You are dragged to a dance club only to meet a nice Cambridge boy who likes dancing. You didn't know how much one dance would change your life.
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Chapter 8 Early Access
“Meghan, I’m going now,” you call out.
A young girl, around 16 years old, pops out of a back room. “Alright, Ms. Jazzy. Have fun with your beau!”
“He’s a friend, not a beau.” You see her roll her eyes at your statement. “Not that I’m looking, but he has a girlfriend.”
“Then why isn’t he taking her to this shindig?”
It’s your turn to roll your eyes. “Good night.”
Ben is quite good looking, but he is quite firmly in the friends list. Everyone is as far as you’re concerned. What was the point in dating anyone when you already had experienced the grand love of your life? You open your front door just as his car pulls up to the curb.
“You look amazing,” he tells you, opening the sedan door for you. “That green lace is… wow.”
“It’s not too much, is it?” You look down at yourself critically. The lace hugs your body in all the right places. A nude lining gives the appearance of seeing skin through the fine pattern. A high neck in front maintains modesty, while a low back turns up the sex appeal.
“It’s a shame neither of us is available for another relationship,” he admits to you, making you smile with a chuckle. “Your chariot, Madam,” he bows and sweeps his arm toward the open door of the car. You take his hand and step inside.
The drive to Leicester Square is short. You pull up to the red carpet after waiting in a line of cars. You can just make out a horse standing on the elites’ runway, having photos snapped this way and that. When the door opens, Ben steps out to the flashes and cheers of fans. He reaches back into the car, gentleman that he is, to help you out. There is a collective gasp from the people nearest to see you. They must have been expecting Anne. It’s surely a letdown for them to get you instead, but you smile and answer Ben’s inquiry of “are you okay?” with a nod. He knows you don’t particularly like crowds, so he’s thoughtfully arranged an escort around the hoopla while he makes his way through the heart of it to the main entrance.
You wait near the doors for him to join you, your escort having left you there to see to other, more important arrivals. Suddenly, you find yourself the subject of rapid-fire questions. The lanyards they wear tell you they’re with the press, but their questions smack of tabloid. “Who are you?” “Who are you to Mr. Cumberbatch?” “Does Anna know?” “How is the sex?”
You back away as best you can, but your only options are to move away from where Ben is fielding his own questions, or join him in the spotlight. Under the circumstances, the spotlight seems friendlier than these leeches. You boldly step onto the carpet, striding to where he’s posing with the horse. He spots you making your way to him and frowns, seeing the group that had been haranguing you. A few more steps and you’re on his arm again, “I’m so sorry that happened, Love. Shall I take you inside?” You nod, shaken by the experience.
He turns with you to withdraw to the interior when his name is called by a voice you never thought to hear again. Ben lets your arm go to greet the newcomer. Your feet propel you onward to the doorway, knowing if you stop you will come face to face with your past. You find yourself in a reception area where you accept a glass of wine. You don’t attempt to socialize, instead finding a relatively quiet corner to observe the comings and goings from. You keep an eye out for Ben, relieved when you see him enter.
You’re just about to wave to him when you see who he’s with. You shrink back, wishing to be anywhere but here. You would know that face anywhere. His hair is shorter and darker, his beautiful curly locks tamed, but it is most assuredly Tom, your Mr. Cambridge, and he knows Ben.
How many times have you imagined running into him again? How many different conversations and reactions had you pondered? Yet now the moment was upon you, all you could think of is “will he remember me?”
“You’re going to love her, Tom,” I hear Ben tell him. I hear his “ehehehe, if you’re so taken with her, I’m sure I will,” in reply. The people standing between you part, allowing you a clear view of your one and only love. Your breath catches as you lock eyes with him. You vaguely hear the shattering of glass and feel the wet splash of something against your ankle. You’re looking down a spinning tunnel and, as the room tilts eerily, the lights fade out to black.
You’re floating in a sea of darkness. The void is only pierced by the persistent calling of Tom’s voice. You know this dream. It always ends with you waking up alone to face another day. You start to open your eyes, still hearing him, “She’s coming around.”
He’s holding you, looking down at your prone form. He looks concerned and angry. In your confusion, you reach your hand to touch his cheek. He leans his head into it, inhaling sharply. You sit up, closing the distance between your faces, pressing a kiss to his lips.
Ben’s exclamation “My God, you’re the Tom!” brings you back to reality.
