saw the smirk on Penny's face, comprehension dawned. She felt her own startled eyes move back to her parents, and she looked back at Penny, who laughed silently. She swallowed the nagging feeling of dismay at her own state -- no man, no love, no hope of sex.
They ate at a favorite family restaurant, where the manager, who knew them well, managed to rustle up some chicken soup for Cilla. It was late afternoon before they got home again, and Cilla was feeling the need for a nap. She was slipping into clean, warm sweats when the phone rang. After the third ring, she picked up the receiver, and was startled to hear Adam Dalgleish's voice on the other end of the line.
"Good afternoon, Cilla!" he greeted her, his voice warm and exciting to her delighted ears.
"Dr. Dalgleish!" she said in surprise. When he didn't reply, she said again, "Hello?"
"What's my name, Cilla?" he asked, his voice silky, with a note she could not identify.
"Oh... sorry! Adam," she said reluctantly. "I thought I was supposed to call you back."
There was another long silence before he replied, "I tried calling earlier but no one was home." His voice held a question.
"We went to church, and then went out for a late lunch," she explained.
"How do you feel today? You sound much better."
"I am much better, thanks. Just a bad cough now. But I'll be in tomorrow," she hastened to reassure him. She didn't want him to think she was a shirker.
"May I come over to discuss your presentation with you? I assume you will do the November session?"
"Oh, certainly," Cilla said. "I haven't been able to concentrate fully on anything this weekend, but I'll do it if you think I can manage it," she added, deciding honesty was better than subterfuge. "But why do we need to start working on it today?"
"We don't," Adam conceded after a long silence. "I want to see you again," he admitted finally, pausing again, while Cilla felt her heart pounding in her chest. "I won't be back in your building before the end of next week," he added, as though it explained his feelings.
Cilla did not know what to say. She knew she wanted to see him, too, every day if she could, but a part of her was glad it wouldn't happen. She had to protect herself from him, in case he was merely trifling with her.
"So. May I come over for an hour or so later?' he asked, startling her considerably.
"Ah...I guess so," she said finally, uncertainty in her voice.
"I won't come if you don't want me to," he said, his voice suddenly cool and aloof.
Cilla sighed. "I'd like to see you again, too," she admitted. She heard his deep intake of air.
"What time?" he asked, his voice warm again.
"Maybe after supper," she said. "About seven."
"See you then, Cilla," he said, something in the way he said her name turning her knees to jelly. She felt as though he had stroked her, had kissed her.
Cilla hung up the phone and sank onto the bed. Penny had already gone, having remembered that she had work to do for tomorrow and asking for a rain check on their outfit choosing date. Her parents were taking their afternoon nap on the back porch. She was, for all intents and purposes, alone. Suddenly she could not sit still. She took up the binder with the work she had begun the day before and tried to finish her lesson plan. It was a struggle, but she managed to have something planned. She knew she needed to plan the units, but that would have to wait until she was completely herself again.
By five o'clock, she was on pins and needles, knowing that Adam Dalgleish would soon be in her living room. Should she have him there, or in the study? Or maybe the sitting room off the back porch? Oh, what did it matter where he was? He'd be in her parents' house! She jumped when her mother knocked on her door and stuck her head around it.
"Your dad and I have a long standing date with the Olivers for this evening. Will you be all right if we leave around sixish? I'll leave supper for you on the stove, and if we borrow your cell phone, you can call us if something goes wrong."
"Sure, Mama, go ahead. I really do feel much better. Anyway, I'm expecting a visitor at around seven. My boss wants to check up on me."
Patricia Barnes looked keenly at her daughter, and then said, "Are you sure? I can always stay home."
"I'm sure, Mama," she said. "Go ahead and have fun. And say hello to the Olivers for me. I haven't seen them in years!"
At six twenty, Cilla watched her parents drive away, and she turned back into the living room. She had decided that it was probably the safest place to be with Adam, and so she had brought her knapsack downstairs, and was working on the first of four unit plans when the doorbell rang. She looked down at the faded blue jeans and thick red sweater she had changed into and hoped she looked okay.
"Hi," she said, opening the door to Adam. "Come in!"
She stepped aside for him to enter, and closed the door behind them.
"Have a seat, please," she invited him as they walked into the living room, and watched as he sank into the overstuffed leather armchair across from where she was sitting. His broad shoulders filled the space between the wings of the chair, the deep blue sweater he wore accentuating the muscular expanse of his chest and shoulders and deepening the blue of his eyes. She sat down, then stood again suddenly, asking,
"Can I get you something to drink?"
Adam studied her face for a full minute, while she wondered what he was thinking. Then he stood up and came across the space to her, saying,
"Why don't you tell me where everything is, and I'll help myself? You don't look fully recovered as yet."
