From A to Z Ch. 02byChiara23©
As always this story is exclusively my property and may not be republished or redistributed without my permission. Any resemblance to people or places living, dead or non-existent is merely a coincidence.
It had been a few days since Adele had finally opened up to Zack. She was at her psychologists for her regular appointment. Adele was nervous, she was very excited about being able to tell her about Zack and what had happened.
"Adele? You can come in now."
Adele went into the office and sat in a chair. "Hi Charlene, how are you today?"
"I'm well thanks Adele how are you?"
Adele grinned, "I'm good thanks. I thought a lot about what we talked about during our last session, and I decided that maybe you were right and Zack was only trying to be nice and he really didn't want to hurt me."
"Excellent! That was a great step forward for you. You look like you want to tell me something else as well," Charlene said with a knowing smile.
Adele blushed and smiled shyly, "I asked him out for coffee the other day."
"That's wonderful Adele! How did you feel when you were together? Did you feel like you had before? Was it like when you first met him?"
Adele thought for a moment, "I was really nervous and I felt like I was going to be sick at first. But he made me laugh, and he was very laid back. I felt...comfortable with him."
Her therapist nodded and smiled, "I'm very proud of you for trying this Adele. It took a lot of courage to push yourself out of your comfort zone like that."
Adele smiled as well, "Thank you Charlene, would it be okay if I asked him to go out for coffee again?"
"If you feel comfortable doing that I think it's a great idea. Just don't over do it, baby steps are still steps forward."
Adele grinned, "I think I'd like to do that again."
"How are you doing with your anxiety?"
Adele frowned, "I'm still very anxious around men, the pills you gave me have helped. I can go in to work and don't feel as stressed as I used to. Fortunately they've been very accommodating and only let Rebecca work with me."
"And are you still having the nightmares?" Charlene questioned her.
"Yes, I still wake up screaming every night like I've lived through the attack all over again. I wish I could sleep through the night just once. It's so exhausting physically and mentally."
"How do you feel about the men at your work? Do they still frighten you?"
"They don't frighten me as much as other men do, but that's because I knew them before Scott..."
"Yes that's quite common. They're a known quantity because you are familiar with them, so you know that they pose no threat to you. Do you feel that Zack poses a threat to you Adele?"
"I don't think so. He's made suggestions and always lets me decide how things happen. He's been very patient and kind. It's like he knows what's going on in my mind, and only says and does what I feel comfortable with."
"How do you feel about yourself since you've met Zack and had this breakthrough?"
Adele paused to think again, "I feel a bit more confident, less afraid and maybe a bit more in control of my life."
"Do you think this is a good thing Adele?"
"I do, Zack is the first guy that I haven't been totally terrified of in over a year. I don't know why but I feel very safe with him."
"Well I'm very proud of you Adele, as you should be too. I think we've made some great strides in our recovery plan over the past few weeks. Our time is almost up Adele, I'll renew your current prescriptions and I'm adding Clonazepam, it's a sedative. You're to take it before you go to bed. It should help you sleep better."
Adele smiled and took her prescription slip, "Thanks Charlene, see you in three weeks?"
"You're welcome Adele. Three weeks it is."
Zack was still blown away, he couldn't believe that Adele had taken that first big step and asked him out for a coffee. They hadn't really done a whole lot of talking and when they did it was about inconsequential things like work and the weather. He could tell that Adele was trying hard to break down her protective walls. Zack was glad just to be with her, even just sitting quietly together was a big thing.
Sitting in his office at work he was totally distracted by his thoughts about Adele. Instead of working on his editing work he was doodling on his notepad and wondering what she was doing.
Zack's buddy Aaron from down the hall poked his head into the office, "Hey bud, we're going to the Kowloon for lunch are you in?"
"Huh? Yeah sure, just gimme a sec."
Even at lunch with the office crew Zack was distracted and quiet. Everyone noticed the change since Zack was normally very outgoing and gregarious.
"Hey Zack what's with you today? You're like in the twilight zone or something!"
"Ah I just have something on my mind guys. It's a personal thing."
All of his office mates started ribbing him. "Whoa-ho-ho! Zack's got lady issues! Who's the girl man? You tag her yet? Is she hot?"
