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Authors: Emma Weimann

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Lesbian

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BOOK: Heart's Surrender
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“About the apartment.” Gillian swallowed on a mouth gone dry, “I took a taxi. Would it be all right with you if you took me home?”

Sam’s eyebrows nearly crept up her head. “To where you live?”

“Yes.”

“All right. No, no problem at all. But…you’re sure?”

Gillian shrugged. “No goodbye kisses in front of the house.”

Sam grinned and this time her eyes twinkled. “We could provide them with a special kind of show.”

“I’d rather not.”

“That’s a damn shame.”

CHAPTER 12

Loud music blared out of a passing car. A tall woman with Doc Martens hurried across the street, a bright green backpack over her shoulder.

Gillian’s gaze was drawn to the boots.
They look exactly like Sam’s.
Her heart started to beat a bit faster.
Well, they would without the pink bootlaces.
And Sam would probably never wear a short skirt. Sam’s ass was a lot hotter as well. And—

“Gillian, honey. Hello? Are you listening?”

Gillian tore her gaze away from the woman in the Doc Martens and looked at Rachel, who was dressed in a stylish white top, toffee trousers, and black heels—and still the Doc Martens stirred Gillian more. Much more. “Yes, sorry. I was daydreaming.”

Rachel raised an eyebrow. “You certainly didn’t hear one word I said.”

Shit.
“I’m really sorry. I’m a bit tired today.” Gillian rubbed her eyes.

“You do look a little under the weather. You could have said no when I phoned and asked if you wanted to go shopping.”

“I know.” Gillian rubbed the back of her neck. “I know. But I had to go downtown anyway and pick up a dress for Angela at Murphy’s.”

“That sounds enthusiastic…” Rachel’s eyes narrowed. “Is everything all right with you?”

Sure. I’ve been having amazing sex with women. Several times. One woman in particular and I can’t stop thinking about her. I hate my life. I hate my dead husband. I’m a lesbian or bi or whatever...everything is perfectly all right.
Peachy really.
Gillian plastered a smile on her face. “Everything is fine. Thank you for asking. It’s just that I woke up in the night and couldn’t go to sleep again. It happens sometimes.” One thing she had learned since Derrick’s death was that playing on other people’s pity was a good way of redirecting attention. And it wasn’t a lie that she had trouble sleeping most nights.

“Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I have a hard time going back to sleep once I’ve woken up. Especially when Harry is not there.” Rachel’s voice was surprisingly gentle. She laid her hand on Gillian’s shoulder. “You’re still not used to not having Derrick around, right? I can’t imagine how you cope without him.”

Very well, thank you.
“It’s not easy at times.” Gillian sighed to give her statement more emphasis. Guilt nagged at her conscience. Playing the mourning widow wasn’t a role she liked to play. Maybe meeting with Rachel had been a bad idea.

“You should really take up tennis again. Or come to the girls’ nights.” Rachel pursed her lips. “We could meet for breakfast again. We haven’t done that for a few weeks.”

Hell, no.
There was no way she would be having breakfast or sipping cocktails with the wives’ again any time soon—or ever. “Maybe. But…I think I need more time. And the kids need me.”

Rachel stopped in front of a jeweler’s display window. “Look, honey. This little beauty,” she pointed at a Cartier watch, “is going to be part of my birthday present.”

“Shouldn’t birthday presents be a surprise?”

“No.” Rachel shook her head. “I certainly don’t like the kind of surprises Harry usually turns up with. He has no imagination and no empathy.” A cold smile appeared on her face. “And since he has to make amends for doing something utterly stupid, this extra-flat Tank from Cartier is going to be one of my presents.”

“It’s a beauty.” The watch practically screamed expensive understatement. Gillian stole a glance at Rachel, whose expression showed off the coldness of a diamond and not the fury of a ruby.
I wonder what he’d done this time to make her so angry.

“We should go inside and find something nice to cheer you up. Look at those beautiful rings.”

Oh dear Lord.
A watch for over $30,000 was nothing that would cheer her up and a ring that was worth more than Sam’s car wouldn’t either. But this was a good time to drop the first bomb. Ignoring her plummeting stomach Gillian said, “No. I can’t. Not at the moment. This will have to wait until we’ve settled into the new house.”

“You’re moving?” Rachel’s eyes were wide as saucers. “Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this? Does your mother-in-law know?”

