tagRomanceLady Hideaway Ch. 06

Lady Hideaway Ch. 06


Conner kept David’s old picture book in his office. At least once a day he would stop to look at it. He loved seeing Tessa the way she looked in those pictures. But he felt guilty about having the book. What would Tessa think if she knew he had something of David’s, and the love letters she had written him? He felt like he was lying to her by not telling, but he never brought it up. He never brought any of it up. He wanted to wait until Tessa wanted to talk about her past before he decided to go asking her if she just so happened to have something that could lead to a psychopath hidden in her home.

Three days later and Conner already wished that Misty had never come to his office. He wished she had never shown him the book, and he wished that she had never mentioned anything else. Conner was beginning to feel guilty around Tessa. Maybe Tessa didn’t like to talk about her past, and maybe she was good at keeping secrets, but Conner wasn’t. He believed in being honest, and even if he didn’t believe in it, he would likely still be honest most of the time. Conner had never been a good liar. He wondered if not telling Tessa about his meeting with Misty was a lie. It certainly felt like one.

Conner seemed to be lost in thought as he looked at the five playing cards in his hand. He was snapped out of his thoughts when he heard Tessa laugh. He quickly looked up and smiled, remembering that they were in her office, this time on the floor playing a game. The only problem was, he had forgotten which game they were playing.

“Sorry.” He sighed, “Did you say something?”

That was a first; Conner was usually hanging on Tessa’s every word, no matter how insignificant. Even now he was annoyed to think he had missed something.

Tessa smiled and he watched her fold the cards in her hands and place them on the deck before reaching out for his cards to do the same. He felt warm when her fingers grazed his just briefly, but then he realized she was tired of playing cards, especially with someone who had no idea what game they were playing. She may have been smiling, but Conner quickly spotted the uncertainty in her expression. Crap. He had offended her.

“Are you alright?” Tessa asked.

Conner saw her question as an opening and quickly took advantage, if anything to reassure her. He reached for her hand and brought it to his mouth for a gentle kiss.

“I’m sorry.” He insisted, “I guess I’m just tired. I hope I’m not boring you.”

She gave his hand a squeeze before withdrawing. He watched as she went to put the cards away before she rejoined him on the floor. She still seemed concerned, but Conner noticed that she was trying to hide it. He decided to let her think she was doing a good job at it for the moment.

“I’m not bored.” Tessa shrugged, “But I can’t say the same thing about you.”

“Tessa, I’m not. I promise. I’m sorry, it’s just been a rough day at work.” Conner stated, he decided that he still wasn’t ready to bring up his visit with Misty, and it wasn’t a complete lie. He did have a few difficult tasks over the course of the day when it came to work.

He waited for a moment, and when Tessa seemed satisfied with his explanation he was able to relax.

“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked.

Conner smiled. That was just like Tessa. It didn’t matter how boring his life was, she was always interested in the details. It’s not like he hadn't had a bad day before, and every time he wanted to talk she was there to listen. Only this time, work wasn’t entirely what was bothering him. What was bothering was something that he wasn’t prepared to bring up.

“That’s alright, and I swear, you have my undivided attention now.” He leaned in and kissed her forehead, “I’m sorry I’ve been such a drag tonight.”

“You know Conner, it’s alright if you’re tired of me.”

Conner was on red alert now. What the hell was that supposed to mean? What was she getting at? Why would she think he was tired of her? He shook his head; deciding he should ask rather than sitting there with a dumbfounded look on his face.

“Why would you say that?” he frowned.

“I’m just saying,” she sighed, “I know I’m different Conner. It’s alright if you’re sick of me.”

Tessa had the doubtful feeling as she said it, the same doubt she felt the night before their first date. She wasn’t looking for compliments, or an argument for that matter. She had known that this couldn’t last from the beginning, and she believed it was better that way for both of them. When Conner had been distant tonight she simply decided that it was time let him go. She would rather have the few weeks they had spent together as a good memory other than the downhill slide their relationship would eventually take if he stuck around. She was expecting a simple goodbye, not the surprise of being pulled against his chest and having his arms wrapped tightly around her. On instinct she stiffened for a moment but eventually allowed herself to relax. He wasn’t attacking her; he was hugging her.