Zack waved them down, "No no no! It's not like that. I'm just helping one of my neighbours, she's going through a rough patch that's all."
Aaron burst out laughing and the other guys joined him. "Is it that cute little blonde in the top unit?" he asked.
Zack blushed from all the ribbing he was getting. "Guys come on! She's going through a rough transition and I'm helping her through it okay? God, sometimes people just do things because it's the right thing to do!"
Aaron could see that Zack was getting mad so he took the lead and told the other guys to shut up. "Hey sorry man. We noticed that you were out of it, and were trying to get you out of your funk. If you're doing the right thing for this girl then that's cool man."
"Seriously guys, she's a nice girl and I want to help her through this. She deserves better than she's gotten."
The other guys settled down and were pretty impressed with what Zack was doing. He tended to be the leader of the group so he had a lot of respect from the others.
It was the weekend and Adele walked into the laundry room, Zack was loading up the washers when he noticed her.
"Oh, hey Adele! How are you?" he asked with a smile.
"I'm good Zack, how are you?" Adele said with a shy smile.
"I'm good too. Hey if you want I'll free up a washer so you don't have to wait."
"Thanks Zack, I appreciate it."
Zack pulled his load out of the washer and placed it back in his hamper as Adele began loading up the washer with her clothes. Zack looked over and noticed that she had some pretty little thongs in her first load. He blushed and felt a bit like a perv for noticing them.
"I had fun the other night Adele, it was nice being out with you."
Adele smiled shyly, "I did too, I haven't gone out and just hung out with a friend in a long time."
"Thanks," Zack said in a serious tone.
"Huh? Why'd you say thanks Zack?"
Zack smiled again, "You called me your friend that means a lot to me."
"Do you think we could go for coffee again?"
"I think that's a great idea Adele, how about later today?"
"Sure, maybe around three o'clock?"
"Three o'clock sounds good. I'd like that a lot." Zack told her with a smile.
They sat quietly for a bit, listening to the washers doing their work. Both of them not sure what to say to the other. Adele wasn't sure what to say, she really liked Zack. She liked the fact that he was letting her take the lead.
She remembered the day that Zack had moved in. She'd seen him moving his stuff in. Adele had peeked through her curtains and watched him and a friend moving furniture and boxes.
He was tall, and very strong she thought. He looked nice, it seemed that he was always smiling, even when he was carrying something heavy. She'd shivered a bit, because she didn't want to admit to herself that she liked the little bit that she'd seen. Zack's friend had said something funny and he'd laughed and grinned. Adele had thought he had a nice laugh, it was an open and friendly laugh. Zack had looked up at her window and she'd closed her curtains quickly, she didn't want him to know that she'd been spying on him.
Her thoughts came back to the present. She looked at him and felt her shyness return.
"Do you like to read Zack?" Adele asked him.
"Yes I do, I didn't realize I had so many books until I moved in. I think I had ten boxes of just books. That's probably why I ended up working for a publishing company. How about you Adele?"
Adele smiled, "Yes I love to read too. Sometimes I write little stories."
"Oh yeah? What kinds of stories?"
"They're kids' stories, I think they're pretty good but haven't shown them to anyone so I don't know if anyone else does."
"Really? Would you let me read them? If they're good I might be able to show them to my manager. We're always looking for new authors and sometimes you can make really good money writing stories."
"I don't know Zack, they're kind of silly and foolish. I mostly do them for my niece and nephews."
"Hey that's pretty cool, how old are they?" Zack asked, interest in his voice.
"My niece is three and my nephews are four and five. I love them a lot, they're neat kids. I love spending time with them, kids don't judge people like adults do, they just accept you."
"Yeah, my sister has three girls, I'm their favourite uncle, well their favourite Uncle Zack." He said with a chuckle. "Does your sister live close by?" Zack asked.
"Yes we get together every couple of weeks, and we talk on the phone every few days. Wendy and her husband Kyle look out for me. They make sure I'm okay. My brother Quinn lives out in B.C. he's an actor too, he's been in a few big films."
"Oh, you're an actress? I thought you said you did voice-over work the other day."
