Picture Perfect – 17

Victoria headed to Ronald’s office spurred by aggravation.  She had avoided facing Ronald for two months, even if they worked so close, it was surprisingly easy to go weeks without seeing him.  Entering his office without knocking, Victoria stopped before Ronald’s desk, annoyed by his nonchalant expression.  Fighting the urge to smack the knowing look off his face, Victoria stood her ground.

“What brings you to my office, Vicky?”

“Stop bullying Anita,” Victoria said.

“She’s not a good worker.”

“That’s crap talk,” Victoria sighed.  “You’re not being fair to her.  She did nothing wrong.”

“If I don’t fire her, will you come back to me?”

“No.” Victoria flashed him a smile.  “I will, however, start thinking of you as a human being.”

Ronald scoffed.

“I see you’re still deluded by the photographer.  What can he give you?”

“His time,” Victoria said.  “If nothing else, at least Eric is honest with me.”

“I was honest too,” Ronald said, cocking his head to the side.  “We had it good, Vicky.  Dump that rough boy and come back to me.”

“I’m not here to talk about us.”  Victoria placed her hands on her hips.  “You’re the manager here, I work for you and so does Anita.  Keep things professional, or I’ll be forced to go above you with this.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Ronald scoffed.

“Try me, Ronald,” Victoria snapped.

His expression dared her to try, and God help her, it worried her to tangle with her boss this way.  She didn’t want to lose her job.  After all, she needed to pay rent, there was her car payment, water, electricity, and future projects…her job was important to her.  Still…she would fight for Anita.

“Fine,” Ronald said, his tone cold.  “Anita can stay.  Don’t expect anything from me, Vicky.”

“I never did, Ronald.”

As she left Ronald’s office, Victoria realized that in truth, her attachment to Ronald was superficial.  The fear of being alone had kept her with him.  Clinging to a partner who cared nothing about her, she smiled as she entered the elevator.

That had changed now.  She wasn’t afraid.  There was nothing wrong with being single.  Despite her mother’s wishes or what everyone around her thought, it was pleasurable being by herself.  There was confidence in that knowledge.

On her way down to her office, her phone buzzed a message and she smiled when she saw a reminder from Eric.  Well, she reminded herself, there was now Eric.  They were visiting his house this weekend.

***

Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful, the light a golden yellow, turning the yard behind Eric’s house magical.

Eric, for once without a camera, carried two rose

Transplanting little flowers

plants, one white and the other pink.  They were in black bags, and ready to be transplanted into their new home.  He hurried to Victoria’s side where she was crouched in the flower garden, making sure the holes they’d made were deep enough.  He stopped beside her, placing the plants on each hole.

“How long until they bloom again?” Victoria asked.  “I’ve never known how long.”

“I don’t know either.  We can discover together,” Eric said, crouching beside her.  “What flowers do you like Victoria?”

“Lavender,” Victoria smiled.  “You can use lavender for a whole bunch of stuff, it’s a multipurpose flower.”

Eric chuckled.

“Typical.”

“What?”

“You always need to justify why you like something.  Say, you like lavender.  Leave it at that.”

“Fine, I like lavender flowers.”

Eric shook his head.

“What now?” Victoria bumped his shoulder with hers.

“Now you’re saying what I want to hear.”

“I’m going to throw dirt under your shirt.”

“I’ll stick earthworms in your hair.”

Eric lifted one out of the manure and Victoria fell back on her butt, with a strangled scream.  Eric laughed and brought the wiggling fat earthworm closer to her face.  Victoria screamed and scrambled away.

“Why are you freaking out?  You had your hands in the manure minutes ago.”

“Stop torturing tiny animals,” Victoria said getting to her feet.  “Eric, put the worm back in the soil.”

“Bribe me.”

“With what?”

“A kiss.”

“Fat chance I’m getting close to you right now.”  Victoria pointed at the squirming earthworm.  “That looks too disturbing.  Drop it in the soil, Eric.  Come on.”

“Say please,” Eric teased.

“Please?” Victoria begged, her eyes so wide and pleading, he dropped the earthworm in the hole they’d made for the roses.

