Arch Intrigue: Chapter 12

Chapter 12Cole stared after Shaun while her friend and client, Jasper proceeded into further detail, regarding the design plans Cole drew up for him. A restaurant of sorts. To be honest, Cole couldn’t care a shit at the moment, giving the occasional nod and grunt of agreement. No, his focus was permanently engaged on Shaun, thinking how incredible she looked in that dress she wore; scraps of fabric sewn strategically together, leaving very little left for his imagination. Predominantly bare legs that went on for miles, balanced on cream colored stilts. Current fashion passed the sexy calf-defining devices off as shoes. He imagined Shaun wearing nothing more and suppressed a groan with a swig from his bottle of tepid beer. His salacious thoughts regarding her shoes, came to a screeching halt when Olivia, the ex-girlfriend, leaned in to whisper private words against Shaun’s ear. He tried to ignore the tug of something along the lines of jealousy in his chest. What did he have to be jealous about? Shaun made sure to keep the distinction of their relationship a grey fence between them. Every time he thought she gave him the green light to jump the curious structure, she all but smashed him over the head with a stop sign. He was starting to get motion sickness.
When he met her father earlier, soon after arriving, he enjoyed the obvious pride the man felt towards his only daughter. Why shouldn’t he be proud? Shaun was incredible. However when she finally arrived, joining the conversation, a different man took his place. Cold and cruel, spewing words that would give the most confident person cause for insecurity. He couldn’t understand her father’s inability to express his true feelings towards his daughter, in her presence. Shaun tried to shake off the resulting pain, but Cole saw the shadow lurk behind her light green eyes. After a little effort on his part, the ever present sparkle returned when he regarded her beauty, a compliment well deserved. The smile she gave warmed his heart. His whole body.
Shit. He returned from his wandering mind to find Jasper requesting an answer to a question Cole did not remember hearing. “I apologize. I think I might have had one too many of these,” Cole lifted his beer in defense of the lie.
“Right.” Jasper eyed him over with a conspicuous smirk on his lips, following Cole’s previous line of vision. “Of course. Maybe we should continue our discussion this coming week. You can take a look at the place. How does Tuesday sound?”
Cole would agree to almost anything in order to be near Shaun now, instead of chatting business with Jasper. “Perfect for me. I’ll let Shaun know.” Cole smiled. A smile soon chased away, when another woman joined the circle building around Shaun. This one a tall brunette. “Would you excuse me, please?” Cole didn’t wait for Jasper to respond. The poor man, discarded by Shaun and he both, rather abruptly. But Cole couldn’t worry about their client. Not now. Not when he saw the pained expression Shaun tried to mask, shortly after the brunette’s arrival. Cole stalked over quickly, placing his palm against the bare, small of Shaun’s back. He felt her tense beneath his touch, but she didn’t pull away. Instead, she turned to face him and the hurt hidden behind her eyes had returned, along with something else.
She inhaled a deep breath against his hand, “Cole I would like you to introduce you to my mother, Gloria Wright. Mother, this is Cole Jacobson.” He waited for the title of employee. But it never came. Just his name left her lips.
An older woman, almost as beautiful as her daughter, with piercing green eyes and shoulder-length dark blonde hair, reached a delicate hand out and Cole clasped it gently with his. “Pleased to meet you.” Cole’s gaze quickly moved to the other two women, who shared a surprisingly intimate embrace.
“And this is my… Olivia Stiles and her girlfriend.”
The other woman’s name seemed lodged in Shaun’s throat, but the brunette took it upon herself to finish the introduction regardless, “Jessica Cortez.”
Girlfriend? Cole cast a quick glance at Shaun’s mother who seemed equally uncomfortable with the presence of Olivia’s date. Who invited who, he wondered. Against his better judgement, Cole decided to make a move that had a ninety-nine percent chance of failure, but might prove successful nonetheless. Lowering his mouth, he brushed his lips over Shaun’s temple and pulled her tighter against him. She didn’t shove him away, so he continued with his plan. “Ready to leave, beautiful?”
He hovered his mouth down along the side of her face, pausing at the soft curves of her cheek. Eyebrows arched all around, but Shaun played along to his surprise. She lifted her head, offering him a small smile. “Yes.” The please remained unsaid, but her eyes spoke the appeal silently. Cole grew bolder, thinking he would take advantage as much as he could while she was willing. He leaned down and gave Shaun a kiss, filled with enough emotion to allow for the gaping onlookers something to wag their tongues about, long after they left. “Then, let’s go.” He grinned at Shaun, before looking back at the rapt audience. “A pleasure to meet you all. Gloria, thank you for having me.” Shaun stepped away from Cole to give her mother a hug and kiss, before linking her fingers with his. They strode towards the exit, never breaking contact. “Would you like to say goodbye to your father?”
Shaun shook here head, looking as though the effort of opening her mouth would burst the fragile resolve she kept. When they reached the front of the house and the waiting car, she tugged gently at his arm, “Take me home.” A demand, not a question. She reached down and plucked her shoes off her feet, before climbing inside to find a seat.
Cole didn’t have the heart to say no. Not after everything he witnessed her go through this evening. A lesser person would have made a scene. Hell, he would have made a scene. Sliding in beside her, he allowed the driver to close the door, then disappear to the front seat of the large, black Maybach. Within minutes, they were driving away from the house of pain. The silence between them a fourth passenger in the car.
Cole cleared his throat, “Shaun, are you alright?”
She held up a hand, eyes trained on the shapes passing by the tinted side window. “I don’t want to talk about it. Any of it.” With that, they remained silent for the rest of the ride.
When the car finally came to a stop, Shaun exited without the driver’s assistance and Cole followed, unsure of whether or not this was a good idea.

Chapter 11 * Table of Contents *

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