Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Cocky and the Cougar, Chapter Eighteen - The Roses and the Power Panties

Chapter 18 ~ The Roses and the Power Panties
Sunday morning was beautiful—bright and sunny and the forecast called for weather nearing eighty degrees. Only in Southern California would you get weather so perfect in October.
I threw on some sweats and made my way to the front porch, intent on digging my paper out of the bushes, as per usual. Instead, when I opened the door I found my paper sitting neatly on the top step. On top of it sat a single, red rose.
I looked up and down the street for the silver Volvo I was sure I'd find parked there, but saw nothing of the kind. I picked up the paper and the rose and brought both of them inside.
I slouched into a chair at my dining table and smelled the rose. I'd felt rotten about my run-in with Edward the previous day, since the moment it happened. I was angry at his accusatory tone, of course, and the reemergence of the caveman within him, but I was also upset that by flying off the handle as I had, I'd missed out on the opportunity to speak to him for the first time all week. I also knew he'd been at the doctor with La Perla Bimbo and since all we'd done was yell at each other, I had no idea what the result of that appointment had been.
Plus, I had to admit that he'd looked damn good in his blue jeans and Ramones T-shirt, his eyes covered with Ray Bans.
I sighed and walked to the kitchen, grabbing a bud vase from the cabinet and filling it with water for the rose.
I found Truman waiting for me outside the restaurant as I handed my keys to the valet. He rose from a bench as I approached him. He was smiling, his sunglasses in his hand. He wore khaki pants and a soft blue shirt, topped with a darker blue blazer. I could see the blue of his eyes from several feet away.
I'd only ever seen him at Rose's picnics, in very causal attire. Not that he didn't look good while sweaty and running bases, but the man sure cleaned up nicely.
From the look on his face, it would appear he thought the same of me.
"Bella," he said, taking my hand and leaning in for a hug. "It's so good to see you."
I smiled and took the hand he offered me as we moved toward the door to the restaurant. "I'm not late am I?"
"Not at all. I was early." He smiled. "It's a habit of mine. Used to drive my wife crazy, especially because she was always late."
I chuckled and he stopped walking. I stopped in kind and looked up at him. 
"Something wrong?" I asked.
"I'm sorry," he said, looking down at his feet, awkwardly. "I swore I wouldn't mention her once today and that's the first thing out of my mouth."
I smiled, reassuringly, and my hand moved up his forearm a bit. "Truman, it's fine. We're here as friends, right?"
He looked down at me and nodded.
"So, say what you want to say when you want to say it. No pressure, remember?"
He smiled and took a deep breath as we resumed walking.
"If it will make you feel better," I continued, "I'll talk for half an hour about my ex-husband's erectile dysfunction."
He was holding the door open for me and he paused, looking down at me with a shocked expression on his face. I hesitated and almost apologized for my outburst. I really should learn to get to know someone before subjecting them to my off-color sense of quasi-humor. His face then exploded into the brightest smile and he started to laugh. Loudly. I chuckled as I moved past him, toward the hostess' stand.
We were seated at a table with a lovely ocean view and I looked out at it for several moments as the waitress poured our first glass of champagne. When I turned back to Truman, I caught him essentially staring at me. He was smiling widely.
"Bella, you are truly a beautiful woman."
"Thank you Truman.” I smiled shyly and picked up my glass of champagne. “I must say, you clean up rather nicely yourself."
We chatted and made small talk about our jobs and his kids—he had two daughters, ages six and three and he only saw them every other weekend, due to the divorce, which he said was slowly killing him. Finding out about his children didn't bother me in the least; something which, if I hadn't known already, was a key indication I was only interested in friendship with Truman. Trying to determine my place in the lives of some other woman's children was not my forte’ and usually sent me running in terror.
"Truman, what is your last name?" I asked as we were being poured our third glass of champagne and eating our meals. I smiled up at the waitress as she finished the pour. 
"Kennedy? Nice Irish name." And then it hit me and I stopped with my champagne glass in midair. "Wait—your name is Truman Kennedy?"
He grimaced a little as he swallowed. "My name is Truman Grant Kennedy."
I raised an eyebrow. "Truman Grant Kennedy. Are your parents obsessed with U.S. History in general or just our nation's Presidents?"
He chuckled. "Well, you know—they had no control over our last name."
"Well, not over your last name, sure..."
He smiled again and resumed eating.
"It could have been far worse, I guess," I said with a shrug. "They could have named you Polk."
