Chapter 25 Early in the morning, they had managed to come up with the most stupid idea of leaving the cottage.
Now, they were both shivering and arguing in the car as Shawn pursed his lips, assessing their morning situation. The road had allocated ten inches of snow, and the storm had been breaking again, and right now, they were done ignoring each other, “See? What now, Miss Brown? I told you, we could stay in the cottage for maybe a few more hours, and yet, here we are? Jesus!”
“So it’s my fault now?” How could he blame her? It was him who started ignoring her since they woke up, and yes, they had mind-shattering s*x, but the b****y jerk started to ignore her as if she had a disease, and maybe she was really out of his system now because he started being an arsehole again. Such a d**k!
“Ah, hell, I mean, we can try. Worst-case scenario, I’ll get out and push and you drive.”
“You’re going to push this thing up a snow hill?” She said this in clear dismay and added, “Are you out of your mind? You’ll freeze to death.”
“Well, it’s not like you don’t want us to freeze to death; this is your idea, after all, remember?” “Mr. Richmond, stop being childish now and drive. Jesus, how would I know that your car literally won’t start? But I don’t think you’re strong enough to push this car.”
“Wow! Do I look like a weakling now? After you screamed my name last night?”
Catherine breathed in and out. She wanted to just kick the hell out of him out of the car and leave him frozen in the cold. Instead, she rolled her eyes. “Prove me wrong, then. But let’s do it now because I’d like to try to get out of here before we die.”
“We’re not going to die.” But there’s an urgent note in his voice. Miss Brown had been ignoring him since morning and had the audacity to complain. He told her that they would wait for more hours before leaving the cottage, and yet, she was in a hurry to stay away from him as soon as possible. He can’t be serious, can he?”Dammit!”
He moves the gearshift into drive and gently presses the gas pedal. The car eases forward, much to his relief. “We need to go back. We can’t risk this incoming storm.”
“Good.” She mumbled back, “At least we’re not stuck in some inescapable snowdrift.”
Shawn steers a few feet, then begins to turn toward the ramp. It’s not at all steep, but the SUV clambers only about a foot before it struggles. Shawn hits the gas. The car won’t budge another inch.
“S**t.” He accelerated again and felt the tires laboring to try to gain some traction. But it’s not happening. “Guess I’m pushing,” Shawn said in resignation. As he looked on miserably, he reversed down the slope and put the car in park
It was by far the longest morning in Catherine’s life, and yes, Shawn ended up calling a rescue
helicopter that brought them straight to the castle, and by early afternoon, she was able to meet her brother and spend her time with him the rest of her stay, ignoring Mr. Richmond all the same.
Now, it’s early Monday morning on Monday, and she was up early. Today was her first day of work and the first day of a worldwide lockdown. To say that she was disappointed was an understatement. After all, they had been ignoring each other, but of course, she was his secretary. It was time to work and it was time to own her stupidity.
It wasn’t that Catherine was lacking in common sense. On the contrary, she was quite certain that she was one of the most sensible people. She noted to call Jane and Chelsea later, and maybe call Hugh for their canceled dinner date.
But like any thoughtful individual, she occasionally chose to ignore the little voice of reason that whispered through her mind. She couldn’t deny how sleep was too hard to achieve the last few nights, of course, because Shawn Richmond had invaded her dream, not that she was complaining. Having a dream about someone pleasing you was by far the most…
“F**k it! I have to stop thinking about his… never mind…” She went to the bathroom and took a long, warm shower.
However, those thoughts kept occupying her mind, and yes, this could not, she was sure, be contemplated recklessness. When she dismissed this warning voice, it was a conscious consequence, made after a (somewhat) thorough calculation of her predicament. And to her credit, when she made a decision-to just ignore the man and work as if nothing happened between them, to ignore those mind-shattering orga- “Dammit!” ones that most of humanity would consider beyond foolish-she usually landed quite sprightly on her feet.
Except when she didn’t. Like right now.
She glared down at herself in the mirror and at her companion. “I ought to choke you, Girly. Don’t look at me like that. Stop being so judgmental.” Her companion let out a rather unconcerned meow, a gift from Eddie, Richmond’s butler.
Girlie let out a rather unfeminine growl.
The feline assessed the noise, judged it to be beneath its notice and began to lick its paws. Girly might have thought about her own standards of dignity and appropriateness and decided that they were both overrated like her, so she scowled back at them with an immature glare.” Girly, stop judging my issues, OK? You’ll know soon enough when you find someone who b****y ignores you after some mind-shattering s*x.”
