Authors: Demelza Watts
he next few
days seemed to go by in a blur for Amber. She concentrated on rectifying the design work at his penthouse in Notting Hill. Looking around when she arrived on Monday morning after collecting the keys from the agency, she could see why he was frustrated. Nico and Amber had settled on a soft and relaxing colour palette consisting of dark brown, creams and a lovely shade of duck-egg blue.
Unfortunately the new designer has decided to inject some brighter colour fusions throughout the place, which had totally killed their vision. It took a good few days consisting of phone calls and painting to begin its return to its former glory.
Amber loved being in Nico’s penthouse. She had been thinking about him a lot over the past couple of days. She checked her phone regularly to see if any message came through from him, but was disappointed each time. As he had mentioned before, he was due to stay in Milan for at least another ten days. Right now, it felt like an eternity.
She had finally admitted it to herself after her chat with Beth on Sunday evening, that yes, somehow she had fallen hard and fast for Nico Moretti and there was nothing she could do about it. Having never experienced or been in love before, these all-consuming feelings felt out of her control, but at the same time she was relishing it. For the first time in her life, at aged twenty-two, she, Amber Preston, was in love.
Laughing out loud to herself, she couldn’t wait to speak with Nico when he was back. After the night they spent together, she knew, could sense, that he also felt that something special was happening between them, especially if she was to believe what Mia said about his feelings for her. She only hoped that he would forgive her for her harsh good-bye.
late Wednesday night by the time Amber finished for the day. Too exhausted to go home, she decided to take Nico up on his offer and stay the night as, after all, she would be back here first thing anyway.
Stripping off, she stood under the spray of hot shower in the main bathroom. She used some of Nico’s shower gel and shampoo and deeply inhaled his scent. Desire flooded through her core as she thought of him, wondering when they could next be together. Nico made her experience things she never thought she could feel and she couldn’t wait to be in his arms again.
Her skin flushed as she thought of him touching her with his tongue and as the hot water poured over her sensitive body, she felt a pulsing need between her legs. Reaching down with her hands, she began to lightly rub her clit, picturing that it was Nico touching her. Moaning in pleasure, it didn’t take her long to bring herself to a climax. Amber reached out and turned off the shower.
She smiled to herself as she thought of what she had just done. If only Nico was really here. Still, in just over a week, she was sure they could be together, if he was willing to give them a chance. More than anything, Amber felt guilty as she knew that he must have been feeling confused and hurt for both times they had been together, she had run away from him. If only she’d get the chance to explain it all to him and tell him about her fear of commitment and trust. She didn’t want to end up just like her mother – dead from a broken heart.
Amber wrapped herself up in one of Nico’s fluffy white towels and padded to the bedroom. There were a couple of guest bedrooms down the hall, but as she peered into his bedroom she helped design, the temptation was too much to resist. Grinning to herself, she pulled off her towel, and slipped on one of the spare loose t-shirts she kept in her bag and crawled in Nico’s bed. She held the sheets up to her nose, hoping for a trace of his scent, but alas the sheets were freshly laundered. His huge king size bed was incredibly comfortable, and it wasn’t long before Amber fell into a deep and long sleep.
long and hard for the next couple of days and by Friday evening, when she locked up Nico’s penthouse behind her, she was pleased with the progress of how much she had accomplished in a week. Confident that she would finish the project within a day or two, she was tempted to send Nico a text to inform him of the good news, but somehow she stopped herself. She owed him a lot more than a mere text message. As hard as it was, she decided to wait until he was back the following week to properly speak with him. She was confident her agency was sending him updates either way, so at least he would be kept informed of progress one way or other.
She was up early on Saturday morning and was just finishing up her coffee when her buzzer sounded.
“Hey chica, it’s me. Open up!”
“Hi, hon. Come on up.”
A few moments later, Beth came bounding up the stairs dressed in her running gear. They made it a point to go running over Clapham Common every other Saturday and then to have a leisurely lunch together to catch up over the week’s events.
“Morning, hon.” Beth walked into the flat and flopped onto the sofa, yawning widely.
“You okay, B?”
