Kimberly Gould’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Truth in Lies
“Helen, would you come in a minute.”
Helen saved the file she was working on, grabbed her notepad and pencil, and entered Leonard’s office.
“Yes, sir?” she asked, flipping to a new page.
“Close the door, please.”
Helen frowned very slightly and pulled the heavy door closed. She had noticed him draw the curtains early and assumed he was recovering from a late night meeting the night before. She knew he had taken the dry cleaned shirt that she kept on her coat rack this morning.
It wasn’t that he wanted privacy. She had dealt with a number of sensitive requests before, but never had he so completely closed them off. It was dim, which made the office seem smaller when usually it struck her as spacious. She moved to take the chair opposite his desk, but he rose and blocked her path.
“What is it, Leo?” she asked, using his name in a way she very rarely did. “Something’s wrong.”
He sighed, his forehead dropping to nearly touch hers. They had worked together for fifteen years and she had only seen him this weary once, after his wife spent thirty-six hours in labour with their third child and nearly died during the C-section that concluded the nightmarish event. He had come in, despite his obvious fatigue, and closed himself in the office like this, calling her to bring him a blanket and pillow. He’d stayed in the office for two days before going home. She’d never asked about it, and when she got to meet Willow, their new daughter, Denise seemed so proud and happy, Helen assumed everything was fine. He just needed a couple days to recover before going back and being the husband and father their family needed.
His shoulders sagged, as they had then, and she could smell the morning breath that hadn’t been scrubbed away. His chin bore stubble that was normally shaved away.
“Denise...would rather I didn’t go home.”
“Oh, Leo,” Helen murmured, touching her throat and then his shoulder. “I’m so sorry. Do you need a place to stay?”
He chuckled. “I can afford the hotel until I arrange something permanent.”
She nodded. Of course he could. “I can go and buy you a set of toiletries. Pick up your dry cleaning? Do you need anything else?”
“Yes,” he said, leaning closer again. “I need the reason she punted me to be real.” His lips brushed Helen’s and she felt a shock run down her spine.
He wrapped his arms around her, seizing her, and planted his lips on hers again. Rather than fight, she gave in to the attraction that had been there for years. She had worked so closely with him, cared so much for him, but kept things entirely platonic, as professional as possible. Even so, she couldn’t deny she had eyed him when he walked through the office building, his stride proud and tall. She admired the stubble on his jaw when he let it grow.
However, she didn’t want to capitulate entirely. “Leo, you and Denise might work this out. Don’t ruin your chance to fix it.” She leaned back slightly, opening a space so he could pull away if he wished.
He didn’t. He turned his head and held his lips a breath away from hers. “She thinks we’ve been doing this all along, and I’ve been wanting to do it for years. I’m done hiding it, Helen. If you don’t want me, that’s fine, but-” He closed his mouth on hers once more and she dropped her notepad to cling to him, trembling with the emotions finally releasing from her.
“I want you, Leo,” she told him, catching her breath. “I always have.”
His sigh was content. “I was hoping you’d say that.”
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Kimberly Gould is the author of Cargon: Honour and Privilege, and it's sequel Duty and Sacrifice. She can be found most places as Kimmydonn, including Kimmydonn.com