Copyright © 2012 R. P. Martin
Part 1 of A Suitable Suitor Series
Part 1: Man of Her Dreams (complete)
Part 2: Waiting My Whole Life (complete)
Part 3: Walking Away (complete)
Part 4: The Stalker (complete)
Part 5: The Nightmare (complete)
Piper raced to the end table located beside her sofa to retrieve the ringing telephone. As she picked it up she read her father's name on the caller identification screen.
“Hello sweetheart, how are you this morning?”
“I'm well, you?”
“I'm great. Thank you. I'm sorry I couldn't make it last night to your big showing.”
“It's alright. I know you are busy. At some point I expect you to come down to the gallery.”
“Good. How's mom?”
“She's well. In fact that's in part why I'm calling you.”
“Oh yeah, what's up?”
Piper looked at the clock wondering why she was up at this unearthly hour but couldn't help smiling. The memories of last night came flooding into her conscious making it really difficult to concentrate on what her father was saying. It had taken her such a long time to get to bed the night before and for some reason, the one person that continued to pop into her mind consistently gave her butterflies in the pit of her stomach.
“Is that alright honey?”
She pulled her focus back to the conversation when she realized there was silence on the other end of the telephone chat. When her father repeated himself, she winced at his tone of voice when it lowered a few notches indicating that he was either irritated or upset with her.
“I'm sorry dad. What did you say?”
“Aren't you listening to me Piper?”
“I'm sorry. I have a few things on my mind.”
“Your mother and I are hosting an employee supper and it would be important for you to attend. I've hired a few new people. You are expected to be at the house at seven.”
Piper shrugged her shoulders happy that her father couldn't see her demonstration. She knew her father would never tolerate this kind of display but she absolutely detested attending these business parties. In her mind there wasn't an alternative so going to the dinner party was certainly a must for her.
“Alright. I'll be there.”
“Good. See you tonight sweetheart.”
Piper put the receiver back in its holder and stood there looking through the bay windows of her living room. It had been a long winter and she was happy to finally see her neighbours walking around, the tulips flourishing and the sky's pale blue colours vibrating throughout the skyline. She couldn't wait to get outside and venture around. First, she needed to finish her painting before heading out to run some last minute errands. She hoped she could get it all done before going to her parent's estate for dinner.
She threw on an old grungy pair of denim overalls and headed towards her studio which was situated at the back of her house. She pulled her long shinny blonde hair into a messy ponytail, placed her glasses on the bridge of her nose and was determined to finish the outline of her painting before enjoying the sunshine. Piper hit the play button of her stereo and turned up the volume, deafening all other sounds, including her thoughts of last night. You could often find Piper Jackson, the daughter of one of the wealthiest business tycoons in the country, throwing herself into her work. The music she listened to always helped determine the outlook of her pieces. She was thrilled that she could easily poor herself into her work and be able to escape the real world where her father's expectations were demanded.
Later that evening, after returning from the market, Piper took another shower and got ready for the dinner party. She picked out a beautiful strapless midnight black cocktail dress and found the matching clutch to go with it. Piper expected her father's guests to be lavishly dressed so she wasn't going to have her father disappointed in her choice of wardrobe. She clipped her hair half way up, clasped her silver watch into place and pushed her silver hoops through her ear holes. One foot after another, Piper wiggled into her black pumps and looked into the mirror one last time before leaving the house.
Once she was seated into her sleek vehicle, she pressed the garage door opener and waited for the massive metal door to lift before putting her beautiful BMW in reverse. As she exited the garage, her cellphone started ringing. She put the car into park and answered the call not even checking the caller I.D. but was sure it was her father checking in on her.
“Hey babe, how are you?”
Piper nearly choked on her own saliva at the sarcastic voice that sprung through the phone line. She wasn't expecting her boyfriend to be calling and wasn't looking forward to talking to him but knew she would have to sooner or later.
“Hello Robert. I'm fine.”
“Where are you going?”
“I'm going to mom and dads for dinner.”
“Want some company?”
“No, I don't. We talked about this last night.”
“Come on Piper, you know I didn't mean it. Besides, that guy was staring at you the whole night. What was I supposed to do?”
“Was that my fault?”
“I don't know, was it? Why the hell was he staring at you?”
Piper closed her eyes and cringed thinking about what had happened to her when they had arrived back to her house. She had known Robert for a little over five years now but still wasn't ready to commit and last night was the first time she had ever seen his temper fly like that. It scared the life out of her and she promised herself that if he was capable of freaking out like he did, that he was capable of doing a lot more, maybe even hurting her. It wasn't something she was willing to risk.
“Robert, I told you last night. I don't have time for this again. I'm late.”
“Piper, don't do this to us. You will regret it.”
“I didn't do anything, you did.”
She hung up her cell phone before she could hear anything else come out of her boyfriend's mouth. It was important to calm down before facing her father because he wouldn't stop asking her what was the matter and this wasn't something she was willing to share with him. Brandon Jackson didn't mind Robert but was always trying to set up the pretty blonde with men he believed were better suited for the artist.
She ultimately made it to her parent's estate and after punching in the code and going through the gate; she briefly looked at herself in the mirror and sulked. She didn't want to be there but she needed to be the Jackson poster child, especially since she had refused to follow in her dad's footsteps. It was something she resented most of the time but did anyway because it was her father's wishes. Piper parked her beloved convertible and took a few deep breaths, trying to contain her emotions before exiting her car.
“Hello Miss Jackson.”
“Hi Brutus. How are you?”
“I'm very well Miss, yourself?”
“I'm good. Thank you.”
“Your family is waiting for you in the entertaining lounge Miss.”
“Excellent. Take good care of yourself Brutus.”
“Same to you Miss.”
Piper walked down the hall listening to the rhythmic sounds of her heels as she stepped away from her safe haven. There was no turning back now so she put her game face on and was determined not to let the night get away from her. As she walked into the lounge where her father always had his guests mingle before dinner, her steps immediately stopped while in motion. She nearly fell flat on her face because she couldn't believe who was standing there.