Truman laughed behind his napkin as he wiped his mouth. "You're very funny," he said, bringing the napkin back to his lap.
"Thanks." I smiled.
"So, yesterday you said you had been seeing somebody, but that you're not sure of the status of that relationship."
I almost choked on my champagne.
"Tell me what's going on there," he said.
"Um ... am I under oath?"
He smiled, softly. "Well, no, but I am going to assume you'll tell me the truth anyway."
"You know what's running through my mind right now?" 
He raised his eyebrows in inquiry. 
"You remember that old Bugs Bunny cartoon where he says 'He don't know me vewy well, do he?'"
I chuckled, but Truman looked mystified.
"Um ... not a Bugs Bunny fan?"
He shrugged. "Honestly, I never really watched much t.v., even as a kid. I didn't see many cartoons."
"Truman, that's just sad."
"I really don't feel as if there is something missing from my life. And you're not getting out of my question by changing the subject."
"Damn." I grinned.
He just sat there, looking at me. His eyes were bright with cheer, but piercing.
"You're a very good lawyer, aren't you?"
He crossed his hands under his chin and continued to look at me intently, a subtle smirk on his face. I took another drink of champagne, returning his gaze, and finally sighed.
"Okay, fine. I've been seeing this guy — Edward — for a few weeks. I just found out some rather—disturbing news and I'm trying to decide if I want to continue our relationship or not."
"Do you mind if I ask what kind of news it was?"
"Um ... well, just that he hasn't exactly been truthful about some things—some rather big things."
He grimaced and put his hands back in his lap. "Ouch. After what happened with your ex-husband, that can't have felt very good."
"No, it didn't.” I shook my head. “I mean, he didn't cheat on me — at least, not that I know of — but that's the thing. How do I know if I can't trust him anymore?"
"And what does he say about it?"
"He's ... well, he's trying to make amends. He explained what happened and why he lied and even though I kind of understand why he would lie, he didn't have to. And things would have gone much more smoothly if he hadn't."
"So why do you think he chose to lie?"
I blushed and took another drink. My glass was almost empty again. "Um ... I think he was afraid."
"Afraid ... that I wouldn't want him if I knew the truth."
He raised his eyebrows again and took a drink of his own champagne. "Well, that is a big price, isn't it?"
"Wait—are you defending his lying?" 
I smiled and Truman chuckled.
"Not at all," he said. "I don't think there's any excuse for lying, really. And I don't know the guy, nor what this is all really about." He finished his drink. "Maybe I'm just playing Devil's Advocate."
I chuckled. "Well, I don't know that I'd say he was the devil. I mean, it was wrong that he lied, but that's a bit harsh." 
He chuckled along with me, then peered at me for several moments until I began to feel uncomfortable.
"So..." he finally started. "I guess you're not going to want to date. For a while." 
He looked at me with a soft smile on his face, which I returned. I felt bad, but not bad enough to put up some charade. I didn't even know what was going to happen with Edward, but even if we were over, I certainly wasn't ready to start in on anything new. Not anything real, anyway, and Truman was not just some guy I could pass time with. He was one of the good ones. Truman was relationship material. For some lucky girl, anyway.
"No." I shook my head and started to take a drink of champagne, but noticed my glass was empty. I watched his face. It had fallen, slightly. "Truman..."
"We can still hang out, though, right?" he interrupted me. "As friends, I mean."
My smile was wide. I really hoped we would be able to do so. I honestly liked Truman and enjoyed his company. "Can we? I mean, I'd really like that."
He reached across the table and squeezed my hand. "I'd like that, too."
I was dreading Monday's director's meeting even more than most. It would be the first time I'd see Edward, after all, since our Saturday debacle. As I decided what to wear that morning, I knew I'd need something that left me feeling confident and powerful. I had been reading a story online — a rather erotic story, I might add, the wisdom of which I had been seriously pondering since I hadn't been the recipient of a conjugal visit from Edward in a long while — and in it the heroine liked to wear what she referred to as "Power Panties". These were undergarments which, naturally, left her feeling sexy and, well, powerful. It was somewhat of a mystery to me how undies could leave one feeling that way if nobody was going to see them, but I decided to wear my favorites: a black, lace demi cup bra that was essentially see-through and matching, tiny bikini panties, the back of which was see-through lace while the front was an almost demure black silk. There were tiny pearl flowers sitting at each hip. Once I pulled on thigh high stockings, I covered the ensemble with a tight black skirt and a black blouse with white polka dots. I of course wore my favorite Prada pumps with the bow on the back, because they made me feel a lot taller than I really was, and sexy even in business attire.