“Babe, you beg prettily.”

Victoria scoffed and came at him.  She grabbed a handful of dirt and poured it down his shirt before he could react.  She ran off with a happy laugh and he stood still.

“Victoria!”

She giggled and raced toward the hose pipe fitted to the rain water tank by the house.

Eric ran after her, removing his t-shirt and throwing it on the grassy lawn.  He caught her just as she picked up the end of the hose.  She started to spray water at him, but he pulled her close and kissed her hard.  She dropped the hose and clung to his shoulders.

The compound was private, thanks to the live green fence he planted years ago.  The only gate was locked.  There was no one to interrupt them.  Eric smiled and kissed Victoria until she was breathless, her arms locked around his shoulders.

She broke the kiss first, burying her face into his shoulder.  He held her trembling body against his thinking his control was slipping.  Then, Victoria gasped her fingers digging into his skin.

Eric frowned.

“What’s wrong?”

Victoria tapped his shoulder, doing her best to step out of his embrace.  Eric turned to see what had her so panicked.  He gaped when he saw his four sisters standing a few feet away in a row.  All he needed was his mother behind them and the family would be complete.

How had they gotten in again?

“Eric?” his youngest sister said.  She had just finished high school.

Eric cleared his throat and took Victoria’s hand when she started to edge away.

“Mimo,” Eric said, pasting on a wide grin.  “Hi, this is Victoria.  I was removing an earthworm from her hair.”

Victoria groaned when his sisters burst into uncontrollable laughs.

“You couldn’t have come up with a better excuse?” Victoria whispered, she scowled at him and he smiled.

“This earthworm must have been tiny,” Waceke, the oldest sister, said.

“The size of wheat grain, he was searching so hard,” Njoki said.

Christine laughed the hardest at this comment.  She was the third born sister, always so amused, but the easiest to conquer.  Eric looked at her for support.  He gave her a pleading gaze and she giggled, hurrying to his side.

“Oh, look, you have soil on your back,” Christine said.  “You’re working hard, Eric.  Hi Victoria, I’m Christine.  Third sister on the line.  Hope you’re now free of earthworms.

Victoria scowled at Eric, and then smiled at Christine.

“Thoroughly free,” Victoria answered.

Mimo launched herself at Eric and he braced for impact as she hugged him hard.

“What are you ladies doing here?” he asked, not willing to give up the privacy he’d carved out this weekend.

“Mum bought veggies from the market for you.  She said to drop them off,” Njoki explained.  “Didn’t think you’d be home at this hour.”

It was only nine-thirty in the morning.  Eric had hassled Victoria out of her house at eight wanting to spend the day with her.  They had gone to buy the flowers along Ngong road, then come straight to his house.

“We started out early,” Eric said, locking his arm around Victoria’s waist.  “Want to share a late breakfast with us, since you’re here?”

“Yes,” Christine said, she moved fast, pulling Victoria out of Eric’s reach.  Christine led Victoria to the house.

“Why don’t you wash up,” Njoki said, giving him a small smile.  “We’ll get breakfast started.”

Before Eric could protest, his sisters were gone toward the house, and he was alone with the hosepipe.  He wondered if he should invest in a new better lock for his gate.  Staring at the blue sky, Eric groaned.

***

Thank you for reading….to be continued ^_^!

Special thanks to Ngatia Edwin for reading this story this year, and inspiring me to continue posting it on here!  I will work hard to post it all.

Picture Perfect 16

Picture Perfect 11

Picture Perfect 11

Victoria tugged on an emerald dress and zipped it with finality. Not sparing her figure a look in the mirror, she turned to the mess on her bed. All the dresses she owned were scattered on her bed.  To think she’d ended up with the dress she’d picked first. Her phone buzzed and she jumped. Glancing at the clock, Victoria sighed when she saw the time.
It was only ten minutes to six. Eric had promised to show up at six thirty. Her phone buzzed again and she pushed dresses aside to find it on the bed.  She smiled when she saw her older brother’s name. Answering the call, she reached for a brush from her vanity table.

“What’s up?” she asked in greeting.

“Open the door,” Clifford answered.

“What?”

