How to Tame a Dragon Ch. 04bytotallyatease©
She only agreed as a favour to her sister -- but he more than made up for the inconvenience...
When Daniel went back a couple of hours later; it was to see that all of the receipts and bills had been placed neatly in the two folders, all excepting a small pile, which she had left out to one side.
Izzy was sitting back in the swivel chair with a look of happy satisfaction on her face.
"Hi," she smiled up at him. "I sorted out your bills into two lots..." she told him, "one for cash, and one for all the bank payments that you make. I set you up a simple spreadsheet, so that you can put them on it... like this." She spun around in the chair to show him on the computer what she was doing. "See? Then you can tick them off like this, from your bank statement when it comes."
"Thanks..." was about all he could manage, as he realised the thought and effort she must have put in to this job. "What about these here?" he asked indicating the pile she had left out.
"Oh these are the ones that need to be paid, still," she told him pushing them towards him.
Daniel shoved them back and leaned across the desk to open a drawer near her leg. The back of his hand brushed against her thigh as he did so, and Izzy sucked in a little breath. He pulled out a cheque book and some postage stamps and dropped them on the desk in front of her. He gave her a little knowing smile as he did so, and she suddenly just knew that that brush of his hand had been deliberate!
"You write out the cheques, and I'll sign them," he ordered briskly.
Izzy shot him a dirty look, but wordlessly opened up the cheque book, and picked up a pen.
"I'll be back in a minute," he told her as he made for the door, "you just carry on."
"Yes sir, no sir... three bags full sir!" Izzy grumbled softly.
By the time Daniel came back -- carrying a tea tray, Izzy had written out all the cheques and paper clipped them to the bills they were made out to. She'd also written neatly on each bill to indicate which cheque number had been used to pay it. Daniel sat in the chair opposite, and began signing the cheques. As he handed them back to her, she would put the cheque and, the payment slip into a pre addressed envelope; and seal it before attaching a postage stamp.
By the time they were finished she had a neat pile of envelopes in front of her all ready for the mail.
Izzy sat back with her cup and gave a happy sigh of satisfaction.
Daniel looked at her curiously. "I think you enjoyed doing that; didn't you?" he asked.
She smiled briefly at him. "It was good to feel useful again, and to bring a little order to your chaos." She gave him a cheeky little grin before hiding behind her cup again.
"Yes, well... the man who used to do all this for me... he fell ill just before Christmas and decided to retire. It'll take a little while to find someone to replace him I suppose."
"Well, if you file things away as you get them, and mark them on the spread sheet like I showed you, you should be able to keep on top of it, until someone can take over for you." Izzy told him quietly. She sank back in the chair as she felt the familiar lethargy creeping over her.
Although she'd been sitting down all the time, her body was telling her how much energy she'd used up.
Daniel watched the colour gradually leaving her face. She looked absolutely washed out and he wondered about it again. He'd asked her a couple of times if she was ill, and she always denied it. Richard and her sister were always fussing about her -- and even his own Mrs Coats had gotten into a flap over her.
Not for the first time he felt that there was something about her that he wasn't being told.
He stood up and picked up the tray. "Well, I thank you for your assistance Izzy," he told her abruptly as he turned and stalked out of the room.
Izzy looked after him in surprise, 'what on earth?' she wondered a little dazed.
She dragged herself to her feet; the hot sweet coffee had given her a little boost, but she knew that it wouldn't last, and that she needed to rest.
She made it to her bedroom, to curl up on her bed and fall into a deep dreamless sleep.
Daniel walked past her bedroom, and noticing her door ajar, he glanced inside. He'd only left her five minutes ago, and now look at her! She was dead to the world. He frowned down at her for a moment before picking up the throw draped over a nearby chair and covering her with it. He pulled the curtains too and left closing the door quietly behind him.
Izzy woke hours later to peer groggily around her room. Something was different, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. She snuggled under the throw before frowning at it. "Who?" she wondered, and she was sure that she'd left the curtains open when she came in.
She gave a little sigh as she realised that it was probably Mrs Coats checking in on her again.
She was just drifting off again, when there was a knock on her door and that little lady popped her head around. "Oh good you're awake!" she exclaimed. She came in, carrying a small tray with a mug on it. "Mr Daniel asked me to bring this up to you." She frowned as she put the tray down on the bedside table next to Izzy. "I must say I didn't even realise that you were up here... are you feeling alright?" she asked worriedly.
