Jonathan put his hand on my thigh as his other hand rested on the steering wheel. “They’re going to be out of there by tonight.”
“Yeah. It’s a small house. Yours took how long?”
“Couple of hours.”
I looked out the window. I still felt invaded. “If there’s nothing there, you’re in trouble for making a big deal about it.”
“We’ll work out a suitable punishment.” He didn’t look as though he expected to be punished, though. He looked as though he was placating me. I didn’t care for it. I would have given anything for it to be yesterday again.
We waited as the gate opened. It seemed to take forever, rumbling and clacking in a way I didn’t remember it doing before. When Jonathan took my hand and looked at me, he seemed tired. Gorgeous and powerful as always, but wrung out.
“I don’t want you to worry,” he said.
I squeezed his hand. “I’m fine.”
“But I want you to think about who might have done this.”
“Something tells me you have an idea.”
He didn’t say, but I knew he thought it was Kevin. The fact that Kevin had nothing to gain from watching me notwithstanding, anything evil in my life, and stalking me was truly evil, could only be one person’s responsibility. Career going poorly? Kevin. Art show hits a snag? Kevin. Bad day at work? Kevin. Camera trained on my front porch? Kevin.
When we got inside, he dropped my bag and put his arms around me. I rested my head on his shoulder. We rocked together, entwined, fitting together like puzzle pieces. He kissed my cheek, my jaw. A tingle of heat pooled between my legs. I looked up, giving him access to my neck. He was going to take me again, and it would be slow and sweet and generous. His hands worked up my back, and I put my fingers in his hair as he kissed my shoulder.
My body screamed for him. Just once. Before telling him anything about Frontage. Just a little bit of comfort. Just to be enveloped inside him. I didn’t need a f**k. I needed to make love, and the way he touched me showed me he understood.
He stopped and stood back, looking me in the eye. His hair was mussed, and his eyes hooded with heat. “Okay, little goddess. What is it?”
“I have to tell you things. I can’t put it off anymore.”
“All right. Let’s get some fresh air.” He took my hand and walked me out to the backyard.
We sat on the outdoor couch, in the near dark, which I appreciated. I didn’t want a bright light shining on our conversation. His hands stayed on me, stroking my palm, my thigh, soothing me.
“So, you saw Jessica there tonight,” I said. “I don’t have to tell you that part.”
“And you saw us talking.”
“She gave me her card and offered to tell me everything about you.” His expression didn’t change. “I said ‘no, thank you, if I need to know about Jonathan, I’ll ask him.’”
He squeezed my hand. “You’re perfect.”
“Well, maybe not. She asked if you told me about Rachel, and I said yes. She asked if you told me all of it, and I kind of went off on her.”
“I told her I didn’t know what she wanted, but she couldn’t have you back because you were too good in bed.”
He laughed good and hard, throwing his head back and showing the night sky his face. His laughter filled the huge yard, and even I smiled a little, because really, what man could be upset at that? I wanted to end the conversation right there. If I crawled into his lap, he’d put his arms around me, take me upstairs, and we’d make love so sweetly. Just the thought of it made my arms tingle.
“I haven’t gotten to the really uncomfortable stuff yet.”
He wiped the tears from his eyes and leaned back, smiling, totally relaxed, his arm draped over the back of the couch. “Go ahead, then.”
“You really are good in bed, you know.”
“Thank you. It takes two.”
“Right. Okay. There’s a song.” I said the last sentence as if I’d jumped off a cliff. There’s a song. Three words, and I was committed to finishing. I stared into my lap. I couldn’t look at him. “Jessica heard it.” I cleared my throat. “I wrote it after you called me submissive and before I gave you the list.” I glanced at him. His smile was gone. “I recorded it as a scratch cut, which is something passed around the industry as a sample. I hadn’t written a song in a while, and it was all I had. So, it came out good. One of the acquisitions guys heard it and wanted to hear me sing it. They came tonight.”
“What was his name? The acquisitions guy?”
“Eddie something.” Jonathan’s eyes closed slowly, and his mouth shut tight. “What?” I asked.
“Let’s hear it.”
“The f**king song.”
My heart beat so hard my ribs were going to break. My lungs quivered, filled, and seemed to empty only part way. I didn’t have an instrument to hide behind or a piece of paper with my requirements for him to read. I just had two minutes of pure, raw, f**king vulnerability in his backyard while he pondered not only what he thought of the song, but me, what he felt about me, what his ex-wife heard, and what she thought.
“It doesn’t have a title yet.”
“The song, Monica.” His voice was like a brick, blunt and hard, without nuance. He waited. I didn’t know what he was thinking, but I realized the more time I took to start, the more crap would run through his head, and maybe that wasn’t a good thing.
I sang it in my soft, jazzy voice. I didn’t look at him because I didn’t want to see his reaction. I just wanted to get through it. I started to crack in the last bridge, where I asked if I’d do the things to him he did to me, because the questions weren’t about sex anymore. The song revealed too much. Fuck. I hated music right then, as I sang the last line. I wished I’d never heard a note.
His face was in his hands, and his elbows were on his knees. “What were you thinking?”
He looked up. “When you recorded it? What the f**k were you thinking?”
I couldn’t answer. I had been thinking about myself. That it could be an opportunity. That it was a good song, and once it was a song, it was mine, no matter what it was about.