You’re acutely aware of all the eyes on you. This is no dream that you wake up from drenched in sweat with a persistent longing between your thighs. This is at a major London premiere and you just kissed a man you haven’t seen for a decade, in front of everyone, after fainting. You must be the perfect picture for Christmas, green dress and a beet-red, mortified body. You push yourself away from him, starting to scramble to your feet. A wave of dizziness forces to you grab onto Ben, who stood up as you did. You know what it must look like and sincerely hope this incident doesn’t cause problems for him. “I’m sorry, Ben.”
You can’t bring yourself to make eye contact with Tom. You aren’t sure what you’re afraid of. This man had toyed with your emotions and disappeared, leaving you alone to deal with the fallout. You should be angry at him, instead you kissed him.
You finally look at him. His expression is one of shock and anger. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was you. You remind me of someone I knew years ago,” you manage to tell him. You realize too late how that must sound and his quickly masked expression of indifference tells you a nerve was struck.
“We all make mistakes,” he quips to the laughter of those nearby.
You turn fully into Ben. “Is there somewhere I can sit down? Please?”
He guides you to a separate room. The sounds of the reception can be heard through the walls. Someone comes to the door with a glass of water, which Ben brings to you. He gives you a few moments before asking, “Tom is Jules’ father?”
You take a sip, delaying answering, but Ben is ever patient. “Yes.”
Before you can say more, you are interrupted, “Who is Jules?” You didn’t realize he had come in. He had heard the name, so he must have heard everything. Could this night get any worse? Would he try to take her from you? Would he think you had intentionally kept him from his daughter?
“Hello, Tom. Her name is Juliet. She’s ten years old.” Your voice shakes as you tell him.
“I have a daughter. Why didn’t you contact me?” You hear the hurt, the anger, and something more that you can’t quite identify.
“I tried. I even went to your agent, but they turned me away. I gave them my information.”
“I think the two of you need to talk,” Ben tells us, excusing himself.
You take a deep breath, trying to stay calm. Even after the passage of years without seeing him, Tom affects you the same as that one night. "You look good. Amazing, really." You tried to stay calm, but your emotions have always been plain to hear. "How have you been?"
He frowns. “Small talk, Jazzy? If she’s my daughter, I want to see her.”
You flinch at his tone. “Of course. I never wanted to keep her from you, Tom. Ben can…”
“No, Ben has nothing to do with this. I will see her tonight. You are going to sit next to me for the screening and, after, I will drive you home.”
He sounds so forceful, so in-charge, all you can do is nod dumbly as he grips your upper arm, leading you deftly through the throng to his seats. Ben is there and looks at you with concern. You look at him, wide-eyed, with barely contained tears. “Jazzy, do you…”
“Stay out of this Ben,” Tom warns with a growl.
You are seated between the two men for the film. It’s beautifully done, but you cannot focus on it, too worried about what Tom intends. You glance at him a few times and see the muscle working at the back of his jaw. Ben notices, taking your hand in his, to hold it reassuringly until the lights begin to come on. “You don’t have to go with him,” he whispers to you.
You shake your head slightly and squeeze his fingers. “She will be thrilled to meet him. I will be fine, Ben.”
He listens to your exchange with Ben. Ben was his colleague, his friend. What was Ben to you? Were you romantically involved with him? Why hadn’t Ben said anything? However, Tom doesn’t ask any of these thoughts. Instead, he tells you, “We’re leaving. Now.”
While you like this dominant side to him, you would prefer it with him on a more intimate basis. You blush, your thoughts turning to all the delightful pleasures to be found with him again. You shiver, your nipples tightening against the form fitting gown. You’re on the verge of acquiescing when you remember he’s the one who abandoned you. He’s the one who left you waiting with no explanation, no call, not even a letter. He left you to your fate; he can at least say ‘please.’
“No,” you tell him, as firmly as you can. “You may meet me at my house in the morning. Juliet will be asleep at this hour and I refuse to disturb her sleep because her father decides to come into her life.” You say it loud enough that it’s heard by others. You know after the scene earlier, the words that were said, and now this, there will be gossip. You don’t want to hurt his career, but he couldn’t just push you around. This was for your daughter, and you would make certain she was okay. “You may get my direction from Ben.”
Inside you’re quaking. You had just stood up for yourself to the man you still dreamed about at night. This man could easily seek to take Jules away from you. No matter what befell your weekend romance, he was Juliet’s father. You meet his eyes again, those gorgeous, stormy eyes. “Jules loves French toast on Saturdays. I always have it ready at ten for her.”
His expression softens ever so slightly. He gives you a nod before striding away from you.
The light touch on your arm startles you. “Jazzy, let me get you home,” Ben suggests. “Perhaps a cup of tea is in order?”
“Thank you, Ben. I could use a cup of tea.”