tagRomanceLady Hideaway Ch. 05

Lady Hideaway Ch. 05


Part five

Tessa opened her eyes and stared at the television. It had been turned off and she was momentarily confused in the dimly lit room. A look towards the light coming through the curtains told her that it was morning. She felt the weight of someone’s arm around her and took in the masculine scent of the body she was snuggled against, and she panicked.

She sat up quite suddenly, taking in her surroundings, seeing Conner against the sofa as she desperately tried to bring back the memories of the night before. His heavy eyes were open, and he sat up a bit, giving her room to get away from him. He noticed her discomfort and gently reached for her hand, his small attempt to assure her that everything was all right.

When Tessa had fallen asleep on him before the movie ended, Conner had been surprised. For a long time he had debated if he should wake her or carry her to her bed. He had not wanted to frighten her by doing either, and the idea of snuggling with her all night felt too good, so he had decided to close his eyes and rest with her. His neck and back regretted it of course, but waking up with her was well worth a little discomfort. Now Tessa was looking confused, so he did his best to explain.

“You fell asleep.” He said gently, “I didn’t want to wake you, are you alright?”

Tessa took a moment, realizing that she had been with him all night and he had made no move to hurt her. She felt herself smile as she gave him a nod, looking at his hand holding hers.

“Sorry.” She replied.

“I didn’t mind.” He smiled.

Tessa suddenly withdrew her hand and stood up.

“I’m going to make some coffee.” She explained.

Conner watched her leave, she obviously needed her space and he was going to give it to her. He waited for a few minutes and slowly tried to remove the kink from his neck, noticing that his skin felt extra-soft where Tessa had cuddled up to him.

It was difficult to pry himself from the sofa, he was sore, and he was definitely not a morning person. But he made his way downstairs anyways, where Tessa poured him a cup of coffee and disappeared again. When she returned she had cleaned up from sleeping and she had changed into jeans and a t-shirt. He knew that he should get home and clean up too. He needed to get to work.

“I’m really sorry I fell asleep on you.” she finally said, it had been silent until now, Conner had been waiting for her to feel comfortable again. “I guess I didn’t realize how tired I was.”

Conner smiled, he wanted to tell her how much he truly didn’t mind, but she continued to speak, and this time he didn’t interrupt her. What she was saying had his heart jumping.

“Conner, I had a nice time last night.” She explained, biting at her bottom lip. “I was wondering, if you’re not busy, do you want to come over again? Tonight maybe?”

Conner did his best to hide his excitement. He managed to give her a nod.

“Definitely.” He smiled.

He must have looked more enthusiastic than he had meant to, because Tessa blushed and then averted her eyes shyly. Conner loved when she looked like that, and he loved it more that she had managed to make the next move. Of course, if she hadn't he most definitely would have.

Conner was back that night, and the next. Eating upstairs had seemed to become some sort of routine. He never really paid any attention to the movies they played, and the third night they didn’t even watch what was playing. He spent his nights kissing and holding her, and days were spent missing her.

Conner had discovered that despite Tessa’s uncertainty most of the time, she was very affectionate, and he loved every second of it. She had stopped flinching every time he touched her, so he had used less caution. Although, she had managed to bite him three more times, every time she heard a sound outside or within her house, but he always assured her that it was alright, and he was more than willing to comfort her fears after she was finished with her apologizing.

He had also managed to get her to talk to him more. She had nervously explained that the night of the storm she had heard something outside while she was in the kitchen. She was running up the stairs when the branch had come through the window and the shock had caused her to fall. Her arm had caught the railing and that was how she had injured herself.

“When I get like that I don’t really think clearly,” she had explained, “When you showed up, I knew it was you, but at the same time I wasn’t sure… I guess it’s hard to explain. I’m sorry if I was difficult.”

Conner had assured her that it was no trouble at all. She wouldn’t explain her reaction to Misty, and Conner didn’t push her to. He assumed that Tessa figured Misty had explained things to him, but Tessa never brought it up, and he decided not to ask about the past until she was ready. That was one thing that she would have to bring up on her own, in the meantime, he just wanted to get to know her.