“I’m standing outside your door.”

Hurrying out of her bedroom, Victoria went to open the front door. Clifford stood leaning on the balcony railing, relaxed in faded blue jeans and t-shirt. He held up her car keys.

“I’m sure you’ve been dying for these,” he said with a wide smile.

Victoria returned the smile and held out her hand for the keys. “Thanks Cliff, you’re a lifesaver.”

Clifford’s fingers closed over the keys, his gaze thoughtful as he took in her dress. “Going out?”

Victoria’s smile faltered.

“Uh…yeah,” she said with a wince. She wasn’t ready to tell Clifford about Eric just yet. “Just for dinner, you know, out on the town.”

“Olive’s working tonight,” Clifford said speculatively. “Is Grace here? I’ve missed her.”

Victoria scowled. “I go out with other people too, you know.”

Clifford pushed off the railing and moved to open her apartment door. He removed his leather sandals, as he entered her living room.

“I’m thirsty, Vicky,” Clifford said as he settled on her comfortable pale green couch. He reached for the remote on the coffee table and turned on the television. “Make it cold juice, li’l sis; it’s too hot out there.”

Victoria groaned, just what she needed, an overprotective brother while she big brothergot ready for a date. She stormed into the kitchen and opened the fridge. She was quite aware of what Clifford was doing. He’d scared away most of her potential boyfriends when they’d been growing up. She almost over-filled the juice just imagining how he’d treat Eric.

Returning the carton of orange juice into the fridge, she took the glass to her brother wondering what would get him out of her apartment faster.

Clifford took the glass with a small knowing smile.

“How’s Ronald?”

“We broke up,” she said sitting in the armchair across him. She put her phone on the coffee table and continued brushing her hair. “Aren’t you working tonight?”

“Nope,” Clifford answered stretching his legs out on the couch. “I have two days off. I wanted to get your car fixed, and I need to pick-up supplies for Dad.”

“Supplies?” she asked with a frown.

“Yeah, he’s redoing the perimeter fence. He asked me to help him get sand.”

“That sounds involved,” Victoria said getting up to go clip her hair.

A knock came on the door, and her gaze flew to Clifford. He kept his gaze on the television. Rolling her eyes because it was obvious he was going to be stubborn, she went to open the door.

“Hey,” Eric said with a wide smile.

Before she could speak, Clifford grabbed the door from her and tugged it open.  Eric’s eyes widened and Victoria found herself stepping outside to take Eric’s hand.

“This is my big brother, Clifford,” she said. “He brought my car for me.”

Eric stepped back from her.

She scowled.

“Vicky, finish getting dressed,” Clifford said placing strong hands on her shoulders and pushed her back into the house.

Afraid of what he might say or do to Eric, Victoria ran to her bedroom. She grabbed the hair clip she’d set on the vanity table. Moving in fast motions, she finished with her hair, grabbed her purse. Visions of Clifford beating on his chest as if he was king-kong in the jungle had her jamming her feet into green sandals. She was in the living room when she remembered she’d left her cell phone in the bedroom. Running back with a groan, she got the phone and hurried out of the house.

Clifford and Eric had gone downstairs. Locking the house, she hurried down the stairs, only to find Clifford and Eric laughing by Eric’s car.
She stopped in surprise.

“What are you doing?” Clifford asked pushing off the car. He opened the back passenger door of Eric’s car. “You’re getting late for your date, Vicky.”

Victoria frowned when Eric opened the front passenger door for her. She slid into the car confused.  Eric and Clifford chatted about football as they drove out of the parking lot. When they hit Argwings Kodhek road, Eric stopped the car and Clifford came out.

“Vicky,” Clifford said. “See you on Sunday at the parents’?”

“Sure,” Victoria said as her brother closed the door and hurried off to the bus stop.

Victoria turned to find Eric grinning.

“What did you say to him?” Victoria asked.

Eric shrugged. “I have younger sisters too, that’s all I’ll say.”

“Come on,” Victoria scoffed. “Tell me.”

“Nope,” Eric said as he joined traffic heading toward town. “You look beautiful, Victoria. Makes me think I should take you out dancing.”

