Eric smiled when Victoria gave a small gasp when he opened the door to reveal stairs that led to the upper floor of the building.
“You have an upstairs,” she said in awe as he led her up the short steps.
“Yes, I got the space two years ago. I use it as a gallery, office or rest area, whatever I need.”
“Intriguing,” Victoria said tightening her hold on his fingers when he got to the top of the stairs.
She hurried up the last two steps and he gave her an appreciative glance. She looked gorgeous today. Her dress accentuating her full curves, the heels made her seem taller. He loved her natural hair the most. The dark tresses framed her face, so soft he wanted to reach out and run his fingers through it.
Meeting her curious brown eyes, he read a dozen questions in her honeyed eyes. Clearing his throat, he tugged her hand and led her to a large white worktable he used to examine prints. Taking her bag from her, he placed it on a coffee table laden with magazine and old newspapers. Pulling two office chairs, he adjusted the height for her.
“Sit,” he ordered, turning on the lights over the white table. “I thought you might like to see the photographs I took on Saturday.”
She sat down and removed her heels again.
“From Beth’s wedding?” she asked.
“Some of them,” he said with a smile. “I’m still working on the ones I’m going to give to Beth and Taylor. There is no hurry since they’re going to be away for a while.”
The truth was he’d spent his afternoon yesterday working on the spontaneous photos he’d taken of her. Not wishing to reveal just how interesting he found her, he picked up the bundle of prints he’d left on the corner of the table. Pulling up the second seat, he placed the first picture on the clean white table, and watched her reaction when she saw herself.
He’d taken a picture of her at the Savon Hotel. She stood by one of the ballroom windows, the morning sun falling over her as she spoke to Taylor and Beth.
“I didn’t realize you were taking photos that day,” she said, her tone quiet. “I don’t look like myself.”
“You were all business that day. Don’t you look intimidating?”
She shook her head, an embarrassed expression gracing her features. He put the one he’d gotten from the wedding photos batch before her and she gasped. He understood her reaction perfectly. The woman seated on a bench in the gazebo was different.
Happier, he thought.
He’d captured her just as she was looking back at the vibrant white bougainvillea. She was like a dark goddess overseeing her flower kingdom. Vibrant in red, her profile beautiful and mystical.
“I’m sure this isn’t me,” she said with a pleased laugh, as she bent closer to look at the picture. “You’ve doctored this.”
He shook his head.
“Not at all,” he said truthfully, and laid out the rest of the pictures he’d taken of her at the wedding. His smile widened as she oohed in awe.
“This one is my favorite,” he said pointing to the one he’d snapped when she got out of the car. Her arms stretched wide, her smile carefree, the skirts of her dress floated around her, teased by the wind.
“I like this one,” she said picking out the one of her in the gazebo where she was facing the camera, with a small mysterious smile on her lips. “Can I keep it?”
He took it from her and studied it for a moment. She looked vulnerable in the picture. He hadn’t seen that before. Her brown eyes were bright with an unknown emotion. He’d have loved to know what she was thinking at that exact moment.
“How much?” she asked still looking at the photographs on the table.
“No charge,” he said quietly, “although, you might have to pay a toll.”
“What type of toll?” she asked.
A frown creased her smooth brow when she looked at him. Her eyes stunning in the light, that slow burn in his gut filled him and he wasn’t aware of having moved. He leaned and covered her mouth with his. He kissed her, amazed by the wild burst of electric thrills that raced down his back. He broke the kiss and met her surprised gaze.
Victoria brought her hand up to touch her lips, her brown eyes wide.
He cleared his throat and smiled.
“I’ll give you the pictures,” he said and took the one she’d pointed out. “Although, I’m keeping this one you like.”
“But-, I want that picture,” she said after a moment. “Choose another one.”
“If I keep this one, it will give you a reason to come and visit me,” he said putting it aside.
He gathered the rest of the photographs and put them in a new brown envelope he got from a drawer.
“Why did you kiss me?” she asked when he held out the photographs.
“Because I like you,” he said, leaning his elbows on the table when she took the envelope. “Do you want to see more photographs?’
She hugged the envelope he’d given her and nodded. He got up and hurried to a desk he had close to the wall.
There he retrieved five bunches he’d set aside this morning.
They spent the next two hours going through the photos he’d taken on his different assignments during the week. She exclaimed over a designer’s creativity when he showed her dress designs he’d taken the week before. She fell in love with photographs he’d taken on his trip to Marsabit, and Samburu. She loved the landscapes, huge rocks and the acacia trees he’d captured in the sunset.
When she got tired of the office seats, he tugged her to a couch by the window. She sat on one corner of the couch, and he took the other. When she stretched her feet on the cushions, he moved them onto his lap and massaged them while they talked about his trips around the country.
“I’ve never gone beyond Nyeri,” she confessed at some point. “Compared to you, I think I’d be considered unpatriotic. I’ve only visited one National Park in my adult life.”
