Locked In Amber Ch. 03
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As her car started up the roadway to Spencer’s house, Amber’s resolve started to crack. She knew she needed to do the right thing, but every time she mentally pictured herself talking to him, it didn’t go well. Imaginary scenes swirled through her head. Spencer telling her to “Fuck off” before slamming the door in her face. Spencer not answering the door. Spencer never showing up at the office again and Rod (or is it Ron?) with his bland polo and equally bland personality being their only technician. Spencer’s lawyer sending her a letter suing her for defamation. Spencer laughing at her gullibility and telling her what an easy lay she was…
“ENOUGH!” She yelled out loud, slamming her hand against the steering wheel hard enough to sting. The pain helped cut through the racing thoughts. She pulled over at a wide spot in the long, winding driveway next to his mailbox. His house was not quite visible through the trees, but a path could be seen curving its way in. She turned off her car, afraid that if she left it on, she’d bolt back to town. This is ridiculous. I have got to get through this. I can pull a 3.8 GPA in Chemistry, but I can’t talk to a guy? Maybe if I just park here, I can walk up and calm myself. She opened the door and sat there with her feet on the pavement for a moment inhaling the scent of the trees, trying to work up the nerve to continue. The car’s chime reminded her to remove her key.
After a few deep breaths, she walked up the pathway towards the trees, trying to focus on the beauty around her. The house had been built on some property behind the tree line. Last night, it had been dark when they arrived, so she hadn’t seen much of the house. Plus, they had parked by and spent all the time down at the pool house, which was down a small incline; she had never gone near the main residence.
The small gravel path wound its way through the trees and then beyond them to meet up with a concrete walkway that came from the side of the house, wrapping around to the front porch and circular driveway. The large, two-story Craftsman home was gorgeous with an emphasis on stone and timber. It reminded her vaguely of a lodge. There was no lawn. Instead, the house melded with the natural surroundings in a way that highlighted its beauty without being garish. A small pond-like water feature gurgled in the front, its rim lined with lush plants. A few yellow birds were flitting around a bird feeder nearby, their trilling calls welcoming her to the residence.
Amber climbed the steps to the wrap-around front porch, glancing past the timber posts at the deep ruby red sports car parked in the driveway. Wow, that’s a lot fancier than what he was driving last night! Guess I know what he keeps parked in that outbuilding over there. Last night, when Katelyn had been following him from Steve’s, he’d been driving the much more sensible late model green Subaru Forester that was parked next to the sports car.
She stepped up to the door and took a deep breath. Okay, here goes. I can do this. Nothing crazy is going to happen. At best, we talk. At worst, he… Her mind started offering up all sorts of suggestions again about what the worst could be and she quickly shut it down by pushing the doorbell.
She waited. A minute went by, but no one answered.
Okay, that doesn’t mean anything. Maybe he’s in the bathroom or out back or something. She peeked in the window at the side of the door. She could see a hallway leading to a larger living space. A duffle bag could be seen at the base of a couch, but not much else was evident. There was no movement. She straightened back up and waited another minute, a deep yawn breaking free as she looked around. She pushed the bell again and listened closely. She could hear a deep, muted chime ring within.
She waited some more, her pulse quickening. Okay, so not home? But his car is in the driveway. Probably not the bathroom with the amount of time I’ve waited. Ignoring me? Oh, please don’t let it be that…
She pushed the bell a third time, rocking back and forth on her heels to expend nervous energy. Finally, thinking that maybe that was just one time too many, she reluctantly turned back toward the path to return to the car, her nervousness collapsing into disappointment. She was just stepping down to the first step when there was a click at the door and she heard it swing open.
Amber turned back around, her mood quickly elevating. “Spence, I was really hoping…” Her sentence dropped halfway out of her mouth as she saw that it was not Spencer in the doorway. Standing before her, one hand on the door, the other on her hip, was an absolutely stunning looking woman wearing a short, thin bathrobe that clearly didn’t conceal that she was wearing nothing more than a pair of lacy blue panties and bra underneath.