The man of her dreams so to speak was standing in her parent's house. Piper couldn't believe Blake had found out where her family lived and was a little irritated at the idea. She wondered if she had yet another fruitcake in her life. She couldn't however keep her eyes off the gorgeous body that stood proud in what looked like an expensive designer black tailored suit. She tried not to blush but it was clearly impossible. The temperature in the room jumped ten degrees and Piper felt little beads of sweat trickling down the small of her back. No one in her life had ever dramatically affected her, the way Blake had and it was something she wasn't familiar with.
Piper had to look away when her father came up to her. He put his arm around her shoulder and smiled.
“You look fabulous honey. I'm glad because I have someone I want you to meet.”
When Piper looked to the person her father wanted to introduce her to, she saw the striking deep blue-grey eyes that had been haunting her. Piper momentarily lost her breath but never stopped staring at the tall and handsome figure.
“Sweetheart, I would like you to meet Blake Beaner, the new CFO.”
Piper smiled and watched the sparkling excitement dance in Blake's eyes.
“Blake, this is my beautiful daughter Piper.”
“It's very nice to meet you Blake.”
Blake smirked at the closeness of the gorgeous woman.
“Please Mrs. Jackson, call me Bean.”
“Mrs. Jackson is my mother name Bean. You can call me Piper.”
Blake laughed out loud but when Piper saw the aggravated look on her father's face, she quickly started telling her father how she already knew his employee.
“Dad, don't give me that look. Bean and I met last night at my art show.”
She turned to look at Blake again and smiled not able to control the light-headedness that was creeping in.
“Welcome aboard. I hope your stay with Jackson Inc. is to your liking.”
“Thank you so much. I'm thrilled for the opportunity and I'm happy to be here. It was nice meeting you.”
“Likewise Blake Beaner.”
Piper took one last look at those incredible intense dark grey eyes and smiled again before turning around and searching for her mother to say hello. As she walked away, she could feel Bean's penetrating gaze which slightly altered her walking ability. She needed to step away from the most incredibly handsome human being she had ever met. As she traveled throughout the room in pursuit of finding her mother, she placed her hand unconsciously to her chest, just above her heart begging it to slow down. The passion that flowed through her veins screamed for distance. This feeling was so new to her. The chaos kept Piper from seeing her mother who was right in front of her. Daphne, Piper's mother, stood there bewildered by her daughter's blindness.
“Piper, sweetie, are you alright?”
She looked at her mother and smiled that much more.
“Of course mom, I'm good. How are you?”
“I'm well but I can't seem to take my eyes off that hunk of a man over there.”
“Ha ha, and who would that be mom?”
“One of your father's new employees, of course. Isn't he something gorgeous? If I was your age, I wouldn't be wasting my time talking to my mother, particularly with a man like that in the room.”
“Mom, please. We both know that I'm not available.”
“Which is exactly why you are here alone, right?”
“Give me a little breathing room. Isn't enough that Dad is always trying to find the perfect man for me?”
“I know sweetheart, I'm sorry. He is just something dazzling.”
“Something like that.”
The two women laughed and took another look at the new employee, admiring the obvious strength, confidence and delicious physique. Piper talked to her mother for a little while longer until the guests were summoned to the dinner hall. Piper sat to her father's left while her mother sat to her left. She couldn't help but smile when she noticed Bean searching for her eyes, trying to convey something she wasn't familiar with. Bean sat across from Piper and constantly looked at the beautiful woman, not caring if anyone saw the welcomed gazing.
Piper had never really had this kind of attention but meticulously enjoyed it the whole evening. When it was time for the guests to leave, she looked at Bean but unwillingly thought about Robert and shrugged. She knew it wasn't right to be thinking about anyone else while still in a relationship. More importantly, she shook away the ideas of getting together with Bean because of what had happened in the last six months. She couldn't however deny that she felt connected to the mysterious new Chief Financial Officer.
“Honey, please come in here.”
Piper was ripped away from her thoughts when her father called her into the office. As she walked into her father's study, she could hear her mother laughing at one of Bean's jokes. She couldn't help but smile at how incredibly socially confident Blake Beaner was. Before she could reminisce about the evening some more, she quickly entered the study not wanting to think about Bean anymore.
“Honey, please sit down. I want to talk to you about something.”
“Alright. What's the matter?”
“Nothing. I…well…; I just wanted to know what you thought of Blake?”
“Dad, I don't know Blake. We just met last night.”
Piper wasn't interested in telling her father how she had actually met his new employee and that they had already known each other for the better part of the last six months. Brandon would have more questions about the situation and that wasn't something she was willing to talk about, not now anyway. Besides, it wasn't anyone's business, or was it?
“Fair enough sweetheart, but what do you think of him?”
“What do YOU think?”
“I think he's a strapping handsome young man who would be an excellent provider.”
“You are probably right dad.”
“Do you think Blake would be a suitable suitor?”
“Why yes of course Piper. Who else? You are the only daughter I have and your mother is already taken although she does fancy him.”
Piper inwardly felt her heart skip a few beats at the thought of Blake being her suitor.
She unhappily thought back to the very beginning, when all of this mayhem started.
Six Months Ago
Piper picked up her cell phone, wanting to text the woman she met at the gallery that evening. She wanted to say thank you for the business card and invite her to showcase her work in the following quarter's art viewing. It had been a really long day and evening at the gallery but she was happy to be home and heading to bed. She was looking forward to sleeping in and couldn't wait to shower and crawl underneath her fluffy duvet. She used her Blackberry's track ball to skim through the numbers that were already implemented. Once she found the name she needed, Piper started writing a message to send her text.
? Victoria, I just wanted to say thank you again for the contact information you gave me this evening. I'm looking forward to working with you.
v I wish I could say that I was looking forward to working with you as well. I unfortunately am not Victoria but now have your information.
Piper couldn't help herself from smiling and laughing at the cockiness of whomever was on the other end of the text.
? My apologies, it seems I put in the wrong pin number in my cell.
v Please don't apologise. I'm glad you got me by chance. What's your name?