“I don’t think you can dance.”

“Now you’re just challenging me.”

Victoria laughed and settled back in her seat. “Fine, it’s a challenge.”

“What do I win if I prove you wrong?”

Victoria glanced at him, “I’ll buy dinner.”

Eric laughed this time.

He did dance…to salsa…Victoria couldn’t laugh as he managed to tag her along with him. They weren’t very good at it, but she had a good time, and he paid for dinner anyway. And so…their love story began…

To be continued….thank you for reading and your patience ^_^

Previous Chapters

Picture Perfect 10

Picture Perfect 8

Chapter 8

“I’m the manager in this hotel.” He sneered at her, his face turned into a hateful mass of lines that froze her in place. “You can scream, but there’s nothing they’re going to do for you, Vicky.”

“I suggest you do as the lady asks,” Eric said making Victoria glance up to find him standing a few feet away. “I don’t care who you are. If you don’t let go of her, I’m going to break your fingers.”

“This is none of your business,” Ronald said still holding on to her arm. “Why don’t you walk away?”

Afraid the scene would escalate, Victoria stepped into Ronald’s personal space. Surprised by her abrupt move, shoesRonald didn’t get time to react when she stabbed the tip of her right heel into his toes. She used all the force she could master, digging her heel into the expensive leather.

He howled and let go of her arm. She jumped away from him and Eric tugged her out of Ronald’s reach. She was pleasantly surprised when Eric used his own body to shield her in case Ronald retaliated. Eric took her right arm and studied her skin searching for bruises.

“Are you okay?” Eric asked meeting her gaze with concerned eyes.

“I’m fine,” she said giving him a small smile. “I’m not sure Ronald is though.”

“You did good,” he said stroking his thumb over her arm. “Just stay here for a moment, okay?”

She nodded and he smiled. “Good.”

Eric turned to Ronald and in a split second, he had Ronald pressed against the wall. She gasped as Eric tugged Ronald’s tie, tying it around his fist and pulling it until it was choking Ronald.

“I hate men who treat women like you do,” Eric said with disgust. “You listen to me, if Victoria ever complains about you again, even if it’s because of a paper cut, I’m going to find you and you won’t like what happens. Do you understand?”

Ronald choked and nodded his head.

“I didn’t hear you,” Eric hissed in anger.

“I u-understand,” Ronald managed.

Eric tightened his hold on the tie for a second then let go. Ronald collapsed against the wall gulping in air with deep heaves, as he tugged at his tie to release his neck.

“You-, get out of this hotel-, you-”

“Remember what I said,” Eric warned, pointing a finger at him. He turned away from a wheezing Ronald and smiled at her. “Come on, Victoria. I’ll get you home.”

She allowed Eric to lead her away from the alcove and they headed to the stairs. She was conscious of Eric’s hand on her left elbow as they went down the stairs. Once they got to the lobby, she stopped and turned to him.

“I’m fine now,” she said pointing in the direction of the ballroom. “You should go back.”

“Will you stop chasing me away,” Eric said glaring at her. “I just choked a guy for you.”

“I didn’t ask you to do that,” she said glaring at him. “You did that all on your own. Thank you for helping me. Now, go back to the wedding party.”

“I don’t want to be at the wedding party,” Eric said with a stubborn tone. He took her elbow and led her toward the front door. “I promised Olive I’d get you home. That’s what I’m going to do, even if I have to carry you to the car. Cooperate, Victoria.”

She chuckled as the front doors slid open and they stepped out into the cool night air. When they got to his black Jeep, he opened the passenger door for her and waited until she settled to close the door.

When he slid into the driver’s seat, she asked, “Why did you follow me?”

“You’re my date,” he said, starting the car. “How could I let some weird guy steal you away without a fight?”

She smiled at him. “You didn’t have to follow me, you know.”

Eric spared her a glance before he asked. “Is that guy the reason you were crying that day we bumped into each other?”

Her smile faded away as fast as it had come. Remembering that day, all the reasons why she now hated Ronald Mutoko returned and she was suddenly glad that Eric had threatened him. She looked out the window at the city lights, and the vehicles passing them.

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” she murmured.

