Follows Risking A Fall
Every day, I was a little closer to breaking the silence.
"Here's the file."
Because every day, the panic dug a little deeper, the hole in the pit of my stomach widened by another inch. Tomorrow I'd wake up with the same crawling sensation beneath my skin as I rose to face the inevitable truth – I may have gained the world, but I lost everything in it that mattered. That was the cost of running silent.
"What did you need it for?"
I looked up into his eyes, soft with undeserved affection, the afternoon sun slicing through the loft and dividing his face into light and shadow. Pointing to the manila folder, he slid back into his chair.
"The Kinsey contract. You wanted to see it?"
"Yeah. Need to see when we scheduled the follow-up."
He laughed and shook his head. "I put that stuff in the laptop, remember?"
"No," I grumbled, letting him catch the edge of my grin before I suppressed it. "I remember the indigenous woods lecture, so I'm guessing somewhere in all that crap was something about a calendar."
His smile widened. "See, you do listen! Underneath all the basketball stats and phone numbers of beautiful women is probably everything I've ever taught you."
I pushed the file aside and scratched my ribs. "Sorry, Chief. The only thing under those stats and phone numbers is a jones for Tiki Garden's barbecue pork."
"Tiki Garden? You buying?" He waggled his eyebrows at me, rubbing his thumb and forefinger together. I hid another smile and tried to look severe.
"No way. Sandburg and Ellison Incorporated is paying. Consider it a working dinner because we've got research to do tonight."
"You know, at the rate we're going, we'll eat through any profits before the end of the year."
"Sandburg, it'll be two years before we see a dime of profit and I'm hungry now. Consider it a long term investment."
He rose to his feet with an amused grunt, hopefully to go get the menu. This was our life now – business was promising and we were finally equal in all things. As partners, we shared everything – but I still fought to maintain the silence that kept me safe and Blair at my side.
Simon knew why I'd taken Blair away from the world we'd all known together. He'd challenged me, made me face the truth about myself and what I wanted my life to be. I wasn't ready to have that truth revealed, to have my silence broken by someone else, no matter how well-meaning or close a friend. But the questions were coming up in Blair's eyes again, questions that trustingly asked me why, and how – and when.
It was that last that terrified me – when would he know that I'd realized too late what he'd become to me, that I'd betrayed him by never telling him the truth? My silence worked against me now, but silence was the only defense against love I had left.
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