Cilla and Adam Ch. 02byDawnJ©
It was Thursday afternoon, and Cilla had decided to leave work early. Patrick was picking her up to take her car shopping. Cilla had been seeing Adam for two months, during which time she had found a place of her own. As she walked down the front steps, pulling her knapsack behind her, she thought about the conversation she had had earlier with Maureen over lunch.
"Have you heard the latest about our esteemed superintendent?" she asked, biting into the ham and cheese sandwich Cilla had brought for their lunch today.
"Heard what?" Cilla asked cautiously. She hated gossip, especially since David.
"Seems he broke up with the woman he was engaged to," Maureen said, taking a sip of the water in her glass. "Rumor has it that's why he left his last job."
Despite herself, Cilla couldn't help asking, "Does anyone know if she worked for him?"
"I haven't heard that," the older woman said. "He doesn't strike me as the kind to go for an office romance," she added, chewing on the rest of the sandwich. "Too straitlaced for that."
Cilla watched as she threw the foil paper into the garbage and dusted the crumbs into her hand. Her own sandwich lay untouched in its wrappings, as she fought against the urge to run from the room. Just because Adam had been engaged before didn't mean anything. He wouldn't hurt her, would he? She realized as she sat there that she didn't know anything about him, and had only met him twice, the second time making out with him as though they had known each other for much longer.
"Anyway," Maureen continued, "these Brits are very snotty most of the time, and he probably won't give anyone here the time of day."
Cilla cringed inwardly, knowing how much time he had already given her and wishing she could take it back. She swallowed the water in her cup, and refilled it.
"Aren't you going to eat? You've got to build up your strength, you know, or that flu can come back!" Maureen's voice broke into her musings again.
"I'm not really hungry," she said, but when she saw the look on Maureen's face, she reluctantly took a bite of the sandwich.
"I hear you'll be leading the November cabinet," the older woman said. "I envy you. Get it over with early, and not have to worry about it again for the rest of the year. I've agreed to do the February one. Irma and Jack took December and January before I sent my e-mail."
The phone rang, and Cilla listened as Maureen took the call. Knowing she really didn't want to eat, she wrapped up the rest of the sandwich and put it back in the brown paper bag and drank the rest of the water. Suddenly, she made a decision, tossing the cup into the garbage. She would distance herself from this woman, and in fact from everyone else here. If anyone found out about her and Adam, she'd die of embarrassment. She stood up to leave, and Maureen waved absently to her, intent on her conversation.
Now, as she walked to Patrick's waiting car, she realized that she was reverting to the closed-off Cilla who had shut out everyone after David abandoned her. Patrick must have sensed her mood, because as he took her knapsack from her, he said,
"It can't be that bad, Cilla! Hop in, and take a load off!"
As he drove away, her big brother looked across at her and asked, "What's wrong, little sis?"
"Nothing," Cilla lied, but Patrick saw through it. She heard his disbelieving laugh, and sighed.
"Okay, nothing I can talk about right now." She cleared her throat. "Where are we going?" she asked, changing the subject.
"To my dealer," he answered, following her lead.
"I don't need a big car," she began, "but I do want it to be red, and long-lasting." Patrick gave her an odd look.
"What?" she asked, looking back at him.
"Sounds like the recipe for a good man," he said, chuckling. "Is that what the long face is about?"
Cilla didn't answer. Patrick sighed and said,
"Okay, I'll stop prying. How much do you want to spend on this little red number?"
They talked about the car all the way to the dealership, where Cilla looked at every red car in the showroom. There weren't that many, but she knew which one she wanted the minute she saw it. The four-wheel-drive vehicle was big enough to accommodate four adults, but small enough to feel like a single woman's car, not a family wagon. It had soft, curving lines, and a snub nose. It cost a small fortune.
"Paddy, I can't afford the car I love. Maybe I should just settle for dreading the subway," Cilla said in despair.
"Don't give up," he said. "Let's negotiate with Tom. He's a reasonable man. Come on."
She let Patrick take her into the office, and listened while he haggled with his friend over the price. After more than two hours in the showroom, Cilla left with copies of the title and registration for her certified pre-owned red Jeep Liberty in her pocketbook. She would return in a week, by which time it would have been fitted with the vanity plates she wanted: 'La Bajan'. Patrick laughed when he saw what she chose.