And you know what? The writer of that story was totally right. I felt powerful and alluring in an almost secret way. As if I was keeping my own little sexy secret hidden away and only a lucky few would ever be privy to it.
I was a bit early to the meeting, as had been my pattern before Hurricane Edward blew through my life, and only a few others were already there. I made myself a cup of tea and sat down at the table with my Blackberry in hand, answering emails while I waited for the other department heads to arrive. When Edward walked in, he was laughing jovially and followed closely by Carlisle. I felt my heart leap in my chest and quickly looked back down to my Blackberry, even though there were no longer any emails to answer. When Edward plopped himself into the seat right next to me, I swore to myself I was never going to be early to another meeting again so that in future I could choose a seat far away from him.
I heard him clear his throat as I set down my phone and picked up my pen. I could smell his distinctly Edward scent and I swear it made my mouth water. Then I felt his breath on my neck as he leaned close to me.
"Good morning, Isabella," he said in my ear.
I gritted my teeth, but managed to say, "Good morning" in return.
The stress I felt at sitting next to Edward, close enough to practically feel his body heat, left a pressure on my chest. I seriously wondered if I was on the verge of a panic attack. Not once did I look at his face, but I could see his hands as he made notes and watched from the corner of my eye as his fingers played with his pen when he wasn't writing. The white shirt he wore was rolled up at the sleeves and I could see the muscles of his forearms sliding beneath his skin as he moved even slightly.
Mercifully, it was a relatively short meeting. At least I thought so, until Carlisle asked if anyone had anything else they needed to discuss.
"Actually, I do," Edward piped up, straightening a bit in his chair. "I'd like to discuss a prospective new customer called Perfect Computer. They applied for an account last week."
I automatically straightened in my chair and I finally looked at Edward. This was a company to whom I had denied credit terms, and legitimately so. My opinion was that their business model was immature at best and by the looks of their Financials, they were headed toward Bankruptcy within a year.
Edward continued. "This is a company with the potential for a million dollars worth of business each year–"
I snorted. It wasn't intentional, it just came out. Edward shot me a look though, which was almost a glare, before he continued.
"They were denied credit terms and I'd like to know why, when we could do such great business with them."
Carlisle looked at me. "Bella? Do you remember this company?"
"I do.” I nodded. “They're on their last legs, financially, and headed toward disaster. I still have the Financials on my desk, I think. I can show you what I mean, if you will allow me to do so, rather than have me explain my decision here."
"Look," Edward said. "You say you want us to increase sales by 800k this year, Carlisle. It's extremely frustrating that I have great opportunities to make strides in that direction and we're being coc– um, we're being consistently blocked by the credit department."
I raised an eyebrow at him. "Really, Edward? 'Consistently blocked'? What other potential customer are we talking about, here?"
"Oh, how about Super Train and Beckles, and Wicked Comp whose credit line you lowered by half this month?"
He was being snide and I started to seethe. I felt ambushed and also felt Edward was doing it to get back at me, in a very juvenile way. I opened my mouth to retort when Carlisle thankfully interrupted me.
"Okay, this is not exactly the place to have this discussion and I would like to look at the file as we talk about it. Let's meet in my office at the top of the hour, yes?"
Edward sat back in his seat. "Fine by me." 
"Of course," I replied.
"Okay then, let’s get out of here," Carlisle said, standing. "I need a fuckin' bagel."
I stood and strode out of the room without a glance in Edward's direction. When I got back to my office, I sat at my desk and stewed for about five minutes before even looking for the files in question. I couldn't believe he would put me on the spot like that, in front of everyone, but then, considering his recent, juvenile behavior I really wasn't all that surprised. I drank a cup of water and found the four files in question, just in case Carlisle wanted to discuss more than just Perfect Computer, and I headed upstairs toward his office. I patted my ass a little on the way out my door, hoping my "power panties" would prove their worth.
Edward was already there when I entered. I sat stiffly in the chair next to him, across the desk from Carlisle, who was on the phone. I glanced at Edward and saw he was watching me intently. I quickly looked away.
"I understand, Dear," Carlisle said into the phone. "Yes, of course, but I can't really ... um ... I have people in my office, Esme ... Bella, actually, and someone you don't know ... Edward Masen..." Carlisle put his hand over the receiver and looked at me. "Esme says to give you her love, Bella.'
