Read Chapter 23 here with Cupcakemummy
Subject: Hey, You are quite.
It’s been two days. Did I scare you off with the news of the cover? J Getting a bit worried. Please let me know we are still good to go.
Subject: Ok I am freaking out.
Winter what the hell is going on? I am freaking out here. Michael took a week’s leave and I have NONE OF YOUR NUMBERS. His phone has been off this whole week. .
PLEASE let me know we are still good to go.
5 days and nothing…
What is it with people disappearing? The other day I couldn’t find the Mateo’s or Noah. The day he left me hungry. I had to settle for a bagel. A stale bagel. I went by the Mateo’s and the place was closed. Odd for a weekday but I didn’t want to intrude so I just left it. I have been enough of a burden to that family. I am a really worried about Winter. She is always pretty fast to reply. Shit I hope she isn’t backing out now. I will be severely ticked off if the is bowing out mere days before we are scheduled to submit. Perhaps I should look for a replacement. You know, just in case. I really like Winter. Really. But I can’t afford to screw this up. Not after my first novel. It was a hit and I am still not quite sure how that happened but it was a miracle that book saw the light of day. It was ever meant to be submitted actually. Michael proof read it and I think it was then showed to Mark who actually took it to the boss. Wow, I only remembered that now. Mark and Michael made my dreams come true. Mark.
Mark is coming over tonight for drink. He texted me earlier saying I have delayed long enough and he isn’t taking no for an answer. I planned to work from home today to clean. But I can’t get Winter off my mind. I am terrified she drops me now.
I drop her one more mail before I need to clean up after the psycho dog.
Subject: Winter, Please
Where are you? It’s been a week since I last heard from you. I am on the verge of finding a new illustrator. I am worried about you Winter. If something is wrong please tell me. If I can’t help I can hook you up with some happy pills. (Ok maybe not, but I’ll try)
Please let me know you are ok.
I close my laptop and grab the broom. I have always been particularly good at cleaning. There is something that satisfies my soul when I make a surface glisten. It is therapeutic. The music is blasting and I seem to get lost in the cleaning. I might have taken it a step too far by dusting the tops of the kitchen cupboards. I doubt we will be having sex up there. But you can never be too sure.
I glance at my kitchen clock and realize its 30 minutes until the doorbells is supposed to ring. Shit. Crap, I haven’t shaved. I run a bath and sink into the warm soothing water. I got bath salts from Mama Mateo and they are amazing. It feels like every part of my body is massaged but teeny tiny hands. She made it herself. Its rock salt and herbs from her garden. I breathe in the aromas and breathe out the weeks stress. As good as this feels I have a dark cloud hanging in the back of my mind. Winter. It’s so hot and steamy in here I hang my one over the edge of the bath to cool off. I’m just closing my eyes for a second.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
Shit. Crap. Fuck. I dozed off. I yell to the door while I jump, and I mean jump, out of the bath. “I’ll be there now, just a sec!” My hair is wet! Everything is wet! I caused a tsunami while getting out of the bath and the entire bathroom is a wetland. To make it worse the damn dog thinks its a game and is running his wet paws all over the house. Kill me now.
“Just a minute, I am coming! Please don’t leave”
Please don’t leave? I am so classy. Why am I such an idiot around him?
I run to the door with a cotton towel wrapped around me and my wet hair dripping down my breasts and clinging to my back. I swing the door open and he doesn’t say a word, but he bites his bottom lip and gives me a side-smile. “Look I am sorry I was in the bath and was warm and smelt so good…” He pulls me in closer mid sentence. I can hear his heart beating faster. He is hugging me as if he hasn’t seen me in days. I love it. I take his hand and lead him into the lounge. He stops me in the foyer and pulls me into his arms once more. I stare up at him and lean it. Just as he leans in. Heads but. Nice going Iris. Mark gives a little laugh and hugs me tightly with both arms wrapped tightly around my back. I imagine this is what people call “bear hug”. He takes one hand and swipes the hair back from my neck. He gently kisses my bare neck and shoulder.
“Iris I like you. I like all the angry hand gestures when you are on your phone. I like that you pretend not to care about anyone but you are always mindful of others. I like the green in your eyes. The gold shimmer in your hair when you swing your chair into the sun. The dimples when you smile. The sweet smell of your shampoo. I like it all. I want it all. Go put some clothes on and let me take you to dinner . Give me the chance to make you like me”
Oh Mark. If you only knew. My heart sinks a little. I can’t manage to get out anything audible and settle for a slight nod before I run off to get dressed.
I check my emails one last time while I am drying my hair.
I drop the hairdryer and it makes the noise of glass being shattered on the wood floor in my bedroom. I think I broke it. I cannot believe my eyes. My heart drops into my stomach and I feel wickedly guilty. Mark runs into the room screaming. “What happened? Are you ok?” He sees the hair dryer on the floor. “Iris, what’s going on?”
“Winter was in an accident” I say softly as I can feel panic rise up into my throat.
“Who is Winter?”