Izzy sat up and took a sip of the hot drink. She sighed as she felt it warming her insides and revitalising her. "I'm fine Mrs Coats -- honestly," she smiled, "it was just a bit of fatigue; and now that I've rested, I feel great."
"Well that's good then, because dinner will be ready in about an hour," she said leaving the room.
Izzy's eyes flew to her watch. She'd been asleep for nearly four hours!
She gulped down the coffee, and dove under the shower. As she soaped herself down she worried about Daniel entering her room whilst she had slept. Her childish fantasies were one thing, but to actually have him in here without her realising! He'd been kind enough to cover her over, so that she wouldn't catch a chill, and he'd closed the curtains and the door. She wondered if he'd just been in the once, or if he'd come back to check on her before sending Mrs Coats. She stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around her, and towelled her hair dry. She was brushing through it as she walked back into her bedroom to find Daniel leaning against the other door.
"Oh!" Izzy exclaimed as she clutched the towel to herself.
"I just wanted to make sure, that you were alright," he told her gruffly, his eyes trailing down the length of her bare legs. There were drops of water running down her, here and there and he seemed fascinated by the routes they followed across her skin.
"I'm fine Daniel, so if you don't mind..." she asked feeling flustered. A drop of water trailed down from her hair and trickled slowly towards the hollow between her breasts. Daniel moved forward as if to stop its journey.
"Daniel!" Izzy protested in panic.
He seemed to pull himself together suddenly, and went back to the door. "I'll see you down stairs," he said over his shoulder and closed the door behind him.
Izzy was just pulling a dress over her head, when there was another knock on the door.
"Just a second!" she called out in panic. She heard the door open and frantically pulled the dress down to cover her. "I said, just a second!" she snapped as her sister came into view.
Jessie looked at her with her eyebrows raised questioningly. "Sorry, all I heard was a muffled something or other; and I wanted to make sure you were ok."
Izzy sighed and shot her sister an apologetic look. "Sorry," she sighed with a slight twist to her lips. "I'm just beginning to feel like my room is in the middle of the M1 or something!"
"What?" Jessie looked at her confused.
"Nothing Jess, it doesn't matter," Izzy sighed again. She shot her sister a bright smile, which didn't fool her in the least. "So did you and Richard have a good day out?"
"Fab!" Jessie smiled before giving a little giggle. "I brought you something... It's down stairs."
"Come and see," her sister invited holding her hand out to her.
Izzy shot her a suspicious look, before taking her hand and letting Jessie lead her down stairs.
They walked into the living room to find Daniel and Richard talking quietly together.
"Uh oh," Jessie murmured. "I think I'll give it to you later."
Richard however was already on his feet.
"Here you go Izzy! I don't know what the fuss is all about, but Jessie insisted that we buy this for you -- so here you are." He handed her a small framed picture.
It was a cartoon with a little man sitting on top of a massive dragon, and they both had huge silly grins on their faces.
The caption underneath read: "I tamed the dragon!"
Izzy read it, and blushed bright red, as she looked quickly across at Daniel.
Daniel frowned and wondered why she looked so uncomfortable. He walked across and took the picture off her, so that he might study it. His brow lifted in query but the two girls just looked back at him with innocent eyes.
He shrugged indifferently and handed it back to her, before walking away again.
'So what was one more mystery? They were piling up so much now; that his head was beginning to spin.'
Izzy felt sure that Daniel was sulking during dinner. He sat barely speaking, and when he did, it was surly one word answers, that killed the conversation dead.
"So Izz what did you do with your day?"
"You know it really is ridiculous how you two insist in shortening each other's names!" Daniel suddenly snapped. "The next thing you know you'll be 'I and J'," he said sarcastically.
Jessie looked at him in surprise, but Izzy had had enough of the big brother Daniel and his strop. "It's called affection!" she told him sharply, before giving him a naughty little smile. "I don't suppose there is much point in calling you Danny or Dan -- is there?"
Richard choked on the wine he was drinking, and Jessie gave a nervous little giggle. Izzy looked straight across at Daniel however. Her eyes angry and defiant refused to leave his.
