Lady Hideaway Ch. 04byBlulady©
Conner was in no way angry, the small and immediate pain had surprised him, that’s all, but the way Tessa moved away from him with a horrified look on her face told him that she believed otherwise as she watched him touch a drop of blood on his lip.
“I’m sorry.” She stammered.
Shit. Conner tried not to frown as she began backing away from him. He wasn’t about to let her get away now, but he let her put her own comfortable distance between them… for the moment. He lifted a napkin from the table and held it to his lip. It didn’t take much to stop the bleeding. He was also quick to smile at her. The thought of being the one scaring her, hurt more now more than ever.
“Don’t worry about it.” He insisted.
Tessa stared at him for a moment, he could see the fear and uncertainty returning to her, the noise outside had frightened her, and she was probably upset over the fact that she had bit him, and then, she was turning and walking away. Conner frowned.
“Tessa, wait.” He insisted, following her into the living room, he imagined that she was about to retreat upstairs, and he wanted to get to her before that happened.
Conner cautiously grabbed her hand from behind, he cringed at the fact that she flinched, but as he turned her towards him, she seemed to relax again.
“Conner, look,” she sighed, “I can’t do this. I’m not exactly like other girls, and…”
“I don’t want you to be like other girls.” He stated, “Tessa, I like you, and if you bite me a hundred times it isn’t going to change anything. It’s really not a big deal.”
She met his eyes again, but he couldn’t read her. She seemed troubled, but she also looked like she wanted to smile.
“Conner, there are things you don’t know about me.” She said softly, “I don’t want to…”
“I know everything I need to know.” Conner interrupted again, he wasn’t about to let her end their relationship on the first date. He guided her to sit on the sofa with him, this time leaving less of a gap between them as he squeezed her hand and turned to face her. “Look, Tessa, I’m going to level with you, ever since I met you, you’re practically all I think about. I don’t care if you’re different, and I want you to be comfortable with me. I didn’t come here for just one date, I want to see you again and often, and I don’t want to see anyone else. Normally I wouldn’t be so forward. I just want you to understand my intentions. I don’t expect anything from you; I just want to see you. If you want me to go because you don’t feel the same way, I can live with that, but if you’re just afraid, then I’m not going anywhere.”
Conner let out a breath, he had never said so much so fast, but he meant it all. He felt sort of pathetic really, he had nearly said ‘I’m not going anywhere--and you can’t make me.’
Even when he had seriously dated in the past he had never told a woman just how much he wanted to stick around, that way, if he was rejected he could pass it off as no big deal. But Tessa was different, and he wanted her to know exactly where he stood.
“I like you Conner.” Her voice was so soft that he felt his ears straining to hear her and his eyes attentively trying to read her lips, “But this is a bad idea. There are things you wouldn’t understand.”
“Give me a chance to understand.” Conner insisted, “You don’t have to tell me anything unless you want to… but I feel like there is something between us and you do too, and if it’s a bad idea, then it’s a bad idea that feels right.”
Tessa looked like she was going to speak but he brought his mouth to hers and kissed her before she could. He pulled back again.
“If you don’t feel the same, tell me now.” he said, “I’ll go, and there will be no hard feelings.”
Tessa once again looked like she was going to argue, and not give him the simple ‘yes or no’ answer he desired, so he kissed her again, this time a little longer and deeper than before.
“Don’t push me away if it’s just fear, Tessa.” Conner sighed, “I’m afraid too, I’ve never felt this way before.”
He kissed her again and seemed to get his answer as she touched his face and kissed him back. He leaned closer, gripping her waist, as she turned into him. He didn’t want to let go of her lips now, just in case she decided to change her mind. When Tessa pulled back and looked at him he leaned his forehead against hers. He no longer wanted her to answer his question; he didn’t want to deal with an answer that he wouldn’t like.
“It’s getting late.” He said, “I think I should go home before I get myself into trouble. I want to see you again, tomorrow night maybe? Are you listed? I can call first. You can let me know how you feel then.”
Tessa was staring again, and again he couldn’t read her, but as she moved forward a few inches to meet his lips he closed his eyes and concentrated on feeling her gentle kiss that told him exactly how she felt. When she suddenly broke away and left the sofa, Conner bit his sore lip to keep from whining out in protest.
