The next week was a whirlwind of activities. Mitch lived up to his promise and took her wherever she wanted to go. By the end of the second week she had visited what seemed like every possible genealogy resource within a 15-mile radius. She was exhilarated and exhausted. “I think I’m done. I mean, once I log this all in I might need to double check a few sources here and there, but I can do that online. I can’t believe everything that I found… we found. I could have spent the whole month doing this on my own and not located half what we did. Thank you so much for helping me.”
She leaned over the car console and gave him a quick kiss; the first real physical contact since the kiss at her door step nearly a week before. “It was my pleasure.” He smiled and continued to drive towards their last stop for the day, Ian and Sandra’s place.
Finding the car suddenly silent Diana asked Mitch; “How is your mom doing?” Mitch’s impromptu trip the week earlier was due to his mom’s sudden illness. Well, sudden to him. He explained that he felt something was amiss the last time he visited his parents, but nothing was said. When she was rushed to the hospital because of low blood pressure his dad finally admitted that she was being seen by a local doctor. For what Mitch still didn’t know. “She’s doing well today. Dad said she’s behaving and not running about like she usually does. I know that must be driving her mad.”
Mitch didn’t say it in so many words, but he was truly worried. She’d learned over the course of the week that the bookstore was his mother’s dream and one his dad was happy to fulfill. When Mitch showed interest in helping a few years ago his dad was the one to push the idea of the two of them retiring and letting him take over. “My mom wasn’t as excited as him, but I have a feeling dad knew something was wrong.” He noticed for the last couple of years that his mom was doing less and less.
“I didn’t think much about her not traveling as much, but when I noticed she’d stopped gardening, I couldn’t deny it anymore. I just wasn’t able to get them to admit anything. I’m a grown man and my parents are trying to protect me. Can you imagine?” She could, her own would probably do the same when the time came.
As they pulled up to the side of Ian and Sandra’s house she waited as Mitch came around and opened her door. “I wish I’d freshened up before we came over.” “There was no need. You look lovely.” He helped her out of the car and linked her arm in his.
“Is this your first time here?”
“It is. We keep meeting at the pub which has been nice, but I’ve wanted to see where they live.”
Before Mitch could knock Sandra opened the door and gave the two of them hugs. “So glad y’all made it!” She seemed overly excited. She just saw Sandra the day before.
After Mitch passed by her she gently grabbed Diana’s hand and whispered in her ear; “He’s here.”
Sandra raised her eyebrows. “Who else?”
Diana shrugged her shoulders.
“Alex!” Sandra said it loud enough that a few of the people near them looked over.
“I didn’t realize this was a full blown party.”
“Ian never does anything half way, which means he invited all his friends, including Alex. Is that okay?”
“Of course it is.”
Sandra greeted guest and headed into the other room. Diana wasn’t sure why she was making such a fuss about the two of them. No one except Alex knows what happened that night. Oh no, what if Alex had been talking. Other than the teasing he did that first time. “Surely not.”
“What was that?” Mitch handed her a drink.
“I’m just surprised you know what I like to drink.”
“I’ve seen you order it a few times now.”
She smiled; glad she didn’t have to explain her slip up. “This is a much bigger gathering than I had expected.”
“Typical Ian though. I’ve known him a few years now. We don’t hang out often, but he tends to be the life of the party. I never asked how you knew Ian and Sandra?”
“We met on a cruise a few years ago. We were assigned to the same table and hit it off. We had hoped to visit them” she paused thinking about Aaron “even had dates set up, but it just didn’t happened; till now.” She took a drink and continued. “Sandra and I talked on the phone over the years, but we’ve always wanted to curl up on the couch and talk for hours like real friends. I know her and Michelle would get along too.”
“Well, now’s your chance.” He pulled her over to the couch Sandra was sitting on, talking to a man with a smelly pipe. “You mind if my lady has a chat with the hostess?”
The gentleman smiled and gave a nod to Sandra. “Certainly; I need to refill my pipe anyway.”
Sandra mouthed the words ‘thank you’ to Mitch as the man walked off. She patted the cushion he just occupied for Diana to sit on. “I’m off to talk with some friends I see. You good?” He looked at Diana, waiting for an answer.
“I’m great. Thank you.”
After he was out of ear shot, “Did he call you his lady?”
“I caught that too.”
“So this is news to you?”
“It is. He’s been wonderful company this week, but no passes have been made.” At that declaration she laid her head against the back of the couch. “I thought maybe after I told him the long sorted tale of Aaron and I he’d run, but he’s been great all week, yet no flirting. I mean he was such a flirt when I met him. It must be knowing all the details. I knew I shouldn’t have told him. Not that it matters, I can’t start a relationship with him and then leave. That would be foolish.” She closed her eyes and rolled her head from side to side. “What am I doing?”
“You’re traveling to new countries, meeting new people. It’s exciting. Enjoy it.”
“But I’m starting to like him.”
“Then like him. You don’t have to jump him.”
“I know!” They both giggled like school girls. “I just thought maybe he’d be more than my tour guide. I guess deep down I am hoping from some summer romance. Oh man, I need to stop that kind of thinking now.”
“You know if you stayed you could think about it.”
“As exciting as that sounds, there’s no way that’ll happen.”
“There’s people back home, family and friends. I can’t just leave.”
“Of course you can. And it doesn’t have to be permanent. Why not just extend your stay and try working here, living here, being my best friend and doing this more often.” Sandra curled her legs up under her and batted her eyes. “Please”
“Does this work on Ian?”
“It does. And often.” Ian leaned down and kissed Sandra’s nose. “We do have work for you if you want to try it out. We also have a room or you can stay in one of Alex’s places.”
At the thought of staying in one of Alex’s places Diana coughed. “Before y’all talk me into getting a work visa or whatever paperwork I’d need to fill out, can you direct me to the restroom?”
