Wait, what? Blinking a few times, I frowned at him. “Excuse me?” Did I miss something? I didn’t notice him speak at all… in fact, I was almost sure he was having the same thoughts as I was. Guess my imagination was getting the best of me… I was clearly seeing things.
Callum remained close to the door, not bothering to move or greet me ‘hello’. “You said Mark was the other man in your life. I’m asking how many men are there.”
“Um, not a lot.” I smiled, trying to lighten the mood in the room. “My number is not like yours. Not that I want it to be, of course.” My smile flittered away when I noticed his jaw had locked together. “I mean, your numbers must be impressive, but I’m not planning to run around London and match yours… well, um, I wasn’t trying to insult you. Goodness, that wasn’t my intention.” Fucking shitty hell. I was rambling on and I knew I should’ve stopped when I saw his jaws pressed together. Why, oh, why did I always act like a fool when he was around?
“Can I get you anything, a drink perhaps? Sorry, but I forgot the reason for your visit, Cal.” Strolling towards my desk, I was about to get ahold of my phone to call for refreshments when he interrupted me.
“I don’t need a drink or anything else, I’m not staying long. We haven’t spoken in days and I was already around this area, so I thought I should drop by and say hello. It was a momentary lapse; I apologize for interrupting your working afternoon. I’ll see you around.” Callum paused for a moment, eyes penetrating into me before he spun around and left my office.
“What the fuck was that?” I whispered into my silent room, bewildered.
If he wanted to say hello, then why was he acting all standoffish? Confused, I darted out of my room and quickly strode towards the elevator to see if I could catch him, but Luciana blocked my way.
“Is there something going on between Mark and you that I should know about? We’re all best of friends. I would greatly appreciate it if I was informed first.”
Whoa, where was she going with this? Mark and me? Was she serious? The guy was practically salivating at her feet. “This is a stupid joke, right? We both know he loves his Italian women. I have to go.” I tried to move away, but she darted me a scathing glare. AGAIN.
“You two looked too comfortable. More like intimate… lovers.” Luciana looked pained when she uttered the last word. I was about to argue with her when I noticed that her eyes were getting teary. “Please, just tell me if there is or if he’s trying to get into your knickers. Italian fetish or not, you’re a gorgeous woman, Stella. Any man would be blind not to want you.”
Oh my God, she was practically crying. Fuck. I cupped her cheeks, pleading. “Sweetie, I don’t fancy Mark that way, nor does he feel that towards me.” I paused, letting all the words sink in. “He wants you and yet you have rejected him for the past few years. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your feelings for him are changing and if they are, don’t you think it’s time to tell him that?”
Luciana shook her head. “I can’t. I’m frightened. He might laugh at me. I don’t know,” she murmured, dabbing her eyes carefully. “Don’t mention anything to him. Maybe in time, I just might. For now, though, let’s keep it between you and me.”
“Of course.” I nodded before I watched her slowly walk away.
Luciana paused mid-way, giving me a small smile. “Thanks for being honest with me, S.” She walked a few steps as did I, but whistled at me again to catch my attention. “By the way, I forgot to ask, what did one of England’s most notorious players want from you? FW is no more?”
FW. Fake Wife.
“Ha! Still am and I doubt it will ever change. So don’t get any ideas,” I blurted out.
As I watched Luciana retreat back into her office, I was left wondering about Callum’s visit.
Calling him would not be enough. Maybe I should stop by at his home and what? Talk… about how awkward it was this afternoon?
I sighed, dejected as I shook my head, retreating back into my office.
No. I should let bygones be bygones and have fun at Alec’s party.
Luciana decided to skip dinner tonight and went on a date instead, promising to meet me at the party later on. When I tried to argue that she needed to talk to Mark about her feelings, she gave me the evil eye. “I’m not ready for that. He’s going to be all over the woman he’s dating. You know, the one he’s been yapping about non-stop? So, why the hell should I pull him aside and talk about my feelings when he’s pretty much over it?”
Why was she being difficult? I groaned, wanting to hug and shake her good. “You won’t know until you’ve done it. Why don’t you want to risk it, Lu? Mark’s worth it.”
“I’m just… I don’t know, okay? No more about him for tonight. I can’t take it anymore.”
I nodded, understanding her situation. It was obvious that she feared Mark’s rejection. “If you say so. You’re the boss.”
Luciana flung herself through the air and hugged me. “And you’re the best!”
Almost an hour later, I was on my way to meet them for dinner in Notting Hill when I found myself telling the driver to change route and head towards Callum’s house in Chelsea.
It was drastic and unplanned… but I couldn’t get him out of my head. If I had to go on all night long wondering if he had dropped by my office because he might have wanted to ask again about his proposal, I couldn’t get past it.
You see, had he asked, I would’ve said yes, right then and there.
I was now standing on his doorstep, buzzing on the doorbell. It had been three years since I had been in his home. I had stayed in a hotel suite before I went into finishing school, but I remembered his home fairly well.
Half expecting to find Callum opening the door, I was relieved to find Nancy, his housekeeper who had been working for him for over a decade, greeted me with a toothy grin. “Miss Stella, lovely to see you again. You promised to visit me, yeah? But not once did you come and share teatime with me.” She gathered me into her warm embrace and patted my back, hard, before she took hold of my hands and admired me from head to foot. “You’ve grown into a fine young lady, Miss Stella. Now, how many hearts have your broken since I saw you last?”
Dear me. I grinned at Nancy. “You’re still as lovely as ever. I promise to drop by often.” I cleared my throat. “Is Callum home? I wanted to speak to him.”
Nancy snorted, grinning wickedly. “Boss is a tad busy, love, but you can wait in his study. He always hides in there after.” She closed the door behind me. “Let me show you the way.”
“It’s all right, Nancy. I know where it is, there’s no need to trouble you,” I offered, knowing that Nancy was going to retire for the night. She always left after dinner, she told me herself years ago. “You have a goodnight.”
“You, too, love. I’ll see you soon, yeah?” She hugged me again and then left me in the foyer.
Nancy knew the story behind Callum and I. She probably thought I was here about my funds or something related to my estate.
Nervous and jumpy, I strolled towards his study while I took in the paintings and my surroundings with newfound interest. His study was situated on the left wing, facing the gardens. I was about to turn left and head straight, but something halted my step.
My stomach recoiled.
My body tightened.
My heart thumped.
Eyes alert as they took in everything, moving towards the god-awful noise I had just heard. It was a faint sound.
So faint, in fact, that I wouldn’t have heard it if the house hadn’t been all that silent, but it was and I had heard it. It was a woman moaning Callum.
I was a glutton for punishment since I already knew what was going on, but something inside me needed reaffirmation, the need to see it—hear it again—was too much to even consider walking away. I needed evidence to convince me that it was truly happening.
A crashing sound came from the formal dining room as I slowly walked towards it.
The moans were getting louder now.
I bit into my bottom lip when I heard a familiar grunt. The grunt was an indication that he was about to finish.
And there it was.
Callum had the woman atop the antique dining table, obliterating the redhead to a pulp.
Move, Stella. Move.
However, I seriously couldn’t. I gasped loudly as he got rougher, but I suppose my gasp was loud enough for him to hear because Callum looked up, just as he was about to orgasm, shooting me those dark depths as he thrust for the last time. “Stella!” he groaned before I saw him surrender to his body.
Pressing my eyes together, I spun around and quietly left, headed towards the door, wanting this moment to vanish from my memory.