“He hurt you,” Eric said quietly. “It matters.”

“Not if I don’t want it to matter,” she replied firmly. “I don’t want to dwell on that guy anymore. You have no idea what it has been like since I found out what he did. I don’t want to think about him.”

“Fine,” Eric said.

When she turned to look at him, he looked away.

“I won’t ask again, as long as you admit something,” he said.

“What?”

“You thought I was pretty cool back there.”

She scoffed. “Please, I had already rescued myself. You were just trying to be macho man.”

“Come on, I was the warrior with his spear defending his woman. You were impressed.”

“Warrior with his spear?” Victoria laughed. “What do you think this is? A movie?”

10000BC“Hello, I’m sure my grandfather was the clan chief in the past. I’d have been the one leading battles against the wild animals in the village. I won the fight today, so that means you’re my reward. Haven’t you watched 10,000 B.C.?”

“You really are insane,” Victoria said with amusement. “I’m not a thing to be won.”

“No, you’re not,” Eric said quietly as he sped up the hill on Valley Road. “I’m hoping you won’t have trouble with that Ronald. I need you to promise that you’ll call me if you do, Victoria.”

She dropped her gaze. “He won’t bother with me anymore.”

“Promise anyway,” Eric insisted as he joined Argwings Kodhek road. “It will make me feel better.”

“Fine, I promise,” she said, welcoming the warmth that flooded her at the thought of having someone other than her big brother to call on for help. She concentrated on giving him directions to her apartment building, which was off Argwings Kodhek in Hurlingham. When he found her residential street and turned on to it, he slowed down.

“This is very close to the shopping center. Maybe you can come visit my studio tomorrow.”

“It’s Sunday,” she said with a sigh. “My brother is picking me up. We’re going to visit our parents in Kinoo.”

“Are you going to be there all day?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said with a sigh. “Things just end up going nuts on days like tomorrow. It will depend with what’s happening.”

“Oh,” Eric said in disappointment. He stopped the car before the black gates outside her apartment building. “So, when will I see you again?”

She looked at him. “Do you want to see me again?”

“Give me your phone,” he said holding out his hand.

She got the phone from her purse and handed it over. She watched him type in his number and save it. He called his number and handed her phone back when his rang.

“Come see my studio on Monday,” he said when she put her phone away.

“After work,” he said when she started to protest.

“I might work late,” she said with a frown.

“Come on, make time” he cajoled. “I’ll even feed you.”

She reached for the door handle. “I’ll think about it.”

“Just think about it?” he asked when she opened the door.

“A lot, I’ll think about it a lot,” she said with a small grin.

When she started to get out, he placed a hand on her right hand to stop her.

“Victoria,” he said.

She turned to look at him and he smiled. “Thank you for being my date today.”

Before she could answer, he leaned over and pressed a kiss on her cheek.

“Sleep well,” he murmured.

“Good night,” she managed and slid out of the car.

She closed the passenger door, waved at him and waited for him to drive away. He didn’t.

“Go on in,” he said leaning out the window.

She frowned but did as he asked. Greeting the guard on the other side, she closed the gate and grinned when she heard Eric honk once and drive off.

****

To be continued……Thank you for reading, “_”

Previous Chapter

Picture Perfect 7

Picture Perfect 7

“What’s wrong with your car?” Eric asked when he settled in his seat.

“I don’t know,” Victoria said with a shrug. “My brother towed it to a garage a few days ago. I’m hoping he no cargets it back to me soon. I miss the freedom of my car.”

She sipped her drink and stared into the glass in silence.

He cleared his throat and asked, “What did I do earlier?”

She lifted her head to look at him.

“What do you mean?”

“When we were in Upper hill this afternoon,” he said quietly. “We were talking nicely; you were having a good time. When I finished taking Beth’s photos and came to find you at the gazebo, you changed. What did I say?”

“Nothing,” she said her gaze sliding away from him. “It was foolish.”

“Your feelings aren’t foolish, Victoria.” He touched her shoulder, marveling at how soft her skin was.  “Please just tell me.”

She closed her eyes. “Why?”

“Because, I want to know,” Eric said.