Amber’s jaw hit the floor and the mental fog that had clouded her all day snapped into crystal clear tunnel vision, though her speech was severely inhibited. gaziantep escort “I… I…” With laser clarity, she immediately took in the tall, toned body with skin as smooth as silk. Fingernails bore a French manicure and dark auburn hair had been quickly piled above the head, wisps of hair tousled out of place. The annoyance was clear in the piercing, deep blue eyes. The image seared itself into Amber’s brain.
“Yes? Can I help you?” The woman had an accent, but it was hard to place with so few words. Possibly European? Definitely irritated.
Oh my God! The sports car. The delay in answering. The annoyed look. Tousled hair and no clothes! He didn’t answer because they were… She couldn’t bring herself to continue the thought as panic once again began to choke her. Is she some fling? Or is that his girlfriend? Is she from Austria? Did he get me a chocolate bar while he was dating a supermodel? Was she on his arm while he picked it out? Her mind flung out dark possibilities like beads at Mardi Gras, each darker than the last. “I’m… I mean, I think I’ve made a mistake. Goodbye!” She quickly turned and headed back off the porch.
Goodbye? What the fuck was that? Let’s be extra polite to his girlfriend! Once off the porch, she dashed down the path toward the trees and her car. Great idea! Let’s park a ways away to work out our nerves before going up. Didn’t think that one through, did you, Amber? Didn’t think about what to do if you needed to make a speedy getaway. She barely made it inside before she began to sob uncontrollably.
Amber was just starting to get herself under control, leaning around to grab some tissues from the back seat. A gentle rapping at the window startled her as a muffled voice said, “Amber?” She cried out and spun back around to see Spencer looking into the car. She was simultaneously angry and embarrassed that he would find her like this.
“What?” she angrily exclaimed, though the effect was slightly attenuated through the window. She glared at him.
“Are you… What’s…” He rubbed the back of his neck and looked skyward for a moment as he took a deep breath. “Can you open the window or something?”
She rolled the window down a few inches. “Fine. What do you want?”
“Well, I was going to ask you the same thing. I heard there was a confused girl at the door who ran off and so I came to see what was going on. Are you okay? What are you doing here and why are you parked down here?”
“Confused? Is that what I am?” The words were bitter and before she could control it, she let loose, all the pain inside of her bursting forth in a frenzy of words, barely pausing between each. “I wake up not knowing where I am and think that you’ve done something to me, only to realize later that maybe you didn’t and after talking with a lovely Italian woman that my dad needs to admit he has feelings for, realize the only way to make it right is to talk to you, only to chicken out at the last minute so I park down here to give myself walking time, but then I’m greeted, not by you, but by Aphrodite personified who’s obviously been rolling around in the sack, something she’s probably done daily with you since you met her and bought chocolate in Austria.” She finally took a breath. “And then, you decide to come down here from your bedroom and see what’s up. So yeah, I’m a little ‘confused’.” She added air quotes to punctuate the last retort. Her chest was heaving, but having spent all her fury, her shoulders slacked with exhaustion.
Spencer’s eyes went wide at the diatribe. He rubbed the back of his neck again, then opened his mouth like he was about to say something, stopped, and then started again. “Uh… can we… can we sit down? That was a lot to unpack.” He gestured to a stone wall along the road and then walked over to it without waiting for her.
Amber got out of the car and started over to meet him. I don’t know what there was to unpack… I think I unpacked it quite clearly. I don’t know what he possibly has to say to me. She sat down on the cool stone, a borderline awkward distance from him, her crossed arms mirroring her emotional state.
Spencer squinted his eyes a bit, gathering his thoughts. He absentmindedly picked a flake of something from his sleeve, looked at it, and then flicked it onto the dirt. Speaking more to himself, he muttered, “these last twenty-four hours have been one helluva rollercoaster…”
Looking up at her, he said more clearly, “Amber, I’ve always enjoyed seeing you at your office. I’ve loved chatting and joking with you. And last night, well, hanging out last night was a lot of fun. And then it turned… well, it went in a direction I didn’t quite anticipate when you kissed me.” He smiled momentarily before frowning again. “But after this morning and… just now, please don’t take this the wrong way…”
Here it comes. Here’s where he tells me he never wants to see me again. She stiffened, gaziantep escort bayan readying herself to hear it out loud, and interrupted him in a mimicking tone, “…don’t take it the wrong way, but you never want to see me again. I get it. I’ll go.” She started to stand up.
