Dark Impulse Ch. 06byAurora Black©
Battery Park City
Grace took the elevator up to the 60th floor, where her husband had his office. The ride was short and swift; the motion made her stomach lurch as the numbers ticked away on the electronic display panel. She placed her fingertips against her temples, trying to massage away the tension headache that pulsed with her blood. It didn't work.
A faint beep sounded at her destination, and she slowly stepped out of the lift and into the elegant foyer. Her high heels echoed on the marble floor, and she realized that the place was deserted. She looked at her watch and saw that it was 6pm.
In the distance she heard "Winter" from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," and she searched for the source. As she walked further into the labyrinth of rooms and halls, she heard the soft murmurs of male voices. A moment later, she saw two men standing in a long corridor. Neither of them saw her. Grace recognized the wide breadth of David's shoulders from behind. He was talking to a male assistant. She approached slowly, hoping to overhear the conversation.
"I want the jet to be ready to fly within the hour. No exceptions. As soon as you can, call Liam and let him know that tomorrow I'm going to call him from the Savoy when he's hopefully finished with his out-of-town assignment. Don't forget to do this; it's very important. I'll get back to you once I reach London."
"Yes, Mr. Anami."
The assistant hurried away, and finally Grace was alone with him. She cleared her throat, causing David to turn around. At the sight of her, his eyes held a mixture of affectionate warmth for his wife and an overall wariness of the personal strain that they've been under.
"Darling, what a surprise."
Grace drew closer to him, allowing him to see the hurt in her eyes.
"Why are you leaving, and why didn't you tell me?"
David sighed. "Something came up, and I didn't think that we were exactly on speaking terms these days."
She reached out and touched his arm, and he briefly stiffened at the contact before relaxing. "We really need to talk, David. This week has been sheer hell for me, and by the looks of it, you haven't been faring any better."
He took a deep breath before releasing it. "Grace, can it wait until I get back? I'm actually expecting a call any minute for the..."
Grace interrupted him, her eyes hot with frustration and anger. It was as if the many emotions that she'd experienced over the past week had come together to form a huge tidal wave, a force of nature that could not be reasoned with or prevented from crashing over whatever lay in its path. She dropped her hand from his arm as she spoke, balling it into a fist at her side.
"No, it cannot wait! In case you've forgotten, David, I am your wife. I think that I deserve a few minutes of your time."
He stared at her, his rugged features frozen with surprise. He hadn't expected her to react in such a way. In fact, it was the very first time that he'd seen his wife so visibly upset.
"Forgive me, Grace. Of course we can talk. Let's go to my office where we can sit down."
David pulled her close to him, wrapping his arm around her and letting his hand rest on the small of her back as they walked together. Grace had a thought to pull away, but the gesture was so familiar that instead she wanted to cry where she stood.
He led her into his spacious office and into a luxurious wing chair. He sat in another chair across from her, and she watched him move. David was usually so sure in his movements, so confident. But when she watched him now, she saw the slight tremble in his hands and the anxiety in his eyes as he cast brief glances at her, waiting for her to speak.
What is he so afraid of?
"What are you running from, David? Are you trying to escape everything that's going on because of Cooper's death, or just me?"
David's mouth fell open in shock, and he leaned forward in his chair.
"What do you know about Cooper's death?"
Grace concentrated on keeping her voice steady as she met his eyes.
"Most of what I know, I've learned from the news reports. I need to hear the rest from you."
Realization dawned in his eyes, and he left his chair to kneel before her.
"You found the shirt. Where is it?"
Her nails dug into the soft leather of the chair, the fear rising within her. She wasn't really afraid of David, but she wasn't sure if she could handle what she was about to hear. Deep down, she knew that she should have been a lot more afraid than she was.
"First I want to know what happened that night."
David placed his hands on her waist, his eyes pleading with her for understanding. Grace stared down at him, wondering at his desperation. She did not know how to react to it; the part of her that was the supportive wife urged her to take him into her arms and comfort him. Yet there was another part, bitter and confused, that felt vindicated by his distress.
