Locked In Amber Ch. 04

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“That was fantastic.” Spencer set his fork aside at the edge of his plate. “Where did you learn to cook?” he asked, glancing around the small nook in her kitchen where the table was situated.

Amber smiled. “Well, to technically answer your question, both Mom and Dad strongly encouraged me to learn how to cook early on. ‘People always need to eat so it’s a skill that never gets rusty,’ my dad would always say. However, in this case, while I appreciate the compliment, it’s unearned. Ms. Carlucci made it for my dad and me, but he’s out of town for a few days. I forgot to tell her, and she dropped it off right before I came up to see you.”

Amber caught Spencer’s curious look. “Sorry, she’s this lady that my dad fixes stuff for every so often. She likes to bring us food. I felt bad that I forgot to tell her to cancel, but she told me not to worry about it. And I guess it worked out after all.” She stood up and began clearing the table. Spencer got up and began to assist. Then, as she started wrapping the remaining food, he began to run some water and soap in the sink. “Oh, you don’t have to do that,” she told him.

“Of course I do,” he replied. “You just made dinner. The least I can do is help clean up.” He began washing the dishes and then glanced over at her. “So, you said earlier that you’ve had a really crazy day. I imagine you’re exhausted. It’s not too late, but if you’d prefer, I can head out after we’re done here so you can get some rest.”

Amber grabbed a towel and began drying the dishes in the drying rack. “I am tired, but I was actually hoping you’d stay for some ice cream. I was thinking that maybe we could chat for a bit? I still have a ton of questions.”

“Ice cream and the company of a smart, beautiful woman? How could I pass that up! But, seriously, just let me know when you want to wrap it up.” They continued to make small talk as they finished up the dishes. Amber then moved on to scooping out bowls of ice cream.

As Spencer moved into the living room, she followed him. He sat at the end of the couch and she hesitated for a moment, glancing between the couch and a nearby chair while wondering what would be the most appropriate spot. Too close feels a bit awkward, but too far away seems too aloof. She settled for the opposite end of the couch but turned to face him, curling her feet up next to her. He turned towards her and sat cross-legged on the couch. “So, what would you like to discuss?” he asked curiously.

Amber spooned some of the chocolate ice cream into her mouth, collecting her thoughts and savoring the rich flavor as she slowly withdrew the spoon. Gods this is good! “Well, honestly, I just kind of… I mean, I wanted to talk about, well…” Aargh, spit it out, girl! She took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a second, and then opened them again to look at him. “Sorry. What I’m trying to say is that this day has been totally surreal for me. It’s been all over the place, and there’s been a lot of new stuff to take in. I feel like I’m in this really weird place with you where I know you from seeing you at the office all the time and our chats and such, so there’s this familiarity, you know? And we seem to hit it off. I mean, I always like it when I see you down the hall.” She gave him a sheepish smile.

He perked up, a spoonful of ice cream halfway to his lips. “Yeah? No, I totally understand. I, uh, I have to say, it’s always the highlight of my day when I get a call to your office.” It was his turn to smile. “But I sense there’s a ‘but’, right?” He tilted his head slightly.

She nodded. “But then I also don’t really know you either. I mean, we’ve made a lot of small talk and it’s fun and you invited me and my friends over last night… And that was… really nice.” She paused, thinking about where it led, her cheeks warming. “But then today, I’ve realized that there’s a ton I don’t know either. I mean, I woke up and freaked out and assumed the worst, which was totally shitty, but the thought was there, you know? And then when I came back to apologize, there’s your sister and her car, and woodworking, and your house and…” Amber held up her hands, gesturing in circles. “Basically, I was hoping tonight that maybe we could just do a big info dump and not be in this weird, awkward stage. I mean, I want to get back to some semblance of… well, friendly and not awkward. Does that make sense?”

Spencer nodded. “Sure, I totally see what you’re talking about. I’d love to get back to comfortable and friendly too. It’s like we had this yarn and now there’s a tangled knot and if we can sort it out, perhaps we can get back to knitting a… cardigan… or something…” His voice trailed off. “Okay, that analogy was terrible, but you know what I mean. So, tell ya what—ask me whatever you want and if it’s something I’m not comfortable sharing at this point, I’ll let you know. I mean, I’m not normally a totally open book to people, but, well, it’s you and… you’re not normal.”