A deep flush spread across her face as she lowered her lashes. “Um….yeah, just tired.” Her face broke into a grin.
“Why you so tired?” Amber eyed her suspiciously.
“Well…okay, you asked for it. Theo kept me up for most of the night, if you know what I mean.” She waggled her eyebrows up and down suggestively.
“Ewwww, yuck! Thanks for the vision.” She laughed as she threw a cushion a Beth’s head, who ducked just in time. “Are you sure you want to run? I mean
you run?” She smirked at Beth.
“Very funny. Yeah, let’s do it. Besides, we’ve been so busy lately, it will be good to catch up.” She stood up and reached for Amber’s hand, pulling her up at the same time. “Come on, let’s take it easy, we can run and chat.”
The girls made their way outside in the September sunshine. The weather was predicted to be a warm twenty- degrees Celsius today, but it was still cool at this time of the morning so they zipped up their running jackets. Crossing the busy main road, they walked into the park and took a few minutes to warm up and stretch before they started their light jog.
Amber loved living in Clapham – it was very convenient for getting into central London and the open spaces of the Common drew lots of people from surrounding areas for plenty of summer events ranging from outdoor movies to music concerts. There was always something to do in Clapham as it catered to both the young family and single professionals like herself. It really was a multicultural melting pot and Amber could never imagine going back to Taunton. Surveying the park, she noted the early morning runners like themselves, some with dogs running beside them as well as the various and numerous groups of people exercising together.
“So, how’s it going with Nico’s penthouse?” Beth asked as they ran together on the path.
“Oh, I’m so pleased, B. It’s coming together so well. If you’re around next week, perhaps I can show you quickly? I’m sure Nico wouldn’t mind.”
“Really? Only if it’s okay…I’d love to see it.” A beat. “Have you heard from him?”
Amber sighed. “Nope. Nothing. I wish he’d just sent a message asking how it’s going…or anything.”
“I’m sorry, Ambs. I guess maybe he’s hurting too? Have you tried to message him?”
“No. I know I screwed up, B. I have been thinking about everything you’ve said.”
Beth raised an eyebrow. “And?”
“And you’re right. I can’t hide my heart away for fear of some man walking all over it. Like you said, it may never happen.” She stopped jogging for a moment and lightly ran on the spot as Beth mirrored her actions.
“I want him, B. More than I’ve ever wanted anyone. I think you’re right. I think I’ve been in love with Nico all along.” She smiled at her admission as her cheeks coloured. It felt good to finally say it out loud.
Beth threw her arms around her. “I’m so pleased you have come to your senses, Amber. That’s wonderful! And from what you’ve told me, I’d say it’s mutual.” She grinned at Amber. They picked up their pace again, jogging next to each other.
“B? What if he doesn’t want me? I mean, both times we were together, I ran away. Surely he must think I’m some kind of weirdo. I also think, from my departure from Lake Como, that I’ve hurt him quite badly. I can’t erase his expression from my memory. What if he hates me? In fact, I’m sure he does, why else has he not even been in contact?”
“Whoah! Back up, sister.” Beth held her hands up. “You’re totally jumping to conclusions again. You need to talk to him, Amber. Explain the real reason you are or were scared of giving your heart away. If he loves you, he’ll understand. I’m not arguing that he isn’t hurt, but give him a chance at least.”
“I will. I can’t wait to talk to him. It didn’t feel right sending him a text message so I’ve held out.”
“When’s he back?”
“I’m not a hundred percent sure. I checked with the agency and they are expecting him back next Thursday or Friday. Either way, I’ll be finished with his penthouse by Monday or Tuesday at the latest, so I’m hoping they’ll let me take the key back to him.” She smiled as she thought of Nico. She couldn’t wait to see him again.
They continued their run for another half hour by which time Beth was tired and really in need of a large breakfast.
They made it to their local cafe and Amber watched in awe as Beth tucked into a large plate loaded with cooked food.
“Oh my god! Where do you put that?” Amber laughed as she watched Beth eat.