? Piper. Are you always this friendly with strangers?
v Yes, usually. Life is way too short. Are you always this forthcoming with your name?
Piper was instantaneously intrigued and interested in the stranger that was texting her. She forgot about the long hot shower she had craved for and instead, brushed her teeth and tore her clothes off before slipping into bed. She turned her bedside lamp off and decided to reply to the last text.
? Life is way too short and no, I'm usually not this forthcoming. Thank you for being so friendly. You are a nice breath of fresh air.
v I'm much more than that. I'm Bean by the way.
? Bean? That has to be some kind of nick name right?
v My poor fractured heart. You've crushed it Piper. LOL. I got it when I was in high school.
? Well thanks for keeping me company Bean. I have a long day tomorrow and it seems I still need to get a hold of Victoria. Good night.
v Of course. Sweet dreams Piper.
Bean couldn't help but smile at the interaction that had just taken place with Piper. Bean had no idea who this woman was but there was something about her that was appealing Piper seemed to be genuine and that was something else that Bean felt drawn to but couldn't explain. Bean smiled and rolled over to try and get some sleep obviously still thinking about the stranger and their fascinating conversation.
As the blackness drained Bean's mind from everything else in the world, the one thing that was left in plain sight was the eccentric woman and her friendly words. Bean wasn't really sure what to think about the whole thing but again couldn't help but grin. Something kind of special had happened and Bean wasn't going to forget about it. Bean would even try to contact the woman again sometime soon.
Piper turned her cell phone off for the night, placed it on the side table and closed her eyes. She desperately needed to get to sleep but the conversation she just had with a complete stranger played over and over in her head. Nothing like that had ever happened and it took her by surprise but for some reason, she didn't shy away from it. She was normally a very confident woman but conversing with a stranger, especially through her Blackberry Messenger was odd and completely out of character. It was something that happened by chance and that made her smile. If only Robert's words could make her smile like that.
Eventually Piper fell asleep and when she awoke the next morning, she couldn't help but smile at how rested she felt. She hadn't slept like that in a long time and she wondered what she had done differently to achieve that kind of calmness and rest. She grabbed her cell phone and turned it back on as she thought about her strange and short but great conversation from last night. She ventured through the messages and smirked at the nickname Bean. She wondered what it stood for and what Bean's real name was. Before she could think about it some more, her messenger came to life once again.
v Good morning Mrs. Piper. I trust our conversation last night didn't prevent you from getting a hold of Victoria.
? Actually it did Bean, and it's Miss Piper. Not to worry, I'll contact her this morning.
v Miss Piper huh? Well, I'm glad then. So, I wasn't that big of a thorn in your side or ruin your plans last night?
? A thorn, no. You did however keep me distracted and on the phone.
v I see, so it's my fault that you didn't get a hold of Victoria last night?
? Why yes of course it is Bean.
v Well, if you remember correctly, you texted me last night.
Piper blushed and rolled over smiling at the telephone screen. She was happy no one was around to witness her giddiness she was displaying just because of a few text messages. She had no idea who this Bean person was but she assumed he had to be a nice guy. She knew he was friendly, witty and flirtatious which unwillingly made her compare the two. Robert was distant, angry and avoided the beautiful woman for the most part until he wanted something. She often wondered if he was only around because of her family's wealth. Before she could respond, she returned her attention to the screen where another message had come through.
v Maybe, just maybe, you are magic and you put some kind of spell on me and now I think I'm the one who contacted you first.
? LOL. No Bean, I remember exactly what happened last night. No magic potions, although power like that would be handy. I'm the one that texted you by chance.
v Oh, good, I'm glad. I was starting to think I was losing it or something.
? Well, we don't know each other so it's very possible you are losing it.
v Very funny Miss Piper. Good luck getting in touch with Victoria. I won't bother you anymore. Well, not today anyway. Have a great day.
? Thank you. Same to you.
As she lay in bed, she turned her cell phone off and smiled into the air wishing for the second time in a matter of a few minutes that Robert would talk to her like that. She wished it could be fun, flirty and carefree. For the most part her relationship with Robert, a banking investor, was alright but she knew now more than ever that the spark was missing in her relationship. She loved him but in the last twelve hours, she questioned whether or not she could really spend the rest of her life with him. That was a question to think about another day. For now, she had to call Victoria and set up an appointment for the upcoming week.
The week went by extremely fast and by the weekend, Piper was exhausted so she spent the time in bed resting, watching her favourite movies and relaxing. When she woke up following Monday morning she wondered for the umpteenth time what Bean was doing. Later that morning after she had arrived at work, she thought about sending him a message to say hello but was distracted by the ringing of her smartphone. When she looked at the screen, she noticed that a message had come through.
v Good morning my fair lady. Let's hope that this fine Monday morning treats you exceptionally well. Have a great week.
Piper smiled wholeheartedly at the text. For whatever reason her pulse increased by a few beats before she could remind herself to calm down. It wasn't her boyfriend who was texting her after all.
? Good morning to you. I could have used another blissful day in bed but I'm prepared to face the day and week. Besides, it's already starting out on a good note.
v Is it now?
? Yes, it certainly is. We should all start the week with that kind of a message.
v I agree. Happy Monday.
? Happy Monday to you Bean.
Piper placed her cell phone on the corner of her desk and took a look out her window. The scenery overlooked the gorgeous downtown park which she often sat and painted in. The sun was shining and she couldn't wait to get the week started. Bean had given her a little boost and she was thankful for it. She hadn't talked to her boyfriend the entire week and weekend and wondered what was happening with that. Part of her didn't care either but she wanted to. She wanted a partner that would love and respect her, someone who would take care of her and someone who would want to be with her, especially during her days off. She turned back to her computer and quickly turned it on, wanting to get her day started. She didn't want to think about Robert anymore nor did she want to think about how Bean made her feel.
Five Months Passed
Piper and Bean had texted each other nearly every day during the last five months. The more they texted each other, the more they got to know one another. It seemed strange but Piper really enjoyed Bean's company. She wondered what he looked like and believed she should analyze her situation with Robert considering she was getting more out of her friendship with Bean than her relationship with her current boyfriend.
