by Amanda Sanz
Rachel starts to discover something unexpected
© Copyright 2004, Amanda Sanz
The offices of Presley, Lennor & Gilbert in Sarasota kept Rachel Presley at the top of her career. The busyness of it all helped her not to think about the tragic events she had survived. Two years had flown by and she was more resigned and optimistic, concentrating her efforts in her law firm and finishing her studies for her master degree.
“I can’t believe how much work we have lately,” Rachel’s tall and trim figure dressed in a white skirt tailored suit, turned to Neil Lennor while gathering the new case files on her desk.
“It’s the boom in real estate that’s been going on in Bradenton and Sarasota since 1999,” he said pushing back his glasses as his heavy stature sat on the leather chair in front of Rachel’s desk.
“It has been a year already and there is no sign of slowing down,” she said smiling.
“Thank God,” said Neil looking at her while her golden hair hung in long graceful curves over her shoulders as she looked down on her Rolodex.
“Do you have Michael Dees’ business card?” she asked frantically as she noticed she didn’t have one.
“I think I do,” said Neil getting up and walking towards the door. “You gave it to me the last time you went to Georgia just in case I needed to help him with his last contract, remember?”
“Now I remember,” she said closing her Rolodex.
“I’ll get it for you.”
“Thank you. He called and said it was urgent we get together this week,” her hazel eyes looked as Neil reached the door. “An apartment building came up and he is anxious to make a deal as soon as possible.”
“No problem, I’ll be right back,” said Neil disappearing on the hallway.
Rachel continued organizing the files and making sure everything was in order before handing them over to her secretary to be filed away.
Neil quickly came in with business card in hand. “Here it is, Rachel.” The middle age attorney said to her.
“Thank you,” said Rachel, a soft smile on her face.
“I’ll see you later,” he said looking at his watch. “My two o’clock appointment will be here in a few minutes.”
Rachel dropped her tanned body on the leather chair behind her desk and looked at the business card for a few seconds. There was a time when she and Michael’s family were close friends, but he had moved to California and lost touch with each other. He came back into her life when Michael started to work closely with David purchasing properties in the area. She had handled the contracts. Two years ago, when David died, he came and personally gave her his condolences. The whole scene flashed through her mind.
At the door, Rachel came face to face with Michael. His eyes were hiding behind dark sunglasses. He smiled softly when he saw her standing there.
“Hi, Michael. Please come in.”
Michael’s six-foot four-inch frame bent to hug her. He kissed her cheek with his soft full lips as she held back tears.
“You didn’t have to come all the way here,” she said, wrapped in his embrace.
“I knew you must be going through tremendous pain. I’m really sorry. David was a great man.”
“Thank you,” she said, closing the door.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t come to the funeral. I was out of the country and just found out.”
“I understand, Michael. The main thing is that you are here now.” Rachel held his hand.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked as he slid his arm around her shoulder. Against his strong body, Rachel felt protected.
“Your presence is enough,” said Rachel, feeling the warmth of his gaze.
As they made their way towards the terrace, they passed the living room of the spacious home that for many years had been full of laughter and joy. The home reflected her impeccable taste. It was warm and inviting with the simplicity of its furnishings; the theme was coastal Mediterranean, like the houses in Greece. From the windows in the living room you could see the beautiful landscaped backyard.
She’d traveled extensively throughout Europe during the early part of her marriage and incorporated many of the architectural details and landscape designs that she loved so much into their home. Now her fifty-acre estate seemed too large a place for her to be in, alone.
“Can I offer you something to drink?”
“No, don’t worry.” Michael said. He removed his sunglasses and his deep-set green eyes studied her. He ran his fingers through his dark brown hair before setting the sunglasses on his head.
“It’s nothing,” she said.
Maria emerged from the kitchen. “Hello Mr. Dees,” she said.
“Maria, please bring iced tea to the terrace,” Rachel said politely. “So tell me, how is business?” Rachel asked Michael, leading him out to the terrace and motioning toward the loveseat, were his well-built figure sat beside her.
“It’s going well, especially here,” he said, smoothing his cream polo shirt over his black jeans.
“I’m glad. I know you and David worked hard to find those properties.”
“Yes, he was great at his business. The way he managed to get me those old apartment buildings downtown proved to be very profitable for both of us.”
“I still can’t believe how you could pack up your things, moved out of state and in a few short years develop your big company.”
“I know, I guess I was lucky enough to find good mentors.”