“Funny, Ambs. You try going at it all night. It really gives you a great appetite the following day.” She winked at Amber and continued to eat her eggs. Amber burst out laughing, loving her free-spirited nature. Theo was so good for her.
“So, any thoughts on your wedding dress? And I hope you’ll stop eating like that or you won’t fit into one.”
“Hmmmmmm, true, but at least I won’t be starving.” Amber gaped at her and Beth burst out laughing. “About the wedding dress, I’ve had a few thoughts, but I haven’t really seen anything I like.”
“Okay, in that case, if you are open to it, can I introduce you to Mia? Honestly, B, I don’t know if she designs wedding dresses, but she is extremely talented and just so lovely. I’m sure you’ll love her too when you meet her.”
Beth stopped eating whilst she thought for a minute. Then her emerald eyes lit up. “Wait! Did you say her full name is Camilla?”
Beth face split into a wide grin. “I don’t believe this. Remember when I went to Barcelona and told you about those wonderful dresses I got to borrow from the stylist? I do believe they were Camilla Moretti dresses! Oh my God, how exciting!! I
her name rang a bell. I’d love to meet her!”
“Wow, B, that’s such an amazing coincidence!” Amber laughed, shaking her head. “Well, clearly it’s fate! She texted yesterday to say she was held up for a few more days, but she’ll be back on Tuesday so I’ll introduce you both next week.”
“Fab! I can’t wait!”
he girls chatted
through breakfast and then decided to go back to the flat and watch a few movies for the afternoon. Both were in the mood for a lazy day so it suited them just fine.
“Ambs, do you mind if we stop off at the newsagent? I promised Theo I’d pick up some of the financial magazines he likes to read.”
“Sure, of course not.”
They crossed the road and walked the few metres to the shop, which held just about every kind of magazine one could want. Finding the financial section, Amber surveyed her nails as Beth went about selecting the titles for Theo.
“Amber?” She looked up as Beth’s face paled. “Isn’t this Nico?”
Amber looked at the latest investment magazine that Beth was holding. Her heart rate sped up and then she felt it stop as her breath caught in her throat. There was an article about Moretti Investment Banking and it looked like there was some sort of celebration taking place from the pictures surrounding the article. Her eyes zeroed in on a photo of Nico standing next to an extremely gorgeous Italian-looking girl. She was gazing up at him adoringly and he looked just as besotted with her.
Amber’s eyes welled with tears and a cry escaped her. Her hand flew to her lips to muffle the sound of her heart shattering as she ran out of the shop, gasping for breath.
mber and Beth
slowly made their way back to the flat. She didn’t care that she caught the eye of passer-by’s who looked at her in concern at the sight of the tears running down her face. Beth had stayed with Amber all afternoon and into the evening, holding her as she cried in her arms. Worried about her, Beth had insisted that she would stay the night to give Amber some much-needed support, but Amber had politely declined. She told Beth that she just wanted to be on her own to process her feelings and Beth had reluctantly agreed to go home. Picking up her purse, she hugged Amber fiercely.
“You know, hon, it could just be an innocent photo?” She smiled weakly as she tried to come up with another reason to explain it.
“It’s okay, Beth.” She shrugged her shoulders. Her eyes were puffy from crying and she could feel them welling up once again. “It’s probably for the best I find out now. I mean, this is how it’d probably always be. I don’t want to become insecure about myself always wondering if Nico was with another girl. I won’t become that person.” She blinked her tears away, forcing herself to be strong.
Beth reached out to stroke her arm. “When you feel stronger in a couple of days, promise me you will at least talk to him? At least to give him a chance to explain?”
“Explain what, Beth? That he was really into me one minute and then as soon as I’m out of sight, that he’s found my replacement?”
“All I’m saying is, don’t be so quick to judge.” Her next words were spoken softly. “Don’t forget, you’ve run out on him twice. Think about what he must be feeling too.”
Amber squeezed her eyes shut. She could feel the onslaught of a headache and all she really wanted to do was take a hot bath and crawl into bed. Promising Beth she would call her tomorrow, she shut the door and leaned back against it.