On Saturday, she decided on a whim that she would treat herself and go to the beauty salon and have everything done -- hair and nails -- and then she would go to the day spa she had wanted to visit since she had first arrived. She left the house early, and walked the mile to the main road, where she hailed a cab to take her to the shop, called 'Bim's Beauties'. After waiting for an hour, she fell asleep under the hairdresser's expert hands, and had to be wakened to dry and style her hair. Then she went into the nail salon and had her hands and feet pampered, and rich, warm red nail polish applied to finger and toe nails. It was two o'clock before she walked back into the house, just as the phone rang. She hurried to answer it.
"Halloo!" she almost sang into the receiver.
"Why are you so happy?" Adam Dalgleish asked her, his voice sending shivers all the way down to her toes.
Cilla swallowed. "I pampered myself today. I just walked in the door." She threw her bag down on the sofa, and continued coolly, "How can I help you?"
Adam did not miss the change in her tone. "I wondered if you'd care to have dinner with me this evening." He tried to keep his voice neutral, sensing that she was trying to keep aloof from him. "Please don't say no, Cilla," he said, forestalling her.
She swallowed again, and then said, "Okay. Where are we going?"
"Dress up," he said in answer to her unspoken question. "And dress warmly." He paused, then added, "Dinner's at eight. What time shall I pick you up?"
"Seven's good," she replied, knowing she'd need that much time to call Penny and ask for help to 'dress up' for this man.
"Seven it is," he agreed. "See you then." He waited for her to reply this time before he hung up.
When Penny came over, two hours later, Cilla was in a state. The only thing she had to wear that she thought would be dressy enough for this outing was a silky, form-fitting black dress, below knee length, off-the-shoulder neckline, with long sleeves that clung to her arms all the way to the bottom of her wrists. A silky white ribbon cinched at the waist and hung down at the side to mid thigh.
"What do you think, Pen?" she asked, holding the dress in front of her.
"It's beautiful, Cil, just right for a first date, especially since he did say to dress up. What a mercy you did your hair today!" she added, casting a critical eye over the said hair. "You should pin it up, and let a few tendrils hang loose, for romantic appeal." She looked critically over her sister, from head to toe, then said, "Do you have a red ribbon you can wear instead of the white, to match your fingers and toes?"
When Cilla shook her head, Penny said, "Take off the ribbon and let's have a look."
She declared herself pleased with the no-ribbon look, and then shooed her big sister away to shower. She insisted that she wear the fiery red underwear she had bought for her, and by the time Adam arrived, Penny had left and Cilla was shaking in her stiletto-heeled knee-high black suede boots. She opened the door to him, and watched his face for his reaction to her appearance.
Adam couldn't seem to find his breath when Cilla opened the door and he saw her. She was radiant, her hair swept up on top of her head, her face glowing in the light, her body sheathed in a black glove of a dress, and those wicked high-heeled boots on her feet.
"Come in for a minute," she said, stepping away from the door. "I need to get my purse."
She walked away from him and went into the sitting room, where she had left the purse. She did not hear Adam walk up behind her, and gasped when he held her waist from behind and buried his face in the side of her neck, inhaling deeply.
"What scent is that?' he asked, raising his head and turning her around.
"It's called 'Hypnôse'," she replied, trying valiantly to keep her breathing even.
"It's hypnotizing, all right. You smell delectable!" he said, and nuzzled her neck, letting his tongue touch her, sending desire shooting down her spine.
Cilla smiled shakily, and then asked, surprising herself, "And how do I look?"
"Edible!" he said immediately, and took her mouth in a wanting kiss, a needing kiss, an eating kiss that drove all thoughts out of her head. She snuggled closer to him, forgetting her hair, her makeup, everything but the all-consuming need she had to feel him with every part of herself.
"Cil, we have reservations at The Castille," he groaned, "and we shouldn't be late."
"Mmm!" was all she could say, and she pulled his head down for another kiss. He obliged, sinking into her mouth and feasting on her. Cilla felt his erection pressing against her, and she moaned and pushed herself against him harder. Adam pushed back, and soon they were writhing and stroking each other's shoulders and backs. Cilla wanted to climb up his body, and he wanted to crawl inside her skin. The tension rose to fever pitch, and neither seemed willing or able to stem the tide. When Cilla felt herself gathering steam for a climax, she pulled herself away from him in horror, and turned her back to him.