It didn’t make her feel any better.
With a weary groan, Catherine finished drying her hair, did her little make-up, and went to the window and looked up at the sky, trying to gauge the time. The sunrise has been scarce these days, as little rain graced the window. She peered through the massive glass window on the side near the adjacent patio she and Shawn shared. The morning rays made her feel uneasy, but she had to squint to see the new rising of the sun-scorched yellow curtain. It was a beautiful sunrise, soft, orangey, and gray. She was still exhausted, even sleepy, after half a
night of restlessness. Her eyes felt scraped with the never-ending headache. The heat illusions combined with periodic songs of birds somewhere in the garden and the little drizzling of rain weren’t helping her either. In any case, the enormous panoramas of the lake on the horizon made it difficult to maintain an accurate perception of mind; she didn’t feel as if her mind was streaking along at a mile an hour, but in any case, under the circumstances, she should have been thinking a lot slower and been bored to death while waiting for Eddie to announce her breakfast, yet she felt like she had come from a mile marathon as she went to the nearby chair in the balcony and tightened her robe and sat.
The sun was wedged quite firmly behind a layer of clouds, which confounded her boring morning duty, but it had to be at least six o’clock. She guessed she would have been stuck here for an hour waiting for breakfast, and then she’d go to Shawn’s library, where her little office table was located at eight. If she factored in the time it took to eat, do some exercise, and walk to the…
Oh b****y hell, what did it matter what the time was? She was working at home. It wasn’t going to get her off this damned roof.
“This is all your fault, Girly,” she said to the cat.
Predictably, the feline ignored her. “I don’t know what you think you were doing, but you are seriously judging me, yes?” she continued. “Any fool would have known it was so foolish of me, right?”
Any fool would have stayed away from Shawn Richmond, but no, she was that stupid to even think that the man would like her. “And I really don’t like you for ignoring me, Girly.” She said.
She was talking to a cat. This was what she’d been reduced to. Girly jerked her foot sideways to her already throbbing ankle and growled in protest. Her ankle, she reasoned, would be pain free by now. Or rather, her mouth screeched. She couldn’t help it. It still hurts.
She supposed it could have been terrible because last night, when Eddie gave her the cat, the feline ran into the garden and the tree, and of course, as stupid as she could get, she climbed after it. She’d been well up in the tree, easily a good eight feet above the roof of the garden shed, when Girlie hissed at her, flung out a well-clawed paw, and sent them both tumbling.
The cat, needless to say, had made its descent with acrobatic grace, landing without injury with four paws on the roof. Catherine, however, still wasn’t sure how she’d landed, just that her elbow hurt, her hip stung, and her jacket was torn, likely from the branch that had broken her fall two-thirds of the way down.
But the worst was her ankle and foot, which were killing her. Another injury from her stupidity. If her brother was there, she wouldn’t stop laughing at her, and she’d prop herself up on pillows and scream so loudly until her brother would be too eager to get out of her room. Catherine witnessed more than her fair share of twisted ankles—some on her own body, even more on others-and she knew what to do. Cold compresses, elevation, a sibling forced to stand by her side…
Where were her friends when she needed them? She might as well call them later and tell them how unfortunate she was.
But then, off in the distance, near the garden ponds and beautiful daisies and roses, she saw a flash of movement, and unless her mind was done playing tricks on her, it made her think about bigfoot, yet was quite clearly human. “Hellooo0000! Eddie, is that you?” Catherine called out, then thought the better of it and yelled, “Help!”
Unless Catherine’s eyes were deceiving her-and it wasn’t, it wasn’t; even her best friends Jane and Chelsea admitted that her eyes wouldn’t dare to be anything but perfect-the human in the distance was male. And there wasn’t a male here in the mansion at night aside from Eddie, who could not ignore a feminine cry for help.
“Help! Eddie, I’m here.” She cried out again, feeling a small bit of relief when the man paused. She couldn’t quite tell if he’d turned in her direction-perfect eyesight only went so far-so she let out another scream, this one quite as loud as she could make it, and nearly sobbed in relief when the gentleman-oh, please let him be a gentleman, and not f*****g Richmond, if not by birth, then at least by nature-began to stride in her path.