Friday night Conner had managed to finish work early. He called Tessa in the middle of the day and told her so, and he ended up at her house well before dinnertime. They had a late lunch together and he learned more about her life.

Other than the tragedy she had been forced to live through she seemed to have had a relatively happy childhood. She was young enough when her mother had died that it never really had an effect on her. Dr. Formike loved her like his own daughter, and Katrina was her half sister, only a few years younger than Tessa.

Tessa seemed to like talking about her sister. They didn’t see each other very often lately, but it was clear that they were close, and Conner had ultimately decided that if Katrina was important to Tessa, he would do his best to like her.

Tessa seemed equally interested in Conner’s life. He explained that his family only lived a few blocks from him, but he only saw them once a month. His brothers were busy with their families, Conner had two nephews and one niece, and he loved them all, even if he hardly ever saw them. He also loved his parents, but part of the reason that he hadn't seen them recently was because they had never been entirely fond of his ex-wife, and even after the divorce he had never actually reestablished a bond with them.

Talking about his divorce was one subject that was difficult for Conner. He would admit to being divorced, and he would even give small details, but he never actually talked about it. It took him off guard when Tessa asked for more information, he was tempted to change the subject, but he decided that if he ever expected her to open up to him, he would have to make an equal effort.

“Does she still live in town?” Tessa had asked, as they made themselves comfortable in her office, which served as more of a living room lately.

“No, she moved away last year.” Conner explained, “I’m not sure where she is now. I think she left because we both got tired of running into each other. If she hadn't left first I probably would have.”

Tessa was watching him as he spoke, trying to understand. She had only been in love once, but she was certain that if she had ever had the chance to marry David, and if something had happened between them, she would have never wanted to fully get away from him.

She had been thinking about David a lot lately. She found it strange that she wasn’t comparing Conner to David. In the months of her recovery after the first time she was abducted; she had found herself comparing every man she met to David. She tried not to think about it too much. Remembering David, depressed and frightened her, and she knew that if she put too much thought into it, she would probably end up pushing Conner away.

“What happened?” Tessa asked, “I mean, it sounds like you were happy.” She bit her lip, realizing his expression had suddenly darkened, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”

Conner forced himself to smile. This was not the time to shut down, he wanted her to trust him, and for that to happen, she had to know that he trusted her.

“It’s alright.” He insisted, “I was happy. I loved her since high school. I guess we never actually wanted the same things. I wanted a family, and she didn’t. She had never really been into kids, too much of a commitment for her I guess. I had eventually decided that she could be enough, I didn’t need the rest of it… and then I came home one day and she told me she was pregnant.”

“I thought you said that you didn’t have children.” Tessa replied softly.

Conner winced for a moment and then looked at her again.

“I don’t.” he frowned, “It wasn’t mine. She had been sleeping with one of my best friends. I wanted to think that maybe it could have been mine, but I had been working a lot, and the timing just didn’t add up. I won’t lie to you, it was hard Tessa, and I did some stupid things. When my friend tried to apologize to me I accepted his apology by sending him to the emergency room.”

Tessa looked surprised, but she just nodded, obviously this information didn’t frighten her the way Conner had thought it might, but that didn’t keep him from being concerned. The last thing he needed was for Tessa to think he was some kind of monster. He shook his head, shaking away the memory.

“He never pressed charges,” Conner explained, “and after that, my wife moved out. She never did have the baby; I’m not sure exactly what happened and she left town before I worked up the nerve to ask. I will admit, knowing that I’m not going to run into her makes it easier to go to work every morning, but I guess I still wonder sometimes. There’s always that question in the back of my head, what if we were wrong? What if the baby was mine?”

“I’m sorry.” Tessa said.

Conner looked in her direction again and smiled, trying to ease some of the tension suddenly filling the room as he noticed that Tessa seemed uncomfortable.

“I didn’t mean to drop that on you.” Conner shook his head, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright.” She insisted, “I guess I’m just surprised.”

“Look Tessa, I don’t get in fights.” Conner suddenly felt like he needed to defend himself, “My friend had just decided to apologize to me at a bad time. I’m not violent, I swear, that’s the first and last time that I ever hit anyone other than my brothers, but even then we were just playing around.”

