This is something that has been rattling around in my mind for several years, ever since an old friend of mine told me how he’d been able to pull his imploding marriage back from the brink with the help of counselling and a sex surrogate. It got me wondering; what was the real story behind the use of surrogates, and not the tabloid press version, and how do friends and relatives react? I’ve been writing and rewriting various versions of this story for the last year, I hope that this version works for you.
The timeline flits back and forth between the two main characters, not always in perfect sequence, but that’s how the story grew in my mind; so I’m afraid you will have to live with the confused musings of my imagination.
I can’t thank Romantic1 enough for the time he spent reviewing and editing the original version of this story. And a very special thanks to BlackRandl1958 for her kind offer to review and polish this version of the story.
I picked up my cup of coffee from the counter and walked to a table between two comfy chairs by the window. Sitting down, I pulled out the book of erotic short stories I’d bought a few minutes earlier at the bookstore downstairs and opened it to the first story. Four words leapt out at me from the page: ‘We need to talk’. With a wry smile, I realized I’d been sitting in the same spot five years ago when the most beautiful girl in my life had uttered the same four words to me, turning my world inside out.
How did my tale start? It was downstairs in the same bookstore, five and a half years ago. I had been sitting in a comfy armchair that was tucked away between a pair of bookshelves. I was keeping an eye on Ian as he signed his name in a book. He smiled at the woman on the other side of the desk as he returned the book to her.
My agent had shanghaied me into offering Ian moral support at his first book signing. I remembered my first one, the sweaty palms, the dry throat as you sit there hoping that someone, anyone, will turn up and want you to sign a book, so I felt a degree of sympathy.
My name is Daniel Davidson, and I’m thirty-six. I am also an author; I began my writing career by posting semi-erotic short stories online over ten years ago, mainly for my own entertainment. I’d managed to hit a chord with the readers and had generated a following. Eight years ago, a literary agent saw of one of my stories and liked it enough to contact me. I was one of the lucky ones. She found me an editor and between us, we managed to turn a series of linked short stories I’d written into a book.
I’d used the pen name Alexander Peters. I’m not sure why we’d chosen that name, it just seemed right at the time, and now I’m stuck with it. The book did well enough that the publisher offered me a further five book deal. They waved a cheque with enough noughts on it to make it possible for me to consider jacking in my real-world job.
My publisher and agent are based in the States. The Internet makes this possible, as I’m British, and in those early days, I still lived in the U.K. They suggested I should move to the States to write the other books. There was nothing to keep me in England. My parents died with months of each other a year before, and I was an only child. The only other person was Liz, my bitter unfaithful ex-fiancé. The woman had torn me apart with her affair and the following bitterness. I can’t say I was on the next plane, but it was pretty damn close.
For the first few months in America, I’d hung around Chicago where my agent had her office. She’d found me an apartment to rent while I was selling my home back in the small village in the south of England. I was surprised to discover that the house I’d grown up in sold for a whopping million and a half pounds.
With that financial freedom, I started to look for somewhere else to live. I don’t like big cities; I was finding it difficult to write in the enclosed space of the city.
I’d lived and worked all my life in a small village set amongst the rolling hill and orchards of the Kent countryside. The only time I’d left it had been for the three years it took me to get my degree in history at university.
Jenny, my agent, listened to my tales of frustrations of ever finding just what I wanted, and suggested I look further afield. She’d grown up in Denver and proposed we take a trip to have a look at the towns in the hills above Denver. Take a trip with a beautiful blonde, I’d say so. Then she dashed my hopes by saying she was bringing her girlfriend with her on the trip.
We found just what I was looking for an hour to the south-west of Denver. It was a three-bedroom log cabin set in the hills just above a small lake on the outskirts of a town called Evergreen. I fell in love with it the moment it came into view as we turned the bend in the dirt road. It was a large modern A-frame design, and the whole of the end wall was glass with the most amazing views of the lake and the hills beyond.
I told Jenny, “This is the one, I love it.”
She shushed me and then proceeded to demolish the poor real-estate agent. We agreed on fifty thousand under the asking price. I honestly think if Jenny had spent a couple of more hours, the harassed agent would have considered paying me to take the place off her hands.
Six weeks later, I was all moved in and with a working Internet connection, I was half way through the editing of my second novel.
