The days went by, and they turned into months. After the first year, her letters dwindled until nothing came through. Paul and David became strangers. Both were waiting for her to come back.
Three years later
Anna opened the door of the taxi and glanced up at the house she hadn’t seen in over three years. It looked as beautiful as ever. The front door opened, and David walked out to greet her. In the past she would have run towards him and wrapped her arms around him. Since the scene with Paul she didn’t think it was appropriate. As she thought about their argument with poor Henry being stuck in the middle, she wondered what would happen with their friendship.
Seeing the disgust on Paul’s face had been more than she could bear.
“So you decided to come home?” David said. She smiled and nodded her head. His gaze moved up and down her body. He’d see the extra pounds she’d put on from eating too much chocolate ice cream. Her breasts were larger from the extra weight, and her clothes she’d left behind wouldn’t fit either. “Aren’t you going to talk to me?”
“Hi, David.” She left the taxi door open and made her way towards him. After a second of debating whether to give him a cuddle, the thought was taken out of her hands as he embraced her.
For a second she closed her eyes and simply enjoyed the feeling of being held. While she’d been away she hadn’t found anyone to replace the comfort her Steer men could provide.
“It’s so good to have you back,” he said.
A lump formed in the back of her throat, and it took all of her willpower to keep her emotions in check.
“I’ve missed you, too.” Anna turned back to the taxi and pulled her bag from the bag. She handed over the cost of the fare and asked him to open up the boot. David stood waiting for her. “Two bags?”
“I travel light.”
There was a difference between them. The easy banter wasn’t present, and the conversation seemed strained.
“Paul’s missed you,” he said.
“I doubt it.”
“Don’t, Anna. He’s missed you, and it hasn’t been the same the last few years. You didn’t come back for your birthday or Christmas. We’ve missed those times.”
She licked her lips and glanced at the floor. What more could she say? How could she have stuck around after that last argument?
“Times change. People moved on. Have you got a girlfriend?” she asked. If he did, she had the time to get back into the taxi and leave. She hadn’t thought to ask if he did.
Waiting for an answer was the worst kind of torture.
“You know me better than that.” He grabbed her bags, and they headed for the front of the door. Paul stood there watching them.
Anna couldn’t move. The reason why she left stood in the doorway.
“Hello, Anna,” Paul said.
His voice sent shivers through her body. How could he do that with words? Did he have a special kind of magic which he reserved for her and her alone?
Again with the awkwardness.
“Why don’t we get inside? We can all catch up.”
Anna started up the steps, and Paul moved out of the way to let her pass. “Do I still have the same room?” she asked.
“Yes. You don’t have to do that. We can sort it out,” Paul said.
“No. I want to put my things away. David, would you mind following me up?”
“Lead the way, princess.”
She smiled and walked up the flight of stairs. Her heart thudded against her chest. No place had ever felt more like home than the Steer house, a decadent building with furniture dating back as long as a hundred years ago. She recalled David telling her the importance of heritage and how vital it was to keep the blood of your line flowing in your veins. After living in a city, the town of Cape Falls seemed really small and backward. In the past three years she’d seen so much. The support out there was nothing like the ridicule people found here. Just on the taxi ride through the town, she’d seen a difference. Not a single woman walked round in a mini-skirt.
Conscious of David behind her, she tried to get her thoughts in check. She opened the door and stared at her room. Nothing had changed. The furniture sat in the same place with her bed in line with the window. Her curtains were closed, and her en suite bathroom door was open.
“We kept it the same way you left it. Paul and I figured you might come back.”
Tears welled in her eyes. She was touched that they’d cared enough to leave the stuff she’d left behind. “Thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
He brushed past her and placed the bags on her bed. “Do you want me to give you a hand unpacking?”