When he starts to cut the wood, it’s like he turns into a different person, or at least a side I haven’t seen before. He’s full of focus, looking at me like I’m the key to something that he’s trying to find. The way he works is swift and efficient, and I wonder if he works this quickly when he doesn’t have a subject that he’s working from. I lose track of the time, watching him work, and when he steps back from the much smaller piece of wood, I realize that I’m starting to go stiff.
There’s only a very vague shape to the wood now, planes and angles that I suppose I could maybe see how they’ll shrink down into a body? But I’m not sure.
Robert stretches, and I’m distracted by the strip of skin that shows when his shirt pulls up. “I think we’re down for the day.”
“Okay,” I say, dropping the pose. I give in to the urge to stretch too.
Robert sweeps me up into his arms. “I’m going to feed you, and then I’m taking you to bed. And tomorrow, we’ll do it again.”
I smile, because that sounds perfect in a way that nothing has in a really long time.
The days in the cabin fall into a rhythm. Robert and I wake up curled around each other, and we eat breakfast together before we do our chores. In the afternoon, Robert works on the sculpture. It takes shape before my eyes, and I’m in awe of the way he draws my shape out of the wood. I am in awe too, of how he looks at me, and marvel that something so beautiful is supposed to be based off me.
Sometimes in the evening we bathe in the giant tub, soaking in the heat until the water prunes our fingers. And of course, there’s the sex. We fall into bed together at the end of the day and there’s pleasure that blows my mind. Robert has absolutely kept his promise of two orgasms per day, and it’s usually more. On more than one occasion he’s stopped sculpting and taken me because the heat that was building between us was too much to ignore.
It’s not long before I realize that I’m falling in love with this man. Everything about him speaks to who I am. I learn more about him and his family, and more details about why he left. He doesn’t hate his brothers, but is fed up with the fact that they tolerate his father’s behavior. The depth of his love for art inspires me. We talk about my life, and what happened, and how it might be possible for me to get my career back.
But the longer I stay out here, the longer I realize that Robert was right. I needed to clear my head. And even though I lost everything, maybe it was worth losing. I’ve been happier this month than I have been in years. I never thought that a life away from a city would be my thing, but it’s been…refreshing. And of course, being with Robert has been the icing on that cake.
But today is day twenty-nine, and I have a ball of dread in my stomach. I don’t want this to end, but I know that it has to. When we ended the carving session today all that was left were the tiny details. Smoothing the line of my hips and doing some refining around my eyes. Other little things too that I’ve already forgotten, but Robert knows.
When we went to bed, neither of us spoke about the fact that it was our last night together. Or the fact that he made this deal with me, never imagining that we’d actually get to the end of it. But now that we’re here…
I can’t do it.
It’s fully dark, and Robert’s arm is around my stomach possessively. I love the way it feels, and I don’t ever want it to end. But how can I be that selfish? I came out here to retrieve Robert Logan, the wayward son of a millionaire who has money to burn. I did it so I could get back the life I’d lost. Instead, I’ve fallen in love with the real Robert Logan, the artist and mountain man, who had good reasons for leaving. There are other ways that I can get money. I can’t justify dragging Robert back to a life he hates so I can get back a life I’m not sure I even want anymore. Which is why I have to leave.
Now. Otherwise, he’s not going to let me go.
Robert’s breathing is smooth and even, and I’ve laid beside him enough that I know he’s deeply asleep. I slip out from underneath his arm and pull on my clothes quickly. My bag is already in my truck—a part of the bargain since I agreed to cut myself off from the outside world. The dread in my gut only gets heavier as I creep silently down the stairs and let myself out into the cool of the night. This isn’t what I want, but Robert is too honorable and I know he won’t go back on his word.