“Patrick, I need immediate pickup from the tower.”

“Copy that, sir – already en route, over.”

“Estimated arrival?”

“T-minus six minutes, over.”

“Good, hold it steady, I’ll be up shortly.”

“Wilco, over.”



“Thank you, Patrick.”

“Anytime, over and out.”

Of course, I didn’t require Patrick to speak in Military grade communications to work for me, but when he was focused on mid-flight communications, he usually reverted into his many years of training.

Realizing that I was still naked, I took a moment to bathe in the morning sunlight pouring through the windows. Nobody could see me up here. It felt liberating.

“Cole?” Kiona was rising from her slumber; in all likelihood, she had been stirred awake by the conversation.

“Good morning,” I hurriedly answered, stepping into my closet to quickly dress myself. I could hear some moving about in the bed, and cursed myself for waking her. It should have occurred to me to step away to call, and now she was going to wake up just in time for me to rush out the door.

I could only blame myself, really.

“Cole, honey, is everything okay?”

“Yes, yes, everything’s fine,” I lied, snapping the last buttons closed and threading a tie. “Just lay back down and get some more sleep.”

“Are you heading into work?”

“No,” I tersely answered while slipping into a fresh pair of slacks, before realizing my absent-minded mistake. Should have just said yes, kept it simple…

“Oh, alright then. Taking a trip?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, good. I’ll get dressed.” She started to get up.

“No, it’s not that kind of – I mean, I’m running late.”

“Not that kind of trip?”

I didn’t have time for this. “I’ll only be gone a few hours,” I told her reassuringly, leaving the closet with a pair of socks and shoes.

“But I thought you said I’d be joining you on your trips,” she said indignantly. Kiona was wide-awake, sitting up in bed and clasping the comforter to her chest.

“You will, but not this one. I’m already going to be late – just trust me and stay here.” I tried to calm her down, but Kiona had not responded to waking up to anything less than a fairy tale morning after. She turned her head in irritation, but I couldn’t dedicate the time to this right now. “Get some rest. I’ll be back, and everything will be fine.”

As I slipped my socks on and tied my shoelaces, she didn’t move a muscle. With a heavy sigh, I stood up, suppressing a quick, raspy cough into my fist. I moved to hold her cheek with my clean hand, but she whipped her face away.

“Don’t be like this, Key,” I pleaded. “I won’t be gone long. You know that I’m busy.”

“Right. Busy.”

Now, my concern was flashing to anger. Gritting my teeth, I restrained myself from lashing out, choosing to simply cast her a glowering look. She was still incensed, but I was already late. Patrick would be waiting for me, and even with the speed of his craft, I wasn’t going to make it in time. I so hated being late.

With a heavy, angry heart, I left her in the room.

Crossing the penthouse, I straightened my tie as my shoes clattered against the tile flooring. Several chambers away, my hired maid peered from her work, and I gave her a curt nod of recognition. As I walked past, I realized that I must look absolutely dreadful – and a mirror came into view around the corner. Catching an image of myself, I remembered that I hadn’t bothered to wash my face or brush my teeth – and my hair was a slight mess from the events of the night before. I tried to tussle my hair lightly in my reflection, but to no avail.

I had woken up so refreshed and happy about said events. It’s really a shame that my fiancé had to dispel the entire illusion, I thought to myself rather coldly.

Yes…coldly, I agreed to myself, taking a deep breath as I strolled towards the foyer. That’s what I needed – coolness. Indifference. Apathy. I needed my fortifications to slide back into place, reinforced from such frivolous thoughts. To think that I had been so foolish to let them down at all!

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