“No, but it’s remarkable, truly remarkable. How old are you now?” asked Rachel looking at his youthful face, his features were so perfect, so symmetrical.
“Twenty-four,” his gaze fell on her and swept her with its magnetism.
“You must have had some clear goals in mind.”
“Since the moment I saw my dad being disregarded as a simple overload for IBM when they downsized, I knew I wouldn’t want to work for someone else,” he said, “I finished high school early and left to California. I studied Business Management and at the same time participated in the SBA SCORE Program. You know what I’m talking about, right?”
“Yes, that’s the group of retired entrepreneurs that help others get their business started right.”
“That’s all it took,” he said beaming his smile “and a lot of talking, which I’m good at.”
“Yes, it helps to be that way.”
Michael noticed her sad gaze. “What is it Rachel?” asked Michael in the most soothing voice.
“Nothing, it’s just that you remind me so much of David. You are like him in so many ways,” she said looking tenderly into his shining eyes.
“Rachel,” he said, squeezing her hand, “you know well that you can count on me,” he looked deep into her hazel eyes.
“I know.” She placed her other hand over his.
“I left the states many years ago, but now I’m back,” Michael paused. “My business is growing and I’ll be here more often.”
Maria walked in with a tray holding the iced tea pitcher and couple of full glasses.
“Thank you, Maria,” said Rachel.
“Do you know what you are going to do now?” asked Michael, handing a glass to Rachel. “You could probably immerse yourself in your real estate law office.”
“Yes, it’s firmly established in Sarasota and my clientele has grown in the last few years.”
“That’s great; you are a good lawyer and that will keep your mind occupied.”
“A few years ago I’ve also started studying for my masters in fine arts.”
“I didn’t know that,” said Michael impressed at her class.
“I love art and since I spend so much time at the museum during the year, it was natural to decide to pursue a career as a curator,” she said drinking from her glass of iced tea as she looked at his surprised expression.
“Well, I guess you are never idle or alone,” he said as he noticed a shadow of pain behind her eyes. She was trying to sound natural but it was too soon.
“But right now that’s exactly what I need; to be alone…” She paused. “I need to get used to the idea…” she said, choking on her tears.
“That he is gone?” Michael gently pressed a napkin to her cheek, wiping her tears.
“Yes, I still can’t believe it.”
Michael moved closer to her letting her lean on his broad shoulder as he softly placed his hand on her head. “Tell me what happened,” he said allowing her to open up to him completely.
“The police report said that a drunk driver tried to pass him at high speed, but there wasn’t enough time. The head-on collision killed David instantly.”
“I mean it, Rachel. I’ll always be here for you,” he said, gently pressing her against him.
Rachel noticed Michael’s eyes full of tears. “Thank you, Michael,” said Rachel reaching out to him “I’m glad I can talk to you like this.”
“So do I,” he said as he caressed her soft hair. “I wish Natalia would have been a little more like you,” he sighed.
“That’s the girl you told me about, right?” she asked as she noticed his sad face.
“So more like me in what way?” asked Rachel curious about what he was thinking.
“You are sensitive, caring,” he said looking tenderly at her “Totally dedicated to your family.”
“I’m sorry things didn’t work out.”
“Yeah, this time is really over between us,” he paused. “She was too selfish to think about anyone but herself.”
“You’ll find someone else, you’ll see,” said Rachel holding on his hand as she leaned back on his chest.
“I hope so.”
Michael sat quietly as Rachel composed herself, and then decided to give her the time alone that she desperately needed.
“I’d better be going,” Michael said, standing. “I will be at the Hyatt for a few days. You know how to contact me if you need anything,” he said as he leaned toward her, kissing her softly on the forehead.
Rachel walked him to the door where he embraced her one more time. Michael’s tenderness comforted her. His eyes were full of mystery, or so she thought.
Her life had to painfully go on without David; her mere existence hurt her being. David was her mentor in many ways; he had supported her and encouraged her to become a lawyer. They lived for each other and when the twins entered their lives she dedicated herself to them letting her world revolve first around her family and then her law practice. Now the law practice was her refuge, her way to stay sane and feel useful after the twins left for college. She had encouraged them to start their own lives knowing well what that meant; that her life would be lonelier than ever. Life had to go on and she slowly started to think about her uncertain future, one that she longed to make sense of, and one that she wondered if she would ever see with the same optimism as when David was at her side.
Shaking off her memories she fell back into reality. Michael and her had been together just couple of months ago. She’d noticed an increased in his real estate investments throughout the year, and how each time he made plans to get together. Rachel closeness to Michael developed as they spent unending hours working and keeping each other company and they became best friends.