Bingo. “No, she doesn’t.”
But I’m sure she will at some point today.
Telling Rachel about the house was part of Gillian’s scaredy-cat plan. If Rachel told Margret…well, then Gillian wouldn’t have to. And then it would be Margret who would have to come to Gillian to talk about it—which was something the Dragon Lady despised. She wanted to hold court and have people come to her.

“Did you already sign?”

“No, but this weekend the kids and I will look at two houses on the short list.” Gillian picked at a piece of lint on her jacket. “With a bit of luck it won’t be too long before we can move.”

“But where to? And why for God’s sake. Your house is lovely.”

Gillian shrugged. “There are just too many memories linked to the house. I feel that we need a new start. And as to where…that depends.”

“But couldn’t your father-in-law take care of this? I’m sure he has the best connections.”

Not rolling her eyes was a major achievement. Hell would freeze over before she would ask him for help. “I’m sure he does. Absolutely.”

Rachel stared at her, obviously waiting for an explanation.

It would have been so easy to give in, to admit that she would get a better offer if James took over. However, this was not what moving into a new house was about. This was about taking control of her life—even if it was scary as hell. Gillian squared her shoulders. “I need to do this on my own. And I need to know that I can do it on my own.”

Rachel’s sigh was overly dramatic. “Let’s take a break.” She pointed to the coffee shop on the other side of the street. “I could use an espresso or two.”

“Sure. Yes.” An espresso didn’t sound like a bad idea.

A short while later they sat inside Marcello’s, the loud whir of a frothing machine cutting through the room. Soft jazz music played in the background.

Gillian’s gaze wandered around the room. She hadn’t been to this place before. It was similar to all the other fancy coffee shops that had been popping up around town these past years. The full service wait staff set them aside from their competition and probably contributed to the large number of white-collar guests.

“I’ll be back in a minute, dear.” Rachel got up from their table. “Please order my usual, will you?”

Gillian nodded. This was going to be a long morning. She hated how difficult it was for her to stand up to others, and how easy it would be to give in and go back to her old kind of life.
Baby steps.
She needed to take baby steps. But for today, she would give it a rest. She had to prepare herself for the fight with Margret. That one would take all the energy she had. And more.

A waiter appeared at her table. “Welcome to Marcello’s. What can I bring you?”

“Two double Espressos, please.”

Sam inhaled deeply. The smell of freshly brewed coffee was something she could easily get addicted to. It was only rivaled by the smell of fresh bread. But fresh bread wasn’t sold in this overpriced coffee shop, only sandwiches that cost more than a whole meal at her favorite hamburger joint. With a sigh she took the packet of coffee Linda had ordered her to pick up and handed two bills to the guy behind the counter.

“Here you go.” He handed her the change back.

“Thanks.” She threw a few coins into the tip jar.

Squaring her shoulders, Sam made her way to the exit, happy to be able to escape. This was so not her kind of place.

A guy in an expensive looking suit bumped into her. “Hey, pay attention to where you’re going, will you?” His voice was rough, his suit expensive and his hair as oily as a can of sardines.

“You do realize that you bumped into me, yeah?” She hated those know-it-all, have-it-all guys. Guys like her father.

Suit guy looked down at her. “You better run along before I inform the manager that you,” he looked her up and down, a sneer on his face, “are causing problems.”

People from the nearby tables stared openly at her.

Sam clenched her teeth. She really, really wanted to burrow her fist into his stomach. That however, would no doubt lead to her being thrown out and utterly humiliated. If they didn’t call the police and then things could get really ugly. That would not do. She knew that, with her dirty work clothes, she stuck out like a sore thumb. The payback for this shopping trip would be a bitch for Linda. No more buying coffee in fancy coffee shops just because a special kind of brew was on offer. Nothing was wrong with coffee from a supermarket. “I think that I’ll now take a step to my right and walk around you. And then I’ll leave and try my best to forget about whatever just happened. All right?”

“Just leave,” he growled.

And she did just that, not remembering when she had last felt this shitty. She threw a glance over her shoulder.

His gaze was trying to burn holes into her body.