“I’ll never get tired of you,” he informed her. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be, Tessa.”

She pushed off his chest and drew back to look at him. He let her but grabbed her hands again, not wanting her to get away completely.

“I believe you.” she nodded, “But, I told you at the beginning, I don’t think this is a good idea. It’s not that I don’t like you, I do. And I care about you Conner, but you’ve been here every night for weeks. I can’t help thinking that you’re missing something to be here with me. I don’t want that for you.”

“I’d be missing something if I wasn’t here.” He gave her that sly grin of his and Tessa had to force back her own smile.

“I just don’t… want you to get hurt.” she sighed.

“Then don’t push me away.”

Tessa seemed to think long and hard for a few minutes. She knew pushing him away was the exact right thing to do, but if it was so right, then why did it feel so wrong? When Conner was around she wanted to shove all of her fears and insecurities into the back of the closet. She wanted a normal life, and it was becoming harder and harder for her to convince herself that such normalcy was impossible.

She sat staring at the way he securely held her hands and she had the sudden urge to break down and tell him everything; why she was so afraid, why she could never truly be with him. She couldn’t do it though, she couldn’t tell him the truth because he would hate her if he knew her secrets. But she couldn’t send him away either.

Tessa held back the tears forcing to erupt from her eyes and she forced a smile before she gently withdrew her hands from his and moved around him. Conner glanced back curiously as she knelt down behind him.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

Tessa thought a change of subject was in order so she smiled at him as she brought her hands to his shoulders and gently kissed his cheek.

“You had a hard day.” She said, “I thought I’d help you relax, and you can tell me about it.”

Conner was nowhere near ready to change the subject. He was far from finished when it came to letting her know that he wouldn’t let her push him away so easily. But now she wasn’t pushing him away anyways, was she? Somehow the tension of the previous moments was melted away and Conner was lost the moment she started to massage his shoulders. For such small hands, Tessa’s sure had talent. She moved up to his neck and a few moments later his head felt like it was floating as she removed a kink he had been trying to get rid of all week.

“God,” he sighed, “Where did you learn how to do that?”

Tessa giggled somewhere from behind him and he smiled, wanting to look back at her but she didn’t seem to want to let him.

“It’s a gift.” She replied, “So, you were going to tell me about your day…”

Conner told her a few things that had happened over the course of the day, but never actually quite finished every topic. His brain seemed to be melting along with his body, and it was difficult to concentrate on conversation the way her hands were all over his back. She had definitely helped him relax. He felt she was exploring him. There was not an inch of his back that she hadn't managed to touch, and at the moment he was glad his back was to her because otherwise she might notice the erect muscle in his pants that wanted a massage of its own.

Conner almost wanted to tell her to stop but didn’t have the heart. Somehow he felt like she was enjoying the contact as much as he was. He had just finished telling her about one of his more difficult customers; an older woman who was mostly deaf and shouted out things as if it were the other way around, when Tessa had reached his lower back. By now Conner was lucky if he could speak at all.

He nearly had to grind himself into the floor to stay seated when Tessa surprised him again. Her hands slipped up the back of his shirt and made contact with his skin. Her hands were warm from massaging him, and now it felt so good, but it was also shocking. As small as the gesture might seem, Conner had not expected it. He stopped with his story in mid sentence and turned his head to look back at Tessa.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

Tessa blushed.

“You don’t like it?” she asked, continuing her massage without pausing.

“I like it very much.”

Tessa blushed again and turned her eyes shyly, but looked back when he spoke again.

“So no pushing me away?” he smiled, he couldn’t help bringing back their earlier conversation, or teasing her about her sudden need to be friendly.

She looked like she was going to say something, but he couldn’t tell if it would be good or bad. Conner decided good, because the next moment she leaned forward and brought her lips to his, in an expressive yet gentle kiss.

Conner’s body was already in a relaxed state, all except for one body part that he was trying desperately to ignore. He felt like she was pulling him into that kiss and he turned to face her, giving her all of his attention. When her hands remained at his sides, tucked under his shirt, he deepened the kiss and suddenly reached out for her, pulling her closer.

