The next morning, Alexandra did something she hadn’t done since she was a teen. She sat at her kitchen table, with a mug of coffee and her house and cell phone, sitting on the chocolate brown linen napkin, waiting for it to ring.
The night before she hardly slept. Words kept floating through her mind all night long. When she spoke to Billy, she had to have all her thoughts and emotions flowing in the same direction. She hadn’t given Billy a chance to explain the encounter that she had heard. Their relationship was built on trust and love. There was no doubt the love was there, but the trust, she couldn’t get past that.
There were so many questions she wanted answers to. Glancing down on the piece of paper towel, which she had folded in half and written on, she looked over the questions she wanted to ask him. She made certain her favorite red pen sat on top of the paper. This was the last time she wanted to go through this.
At eight o’clock, her phone rang. Billy’s number flashed on her caller ID. She answered and instead of asking him the questions over the phone, she asked him to stop by for hot chocolate. After she said it, she felt like an idiot. Why didn’t she just say don’t forget the marshmallows?
Billy arrived, with a bag of marshmallows and apricot scones, lightening up the mood. He kissed her hello and walked directly into the kitchen.
“I’ll be with you in a few,” he called from the kitchen. I just want to make the hot chocolate and put the scones on a dish. They’re still warm. Sit down and I’ll be right with you.”
Alexandra sat and took her paper towel and slipped it under her cell phone, making certain that the questions were still in eyes view for her. She didn’t want to forget to ask him anything. This would be the only chance she had. She couldn’t keep on dwelling on his forgetting to tell her things that were important. Damn, they were about to open a café together, which meant they would be spending most of their day together.
“Here you go.” Billy placed the black and white over-sized mug of hot chocolate in front of here with a half dozen mini marshmallows floating on the top.
“I hope you like the scones. I thought apricot might be a good seller, since people love that filling in seven layer cookies.” Billy cut the scone in half, and placed it in her dish.
The scent of the scone overpowered the vanilla candle that she had lit when she first came down in the morning. Lifting the scone, she took a bit. She eyebrows rose in amazement and she licked her lips. Billy stood next to her, his eyes peering down on her waiting for her reaction.
Looking up, she nodded her head. “The taste is incredible, just the right amount of apricot. And I think I taste a splash of cinnamon.”
“You’re right on the money.” Billy touched her shoulder and kissed the top of her head. “I thought it could be one of the scones on our menu.”
“We should start with the scone of day. Try different flavors to see what sells, what the customer likes.”
“That’s a fantastic idea.”
“Yes it is. But first, we need to discuss a couple of things.”
Alexandra took the last bite of her scone and pushed her dish to the side. Leaning her left elbow on the table she motioned for Billy to sit down. He sat next to her, not taking his eyes off her.
Before getting lost in his eyes, Alexandra dropped her gaze and took a moment to collect her thoughts before beginning.
“I want us,” she pointed from him to herself, “to work. I love you Billy and I don’t want us to have secrets.”
“Before you say anything, I realize what happened before we were together shouldn’t matter. But the foundation of our relationship is trust. I’m not going to ask about your past girlfriends, I just want to know what the secrets are all about.”
Billy stood and paced the living room before playing with the wood in the fireplace. Alexandra wanted to tell him to leave it alone, that she already had the fire going, but she decided to give him this time to collect his thoughts.
“I know you have a lot of questions, and I’m prepared to talk.” He took her hand and led her to the couch. “Sit down and get comfortable. I’ll get us a refill on the hot chocolate.”
Billy disappeared into the kitchen, and returned within a few minutes. Once again he place the mini marshmallows in her mug. He placed her mug on the cocktail table and sat sideways on the couch to face her.
“About fifteen years ago I got myself into a bit of trouble. I was short on money, could barely pay my bills and needed money quick.”
“He’s a loan shark?” Alexandra’s voice rose.
“No. He’s a friend of the family.”
“You owe him money?”
Billy shook his head. “No. I made the mistake of going to him for money. He gave me what I wanted, in exchange, he had me to do some illegal things.”
“Are you kidding me?” Alexandra rested her hand on his. Billy seemed to be uncomfortable talking about it.
He leaned on the sole of his right foot, and started shaking his leg. Alexandra kept her eyes on him and waited for him to finish the rest of his story. She wanted to know everything. She wanted things back to the way they use to be.
“The reason why I fought with Ralphie was because he still feels I owe him for bailing me out.”
“But that was a long time ago.”
Billy played with the marshmallows in his mug with a thin red straw. “Baby, he wants a piece of the café.”
“No way. And how did he find out?”
“I went to the bank for a business loan. It would figure his daughter would be the one to wait on me.”
“His daughter? Didn’t you see her?”
“Babe, I haven’t seen his daughter since we were kids and besides, her married name was on the name plate. I still can’t believe she recognized me.” Billy stood, and folded his arms. “Ralphie is playing games. I just wanted to protect you. I don’t want you involved in the mistakes I made.”
“Well, I’ll you one thing,” Alexandra stood, walked over to Billy and took is hands in hers, “I’m not letting this Ralphie character get involved in our plans. This is our business and he isn’t get a single cent from us.”
“How are we going to do that? He’ll come to the café everyday and harass us.”
“Not if I take out the loan.”
“No,” he shook his head. “I can’t let you take that whole financial burden on yourself. We need to do this together.”
“But we will be. The loan is just going to be in my name only.”
“We’re not doing this. The time has come for me to stand up to Ralphie. I don’t owe him anything. I have paid for that loan he gave me time and time again.” Billy let go of her hands and rested them on her waist. “I have to come completely honest with you.”
“That’s all I ask.”
“I got involved with Ralphie because I needed money to hire an attorney to bail me out of jail.” Billy backed out of their embrace, walked back across the room and sunk into the couch, rubbing his forehead with the palm of his hand. “I messed up. I got myself involved with the wrong people and got arrested for possession of prescription drugs. That’s the real reason why I go under a pen name.”
“I’m sorry, Billy. But the truth be told, all that happened a long time ago.”
“Yes, but he has threatened to reveal the truth.”
“What’s the difference?” Alexandra sat down and ran her fingertips along the stubble on his cheeks. “Let him tell. Because what he’s going to do is incriminate himself too.”
“You’re not upset with me?” he asked tilting his head to the side.
“No. The only thing I’m upset about is that you didn’t trust me enough to reveal the truth. Do you have other secrets?” she challenged him.
“Of course. And I’m sure you do too. But before we reveal anything else, there’s something I want to do that I’ve missed for the past two week.”
“And what might that be,” she giggled.
Billy didn’t answer. Instead he took her into his arms and kissed her lips.
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