She slowly released her breath and was only a few steps away from the exit when a woman with blonde hair caught her attention. Strange how she always thought of Gillian when she saw someone with the same hair color or style. Sam stopped in her tracks. This woman did look amazingly similar to Gillian. Sam squinted. Was that…
Gillian
.
Wow.
It really was her. Sitting alone at a table. Sam bit her lip. For a moment she wasn’t sure if leaving wouldn’t be the better option. She had no doubt that the ape-man with a suit was still watching. However, the chance to see Gillian and talk to her…Sam couldn’t resist. A smile spread over her face. Maybe killing Linda for this errand wasn’t necessary after all. Sam pulled the free chair out at Gillian’s table. The scrape of metal on the floor made her cringe.

Gillian looked up, an expression of surprise replaced by a short moment of joy. The moment of joy however was replaced by a frown—a frown that wasn’t replaced by excitement or delight as Sam had hoped.

“Hi there, good looking.” Sam sat down on the chair, her gaze glued on Gillian’s face.

“Hi. What a surprise. What are you doing here?” Gillian cast a glance toward the other side of the coffee shop while biting her lip.

Sam stretched her legs out under the table. “Yeah, this is not my usual joint. But the coffee is supposed to be good and, unfortunately, Linda is a coffee snob. And as much as I’m not into this whole coffee scene…it’s so nice seeing you here.” Sam lowered her voice and leaned forward, her hands nearly touching Gillian’s. “I thought a lot about you today.”

Gillian drew her hand back and rubbed her neck. “Yes. Look, Sam. This is really not a good time.”

“Oh. All right.” Sam put slightly shaking hands on her knees. “You okay?”

A flicker of hesitation crossed over Gillian’s face. “I am. But Sam could you please—”

“Everything all right, Gillian dear?”

Sam looked up into the blue eyes of a woman who was dressed like Sam’s mother used to. Actually, a lot like Gillian was dressed today as well…all businessman’s wife.

“Yes, thank you. I am fine. She,” Gillian pointed at Sam, “was not feeling well. And sat down.”

Confused Sam looked from Gillian to the other woman. What—

“Well, she looks pretty okay now.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Sam saw the guy from earlier advance toward the table. She curled her fingers into fists until her knuckles stood out white against her dark blue trousers. She wet her lips.
Shit.
“I don’t really think…”

“So,” Gillian said, averting her eyes, “if you’re feeling better…I believe my friend would like to sit down.”

Sam stared at Gillian before she looked up at the friend. The memory of an early morning encounter hit her like a punch in the stomach. She had seen her before. This was the woman the annoying building manager had drooled over. And she had come out of the apartment with Gillian on the very morning Sam had seen her for the very first time. Together—as in early-morning-coming-out-of-the-same-apartment together. Sam tried to draw in a breath but couldn’t. The walls of the coffee shop were pressing in on her. This couldn’t be happening. It had to be some kind of joke or misunderstanding. She tore her gaze away from Gillian’s “friend” and focused on her face. A face that was hard as stone. This was not the Gillian she had made love to. This was not the Gillian who laughed with her and made Sam feel whole. This was a Gillian she didn’t know. And didn’t want to know—because this Gillian made her feel sick and cheap.

A rough hand touched her shoulder. “Are you on drugs?” The guy from earlier had joined them.

“No.” She shook her head.

“I’ll get the manager. She’s crazy.” He walked toward the back of the coffee shop, determination in his steps.

Gillian’s friend pointed at the chair Sam still sat on. “I hope the paint on your trousers was dry. I wouldn’t enjoy having to send you an invoice from my drycleaner.”

Sam blinked. It was as if all the air had been sucked out of her lungs. Everything in her screamed to get up and run, to leave this place. She looked into Gillian’s pale face. Why was Gillian so quiet? Why didn’t she say something? Anything?
Why doesn’t she defend me?

“This one.” Suit guy was back, pointing a finger at her.

With him was the guy who had handed Sam her coffee. His earlier smile however had been replaced by a stern expression. He looked from Gillian to Gillian’s friend and then to Sam, obviously trying to make sense of the situation. “I hear there’s a problem?”

Gillian’s friend was the first to react. “There is. This woman is in my chair.”

“Ma’am,” he looked at Sam, a frown on his face. “Maybe it would be better if you left.”

“But I—”

“I have to agree.” Gillian’s voice sounded raw.

This had to be a nightmare, similar to those where Sam thought she could fly and then crashed down and died. Sam dared a glance at Gillian whose face was as pale as porcelain. There was no eye contact. There would be no help coming from Gillian. Sam was on her own. Forcing down her urge to turn and run, she stood up slowly. Her knees were shaky.

BOOK: Heart's Surrender
4.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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