Cilla watched his lips move, and found herself mesmerized by their fullness, the top one somewhat fuller than the bottom. She barely heard what he said, and when he called her name, she said, "Sure. Come through." She walked ahead of him into the kitchen, and showed him where drinks were kept.
"If you want dessert, there's custard pie here," she said, motioning to the center island, "or ice cream in the freezer. Help yourself."
"Would you like anything?" Adam asked her as she turned away to leave.
"Oh, no thanks. I just ate." She made good her escape, and was trying to steady her hand to write when he came back into the room, carrying a bottle of beer and a large slice of custard pie. He put them down on the coffee table, and she jumped when he came and sat beside her on the big couch, stretching his long, black-jeans-clad legs in front of him, crossed at the ankles.
"Do I make you nervous?" he asked, disconcerting her even more. He forked some pie into his mouth, watching her as he chewed and then swallowed some beer.
Cilla swallowed, and did not answer. She hoped he would drop the subject, but she suspected that it was not to be. She was beginning to understand the way he thought. She represented a challenge to him, a puzzle for him to solve, and he was going to solve it if it killed him. She wasn't prepared for him to turn fully toward her suddenly and catch her hands in his.
"You tempt me," he said.
"What?" she asked stupidly. "Why?"
"I don't know why, but I can't get you out of my mind." He raised her hands to his lips, kissing each one in turn. "You're trembling!" he continued. "I don't mean to make you nervous, Cilla," he said.
"I'm sorry," she said, blushing. "I'm not used to being the center of attention, especially with men like you."
"Men like me?" he asked, pulling her gently toward him.
"Powerful, well off executive types," she answered, resisting the pull. "Men whom women everywhere swoon over for all the obvious reasons. You know -- deep voice, sexy good looks, personality, charisma, foreign accent." She tried to make a joke of it, secretly horrified at how frank she was being, and she suddenly hoped that he would take it lightly, too. Despite her best efforts, he had managed to bring her to within an inch of his chest, and he had snaked his arms up to her shoulders, where he held her firmly.
"I'm just a poor boy who's using his education to make an honest living and help young ones who are like I used to be." He tipped her chin up, forcing her to look into his eyes.
"I don't know about sexy good looks or charisma, and I have no control over my voice." He bent his head, and brushed her forehead with his lips.
"I can choose my friends, though. And I've chosen you. Look at me, Cilla," he commanded, when she dropped her eyes.
She knew she was trembling again when she looked into his eyes, and when she saw him lower his head again, she knew she would feel his lips on hers for the first time. She should draw away from him, she thought, and she tried, but his arms were now completely wrapped around her, and he refused her subtle urging to let her go.
"Cilla," he whispered, "if I asked you to, would you let me kiss you on the mouth?"
He waited, a breath away from that mouth, for her to answer him. She couldn't find her voice for a long moment, and when she did, it was hoarse, almost as it had been when she was very sick.
"Yes," she said, and nodded for good measure. Then she closed her eyes, and waited.
"And would you kiss me back?" he whispered again, still not touching her mouth.
This time she did not even try to answer, she just nodded.
"May I have a kiss then, Cil?" he asked, his voice now hoarse.
Cilla nodded again, swallowing hard. Adam watched her throat rise and fall and rewarded her with a soft kiss. Cilla moaned softly when she felt his lips teasing hers, and when he touched her with his tongue, she melted against him. The kiss immediately went deeper, got hotter, harder. Adam tested the seam of her lips with his tongue, and when she sighed, he plunged inside for his first taste of her. Oh, but she was sweet! He felt the fire that had started in him a week ago roar back to life again, and he struggled to control his own trembling need. He still didn't understand how he could go from cool to burning up in seconds. Yet every time he heard her voice he felt himself stand to attention like a well-trained soldier.
He tried to slow down the kiss, to cool off the heat, but Cilla was too far gone now, and he gave himself up to the fire. He sat back in the couch, pulling her onto his lap, and he felt her wrap her good arm around his neck, effectively bringing her breasts in direct contact with his hard chest. She pulled her mouth away to breathe, and he remembered suddenly that she was still recovering from the flu. He felt a rising guilt for taking advantage of her in her weakened condition, and wondered vaguely if she was still contagious, but when she moved in his lap, he lost control. He pulled her face down and kissed her again and again, slowly, deeply, thoroughly, making them moan together with desire. The lights in the driveway stopped him, and he pulled away.
"Cilla, someone's coming," he said hoarsely, touching her lips with a trembling finger.
She raised dazed eyes to his, and struggled to get off his lap. He stood with her, and she backed away from him.
"Darling..." he began, but she stopped him with a shake of her head.
"Don't," she begged him simply. He went back to the chair across from her, his snack forgotten, and she sat down as the front door opened. He looked over his shoulder, and saw a smaller version of Cilla walk past the door, then heard her turn back.