“Aaargh!” He clenched his fists and hit them against his lap, yelling, “What I am trying to say is, has anyone ever told you that you kind of have an issue with jumping to the worst conclusions?”
She jerked her head up. “What?” She realized that she had been so self-absorbed that she had tuned him out, not wanting to hear the sting of the words she anticipated. “What did you say?”
He took a long, deep breath and tried to speak more calmly, though his voice still held a slight tremor. “Look, I’m sorry I yelled just now, but I’m seriously frustrated. We can talk about this morning in a minute. As for this whole thing,” he circled his hands between them, “I have no idea why you’re talking about ‘Italians’ and ‘Austria’, but ‘Aphrodite’, as you call her, is neither of those. She’s from Romania, her name is Elise, and she’s my sister.”
Between the long day, the lack of sleep, and the tidal wave of emotions, Amber’s brain once again felt like it was stuttering a few seconds behind. At first, she was focused on the ‘She’s from Romania.’ Of course, she is… But then the rest of the sentence wormed its way through her brain fog.
She then started looking at him and taking in his attire: a flannel shirt speckled with sawdust, khaki cargo pants, work boots. Not exactly what someone would throw on after rolling in the sack. How did I miss that?
Because you’re clueless today, answered her more rational inner voice. For the second time in less than twelve hours, a sudden, crushing embarrassment overwhelmed her and she abruptly slumped back down, her hands trembling. She had been coming up to apologize for making drastic assumptions this morning and then turned around and just made more. What’s that old saying about what to do when you’re digging yourself into a hole? Stop fucking digging!
Amber looked up at Spencer. He was staring at her as if trying to read her mind. “Umm, Spence? I… I’m…” I’m not quite ready. “Your sister?”
Spencer nodded. “Yeah, she got here around lunchtime. Back from a shoot. I was out in the shop, so I didn’t hear you arrive. I really should put up a bell and camera out there. She called me on the intercom.”
“Your sister? Why didn’t you say so?”
He looked at her, quizzically. “Huh? I did say so. Are you okay?”
“So when I assumed,” here she grimaced, “she was your Austrian girlfriend, the first thing you said was that she was Romanian!” She smiled slightly to show she was joking, an attempt to ease the tension.
“Ahh,” he said, enigmatically.
It was clear to Amber that he was still on edge and she really needed to make things right.
“Sorry, I was just kind of half kidding… trying to lighten the mood.”
“Oh, okay,” he said, nodding.
God, this is hard. “Umm, Spencer? I, uh, I really need to apologize. For this and… well, for so much more.” Just starting seemed to break the dam and it all began to rush forth.
“I apologize for doing a shit job of verifying facts before jumping to conclusions. I’m not normally like that. Really. You can ask Kat—I’m usually the one researching everything to the last degree. I’m also not some crazy girl who gets jealous of everything. I promise. It started last night and I think there was something in the Jello at Steve’s party and I really had a great time with you too and I’m sorry if kissing you was too forward because that’s also not how I normally act, but it just felt right at the time and, honestly, that’s the one thing in this whole mess that I don’t regret.
“I’m sorry that I fell asleep when things seemed to be going so well, but again, I think maybe I was under the influence of something… which, while I’m on the wagon of saying ‘that’s not me’…, well, that’s not me. I hardly ever drink and I think that’s why I was so scared this morning when I woke up and couldn’t explain where I was or remember anything about last night. I do now… well, mostly. There are still some gaps. And I’m so, so unbelievably sorry that I accused you of… of…” Here, she choked on her words again and had to take a deep breath. Tears trickled down her cheeks.
Spencer looked like he was about to respond, but she held up a finger. “No, please don’t say anything yet. I really need to get this out and it’s hard.” She took another deep breath and slid closer to him. She looked into his eyes, feeling an intense shame heating her cheeks, but forcing herself to not look away. “I am deeply sorry, Spencer, that I accused you of ah… assaulting me. You have treated me with nothing but respect since the day we met escort gaziantep and in my confusion, I assumed the absolute worst of you. So… I am also deeply sorry for that assumption as well. I imagine that it was unexpected and hurtful and painted me in a pretty shitty light. I hope that you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me, but I will understand if you never want to see me again… though it hurts like hell to say it.”