"Well I was until my ex did what he did. There's not much of a market for girls with scars in the movie industry, so like I said before, I do voice-overs now."
When their laundry was done they went their separate ways. Adele smiled to herself as she climbed the stairs to her unit. She couldn't believe how comfortable she felt with Zack. It was so easy to talk to him, he was just such a nice guy. He didn't seem to care about the fact that she had ugly scars. He was like her niece and nephews, he just accepted her for who she was.
Adele was at Zack's door at three, she had one of her notebooks under her arm. She knocked softly and waited for Zack to answer.
Zack opened the door and smiled softly at her, "Hi, I'm ready if you are."
"I'm ready too. I brought one of my note books?"
Zack smiled again as they began to walk the short distance to the coffee shop. "I'm really glad you trust me to read your story Adele."
Adele blushed prettily, "I hope you like it, and I feel kind of silly. It's just a funny little story I tell my niece and nephews."
When they got their coffees they found a table and sat across from each other. Adele handed Zack her book and he started to read it. Adele had drawn crude little pictures to go with the story. She sat quietly sipping her coffee while Zack read her story.
As Zack read he began to chuckle then started to laugh. He closed the notebook and smiled at Adele.
"That was a great story Adele, with just a bit of editing it would be perfect. And I know an artist who would be perfect to illustrate it. She could even just expand on the drawings you already have."
Adele smiled excitedly, "You really think so Zack?"
"I do, you've got a knack for writing. Judging from this one story kids would love your work."
They sat quietly chatting at the coffee shop for about an hour. As they walked home Adele thought about what Zack had told her about her story. She was thrilled that he wanted to show it to his boss. She couldn't wait to find out what his boss thought of it. Adele was on a total high, her steps were lighter and she was chattering incessantly, telling Zack about some of her other stories.
Zack laughed and smiled. He'd never seen Adele so happy, when she smiled her whole face lit up. He couldn't believe this was the same girl who couldn't even look at him just a few months ago.
Before they went their separate ways Adele handed Zack her book and quickly kissed him on the cheek, then literally ran up the stairs to her unit. When she got into her apartment Adele leaned on her door, a big smile on her face. 'Did I just kiss him?' she thought to herself. 'Oh god I did!' Adele started to giggle as her heart thumped in her chest.
A few days later Zack knocked on Adele's door. She answered it and saw that Zack was standing there with a serious look on his face.
"Hi Zack what's the matter?" she asked quizzically.
Zack shook his head and told her he had good news and bad news about her story. He asked her which she wanted to hear first.
"What's the good news?" she asked concerned.
"The good news is that the chief editor is willing to look at your story but it may take a few weeks before he can get to it," Zack said with a smile.
"Really? That's great!" Adele said with an excited grin. "So what's the bad news?"
"Well the girl I had in mind to do your illustrations is already on another project, so you'll probably have to work with one of our in-house artists."
Adele looked disappointed and a bit concerned. "Oh, well I guess that's not too bad."
Several weeks passed with them going out for coffee every few days. Adele was feeling more and more comfortable with Zack. He finally asked Adele if she'd like to go to dinner with him. She had a moment of indecision then accepted his offer.
They went out to a nice restaurant and again Zack had a serious look on his face. After they ordered Zack told Adele that he had some more news for her about her story.
Adele became very nervous, thinking that her story had been rejected. She asked him to tell her the good news first. Zack tried to keep his face straight but a little grin played across his lips and his eyes were twinkling with mirth.
"Well I hate to tell you this but your story has been accepted." He said.
Adele sat in shock for a moment. "Are you serious? Your boss liked it?" she asked incredulously.
"He didn't just like it he loved it!" Zack said with a smile. "There's only one problem though."
"Oh, what's the problem?" Adele asked nervously.
"The artist you're going to be working with is a guy, and you'll have to work closely with him to get everything just right."
Adele blanched, her hands started to shake and she looked like she was going to cry. "I don't know if I can do that Zack. I mean, I've only been able to really trust you since I was attacked."
"Well I have some good news regarding that Adele. This guy is very nice and patient, I think you'll get along well with him."
"But Zack I'll probably have to be alone with him and I don't think I could handle that just yet."
