Mallory stood under the hot pulsing water and silently cursed Chris. He knew what he was doing and knew that it would drive her crazy. It was a 16-hour trip back to Atlanta, and that was a long drive to be in the car thinking about him. That was 16 hours with no opportunity to do anything about the aching and desire that she now had. Damn him!
The problem was that she could not take care of herself in the shower; she had a constraint on time, and the idea that he was literally in the next room was not going to help her in any way. Instead, she showered quickly, washed her hair and got out. Drying off immediately and getting dressed and ready to go. Her heart fell when she opened the door to the bedroom and realized that he has gone. The bed was made, and his clothes were gone, he had left while she was in the shower and he didn’t say goodbye.
Maybe his leaving like this was for the best. It was not going to be easy to look into beautiful blue eyes and say goodbye, especially while standing in front of Henry, John, and Darby. She moved through the room to pick up her clothes from yesterday and put them in the dirty clothes bag. She then moved to Henry’s room to wake him up.
Amazingly enough, Henry woke easily and without complaint. He shuffled to the bathroom in Mallory’s room to get ready. While he did that, Mallory made his bed and picked up the clothes that Chris had folded the night before. Once Henry was ready, the two of them took their bags downstairs and out to the car. John had intended to pack the van the night before but changed his mind. The least she could do was to put her bags in the van and reduce the amount of work he would have to do.
She had everything in place and had stepped back into the house, and that is when she noticed the smell of coffee from the kitchen. She didn’t notice it when she had come down the stairs, maybe because she was in a rush to get out the door. Most likely John and Darby were up so it was not that inconceivable that they would have made coffee. It was when she heard Henry yell ‘good morning’ to him, that she realized Chris was in the kitchen.
She walked through the entry way and found the two of them chatting away, never missing a beat. She went to the cabinet to get a coffee mug, never acknowledging that he was in the room. Finally, she was brought to a halt when she heard Henry make an observation.
“Hey, Chris, isn’t’ that what you were wearing last night? Did you spend the night here or something?”
“As a matter of fact, I did. I slept down here in the family room, your mom and I were talking late, and I was too tired to drive home so I slept here and figured it would allow me to say goodbye to you this morning.”
“Oh, that’s cool!” Henry exclaimed and then ran over to the family room, “Almost left and forgot my iPad, mom. That would have been a disaster.”
“Henry, go and make one last sweep through your room to make sure you have everything before we leave. I don’t want to get all the way home and realize you forgot something.”
Henry took off running up the stairs just like his mom asked. Chris got up from the table and walked over, placing both hands on the counter on either side of Mallory. In essence, caging her in against him.
“Did you take care of yourself? Are you feeling better or are you still needing a little release?”
She visibly shuddered as his warm breath reached her skin, “You have to stop Chris. I can’t take it, and I am pretty sure if I turned around and grabbed ahold of you, that you would be rock hard and in need of your own release, right?”
“What’s your point?”
“Why in the hell are you torturing us this way?” Her voice was low, and she moved back slightly, so she was brushing up against his body. She heard a slight moan escape his lips and she had her answer to her earlier question. “All you are doing is making it worse for both of us.”
“Maybe I am just trying to build the anticipation for when we are together the first time.”
“You mean the first time in twelve years? Yeah, the anticipation is going to mean that neither one of us will end up lasting very long and we will be in for a night of disappointment.”
“Oh, baby, you definitely underestimate me,” He said as he kissed her neck and once again made her shudder. He stepped back, removing his hands from the counter, “But you are right, I need to stop before I spontaneously combust. You might want to go to the bathroom before you get in the car.”
Just then John and Darby entered the kitchen. Darby looked at both of them and then asked, “Did we interrupt something?”
“No, nothing at all,” Mallory said as she quickly excused herself.
“Before you ask, because you two are looking at me weird. Yes, I did spend the night here last night. I slept down here on the couch,” He figured he would keep up the charade that they had initiated for Henry’s sake.
“Oh, yeah, okay,” John said as he looked over at his wife. He knew that Chris was not telling the whole truth, but he wasn’t about to call him out on it.
