Over the last week he’d helped her with the house, gone shopping with her, and just been there for her. She had enough money in her savings from what she’d earned working odd jobs during college, but she also had a trust fund her father had left her for when she turned twenty-one. In all honesty she didn’t have to work, not with what her father had left her, and the fact she had no mortgage. But Freya wanted to work, wanted to be able to go out into the real world every day and make something of herself. She’d worked too hard in school not to use her degree.
She stood and walked over to his bags, grabbed one off the ground, and opened the front door. Freya walked with Maurice out to his car, and after his bags were in the backseat, and they were standing in front of the other, she reached out and pulled him in for a hug.
“Be safe driving, and call me when you get home.” She felt him nod. Maurice pulled back, and after a watery smile on her part, Maurice was in his car and driving away.
And so it began, the start of her lonely life.
She turned and looked at her father’s house. No, her house now. She’d made it her home. Although she’d kept some of her father’s and mother’s things, some furniture, pictures, and even some dishes, she’d gotten new things that complemented who she was now. There were no memories of Meghan, and as strange as that kind of was, it was also freeing. She knew she could move on without letting things get in the way.
Yes, this was the first day of her life, of the rest of her life, and she knew her mother and father would be proud. Hell, she was kind of proud herself and where she was right now.
Freya grabbed a bottle of blush wine, looked it over like she actually knew what she staring at, and decided on getting it on the sole fact that she liked the color. She wasn’t a big drinker, but she did have a wine rack in her kitchen, one her father said her mother had made when she was in high school, and Freya, feeling pretty sentimental about it, wanted to stock it with wine.
After putting it in her basket, she looked at a bottle of ice wine, and was drawn to the fact it was very sweet, and of course the gorgeous iridescent blue bottle. She placed it in her basket, as well.
She walked down the aisle, went over to the beer section, and picked up some apricot ale. But when she turned around, the six-pack in her hand, everything stopped inside of her. The man that was standing at the end of the aisle, dressed in a dark three-piece suit, his short dark hair styled immaculately, and holding a bottle of red wine, was Elijah.
Her heart had momentarily stopped in her chest, but now, as she stared at him longer, harder, it started beating faster, harder. He looked the same, but older in the sense that he seemed more distinguished, more established. He’d aged well, so well. She could even see the outline of his muscles underneath his suit.
God, he looked good, and she remembered all the talks they’d had during the years he’d stayed with Meghan. But what she remembered most was that last conversation she’d had with him at the house, the one when she’d been drunk, and he confessed the divorce, how unhappy he was, and that he knew she’d make it because Freya was strong. They might have talked to each other one time when she was in school, but it had been that conversation, even drunk, that left an impression on her.
Of course she wanted to talk to him, to catch up, but she was nervous. Freya hated that, hated that after living in the same house with him for several years, looking up to him because he was a genuinely nice and good man, she was afraid.
Swallowing past her nerves, she tightened her hold on the cardboard box that held her six-pack, and contemplated just turning and checking out. Surely they’d have nothing to talk about. Of course Freya had thought about him, wondered how he was, what he was doing. She’d seen him in the papers, knew how successful he was now, but that didn’t excuse the last four years of no contact. They had very different lives now, well, at least he did.
She was frozen to the spot, not wanting to turn and run like some kind of child. But then Elijah turned around, lifted his gaze from the bottle of wine he held, and their eyes locked. For a second neither moved, neither spoke, and it was like the air around them grew thick.
“Freya?” Elijah said in a shocked voice, and moved a step closer. Without breaking eye contact he placed the bottle in the basket he held, grinned, and she about lost all common sense as she took in the flash of straight white teeth. He was so handsome, so masculine and powerful looking. He was tall, much taller than she was, and when he was right in front of her the scent of the cologne he wore had her slightly dizzy.
What’s wrong with you?
“Elijah…” She swallowed again, her throat feeling dry and scratchy. “It’s been a long time.
His smile faded, and he nodded. “Four years.” His voice was so deep, so manly. A shiver worked its way through her body. “You look the same.” He took a step back and slid his gaze up and down the length of her body. Although she knew it was probably innocent, she couldn’t help the heat that washed through her. “You look so grown up, not like the girl that left for college four years ago.”
She felt her cheeks heat, knew she was blushing, but she couldn’t help it. The way he looked at her, as innocent as it may be, made her feel on display, made her feel like she wasn’t this teenager looking at Elijah in a friendly manner. Licking her lips, she tried to smile without it looking awkward. “Thank you?” she asked it as a question, and started chuckling when he grinned.
She felt a little foolish, but the longer she stood here with him, the more she grew comfortable. There was this little feeling throughout her body, a tingling, a warmth … an electrifying sensation. She didn’t know any other word for it except arousal and awareness, and that in itself made her feel bad and a little unnerved. She shouldn’t want Elijah, not like this, not with this heat moving through her.
“It’s a good thing,” he said and the cleared his throat. He lowered his gaze to the alcohol she had in her cart and the six-pack she held. “Are you hosting a party?”
She looked at the bottles of wine, and shook her head, smiling. This was going to sound bad. “No, no party. It’s all for me.” She looked at him, and her smile widened.
He lifted a brow, clearly confused or amused as to why she’d have so much liquor.
“My mother’s wine rack.” It didn’t take him long to realize what she meant.
He nodded once, and for a second the silence stretched between them, slightly thick, very tense, and she knew maybe he was thinking about the past. She sure as hell was.
She cleared her throat. “Well, I better go.”
He didn’t say anything at first.
“It was great seeing you, Elijah.” When she went to turn away he took a step toward her, stopping her.
“Listen, it’s been a long time, a really long time. How about dinner? We can catch up?”
Her heart started beating faster, the thoughts she had of them eating dinner with candles between them, the past not at the surface, and just the two of them making her feel like a silly schoolgirl.
“It’s just dinner, Freya,” he said and smiled.
“I’d like that. I’d really like that, Elijah.”
He exhaled deeply, almost as if he’d been holding his breath. “Is your number still the same?”
“How about I call you tomorrow and we can set something up?”
“Okay.” She felt so out of place right now, and she hated that. This was Elijah, and she shouldn’t feel weird or awkward around him. But the fact remained she wasn’t having the most friendly feelings toward him right now.
The thoughts that were rushing through her head weren’t exactly innocent. It was strange feeling anything more than affection toward Elijah, and although she’d thought he was so handsome back in the day, she had never even considered or thought about crossing that line. But now, now she was thinking about crossing that line.
It was foolish, and she needed to leave to get her head on straight.
“I look forward to talking to you again. Elijah,” she said with a slightly shaky voice. Before she could move toward or away from him, Elijah stepped closer, had his basket on the ground, and had her in his arms. He gave her a big hug, wrapped his big, strong, and muscular arms around her, and Freya closed her eyes. She actually closed her eyes for how good it felt to be in his arms.
“It’s really good to see you, like a breath of fresh air,” he said and then chuckled. “I swear I didn’t mean for that to come out as creepy as it did.”
It was her turn to laugh now. They broke away. She nodded because she didn’t know what to say, and then she lifted her hand in a wave and left. After she checked out and was back in her car she rested her head on the seat and closed her eyes.
What in the hell was going on with her?
One week later
Freya looked at herself in the mirror one last time, breathed out a heaving sigh, and hated the fact she was so damn nervous. It was just dinner, just one meal catching up with an old friend at his penthouse apartment in the city.
At his freaking penthouse apartment.
But even though this was just Elijah, just dinner, inside Freya felt like she was moving a hundred miles per hour, and going twenty different directions at the same time.