Zack chuckled, "Well that's too bad because I was looking forward to spending more time with you Adele."
Adele's eyes widened in surprise, "You mean you're going to do the pictures for my story? I thought you were an editor!"
Zack laughed again, "I am, but I was an illustrator before I moved to editing. Will you be okay with working long hours with me?"
Adele squealed and leaned across the table and kissed Zack on the lips. She blushed and pulled away from Zack. "Oh my god did I just do that?"
Now it was Zack's turn to be surprised speechless. "Ah, yes I think you just did sweetie."
"I'm so sorry, I don't know what came over me Zack." Adele said.
"Don't be sorry Adele," Zack said with a warm smile.
Adele was back at her therapists. They'd just started her session.
"So how have you been Adele?" her therapist asked.
Adele blushed and grinned, looking down into her lap, "I kissed him, on the lips."
"Oh really?" Charlene asked, a bit surprised by this turn of events. "Why did you kiss Zack, Adele?"
Adele told her how she'd shown him one of her stories, and how he had given it to his boss to read. That it was going to be published and that Zack was going to illustrate her story and she was so excited she just jumped up and kissed him.
"How do you feel about kissing him then?" Charlene asked.
"I dunno, it felt good, I got all tingly and I liked it I guess." Adele said quietly.
"How did Zack react to you kissing him?"
"He said he liked it too. I am looking forward to spending more time with Zack, I really like him Charlene."
Charlene smiled and nodded her head. "It seems that Zack is having a good effect on our recovery plan Adele. I don't think there should be anything wrong with spending more time together. Are you sleeping better since our last appointment?"
Adele frowned, "The pills help me sleep but I still have the nightmares. I still wake up screaming. Will they ever stop Charlene?"
"I think with time they will." she said. "You're still very fragile and need as much positive stimulation as possible. That's why I think that seeing Zack is a good thing. From what I've seen he appears to be a very positive influence for you."
Zack could still feel Adele's lips on his. They still tingled from the brief contact, and it had been three days since she'd kissed him. Zack wasn't just going to illustrate Adele's story he was editing it too. Having double duty wasn't going to be too hard for him though, it just meant that he got to work with Adele a bit more. They were sitting in his office going over some picture ideas. Zack's boss had had a drawing table moved into his office so it would be easier for him to work on Adele's book.
"I like you're drawings Adele, with a little work we could probably use them almost as is."
Adele blushed at Zack's compliment, "But they're so simple, and they're not very good. Couldn't you do a better job Zack?"
"That's what makes them so good Adele, the simple lines and colours give the story a more child-like quality which goes well with the story's themes."
They went on like this for several weeks, going over the story and drawings. Adele was surprised that they were using her story and drawings with very little modification.
Zack's boss Oscar was very impressed with how well they worked together and called them into his office after they'd done the final edit.
"Adele, Zack you've done a fine job in a very short time. I like the way you both work, you make a good team. Adele, judging from the quality of this initial story I'd like to see your other stories. Zack's told me you've written several others and I'd like to give you an advance of twenty thousand dollars to publish them. Would that be acceptable?"
Adele was stunned into silence. She shook her head as if she were in a dream. She looked at Zack, "Twenty THOUSAND dollars?"
"That's what Oscar said. What do you think?" Zack said with a huge grin.
Adele turned to face Oscar, "Mister Conlan, you want to give me twenty thousand dollars for silly little stories that I wrote for my niece and nephews?"
"Yes I do Adele, and please call me Oscar. Twenty thousand is only the advance, you still get royalties on all books and any third party marketing."
Adele's eyes were wide with awe, "Thank you Oscar, I really don't know what to say. I just, well wow!"
Oscar smiled at them and told them they should go out and celebrate a job well done. Zack and Adele left his office and walked back to Zack's. "So where did you want to celebrate Adele?" Zack asked with a grin.
Adele laughed and grinned back at him, "Well I think I can treat you to something a bit better than a cheap burger joint Zack."
Adele took Zack to dinner at a swanky restaurant. They laughed and talked over dinner and Adele realized she was having a wonderful time with Zack.
After dinner they went back to their triplex and Zack walked Adele up to her unit. "Well here we are," Zack said with a smile.