“You’re leaving me?”
There was a long moment of silence that spread through the dark room. With only a sliver of light coming from behind the curtain, Aurelia couldn’t see the disappointment on his face. Too many times he had tried to hide the vulnerable parts of him from her. It worked out well when she often kept him in the dark about her life and every bit of feeling she had for him. Neither one of them wanted to admit that their odd friendship had become too complicated over the course of one year.
Aurelia pulled the sheets over her chest and pushed her tangled black hair from her face, hiding the body she had easily given away to him once again. Her eyes shifted to the scattered clothes on the floor and then moved to his glistening, bright hazel eyes directly across from her. “I came here to say goodbye.”
He scoffed, unarmed by disbelief. “Is this how you say goodbye to all your friends?”
“Don’t say that,” she said, shaking her head. She couldn’t even be upset. “And I’m not leaving you. You didn’t want me, so this was all I could offer you.”
He scrubbed a rough hand over his face and then deeply sighed into it before letting it drop. “You said you were going to finish school in New York like you wanted. You are leaving me.”
“You aren’t mine to leave.”
He blinked at her. “Did I not spend a year of my life in this bed with you? Asked you to make yourself comfortable in my home and take you out with me?”
“Travis,” she whispered, pulling the sheets tighter around her. Something in his voice had frightened her, and she began to regret her decision to crawl into his bed. “You weren’t looking for anything. When I met you, we agreed to be friends.”
He crossed his arms over his heaving chest and shook his head to disagree. “That’s not true, sweetheart.”
It had been raining the day he realized his desire for her was more than just lust. He remembered that minor detail because it was the first time he finally felt her skin on his in such an intimate way. Aurelia was in her first year of college, hired by Elliot Patel as Initiative Engineering’s youngest intern and assigned to work with Travis Jamison. He would take Elliot’s position as the company’s CEO once he was retired, but that wouldn’t be for another year or so.
Travis, nearly a decade older than Aurelia, had immediately taken a liking to her. She was an enlightened being with the ability to create pure magic through the talents she possessed. Aurelia Lexington radiated energy in all forms when she entered the room, and he couldn’t imagine sharing his work with anyone but her. She made his job mean something.
While the hands-on job didn’t interest her, she grew to appreciate it over the months. Travis was passionate about his work. He eagerly showed her how to repair hard drives and hack into systems without being traced. Although those weren’t skills listed on the job description, he had only wanted to see how much she was willing to learn from him.
He spent nearly every hour of the week with her, which meant he was forced to learn her habits and admire her beauty. He even stayed late at the office a few times and offered to help her study. When he couldn’t see her, he made every excuse to. He wanted Aurelia in every way possible. She had become his sick obsession.
Then one day, Elliot took Aurelia out of town for a business trip. She was the shiny trophy of the company that was supposed to woo investors, so neither Travis or Aurelia would see each other until that next Monday. But when Aurelia and Elliot got back to the office, Travis was still there, working through the last of his paperwork in the quiet storm.
Aurelia had knocked on the glass door and pushed it opened once she had gathered his attention. Her hair was soaked. “Elliot just left.”
“It’s pouring out there,” he had said to her with the disapproving shake of his head. “He should have dropped you off at home.”
He remembered the innocent smile she had given him just before she reached over his desk and grabbed a pen, exposing the cleavage beneath her jacket dripping with rain water. “I’m waiting for the rain to clear, so I can take the train back to campus.”
“I’m not letting you get on that train,” he’d told her. He quirked a brow when she pulled her jacket off and threw it on the couch directly across from him. “What are you doing?”
She held up the notepad she’d grabbed off the glass coffee table and showed him a page of scribbles and words he couldn’t read from where he sat. “I have an idea for a story, so I’m taking notes for myself.”
“All the time.” She smiled at him. “What’s your secret talent?”
“I’ve taken up photography,” he told her. He stopped caring about his paperwork in that moment. He wanted to know more about her hobby. “What are you writing about now?”
“It’s a new romance novel I started.” She patted the empty space next to her and urged him to join her. When he did, she moved the notepad closer to him. “You can read it.”
He cleared his throat, took the notepad from her and skimmed the first page. Certain words popped from the page that made him choke on his own. “Erotic.”
“Ah,” she had finished for him. “Add a little romance and you’ve got yourself a novel.”
He nervously chuckled. While Travis was a man with many talents in and out of the bedroom, or so he would claim to be, reading his mentee’s erotic thoughts and ideas on paper wasn’t one of them. He couldn’t seem to focus on one word without wanting to find the next one that would make his pants a little more uncomfortable to wear. “With one leg wrapped around his waist, he slowly pummeled into her, savoring every thrust as if it would be the last one before the pleasure could overtake him with an eruption inside her.”
Aurelia bit her lip. “It still needs a lot of work.”
“I disagree,” he had said too quickly. He took a deep breath and set the notepad down on the table. “What’s your inspiration?”
“Ideas just come to me.”
He laughed. “Something had to have inspired those ideas. Tell me, Aurelia.”
Her eyes moved over the almond shade of skin that made up his perfectly structured face, down to the bulge he didn’t even bother to hide and then up to the hazel eyes that were still watching her. There was a spark between them that could ignite dangerous fires within their bodies, and while neither one of them had tried to find out just how dangerous, they never denied it was there. Even grazing hands while passing Travis down the hall made her knees buckle. She often fantasized that he was undressing her with his eyes when they fell onto her during their meetings. She wanted him to bend her over his desk and make her beg for him. She wanted to feel his tender lips on every inch of her body, claiming it as his.