Except she didn’t cry. Because she never cried. She would never have been that sort of female. She did, however, take an unexpected breath-a surprisingly loud and high-pitched immediate breath, the sort where Shrek found her true Shrek love.
“Over here!” she called out, shrugging off her jacket so that she could wave it in the air. There was no point in trying to appear dignified. She was, after all, stuck on the garden roof with a twisted ankle and a mangy cat. No way! No way! Anyone but him. But of course, it was him. Because who else would stroll by at her lowest moment, at her most uncomfortable and awkward, at the one b****y time she needed rescuing? Oh, it was not Eddie. It’s Shawn.
“Fancy meeting you here, Miss Brown? What are you trying to do now? Freeze yourself to death up there? “I- I was stuck and t-this c-cat… I- injured myself!” She all but hollered. Shawn smiled and said, “So?” The f**k? He was not planning on helping her?
Fine! “Help! Please! I twisted my ankle.” “Again?” The b****y gentleman’s pace adjusted ever-so-slightly at the noise, and he looked up, raised his brows, and even though he was still too far away for Catherine’s perfect eyes to see his face, she knew. He put his hands on his hips and squinted up at her. “Why do you always have to murder your ankle?” he let out. She waited for him to add, “I might have known, you are careless as hell.”
She rolled her eyes. “Can you rescue me again, you, m-my Knight and shining f*****g armor?”
“Funny, Miss Brown.” He grumbled, and somehow, that made her even more irritated. The world was not in balance when she couldn’t predict every inflated, proud phrase that rolled out of his mouth.
“Getting a bit of moonlight?” he inquired. “Yes, I rather thought I could use a little more moonshine,” she snapped. He did not instantly react as he regarded her with a steady, evaluating gaze. Finally, after carefully setting his mighty self down on what had once been a stone wall, he looked back up and said, “I cannot say that I’m not enjoying rescuing you all the time. Just a little bit.”
Any number of replies danced on her tongue, but she reminded herself that Shawn Richmond was the only human being in sight, and if she wished to touch her feet to the ground before Christmas, she was going to have to be nice to him. At least until he rescued her.
“How’d you come to be up there, anyway?” he asked.
“Girly.” Said in a voice that might generously have been described as seething.”
Ah, the ginger cat. Welcome, by the way.” “It came from you?” She asked.
“Yes and no, I hate cats.”
Of course, he hates p***y! “It was in the tree,” she explained, although heaven knew why. It wasn’t as if he’d requested a further explanation.
Did he? She rather thought he didn’t. “It was screaming,” she gritted out. “I couldn’t very well ignore it.” “No, I’m sure you couldn’t,” he mumbled, and even though his voice was flawlessly generous, she was confident he was chuckling at her.
“Some of us,” she levered her teeth apart long enough to say, “are compassionate, considerate individuals.”
He cocked his head. “Kind to small children and animals?”
His right brow arched in that monstrously worsening Donald Trump manner. “Some of us,” he drawled, “are kind to big children and animals, especially to those with mini skirts and with wet p***y!”
“The f**k is wrong with you?” She shouted as she bit her tongue. First figuratively, and then literally. Be nice, she reminded herself. Even if it kills her…
He chuckled blandly. Well, except for that little smirk in the corner.”
Are you b****y well going to help me down? Mr. Richmond? “After all, I am your secretary,” she finally exclaimed.
“Such language,” he berated. “You should learn from your brother. The man is a gem” “Oh, I know,” she mumbled. “I never could quite convince him that you were a jerk” “A jerk?” He asked, then turned himself down and stepped away from the shed. “Hey! Shawn! You d******d. Help me!” “Oh, help yourself, Miss Brown!” He shouted, then, after several painful minutes, his back disappeared under her twenty-twenty vision! B****y hell! The nerve of a man. “F**k you!” She screamed!
“I already did! Miss Brown! And you scream my name as your life depended on it!” Shawn’s laugher echoed in the mansion.
D******d! How dare he leave her there?
Of course, after ten minutes, Eddie with a ladder came to her rescue, and now, thinking about it and looking at Girly, all she wanted was to murder Mr. Richmond and strangle the cat, but of course, she couldn’t do that.
The knock stopped her silent reverie and Eddie brought her some healthy breakfast. “Enjoy your meal, Miss Brown. The boss is waiting in the library. He told me to tell you to schedule an online meeting for the rest of the shareholders by nine o’clock.”