She searched within herself for the reason why, and came up with nothing but the sense that in all the years that she'd been married to him, the balance of power had always been in his favor. He had all the money, the influence, and their almost twenty-year age difference had given him an even greater advantage over her.
The corners of her lips twitched as she fought an evil urge to smile at his plight.
Well, the tables are definitely turned now, aren't they? Oh, god. What is wrong with me? Stop it, stop it, stop it!
She squeezed her eyes shut, driving away the cruelty of her thoughts. She looked again at her husband and reached out to him, cupping his face in her hand. He sighed at her touch, his eyes shining with gratitude. She raised his chin as she leaned down, bringing their faces close together.
David swallowed hard. "The night that Cooper was killed, he was trying to start a coup so he could take over the company. The shareholders told Liam about what Cooper was planning, and Liam informed me. I sought out Cooper after he left the building, Grace. I had it out with him. He was such a vile, underhanded and bigoted son-of-a-bitch. I hit him, love. I couldn't control myself. He went too far, and I thrashed him so very badly..."
Grace's throat constricted as he trailed off, and she caressed his face.
"Did you kill him, David? Please, I need to know."
His eyes reminded Grace of the gray hue of clouds before a storm. They were bottomless pools of despair, and for the life of her she could not read them.
A muscle jumped in his jaw as he spoke, his gaze piercing her. Despite the cool and controlled tone that he used, his voice made her imagine an erupting volcano, with anger exploding in all directions.
"No, I didn't kill him. I left the scene immediately after I attacked him, and when I returned a few minutes later to try and apologize so he wouldn't sue the living shit out of us and reduce us to the poorhouse, he was already dead! Christ, Grace! You can't imagine what it's like to see such horrors before your eyes! He was no longer recognizable as human, and you believe that I am capable of such an act?"
He whirled away from her, rising from the floor and striding angrily towards his massive desk and the window beyond. He stood with his back to her, one arm braced against the cool glass and covering his mouth with his other hand. His shoulders shook with remembered terror, as well as from the betrayal that he felt concerning his wife.
"I thought that you of all people would have had more faith in me, Grace. Did you intend to blackmail me, then? Were you planning to go to the police with the bloody shirt, wife? Sic them on me like dogs on a runaway fox? How could you?"
Grace left her chair and went to him. She placed her hands on his back, and he stiffened at her touch. Slowly and tenderly, she ran her hands down his spine before embracing him from behind. Her breasts pressed tightly against his back, and David began to shift uncomfortably from an inappropriate surge of arousal.
She rested her head against his back. The strength of his body and the fact that he couldn't see her gave her the courage to speak, the nerve to lie.
"I destroyed the shirt, David. When I realized the trouble that you could be involved in, I put it in the incinerator. I don't want anything to destroy what we have built together. I don't want to lose our family."
He didn't answer her for a long moment, and it seemed to Grace as if he were debating with himself whether or not he could trust her. She waited in silence until he let out a deep sigh before turning around to look at her. He stared into her eyes, trying to interpret what lay behind them. She let him look, reaching down to take his hand in hers. Without breaking eye contact, she raised his hand to her lips.
David's eyes darkened with passion for his wife, but inside he was torn.
"I want to believe you. I truly do."
Grace held his hand against her chest. "Can you feel my heart? Its beat is steady now, but do you have any idea how hard it was pounding this past week? I didn't know what to think, David. There are so many unresolved issues between us, and when I was confronted by the evidence that you may have been at the scene, I didn't know what to believe."
She slid her hands up to his chest, and he instinctively leaned his head towards her. She drew closer to him, her eyes shining.
"When we met in India, you were my savior. You were the light that guided me out of the darkness that was my life then, and to this day I thank you. But you are also a difficult man to understand. There's so much about you that I don't know, and often I feel as if I married a stranger."
Grace let the tears flow, and David wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her to him. He sighed deeply as he bent over her, inhaling the sweet scent of her hair.
"What do you want to know? You seem to have something already in mind. Ask me, poppet. Whatever you want to know, I'll tell you."
The endearment made her want to cry harder while it spurred her on. She looked into his eyes and let the words go. "Why didn't you ever tell me that you were married before?"