I better get back with him and find out exactly what he needs, she thought as she reached for the phone and called him.
“Michael Dees,” a deep manly voice answered the call.
“Hi Michael, its Rachel,” she smiled at the thought of him.
“I’m glad you called,” a friendly tone denoted satisfaction to hear her voice. “I was on my way to your office.”
“Great, do you want to meet me here then?”
“Sure, I’ll be there in about twenty minutes,” he said quickly looking into his watch.
“I’ll wait for you then,” Rachel put down the receiver and called her secretary to pick up all the files and clear her desk before Michael came in.
She went to the bathroom to refresh her natural look make up; it had been a crazy day at the office. As she brushed her hair, she smiled at her reflection. She still glowed with an unusual beauty that refused to show her real age.
She was making herself comfortable back in her office as Michael was announced by the receptionist.
“Please let him in,” she said glad by his arrival.
Michael’s tall manly figure showed up at her door, briefcase in hand. His green eyes beamed at the sight of her. “Good afternoon, Rachel,” a soft smile framed by his sensuous full lips appeared.
“Please come in,” said Rachel walking towards him.
He reached for her and encircled her with his strong arms about her waist as he kissed her on the cheek. “How’ve you been?” he asked as he pulled away from the kiss.
“Fine,” her hazel eyes sparkled. “It’s been a while.”
“I know,” he said.
“Have a seat,” said Rachel pointing over to the sitting area in her office. Her curved body sat on the sofa, he sat next to her. “Tell me, what’s this about an apartment building in Sarasota?”
“Yes,” he said as he looked carefully at the soft supple skin on her face. “I just put a deposit on it and I need to have a contract on it as soon as possible, can you do it for me?”
“Sure,” she said. “Just leave the details here and I’ll get on it right away.”
Michael opened his briefcase and handed the papers to her. She put them on the table across from them.
“You look great, Rachel,” Michael said, as his gaze fell on her body noticing her in her white double breast suit that accentuated her full breasts. Her well-shaped legs were something to admire.
“So do you. Look at that tan!” she said. She noticed the white crew neck shirt painted against his muscular chest. The way the black Dockers pants fit tight against his strong legs showed that he possessed a solid body from head to toe.
“How long are you staying?” she asked, her tone soft, “This time, I mean.”
“I’m not sure. I need to inspect the properties.” He shrugged then dropped his penetrating gaze into hers. “That will take a few days…at least,” he said. His voice sounded deep and enticing.
Their eyes met and held again. She smiled at the thought of having him close.
“How about dinner tonight?” asked Rachel, giving a shy glance.
“It would be my pleasure,” he said, with a gleam of interest in his eyes.
“Seven o’clock then.”
“Seven it is.” Michael stood up as she did the same. He took her hand, pulled her toward him and then kissed her cheek dangerously close to her lips. He looked at her intently, then strode to the door.
In response to him being near, Rachel felt the rush of blood warming her body. Is it possible? Is he attracted to me? Oh my! Am I seeing things here? No, but that kiss, it wasn’t the usual kiss good-bye. And me? How do I feel? This can’t be, it’s just my imagination, she thought with a soft smile on her lips. She couldn’t wait to see him that evening.
Hours later Rachel stood before the mirror and checked herself carefully. Her hair tied in an elegant low pony tail that left her wavy ends loose half way down her back. Her elegant long neck dressed with a pearl shocker, a set of chandelier earrings. Rachel loved to dress up and she possessed an impeccable taste for clothing. She stepped out of her room as she heard the door bell ringing.
The radiance of the full moon fell on Rachel as she opened the door for Michael. She looked astounding in her white satin mermaid cocktail dress flared at the bottom. It showcased her curved regal figure and her tan skin exposed by the off-the-shoulder cut.
“Hi Michael, come on in,” said Rachel. Taking a step back, she let him in, giving him a smile.
He looked sharp in his light beige pants and short sleeve black Polo shirt which framed his broad shoulders. “Rachel, you look beautiful,” his teeth, even and white, showed between his alluring full lips.
She stared at them for a split second then quickly looked away. “Thank you.”
“These are for you,” he said as he pulled a dozen white roses from behind him.
“Michael, they are gorgeous!” she said as she took them and smelled the sweet fragrance.
Rachel opened her arms and Michael eagerly let her wrap them around his neck. He kissed her cheek then stood back and looked at her from head to toe one more time as his strong hand slowly, but firmly, worked its way down her back awakening her senses.