"Cilla?" she called, and stopped when she saw him. He recognized her voice as the one that had answered the phone before, and standing up, extended his hand, giving Cilla time to compose herself.
"Adam Dalgleish," he introduced himself. "We spoke briefly the other evening."
"Oh, yes, Dr. Dalgleish," the young woman said. "I'm Penelope Barnes, Cilla's little sister." She took the proffered hand and shook it vigorously, and Adam felt drawn to her immediately. He returned the broad, friendly smile she gave him, and waited until she was seated next to her sister before sitting down again. He watched as Cilla, her cheeks still a little flushed, turned to face her sister and say calmly,
"I thought you had work to do!"
"I did, and it's done. Mom called and said you were home alone. I thought I'd drop by."
"Ma forgot to tell you I told her I was expecting Adam," Cilla said. She looked directly at him as she spoke, and he silently applauded her spunk. "Do you want anything? We still have custard pie."
Penny jumped up and said, "Say no more. You must really be dying if you haven't already finished that off." She walked away into the kitchen, leaving her sister's face burning with embarrassment. Now he will think I'm a glutton, Cilla thought, glancing at Adam, who was finishing his helping of pie. As if my being a fat dumpling wouldn't be enough of a turn off. She watched him put the bottle of beer to his lips and swallow, and could not tear her eyes away. He caught her staring at him.
"Want some?" he asked suggestively, and Cilla blushed to the roots of her hair. He stood up, and she backed into the cushions of the couch, but he only picked up his empty pie plate and took it and the beer bottle into the kitchen. Cilla heard him talking to Penny, heard water running, heard a laugh, and then his footsteps coming back.
"I told Penny I had to leave, and she said I shouldn't on her account. Do you want me to stay?"
There he went doing it again, Cilla thought, putting her on the spot, forcing her to face her feelings.
"Yes," she confessed reluctantly, "but..."
"Penny's here," he said. "She'll keep things G-rated between us." He moved to stand in front of her, lowered his head, and said, smiling against her mouth, "But she won't always be around, Cilla, and then you'll be fair game!"
He kissed her swiftly on the mouth, moving away a second before Penny walked back into the room.
"So, what are you doing, Cilla? School work? Shouldn't you take at least one more day off so you can go back really well?"
Sometimes Penny killed her, Cilla thought, like now. She groaned inwardly, and avoided Adam's steady gaze.
"I've already been out a month, Pen, and I've used up all my personal days already. What kind of impression will that give people?" Cilla's voice was a little strained, but Penny appeared not to notice.
"You worry altogether too much about what other people think," she replied. "What about what you think? You see, that's why I couldn't do what you do for a living. I'd have to spend too much time kowtowing to people I may not even like or respect." She filled her mouth with pie.
"You are accountable to someone too, you know, Penny. Your clients. If they don't like what you do for them, you'll lose them," Cilla pointed out a little acidly.
"What do you do for a living, Penny?" Adam asked, interrupting the conversation.
"Oh, I'm a make-up artist," she answered. "Only I freelance. And when I don't have work in my major area, I am a part-time buyer for a fashion house."
"Penny's very good at what she does, Adam, and she's very rarely without work in her major area, as she calls it," Cilla commented, and Adam heard her brave attempt to hide her envy. "Anyway, why don't you two chit chat while I try to finish some of this work and be at least semi-prepared for tomorrow?"
Cilla took the papers she had in her lap and went into the kitchen. She sat at the kitchen table, trying to grade them, and managed to finish two before she heard footsteps coming toward her. She tensed, expecting Penny. Adam walked in with Penny's plate. She looked at the papers on the table but saw nothing that was written on them. Adam watched her as he rinsed the plate and stacked it.
"Why are you hiding out in here?" he asked.
Cilla glared at him, and he held up his hands in surrender. "Penny said to ask you," he defended himself. "I like your little sister," he continued. "She has her head screwed on right. And no airs, either." He moved to stand behind her at the table, and pulled her out of the chair.
"Turn around, Cil," he said suddenly, his voice husky. He waited until she had complied, and then he continued,
"You're the one I came here to see, not Penny, gorgeous as she is. It's your beauty that has me floored!" He brushed her lips briefly with his, feeling his loins stir to life when she trembled in his arms. "It'll be two whole weeks before I see you again, sweetheart. Help me figure out how to make this evening work for us."
Cilla sighed, and said, "You can help me plan for PD tomorrow afternoon. I don't know these people, and they don't know me. Give me some advice."
"Okay. I'll make some notes, and you can go ahead and grade, or do what you had planned to do with Penny. As long as it doesn't take you away from me too long." He dropped a kiss on her forehead, and then went back into the living room. She stood where he had left her, trying to decide how to tell Penny to go, when her sister walked into the room.