"Oh, well give her mine, as well." I smiled.
"Esme, Bella send her love, as well." He rolled his eyes and again looked at me. "Bella, Esme wants to know when you're coming over for dinner."
"Oh, well I–"
"Esme, please. Would you just fucking call her directly, already?" 
I snickered as Carlisle rolled his eyes again. 
"Yes Dear ... I know, I'm sorry Dear. That was completely unprofessional ... I will, Dear, as soon as I hang up ... yes Dear ... I love you too."
And with that, he hung up the phone.
"Jesus H.," he said. "Bella, would you please call my wife later today? She wants you to come to dinner this week—Thursday, if you're free. And if you don't call her, she's gonna think I didn't ask you to. And then I'll be up shit creek."
"Sure.” I chuckled. “Of course."
"Okay, so what is this all about?" Carlisle asked. I noticed there was a half-eaten bagel sitting in front of him.
Edward spent a few minutes outlining his plans for sales to Perfect Computer. They wanted to do anywhere from $750,000 to $1 million in sales in the coming fiscal year and he had therefore requested a credit line of $250,000 and terms of net 90. I had denied both, my decision being that they had to pay in advance, via credit card, for all purchases.
"That simply isn't possible, Carlisle, not at the volume they're going to be buying."
"The fact that they don't have sufficient credit lines elsewhere to cover their purchases is a red flag in and of itself, Carlisle," I said.
"What are your other concerns, Bella?"
I handed Carlisle the file and explained. "The line of credit with their bank comes up for renewal at the end of the year. With the banks being what they are these days, I do not anticipate it will be renewed, not when you look at their Financials. They're hemorrhaging money. And in reviewing their business plan, you can see why. Without that line of credit, they will have no cash flow."
Carlisle had their business plan in his hand as I spoke and he wrinkled his nose. "Hmm," he said, almost to himself. "Yes, I can see that. I wonder what they'd think about a little outside counseling on this."
"Carlisle," Edward piped in. "I talked with the CEO and the CFO and they seem to think they will turn things around, beginning with the Christmas season. But if we don't allow them to pay on terms, there is no way they'll be able to do that."
"We're not in the business of making sure other companies stay in business," I said, admittedly a bit of snark to my tone. "We're in the business of making sure we stay in business. A significant loss like the one we could take here would be quite damaging to us."
"I understand that, Bella.” Edward glared at me. “But if we don't increase sales this next quarter, our stock is gonna plummet. That's why I was brought in here."
"Edward's right, Bella."
My head swung on its axis, toward Carlisle.
"Excuse me?"
"He's right. We need the new business."
"Can't we get it someplace else?"
Carlisle closed the file and handed it back to me without answering my question. "How long do you think they have before they go belly-up?"
"No more than a year," I said. "Maybe a little longer, if they're lucky and they have a killer Christmas season."
"So let's do this," Carlisle said. "Let's give them the $250k, but at 45-day terms. I'll talk to them and see if I can get them to see reason as far as their business plan, but that most likely won't work and even if it does, it will take time. So you'll have to watch them closely. If they fall behind, we won't ship anything new to them, end of story. So long as they pay us, we'll take another look at where they are at quarter-end."
My jaw clenched. "Carlisle, it's your company and I'll do what you tell me to do. But-"
He held up his hand. "But nothing, Bella. This is my company." He shook his head a bit and backed off. "Bella, I know you know what you're doing and you're probably right about this. But we can take the risk for this next quarter and we'll be okay. I think they'll pay us, if only because they need our product for Christmas. You'll have to tell them they're on a very tight leash. In the meantime, we have an extra quarter million in sales before our fiscal year end. We'll just watch them closely and if we decide they're no longer worth the risk, we'll yank their line. Okay?"
I shrugged, my jaw still clenched. "Whatever you say."
"Good. Now can I finish my fucking bagel, or do the two of you have something else you'd like to discuss?"
"That's it from me," Edward said, a big, cocky grin on his face. 
I just stood and started to leave the room.
"Call Esme, Bella," Carlisle called after me.
"I will," I said. But I didn't turn around. 
I walked with purpose back toward the stairs and the safety of my office, but it wasn't long before Edward caught up with me.
"Bella, come on," he said, trying to touch me. 
I pulled my arm out of his reach. As we reached the top of the stairs, I turned toward him.