Tessa’s hands moved around to his chest, exploring the skin beneath his t-shirt and grazing his nipple, the action caused Conner to release a muffled groan into her mouth and she felt his hips arch as she straddled him. She wasn’t thinking about fear as she brought her fingers to both of his nipples. All that seemed to make sense to her was that he liked it and she wanted to do it again.

She traced the contours of his chest, every muscle and every rib and rolled his nipples against her thumbs again. He wrapped his arms around her and she felt a warm feeling growing low in her belly. It was a shock to her system as she let the feeling take over, and it was the first time in a long time that she would admit to herself that she wanted a man to actually touch her, she wanted Conner to touch her.

Conner ran his fingers down her back and then up into her hair, he felt Tessa’s warm body press into his jeans beneath her skirt. Once again the idea of slowing down seeped into his brain, but then he realized that her kiss had become just as passionate as his, and then it turned into a hot lust as they ran their hands over each other. Conner didn’t prepare himself for Tessa to pull away when he reached her breasts, and this time she didn’t. She leaned into his hands and her kiss landed on his chin as he tilted his head back to take a breath.

“Tessa.” He muttered.

He wanted to ask where this was going, he wanted to ask if they should slow down but before he could her mouth was over his and his tongue was melting against hers. He ran his hands over her breasts and then around to her back again. She withdrew her own hands from his shirt and wrapped her arms around his neck as he pulled her even closer against him until there was practically no space between them.

Conner moved his hands over her back in what seemed like soothing motions; his fingers reached her skin where her shirt met her blouse. Just the tips of his fingers slipped up the back of her shirt. That was as far as they got.

Tessa stiffened as if he had just hit her. He could feel the tension everywhere in her body and Conner froze. It didn’t even feel like she was breathing. She started to struggle off of him and Conner loosened his grip to let her, but when he heard the sudden sob escape her his actions changed quickly. He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to him again, hugging her and gently rubbing her neck. Before he could ask what was wrong the tears came and he held her trembling form to his chest, letting her cry it out.

“Shh,” Conner whispered, “It’s alright.”

His attempts to comfort her only had her crying harder. Conner was confused, but not as confused as Tessa. She was furious with herself. She had wanted everything he was doing to her, and hell, she had started it. But the moment his hands had touched her back she had been pulled back to reality. What the hell was she doing? She hated herself. She didn’t want to face him so her small fingers clutched his shoulders and she cried. She had had breakdowns before but it had been so long since she had cried like this.

Tessa let Conner hold her, it felt nice to let him hold her, but it was also frightening. She couldn’t stop crying, she wanted to, but she couldn’t. The tears kept coming until they were pouring out because of pure frustration over being unable to stop crying. As she cried harder Conner tried to sooth her even more. He was gentle and calm and simply waiting. She felt his breath against her ear as his hand ran caringly through her hair.

“I’m sorry Tessa.” He murmured, “I want to take it slow, I’m sorry I got carried away. Shh… it’s alright, I’m sorry.”

The fact that he was blaming this on himself made Tessa cry even harder. She felt terrible, and she began to choke out words through her tears.

“It’s not your fault.” She said, he had to listen carefully to understand her. “I’m sorry Conner, I didn’t mean… I wanted to but… I’m so sorry.”

“Shh, there’s nothing to be sorry about. It’s alright.”

Conner wasn’t sure why, but what he said seemed to upset her more. He held her tightly against his chest as her body shook from crying, and he listened as the words suddenly poured out of her.

“There’s everything to be sorry for! I can’t do this Conner. You deserve so much more, I’m so sorry…you shouldn’t be with me Conner. I’m nothing. I can’t give you anything.”

“Hey.” Conner heard his own voice raise as he suddenly cut her off, “Tessa, that’s not true. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I told you, we can take this as slow as you want, I’m not going anywhere.”

“But I can’t…” she was cut off by another sob.

Conner drew back and cradled her head as he rested his forehead against hers. Her eyes were closed and swollen and her face was red and streaked with tears. He took in a deep breath and gently kissed a rolling tear from her cheek.

“You can’t what?” he asked gently.

Without opening her eyes her hand found his face and he leaned into it.