“Not that.” Tessa replied, “I’m not surprised that you reacted the way you did; you were betrayed by your best friend. I was talking about your wife. I mean, I know people cheat, but with your best friend? No offense, but I don’t think I would have liked your wife very much.”

Conner stared at her for a moment and when she looked at him again she blushed.

“You’re right.” He smiled, “You wouldn’t have liked her. I guess I should be happy that I don’t have to worry about introducing you.”

Tessa leaned back into the sofa and he watched her for a few minutes in silence. She seemed to be thinking over something. She seemed distant, but Conner didn’t feel that it was in a bad way.

“What about you?” Conner asked.


“You must have been in love.” He said it without thinking first. He had been so careful not to bring up anything that might make Tessa uncomfortable and as he watched the mixed emotions of sadness and uncertainty cross her face he suddenly felt sick. He had breached a silent agreement that said Tessa’s past was off limits. “I’m sorry,” Conner quickly corrected himself, “I don’t expect you to answer that.”

Conner did all he could to keep from hitting himself upside the head. There was an uncomfortable silence broken as Tessa let out a long breath.

“Misty Smith told you about David?” Tessa spoke softly.

Conner met her eyes and nodded.

“Oh.” Was Tessa’s only response, “then she told you…”

Conner felt like he was slowly drowning now. He didn’t need Tessa to finish asking the question. He already knew exactly what she was asking, and he gave her another nod.

“I’m sorry Tessa, I assumed that you would figure out that I knew. If you don’t want to talk about it, we don’t have to.”

Tessa closed her eyes for a moment. She tried to calm her nerves. She suspected that Conner knew what had happened, but until now she had managed to convince herself that it was all right that he did. She wanted to ask him what he knew, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. The verbal revelation brought her back to the constant feeling of doubt that had been festering ever since their first date. She had planned to end her relationship with him, every day since the first night, she had known it was the right thing to do, but every time she had worked up the nerve to go through with it, Conner had said something or done something that made her want it to last longer.

Tessa knew that it was wrong, selfish, but she wasn’t ready to let Conner go. Every night he had come over, and every night she felt closer to him. Tessa didn’t get close to anyone. Conner did something to her though; he left her wanting more every time he walked out her front door. He had also shared personal aspects of his life with her, and she felt like she at least owed him something, more than that, she felt like she could trust him enough to open up more than she had. She slowly opened her eyes and turned her gaze on him.

“David was sweet.” Tessa said, deciding she would rather talk about him other than anything else that happened to her, “I have no complaints.”

Conner smiled. She was giving him an opening. This was his opportunity to talk to her about her past. Of course, a discussion over a deceased boyfriend who Tessa was probably still in love with was not Conner’s first choice when it came to conversation, but he took what he could get.

“How long were you together?” he asked, vaguely remembering the information that Misty had already given him.

“We grew up together.” Tessa replied, “We started dating in high school, but before that, he was my best friend. He was one of those people you could always count on. He went out of his way to make people happy. He even let Katrina beat him up once when she was going through her ‘I’m tougher than everyone’ phase.”

Conner continued to watch as Tessa seemed to drift off in thought. He didn’t think she looked sad, in fact she seemed peaceful. He smiled more to himself than her, because Tessa didn’t seem to be paying attention. He reached for her hand. She jumped a little when he touched her, but when she looked at him she allowed herself to smile.

“Sorry.” She sighed.

“Don’t be. I didn’t know him, but what I’ve heard, it sounds like he was a good guy… Tessa, I know that maybe I should have brought up what Misty told me sooner, but I wasn’t sure…”

“No.” Tessa shook her head, “It’s fine. I don’t like to talk about it, but I know other people do. It’s fine.”

“Still, I don’t really care about what other people have to say, I’d rather hear it from you.”

“Conner…” Tessa frowned, she did not like where this conversation was going and it was obvious. Conner was quick to bring her hand to his mouth, gently kissing her knuckles even as she tried to pull away from him.

“I don’t mean now.” he insisted, “I don’t expect you to talk about it. If you never want to talk about it that’s all right too. But Tessa, if you ever do, I want to listen.”