Amber gaziantep escort raised her eyebrow and Spencer grimaced. “Uh, yeah… See? You’re not the only one who’s all tangled up today. What I meant is that you’re special—that this isn’t a normal situation. And if it can help you feel more comfortable and help us get back to the fun and playful relationship we had, then I am willing to try and open up. Ask me anything.”

Amber finished her ice cream and turned more towards him, laying back against the arm of the sofa. Her left leg was lying along the back cushion with the other slightly bent, her right foot resting against the left thigh. She began stroking her chin and her eyes took on a sly look. “Anything, huh? Hmm…”

Spencer made an exaggerated gulp and wiped imaginary sweat from his brow. “I supposed I asked for it…”

“Oh, very well. I’ll start with an easy one. What’s up with the house? I mean, it’s gorgeous and all, but it seems like a lot for a 25-year-old to have… unless you’re a secret millionaire or something. Wait! Are you?” She gave him a teasing, sidelong look.

He steepled his fingers together and began talking in a nasally super-villain voice as he leaned in surreptitiously. “You’re on to me. I secretly use my computer business to produce viruses that lock up the computers of unsuspecting businesses such as yours so that I can blackmail them for Bitcoin. If they don’t pay up, then what they do pay for is my legitimate computer business to ‘fix” the computers that they don’t realize I was the one to infect. Mwahahahahaaaa! I do it all so that I can then woo unsuspecting beauties at those same businesses and impress them with my amazing architecture, because any two-bit villain can woo some bimbo with money, but to snag a girl with brains, you have to villain with style.”

Amber’s eyes sparkled as she let out a merry laugh. “Well, I’m glad to hear you don’t think I’m some money-grubbing bimbo.”

“Never.” His voice was back to normal. He punctuated his sincerity with a short shake of his head.

“Just an ‘unsuspecting beauty’?”

He looked straight at her and nodded. “No doubt.” Her heart skipped a beat.

He returned to his villain affectation. “But to the masses, I have created a false identity wherein said property was purchased from an aging family friend by my sister so they could downsize. As she’s often away, I also live there and maintain it. Next question.”

Amber rubbed her hands together as if in anticipation and pondered. “Okay, let’s see. Your sister. You said she was Romanian. She has an accent but you don’t. You said she’s a model, she’s drop-dead gorgeous, and she drives a fast car.”

“Those aren’t questions,” Spencer smirked. He then gestured towards her curled-up foot with his hand. “May I?” he asked. “Doing something will make these questions seem less formal.”

She stuck her tongue out at him. “Fine, they weren’t, but now you’re just being obstinate. You know what I mean. And yes, you may.” She extended her leg.

He took her foot and adjusted his legs to lay her calf on them. He began to gently massage the foot, running his hands up and down the sides and then gently taking his thumbs to the sole. Amber sighed and settled into a bit more comfortable position so she could relax her leg on his. Her other leg lying along the back of the couch was pressed against his.

As Spencer began to work on her feet, he continued. “Yes, she’s Romanian. She was adopted when we were kids, 10 and 12. My parents were close friends with hers and apparently were set up to become her legal guardians if they died. It was a car accident.”

Amber looked up. “Oh, how awful!” she exclaimed. It hit a little close to home.

“Yeah. We’d met once before when my family took a trip to Europe. Those first couple of years were difficult and awkward, but it worked out over time. We ended up becoming really close, despite our ages at the time.

“So where was I? Oh, yeah, the accent. She’s always had it, though it seems stronger now. I suspect it’s partially because she spends a fair amount of time in Europe and partly because it’s exotic and fits in well with her career. Yes, she is a model. She’s home when she’s not on location—unless she’s staying with Nicolette. As for looks, well…” He shrugged before continuing, “luck? Genetics?”

“What was the last thing?” Spencer asked, glancing towards the ceiling in thought for a second. “Oh, yeah, the car. Well… I’m not sure what to say. She likes to enjoy life?” Spencer paused for a moment as he continued to slide his fingers along her foot. His face was aimed down, but he was looking up at her through his eyebrows. “Have I sufficiently described my sister to your satisfaction?”

She took on a queenly English accent. “Yes, for now.”