The week had been a long one but again she caught herself smiling. Bean had texted her a few times during the day. Now that it was time to close up the shop for the evening, she looked forward to sleeping in, in the morning. Lisa, Piper's assistant, was going to be taking care of the art gallery. She shut down her computer and was about to turn the lights off in her office when her cell phone came to life. Unconsciously, she hoped it was Bean but knew she should not be thinking that. She quickly found out that it was actually her boyfriend because it was a call coming through and not a text message. Bean and Piper had not talked on the telephone yet. After looking at the caller I.D., she supressed a frown and answered it.
“Hello Robert, how are you?”
“That's an icy hello.”
“I'm sorry, it's the first time you call me in over a *week.”
“I know, I'm sorry Piper. Business has been crazy.”
“Too crazy to contact your girlfriend?”
“I suppose so. Again, I'm sorry. Let me make it up to you?”
“Not tonight. I'm exhausted.”
“Fine. What about tomorrow night?”
“I'll call you tomorrow alright?”
“Listen, why is it OK for you to be busy but not for me? It's unfair and you know it. My work is just as important as yours.”
“Come on Piper, it's just an art gallery. You have a bunch of people working for you. You could take whatever time off you wanted.”
“I'm not in the mood to start another argument with you. I'll call you in the morning.”
“I might be busy now.”
“I suspect you will Robert. Goodnight.”
Piper waited for a goodnight response from her partner but it never came. She was absolutely fuming because of how the conversation had gone. The shop owner couldn't believe how ignorant her boyfriend had been in regards to her work and needed to take a step back from what she now believed was an unhealthy situation. She knew she needed to talk to him about what was happening and for a slight minute wondered if her friendship with Bean was pushing her away from the man she, at one time, entertained the idea of maybe spending the rest of her life with. Something was going to give and she knew it wouldn't be the gallery because she had worked too hard to make it a success. She wished Robert could support her work and treat her half as well as Bean was. She disliked comparing the two men but it seemed that all her feelings for Bean were natural.
Piper shook her head wanting all of her thoughts to disappear so she could get home and rest. She didn't want to think about her situation anymore. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes after she started the engine of her car. She sat there for a long time trying to calm down. As she was about to open her eyes, her smartphone chirped to life again, letting her know a text message had gone through. She didn't want to talk to Robert and thought for sure it was him trying to get a message across to her about how he missed her. She knew he would try and manipulate her into seeing him and she was dead set on not caving in this time. To her surprise, when she checked the message, it wasn't from her boyfriend.
v I realize you have had a long day today. I'm not as sorry as I should be about texting you at this late hour, but I wanted to say good night. I hope you have a restful sleep.
It took everything in Piper not to smile through her melancholy but she couldn't help the warmth that was growing in the pit of her stomach. She was amazed how a simple, heartfelt, thoughtful and sweet message touched her the way it did.
? Hey you, give me an hour. I'm just heading home right now. I'd like to chat if you are interested.
v Of course. Let me know when you are ready. Drive safe.
Will do. Thanks.
It didn't take Piper long to get home, shower and hop into bed. It was late but she was looking forward to the exchange she was about to have with Bean. She couldn't help but feel a little guilty about wanting to spend some time with Bean, even if she probably should be talking to her boyfriend. She blew out a few deep breaths and picked up her Blackberry and started tapping away, not even realizing that her glowing smile had reached her ears.
? Hey Bean. Sorry about that. It took me a little longer then I thought.
v No worries. I just got into bed myself so it's all good.
Piper grinned at the fact that they were both in bed and eager to talk to each other.
v Feel better?
? After the day I had at the office, the shower and bed is very welcomed. I'm so glad to be home.
v I bet. It's always nice to crawl in between the sheets after a nice hot shower.
? Mmmmmm, my thoughts exactly. So did you hear anything?
v Yeah actually, I did. The owner of the company asked me to start in about a month.
? That's excellent Bean. Congratulations.
v Thank you. I'm excited. All of my hard work has paid off. I wasn't really sure I could do it but my experience, hard work and talent obviously did the trick for him.
? Good. Are you ok? You sound a little emotional right now. You aren't your cocky self.
Piper watched her screen, willing it to come alive again with another one of Bean's messages. It was a painful few minutes before she could get an answer. While she waited, she thought about how easy it was to see through the image of who Bean was. She loved the fact that for the most part he was protective of her; always trying to make sure she was OK and doing anything and everything to let her know that it was important to him. She wondered if a man like that could allow someone else to help or to do something for him. When nothing came through she wondered if she had pushed too much. What man in their right mind would show any kind of weakness, no matter how much she longed for it?
v I'm usually not one to share that side of me but it's nearly impossible to keep it from you. You nailed it right on the head. Piper, I'm sorry. I am, well, a tad emotional I guess.
? Bean, you don't have to worry about how you feel. I don't think any less of you. In fact, I'm happy and glad you are finally allowing me to be there for you. That doesn't happen often does it?
v I'm afraid it doesn't. In my world, I'm the one who is supposed to be the “tough guy” and anything else is often portrayed as weak.
? I'm sorry. I do however understand that life. There are a lot of things that are expected of me as well and it's difficult to share other sides of me, especially when it's a risk.
v That's true. Thank you Piper. I'm incredibly fortunate for the turn of events that have happened in the last few months and I feel myself heading into new, unknown territory. It's a tad scary, hence the vulnerability you have picked up on.
Piper allowed a single tear full of expression to trickle down her cheek for the openness she received from Bean. It was something she always wanted in a partner but had never had. She rolled over onto her back, closed her eyes and brought the smartphone to her chest and held it tight. She somehow wished that in that moment she could be wrapped in the arms of this defenceless but incredible soul. Bean was stronger than she imagined and it shined through his ability to be open and honest in sharing his feelings. Piper again was dumbfounded by the man she was talking to. She feared if this continued that she could easily fall in love with him, if she wasn't already. That was also something she wasn't willing to think about right now.