"You'd better hope this works out, Edward," I said. "Believe it or not, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to these things. Remember Super Trade? Remember how shocked everyone was when they filed BK last year? Well, I wasn't shocked. In fact, I saw it coming a full nine months before it happened and I yanked their two million dollar credit line. And don't think Sales was pleased about that, either. But you know what we lost, in the end? Twenty-thousand dollars. That was all they owed us by the time they filed. Some of their other creditors lost millions, Edward. Millions." 
I turned and headed down the stairs, but he only followed me.
"I don't doubt that you know your stuff, Bella. But you heard what Carlisle said. It's worth the risk, at least short-term."
I talked to him over my shoulder as I turned the corner toward my office. "And what if they don't make it through the Christmas season, Edward? Yes, we'll have them at 45 day terms, but what if they don't pay up? Sure, you'll be okay with Con-Vert losing a quarter of a million bucks. You'll have your fat commission, so who cares, right?"
"Bella stop. Let me talk to you."
I walked into my office, knowing he had followed me even before I heard the door shut behind him.
"What really pisses me off Edward is that you chose the fucking director's meeting to pick a fight because you're upset at me for ... other reasons."
"This isn't about us, Bella. This isn't some stupid way to get back at you for hurting my feelings. To quote a brilliant movie, this isn't personal. It's business."
"Oh? Then why the ambush in a conference room full of people? Why not ask me about this customer here, in my office? Or ask to meet with Carlisle, just the three of us, when I could have the file in front of me?"
"I–" He sighed and sat down in a chair in front of me. I sat down, as well, looking at him.
"Okay," he admitted. "Maybe I was a little unprofessional."
"Gee, ya think?"
"I'm sorry, Bella." He looked at me, solemnly. "Fuck, I seem to be saying that a lot lately, don't I?"
I sighed and looked back at him, my heart breaking.
"While I'm at it, I guess I should apologize for Saturday," he said.
"And again I ask, 'gee, ya think?'"
He shook his head and sat forward, leaning his forearms against his thighs, his thin tie trailing between his legs. "It's just hard, Bella. It's hard to see you with someone else–"
"Edward.” I shook my head and interrupted him. “Truman is just a friend of Rosalie's. And maybe of mine, now, but he's a friend. And he knows it. Do you honestly think I could just easily jump from your arms into another man's? I mean, come on. How well do you know me, anyway?"
"Yeah...” He sighed again. “I mean, no I guess you couldn't. Or wouldn't."
"Exactly." I took a deep breath, mainly to keep back the tears that threatened at his admission. "And anyway, I owe you an apology, too. I'm sorry I just yelled at you and didn't give you a chance to talk to me."
He chuckled. "Well, you had every right to behave that way. If I hadn't acted like a fuckin' jerk-off"
"Let's just call it a wash and move forward now, okay?"
We sat there for several moments, my heart beating out the seconds like a metronome. Edward stared at my floor as if it were a beautiful Van Gogh painting he was absorbed in, rather than blue and grey diametrical shapes.
"She's not pregnant, Bella."
He said it so abruptly that I wasn't even sure whether I'd heard him correctly or it was just the voice in my head, thinking wishfully out loud.
"Excuse me?" My voice was quiet. 
"She's not pregnant.” He looked up at me, still leaning forward. “I was gonna take her to the doctor on Saturday–"
"Yes, Alice told me."
"Yeah, well when I mentioned it to Heidi, she flew off the handle and started yelling and ... fuck, the bottom line is, she admitted she'd made the whole fucking thing up. I mean, first she tried to say she'd had a miscarriage, but ... it was all bullshit, Bella. There was no baby." He shook his head and ran his hand over his face. "I don't know what her damage is and I don't know what she was trying to accomplish. And I owe Alice a new car or something, ‘cause I'm so fucking stupid that I would have bought into the whole thing. Fuck, she's probably been trying to get herself pregnant by some other guy and I wouldn't have known about it for years. If ever. ‘Cause I also never even thought to prove paternity until Alice brought that up, too. I mean, maybe I would have thought of that eventually. My parents sure would have."
He chuckled bitterly and ran a hand through his hair while I sat there, stunned.
"Bella, I can't believe how I fucked this whole thing up. I have never in my life felt so incredibly stupid." He shook his head. "Anyway, she's out of my life now. Totally. I put her on a plane so fast she thought her head was spinning. And that's when I came to see you at the park."