Could it be possible for the heart to hurt so much, she wondered? Is this what it really meant to have your heart broken? If so, she definitely felt her heart breaking into a million pieces.
mber vaguely heard
her alarm going off on her phone early on Monday morning. Turning it onto snooze, she contemplated calling in sick as she really couldn’t face the thought of being in Theo’s penthouse. She battled with her conscience and then finally gave in to her professional self, which told her to complete the job objectively. She sighed and made her way into the bathroom. Looking at her reflection, she noticed that her face was pale and drawn, with dark shadows under her eyes owing to the terrible night sleep she had. She decided to give herself a pep-talk. “Come on, Amber Preston. You can do this. Just finish the job and you’ll never have to see him again.”
She made up her mind to get as much done as possible and if she worked at double-speed and stayed late, hopefully she could finish today and give his keys back to the agency tomorrow. With renewed determination, she quickly showered, grabbed an orange juice and with heavy steps, made her way to Notting Hill.
mber was completely focused
for the remainder of the day. At first, when she walked in, she felt her eyes well up once again. Chastising herself for being overly emotional, she took a deep breath and forced herself to just finish the task at hand.
If she wanted that promotion at work she was gearing up to receive, she needed to make sure that this was her best work yet and she couldn’t do that if she was crying tears over Nico. Putting her feelings aside, she threw herself into the job by putting the final touches to the place. It looked amazing, and she was sure that Nico would be very happy with it.
Feeling a little light-headed, Amber decided to give herself a break and sat down with her sandwich just after four o’clock. She often lost herself to her work and more than often, forgot to have lunch. Her sudden weakness was probably her blood sugar levels taking a plummet.
Opening up the sandwich she’d picked up from the supermarket earlier, the pungent smell hit her like a physical assault. She gagged and screwed up her nose before double-checking what she had bought. It was the same sandwich she usually purchased and the date hadn’t yet expired. There had to be something wrong with it anyway. She threw it away, but couldn’t shake the nauseous feeling for the remainder of the day.
Around eight o’clock, the light was setting outside, and Amber surveyed her work one last time. She had done it. Incredibly proud of her achievement, she ran her hands along the granite counter and smiled to herself. If she had to design a place for herself, it would pretty much be a copy of this. She loved the colour schemes, the textures on the walls the masculinity of the place, which balanced itself with some softer touches sprinkled throughout the penthouse.
She picked up her bag and as she stood up, a wave of dizziness crashed over her. Clutching the wall for support, she took deep breaths to calm and steady herself. Suddenly very tired and wanting nothing more than her bed, she closed the door softly, locking up behind her.
Too weary to take the tube, she flagged down a taxi and collapsed into the back, shutting her eyes.
“You okay there, love? You’re looking awfully pale.” She snapped open her eyes, seeing a concerned look from the driver in the rear-view mirror.
“Yeah, fine thanks. Think I must be coming down with a cold or something.”
He smiled at her and set off towards her flat. Amber closed her eyes and was just finding herself drifting off when she heard a loud beep from her phone, indicating a text message. She pulled open her eyes and swiped her phone to read it:
: Hey, Amber, I’m back! Are you around tomorrow?
: Hi Mia! So pleased you’re home. I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to your text yesterday. Not feeling very well so was just in bed for most of the day.
: Oh no, sorry to hear that :(
: Come over tomorrow when you can, I’m home all day. Would love to see you.
: Perfect, can’t wait.
: Night, see you tomorrow x :)
: Buonanotte x :)
They soon arrived at her flat and once inside, Amber managed to take sips from a tall glass of water, a quick shower and then threw herself into bed. She had a feeling she was coming down with some sort of bug because she felt terrible.
he following morning
, Amber felt worse. She took her temperature, but surprisingly didn’t find it elevated. Her throat wasn’t sore either. Still, she felt like someone had run over her body and more than anything, her head felt like it was going to explode and her stomach recoiled at any movement. After making a quick call to work, she went back to bed. After seeing her mother die of an overdose, she rarely took painkillers unless she had absolutely zero choice. Deciding to see if she could sleep off her headache, she closed her blinds and slipped back under her covers.