Two more years, two short relationships that failed in part because of the insecurities that Liz had left me with. Three further best sellers bring us back to Ian’s first book signing In the bookstore in Evergreen, the town near where I lived. Jenny had begged, bullied and blackmailed me into going. I don’t like attending my own signings, let alone anyone else’s, and I never did a signing this close to home, I kind of like my anonymity. I’d agreed in the end. So long as she stayed with us until we dragged our tired asses out.
Of course, Jenny had disappeared, leaving me on my own. I was sitting and watching as Ian grew steadily more confident as he saw the line in front of him growing. I stood to leave, texting Jenny to let her know I was going.
I wasn’t looking where I was going and ploughed into someone walking over to join the line holding a book in their hands. The book fell to the floor, I bent down to pick it up and straightened to look into a pair of the most mesmerizing brown eyes I’d ever seen. Long glossy black hair was swept back from her oval face that had the hint of the orient in her features. I couldn’t tell what the rest of her looked like, other than she was probably in her late twenties or early thirties and she was about five-eight. The rest was hidden under the bulky long coat she was wearing. It was three weeks before Christmas, and it was well below freezing and snowing outside.
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
I think she was about to ignore me, but my British accent held her attention long enough for her to calm down a bit. Then she saw how long the line was, and cursed.
“Shit, this going to take forever and I’ve got to get back to the office,” she moaned.
Her eyes had struck deep into my soul, and I saw the perfect opportunity to connect with her.
“Give me the book please, I can fix it for you,” I said, and then thought to ask whom the book was for.
“Oh, It’s for me.”
“And you are?”
I hurried off to the desk and managed to catch Ian’s eye. “Quick, sign this one for me, and make it out to Mia.” I thrust the book at him.
He grinned up at me and wrote on the blank page facing the title page.
Enjoy the book,
or better still ask
Daniel to read it to you.
I smiled at the comment and hoped that Mia wasn’t too upset with the addition. I walked back to Mia and handed her the book back. She gave me a quizzical look and then she glanced at the inscription and a small smile flashed across her face.
“I guess you are the Daniel he mentions,” she said, then she looked at her watch and cursed.
“Look I’m sorry,” she said, “I have to go, or I’ll be late for my next appointment. It was really nice meeting you Daniel.”
I fumbled in my pocket for a card and scribbled my number and e-mail address on the back of it.
I said, “I know we’ve only just met but is there any chance could we go out for a drink or a meal? You can get me on these numbers, please call me,” I said as I tucked the card into the book.
She hesitated and looked at me, then she gave me a smile that lit up her face. “I think I’d like that,” she said, “I’ll get in touch later in the week.” She gave me a quick peck on the cheek and left the store.
I returned to the signing and found that Jenny was back.
“Where were you?” she asked.
“I just needed to stretch my legs.”
She gave me a long look, “I don’t suppose you’d consider...” I stopped her with a look.
“Sorry, you know my rule; I don’t do book signings so close to home.”
“You can’t blame a girl for trying can you?” I laughed and left her.
It was four days before an e-mail popped on my screen from an a.l.lee with the subject line: “Can Daniel read me a story?” It was a simple message, “Would Daniel like to read me a story over dinner,” with a telephone number and a list of possible dates. The first was on the coming Friday. A couple of quick phone calls and I had a reservation at a great local steakhouse for Friday night. I emailed her back with details and a question.
She texted back, “can u pick me up from the office please,” and then she sent the address. I confirmed and got back to reviewing the edits on the latest chapter with a lighter heart.
Friday night, I pulled up outside her office. It was snowing gently, the flakes dancing in the light from the headlights. I didn’t get a chance to get out of the car before she was standing beside the car opening the passenger door and sliding in. We talked about ourselves as I drove us the ten miles to the restaurant. I kept glancing at her, at her black silk stocking covered legs, her delicate hands clutched in her lap. The elegant curve of her neck, the long glistening black hair gathered into a simple ponytail, and the amazing aroma of woman that wafted in my direction.
I saw the little glances she gave me and I wondered how she saw me. I glanced across at her window and saw my face reflected in it. I’m thirty-two, a tad under six foot and I’ve managed to keep reasonably trim. My hair is light brown, and my short beard is speckled with the odd grey hair. I have blue eyes and fair skin, curtesy of my Anglo-Saxon ancestors.