Tessa almost looked suspicious for a moment as she stared at him, but then she relaxed and gave him a nod. Conner was able to smile again and he pulled her hand against his chest, holding it as he leaned back again, guiding her back with him as he rested.

Tessa didn’t pull away from him and he felt the familiarity of her almost non-existent weight against his shoulder. He glanced down at her, her hair seemed to cover her from his view the way it was worn down today, and he couldn’t resist running his hand over her head, pushing it back so he could see her face, prompting her to look up at him. He leaned down to kiss her, eager for her soft lips to meet his, but it was a desire that was quickly disrupted when a doorbell rang through the house.

Conner quickly pulled back, mostly because he had learned his lesson when it came to Tessa and startling noises. His lip was still sore from the last time her tooth had nicked him. Another reason for the pause in his action was because a doorbell was an unfamiliar sound in this house.

Tessa, surprisingly, didn’t seem startled by it. It had only momentarily caused her to jump, but she wasn’t shaking over it. Too bad, Conner had been prepared to comfort her the way he did every time that something upset her.

“Do you need me to get that?” he offered.

Tessa shook her head, looking somewhat confused as they left the sofa and he followed her.

“I didn’t know you had a doorbell.” Conner said, if he had noticed, he had never used it.

“I don’t.” Tessa replied, “I mean, I do, but it’s on a remote control. Only my family uses it, sometimes they stop by unexpectedly, and I don’t open the door unless I hear the bell.”

Conner frowned as he followed her down the stairs. If her family was there he should probably leave, an undesirable scenario considering he had planned to spend his day with Tessa, having no work to do.

He watched as Tessa unlocked the deadbolts and waited, and in another moment he heard a key in the door. He wondered why Tessa didn’t unlock the last lock on her own but decided that she must have her reasons. The door opened and his mood more or less darkened upon seeing Katrina.

Katrina stepped in with a smile that abruptly faded upon seeing Conner. She looked surprised to see him, and no more disgruntled than he was. She closed and locked the door and then hugged her sister anyways.

“I didn’t know you had company.” Katrina said.

“What are you doing here Kat?” Tessa asked.

“I had a job interview at the bank down the block.” Katrina explained, “I was in the area so I thought I’d stop by.”

“I should get going.” Conner interrupted.

The sisters looked at him. Katrina looked satisfied that he was leaving but Tessa looked confused. He hoped that she didn’t think he was trying to get away from her. He decided to ignore Katrina’s presence for a moment as he smiled at Tessa.

“I can call later.” Conner insisted, “You can tell me if you still want to get together tonight then.”

Tessa and Conner seemed to stare at each other for a moment as Katrina looked between them and then rolled her eyes.

“Don’t leave on my account, boy scout.” Katrina remarked, “I’m not staying long.”

Conner looked at Tessa, waiting for her response. He got the feeling that she didn’t want him to leave, but if he was going to stay he needed her to do more than just stare at him.

“Your welcome to stay Conner.” Tessa finally said, “If you don’t have somewhere to be.”

Somehow her invitation felt awkward, and Conner thought it might be best to go now.

“It’s alright.” He said, “I’ll call you later?”

Tessa nodded. Conner wanted to kiss her goodbye, but suddenly felt uncomfortable about it. It only took him a whole two seconds to decide that he wasn’t going to leave the house without feeling Tessa’s lips, and as he moved past Katrina he gave her a look just daring her to stop him. Tessa was obviously not expecting it, but she didn’t seem to mind at all as he closed the distance between them. She tilted her head back to meet him as he brought his lips down. Conner only meant to give a small kiss, but it didn’t take long before he was craving more, tasting her lips with his tongue until she opened and gave him access to her mouth.

Katrina made a gagging sound that pulled them apart and both Conner and Tessa shot her a look of disapproval.

“I’ll call.” He promised Tessa.

Tessa rewarded him with a small smile and then he was gone. Conner was definitely disappointed, but he would call her later, and with any luck, be back to pick up where they had left off. He decided to take the rest of the day for chores he had been meaning to get around to, starting with taking his truck to the shop to have the air conditioning fixed.

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