He stood up and watched as she went to the kitchen, wondering if he should follow, but a moment later she had returned and held out a pink post-it for him. He took it and smiled down at the phone number written in her hand righting before he tucked it into his pocket.
“It’s not listed.” She said quietly, “I mean I am, in the business section, but…”
He cut off her off with another kiss, pulling her against his chest once more before he pried himself away and smiled down at her.
“I’ll call.” He promised.
Tessa nodded and he stole one more kiss from her forehead, imprinting the sweet smell of whatever soap she used into his memory before he headed for the door. He didn’t say anything else as he opened the door and stepped out while she watched from her comfortable distance, he just smiled at her, and before he closed the door, he thought that maybe she smiled back. ………
Conner listened to every sound as he pressed the phone against his ear. He listened to four rings, long, agonizing rings, and then he heard it, Tessa’s voice, not passive and frightened, but confident, annoyed, and rushed.
Conner smiled, even with this new tone he was hearing from her, it was good to know that she could be just as grumpy as he could get.
“Rough day at the office?” he remarked.
There was a pause; he tried to imagine what her face was looking like as she realized it was him.
“Conner?” Her voice had suddenly softened, and he detected the nervousness there, but it didn’t seem to bother him as he glanced at the clock in his office. It was only noon and he was covered in sweat from working all morning, but when he came to the office to refill some of his supplies, he couldn’t resist sitting down to call her. He had had his cell phone all day, but he had forgotten to charge it the night before, and he was terrified that if he called her on it instead of a landline his phone might go dead and he might lose the call...more importantly, Tessa.
“Yea, I hope I’m not bothering you.” he said.
“No, you’re not,” Tessa insisted, “I’m sorry, it’s just that I was dealing with this client, and anyways…”
She stopped talking, and he sat for a moment waiting to see if she was going to say anymore, but when she didn’t, he did.
“I want to see you tonight.” He blabbed, “I was wondering if you’ve thought about what I said.”
“Wait, don’t answer that.” he rethought it, “You can think about it and I’ll call back later, I guess I called now because I just wanted to talk to you.”
“You’re probably busy, I’ll call back later and we can talk about tonight. When should I call…”
Her voice raised enough to silence him, he was nervous for a moment, and then he heard the rare but sweet laughter coming through the phone.
“Seven o'clock.” Tessa said, her voice returning to soft and normal, “I’ll cook.”
Conner bit his lip to keep from beaming, as if she could see the excitement on his face through the phone. He calmed himself enough to respond.
“Alright.” He replied, “I’ll bring a movie?” it was a question; he didn’t want to push her into having him stay longer than she was comfortable with.
“Okay.” She replied after a moment.
“I’ll see you then.”
“I hate chick-flicks.” She said.
He heard the click of the phone hanging up on her end. He hung up and stopped trying to hide his smile as he spun once in his office chair, laughing to himself. He realized that he was past happy and just plain ‘giddy.’ This was not a normal reaction for Conner. Never in his life had he felt both relieved and excited over a date. He had been in love with his ex wife, he was certain of it, but the thought of another date with Tessa filled him with more excitement than his entire marriage ever had. He suddenly felt foolish, carrying on to himself, and he looked around his small office, as if he had been expecting someone to be watching.
Maybe Conner should have paid attention to that feeling of being watched, because he froze in his chair when he noticed the man leaning against his office door, softly chuckling to himself. Conner scowled and the man immediately stopped laughing, but his smile didn’t fade, and a moment later Conner was smiling too, attempting not to look so obvious.
The man happened to be one of those who worked for Conner. He had obviously been out all morning, because like Conner, he reeked of chemicals, his t-shirt was stained with sweat and his cut-off shorts were dirty too.
Mike was the youngest member of Conner’s team, although he looked older with his scraggly beard. Mike was also the employee who had worked for Conner the longest, he had started out working around the office as an after school job and right after he graduated, he had started going out to clean pools. He also had the honor of sometimes taking Conner’s task in helping the old widows when it came to changing out their light bulbs.
“So who is she?” Mike inquired.
“Shut up Mike.”
“Oh come on,” he laughed, “That’s two nights in a row. Do I know her?”
“No, you don’t know her.” Conner replied, “Don’t you have work to do?”
“Twelve more for the day.” Mike smiled.