They both pointed towards a hallway. “Be back in a bit. Y’all please continue planning my future. It beats me having to do it.” She winked as she walked off towards the hall.
She immediately began digging in her purse for her cell phone. She wanted to send a quick text to Michelle about Mitch calling her his lady and Sandra’s suggestion to stay longer.
“If you aren’t careful you might run into someone.”
Her stomach fluttered and her breath became short. “Hello Alex. Sorry I didn’t see you. I had my mind on other things.”
What was with this man? Did he just like taunting her? “I’m heading to the restroom.”
“Looks like you were texting someone.”
“I was doing that as well. I just have a short window before she’s in bed.”
“So not a man then?”
“My best friend; she was asking about Mitch.” That wasn’t true. Why did she say that?
“How has that been? Ian said he’s been acting as tour guide for you.”
“He has taken me out. Museums and local sights; it’s been an exciting week.”
“Sounds it” as he spoke he edged closer to Diana. In the tight hallway she felt trapped. He said something, but she missed it with her mind focused on his hands tracing the rim of his glass.
“What was that?”
“I said I wanted to explain about the other night. Perhaps we can over a proper dinner and date.” He took another step closer making her bend her head back to look at him.
“You don’t need to explain. As I said before you caught me on a bad night and I apologize.” Was he getting closer or was the room getting smaller? She tried to distract herself by putting her phone away.
“I have to do this.” Still thinking he was talking about explaining himself, she lifted her face to tell him, again, that it wasn’t necessary. When she did she was nearly nose to nose with him. She stopped before words left her mouth, holding her breath.
He sat his drink on the hall table and started to caress her bare arms, to her shoulders, stopping at her neck, his eyes left hers briefly to focus on the pulse in her throat. He slowly rubbed the pad of his thumb across it. Her heart was racing. She wouldn’t be able to deny that he excited her.
“You do the same to me.” He whispered just as his lips touched hers. The kiss was slow, his lips pressing softly against hers. But with each second that passed he became more demanding. To keep herself from leaning in to him and in a feeble effort to push away, she put her hands on his chest. She could feel his heart pounding just as fast as hers. Knowing that gave her courage.
She leaned in to the kiss while her mind screamed for her to stop. But it was quickly shut up when one of his hands slid up the back of her neck and his fingers gentle pulled her hair at the roots. His other hand slowly slid down her back, resting on the rise of her backside. He pulled her into his body.
She could feel he was aroused and moaned, he pressed her tighter till she could feel his full length. Her hands moved from his chest to his neck and around to the back of his head. Making the kiss deeper, pushing her tongue past his teeth and tangling with his. He responded with a mirrored moan and moved them deeper into the shadows. When her back was pressed firmly against the wall he dared to speak; “I can’t figure out what it is about you that makes all rational thought leave my mind. I know you leave in a few weeks, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting you.”
She laughed into the side of his neck; “I figured the fact that I was leaving in a few weeks is what made me desirable.” She was slowly grabbing on to reality and started to clear her mind. “This really should stop now.”
Sensing she was withdrawing he came in for another kiss; this one with more passion than the previous and his hands were everywhere on her body. She was losing track of where each one was, so lost in the feel of his body pressed against hers, his smell, his lips… she reminded herself that she was a single woman with no commitments to any man. If this one wanted her, and she certainly wanted him, what’s to stop them?
They continued till she felt his hand at the hem of her skirt. “Wait” she whispered, “we can’t do it here.” Though the idea suddenly thrilled her, she still had enough sense left to know that it was a bad idea.
“I won’t stop till you agree to dinner.” His hand caressed the back of her thigh.
“Are you trying to blackmail me?” She strained to sound stern but his tongue was tracing the shell of her ear and his warm breath against her neck was playing havoc on her concentration. As she tried to string together a coherent sentence his hands went around her backside and lifted her, forcing her to spread her legs and wrap them around his hips or fear falling.
“We have to stop.” Or at least that’s what she tried to say when he continued to trace her jawline and his stubble grazed the top of her breast. “Okay, I’ll go on a date with you. Just please stop teasing me.”
“Teasing?" He kissed the top of her exposed breast. “You think I’m teasing? Just say the words, or simply nod your head and I’ll finish what we started last week. There’s a room at the top of the stairs. I could do this proper, or I can have you right here. You decide.” He punctuated his statement by sliding her against his length.
She looked up towards the second story and felt Alex’s body turn, as if to take the stairs that instant. “NO! I mean yes, to the date. But no to what will no doubt be mind blowing sex that I’m already regretting not having, but no. I don’t even know where I stand with Mitch.” She pulled away, trying to adjust her dress and straighten the top.
“Just because you turn me on with a simple smile doesn’t discount the friendship I have with Mitch.” Oh that sounded weak. Friendship versus passion is a hard one. “I really like Mitch and need to know where we stand before I just,” she was looking Alex in the eyes, his passion filled eyes, still dilated from desire eyes, she could feel his need like pulsing heat. She swallowed;
“As it is we don’t even know each other, so we can’t just,” she looked up the stairs, wondering if it was the door she could just barely see in the dim light. Her mind was inside that room, naked on the bed with him calling out her name. She shook her head, took a deep breath.
“When do you want to do it?”
“I’m good with right now.”
“I’m on a date with Mitch.” She was confused for a moment then realized his double meaning. “You free in a few days?”
He leaned his forehead on hers with his eyes closed, “You’d make me wait that long?” both hands bracketed her face while he gave her one last world ending kiss and then he turned and walked away. She fell back against the wall and tried to recover. “I have a date with a man who can make my clothes melt off. This can’t possible turn out well.”
She steadied herself and called Michelle, no text would suffice.