Daunting – Chapter 9
No copyright inFRiNGEment intended.
Note: this is the last part; i know it's been a long time, hope you're still with me ;)
A Loft in Boston
"You were asleep when I got back to the car," she pleaded, her eyes on the elevator digits. "Don't tell me now that I was supposed to wake you up. You made it perfectly clear that you were sleep deprived."
"Still. I feel…"
"I was gonna say ridiculed."
"My intention never was to mock you. You're under my supervision…"
"Am I, really?"
"… I happen to have your address. So please don't make a big deal out this and spoil the…"
"I won't." He leaned to her, his mouth brushing the tip of her ear and her hair.
He was so relieved with the results of his interview with Broyles and Olivia's visit that nothing could dampen his enthusiasm. "You got to admit that your phone call with Charlie took like an eternity and that your car is very comfortable, and quite irresistible on a full stomach."
The elevator doors swooshed open and he walked her to his door.
"Excuse the mess, I wasn't expecting visitors." He let her go past him and held his breath. Having her around was far more pleasing than what he had anticipated.
She walked slowly to the centre of the apartment, silently noticing the 52-inch LCD TV screen, a Star Trek DVD collection, stacks of video games and a bunch of Wii remote and Nunchuk controllers scattered on the hardwood floor. Piled up against the counter, were moving boxes full of books. She checked the titles on her way to the picture-window. Quantum mechanics and physics, mathematics, ancient history, she smiles. "Stacks of books and unopened cases, more books? Did you rob your friend?"
"This Markam guy, the guy from the bookshop we went to see together for the ZFT manuscript."
He chuckles. "He's not my friend, not really. Let's say he helps me and I help him. And nope, I'm afraid they're all mine; you might say I'm a keeper."
"Is it your way of telling me that you've got more things stashed than your father?"
"Well at least I can recall where I put them."
She squinted to a framed black and white picture. "It's you and Walter yes, you were what? Four?"
"More like three I guess. This was taken during summer. Holidays, probably."
"Who's the woman with the glasses, she looks like a movie star, is that your mum?"
She felt his mood change instantly. She placed a calming hand on his, shot him an apologizing glance and crouched down to the coffee table. Her fingers brushed paper sheets scribbled with his precise handwriting. "What is it? Your take on Fermat's theorem?"
"More or less. I'm working on a theory. I'll let you know if anything good comes out of it." He managed to keep an even voice but it broke in the end. "Let me show you the view." He helped her back on her feet. "That's where we came here for huh?"
She tossed her coat on the couch and followed him. The loft had a full view of Back Bay and Beacon Hill; Charles River was glistening at their feet, and she could even discern Boston harbour in the distance. "That's fantastic Peter! Now I'm jealous."
"Is this your way of pointing out that I should have told you from the start?"
"No, of course not! I understand now, when you said it was a real bargain. But you're right, I wish you'd told me. Peter, after everything that's happened, sure you reckon we wouldn't have gone that far without you. Not only you're good to Walter but you're a real asset to my team and…" she whispered the last words, "I trust you with my life."
"So I'm part of your team now?" He failed at defusing the tension that was oddly building.
"You know you are, what's got into you?"
"Sorry, I guess I'm getting paranoid over the lack of sleep."
"You kidding me?" She turned away from the window and dropped on the couch. "You've been asleep for the best part of the day! Still I'd like to ask you something, and don't you dare elude my question..."
"Why I kept it from you?"
"That's not exactly what I was gonna say but yes, I guess."
"I was afraid you'd laugh."
"Laugh, what would make you think that?"
"Obviously my reluctance to fly back to Massachusetts is a clue."
"We're way past that, there must be something else."
"Yes, I imagine there is, but it's a story for another time, over diner, maybe, you'll bring dessert."
She looked away and tried to change the subject but realized her choice was bad the minute she opened her mouth. "You have a real fireplace, does it work?" She winced, graphic pictures of naked bodies lying on goat skin carpets flashing in her head.
"I haven't time to verify that, but we could give it a try some day."
"Is that a proposition?"
"Sure is! But hopefully snow will not blow over Cape Cod bay anytime soon..." he grinned. She couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed. He caught her mood. "Well let's not get over ourselves here, what can get you, whisky, beer, Seltzer with a twist... coffee?"
"What about some tea?"
"Coming right up, feel free to investigate further but don't expect me to reveal my shady past tonight." He busied himself with fixing a tray. "If you prefer to stay in, we can order in. Would you like that?" He sat the tray on the coffee table and faced her.
Her hair spilled on the cushions, her lips barely parted, her breathing even, she was sound asleep. He gently put a blanket on her legs, stroked her cheek and turned to the view with a sigh.
Thousands of city lights were coming to life. He shoved his hands in his jeans pockets and pressed his forehead against the cool glass.