Chapter Eight: Killian

Was it something I said? Nerissa had grown very uncomfortable after I had mentioned Cyrus, even though she had tried to hide her reaction. Maybe it was the talk of death that had caused a shift in mood? I didn’t know whether she’d suffered any bereavement recently. Maybe the topic was still too raw for her. Maybe she still felt guilty about not attending the funeral. I just hoped she came back. God, what if I had messed this up?! Ok, if she comes back, I’ll apologise, I’ll pick a new topic of conversation, anything to put her back at ease. This dinner was going so well, better than I could have hoped for. Please, please, please let her come back.

    I already knew I was in trouble. Those old feelings from years ago were beginning to simmer in my heart. I hadn’t expected them to return so soon or so strongly, but there was something about her. Hell, there’d always been something about Nerissa to set her apart from other women. I was drawn out of my musings by another presence slipping back into the seat opposite from me.

“Sorry, there was a bit of a queue.” Nissa breathed out, settling back into the chair.

Yes! She’d returned! Here was my chance. “Oh don’t worry about it. I’m the one who should apologise Nissa.”

“What for?” the words came out muffled as she crunched her remaining mouthful of bruschetta.

“I didn’t mean to make you uneasy by mentioning death or the funeral.” There was panic in her eyes but she quickly masked it. Was she worried I’d picked up on her feelings?

“It’s Ok. I’m fine.” She murmured back, but didn’t elaborate any further. 

     I decided not to push the matter. New topic of conversation, think, think… “So are you seeing anyone at the moment?” Oh yes, way to go brain, because that doesn’t sound like a desperate, eager question after seven years! Stupid, stupid….

Nissa giggled a little and fleeting relief settled within me. At least I’d managed to make her comfortable again. “No, I’m not in a relationship right now.” She smiled.

“A beautiful woman like you?” I’d have thought another high flying lawyer would have earned your attention.” Why did I say that? I resisted the urge to bang my head on the table. I could run a multi-million earning company, but couldn’t talk to Nissa like a normal human being?! What if that put the idea in her head to pursue some secret office romance she’d been harbouring?!

    The blush was back on her cheeks. “They haven’t earned my attention, but I’ve certainly earned one or two of theirs.” She rolled her eyes before continuing, “How about you? A billionaire must have women lining up around the block to score a date with him.”

I almost choked on the swig of beer I’d taken. “Er well, same as you. They haven’t earned my attention so I’m still single right now.”

Nissa seemed relieved at my answer, just like I was relieved at hers, then a smile of a devious nature spread across her face. “Do your secretaries fawn over you, like on the TV shows? I can’t help but imagine you trying to beat back a hoarde of women with your computer.” She laughed, no doubt playing that little fantasy in her head. I had to admit, the image was pretty funny.

“Sorry to disappoint, but no fawning in the office.” I grinned back at her, glad she seemed to be having a good time again. Her strange mood earlier had well and truly been dispelled.

    The waitress reappeared, taking our plates when we both confirmed they were done with. Nissa picked up her wine, taking a sip.

“This is nice.” She said after a beat of silence, with a hint of shyness.

“The wine?” I asked confused, as she set the glass back down on the table.

“No, this,” She gestured a hand between me and her. “It’s nice to be able to sit down and talk after all this time.”

“Yes, yes it is.” I agreed wholeheartedly. It was better than nice. It was as if that day in the pavilion happened only last week instead of seven years ago. Sure, there were some new life experience, new accomplishments, but she was still the same Nissa. My Nissa. Oh no, no, no. She wasn’t mine. But she could be, one day. I needed to move away from that thought before I made even more of a fool of myself. “Perhaps we could do it again sometime, or something similar, if you wanted to that is?”

     Her face lit up at my nervous offer, as if Christmas had come early and she’d been given the biggest present under the tree. “I’d like that very much.”

     The waitress returned again, setting down the two plates of ravioli and interrupting the moment. Nerissa however, remained just as delighted as she gazed upon the plate of food. If it made her that happy, I was going to be in for some good pasta.

    Picking up my fork, I stabbed one of the pieces, popping it into my mouth. Oh now that was heavenly.

“Good?” Nissa questioned following my mouthful.

“I’ve changed my mind about McDonald’s, I’m going to be holding business dinners here from now on.” I attested by shovelling another piece of ravioli in my mouth

“Told you, you wouldn’t be disappointed.” She looked at me with a knowing smirk.

“I haven’t been disappointed at an of the evening,” I uttered, hoping she picked up on my point. “The company alone deserves a five-star review.”

The blush intensified. “I’d like to give the same review.”

    My heart stuttered over her words. She thinks I’m worth five stars. Definitely the best dinner I’d agreed to in a long time.

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