Mallory came back into the kitchen with Henry trailing along after her. She did not look at Chris, not sure she would be able to handle the eye contact. “Ok, I think we have everything. John, did you get your bags into the van?”
“Yeah, and I saw your stuff out there already. We went through our room, and I think we have everything covered. So, are you having someone come in to change the sheets and clean up after we leave?”
“Yeah, I have talked to Mrs. Morgan about it. She is helping to make arrangements for me. So, if everyone is ready, we might as well hit the road.”
The coffee pot was turned off, and everyone began to walk out to the car. John put Molly in the car and then he and Darby got in. Mallory was trying to lock the house when Chris walked over to her.
“Give me the key. I will go in and clean up the dishes and take out the trash, then lock up the house. Does Mrs. Morgan have her own key?”
“Um, yeah, she does, and that is my key,” Mallory stuttered back.
“Ok, I will keep it safe and get it back to you, I promise,” He said and held out his hand for her to place the key.
Chris approached Henry and stuck out his hand, “It was a pleasure to meet you, young man. I look forward to seeing you again.” Henry shook his hand, and he realized what a good grip the boy had. “Take care of your mom for me, okay?”
“Yes, sir, I certainly will,” Henry responded and then took off running to get in the van. Just before climbing in, he turned back around and ran back to Chris and gave him a hug, “I hope you can come and visit soon.”
Chris was unable to breathe, he had not expected that, and frankly, he was unsure if he would be able to contain his emotions. He was finally able to squeak out, “Me too, buddy.”
Mallory could tell he was struggling, so she quickly moved to turn him, so his back was to the van. Allowing his emotions to come out in private versus displaying them to the passengers in the van. “Are you going to be alright?” She asked, smiling at him. “Your son can’t wait to see you again. How does that feel, dad?”
Chris wrapped his arms around her, and she could tell that tears were falling. He was doing his best to hold it together, but Henry got to him. “Um, I didn’t expect that, and I have to admit it feels pretty good,” He stood back up and looked down at her, taking in her features on last time. “It is killing me that you two are leaving, but I will come and see you soon. Please let me know when you get home, okay?”
She nodded in agreement and then stood on her tiptoes to kiss him. “I’m going to miss you,” She said, and she began to walk toward the van where the door was open, and everyone was waiting.
Chris took a minute to pull himself together and then turned around, “I love you, Mallory.”
She blew him a kiss and declared her love back, “I love you too, Chris.” Then shut the van door, and John pulled out of the driveway and drove off.
Chris watched as the van disappeared down the street. He went back into the house, as promised and cleaned up the mess from the morning and then locked up. When he got home, his family was around the dining table having breakfast. His sister Carly gave him an odd look as he came walking in but after her mother shot her a glare, elected not to make a comment. Chris went to get a cup of coffee and then sat down next to his nephew, Ethan.
He said nothing but helped himself to breakfast and kept wondering when someone would break the silence and ask the questions that were on their mind. Amazingly, no one did. At least not with the kids at the table. When breakfast was over, the kids went into the other room, and that is when the interrogation started.
“So, did Mallory leave this morning to head back to Atlanta?” His mother Lisa asked. He knew she was dying for details.
“Yes, they did. She is going to let me know when they get home but it is a long trip.”
“Mallory? As in Mallory Turner? Your ex-girlfriend, Mallory Turner?” Carly was slightly confused.
“Ok, I am going to get this all out at once so listen carefully. Yes, my ex-girlfriend, Mallory Turner was in town because her parents died. No, we have not seen or talked to each other in twelve years, but we have reconnected. No, Carly, I did not hook up with her although the thought crossed my mind more than once. We had a rather lengthy discussion to clear the air about things that happened years ago, and we are good.”
Chris pushed himself away from the table and tried to gauge everyone’s reactions. He couldn’t actually read what they were thinking. He started heading for the hallway, “I’m going to take a shower and take a nap, I haven’t gotten much sleep over the last few days. And to answer the question I am thinking you are dying to ask, Yes, I am still in love with her.”