“Jesus Mike, twelve? What have you been doing all morning?”
“How many do you have left, Romeo?” Mike retorted.
Not one of Conner’s employees treated him like the boss, and that’s exactly how he wanted it, except for the few times he was forced to be an asshole if someone wasn’t getting their work done. Not that Mike was in that situation now, Mike always finished last.
“Four.” Conner replied.
“Wanna team up for the rest of the day?” Mike laughed.
“My four and your twelve? No thanks.” Conner rolled his eyes.
“So seriously, tell me about this girl, it’s not Misty Smith, is it? Didn’t you have a date with her last week?”
“It’s not Misty.” Conner stated.
Mike looked thoughtful, obviously trying to figure it out, and then his eyes suddenly widened and he went to the desk to lean over it.
“It’s not that customer that had you going crazy last week is it?” Mike asked, “The one that was in the hospital. Shit Conner, don’t tell me that you’ve fallen for someone’s grandma.”
“She’s not old Mike.” Conner frowned, he was beginning to feel defensive, even if Mike was joking, “She’s just… special.” Conner seemed to smile to himself upon saying this out loud. “And I don’t want to screw it up by introducing her to you.” he added.
Mike studied him for a moment and then he laughed again.
“Wow, two dates in the same week, I guess she must be really great.”
“She is.” Conner grinned.
“So when do the rest of us get to meet her?” Mike asked, “After all, it’s not everyday that the boss-man gets all hot and bothered over one woman.”
Conner smiled, despite his last remark, he would have loved to introduce Tessa to his friends, and he was about to tell Mike that he would ask her, when the realization came over him and he suddenly stopped. Conner’s smile faded, and as if to avoid the question he turned to his desk, faking that he had work to do there.
“You can’t meet her.” Conner said dryly.
“Oh come on, I swear I won’t scare her off.” Mike laughed, but his laughter faded when Conner looked at him seriously.
“It’s not that.” Conner shook his head, “She’s just not exactly like other women.”
Conner knew that Mike could have made some sort of joke or chauvinistic remark, or he could have even made a humorous suggestion that Tessa was some sort of monstrosity, but he seemed to pick up on Conner’s sudden seriousness and he didn’t. Conner was grateful, because if Mike had insulted Tessa somehow, joking or not, Conner probably wouldn’t have taken it very well. Instead Mike pulled up a chair and sat across the desk, looking curious but serious.
“What’s going on with you?” Mike asked, “Is this girl sick or something? Is that why she was in the hospital?”
“Nothing like that.” Conner shook his head, “She’s just different, Tessa doesn’t leave her house. She has some kind of condition. Something bad happened to her and…”
Conner normally wouldn’t have spoken of Tessa’s ‘condition’ or given her name for that matter, but he trusted Mike, they were friends, and hell, he wanted to share this with someone. He was going to explain to Mike what Misty had told him but Mike was already speaking.
“Tessa?” Mike repeated, seemingly racking his brain for something, “She doesn’t have a sister named Katrina does she?”
“Christ, did everyone in this town know about Tessa before I did?” He frowned. Conner remembered what Misty had said about Tessa’s story being all over the news.
“What are you talking about?” Mike asked.
Conner realized that he had given Mike’s knowledge over the situation too much credit and quickly shook his head.
“Never mind, how do you know Katrina?”
“So it is Katrina’s sister. I dated Katrina for a while last year, remember? She was the one who handcuffed me to my bed and left me there, I had to call you at three a.m. to bring the bolt cutters.” Mike smiled at the memory but Conner rolled his eyes and groaned.
“I take it she rubbed you the wrong way?” Mike laughed, “That’s definitely Katrina. I couldn’t stand her, but goddamn she made things interesting when we were dating. The only time I remember her ever being nice was when she was on the phone with her sister, she mentioned that Tessa had some sort of condition and couldn’t leave her house, so when you mentioned the same situation and name, well… hey, I sure hope Tessa is a lot kinder than Katrina, for your sake.”
Mike laughed again and Conner shook his head.
“Tessa is nothing like Katrina.” Conner smiled, “I can’t believe Katrina was the one that did that to you… didn’t you see her again after that?”
“Yep, and it was well worth it.” Mike grinned, “Hey, if you see her again, tell her to give me a call.”
Conner shook his head and stood up.