"Cil, I want you," he rasped hoarsely, reaching for her again, and turning her round to face him. "But I would never take what you haven't offered me."
He made her look into his eyes, and she saw truth there. He hugged her to his broad chest, and waited until their breathing slowed and their heart rate returned to normal. Then he let her go.
"You need to repair your make up, sweetheart," he said, smiling slowly, sexily. He pushed her gently away from him. "Go on, then."
By the time they left the house, Cilla was able to look at Adam without feeling giddy. His black dress pants hugged his long, hard legs, all the way down to the tops of his shining black shoes, and his broad shoulders stretched the matching suit jacket that draped them. He wore gold cuff links in the sleeves of his crisp white silk shirt, and his black hair was newly cut.
"Do I pass?" he asked as they drove away, his voice amused.
Cilla blushed, embarrassed that he had caught her staring at him. She nodded wordlessly, and he chuckled.
"I want to hear you say it," he demanded. "Tell me how I look."
She swallowed. "You look...edible, too," she finally admitted, as he squeezed her fingers with the hand he had curled around hers.
Dinner was an intimate affair, with Adam leaving her in no doubt that he wanted to be with her. Cilla laughed more than she had laughed in over a year, and by the time dessert came, she was more relaxed than she could ever remember being with a man, any man. So why the thought of him having been engaged should pop up at that moment still left her stunned. But it did, and she knew she wanted to hear from him what the truth was.
"So Adam," she began, "there's a rumor going around that you left your last job because you broke off an engagement. Is there any truth to that rumor?"
Adam put down his wine glass carefully, not letting her see the anger that rose in his throat like bile. He waited for a full minute before he answered, to clear his head, to calm his breathing, to stop himself from snarling at this woman that he wanted to be his.
"Which part of the rumor most concerns you?" he asked, his voice carefully neutral. "The reason I left my last job, or the story of my engagement?"
Cilla heard the restraint in his voice, and knew he was holding himself in check. She had a sinking feeling in her chest, and she wished that she had not started this thread of conversation.
"I...I guess I want to know if you were really engaged to be married," she said at length, and dropped her eyes to the contents of her ice-cream bowl, twirling it around the long spoon.
"I was not engaged to anyone in my last job, Cilla," he said slowly, his tones measured.
"So where did that rumor come from?' she wondered aloud, silently breathing a sigh of relief.
"I don't know. Maybe because the woman I WAS engaged to five years ago was hired by my district just before I left, so people thought..." He let the sentence go unfinished. "Would it have mattered to you if the rumor were true?" he asked when she remained silent.
He watched her face, pushing his dessert cup away from him. He needed to know how she felt about him then more than ever before. He knew she wanted his kisses, but he didn't know if she trusted him not to hurt her.
"Why should it matter to me, Adam?" she asked breathily. "I have no more claim on you than you have on me. We're just getting to know each other, and I couldn't make those kinds of demands on you."
Cilla heard her reply through stunned ears, and knew she would lose this man if she didn't say something, anything, to let him know she cared about him as more than a friendly acquaintance. She stole a glance at his face, and saw that he had become remote, aloof, wary. She did something she would not have done unless she had felt the desperate need she felt at that moment. She reached for his hand, and held it between hers, saying as she did,
"Adam, I'm scared that if I let anyone matter again, I'll be hurt again. I'm not very brave about pain."
Cilla felt Adam clasp her hands in his with a depth of joy she couldn't describe, and she listened to his voice as he promised,
"I won't hurt you, Cil! Please trust me to take care of your heart!" He raised her hands to his lips and kissed her knuckles tenderly. "Both Maria and I broke off our engagement five years ago by mutual consent. I liked her a lot, but she was on the rebound, and I was feeling sympathetic. We figured it out when the man she really loved, who had walked out on her, came back to town. We knew it would be wrong for us to marry, because she still loved him."
"What happened with them?" Cilla asked, looking into his eyes.
"They were reconciled, but then he was called back to active duty and he was killed overseas."