She met his gaze again. “I saw you with her. How she made you smile, you light up when you’re around her.”

“Victoria,” he started shocked by how deeply she saw inside him.

“You must love her very much,” she said quietly. “How can you stand it?”

He dropped his hand away from her shoulder and reached for his beer. Taking a healthy sip, he shrugged.

“I stayed away. It was easier.”

“Hence the dangerous excursions to all kinds of places,” Victoria said studying him. “Did it help?”

“Yes,” he said with a small smile, “until I came back for the wedding. I’m glad you went to the church, you distracted me and the day has ended without me noticing.”

“What about the rest of your life?” Victoria asked. “Are you going to avoid them?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

He’d thought about immersing himself in work again, taking on more out-of-town assignments. Now–

He glanced at Victoria…maybe she could be the distraction he needed.

“What?” she asked.

I like you“Nothing,” He smiled and leaned on the counter to study her. “You’re very beautiful. I don’t know if I’ve told you that.”

Victoria laughed and pushed her drink away.

“No, you’re not going to use me as a distraction.”

“I’m just giving you a compliment,” Eric said, noting the small laugh lines that appeared at the corner of her lips. “I’m stating a fact here.”

“You’re not flirting?” she asked giving him a skeptical look.

“No,” he shook his head even though he didn’t quite manage to hide his grin.

She punched his left arm lightly.

“You can’t even lie with a straight face.”

“You’re the one who wants me to lie. I’m happy telling you the truth.”

“Let’s discuss something else,” she said shifting in her seat to look at him.

Dark hair fell over her right eye and he reached out to push it back. She sat still as he stroked a finger over funher soft brown cheek. When he dropped his hand away, she met his gaze. He read fear, and uncertainty. She looked like she wanted to bolt for the doors, but wouldn’t.

“Vicky,” a gruff voice interrupted the moment and he turned to find a tall man standing a few feet away in an impeccable suit. He was looking at Victoria expectantly and giving Eric an irritated glance. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”

Eric turned to find Victoria staring at the man with a mutinous gaze. He started to send the unwelcome man away, but she stopped him with a hand on his arm.

“Give me a second, Ronald,” she said with a cold tone. She slipped off her chair and turned to him. “Eric, I can get myself home.”

“No way,” he protested taking her hand. “I promised Olive.”

“There is no need to drag you away from the party going on downstairs. Beth and Taylor’s families need you there. Please, don’t worry about me. I’ll take a taxi home. I had a very good time today. Thank you,” she said leaning to press a chaste kiss on his jaw. “Let’s meet again.”

She let go of his hand and turned to the man standing a few feet away. Roland or Donald, whatever his name was, slipped an arm around her shoulders and he felt an ugly surge of jealousy sweep through him.
Who was this guy holding on to her like he owned her? It didn’t help when the bastard turned and gave him a smirk. Reaching for his beer, Eric took a healthy sip and wondered if he could get away with punching the smug bastard. He sighed and turned away to keep from running after Victoria.

****

“Who is that guy?” Ronald Mutoko asked Victoria when they were in a private alcove around the corner from the Tropical Isle bar. “Why was he touching you?”

Victoria folded her arms against her chest and studied him. She’d found his impeccable taste in suits attractive once. Now, the tailored garb seemed too much like a costume Ronald was using to hide his rotten nature.

“What does it matter?” she asked meeting his dark gaze. “Why should it matter to you who touches me?”

Ronald’s forehead creased.

“Vicky, why are you acting like this? If it’s about that new concierge, you don’t have to worry about her. I’ll fire her and you’ll never have to see her again.”

“She’s not my worry, Ronald.” How had she never seen this horrible side of Ronald? “And leave that poor girl’s job alone. You’re the one in the wrong here. I trusted you and instead you,” she broke off and looked away from him. “You turned me into an idiot. That’s never going to happen again.”

“What if I apologize?” he asked touching her arm.

She shrugged his hand away. “You can apologize. It won’t mend us.”

“Vicky-,” Ronald said quietly.

“How many have there been?” she asked abruptly. “These past two years, while I blindly trusted you, thinking we were building a relationship, how many women have there been?”