David sucked air in through his teeth as if he'd been struck, his hands shaking where he held his wife. Grace noticed and continued to probe.
"A couple of weeks ago I found an old photograph in your desk, and it was of you and a woman named Caitlin. The two of you looked very happy, and from the rings that I saw and the fact that she was heavily pregnant, I assumed that it was a wedding photo."
He stared at the floor for several minutes before he spoke. "Yes, we were married. We were very much in love, and we were to have a child. But sadly it was not to be; a month after our wedding, she went into a very difficult labor and died along with our baby."
Grace gasped, bringing a hand to her mouth. "My god, David. I'm so sorry."
"Imagine losing the two most important people in your life at once. I was in such pain; even now I can't think back without getting sucked into it again. After they died, I tried as hard as I could to distance myself from the memories and the agony of my loss. The picture that you found was the only one that I kept of Caitlin; I destroyed the rest."
David took her hand and kissed it gently. "I never meant to keep you in the dark, Grace. Those wonderful months that we spent getting to know each other in India was the best time in my life. Being with you made me forget the ugliness of my past, if only for a while."
The sharp ringing of the office phone startled them both, and Grace wanted to throw it out of the window. David appeared to want the same thing, but he simply kissed her hand again before excusing himself to pick it up.
"This is Anami. Excellent. I'll be down presently."
David returned the phone to its cradle, and Grace knew that their time was up. She needed to say more, as if somehow she knew the chance wouldn't come again if she hesitated.
"David, there's another very important issue that we need to discuss."
He was at his desk, gathering the last of his papers and stashing them in his briefcase. He shut it with a click, and extended his free hand to her.
"Walk with me to the car, then. We can talk on the way."
Together, they navigated the elaborate maze of hallways. Grace's steps were quick and short as she struggled to keep up with David's gigantic strides.
They entered the elevator, and she released a heart-felt sigh as David pressed the button to take them to the underground parking garage. She turned to him, and he watched her with concern in his eyes. She detected something else within their gray depths, but she couldn't pin it down. Annoyance? Dread?
"Just say it, Grace. What's bothering you?"
"I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately, David. Specifically, my thoughts have involved the circumstances of our marriage and how we came to be wed..."
David flinched hard and immediately pressed the "Stop" button. The abrupt motion made Grace's head swim, and when he roughly grabbed her by the upper arms and pulled her to him, she felt as if her heart would stop.
He bent over her, his enraged face just inches away from hers. "Now you will listen to me and listen well! I will never, ever grant you a divorce! Do you hear me? Never!"
Grace winced in pain from his fierce grip, and anger rose within her.
What right does he have to put his hands on me in such a way?
She raked her nails down his hands hard, causing him to cry out and let go of her. She slapped him once, then twice even as she tried to understand his motives for attacking her. She could not, and suddenly she didn't want to try.
David stood against the wall of the elevator, trying to catch his breath. His eyes never left her face as she straightened her clothes before restarting the elevator.
With her back to him, she positioned herself in front of the double doors as the lift continued its descent. Her entire body was tense, half expecting him to throw himself onto her. Like a cloak on a cold winter's day, she gathered her dignity about her before speaking in an icy tone.
"You bastard. How dare you touch me like that! I wasn't speaking about divorce, but your reaction, which was completely uncalled for, has certainly made me wonder what the hell I'm doing with you!"
The elevator arrived at the parking garage, and Grace was deeply relieved. Without another word, she left her husband standing where he was and entered her limo, locking the doors behind her.
From the window she watched as David stood next to his own limo, the one that would take him to JFK and the waiting jet. He stared sightlessly at Grace's black-tinted window, his face reminding her of a lost child's. While her mind still reeled with anger from their confrontation, deep within her she wanted to take him in her arms and tell him that everything would be all right.
She winced at the momentary weakness, clenching her teeth. Enough.
"Take me home, Ryu."
When they were clear of the building, Grace gently pushed the button to raise the separator between driver and passenger. As soon as it was up, she finally allowed the hot tears and the heart-wrenching sobs to escape their prison.
She cried all the way home.
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