"She must have been devastated," Cilla said in a low voice.
"She called me to tell me," he said. "I had already moved to the job I was in before I came here." He raised her hands to his lips again, and said against them, "I never felt for Maria anything like what I feel for you, Cil!"
He squeezed her fingers and reached over, pulling on her hands, bringing her face close to his mouth.
"Adam, not here," she said shyly, lowering her eyes from the intent to kiss her that she saw in his. "We don't know who..."
"No one will see this one kiss," he said, and touched her mouth with his tongue, before taking her lips in a deep kiss. It was over before Cilla could blink, and she tried desperately to catch her breath and stop her hands from shaking. She raised startled eyes to his face when he said hoarsely,
"God, you're so beautiful it hurts to look at you!" He raised a hand and continued, as the waiter approached, "Let's get out of here."
Once they were outside, Adam asked, "How about a nightcap at my place?"
Cilla looked uncertainly at him, and he smiled knowingly, a slow sexy smile.
"I just promised not to hurt you, and I've told you I won't take anything you don't offer me. Come on," he coaxed. "We won't be disturbed by anyone, and I will take you home whenever you like."
Cilla gave in without any further demur, and noted with interest that he drove past Riverhead Mews where her parents lived to get to his home. He drove up a long driveway that curved about a half mile on, and parked in a marked spot in front of an imposing structure that looked remarkably like a castle. She had heard about this set of condominiums, how expensive and exclusive they were, but she had never been inside one before.
"This is called Le Grand Château, isn't it?" she asked, as they walked through the imposing front foyer. "If I didn't know before, now I know you're in the big leagues!"
She looked around her admiringly, missing the amusement at her comment that flitted across Adam's face. He led her to the elevator, and watched her face when the door opened directly into the foyer of his apartment.
"You live in the tower?" she gasped.
"I prefer to call it the penthouse tower," he remarked laughingly, taking her coat and hanging it in the hall closet. "What would you like to drink?" he asked, ushering her into the living room and urging her into a deep chair by the fireplace.
"Hot chocolate," she replied, shivering slightly. She watched him light the fire in the hearth, and snuggled into the warm chair, staring into the flames, forgetting where she was and enjoying the welcome heat. Her eyes drifted closed, and she smiled softly at the degree of comfort she felt.
"Cilla," Adam said, standing over her with a red potbellied mug in his hands. "One hot chocolate, as ordered."
Her eyes flew open and she took the mug from him, shivering when his fingers touched hers in the exchange.
"Don't you have a garage to park your car?' she asked suddenly after taking a sip of the steaming liquid.
"Yes, but I have to take you home," he answered, looking at her closely as he sat down. "Don't I?" he added, his gaze suddenly hot with desire.
Cilla sipped her drink, trying to hide the blush that rose in her cheeks. She nodded, because she couldn't find her voice, and after a minute, she stole a look at his face. He put down his glass of wine and came to stand over her again.
"Warm enough?" he asked huskily, reaching for the mug and placing it on the table next to her. He pulled her up and into his arms, and added suggestively, "I know how to make you really toasty."
Cilla's face went up in flames again, and she shivered against her will.
"Adam," she began, but he cut her off with a searing kiss.
"Dance with me," he said, walking backward with her.
"I don't know how," she replied in a low voice.
"I'll teach you," he whispered. "I'm a very good teacher." He turned as he spoke and pressed a button on the console in the wall. Soft music filled the room, and he turned to her again. "Just relax and let me lead you."
Cilla gave herself over to him completely, letting him move her where he wanted to and pull her into his clearly aroused body, stepping in time with his feet, and trying to avoid stepping on his toes. She heard his low moan and looked up to see his eyes blazing out at her.
"You're killing me, Cil!" he rasped, and bent his head to take what they both wanted him to have. "I love how you fill up my arms," he whispered, when he raised his head at last. "How could any man be stupid enough to let you go?"
"I guess I didn't do it for him," she said, unaware of how bitter she sounded.
She pulled away from him and went to stand at the sliding glass doors that opened out onto a wide roof patio. She could see lights reflecting off the river in the distance, and watched a large, silent ship glide up its glistening length like a ghost. She knew when Adam joined her, and shivered when his hands touched her shoulders.