? I know. I don't know what it's like for you exactly, but I have a feeling it's similar.
v I bet you do. Soooooo, what is on the agenda for this weekend?
The woman lying comfortably in bed smirked at the quick change of topic but silently agreed with the subject change.
? Well, I am hoping to sleep in tomorrow morning. I want to work on some paintings but apart from that, I've kept myself open for anything.
v Good, that means you'll meet me for coffee.
Prior to that moment, Piper and Bean hadn't discussed meeting each other. They hardly talked about anything all that personal either. Her heart beat rapidly pounded in her warm chest as she grinned. Her automatic reaction scared her the most because there wasn't a doubt in her mind that she wanted to meet Bean, so she answered him.
? There is that cocky behaviour. I'd love to have coffee. Where, when and what time?
v You know it. Are you free tomorrow afternoon at 2? Bridgehorn on Seventh Street?
? Perfect. I'll be there. You'll have to let me know what you look like so I know.
v LOL, that would help wouldn't it?
? Yes Bean, it would.
v Ok, well I'll have on jeans and a black half zip up sweater. I'll leave the ball cap at home. My hair is brown and it reaches just above my shoulders.
Piper wasn't exactly sure what happened but her pulse erratically jumped at the description of what the man looked like. She realized her breath had hitched and re-read the description desperately trying to visualize what he looked like. Everything about Bean thus far excited her and that scared her but she was nevertheless anxious about finally meeting him. She wanted to meet him but had never said anything, especially since she was in a relationship.
? Perfect, I'll see you tomorrow.
v Hey, what about you? Don't I get some kind of visual? I deserve it don't I?
? No. LOL. It will be a surprise. Thanks for the chat Bean.
v Tease! Sweet dreams lady of mine. See you tomorrow.
? Ok. Good night sweet talker.
Piper put her smartphone back on the bedside table and thought about Robert. Bean's interesting self-description seemed so different than her boyfriend's, even if she hadn't physically seen him. Robert was tall enough, had brown eyes, a balding head and always wore a business suit. After thinking about the situation for a bit, she realized that what she was doing might be considered as something unfaithful. She convinced herself that she was only getting together with a friend and nothing else. It was the only way she was able to consider having coffee with someone who touched her heart and soul in the most unique of ways.
The Next Afternoon
Piper hadn't slept well at all during the night and knew it was because she was excited about meeting Bean. She tried not to think about it so much but something deep within her just couldn't stop thinking about the enigmatic but approachable man who occupied a lot of her thoughts. Luckily she was able to take refuge from the whole situation while painting but now that she was out of the shower and dressed, ready to head over to the coffee shop, she slightly panicked.
“Oh get over it Piper. It's just Bean, your friend for crying out loud. What's gotten into you?”
She knew well enough that Bean wasn't just her friend but for the time being, she needed the friendship to say on neutral ground.
Piper walked into the coffee house a little early to be able to grab a seat. She knew she was anxious and excited about meeting Bean but in truth, something about Bean still nagged at her a little. She didn't think it was anything negative or bad but there was something that was mysterious, almost beautiful about Bean. She thought by being at the coffee house before Bean arrived, she would be able to uninterruptedly watch him. She thought perhaps the behaviour might be seen as a little creepy but she just felt like she needed to know.
The art gallery owner sipped her coffee and patiently waited but didn't have to wait too long for her reality to come crashing down on her. She couldn't help but watch the most amazing good looking man she had ever seen walk into the small cozy shop. The minute Piper saw the shoulder length dirty blond hair and outfit; she gulped, nearly gasping for air. When he turned her way before getting in line to get a coffee, Piper nearly fell to the floor. She knew immediately that it was Bean as her heart hammered into her chest leaving her breathless but also knew something was a little off. She had never in her life reacted to another human being like that and it scared her. She knew very little of him but yet knew without a doubt that she was soulfully attracted to him on all levels. It made no sense that someone so handsome could be so magically beautiful at the same time and when she realized her palms were sweaty, she was taken out of her reverie.
“Holy smokes, Claire did you see who just walked in?”
“Yeah, I most certainly did. She just gets sexier doesn't she?”
“I can see why both men and women want to be with her.”
“Well, Bean is a hunk and is probably the most amazing person I've ever met. I just don't get why she never has a woman by her side.”
“I've tried and tried. She's unattainable.”
“Mmmmm, she's so sexy. I'll have to go say hi.”
Piper couldn't believe what she was hearing. The indescribable man of her dreams so to speak was in fact an amazingly stunning woman. Certain things and conversations that had brought up little yellow flags finally fit into place. There was no way she could stay and talk to Bean. Her world turned upside down and before making eye contact with the extremely handsome woman, Piper left in a hurry not wanting to make a scene. As she left the coffee house, she unconsciously looked back at the counter searching for just one last glimpse of Bean. In that instant the loss of not meeting Bean left her in agony. She didn't want to walk away from Bean but she was embarrassed and getting upset that Bean hadn't told her she was a woman. In fact, she believed that Bean had purposefully gone out of her way not to tell her the truth.
A good hour later, Piper walked into her bedroom from a very long and cold shower. The woman was baffled about the situation. She had allowed herself to feel for another human being and now was confused because she knew she had feelings for a woman. Piper was upset with Bean and wanted to text her but she couldn't bring herself to confront her. She knew very well that she had also kept something from Bean. She had developed feelings for Bean but had not said anything about being in a committed relationship. She felt guilty and upset and wished with all of her heart that Bean had been a man. She was just happy she hadn't looked into Bean's eyes.
When she thought about it, when growing up, she had had several little crushes on other girls but believed them to be part of the experimenting stages of her life. She never gave another woman a chance, convincing herself that she only liked to look at women, but could never actually love and be with one. She wasn't gay, or was she? She didn't want to think about it anymore but as soon as she put her smartphone on the bedside table, it came to life showing the blinking of a text message. She knew immediately that it was Bean.
v Hey Piper. I'm assuming you are running a little late. I'm at the coffee shop waiting. Is everything alright?