He took a step back and shook his head. “You can’t ask me a question like that.”

“Why not?” Victoria asked her voice rising unintentionally.  Jeez, he was such a bastard.  “You felt you have the right to ask about the guy I was just having a drink with. Why shouldn’t I ask you about the women you’ve slept with behind my back?”

“Don’t talk so loudly.” Ronald looked around the hallway, making sure no one was around.

She was disappointed there wasn’t anyone in sight.  Not because she liked drama, but she wished others would see this Ronald.  This sleazy, unscrupulous side of him.  God, she was getting bitter.

“I already apologized,” he said returning his gaze to her. “Let it go, and let’s start over. I promise I will never do it again, Vicky.”

let goGoodness did she have stupid stamped on her forehead? She scoffed and stepped away from him.

“I hope your next girlfriend believes you. We’re over, Ronald. We’re going to keep up a professional relationship, that’s it. If you have any questions about the hotel sales, I’ll be happy to answer them. On a personal note, you’re nothing to me.”

“You can’t do this,” Ronald said glaring at her.

“Yes I can,” she said narrowing her gaze. “I should have done it a long time ago, but I’ve been too scared of the future to face the truth. Thank you for opening my eyes.”

“Vicky,” he grabbed her upper arm tightly when she turned to leave. “You have no right to do this.”

“Let go of my arm, Ronald.” His fingers were digging into her skin and it hurt.

“Who do you think you are to judge me?”  His fingers tightened around her arm. “Aren’t you also just as vulgar? Look at you, slathering on red lipstick, dressing in a provocative dress, and having drinks with strangers. Weren’t you asking for attention from that guy I just dragged you away from?”

“Let go of me, Ronald.”

She winced when he tightened his hold and tugged her closer to him. His cologne made her want to gag. It was unbelievable as she’d once found it enticing.

“You still want me.” His leering tone made her skin crawl. “You want it, you’re just angry with me for choosing another woman. So you’re trying to make me jealous by going after strangers.”

“I’m not even going to address that comment. Let me go before I start screaming.”

“I’m the manager in this hotel.” He sneered at her, his face turned into a hateful mass of lines that froze her in place. “You can scream, but there’s nothing they’re going to do for you, Vicky…”

****

To be continued… Thank you for reading >_<

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Picture Perfect 5

Picture Perfect 5

flowers  An hour later, leaning on a tree in the gorgeous garden belonging to Taylor’s aunt, Victoria watched Eric focus his lens on a laughing Beth. They were standing by a bush of pink roses, Beth holding one up to her nose. Her wedding dress gorgeous in the afternoon sun. Victoria wondered what Eric was thinking as he took photographs of a woman he wished had been his. She watched him smile at Beth and frowned when a tinge of jealousy stirred inside her.  Turning away from them, she pushed off the tree and walked to the gazebo.  Eric’s bag was still on the bench. She retrieved her purse and perched on the bench.  She took her phone out and dialed Grace’s number.

“I was wondering when you’d call,” Grace said in greeting.  “The reception is going very well. We have just finished serving the guests lunch. We’re now waiting for the bridal party.”

She looked around and saw Eric and Taylor talking as the rest of the bridal party headed to their cars.

“We should be on the way over in the next ten minutes or so.”

“How is it?”

“Glamorous,” Victoria said studying the ranch-style brick house looming a few feet away.  “Taylor’s aunt houseshas a gorgeous house in Upper hill.  You’d never believe such a place exists so close to the CBD.”

“What else can you expect from such a family.”  Grace sighed.  “I have to go, some kids are running and causing havoc.  Call me when you get close to the hotel.”

“I will,” she said and Grace ended the call.

Returning her cell phone into her purse, she watched Eric part with Taylor and head back to the gazebo.

“Victoria,” Eric said.  “Why are you hiding away in here?”

“I’m not hiding, just resting my feet.”

She looked behind him to see Beth and Taylor kiss and head to their car. They looked blissful in marriage. She decided they were a very beautiful couple.

“I’m hoping we’re headed to the hotel now.”