He returned her look with one of anger and offence... he didn't move, not a muscle but Izzy suddenly thought that something in his eyes changed.
Under the table Izzy felt his leg brush against hers.
Her knee shot up thumping the bottom of the table making everyone jump.
"Is there a problem Izz?" Daniel drawled sarcastically.
She shot him a look that should have frozen him where he sat, but he just sat smirking at her.
"Cramp," she muttered standing up, and limping from the room rubbing her leg as she went.
She had just reached the bottom of the stairs when she felt Daniel's hand on her arm.
"Oh no you don't." he whispered in her ear. "You're not escaping that easily."
He turned her around and led her to the living room. "Come and sit in here for a bit; you'll feel much better, sat in front of the warm fire," he said loudly enough, for the benefit of the other two.
"Another piece of pointless ostentation;" she hissed spitefully.
Daniel smiled coldly at her. "But of course," he murmured, "didn't you know that that's all I'm good for?"
"And sneaking into a girl's bedroom, when she's either asleep or half undressed!"
Izzy watched in horror as the colour entered Daniel's cheeks.
"Oh Daniel!" she whispered, "Daniel I'm sorry... I didn't mean it!"
He gave a little sneer, "but it is true, isn't it my dear Izzy?" He gave a mocking little laugh. "Maybe you should think about locking your door at night?"
And without waiting for a reply he turned and stalked away.
Izzy sank down onto the sofa, her face pale and miserable looking.
Richard joined her there, shooting her a look of sympathy.
"I understand from Daniel, that you helped him out this afternoon... with his paperwork?" he began.
"Izzy you didn't!" Jessie just in the process of curling up in Daniel's chair, leapt back up again her face surprised, but delighted. "That's wonderful, it's great for you to have a challenge again!" she declared, a bit foggy about what it was that Izzy actually did.
"Yeh... much good that it did me!" Izzy grumbled sadly.
Richard glanced across at the door which Daniel had pulled too as he had stormed out.
"Izzy..." he said quietly. "I think that I should tell you something, but I'm not quite sure how to approach it..."
Izzy looked up at him curiously. "What are you talking about Richard?"
He gave a little sigh before fixing her with serious blue eyes. "It's about Daniel," he gave another little sigh, clearly not sure how to begin. "Did you know that he'd been married?" he suddenly asked.
Izzy looked at him in surprise. "No... how could I? Before I came here I didn't even know that Daniel existed!"
"Yes... I know," he said quietly.
"What happened?" she asked dying of curiosity.
"Well... before I get to that; I wanted to tell you about how Claudia was, before Daniel married her." He paused as if thinking about how to phrase the next bit. "She was a tiny little thing; all big eyes, and tiny hands... she was..." he hesitated again, and gave a little laugh as he glanced at her. "Well... she was a lot like you actually," he finally finished.
Izzy flushed, alarm screaming from every fibre of her. "What do you mean?"
Richard gave another laugh and his eyes slid away from hers. "She was tiny, and frail; she was pretty, and useless. She was all sweetness and light!" he finally finished with another little laugh.
Izzy looked at him with daggers. "I don't think I've ever felt more offended in my entire life!" she finally managed through gritted teeth.
"I don't mean to be offensive!" Richard looked her in the eyes, and continued quietly. "You see that's the problem... you both portrayed this image..." He shrugged his shoulders slightly. "and with both of you; it wasn't true."
"Now I'm really getting confused!" she wrinkled her nose at him. "And I think a little angry."
"It wasn't true for you," he hurried on, "because you'd been ill; so the girl he first met wasn't the real Izzy."
"Okay..." she said slowly. "I'll buy that; but what about this Claudia? Why wasn't it true with her?"
He gave another sigh, and ran his fingers through his hair. "It wasn't true with Claudia because for her it was just an act," he said sadly. "The minute she got that ring on her finger she changed. One second the cute little kitten; and quite literally the next second she became this spiteful little cat!" He glanced at her again trying to make her understand. "Daniel didn't know what had hit him! I think that he really loved her, and it destroyed him that she couldn't or wouldn't love him back."
"So what happened?" she asked again quietly her mind in pieces.
"She divorced him, and took him to the cleaners!" he finished bitterly. "Everything... she took almost everything; except for the factory, and this house," Richard told her looking around him as he said it. "I think that when she went after the house, that was when he started to fight back."