She blinked. It was as if she had escaped that fantasy and returned to where Travis patiently waited for an answer, but she didn’t want to tell him her inspiration for writing stemmed from her desires to be fucked and claimed by him. It was unprofessional. “I think my train is coming soon. I should get going.”
“Come home with me,” he’d suggested. That was definitely breaking the professional barrier between them. “I’ll let you rest and then drive you back to campus in the morning.”
“I don’t want you stuck in that storm. My apartment isn’t too far from here either.” He helped her into her jacket and pulled her hair out from underneath. He smiled as they stood perfectly still together, mesmerized by her beauty. “I think we’re friends now, Aurelia. You’re more than welcomed to make yourself at home when I offer.”
“Okay,” she had whispered quietly. “I’ll spend the night, but I’m getting home on my own tomorrow.”
He smirked. “We’ll see about that.”
Travis gathered his things from behind his desk and felt the inside pocket of his suit jacket for his keys. With his briefcase in one hand, he placed the other on the small of her back and led her out of his office. Once they had reached the parking garage and stopped in front of his black luxury vehicle, he released her.
“Elliot should have dropped you off down here to avoid the rain,” he’d said all too bitterly. He opened the passenger door for her and waited until she was settled in before shutting it behind her. He walked around to his side to get in and quickly pulled out of the garage, buckling himself in as he did so. “From now on, I’ll be taking you home. I don’t want you on the train anymore.”
“Travis, I’ve taken it for years.”
“Don’t argue with me,” he’d sternly told her. “On any normal night I can safely drive you to campus without worrying about whether you made it home.”
She held her breath.
“Besides, you’re my mentee. I have to make sure you show up to work the next day.”
“Of course,” she’d said on an exhale.
“And it would make me happy to see you get home safely.”
Her eyes moved to his. Travis could only hold her gaze for so long before he was forced to turn his attention back to the road.
It was silent after that and Aurelia was left to her own thoughts. She tried to imagine all the things that could go wrong by spending one night in Travis’ apartment, but she couldn’t. She could only imagine herself falling asleep to the sound of the raging storm and then quietly sneaking off in the morning to catch the train home.
Travis wasn’t lying when he said his apartment was close by. By the time she had made the decision to be gone before he could wake, they were already in the parking garage of his apartment complex. Travis walked around to her side to let her out, and in silence, they walked through the entrance into the building.
He led her through multiple hallways she wouldn’t remember once she was home and then the elevator that would take them to the ninth floor. Travis pushed multiple buttons that Aurelia paid no attention to. She stood still, uncomfortably silent as they waited for the elevator doors to open again and shifted on her feet, waiting for him to speak first.
“I have something you can change into,” he had said once they had reached the top floor.
Aurelia was surprised to have stepped right into a living room. When Travis said he lived in an apartment, she wasn’t expecting it to be the penthouse on the top floor of that apartment complex. “I’m fine with what I have.”
He shook his head and led her into a bedroom. There was hardly anything in it. It was just a single king bed in the center of the room, pushed against the wall with two nightstands on either side. The sheets were made of soft cotton and the large comforter was tucked in tightly under the mattress. Double doors directly across the bed led to a walk-in closet that lit up when Travis walked through and beyond that was the bathroom behind a door that had been shut halfway.
“I’m not letting you sleep in your work clothes,” he had told her as he began to unbutton his shirt. He grabbed a t-shirt from a drawer and handed it to her. “You can sleep here.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll take the floor,” he’d said, smirking. He turned around to let her change and quickly undressed. “The couch in the living room isn’t exactly comfortable.”
Aurelia had just slipped into the t-shirt when he turned around. It slid down her petite figure almost in slow motion, making it impossible for Travis to tear his eyes away from her bare navel and black lace panties. He took a step in her direction, and once she was completely covered in his t-shirt, she met his gaze with a smile.
He tucked a strand of her black hair behind her ear and dragged the tips of his fingers down her jaw. His touch alone could make her moan, and she shut her eyes, blindly reaching for his abdomen. She bit her lip when she felt his soft skin on hers.
“I think there’s plenty of space on your bed for us to share,” she’d whispered. She felt his hand run into her hair and opened her eyes, watching his lips descend to the corner of hers.
He wrapped her body in his arms and held her close to him, breathing in her scent of herbal shampoo and rain water from when she had been out in the storm. Exhaling deeply, he kept her close to him, content with the idea that she was safe with him.
“That’s not all that happened.”
Travis blinked, and within moments, the sound of the raging storm was gone. He was sitting across Aurelia on his bed again with his sheets tangled around her body.
During their first night together, he had held her as if he had done it so many times before. He had never felt that kind of comfort before her. He wanted to feel it again, so he laid her against the mattress and held her. Their bodies seemed to have molded perfectly together and even though he couldn’t see her face, he could feel the smile that had radiated the whole room.
“No, it’s not,” he said, pressing his lips into her hair. “Aurelia, why didn’t you just tell me?”
“It’s too hard,” she whispered to him. She squeezed her eyes shut, and tears immediately began to fall. “I have said goodbye to everyone already. I can’t say it to you, too.”
She turned to him, touched her lips to his and held her breath through their soft kisses. “Because I love you the most,” she said on an exhale. “I love you, Travis, and I mean that.”