“Yes, we are,” Eric said, then paused to study her. “I thought you liked it here. Don’t you want to stay? The house is empty and Taylor’s aunt won’t mind us exploring her compound.”

Victoria rolled her eyes at him playfully.

“I can just imagine that. Beth and Taylor will be angry with me if I keep you from your important job.”

“I’d much rather an afternoon with you exploring the outdoors,” Eric said then as he closed his camera bag.

Remembering how he’d smiled at Beth, she stood up and started for the gazebo steps.

“Then the faster we get to the hotel the better, that way this day will end quickly.”

“Wait,” Eric said behind her, but she didn’t.

Her steps fast as she walked along the gravel path to his car. He caught up with her just as she reached the Jeep.

“You’re upset. What did I say?”

“I’m not upset,” she said with a sigh. She didn’t have the right to be upset that he was still hang up on a woman who was now married. “What’s there to be upset about?”

Eric frowned as he met her gaze. “Nothing.”

“Exactly,” she said with a tight smile and hurried around to the passenger side. “Great, let’s go then.”

****

Victoria avoided Eric when they got to the reception at the Savon Hotel. She busied herself with activities that constantly had her working outside the ballroom. She helped Grace deal with the demands from the guests who felt entitled to the finest in life and therefore kept making orders that had the waiters on their feet.

She helped the wedding planner deal with the wedding gifts that filled the section they’d set aside. When friendsOlive showed up at around four o’clock, Grace urged them to head to the bar on the second floor.

“She’s driving me insane,” Grace said with a sigh. “She’s dressed in a gorgeous red dress, and all she can think about is work.”

“Hey, that’s not fair,” Victoria said keeping a watchful eye on Eric who was taking pictures of children eating candy.

The children sat on the floor in one corner of the ballroom and she would never have noticed them had it not been for Eric standing over them.

“Who’s the handsome photographer?” Olive asked slipping a hand over her right elbow. “He looks yummy.”

“Eric Kabuto,” Grace said. “Vicky’s date, she’s spent the last two hours avoiding him.”

Eric lifted his head as though he’d heard them talking about him. She looked away from him fast and started for the door.

“Grace, you’re right. You don’t need my help. We’ll be at the bar upstairs if you need anything.”

She dragged Olivia out of the ballroom.

“Wow, you haven’t acted like this since that guy you liked in college. What was his name?” Olive said as they headed upstairs. “Gatheru, Gatheri-,”

“Gathanga,” Victoria said. “You never liked him much.”

“He was an idiot,” Olive said.

Victoria laughed suddenly remembering Eric’s comment about ex-boyfriends and how women labeled them.

“How is that funny?” Olive asked as they entered the Tropical Isle bar.  She led the way to a set of high stools set around a polished mahogany counter.

“I just remembered how much Gathanga was afraid of you.  You threatened him with a knife once when he stood me up on a date. I think you’re the reason we broke up.”

Olive placed her purse on the counter and smiled.

“He didn’t deserve you.”

index2Victoria settled on her stool and studied Olive. She’d chosen a pink empire waist dress. The silky fabric framed her figure as she sat on her stool. Her long black natural hair falling down her back made her look younger; Victoria doubted anyone would believe Olive was a doctor.

The bartender took their orders and Victoria sat back on the high chair with a sigh.

“What’s with the photographer?” Olive asked when their drinks came.

Victoria sipped her white wine and shrugged. “He’s handsome.”

“I agree,” Olive said picking up an olive from her martini with her toothpick and popping it into her mouth. “Why are you running in the other direction?”

“In case you didn’t notice, I just recently broke up with a guy I could have married.”

“What does that have to do with the handsome photographer?” Olive asked with a frown. “Who is currently walking up to us.”

“What?” Victoria turned and gaped when she saw Eric walking up to them without his camera. “What are we going to do?”

Olive patted her cheek and smiled. “Make him pay for the drinks.”

Victoria shook her head wondering if there was a way to escape Eric without seeming rude. Since they’d come back from the photo shoot, she’d decided that it was better to keep her distance. She was starting to like him and he wasn’t available. Emotionally anyway, his thoughts belonged to someone else.

***

To be continued…Thank you for Reading. ^_^

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4