Lindsey listened from his home office as Anne directed the caterers. He chuckled to himself as he composed a last minute email. Had she really believed she was out of her element being married to him?
To this day he didn't know how it had happened. He had gone into the diner to get out of a brief rain shower. His life had changed forever that afternoon. A sworn bachelor whose goal was to obtain as much success, money and power as he could manage he had been blindsided by her. Here he was married, about to have dinner with a houseful of his coworkers.
She had surprised him with the offer. And as he listened to her drone on about plans he knew she wouldn't embarrass him. Eventually, he had told her she didn't need to come to him with every detail unless it was something she really needed assistance with. As if he knew anything about planning dinner parties. He'd attended them, sure, but never been on this end of one before.
He had chosen well. He admittedly had his doubts at first. She wasn't well polished, wasn't the type to be molded into the type of wife most at the firm had. But he had come to find that she was loyal, and he hadn't heard a bad word about her around the office yet. And he tended to pay attention to things like that. Image was everything, after all.
Her secrecy bothered him. Not as much as the dreams, though. She had them often, more often than he thought she realized. He was a relatively light sleeper. Not the type to wake at any movement, but she became violent sometimes. It was hard to sleep through. She packed a pretty good punch, too. There'd been a time or two he thought she was going to crush his hand when he reached to shake her awake.
He didn't pry because he wasn't sure what he would find. Had she come from an abusive home? She had functioned on the LA streets by herself quite well. He wasn't sure how long she'd been working at the diner when they met, but he knew another survivor when he saw one.
His intentions at first were to befriend her. She was obviously a runaway, but she had beaten the odds and wasn't living on the street. Or working on them. He could identify with that and had thought maybe he could help her. Little did he know, she would be the one who helped him.
He could have done a background check on her, probably should have really. He handled things that were complicated. His clients were used to being above the law and were wiling to pay incredible amounts of money to have the best lawyers keep it that way. He had to respect someone who wanted their past to remain there, though. He felt much the same way and wouldn't want her digging up dirt on him either.
The time she'd fallen ill with a mysterious fever, losing their baby, had really unraveled him. They were both young and could try for children again. He honestly wasn't real sure he wanted kids, this soon anyway. What kind of father would he make after all?
He had come close to losing her, though. He remembered vividly the nasty sore that had appeared on her chest. It was just as suddenly gone. He never mentioned seeing it and she never brought it up.
He had no idea who she'd had him call or why. All he knew was a miracle had kept her with him. If that was her contact's doing, he was indebted to someone. He'd seen enough to know not to ask questions he didn't already know the answer to.
He wasn't sure if what he felt for her could be labeled love. He felt affection for her. He was attracted to her. He had to assume love, if there was such a beast, would grow from that affection. He wondered if she, in turn, would ever grow to love him.
While inexperienced, he knew he had not been her first lover. He imagined she was hurt, which was the reason she had taken things as slow as she had when they were dating. That was fine with him. He had thought sex was overrated until he'd experienced it with her. She had more stamina than he knew what to do with some days. And their first time together, when she'd woken up in his arms the next day. She'd seemed so genuinely amazed that it had shaken him to the core.
He cupped his crystal snifter filled with the best brandy in the palm of his hand and walked to the doorway. He watched as she worked. She was frazzled, but one wouldn't be able to tell unless he or she knew her well. He could, he recognized the tone in her voice, a look in her eye. She was going through this trouble for him, wanting to please him and make a good impression for those he worked for.
Ultimately, he wasn't sure it really mattered, but he knew with her by his side he had one leg up on Lilah. Marriage meant children, which in turn meant private schools and college, all things a man wanted to provide his family. Those were things he could, and would, provide working at Wolfram & Hart. And the firm knew that, banked on it.
He didn't have to like who he represented. There were clients he couldn't stomach to look at. He wasn't paid to like them or find them easy to face. As someone who'd risen from the ashes of nothing, he did whatever it took to ensure he was paid. And paid well. Oddly, he didn't think Anne cared about his income. She had spent more the last couple of weeks, but it was on things like this party. In the long run, she was doing this for him not her own benefit.
It was like watching a ballet. She really did know what she was doing. Underneath her uncertainty lurked a very capable woman. The house looked perfect. They had gone over her lists the other night and she hadn't missed a thing. All they could do was sit back and let the night run its course.
They had a little over an hour to kill before guests began arriving. He planned to spend every minute of that hour in their room, watching her get ready. She made an art of something that should be mundane and boring for him to watch. He never tired of it, though. She didn't need makeup, but what she used always enhanced her natural beauty. She was shy about wearing the jewelry he'd given her beyond her wedding ring. Outwardly, she came across as being much more high maintenance than she was.
"Ready for a break?"
She spun around to face him, clearly not realizing he was there. She smiled then. A wide, sincere smile that would have melted the most hardened of hearts. There was something about her that radiated goodness. He dealt with all sorts of unsavory characters, it was always refreshing to come home and see her. To bask in the purity and innocence that was his wife. And when she visited him at work for lunch, it just made his day go that much better.
"A break. Are you kidding?"
"Well, you have to start getting ready. I thought I'd come with. You know, lend a hand if you need one."
"Oh," she said, blushing deeply as she tucked some hair behind her ear. "In that case."
He slid his arm around her when they met at the stairs. "Nervous?"
"A little. I've never done anything like this before."
"You're doing fine."
"Thanks, but you won't be saying that if there ends up being a fly in your boss' soup."
He chuckled. "You can't control that anyway."
"You say that now."
"I'll say it even then, in the unlikely event such a thing happens. Relax, Annie, no one's going to bite you."
He had no idea that she'd rather face a foe that could bite and even possibly kill her than a roomful of suits she didn't know how to converse with.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com