Piper cringed at the emotions that were pouring out of her. She could picture the person behind the message and it made her yearn for Bean that much more which only confused her, She didn't want this to be happening and was now absolutely upset with Bean about her dishonesty. Her anger towards Bean allowed her to mask her own deceit and as a result she would be able to possibly get back on track with Robert.
Another hour passed and she still continued to look at the screen, desperately trying not to write anything back to Bean. She was so confused by how she was feeling because it felt like she had broken up with Bean. The loss she felt in her soul made her weak in the knees and the tears couldn't stop streaming down her cheeks.
v Piper, what happened? Are you alright? I'm worried now.
The hours passed and no other messages came. Piper was devastated and miserable. She had allowed this man, obviously no longer a man, to get into her heart and now that they weren't speaking she felt more alone than ever.
v I'm not sure what happened today. You never came. Why?
The gallery owner picked up her cell phone and re-read the message over and over feeling the obvious pain shine through Bean's words. Nothing could justify the fact that Bean had lied but more than that, she had lied as well. It seemed to be an unhealthy situation and something she wasn't prepared to handle at this time. She threw her phone into the chair on the other side of the room and fell back into her bed. Her frustration burst into tears again but eventually she fell asleep.
The rest of the weekend went without any more text messages from Bean but it didn't stop Piper from thinking about her. It nearly drove her mad. The more she tried not to think about Bean, the more she thought about the woman who had magically stolen her heart. She continuously fought her emotions the entire weekend not giving Robert another thought.
“Jesus Piper, what the heck happened to you? You look terrible.”
“I know Lisa, I know. It was a weekend from hell.”
“What happened? Does it have anything to do with that man of yours?”
“Not exactly but I don't have time to talk about it right now.”
“Oh please boss, we're the only ones here. What's up?”
Piper was about to start divulging the whole situation but quickly stopped, realizing that her assistant would most likely ask her if in fact she was still interested in Bean. That was something she wasn't willing to admit out loud.
“Later. Do I have any messages?”
“Yes, I put them on your desk. They are mostly from Robert. Are you OK? You look surprised? Should these messages be from someone else?”
“No. Thank you Lisa. I'll see you at lunch and thank you for minding the gallery this weekend.”
“Of course, anytime.”
The owner of the art shop walked away feeling the eyes of her assistant burning into her skin most likely looking for answers she would never find in her retreating form. She smiled and promised herself to eventually tell her best friend about the situation between her and Bean. For now, she had a new schedule to fill with new artists. The minute she entered her office and sat down at her desk, she heard her cell phone tweet to life. She believed it wouldn't be Bean because she hadn't heard from her since Friday night so she looked at the screen and read the message.
v My weekend was terrible. I thought about you the whole time and I couldn't help but come to the conclusion that for whatever reason you just couldn't meet me. You didn't even have the courage to tell me in person. That hurts. I'm sorry for whatever I did Piper. I'd love to know if you are OK and not dying in a hospital somewhere.
She unconsciously closed her eyes, recognizing the hurt through Bean's words and wondered how she could possibly continue to hurt this lovable soul. She wasn't freaked out about the fact that Bean was a woman or the fact that Bean was obviously a lesbian but it was still something foreign to her.
“Why did you have to lie to me Bean?”
She spoke allowed trying to make sense of what had happened but nothing did. She had lied to Bean in return and now it was time to move forward from this, no matter how much it hurt.
After a long day of work, she came home to find that Robert had made himself comfortable in her house. She was upset for obvious reasons but realized that she shouldn't have been that upset. That night as they had sex, Piper couldn't stop thinking about Bean. She pictured the gorgeous hunk and fought so hard to keep her focus on her boyfriend. Nothing helped or worked and when they were done, she left the comfort of her bed feeling terrible, disgusted and ashamed. As she showered, she cried for how she was feeling. She didn't understand why she felt like she had betrayed Bean and the longer she stayed in the shower, the longer the sorrow and sadness invaded her lifeless body. She wondered how things had gotten so confusing and dreadful.
When she left the confines of her bathroom, she felt like she finally was able to breathe because her boyfriend had left. Robert hadn't left any kind of note but this wasn't anything out of the ordinary. She was just thankful that she could be alone. She jumped into bed and cried again for what she was feeling. It seemed ridiculous that she was feeling these kinds of emotions for someone she hadn't even really met in real life and it shocked her when her smartphone squeaked to life. She immediately thought it would be Bean.
v Damn Piper. Why the cold shoulder? What did I do to deserve this?
For whatever reason, Piper latched onto her anger and lashed out. She was upset, confused, angry and overwhelmed as well, she felt violated. No longer having the strength to restrain herself from answering Bean's text messages, she cried as she typed away.
? How dare you? You know damn well what you did. Did you really think I wouldn't find out?
v What are you talking about? Thanks for answering by the way. At least I know you aren't dead somewhere.
? You lied to me Bean. You freaking lied to me. I can't help but wonder why you would do that?
v Lie to you?
? I know about you. I know you're a woman!
v Listen Piper, I can explain. Please let me explain.
? No. You had your chance. I'm sorry. Besides, I'm not gay.
v For what it's worth, my heart hurts and my smile has disappeared. I'm sorry Piper. Shit. I'm so sorry.
When Piper read the last sentence, her heart broke into a million pieces. She knew she was being a coward and a hypocrite for not owning up to her own lie but in that moment she thought Bean's dishonesty was worse than hers. She was simply afraid of the outcome but mostly terrified of the fact that she had fallen in love with a woman. The only way to be safe was to push her away and that is exactly what she planned to do. She placed her cell phone on the side table and closed her eyes willing her heart beat to return to a normal pace. Eventually she fell asleep but Bean was never far from her thoughts.
Bean slammed her cell phone on the bed. She was furious and so upset, the muscles in her body tightened to the point where she could feel the stress creep all the way up to the headache that was forming. Bean hadn't planned on lying to Piper about her gender and this had been the first time she hadn't told a woman she was interested in, in fact she was a woman. She spent her life never correcting anyone about her gender, knowing that living in a man's world always gave her the better hand, especially when succeeding in a career.
