I stole a glance at Tessa, trying to not make it obvious. Her face stared blankly ahead looking… sad. The close proximity of having her in my arms made it awkward, and we both just traveled in silence. I wondered what was running through her mind, what were her thoughts, her fears.
Kicking the door open with my foot, I crossed the threshold with Tessa still in my arms. The heat of the cozy room washed over our frigid frames instantly. I quickly walked over to the rocking chair in the corner of the room and snatched the thick quilt that draped over it. I wrapped the blanket around Tessa’s shoulders as I placed her down gingerly, not sure how her feet would feel.
“Thank you,” Tessa said between chattering teeth.
“Stay by the fire until you warm up.”
Tessa nodded as she placed her shaking hands in front of the fire.
I sat down on the wooden table chair, unlacing my snow-soaked boots. My toes stung, and I couldn’t help but worry what poor Tessa’s little feet felt like. She still stood before the fire, shaking more as the numbness wore off and no doubt the realization of truly how cold she was set in.
“Do you need anything?” I asked, worried about her, but not wanting to push too hard. I could still see her temper hadn’t fully simmered down, and mine sure as hell hadn’t.
“No,” she said softly, not even looking my way.
“I’m going to go into my office for a little bit then.” Maybe it wasn’t the best thing. Maybe I should have doted on her, or even demanded an explanation. Maybe both. But for right now, I needed to hit the pause button and breathe and allow all the crazy, confusing emotions to dissipate a bit. And I figured she was in the same exact boat.
After finally feeling warm and dry, I marched toward his office with a heavy heart. I hadn’t meant to upset Price, and most likely I’d scared him. But I couldn’t give up on my dream with this man either. Not when he was the first person I truly felt passion for in a long time. Well, that… and this job. I really did love being his assistant as well.
I padded through the main room, my mouth dry. As I walked toward the door, I steadied myself for his anger. My knock was light, hesitant. I didn’t feel like I should just walk in like I had done so many times before. “Price?”
I waited, wringing my hands together as I struggled to catch my breath. I heard his heavy footsteps rap against the hardwood floors as he appeared in the doorway of his office.
“What do you want?”
“I’ve come to apologize for snapping at you the way I did. Regardless how I feel, I shouldn’t have spoken to you in that manner. I shouldn’t have stormed out without thinking and making you go out in the cold to find me.” The words came out colder and more formal than I had intended them to.
“Fine.” He spun around and stalked back into his office.
He slowed at the sound of my voice and peered over his shoulder. My heart fell to the pit of my stomach at the hurt I saw in his eyes.
“I tend to fuck things up in my life. I run really fast without thought. I didn’t exactly get the best guidance.” I paused and took a deep breath. “There is no one else I could imagine being with besides you. I need you,” I stated, unconsciously reaching out a hand, beckoning his touch. “I need whatever this is between us.”
He stared at my hand and then at my tear-filled eyes. His expression firm, unbreakable, then softly it melted. He turned so he faced me fully, his body taking up the entire space of the doorway.
I stood still, barely breathing, my hand still outstretched. “Please. I want this more than anything. But I don’t want it if I lose you by pushing too hard… or not hard enough. I need some guidance here. I need you to guide me.”
I turned to walk away, not wanting him to see me cry anymore. He grabbed hold of my wrist and pulled me close to him.
“Don’t leave,” he said. “We have some things to discuss, and to correct,” he added as both the tone in his voice and his eyes darkened.
* * *
“There are consequences for your actions,” I said, never breaking eye contact.
“Maybe it’s time you really fire me,” she said, though I got a feeling she knew that wasn’t even an option. Hollow words.
“I had warned you that this wasn’t a normal job. It’s not black and white here. My rules don’t follow the ordinary path.” I walked over to a dining room chair in the main room and pulled it out from the table. “Come kneel on this chair. Ass out.”