“It’s not fair,” she said in a shaky whisper, “You’re so beautiful, and I’m…I’m not. You shouldn’t be with me, you deserve someone better.”

Conner pulled back from her so fast that it was probably a mistake, but he couldn’t help it. He wanted to reach out to her as she turned away from him but he was too busy thinking about what she had said.

Is that what this is about? He wondered. She’s not beautiful? Honestly, the comment made about as much sense as it would if she had told him hell had frozen over and the devil had decided to hand out free Popsicle sticks. He knew she was shy, and maybe insecure, but he never would have thought in a million years that she actually believed she wasn’t good enough for him.

Conner shook his head and reached for Tessa again, guiding her face until her eyes were directed at him. When she finally opened her eyes her lashes were thick with tears, but at least she was looking at him. He wanted her to see that he was sincere before he leaned forward and gently brushed his lips over hers.

“But you are beautiful.” He smiled.

“No Conner.” Tessa shook her head, “You don’t understand…”

He touched a finger to her lips to stop her.

“You’re perfect.” He insisted, “I don’t want to be anywhere else, and I don’t want anyone else. Please don’t push me away Tessa.”

He couldn’t help noticing the suspicion in her eyes. He wondered why she didn’t believe him. It was heartbreaking to see her like this. She seemed so lost, and worst, she seemed to believe that she really wasn’t worth his time or anyone else's. He wanted to tell her how wrong she was, how beautiful she was to him, but before he could find the words he saw Tessa reaching for her blouse with shaky hands. She had lowered her eyes and she was in the process of unbuttoning the first button on her blouse. Conner quickly reached for her hands and stopped her.

“No Tessa. You don’t have to…”

“Please.” It was one simple word, and she sounded so desperate that he didn’t know how to stop her. “Please, I need to show you.”

Conner reluctantly released her hands. He didn’t know what she was doing, but if she needed to do this he wasn’t going to stop her. He was afraid stopping her would make things worse. He kept his eyes locked on her face, feeling incredibly troubled as she slowly released the buttons leading down her shirt, slowly revealing the curve of her breasts and smooth skin.

When her shirt was unbuttoned she opened it, revealing the thin material of her white bra. Her darker nipples were slightly visible beneath, but when Conner willed himself to look there was only one thing that stood out to him. It was the thin scar that led between her breasts and into her bra. He immediately remembered that she had been stabbed. There were less noticeable scars on the visible parts of her breasts and over her flat belly. He recognized these scars as burns, they were all different in size and so he guessed both cigarettes and cigars had done this to her. Some sick psycho had used Tessa as an ashtray. He tried to hide his disgusted reaction, because it had nothing to do with the way she looked. He didn’t want her to misunderstand.

His eyes snapped up to hers and he knew that she was watching him. She looked frightened. Conner only looked serious. He lifted his hands slowly, he saw her shaking but he kept going, and when his fingers carefully landed on the scar between her breasts he felt her shivering. More silent tears came from her eyes as he leaned into her again, this time bringing his lips alongside the scar on her chest, gently kissing her. He kissed up her neck and felt her body responding to him in gentle trembling waves. He ran his hand over her bra and made contact with her stomach, sending chills through Tessa as she let him touch her.

Tessa closed her eyes and took in the feeling of the way he touched her. He seemed so caring, and his hands were as kind as his lips as they found her mouth again. She wanted to feel this; she needed to.

“You are beautiful Tessa.” He whispered between kisses.

Tessa blinked more tears from her eyes and let them fall down her face, right before she pulled away from him. Conner frowned as she got up and left in silence. He wanted to call after her but he wasn’t sure it would do any good. He sat there on the floor for a few minutes before he forced himself to get up. He left the office and made his way down the hall, stopping when he noticed that the door to her room was open. It had always been closed before now. He stopped in the hallway and looked in.

Tessa was standing in the room with her back to him. He had reached the room just in time to watch her ease her shirt from her shoulders. He didn’t feel like he was spying on her; she had obviously wanted him to see. She had left her door open and her hair was pulled around her shoulder so that her back was visible to him. So this is why she doesn’t think she’s beautiful, Conner thought as he looked. He held back the sigh that was threatening to escape him, along with a hundred emotions as he took in what he was seeing.

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