He looked down at her again "So you see Izzy, it's not you that he's lashing out at. It's something that you remind him of... or rather someone."
Izzy sighed. "Well thank you for telling me Richard. I'm not sure what to do with it though." She shrugged her shoulders and gave a bitter little laugh. "I can't pretend to be something that I'm not."
Richard smiled sympathetically at her. "I know Izzy. You are who you are; but maybe the next time Daniel has a go at you, you'll realise that it's not actually you that he lashing out at, and you won't take it so personally."
Izzy sat quietly. It wasn't the odd time that Daniel snapped at her that she was thinking of. She was remembering the times when he'd treated her as a desirable woman. Was he just thinking of Claudia when he had touched her? And that time he'd kissed her? Had he been thinking of Claudia then as well?
Izzy didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The first man who'd ever showed any interest in her, and it wasn't even her he'd been interested in!
"Probably the story of my life!" she muttered bitterly.
Izzy retreated into her own little world to try and rebuild her defences. After a quick look at Jessie who silently shook her head at him, Richard moved away to pour them all a drink.
Izzy gradually became aware of soft music playing, and Daniel sat down next to her. She turned and looked blankly at him for a moment, before bending her head and allowing her hair to fall as a protective curtain.
"I'm sorry Izzy," softly spoken, but to Izzy it should have caused the earth to shake with its intensity.
She looked back at him and her eyes filled with tears. "Oh Daniel, I didn't mean it! I swear I didn't mean it!"
Daniel winced slightly as he realised just how upset she was. "I know Izz, it was all my fault, I goaded you -- and you hit out."
She gave him a watery kind of smile and he grinned back through a face lined with stress. "Friends again?" he asked with a twisted kind of smile.
Her face lit up, her eyes shone and she threw herself at him. "Oh yes please Daniel!"
Daniel tensed his arms flying out wide in shock; before curling around her in a huge hug.
Jessie and Richard had been talking quietly at the other side of the room. Now though, Jessie came sailing down the room, full of the wrath of the avenging angel, all prepared to kill or maim for her little sister.
She stumbled to a halt as Izzy threw herself into Daniels arms. She watched in amazement as Daniel returned her affection, the two of them laughing softly together.
"Izzy? Izzy is everything alright?" Jessie asked hesitantly.
The couple on the sofa looked up at her and smiled pathetically at her. "I'm okay Jess... honestly," Izzy said softly.
Jessie stood there uncertainly, not wanting to intrude, but unwilling to leave Izzy when she was so obviously upset. In the end it was Richard who solved her dilemma by coming up to them and handing drinks all round and then sitting in one of the arm chair by the fire. Jessie gave a sigh of relief and sat in Daniel's chair.
The evening which had begun so badly, ended wonderfully for Izzy. Daniel sat next to her, holding her hand all evening, absently stroking the back of it with his thumb, as he talked with Richard or either of the sisters.
Jessie would often look speculatively at them, but she managed to refrain from commenting.
As the evening grew late, Jessie suddenly gave a huge yawn and stood up. "Time for bed I think," she said a little dramatically. "Izzy?" she looked pointedly at her little sister.
Izzy felt a flash of annoyance at her sibling, for her interference. Supposing that she didn't want to go to bed? Which in point of fact, she didn't! Jessie had made it impossible for Izzy to stay with Daniel, without creating a fuss.
Shooting her sister a look of daggers; she rose and bid the two men a quiet goodnight.
Jessie ignored her sister's glare, and followed her from the room.
She shadowed Izzy right to her bedroom door where Izzy stopped with her hand on the handle and turned to her sister. "I really am tired Jess, so I think I'll say goodnight now." She smiled sweetly at her sister who merely snorted, and pushed the door open to bundle her inside.
"Oh no you don't!" Jessie hissed, closing the door behind them and leaning against it. "I want to know when you and Daniel got so cosy."
"I don't know what you mean Jess," Izzy said innocently, turning her back on her sister so that she wouldn't have to look her in the eye. She took her night gown out of a drawer and laid it deliberately out on the bed.
"He's out of your league Izz! He'll hurt you, and not even realise that he's doing it." Jessie said softly.
Izzy did look at her sister then, a little flash of pain in her eyes, before she smiled at her in reassurance.