“No, we’ll be fine,” I told her, reaching for my key.
“Excellent. Call us if you need anything.”
I gave Samantha the courtesy of a nod, and she returned to her post. I had always liked her. She didn’t fuss over me, only ensured that I walked into the building with my needs met, and left it at that – none of the hushed idolatry that came from some of the other employees of the luxury apartment complex.
“You’re so fancy that you get your own entrance?” Kiona asked from beside me.
“Originally, the rooftop manor belonged to the owner of this establishment. When I took it off of his hands, I kept the private elevator and had the other entrances sealed.” I unlocked the door with my key, revealing the open elevator.
“Isn’t that unsafe? What if this breaks?” She asked as we stepped inside.
I turned to push the ascension button, choosing the top floor. After all, this elevator still had the infrastructure to reach the other floors if it needed to. “This is a reliable piece of machinery. It doesn’t break, and I pay for a technician to inspect it twice a month. Even if fate intervened, I happen to own a helicopter and employ a very capable pilot. I believe you might remember.”
We began to ascend, and spent the rest of the ride in silence. Dozens of floors came and went as we rode high up, and I briefly suppressed a coughing fit, squeezing out just a few to release my tension. We were suddenly bathed in light, and Kiona turned to realize that the back of the elevator was glass – and that we were now ascending above the city.
“You and your spectacular views,” she murmured in hushed delight.
I straightened my tie, hiding a smile. “They suit me.”
* * *
“I think I’m ready to make this work,” Kiona told me thirty minutes later over another pair of wine glasses. Her face was stern, somewhat contemplative. It was absolutely beautiful in the dim lighting of my home, as the sun was setting again. “I’ve given it some thought, and I think I might really, actually love you.”
“I almost believe that,” I smiled.
“You’d better believe it,” she grinned. “Because if you don’t, nobody else will. You and I… Look, maybe we got off on the wrong foot here.”
She reached forward, sliding her palm along my arm. A quick breath escaped my lips at her touch.
“My, you really are having a change of heart.”
“You humiliated me. I’m not going to let that slide. You also could have handled things better at work. Honestly, though? I’m not so worried about that anymore. I mean, sure, I’m worried about Larry and the department, but if this deal goes through none of the office politics really matter.”
“I’ve smoothed some things over with the company,” I told her. “The first thing I did after I returned from Tokyo was call everyone into a companywide meeting and tell them how it’s going to be from now on.”
“You went to Toyko?” She perked up, her hand lifting from my arm. She steadied her elbow against the counter and held her chin against her palm. “And why the hell didn’t you invite me?”
“You wouldn’t pick up the phone,” I told her firmly. I was still angry that her absence had made my talk with Alphonse fall apart, but at least now it seemed that I didn’t have to fight her anymore. “I needed you, and I couldn’t reach you.”
“But you knew where I lived.”
“You think that was the first time I came to knock on your door? I’ve been there a few times. That’s why the paparazzi were so quick to mobilize…that, and you took forever to pack.”
“Oh, hush,” she told me, firing off a mockingly angry gaze. “So maybe I have a life that doesn’t revolve around my fake husband. Are you jealous?”
“Back on topic,” I continued, “I spoke to everyone. They all understand that it’s my fault, and that I was a fool for doing that in front of them all. I pinned the crosshairs on myself, so to speak.”
Kiona was staring at me with a quizzical look in her eyes.