I sat back in my chair and watched his face as he watched me, searching my eyes. I'm not sure what they were telling him because I was honestly not sure what I was feeling. I was relieved, for him mainly, but also confused as to exactly what he thought this changed between us, if anything. When I thought I could do so without crying, I started to speak.
"Well, that is great news, Edward. I'm happy for you, really. But you do realize that what happened between us ... well, that it had more to do with you than with her."
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"What do I mean? I mean, you lied to me, Edward. Jesus Christ, what do I mean." I shook my head. I was trying not to yell at him, but I was incredulous. "You lied to me, Edward. For weeks, you knew this was going on and you intentionally kept it from me, like it had nothing to do with me—with us."
He ran his hand through his hair again and nodded. "I know, Bella. I do know that, of course. I apologized, didn't I? Fuck, if I didn't, I'm apologizing now. I just ... I didn't know what to do or how to tell you. I didn't want to lose you. Of course, I know now that was stupid. Hell, I knew it then, too. I just really didn't know what to do. Obviously, I'm a little out of my element, here."
I put my elbows on my desk and buried my face in my hands as I sighed. When I pulled them away, it looked as if Edward might start to cry.
"You know, I can almost understand your thinking, Edward. It was dumb and totally wrong, but I can almost understand it. But don't you see what that did to me? My husband lied to me. He made a fool of me. And not just him, either. I have a hard time trusting people and you go and lie to me like that. I mean, I opened myself up to you. Maybe I have my own shit to deal with and my own walls up, but I feel like I opened a huge part of myself up to you and I feel stupid now for thinking that–" My voice caught in my throat and I took a deep breath before I started speaking again. "I might get where you're coming from, but I just don't know if I can ever trust you again. And I can't be with someone I don't trust."
"Bella ... I never really lied to you. I mean, I know I kept things from you ... but what I told you was always the truth."
"I do love you, Bella. I've never said that to another woman in my life and that's the truth, too. I love you and I'm going to fight for you. I'm gonna prove to you that you can trust me. I'm gonna prove to you that loving me was not a mistake."
My tears won the battle then, trailing down my cheeks.
"Bella, I am so sorry I hurt you. You will never know how much it hurts me to know that I hurt you. And I swear on all that is holy, I will make this up to you." 
His voice cracked and he looked down at the carpet for several moments. I wiped my face with a tissue and watched as his hand ran through his hair once again.
He looked up at me, his green eyes wet and pleading.
"I don't even know what to say right now, Edward." I took a deep breath, the tears calmed for the moment.
He rose and started toward the door. As he reached it, his hand on the doorknob, he turned.
"I know this is a quote from another movie, but I don't know how to say this any better and it's the truth. You make me want to be a better man, Bella."
I didn't care if that was a quote from As Good as It Gets. His saying it still made my heart flutter like a dozen butterflies in my chest and I wanted nothing more than to throw my arms around him. But I didn't. I didn't because I knew there was more to our being together than his ability to send my heart racing. That was never in question. So instead, I watched him walk out my door.
And I promptly burst into tears once he was gone.
The embarrassment of crying while at work yet again aside, I managed to make it through the rest of the day somehow. Despite Angela's plea for me to have lunch with her, I didn't eat anything for the rest of the day. My stomach was in knots and I never fully got my mind off my conversation with Edward. I wondered if there was really any way I could get over his lies. People make mistakes, after all, and I felt unforgiving that I couldn't seem to get past his. Then I emailed Rosalie, who reminded me that it had only been a week and perhaps I was being a little impatient with myself.
I was truly blessed with the best of friends.
At about five-thirty, I left the office and made my way toward my truck. I was physically exhausted, as well as emotionally, since I still wasn't sleeping very well. I was looking forward to a long, hot shower and cuddling up in front of my television to watch several episodes of 24 on my TiVo. If watching Keifer Sutherland save the planet from terrorists while looking hot as hell couldn't get my mind off my own troubles, I didn't know what could.
I could see it on my windshield from several yards away, as I approached my truck. A single, red rose was tucked beneath the windshield wiper. This time, there was a note attached:
I'm always watching,
Always admiring
Even from afar
I sighed and tears rolled down my face again as I pulled out of the parking lot. So much for "power panties".


  1. Replies
    1. Um...I'm keeping mum on the subject. :)

      Glad you're reading though!


  2. the rose and the note? someone who commented thinks it's James? That never occurred to me....I'm still rooting for love to win out and for him to win her trust back....