“Come on.” Conner called, “If I’m going to help you with twelve pools and still be on time for my date we’d better get started.”
“Excellent.” Mike beamed, although he had never had a doubt that Conner would decide to team up with him for the day, “So Conner, since things seem to be working for you with Tessa, do you mind if I give Misty Smith a call?”
“Go ahead, but I don’t think Misty associates with little boys.” Conner teased, roughly messing Mike’s hair as they left.
Conner really wasn’t planning to help Mike today, he had really wanted to finish early so he would have enough time to clean up before going to Tessa’s, but now Mike’s connection with Katrina had Conner wondering, what else his friend knew about Tessa. Even if Conner already had heard most of Tessa’s story, he wanted every single detail he could get. …………..
Conner was trying not to run to Tessa’s door after he had pulled up in front of her house. He was fifteen minutes late and when he had tried to call her she never answered the phone. He already regretted teaming up with Mike this afternoon, for one thing, Mike had fourteen pools left, not twelve, and for another, he had no more information about Tessa. After work Conner had rushed home to get cleaned up, but he felt it hadn't been fast enough. Now Conner was late and disgruntled over it as he knocked on the door.
He heard Tessa’s muffled, ‘come in’ and he turned the key and entered, at first confused because she wasn’t in view of the door. He looked around briefly and found her standing at the base of the stairs. Once again the sole sight of her brought a smile to his face. She was wearing another dress, modest yet comfortable, she was barefoot, and her hair was braided back, it looked a little damp, like she had recently taken a shower, which would explain why she hadn't answered the phone when he called.
“Sorry I’m late,” was the first thing out of his mouth.
Tessa nodded, he was surprised she didn’t ask for an explanation, any other woman he knew would.
“That’s alright.” She nodded, “I thought you said you were going to bring a movie.”
Conner smiled and lifted the movie tucked into the back of his pants. He had no idea what movie to bring, he really wasn’t entirely sure what a ‘chick flick’ was, and he was certain that ‘Die Hard’ didn’t qualify, but now he was concerned that he should have made another choice, he wasn’t sure if his selection would be too violent for Tessa.
“Is this alright?” he asked, moving into the living room to get closer.
A smile hinted the corners of her soft lips and she nodded.
“Good.” He sighed. “Should we eat first?”
Conner could smell the food, and he was starving for it, fish or not.
“During.” She replied.
Conner raised an eyebrow, assuming she wanted to eat in the living room but when she gave him a suggestive nod and headed up the stairs he stood there for a moment, stupidly wondering what he should do. He had never expected to be invited upstairs after he had finished his job, but that was clearly where he was going, so before she got too far ahead of him he cautiously followed until they were in her office, where she already had dinner set up on a narrow coffee table. Conner smiled at her as she pointed him towards the entertainment center, and he put in the movie before he joined her on the sofa.
“I really am sorry for being late.” He said, “You look beautiful.”
He smiled as she blushed and averted her eyes from him. Sooner or later, he thought, she would have to get used to him complimenting her.
“It’s alright,” she replied, as if ignoring his compliment completely, “I’m… I’m glad you’re here.”
Conner wanted to respond as she sank back into the sofa and lifted her plate into her lap, but he decided against it for now. He smiled to himself as they started to eat and the movie began, but the movie was the last thing on his mind as he continually stole glances at Tessa. When they had finished eating his looking grew more frequent as he tried not to outright stare at her. Inwardly he cursed himself for suggesting a movie in the first place. He wanted to talk to her. He didn’t really care what they could have been talking about, but he wanted her voice and not the sound of gunfire, explosions and ‘yippy-kye-aye-mother-fuckers’ coming from the television. He also wanted to move closer to her, but had no idea how to do that. He wasn’t paying attention to the movie, so the silence between them felt awkward, up until the point when he glanced at Tessa and caught her looking at him. He smiled to himself; maybe she wasn’t paying attention to the movie either.
Conner became brave then, spotting her hand was to her side rather than in her lap, and he reached out of gently took hold off it. Tessa jumped at first, but she relaxed as she looked at him, and a soft smile filled her lips.
“Conner.” She said.
He had no idea why, but her voice prompted him to grab the remote and mute the television. He wanted her to know that she had his undivided attention, even if she was going to simply ask him to pass the pitcher of water on the coffee table.