We pulled up outside the restaurant and the miracle of valet parking occurred, so we were able to hurry into the warmth of the lobby. We took our coats off and I was able to admire her properly for the first time. She was wearing the classic little black dress that every woman I’ve ever know seems to own. In her case, it was the epitome of elegance. The hem was two inches above her knees, the sleeves were full and the neckline just hinted at her exquisite cleavage. She filled the dress to perfection. I’d been right on my guess on her height, and she was maybe a hundred and ten pounds. I felt rather shabby beside her. I was in my comfortable chinos, an open neck shirt and my favorite tweed jacket.
The host led us to our table and took our drink orders. We looked at each other, and there was that feeling we’d know each other all of our lives.
She spoke first. “So, tell me about yourself, Daniel,” then she grinned at me. “Or should I call you Alex?”
I looked at her in surprise, “How do you know that?”
She laughed, reached into her bag and handed me the card I’d given her. Shit, I’d grabbed an Alexander Peters card from my pocket by mistake.
She pulled a paperback copy of my first novel from her bag and said, “I don’t think your photos is very accurate.” The photo on the back cover was of me, but it was a very young me, taken ten years ago when I was clean-shaven. If you squinted in a very bad light, you might recognize me. I’d chosen to use it for just that reason, I liked the trapping of success, but I wasn’t keen on the idea of being recognized by any Tom, Dick or Harry
“I’m Daniel to my friends,” I said, and I gave her a potted history of my life.
After we had finished our steaks, I asked her the same question. “So, tell me about Mia?”
For a moment, I thought she wasn’t going to say anything, then she smiled and said. “I’m Amelia Lee, but I warn you now I only allow my grandmother to call me Amelia; to all my friends, I’m Mia.”
She pointed at herself and her slightly oriental features. “As you can seem I’m a quarter Chinese; my father is Anglo Chinese, and he’s from Hong Kong. He met my mother when they were both working for an American bank in Hong Kong. I’m twenty-nine, and the eldest of my three siblings. I have a brother and a sister.”
She grinned at me and said, “When you speak, you remind me of my father; you both have the same accent. He calls it his public-school accent.”
I laughed and started to speak, but she put her hand up and said, “I know just what you are going say; my dad says the same thing all the time when people comment on his accent. ‘I don’t have an accent...”
“You do,” I completed. We both laughed, and for the first time she held out her hand. I took it in mine, and it was as though a spark of electricity shot through us.
She rubbed my finger and said, “No ring and you’ve never worn one, so I guess that means either you’re not married or the men in England don’t wear wedding rings.”
“Some do, some don’t, but I’m single and currently very much unattached. How about you?”
She seemed to hesitate before answering, “I’m not in a relationship at the moment. My job makes it kind of difficult for me to have one.”
I gave her a concerned look, I had written about love at first sight and stormy relationships. It was a little scary to think the girl of my dreams might turn out not to be available, to be a potential character from one of my novels.
She paused for so long I thought that she’d finished speaking, then with a slight shrug of her shoulders, she continued. “I’m a therapist, working for a marriage counselling practice. I get to see the broken side of marriage and relationships. I tend to see the issues and risks of a relationship. It sort of makes it difficult for me to have one of my own.” I felt that I was only getting the edited highlights.
I had always thought I knew about relationships; most of my books were about love and broken relationships, but as I listened to her musings that evening, I wasn’t sure anymore.
Mia seemed to relax and continued, “I’ve seen marriages founder on one wrong word and others survive the most extensive betrayal. I’ve helped incompatible couples find true love, and I’ve watched as the most compatible couples implode and burn.”
She finished in a very quiet voice as if she was talking to herself. “I love my work, but I’m scared it’s going to affect me.”
I squeezed her hand, and she seemed to shake herself back to the here and now. She looked up at me and gave me a quick smile. “Thank you for asking me out and thank you for listening to me, I haven’t done this for so long.”
“At least now I have a list of the nights you are free, well for the next week or so,” I said There’s a play I want to see in Denver; I can get tickets for tomorrow night if you’re interested.” I checked the calendar on my phone. “It’s one of your free nights,” I hinted.
She laughed, and her whole face lit up, “You put all my free dates into your calendar!” I showed her the calendar page with her free dates highlighted. “I’d love to go to the theatre with you, what’s the show?”
“Ah, now, that would be a surprise.”
She grinned, “I love surprises.”
We both ordered coffee. We were one of the last groups of diners left, and we were getting hurry up looks from the waiters. I paid the bill, and we reluctantly stood up, retrieved our coats and waited in the lobby until the car was brought around.
As we headed back into town Mia said, “Can you drop me off at the offices; I left my car there.”