“Why the hell didn't you just freaking tell her?”
Bean was talking to herself trying to make sense of what had happened. The situation had progressed and now she was without the one person who made her feel. Bean had never met anyone like Piper and although she had never met her in real life, the instant connection between the two of them tugged at her strings reminding her that fate had happened by chance. She knew Piper wasn't someone to run away from and wondered why on earth she just hadn't told her about her gender.
She understood why the artist was upset but wondered how their connection wasn't worth it to her. Bean struggled not to cry and picked up her smartphone a few times to text Piper again but couldn't bring herself to do it. She had hurt Piper enough. She was upset at herself for not telling her the truth but eventually realized the reason why she hadn't. Bean was falling in love with Piper and if she was honest with herself, probably started falling for her the minute they had started to text each other. The last thing she wanted to do was upset her that much more by telling her that she was actually a woman. In the end however, it didn't make any difference because she had lied and Piper had found out.
Bean finally allowed the frustration to seep out of her body. She let the tears roll down her cheeks vowing never to lie about something like that again. Even if she was comfortable in her skin and didn't mind if people assumed she was a man, it didn't mean it was OK to allow women to think it was true, especially the ones she was interested in. Bean promised never to go down that path again because the heartache she felt now made her want to crawl and stay under a rock.
There was only one thing to do. She needed to forget about the woman who occupied her dreams on a nightly basis. Bean needed to let everything she felt about Piper, vanish. She also needed to live her life as much as Piper needed to. She couldn't hurt her anymore and she promised herself that she wouldn't attempt to contact Piper ever again. She had put her through enough. She only hoped that one day; things would feel better inside her heart and soul. Bean turned over eager to forget about Piper and sleep the night away. No matter how much she thought about Piper, it was time to cut her losses. Besides, Piper wasn't gay.
A Month Later
“Wow. Piper this work of yours is absolutely masterful. Congratulations.”
“Thank you Dr. Tomes.”
“It must be wonderful to finally be able to show off your work?”
“I love my gallery but showing off my work feels incredible. I just hope it does well.”
“Oh I don't think you have anything to worry about.”
“Thank you so much.”
“See you later. Again, congratulations.”
Piper watched the elderly man walk away and couldn't help but smile. He had been taking care of her family for decades but stopped since his retirement. Dr. Tomes had remained a family friend and always found his way to Pipe's art gallery, especially when new artists were on display. She finished her thought and looked toward the entry way after hearing the notification sound of someone entering her place of business. She smiled but her lips quickly parted as her breath clogged her lungs. She couldn't believe her eyes and for a minute believed she was day-dreaming of the gorgeous Bean. She slightly shook her head but realized she wasn't fantasizing.
The artist watched Bean hold her date's hand and tried to look away not wanting the emotion to run through her body like it was. She had no reason at all to be jealous about what she had seen but in truth, she missed Bean. She missed everything, from her text messages to her cockiness. She felt the loss deep in her soul and it painfully hurt. It made her want to run to the bathroom where she could properly eject the bodily liquids that threatened to erupt. Before Piper could turn around, she sucked in a deep breath as Bean finally, after all this time, made eye contact with her.
Piper's world instantly crumbled and turned upside down. Her world fell apart and everything she knew to be the truth had been a lie. She was frozen in time, staring at the one person she couldn't stop thinking about. She tried to pull her eyes away from Bean but it was no use. She couldn't. Bean had somehow mystically kept their eyes locked onto each other. Time stood still and everything around her slowed to a staggering pace. She noticed her pulse jump making her body tremble.
Although Bean was at the art gallery with a date, the minute her eyes caught the beautiful blonde's eyes, everything right in her life flew out the window. Her palms clammed and the sweat dripped down the small of her athletic back. For the first time in weeks, Bean didn't question the connection that was happening with another woman. She was pulled deeper into the gorgeous woman's blissful light coloured eyes. Finally, she stopped thinking about Piper, the woman who had occupied her every waking thought these past six months.
Bean felt like she could finally take that breath of fresh air. Since starting to talk to Piper, her world had shifted and now she believed it was impossible for her to be in love with a woman she had never met. She was extremely happy by the distraction and started walking towards the woman who now couldn't take her eyes off of her. The closer Bean got to the gorgeous woman, the more her heart skipped. There was something awfully familiar about this woman but she had never met her. She neared the other woman and when she saw those amazing green pools filled with love and happiness, her entire body went weak. Nothing and no one except for Piper had ever affected her like this, until now. It seemed right to forget about Piper and introduce herself to the woman who made her feel like she was floating on air.
Piper stood still, watching Bean move through the crowd, obviously heading straight towards her. She held her breath and watched the athlete's body guide herself through the mass of people. Piper unconsciously wiped her hands on her dress but continued to stare into the eyes of the one person she never expected to see again. Her heart raced when she was finally able to see the brilliance of Bean's dark grey eyes. The emotions she had felt for the elusive woman shattered in her veins sending her body directly on edge, the excitement pouring out of every cell. With each step Bean took, Piper's stomach summersaulted over and over, the sparks of their intimate connection growing by the second.
Finally Bean was in front of Piper gazing down into her beautiful but guarded eyes. Again, there was something about the way this woman was staring at her that loured her into puddles of gorgeous grey. It was something Piper knew she could never ever forget.
“Hello. I couldn't help myself. I had to come over here and introduce myself.”
“It seems you haven't lost your cockiness Bean.”
“Have we met before?”
“Not exactly. Welcome to my art gallery. My name is Piper Jackson.”
Bean unconsciously took a step back, immediately guarding her soul and allowing the emotion to be seen through the pain in her eyes. Piper wanted to close the gap between the two and wrap the woman in her arms, not sure what else could affectively destroy the pain and suffering it seemed those eyes had been through. Piper momentarily forgot where she was and stepped forward crossing the imaginary line Bean had drawn between the two of them.
“Please Bean. I know your hurt and angry but please give me a chance to explain myself a little more.”
Piper watched Bean's guarded expression turn to confusion as Robert walked quickly beside the beautiful artist.