His fingers were working their way across her foot now, occasionally moving up her calf. Her muscles were tighter than gaziantep escort bayan she realized, and she tried to relax. His hands felt wonderful, and it reminded her of his hands on her back last night. That brought a tingle to her spine, and she shivered slightly. He noticed. “Are you cold?”

“Hmm? Oh, no, it just reminded me of, uh… it feels great. Next question, let’s see… Okay, let’s move on to something bigger. Have you ever considered asking me out?”

Spencer glanced up, a subtle smile on his face. “Yeah. Several times. But then I’d see you and my nerves would act up. I hate that, but it’s plagued me all my life. So then I’d just maintain the status quo, which was fun and safe. But then I’d berate myself later for chickening out.”

“Huh. That’s kind of surprising. You always came across as at ease with yourself. So that made me wonder. You seemed interested, but then didn’t ask, so I thought maybe I was misreading the cues, and you just wanted to be friends.”

“Nope, just a big ol’ ball of anxiety hidden within a calm exterior… kind of like a geode in reverse.” His hands continued to work on the tension in her foot as he glanced back up. “Did you want me to ask you out?”

“Yeah. I actually considered asking you too. Kat certainly kept encouraging it. But I know exactly what you mean about nerves. Plus, some guys are kind of weirded out by a girl asking them on a date. Would you have been freaked out by that?”

“Nah. Well, let me clarify. It’s the 21st Century and I don’t see anything weird in a girl asking a guy out. But shy you asking shy me out? That probably would have made me stumble for a moment.” He chuckled.

“Well aren’t we a pair. Kat would be rolling her eyes right now.”

“I bet. Though the funny thing is, well, I don’t know if it feels the same for you as for me, but it’s like there’s this initial mountain or…something. It’s hard to get over. But once you’re over it, things seem a lot easier. Like this evening, for example. A week ago, I couldn’t get the nerve up to ask you out to dinner, but now we’re past that via a very strange detour, and I’m totally comfortable sitting on your couch giving you a foot massage and letting you ask whatever you want of me. Does that make sense?”

“Totally! It’s like activation energies in chemistry! You can have two compounds together, but without a certain level of energy input into the system, they won’t react. But once the reaction starts, it can continue. Kind of a nerdy explanation, I suppose, but, hey, that’s me.”

“I like nerdy you.” He smiled at her as he stopped rubbing her foot to take a moment and stretch and shake his hands out. “Are you saying we’ve got some chemistry?”

“Oh, most definitely.” She put her foot back down on the couch between his legs. It was tempting to scootch it forward, but she resisted. “So, shall I continue? I like these questions. This is fun.”

“Sure.” He reached down and took her other foot and placed it in his lap. She adjusted slightly to improve the angle.

“So…last night. When I kissed you, what were you thinking?”

He was silent for a few seconds as his hands began firmly, but gently, massaging her leg. “Honestly, It surprised me at the moment, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s not like I hadn’t imagined kissing you before, but as we had never actually gone out together, it was unexpected when it happened.” This foot appeared to have more tension than the first and she flinched as he found a knot in her calf. “Sorry,” he said and he began to stroke the muscles down trying to get them to relax.

“It’s okay, just tight. I really liked it too. I don’t know what came over me. It just felt right. I liked what came after too. It was so relaxing and nice. I’m sorry I fell asleep on you.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed the massage. I did too. No worries about zonking out. As you said, it was late and you were super tired—whatever the reason.” He was gently stretching her foot back and forth. She could feel his breath on her foot as he leaned forward to apply pressure.

“So what happened after that? I mean, I don’t think you did anything inappropriate and I can’t apologize enough for thinking that way earlier, but it’s one area that’s really a gaping memory hole.” She watched him as he worked. He was looking down, focusing on her foot, and didn’t see her gaze.

“Well, when I realized you’d fallen asleep, I gave you a little shake, but you just mumbled something about sleep. You didn’t seem like you were passed out or anything and it was getting late. I wasn’t sure what to do, but you’d seemed to be comfortable with me throughout the evening, so I pulled the blanket up, grabbed some pajamas, and snoozed on the couch.” He was gently squeezing her toes and caressing the tops of her feet. “I checked on you a couple of times and you seemed fine. Then the last time I realized it was getting on to morning and went in to wake you escort gaziantep up because I didn’t know if you had work or anything. That’s when you…” He stopped rubbing her feet and looked up, taking a deep breath. “…when you were awake.”