“What about tomorrow, where shall I pick you up from?”
She leaned forward and fiddled with the navigation system, “There, I’ve set my home address; what time do you want to pick me up?”
I thought quickly, as I wanted to spend as much time as possible with this enchanting woman. “How about I pick you up early, I could show you where I live, and we can have light lunch. Then, we can drive to Denver and get a meal before the show starts.”
“How about you give me your address, and I’ll drive to your place for lunch,” she countered.
“That would work just as well,” I said, telling her my address and she stored it in her phone.
I pulled up outside her office block, and she directed me to the parking garage next door. I parked next to her car, and she went to open the door. She stopped, leaned over and kissed me, a long hard kiss that took me by surprise. I got out of the car with her and made sure she got into hers safely. I followed her out of the garage and down Main Street until she turned off and headed up the side street to her apartment block. I carried on and drove the five miles up into the hills, back to my place.
I sat in the car, listening to the ticks as the engine cooled. I pondered on her stories and the warm feeling I got from just thinking about her. I realized that I was experiencing something I’d never thought I’d feel again: love at first sight. Finally, as the cold started to bit into me, I went inside, poured a malt whisky and took it to bed. Sleep came quickly, and I dreamed of beautiful dusky oriental girls on a sandy beach.
Mia pulled up in the driveway at twelve-thirty, and my heart jumped at the sight of her stepping out of her car. I met her at the door and took her coat. She wore a blue linen skirt and dark blue blouse. She walked through, into the main room with the open fireplace and its wonderful view through the picture window, looking across the valley.
She froze and then whispered to me, “I love it. This is the home of my dreams.”
She wandered around, looking into all the rooms on the ground floor, then up the staircase to the mezzanine and my office. She sat in my chair and let her fingertips drift along the surface of my desk while she stared out at the same view I looked at every day as I worked. My eyes would be drawn up to the wall of glass that framed the slope down to the flat ice-covered expanse of the lake and the distant shoreline. The conifer clad hills provided the perfect backdrop to the glistening ice and snow.
I stood behind her and tentatively let my hands rest on her shoulders. She looked up at me, placed hers on top of mine and gave them a gentle squeeze.
She nodded in the direction of the view and said, “Now I can understand why your books are so full of love; how could you ever write anything ugly with that view in front of you?”
“You’ve read my books?” I asked. It was the one thing I’d carefully not asked the previous evening.
“All five of them,” she replied. “They sit on my bookcase in my office so I can reread my favorite parts when work gets me down.”
“If you’ve already got them, then I suppose that you won’t want these ones then?” I said, as I pointed to the five first edition hardback copies on the corner of my desk.
She picked up the top one and smiled at the words I’d written on the flyleaf.
This is a much
better book for me to read to you
I should know I wrote it
“Of course I want them. I’ll treasure them; do they all say the same?”
“No, each one is slightly different.”
She checked the front pages of each copy and smiled to herself. Then she said, “You promised to feed me.”
I led her downstairs and into the kitchen. I got out the smoked salmon quiche I’d been keeping warm in the oven and placed it on the table. The salads were in the fridge as was the bottle of Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc. We sat side by side as we ate the food and drank the wine. I could feel the heat from her; it was as though we’d known each other for years, not just a few days. I could feel the sexual tension sparking between us like static electricity.
“When do we have to leave to make the show?” she asked.
I checked my watch and did a quick calculation; the show started at eight. If we wanted to eat beforehand, then we needed to leave by five and that’s what I told her.
“Good,” she said, “Then we’ve got lots of time.”
She stood up and pulled me into a long sensual kiss that left me breathless. She took my hand and led me upstairs to my bedroom.
We stood at the foot of the bed, and I held her in my arms. My heart was beating rapidly, and my mouth was dry as I asked her, “Are you sure about this?”
She put her finger on my lips and replied. “I’ve never been surer about anything in all my life.”
She stepped back and slowly started to unbutton her blouse. I placed my hands on hers and took over. I felt her shiver as my fingers touched her skin when I pulled it off her shoulders and let it fall to the floor. Her skirt followed, and she stepped back into my arms. We kissed as I ran my hands down the curve of her back. Her fingers fumbled with the buttons on my shirt, opening it and sliding her hands over the skin of my chest. She reached down and unbuckled my belt, and then my jeans. She pushed me back until I sat down on the edge of the bed. She knelt in front of me and I lifted up to allow her to pull my jeans off. She gasped as she threw them to one side and her finger tentatively rubbed the bulge that appeared in my boxers. I moaned and reached for her.