A few hours later, Amber woke up, startled by the sound of her buzzer. Groggily getting out of bed, she went to see who was at the door.
“Amber? It’s me, Mia!”
“Mia? Oh! Please come on up.”
She opened her door and stood there waiting, whilst trying to smooth out her bed hair. A few moments later, Mia walked up the stairs looking incredibly glamorous and stylish. Amber immediately felt self-conscious standing there in her t-shirt and knotted hair.
“Amber?” Mia looked at her, concern filling her eyes. “Are you okay? You don’t look so good.”
Amber attempted to smile, but was hit with such a strong wave of nausea that she held up her hand and ran to the bathroom. Mia followed her, concerned, and got there just in time to hold her hair back as Amber violently emptied the very minimal contents of her stomach.
After a few more dry retches, she sat back on her heels, taking a few deep breaths.
“I’m so sorry, Mia. I don’t know what’s wrong. I thought I had food poisoning, but I haven’t really eaten anything.” She closed her eyes as she felt a cool wet cloth pressed against her forehead.
“Don’t be silly, Amber. You don’t have anything to apologise for.” She continued to gently cool her face and then Amber stood up and reached for her toothbrush. Glancing at herself in the mirror, she balked at her reflection. She looked really pale and quite ill.
“Is your doctors surgery close by?”
Amber finished rinsing her mouth. “Yes, not far. Do you think I should call them?”
“Well, how long have you been feeling like this?”
“Since Sunday, really. Well mainly the headache, but I’ve been feeling really light-headed and nauseous from yesterday.”
Mia considered her carefully.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
Mia chewed her lip, her green eyes sparkling. “Amber, can I ask you something personal?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” She shrugged her shoulders.
“Okay, well, this grosses me out to ask, but aside from last weekend, you said you’d been with Nico once before, right?”
Amber blushed and looked away, wondering why she wanted to know the details now. She nodded and splashed cool water onto her face.
“And…can I ask when your last period was?”
Amber’s eyes widened in surprise. “Mia, why on earth do you want to know that? I mean, I don’t keep track too well, but it’s usually every four weeks. I mean—”
She stopped dead in her tracks. Her period was due last week, she was sure of it. Running to her bedroom, she grabbed her phone, noticing the missed calls from Mia and Beth. Wow, she must have been in a very deep sleep. Flicking to the calendar, she normally indicated the first day of her period so that she could keep a rough idea of her cycle.
Her mouth fell open in surprise. She was over a week late. How had she not noticed? Her eyebrows knitted in confusion and concern.
She felt Mia sit down next to her on the bed.
“I’m late, Mia.”
Mia nodded. “Don’t freak out, okay, but I’m just going to run to the nearest pharmacy and buy you a pregnancy test. Si? Is that okay with you?”
Amber snapped her eyes to Mia. “Pregnancy? I’m not pregnant, Mia! I’m sure of it. I’m probably just late because of all the stress I’ve been under. There’s no way I could be pregnant.” She shook her head in confusion. “I mean, we used protection. We were careful, Mia.”
“I know, bella. I’m sure you were. Just that these damn condoms have a way of not always functioning one hundred percent.” She smiled as she stroked Amber’s hair. “It’s up to you, Amber. I’ll do what you want.”
Amber chewed her nails, considering what Mia was telling her. There was no way she could be pregnant. She refused to entertain the thought, instead believing that her body was just under stress. Still, the nagging doubt in the back of her head was telling her to check, just to be sure.
“Okay. I really don’t think I am, but you’re right. Best to rule it out. There is a pharmacy about five minutes from here.”
Mia jumped off the bed and after she got directions, rushed off to buy a test.
She was gone for the longest fifteen minutes of Amber’s life. “Sorry, Amber. There was a really long queue.”
Amber shut herself in the bathroom and quickly ripped open the packet, scanned the instructions and then sat down on the toilet to pee on the stick. Her heart was beating out of control as she waited for the test to develop. Mia was patiently waiting in the front room, giving her some privacy.
Not even one minute into the test, a strong second line appeared in the window of the test stick. Amber felt her stomach drop. It was positive. She was pregnant with Nico’s baby.