They both suffered from a serious case of cabin fever. Outside snow piled up and temperatures plummeted. He made those his excuses for not leaving her side. She often caught him in unguarded moments, when he wasn’t on the phone for work, pacing with pent-up frustration.
By Tuesday afternoon, she needed to do something. She clicked off the television, bored to pieces. Despite his thousands of channels there was nothing worth watching.
She went to the kitchen, snacked a little, and wandered into the foyer. Her gaze lingered longingly on the front door. Fresh air might do wonders. She was beginning to feel restless, trapped. She didn’t dare let those feelings build. She didn’t want her anxiety and claustrophobia to mount a misplaced attack on Logan after he’d been so good to her.
The sound of heavy weights clanking filtered up from the basement. He worked out for hours to take the edge off. She had no such luxury. He barely let her lift a finger.
Going to the hall closet, she donned her coat and ventured outside. The crisp air singed her nostrils and filled her lungs.
Invigorating . She went down the steps and stood marveling at the winter wonderland.
The bare trees were stark and beautiful against the blue sky. They cast purple shadows across sheets of crusted snow that glittered with blinding intensity. Squirrels scampered busily harvesting their underground reserves. A cardinal flew past and perched on a nearby branch, its scarlet feathers a delightful contrast to the wintry landscape. She inhaled deep and sighed with contentment.
Until the front door burst open.
Squirrels scattered and birds took flight. She turned to find Logan glowering. His hair and clothes were damp from exertion, muscles glistening and powerful. “What the hell are you doing?”
She blinked. “Getting some fresh air.”
“You shouldn’t be out here.”
“Why? It’s beautiful.” She smiled.
He stared at her stonily. “Inside. Now.”
She rolled her eyes. “What, is an icicle going to get me?”
He didn’t share her amusement. “You’ll catch a cold or slip on the ice. Or worse.”
The or worse held weight. “Logan, your security system encompasses your entire property. Deadly icicles or deranged deer or Trevor won’t get within shouting distance.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Then what is?”
“You need to be where I can find you. Don’t go outside again.”
Things declined from there. He became obsessed with her every move. He had an opinion about everything. How much or little she ate. If she sat in the wrong position. If she didn’t sleep well enough through the night. If she stayed on her feet too long.
“Geez, Logan. Give it a rest. I’m not that fragile,” she told him Wednesday morning. “You can even leave the house. I’ll survive.”
“I’m not leaving your side. I don’t trust anyone to keep you safe except me.”
“Trust me when I say, if you give me one more order I’m going to lose it.”
“You could’ve lost your life,” he snapped. “Or the baby. I’m not taking chances.”
“So your solution is to make us both prisoners in your fortress?”
“If that’s what it takes.”
“We can’t keep going on like this,” she lamented. “I need my space.”
He spread his arms. “I have ten-thousand square feet of space. What more do you want?”
“To get out. I don’t do well in confined situations.”
“I don’t like this anymore than you.”
“Then do something to change it.”
“Like what?” he roared.
“Leave me be for one day!”
“Fine.” He stormed off. He disappeared into his study, returning phone calls the rest of the night.
Feeling bad about their argument, she decided to make him breakfast Thursday morning. She brewed coffee and cracked eggs into a skillet. Bacon sizzled. Potatoes browned. She smiled when he padded barefoot into the kitchen wearing a navy robe.
He scrubbed his eyes. “What’s all this?”
“You said last week I’d get the bill for your massage services.” She winked. “I thought I’d work it off in trade.”
He poured a cup of coffee, looked at the stove and frowned. “You shouldn’t have started the eggs yet. Hash browns take the longest. The eggs will be cold, the bacon charred by the time the potatoes are done.”
She jabbed the bacon with her spatula. “I’m still working on my timing.”
“You have to think things through, Allison. You’re a smart girl. I expected you to figure out breakfast one-oh-one by now.”
“You know what? Forget it.” She grabbed the pans and emptied them into the disposal. “Sorry I’m such a disappointment.” She threw the cook wear in the sink.
He paused, his coffee cup halfway to his lips. “What’s your problem?”
One of them needed to get out of the house. Preferably both of them. She was sick of his constant harping, her faults their sole topic of conversation.
She called Devon. “I need you.”
“Uh-oh. What happened?”
“I have to get out of here. Logan is driving me crazy. He gives me orders like a damn drill sergeant and I’m sick of it!”
Devon paused. “I think that’s the first time I ever heard you swear.”
“If it keeps going like this, I’ll be reduced to worse things than swearing.”
“Okay. Let me see what I can do.”
To Allison’s shock, they were in Logan’s Escalade heading to the office within the hour. Thick silence built a wall between them. She hated this atmosphere of animosity. How had two weeks reduced them to petty bickering?
She wanted to clear the air, but he seemed in no mood for discussion or compromise. She felt she’d been more than fair and understanding, while he’d digressed into a tyrannical overlord.
It didn’t bode well for the future.
Her heart sank. What if they couldn’t make this work? What if she was too independent and he was too controlling to the point of impasse?
The notion sickened her. She’d thought for sure they could get through anything. Look at what they’d overcome so far? Yet their dual obstinacy only pushed them further apart.
After he rattled off a list of strict expectations, and the exact timing of her “retrieval,” Logan dropped her off at the restaurant where she met Devon for lunch. He pulled away, heading to the office.