She stood up, and I was able to appreciate her full beauty. Her elegant legs were enhanced by the sheer black stockings she wore. She reached behind her and unclasped the lacy blue bra, exposing her pert conical breasts and her large chocolate brown nipples to my hungry gaze. I reached out and slowly, deliberately, ran the back of my forefinger around the curve of her breasts. As my fingertip brushed over her nipple, she gave a sigh, the first sound she’d made since she started to undress. I hooked my fingers in the sides of the matching blue lacy panties, tugging them over her hips and down her legs. A fine line of black hair led to her glistening slit and I could smell her arousal. I pulled her to me and ran my tongue up her slit, tasting the sweet, sharp, spicy tang of her juice. She moaned as my tongue found her clit hiding at the top of her slit.
She reached down and pulled my boxers off allowing my hard cock to spring free. Her eyes widened as she saw the full seven inches standing erect in homage to her. She licked her lips, then the purple crown, running her tongue around the groove. I groaned, and she looked up at me with a satisfied expression.
I pulled her onto the bed beside me. Running my hands slowly over her beautiful body, I felt the fine hairs on her arms stand up, and the tiny goose bumps that covered her body created a Braille roadmap to her erogenous zones. I looked into her eyes, and I saw trust and lust in equal proportions. I claimed her lips in a long sensual kiss that left us both gasping.
She shivered as I caressed her breasts and gently pulled and teased her nipples. She reached down and cupped my balls in her hand. She drew her hand along the shaft and smeared the drop of pre-cum over the crown. Mia brought her finger to her mouth and smiled as she licked it.
I eased myself down her body kissing her as I did until I reached her belly button, then the tiny trail of fine soft hair that led to the soft curls of her pussy. She gasped as I swept my tongue along her slit, savoring her unique taste. I positioned myself between her thighs and she let her knees fall open, exposing herself to my gaze. She raised her legs and placed them on my back. I ran my tongue gently over the dark rose of her anus and heard her hiss, then I lapped at her wet lips, letting the tip of my tongue slide between them to taste her womanly heaven, sugar and spice and all things nice.
“Oh God, Daniellll,” Mia moaned, as she rose up on her elbows to watch me, then she threw her head and cried out as I slid my fingers into her wet passage.
I sought and found that slight roughness that announced her G-spot, that mysterious giver of so much pleasure. Gentle pressure had her writhing and gasping. My tongue found her clit rising from its hiding place, and I teased it until it stood proud and hard.
The walls of her velvety soft passage rippled, and her thighs shivered as she came. A small gush of girl juice coated my hand, and her fingers tightened their grip on my head.
“Ohh, yessss,” she moaned. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done this for me.”
She lay still for a moment, regaining her breath before pulling me up beside her. She held my turgid cock in her hand as she kissed me. She teased the tip of my tongue with her own.
“What is it about you that makes me feel like this?” she mused. “So safe, so comfortable, so natural, and no pressure.”
A somewhat odd thing to say, I thought, before I lost myself to the spikes of pleasure her hand was generating in my cock. She decided that I was as hard as I was going to get, all seven inches were throbbing in anticipation, and I could see the delicious trickle of her juices running down her inner thigh. “I need you in me as hard as you can,” she pleaded.
“Do I need a condom?” I grunted. “I know I’m clean,”
“No,” she moaned, “I’m safe; I’m clean. I just want to feel all of you as you slide into me; I want you to give me a treat and cum in me.”
I needed no further invitation as I pushed her over onto her back and moved between her welcoming thighs. She wrapped her legs around me, her heels drumming against the back of my thighs, and I slid hard and deep between her lips. I could feel her cervix at the top of each stroke, I took it slow, pausing each time I drew back, then slowly pushing all the way to the hilt. Each time I did, the base would press down on her highly-engorged clit, and she would cry out I varied the angle so that my glans would rub over her G-spot on each stroke. Her moans grew louder and more continuous.
“Oh my ... oh my God ... ohh fuck me ... oh ... oh ... oh fuuuck meeee,” was all I could hear.
I rolled her large firm nipple between my fingers, and I could feel the muscles in the wall of her passage start to spasm, as I continued thrusting. She reached down and used her fingers to gently flick her clit, and a few moments later, that tipped her over the edge and she came with an almighty scream. I was so close, the dull ache in my balls had been growing, and her orgasm pushed me over the edge. I cried out as streams of hot cum shot into her while my thrusts came to a shuddering halt.
