away from it all by phoenix.writing

12 Sep

Emma was behaving like a school girl, and she knew it—it had taken her over half an hour to decide what to wear this morning—knew that it wasn’t exactly becoming in a woman who was nearly forty-five.

Unfortunately, she felt like a school girl with her first crush again, and trying to be logical was not working so well.

Her mind strayed back to how it had all started….


“You’re sure you don’t mind?”

Iain rolled his eyes.  “Honestly, Emma, I wouldn’t have offered if I minded.  I know you don’t want to go anywhere without your ultimate defender, and I don’t think they’d let you buy him a seat on a plane.  No more excuses.”

He grinned at her, and Emma found herself grinning back.  It was true that she’d always claimed Dess as the reason why she couldn’t go on vacation; she didn’t want to leave him, didn’t want to make someone come and house sit, and couldn’t find a lot of places where a dog—especially his size—was welcome.

Iain had offered his entirely dog-friendly cottage and had promised he would put out any fires at the office.

It was a very tempting offer, and Emma found that she couldn’t refuse.

Somehow, she even found herself letting him convince her to drive her up so that she wouldn’t get lost—and so that he could very definitively strand her up there so that she couldn’t come back to work even if she wanted to.

He knew her too well.

Iain took her up Saturday morning, bright and early.  It was a four-hour drive that was punctuated by Dess barking happily from the back seat.  Emma kept the window open, ostensibly for Dess, but the wind blowing through her hair felt as though it were blowing her worries away.  The further she got from work, the more free she felt, and she admitted to herself that Iain was a genius.

They picked up groceries and potable water at the last town of substance, apparently half an hour away from the cabin, and then they headed into the woods—or so it felt to Emma; it had been a while since she’d been amidst so much nature.

The cabin was beautiful, and felt as though it were in the middle of nowhere.  By the end of Iain’s tour, she knew how to light the water heater and the gas stove in case the pilot lights went out, and knew the location of the breakers, the main water cut-off, and the nearest neighbour in case of an emergency.

There was no cell reception up here, and he’d refused to tell her the phone number for the land line to make sure that she wouldn’t give it to work. He would call if there was an emergency, and he was otherwise going to make sure that all her assistants left her out of it.

She wanted to know when he’d become her mother, and he just pointed out that she’d made sure she learned the ropes once upon a time, and this was his chance to return the favour.

They had meat and veggies cooked on the fire pit outside for lunch, and Emma was reminded of her childhood and thought that she hadn’t had this much fun in a long time.

Once they’d cleaned up, Iain offered to stay if she was worried, but she’d just laughed and pointed out that she had the world’s largest watch dog; Dess wasn’t about to let anything happen to her.

It was only after he’d left that it occurred to her that maybe he’d been offering because he’d wanted to stay and get some use out of the cabin himself.

Then she looked at the little cabin with its one bedroom and told herself not to be ridiculous.  Iain was a gentleman, and that was all there was to it.

It was amazingly peaceful.  She had no alarm clock, had somehow let Iain talk her into not even bringing her laptop; she had books, had even brought some knitting, and had sworn backwards and forwards to Iain and Aiden that she was going to get lots of rest.

Her son was impressed that anyone had managed to convince her to take time off.

Not having any sort of structure to her day was disconcerting at first but enjoyable.  There was no “quickly” checking of her e-mails, never mind working from home.

She played with Dess, took him on long walks, went swimming and canoeing, and cooked food in more primitive and more amusing ways than she had in years.

It felt paradoxically like it had been a lifetime since she’d last been at work and as though the time was simply flying by; it was suddenly the Saturday of her second week, and she would be returning tomorrow.

She knew that it had done her a world of good, though, and she was going to have to think of some particularly clever way to thank Iain.

She went swimming in the early afternoon, and was surprised out of the easy rhythm that she’d acquired by Dess’s loud and definite barking. It was a warning bark, and she turned her attention to the shore to find that Iain was standing there—as far away from Dess as it was possible to get and still be in sight.

Returning to the shore and climbing out of the water, she thanked Dess for his good job and told herself that she was startled by Iain’s early arrival and not self-conscious about what she was wearing.

(She was relieved, though, that he hadn’t shown up out of the blue at night because she’d indulged in several skinny dips, and the imagined encounters were quite mortifying.)

“I wasn’t expecting you this early. Is everything all right?”

He smiled.  “You worry too much—although I can see why you weren’t worried about your safety.  Everything’s fine; I thought I’d stay the day if that’s all right.”

“It’s your cottage.”

“Which I promised to you until Sunday.”

“I don’t mind the company.”

“And I brought bribes in case you were reticent.”

He held up the bag, and she laughed.


This was what found Emma, hours later, in a state that she was reasonably certain Aiden would call plastered, giggling like an idiot as they sat around the fire pit.

And it was this, she was certain, that was responsible for the fact that she suddenly found herself underneath Iain, back pressed against the hard earth as their tongues clashed and tangled.

When she could breathe again, she had the sense to ask, “Do you know how old I am?”

“Old enough to be over the age of consent.” He grinned at her.

While this was true, it was not the point, although it was kind of difficult for her to remember the point when a whole lot of gorgeous, warm-blooded male was settled on top of her, all lean muscles and arousal and—

“Are you sure you want to be doing this?” she demanded.

Iain shifted on top of her, settling more firmly against her body and making her suck in a breath.  “I‘m of an age to take what I want, and I have every intention of doing so so long as you don’t object to giving it.”

How could she possibly?

It was looking as though perhaps the fact that there was only one bedroom was not an oversight on his part after all….


Dess’s barking caught Emma’s attention, and she realised that she’d been staring off into space once again and needed to leave or she wouldn’t make it to work on time.

“Thanks, Dess.”

Dess waved his tail cheerfully and nudged her thigh.  She scratched his ears, reminded that no matter what happened, he was the best of companions.  She grabbed her purse and keys and headed out to the car.

She had awoken yesterday perilously close to hung over and more than a little concerned about the morning after.  Liquid courage made people do all sorts of stupid things they’d never do when sober.

Iain had coaxed her out into the lake for a swim, though, and it had involved enough bodily contact that she had gathered that he did not seem to have regrets about the night before.

Still, this was going to be the week after, was going to be her going back to work after two weeks’ vacation, going back to work after having had sex with a co-worker who was a decade younger than she was, and she was not sure how it would work out.

She knew what she wanted, but she wasn’t a school girl who was going to be swept away in a dream that didn’t exist; Aiden was her darling, but she wouldn’t live through what she had lived through with his father again.

She squared her shoulders and started the car.  Whatever happened, she would always be grateful for the vacation and all the fond memories that she associated with it, but she would face the future like an adult.


We first met Emma and Dess last week; they’re Adam’s neighbours in Blame Aiden.


3 Responses to “away from it all by phoenix.writing”

  1. juleshg September 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    I hope we get a chance to see more of them. I am curious about what happened when they arrived back at work. Did the relationship continue?

    • phoenix.writing September 19, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

      I’m enjoying them too much to leave it like this; they will indeed be making a new appearance this upcoming week. Glad that you’re curious about more. 🙂


  1. Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained by phoenix.writing | the character project - September 19, 2010

    […] away from it all by phoenix.writing […]

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