Spencer was biting his upper lip and she could see a slight glint in his eye. He nodded.
She wasn’t sure if the nod was an assent to never wanting to see her again or just an acknowledgment of understanding. Her heart strained with the dread it was inducing, but she knew she had to continue on. “And finally, I’m sorry that I again assumed the worst when I got here, ironically to apologize for my assumptions and poor excuse of behavior this morning. When I saw your… sister, it’s like everything just flew out of my head and I was so embarrassed that I didn’t know what to do or say and I probably sounded like a complete dolt to her. I hope you can apologize to her for me.” She started shivering, not quite sure if it was the chill in the air or the drop in adrenaline now that the emotional tidal wave had washed over her. She wiped the small tears that had built up in her eyes and were leaving streaks down her cheek. “I think part of it is that I’m just so… damned… tired.”
Spencer took a few moments to collect his thoughts and see if she was done. He looked at her. “Thank you,” he said quietly. He reached over to take her hand, tentatively. When she didn’t pull away, he held her fingers more firmly. The warmth felt good in the cool air and he just held it for several moments before expressing himself.
“Amber, I’m not going to deny that I was both confused and angry this morning. I’ve been trying to work through it all day and figure out what caused everything to go sideways. But, I understand all of this was probably very difficult to say and, well, I appreciate and accept your apology.” He gently squeezed her hand.
Amber felt an immense welling of relief in her chest. More tears silently squeezed out of her eyes as she closed them tightly, biting her lip to keep them from trembling.
She opened her eyes as Spencer continued, “And I don’t think you’re jealous or crazy, and I most definitely don’t think you’re a dolt. Your wit is one of the things that makes you so damn irresistible.” He smiled at her and she could feel her throat tighten up again as her heart did a small skip.
“Now I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit chilly out here. Would you like to come back to the house where it’s warmer?”
Amber nodded and stood up, taking his offered hand for leverage. They didn’t let go once she was up. With her other hand, she wiped the moisture from her cheeks as they made their way back up the walkway. Just as they broke through the trees, she stopped for a moment. Sensing her hesitation, he turned. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah. Just thinking a bit and admiring the view while doing so.” She nodded towards the flowers and trees and pond.
“I know… sometimes I like to come out here and just wander around when I’m mulling over some project or another. I mean, most of my job is wires and coding and business stuff, but it’s good to get out. It helps get the creative juices flowing.” He then glanced upwards as an idea struck him.
“Hey, want to come to the shop with me? I’ll just clean up and then we can head inside. I don’t think I’m going to be out there anymore this evening and I sense you could use a mental distraction.”
“Sure.” She followed him as he diverted towards the outbuilding she had assumed was a garage since it had a rollup door on the front.
As he reached the side, he stopped and turned to her. He took on a conspiratorial look, making exaggerated motions as if to see if there were anyone eavesdropping. “Not many people get to come in here. It’s my secret lair. Please don’t tell anyone,” he whispered. Amber giggled and crossed her heart while making a zipping motion across her lips. Something about the silliness of it helped break more of the tension she was carrying.
Inside, the smell of wood instantly permeated her nostrils. Spread around the shop were a wide variety of power tools including a table saw, band saw, planer, jointer, and the like. An assembly table on one side had what looked to be a bookcase in the middle of construction. Various hand tools lined the walls, a workbench was along another wall, and a third wall held some heavy-duty shelving stacked with various types of wood. Sawdust was pooled up in corners.
“Welcome to my alternate domain.” Spencer held his hands wide. “This is where I like to tinker around when I’m not working on the business.” He began moving around the shop, putting away a few tools and sweeping up some dust. “Hey, can you grab that dustpan to your left?”
Amber looked down to see the largest dustpan she’d ever seen. Picking it up, she went over to assist him. “So you like woodworking? That’s cool. My grandfather used to make me toys when I was a kid. I vaguely remember his shop, though I don’t think it was this nice. What do you make?” She knelt down to hold the pan so he could sweep into it.
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