We lay there, our bodies entwined until my cock deflated and I slid out of her.
We didn’t move and just lay on the covers, learning about each other’s bodies.
She told me stories of her visits to her grandparents in Hong Kong, and I told her about my one and only trip there, and of having dinner at the Peak.
We never made it to the show; we spent the night and most of the next day exploring our growing love for each other. I’d never met a woman I’d felt so comfortable with.
She told me all about her life and as much as she could about her work. Her position as a partner at the marriage guidance firm meant that much of what she did was covered by patient confidentiality, so I didn’t push her too much for details.
In return, I told her all about growing up in England, I will admit I left out the most sordid details of Liz and our relationship. That was something about which I couldn’t bear to talk. That pain went far too deep. All I told her was that Liz had been my girlfriend and it hadn’t worked out, just one of those things.
It was Sunday night before she went home and it was obvious to both of us that something special was going on. I moped around the house after she left; it was as all the lights had gone out.
I forced myself to look at the last couple of pages I’d written, and ended up deleting them. I looked at where I’d left my main character and a new direction suddenly popped into my head. My fingers flew across the keyboard and the story firmed up on the screen.
My phone distracted me, and I almost ignored it until I saw that it was Mia.
She said, “I’m sorry to call you this late, but I couldn’t sleep.”
‘Late’, I thought, then saw the time on the screen; it was three in the morning. I’d been writing for six solid hours.
“Were you asleep?” she whispered.
“No, I’ve been writing since you left, but I needed the interruption,” I told her, “I had lost the sense of the time and I need my lonely bed.”
I saved my work as we talked, and closed the laptop. Still talking to her, I undressed and slid into the bed that still smelled of us.
We talked until I heard her words slurring then trailing off as she fell asleep. I listened for a few minutes longer to the sound of her breathing and the little sigh she gave at the end of each breath, before I rang off and rolled over and fell asleep.
Over the next few months, our relationship steadily grew and flourished. She would spend a couple of nights a week at my place, usually on the days she didn’t need to work late. On the nights she did, I’d wait for her, and we’d go to her place. I got very friendly with the receptionist and the practices’ waiting room, but I can write anywhere and they let me use their Wi-Fi connection.
We went away for a short skiing break in March. At least, Mia spent several days teaching me how to fall down gracefully. The fun part was recovering together from the aches and pains in the hot tub on the apartment’s balcony. To me, it was surreal to be naked in hot water with snow settling on our hair. Her brother and his girlfriend joined us for the last couple of days. Mia told me it was the first time in a long time that she had been able to relax with one of her family.
We still had our ups and downs. I never understood why I wasn’t allowed to see her office. I understood why she could not discuss her cases, but she wouldn’t even discuss the methods she used. It was as though she had a split personality, and sometimes it worried me. It wasn’t that I felt it affected us, but that it upset me that I couldn’t help her when she came home all stressed.
Mia met Jenny when she came to see me about the new publishing deal she was working on. They really seemed to like each other, and once she’d worked out Jenny’s sexual orientation, Mia didn’t mind that Jenny stayed in my spare room for the trip.
Jenny and I began the planning for my autumn book signing tour of Europe. I was going to try and convince Mia to join me at some point of the tour. I even toyed with the idea of a romantic wedding and honeymoon during the tour.
Jenny left, and Mia and I settled back into our growing relationship. I was starting to see a long-term future for us, and I was sure Mia was thinking the same. We started to talk about our future, but there was always a hint of reserve from her. She was the first woman I’d felt so relaxed and comfortable with since Liz had ripped my heart out three, no, four years ago.
In the late spring, she took me to meet her parents in New York. I think I got their seal of approval. At least, her mother told me confidentiality, “I’ve read all your books, and I do like the love scenes.”
Everything seemed perfect until I received the fatal call from Jenny.
I was pounding my way through a new chapter when my mobile trilled. The caller ID told me it was Jenny.
I answered it, “And what can I do for you ‘oh love of my life’ on this fine sunny morning?”
“You can say yes.”
Now Jenny’s like a sister to me, but even so, I wasn’t going to say yes without an explanation. “Yes to what?” I queried.
“To me begging you to start your fall signing tour early.”
I fell silent not liking the sound of this. “How soon is early?” I finally asked.
