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The Tumble – Chapter 32

He raised the back of my hand to his lips.

“What’s wrong babe, you seem so far away?”

I ground my teeth and stared at the tranquil scene before us, gathering my thoughts.  We had been seated on our enchanted bench for a quarter of an hour, concealed beneath the wide, green, living umbrella, watching the squirrel and birds dance before us.

I turned to him but would not meet his eyes.

“I have something to tell you Imtiaz and I’m not quite sure how to say it.”

He tucked my hand possessively into his lap, shaking his head knowingly, his eyes averted, seeking the wisdom of the trees.

He took a long pull from the cigarette and spoke a few moments after exhaling.

“Well we knew he was gonna come home eventually.  I just wasn’t expecting it to be this soon.”  He shook his head and shrugged.  “I mean I was kind of hoping it wasn’t gonna be this soon you know.”

This was one of a countless number of soap opera scenes and yet there was nothing staged in the strain of his voice.  My thoughts were a mixture of torrid rapture and frozen calculation.  I wanted my man home just not now.  The timing was all wrong.  I needed more in order to solidify what Imtiaz and I had, to bind him to me.  As it stood now, there was nothing keeping him from deciding that he was not about this life after all and abandoning it and me altogether.  To lose him would be to lose a part of myself that only he awakened.  I didn’t think I could bear it.

I squeezed his hand and whispered “I know.”

But it was beyond our control.

For the better part of two hours we channeled our emotions into our touch and kissed like young lovers soon to be divided by a higher power.

Before we parted at the train station I could feel the weight of our circumstance between us.  When he kissed me for the final time I saw the question in his eyes, or perhaps it was my own fear reflecting back at me.  Alas, I was not as wise as I was yesterday.

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I slept in snatches and dreamt of Marcas.  I took that as a sign and made peace with the notion that I may never see Imtiaz again.  So be it.  If he made that call, there was nothing to be done.  I was determined to show acceptance, if it came to it.  No one could play me better than I could play myself.

I arrived at work early.  Red nearly fainted when she opened the office door and found my computer whirring, me seated on the ample window ledge calmly chatting with Posh while sipping my blonde roast from Pret.  Choke on a dick bitch.  I was of a mood.

My tiger’s break came and went with no word.  My eyebrow went up a notch but in truth, it was expected.  I found some measure of comfort in his predictability.  I wanted to send him a short text but I felt it would have shown weakness and my chief concern was that appearing so would extinguish his desire for me.  I lived in poetry.  If my tiger wanted to run then I must fly.  It was no secret that he mastered me after dark.  When we were alone my knees would bend, my back would arch.  I would yield without question.  But in the light of day he had to be mine.  The leash would undoubtedly be lengthy enough to deceive a tiger into believing he had no tether at all.  But as surely as he held my jesses, I would need to possess the part of him that would distinguish me from the rest.  I could bear his leave if I was certain of his return.

Just before I arrived at the train station, my phone buzzed with a text.

Hey Cat, I’m not going to text you this weekend for obvious reasons.  I need some time to get over it.  I’ll text you next week.  J’adore tigress.

My heart swelled and I could hear Chester Cheeto in my ear – well played.

J’adore tigre.

I was at peace.  Marcas was due in a few hours and I had a million things to do.