Amber looked down, ashamed. A few seconds later, she worked up the courage and looked back up to his eyes. She sat up a little and took his hand in hers. “I really am sorry about that. It was wrong. And like I said, I don’t think you’re that kind of person.” She squeezed his hand.

He squeezed it back and smiled warmly. “Thanks. I know the whole thing was hard and uncomfortable for us both. Your reaction confused me and I thought I had completely misread the situation or maybe you’d woken up with regrets and that left me feeling disappointed. And I admit, I was a bit angry because I felt that your treatment of me wasn’t fair. But now that I know where you were coming from, I can kind of understand how you felt. You were lost and confused and scared.

“And, I think that if we want to work out this uncomfortable ‘knot’ or whatever it is between us, I think that it starts with each of us letting go of any guilt and anger. I truly appreciate your apology and I believe you. I hope that you can forgive yourself and that we can just let it go and not worry about it again. I’d prefer to focus on the path forward.” He tugged her hand gently as if to encourage her to come closer.

At his words, Amber felt tension release from her shoulders that she hadn’t even realized she was carrying. A part of her was incredulous that he would be willing to so easily just put it behind him, to forgive her accusations, to accept her. She rotated herself around and scooted so that she was laying next to him, pulling his arm around her shoulder as they shifted to accommodate the new position. She looked at him, their faces close. “I would like that very much. Thank you for being so understanding.” She leaned forward and kissed him gently on the lips. Her heart jolted as if it had seized up for a second when he kissed her back. It was long and slow and pleasant. He tasted faintly of chocolate. He squeezed her shoulder as they parted and she smiled back at him. She could feel the worry and fear that she’d been holding on to as a black ball in her stomach all day as it began to dissolve, to dissipate, to evaporate, and was replaced by a warmth that began to radiate outward.

He tilted forward and kissed her again and that warmth spread faster accompanied by a buzzing in her chest and a tingle low in her abdomen. Her tongue brushed his lips and he gently opened them. They explored one another, cautiously and gently, letting the warmth spread outward in a sense of peace. His hand stroked her shoulder where it lay wrapped around by the back of the couch as they gently kissed and nibbled, and probed.

Eventually, she pulled away from his lips with a sigh. “That was just what I needed. Thank you.” She lay her head against his chest, closing her eyes. She could hear his heart rate. Like hers, it was elevated. She lay there for several minutes, listening to his breathing, half expecting him to urge for more. But he appeared to be content to hold her close without feeling the need to say anything or push the boundaries.

A thought occurred to her and she braced her arm on his chest as she pulled her head up and looked at him. “One more thing. The last I remember, you were giving me a back massage and my top was off, but when I woke up, so was my skirt. You pointed it out on the floor. How did that happen?”

“Hmm. Yeah, that’s a good question.” He thought for a second. “Well, actually, I don’t think I pointed it out. I remember pointing out your bra because I had seen you take it off for the back rub. As for why your skirt was off, well, the best I can guess is that maybe you took it off in the middle of the night?” He shrugged. “You had said at one point how warm you were. I wasn’t in there except to check on you and it was on when I pulled up the blanket.”

Amber realized he was right. “Oh. Yeah. The bra was on the side. I don’t remember doing anything with my skirt.” She laid her head back on his chest and could feel herself starting to swirl into that calm drift towards sleep as the exhaustion of the day quickly caught up to her. “I think I lied before… I still have one more question,” she mumbled into his chest.

“Yeah, what’s that?” He leaned in close and whispered, “If it’s the secret code to my underground lair, a couple of wonderful kisses and discussions about your underwear aren’t going to work.”

She giggled and whispered back, “It’s been a very long day and I’m extremely tired now. I know the kisses were wonderful, but I don’t want to lead you on. Would you be okay with just holding me until I fall asleep?”

“Absolutely.” He awkwardly pulled the blanket down off the back of the couch with one hand and spread it out over the two of them, shifting slightly to be more comfortable. “It means a lot that you trust me.”

She lay there another minute not saying anything. Spencer thought she had fallen asleep when she shifted her head slightly, her eyes still closed, and whispered, “If kisses and underwear aren’t enough, I’ll figure out some way to get you to give up that secret code.”

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