“Like the end of next week.”
“For Pete’s sake, Jenny, why so soon? It’s supposed to start in October, not June.”
I listened with one ear to her rambling explanation; it was because the publishers had brought forward the launch of the latest book and that there was to be an announcement later next week that the studio had finally cast the main characters for the film adaption of my second book.
All I could think about was how this would affect my relationship with Mia. What was I going to do about Mia? Everything was going so well between us that I was scared to go. I didn’t know what a two-month absence would do to our relationship.
Both the publishers and the film production company were actively pushing me to start the tour as soon as possible. Jenny, as my agent, was pushing just as hard.
I finally ran out of reasons not to go, so I grudgingly agreed. All I had to do now was tell Mia without losing her. For the past few weeks, we seemed to have spent every free minute of our days together. We’d met after she finished for the day. Her hours were erratic, some days she’d be finished by mid-afternoon, others it was gone nine before she would appear. On those days I’d sit in the reception area waiting for her, I would take her home, and she’d curl up beside me. I loved the way she always smelt fresh and clean whenever I met her.
I had hinted at my worries to Jenny before she finished the call. She promised to keep in touch with Mia while I was away.
I knew Mia was hoping that I would ask her to move in; she had kept hinting that the drawer I’d given her to use wasn’t big enough. I had decided to surprise her; I had ordered her a key to my place, and I needed to pick it up today. I’d emptied half the drawers and cleared a space in the wardrobe for her things. I had even ordered her some sexy lingerie online that had arrived the day before. I’d carefully unpacked them and placed them in what I now thought of as her lingerie drawer. I had been going to ask her to move in with me after work that night, and I hadn’t changed my mind.
That afternoon I drove into town and picked up the key from the hardware store. I went to the bookstore and sat down at my favorite table in the coffee shop, nursing a cup of hot chocolate. I kept turning the key over and over in my hand and it felt wrong just to give her the key on its own. I looked around for inspiration and my gaze locked onto a woman sitting a couple of yards from me. She had an amber pendant hanging from a chain around her neck. The amber was vaguely key shaped. That was it; I’d get a gold chain and hang the key from it.
I headed for a jeweler that was across the road. They had just what I wanted, and they offered to polish the key until it gleamed. As I sat waiting for them to finish so I could pay, I looked in the display cabinets. There were several trays of engagement rings, and that’s what triggered my next thought. Whilst we hadn’t discussed marriage, I was sure that both of us were thinking about it. I’d ask her to marry me tonight. It was the perfect answer; I could declare my commitment to her and not feel that I was abandoning her while I was running all over the place signing the damn books. I mused about a quick wedding and a honeymoon during the signing tour.
There on the second shelf was a canary yellow diamond ring. The label said that the main stone was 1.5 carats while the two flanking stones were 0.5 carats each. The stones were set in platinum, and the price was ... dear God, eighteen thousand dollars. The trouble was, I could only see it in one place, and that was on Mia’s finger. I pulled out my credit card, Christ, I’d only come in for a $300 gold chain.
I made my way back to the bookstore and sat down again. I left a message with her receptionist asking her to meet me at the bookstores coffee shop when she finished work. It was six o’clock before she texted me to say she’d be there in twenty minutes. I sat waiting; my palms were sweating as I kept glancing at the top of the stairs looking for her to appear.
Finally, I saw her head as it appeared at the top of the stairs; she smiled when she saw me and walked over. I stood up, and we kissed. She had that fresh, clean smell she always had after work.
She said, “Hey darling, it’s been a real shit of a day; it’s so nice to see you.”
“Let me get you a coffee or do you prefer something else?” I asked.
“Can I have an herbal tea, please?”
I went up to the counter and ordered a coffee and tea. I looked back at Mia, she’d slipped her coat off, and she looked beautiful in a cream skirt and blouse. She saw me looking at her, and her face lit up.
I walked back to her, sat down and placed the drinks on the table. She picked up her tea and blew on it.
“What was the problem,” I asked?
She looked away, “I can’t really talk about it, other that I feel I’ve just wasted the past six weeks with this couple I’m working with. We are back to square one.” She sighed despondently and took a sip of her tea.
She looked over at me and said, “You look like I feel, is there a problem?”
“Jenny called, and she gave me some disturbing news,” I said. “The publisher is insisting I bring forward my fall book signing tour.”
“Can they do that?”
“Shit, when do you have to leave?” She asked.