“Not many people visit these places,” he soothed running a firm thumb over the elegant curve of her in-step.
Her feet were so soft; he could feel them through the thin layer of stockings she wore. He wished he could see her toenails and find out what color they were today.
“If you were given a chance, where would you like to visit? Somewhere within the country, but don’t say the Coast.”
“Everyone wants to visit the beach,” he said with a matter of fact tone.
“Fine, I’d go to Lake Nakuru,” she said. “I’d go see the flamingos.”
“That’s an exciting place to go,” he nodded in approval. “When can we go?”
“What?” she asked in surprise.
“Let’s go to Lake Nakuru,” he said.
Victoria gave him a skeptical glance. “Eric, just like that?”
“Yes,” he said with a short nod. “I’m taking in my Jeep for service tomorrow. Once it’s done, we can fuel it; get some tunes, water and snacks. We’ll be good to go.”
She shook her head. “I can’t just take off and go to Lake Nakuru with you. My schedule is full. I have-”
“Life is pretty short, Victoria,” he said squeezing her foot gently. “Next year, next month, next week, you’re still going to have a full schedule and no time for yourself.”
She studied him for a moment before she shifted on the couch and moved her feet off his lap.
“Eric-,” she started as she sat up.
“What?” he asked.
“My life is not like yours.”
“What does that mean?”
“You run around taking photographs, taking trips to far off places. I’m tied up at the Savon-”
“Take time off,” he cut in to her little tirade.
“Even if I do, we only met last week,” she said, giving him an incredulous expression.
“We’re getting to know each other,” he said with a smile. “A trip to Lake Nakuru will definitely bring us closer.”
She stared at him, and then bit back a yawn. Glancing at her watch, she frowned.
“Jeez, it’s almost ten o’clock at night. I have to go.”
He sighed; disappointed when she stood up and went to get her shoes. He wanted more time, always more time.
“I still want an answer,” he insisted as he watched her wear her shoes.
“Thanks for the massage, my feet are incredibly happy,” she said with a small smile. “Are you headed home?”
He got up and nodded. “I’ll drop you off. Will you go to Lake Nakuru with me?”
“I’ll think about it,” she said.
“How about we make a deal?”
She picked up her handbag from the chair.
“If I agree to do your Savon Hotel PR project, you have to promise to take that trip with me.”
She frowned. “How long will it take you to do the photos?”
“That depends on what your team wants. It could be a day or two, a week at the most, I don’t know. I haven’t seen the proposal,” he said with a negligent shrug.
She studied him, and then nodded, “Fine, but I have a demand of my own.”
“Tell me,” he said moving closer to her.
“I get to bring Olive or Grace, whoever is available,” she said. “Feel free to invite whoever.”
Wicked woman, he thought as she turned smartly and headed for the stairs. She knew he wanted to spend time with her, and only her. When he didn’t move to follow her, she paused at the stairs.
“Are you coming?” she asked.
He chuckled when she continued down the stairs, charmed by her ability to draw him in so completely, he felt lost when she walked away from him. He turned off the lights over the table, and followed her downstairs. Linda had left the hallway light on. He reached for Victoria’s left hand when she started walking out toward the reception area.
“This way, we have a back door,” he said lacing their fingers.
At the end of the hallway in the opposite direction, he unlocked the back door with his keys. He got out first to make sure no one was waiting for them. She followed him, and he switched off the hallway light and set the alarm. Locking the backdoor, he turned to find Victoria rubbing her upper arms in the cool air.
He removed his light jacket and placed it over her shoulders. He rubbed her arms through the fabric.
“Better?” he asked.
“Much,” she nodded.
He pressed a kiss on her forehead and led her to his Jeep parked on one of the two spots behind his building.
“So you’ll only go with me to Lake Nakuru if you can bring Olive or Grace along,” he resumed their conversation when he drove out of the parking lot.
“Yes,” she said tugging his jacket closer. He joined traffic on the Argwings Kodhek road.
“What if I want to spend time alone with you?”
She gave him a blank look as he turned on to her street.
“Well, I guess we’d have to make time to meet in social places.”
“You’re just avoiding me,” he accused. “Fine, if that’s the way of it, make time for me tomorrow evening.”
He stopped the Jeep at the black gates outside her apartments.
“Yes, we’re going for dinner. A proper one this time since I made you work tonight.”
Victoria removed his jacket and placed it nicely on the back seat. “It better be a nice place.”
He chuckled. “I’ll do my best.”
She reached for the door lock. “Thanks for the ride.”
She glanced at him with a small smile and he leaned in to capture that smile in a kiss. She froze for a moment, then her lips merged with his, softening as she met him. Bursts of heat ran through his body, and he cupped her cheek, wanting to haul her against him and kiss her harder.
But it was too soon, too fast, he ended the kiss to find her eyes closed.
He ran his index finger over her soft left cheek, a soft caress.
“Goodnight, Eric. Drive safe,” she murmured and got out of his car without another word.
To be continued….Thank you for reading ~_~!!