Maria was in the living room looking out to the terrace, checking that everything looked just right.
“Maria, would you please put these roses in the dining room?” Rachel asked as Michael offered his arm and she led him outside onto the terrace.
“Certainly,” said Maria, taking the roses from her.
Rachel removed the bottle of wine from the ice bucket and Michael uncorked the bottle. He filled her glass and then his; a toast was in order.
“For new beginnings and for friendship,” Rachel said, raising her glass.
“For new realizations,” said Michael, raising his and tapping hers; his eyes met briefly with Rachel’s.
Rachel’s mind immediately wondered what he meant by that toast. She felt he was trying to tell her something.
“So tell me, are you planning to move back in town?” Rachel hoped he would.
“I want to keep expanding my business here,” he said, his emerald eyes carefully studied the fine features of her face. “I want to come here often to be with my family and friends,” he said, waiting for her reaction.
“Well I’ll tell you what; you are doing the right thing. Family and friends are valuable, and one must make time to care for them, or we lose them forever.” Rachel smiled at him as she touched her soft lips against the glass of wine.
“I agree,” he said. A sexy smile emerged from his manly features.
“Is your family happy living in Miami? I don’t hear from them as often anymore.”
“I guess so. I’ve been too busy with my business to visit them,” he said as his eyes dressed and undressed her soul. “But I’m looking forward to spend more time with them.”
“That’s great. You will enjoy that, I’m sure,” she said as he continued to observe her. “That’s why I try to stay together with my kids as much as I can, to share holidays and special occasions,” she said, trembling inside as she noticed his attentiveness to her expressions and most of all to the movements of her lips. “Right now it seems like it’s just us. But before too long, it will be a son and daughter-in-law and grandkids,” said Rachel, not quite believing that time had passed so quickly that she was thinking about such things.
“Oh Boy, you don’t look old enough to be a grandma, Rachel. You don’t even look your age!” said Michael, grasping her hand. “You look wonderful…” He smiled in a way that made her temperature rise, melting her inside.
“Thanks,” Rachel said, watching how excited he was getting as the evening progressed. “But the reality is that they are already in college and that time will come.”
“Hard to believe, very hard,” he said, his eyes caressing her as a gentle touch all over her body.
“Dinner is ready,” Maria said.
They walked inside then to the formal dining room. Rachel stood by the chair, Michael pulled it out for her.
“Sit across, Michael,” her tone soft.
The long white candles in the center of the table lit the room; their glow on Rachel’s delicate features dazzled Michael. Their eyes met across the table numerous times. The mood was changing and the silence facilitated a sensual exchange of signals between them.
Michael filled their glasses with wine a few times as they ate; the candles continue to flicker and wrapped her in an aura of sensuality. She caught him looking intently at her lips while she placed the cheesecake in her mouth.
Michael lifted his napkin, passing it across the back of his neck. “Is it hot in here, or is just me?” he asked.
Rachel smiled; she could imagine what was going through his mind. She had a few things racing through hers as well. She saw a young and excited man undressing her with his penetrating gaze, but also a mature man with clear goals and a successful business on the verge of expansion. The sky seemed to be the limit according to Michael Dees. Rachel was impressed.
Michael, balanced a stack of cups and plates in an attempt to help with the clean up, “I’m sorry,” he said with a flirty look in his eyes as his body bumped with Rachel’s on his way to the kitchen.
“Michael, don’t worry about the dishes. Maria will take care of it.” Rachel said, taking the dishes away from him. “Please finish your glass of wine.”
“It’s okay. I like to help,” he said.
Rachel’s hand brushed his as she reached for the dishes. It felt like a power surge running through both of them.
Finishing his wine, Michael reluctantly decided to leave. Outside the door, he turned to look into Rachel’s sparkling eyes; they were grabbing him by the heart. His strong hand wrapped her waist and he slowly pulled her closer to him.
“It was a lovely evening” he said, kissing her softly on her cheek, this time at the very edge of her lips, he didn’t move for a few seconds leaving his lips there, heating up their senses. Rachel’s body felt like a volcano about to erupt as she felt his soft lips so close to hers. As he pulled away his eyes locked onto her face.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope too see you before you leave,” she said, shivering from his gaze.
“Count on it. Good night.” There was a faint light twinkling in the depths of his green eyes.
Rachel savored all the sensations generated from their exchange and longed to get much closer to him in time.