“Hey babe, is everything OK? Is this guy bothering you?”
Piper quickly looked at Robert and directly knew his jealously had sparked an interest in how intense the connection was between Piper and Bean.
“Everything is fine Robert. Please give me a minute.”
Robert kissed his girlfriend right on the lips and before leaving the area, looked at Bean and gave her a smug expression.
Once Robert left, Piper looked back at Bean and frowned when she saw the gorgeous woman slightly withdrawing away from her.
“I'm sorry about that Bean. I should have told you.”
“No need Piper. I'm just surprised. I'm not the only liar in this room.”
Piper felt the pain shutter through her soul, reminding her of how badly she had treated Bean.
“I'm sorry Bean.”
“Don't worry. It doesn't matter anyway. You aren't gay and my date is waiting. Congratulations by the way. Your work is simply exquisite.”
Piper didn't have time to thank her newly adored fan. She could no longer feel the warmth radiating from Bean's body and the loss of her fantasy quickly made her realize what had happened between the two of them. When Bean reached her date and took her hand again, Piper couldn't help but flinch at the show of affection. She wanted to cry because she knew that in the past she hadn't been able to accept that she wanted to be Bean's date. Piper longed for that amazing person to be in her presence and space.
Bean and Piper spent the rest of the night continuously eyeing each other. Piper's jealousy flashed through her eyes more times than she wanted. She was sure that Bean had seen the reaction because Bean's confusion appeared more than once. The two stayed with their dates throughout the evening but couldn't stop thinking about one another. When the night was over and Piper was left by herself, she walked into her office searching for the evening's profits.
“I thought I would find you here.”
“Oh, hey Lisa. Thanks so much for being here tonight. I appreciate it so much.”
“It was my pleasure. Your night was amazing by the way.”
“How did we do?”
Lisa smiled and went to her desk to retrieve the printed out statement of their night. She handed it to Piper and answered her.
“Is this what you are looking for?”
Piper took the sheet of paper and her eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. She couldn't help but smile from ear to ear. She had worked so hard on perfecting her trait but this, this night was absolutely enchanting. She couldn't believe that one night of selling her personal art pieces had doubled her yearly salary. Piper smiled and looked at Lisa.
“Wow. I can't believe this.”
“I know. This is unbelievable Piper. People love your work.”
“Apparently. What piece made the most?”
“The one you didn't want on the wall.”
“Who bought it?”
“Blake Beaner. And what an absolute dream of a man he was.”
Piper smiled and laughed at her assistant's description never giving the name a second thought. Bean had been on her mind the entire night and in that moment; she hadn't figured out that Blake Beaner was Bean.
“Well I guess he gets my most favourite prized possession. Let's hope he cherishes it as I do.”
“Oh I'm sure he will. He seemed genuine and totally in love with it. He said it reminded him of the woman who had stolen his heart.”
Piper looked away knowing exactly what the buyer was probably thinking. She had been thinking about Bean when she was painting that piece and when she was done, the painting reminded her of Bean. Piper was breathless and motionless. She could only think about those earth shatteringly soulful grey eyes and wished she could be around her.
When she finally went home, Piper was instantly assaulted with Robert's accusations.
“What are you doing here Robert?”
“Am I interrupting you? Is that guy coming over?”
“This has to stop. Why are you being like this?”
“This isn't my fault, if you weren't wearing that dress; none of this would have happened.”
“You heard me. This nonsense about you dressing like a slut is unacceptable.”
Piper stood frozen in front of the man who was supposed to be her loving and supportive boyfriend. Instead, she winced at Robert's venom and wondered where this behaviour stemmed from.
“I want you to go and leave my keys. I won't be treated this way. I don't deserve this.”
“How dare you speak to me that way?”
“Get out of my house.”
Robert grabbed her wrists and held her in place while he angrily stared into her eyes. She was scared but was convinced that he wouldn't hurt her.
“Let go of me. Stop Robert, you're hurting me.”
“I won't have you embarrass me like that again. Do you hear me?”
“I want you out of my house or I'll call the police.”
Robert smirked and let her arms go but stayed in Piper's personal space. She stepped back and quickly glanced at the telephone, calculating if she could get to it without upsetting Robert that much more.
“Piper, I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me. That guy just pissed me off.”
“I don't care. Get out of my house.”
“I'm sorry. I'll call you later.”
The scared woman who was still standing in her kitchen after hearing the front door slam shut was visibly shaken. Robert had never acted this way and she wondered if her behaviour really did have something to do with his outburst. She momentarily felt bad about the whole situation but quickly replaced it with anger. She wondered how far Robert would have gone and if he would have been able to physically hurt her. The only choice left to make about her relationship was to stop seeing him. She couldn't be with a man like that, especially now that she knew what it was like to be treated like gold.
“Dad, please give me a minute to think about this. I know you are always trying to find the best man for me but we don't even know Blake.”
“Oh come on honey. I want what is best for you.”
“I know, but still. Don't you want to find out a little more information before handing me off to be married?”
“I know enough to know that he's a fine young man.”
“Dad, don't I count in all of this? Don't I get to make the decision myself?”
“Piper, I'm simply asking if he would be a suitable suitor.”
“Thank you for dinner Dad. I'll call you in the morning.”
“At least think about it sweetheart.”
Piper kissed her father on the cheek and slowly walked out of the office listening to her father's continuous plea. She shook her head knowing that her father didn't know the first thing about Blake Beaner. It only made Piper think twice about the new executive of her father's company. She couldn't however keep her mind off of Bean and wondered why she hadn't said anything to her before leaving her parent's estate. She literally had no idea what was going to happen now but knew without a doubt that she needed to end her relationship with Robert. At this point, leaving Robert had nothing to do with Bean's gender or her feelings for her.
She couldn't be with her current boyfriend because she didn't love him. She had never realized how she felt about Robert until Bean came into the picture. Now she wondered what on earth she would do. It confused her but in truth, deep down in her soul, the idea of being with Bean excited her. She exited her parent's home with one question in mind.
“Now what Piper?”
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