Although Jeff confronts them in the hallway, he finally realizes he’s being silly about Marka and Frank being together. Frank finds out that his office has been cleared by the police and decides to switch with Marka, because hers is so cold.
The others came back with new padding and carpet. Frank sat in Marka’s office while the men worked next door. When they stopped for lunch, Frank invited Marka to go to lunch with him. They went to the bar where he’d gone after the unfortunate car incident and enjoyed the best burgers in town.
Frank brought up the idea of switching offices, Marka was thrilled.
“I’d love to! Honestly, I’m freezing to death. I don’t have the clothing for it. Most of my nice stuff is skirts and I don’t have any heavy sweaters. You don’t mind? Your office is bigger.”
“I don’t mind. I don’t need the space as much as you do. I also don’t mind the cold.”
“I appreciate it. That’s very thoughtful of you.”
He took her hand, kissing it. “Marka, I just want you to be happy, safe and warm. Emphasis on warm. I know how cold it gets in there. Emily. . . .” He stopped abruptly, pressing his lips tightly together, closing his eyes.
“Tell me what happened,” she said softly. “You really loved her, didn’t you?”
“She’s my regrets girl,” he murmured. “I dated her some in high school, but we never quite got it right. I didn’t have the courage to take it further when we were younger. I wanted to, but her dad was police chief and he’d have taken me apart.”
“How would he even know?”
“Believe me, he’d know. We both went away for college and some other guy had her first. We still saw each other when we were home and I finally had the balls to tell her I loved her. Of course, that was right before we shipped out and I wasn’t around for two years. By the time I got back, she was married and pregnant with her first baby. So we stayed friends, but we loved each other.”
“Did she tell her husband?”
He nodded. “He said she could leave when the baby was born and never come back, but he was keeping their kids. She couldn’t do it and I wouldn’t have let her. Little kids need their mom. And she loves her kids more than anything.”
“So they moved.”
“It was for the best. But my heart’s been a mangled mess ever since. When I met you, it finally started to heal.”
“Frank, I’m so sorry.”
“No! Don’t ever be sorry. I wouldn’t have met you otherwise. And I wouldn’t be falling hopelessly in love with you.”
Marka’s eyes teared up. Her lower lip trembled. “Really?”
“I thought maybe it was just me.”
He laughed softly, warm joy filling him. “Is that your way of saying you’re falling for me too?”
She kissed him, answering better than words ever could.
“I wanna take you home and make love to you,” he whispered.
“My house will be ready soon.”
“Can’t be soon enough,” he said with a soft groan.
Marka laughed, running her fingers through his hair.
After lunch, they went back to the office. The new carpet was down, with the finishing touches being put on it. Frank helped Marka box up her possessions and put them in the storage closet with his. She had another session and he had things to do, so he walked her to her session and went to one of the resident computer rooms with his laptop. He needed privacy that the office didn’t offer him.
His custom made laptop whirred to life, connecting immediately to the wireless internet. He was about to do some injudicious hacking when his phone rang.
“It’s me,” Shay said. “Where the hell are you hiding? I’m standing here in the hallway outside your office. It’s like moving day.”
“Meet me by the pond,” Frank said, closing his laptop. “I’ll be right there.” He headed out the door.
“No idea how to get there.”
“Go west from my office, through the foyer and down to the end of Building Five. There’s a door to the outside. Make a right and head downhill until you see water.”
“Got it. All ready on the move. Where’s your girlfriend?”
“Damn, I’d hoped she’d join us.”
“Yeah, that’s a sharp lady. Not only that, she’s got clear insight into this, not colored by anything else. She’d be helpful.”
“She’s out of session in twenty minutes.”
“Not sure I can wait. I see water. Where are you?”
“Look up to your right. Almost there. Slow elevator.” He pocketed his phone and jogged downhill to Shay’s position. “Don’t have Larry and Moe with you?”
“They’ve got other things to do. They’re taking a look at the fellow from the ravine.”
“Rather not know.”
“Don’t blame you.”
“Any new leads?”
© Dellani Oakes