Layla. She must be Austin’s mom.
“I know I haven’t talked about her much,” Cayden continued. “Layla was my wife. She died three years ago, right before Christmas.”
I was shocked. I hadn’t known Cayden was married, let alone a widower. I’d always assumed that he was separated from Austin’s mom or that it was a one-night stand. I’d never expected this.
“She was a singer herself, so she loved all things music. She would wait for the carolers to come and when she heard them, her face lit up like a Christmas tree. She would join in, too. It was always magical to me, like something out of a movie.”
I wanted to ask questions, but I could tell that it was a tough subject for him. Due to the way he spoke about her, I knew that he had loved her deeply.
“Is it weird for you to hear about her?” Cayden asked. “I haven’t dated since her, so I’m not sure what to say or not to say. She was such a big part of my life. I mean, she’s my son’s mother. I’m always going to have a connection to her, but I think I’m finally ready to move on.”
“It’s not weird,” I said. “Please, tell me anything you want to. Don’t tell me anything you don’t want to. I want you to be comfortable either way.”
He squeezed my hand and continued to talk.
“A few weeks after she had Austin, she started feeling bad. We chalked it up to postpartum exhaustion, but it didn’t get any better. She went to a doctor and we found out that she had a rare form of cancer that had already spread to more than one organ. It was so aggressive that it was too late to do anything. I kept her comfortable for as long as I could, but three days before Christmas, she could no longer hang on. Austin was only one.”
“I am so sorry, Cayden,” I whispered. I felt overcome by sadness for both him and Austin. I know Austin was too young to understand what was going on, but it made me sad that he was growing up without a mother. Although I’d my differences with my own mother, I still couldn’t imagine growing up without her.
“It just feels weird,” Cayden said. “It feels like I am never going to get over it. And then, when I feel like I am getting over it, I feel guilty. That’s one reason I’ve been single for so long. I feel like I shouldn’t move on, like it’s a disservice to her and our marriage. But then, I know she would want me to be happy. I know that she would see how I am with you and want me to be with you. It’s just hard.”
I nodded and scooted closer to him. I wanted him to know that I was there for him, no matter what. We laid in silence, listening to the carolers. Finally, they stopped, and I opened my eyes to look at Cayden. He had tears in his eyes. I kissed his cheek and snuggled against him. Originally, I’d been planning on leaving, but I couldn’t leave after this. I didn’t want to, either. We fell asleep embracing each other.
I’d snuck into Tiffany’s women empowerment class and was watching her in awe. She was so confident in her words. She answered every question with a great answer. More women had shown up to this class and they were all listening to her. Some were taking notes. They were living for everything she had to say. She was a role model to these women.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how far she had come in such a short amount of time. It seemed like just yesterday that I was trying to pry answers out of her over lunch. I wasn’t sure what had changed, but I liked it.
I kept thinking about last night and how she took control of the situation. It was such a turn-on. I loved watching her ride my cock. She was an absolutely beautiful sight to look up to as I came. Plus, showing up in that Santa Girl outfit was extremely hot. The night was unexpectedly perfect.
I thought about after sex, too. I finally opened up to her about Layla. I’d wanted to talk to her about Layla for a while, but I was scared. I wasn’t sure of what her reaction would be. To be honest, I wasn’t sure of my reaction. I thought we both did well, though. I was sure there would be more questions on Layla in the future. I would answer them honestly. I think she understood that I would always hold a place in my heart for Layla. It didn’t mean I would love Tiffany any less, though.
Despite her apology, I was still confused about our fight. She said she was stressed, but it still seemed like something more to me. I couldn’t figure out how she was fine before she left to get the olive oil and then returned in a bad mood. Maybe she had gotten a text from her mother or a work email that stressed her out? I would probably never know the answer, so I should probably stop thinking about it.
The room began to clap. Tiffany’s class was over for the day. Some of the women stood and walked toward her. Some still had questions. Others were eager to bounce ideas off Tiffany. I quietly snuck out the back door, not wanting anyone to notice that I’d stayed for nearly all of the class. As I walked out, I bumped into Tim.
“How did it go in there?” Tim asked. I was sure that he knew about me and Tiffany, but I was glad that he didn’t really talk about it. I know that he said he didn’t have a problem with it, but I knew that if we got caught, we would be in really big trouble with Robin.
“It was great,” I responded. “You came up with a great idea. I think the women are really learning a lot from Tiffany. You’ll see the morale boost in this office in no time.”
Tim smiled, obviously pleased with himself.
“Good,” he said. “Are we still on for our ten o’clock meeting?”
“We are,” I said. “I have a couple of things to wrap up, but I’ll be there.”
We said our goodbyes and walked in opposite directions. I walked back to my office to check my email before I ran my errand. Thankfully, there was nothing important. I wanted to sneak out of the office before Tiffany saw me.
As I grabbed my wallet from my desk, Tiffany appeared in my doorway.
“Hey,” she greeted me. She was absolutely glowing. I would have liked to attribute it to the sex last night, but I knew she was on a high from public speaking.
“Great job in there,” I said, sliding my wallet into my pocket.
“Are you leaving?” she asked. Busted. I didn’t want her to know that I was leaving the office, and I really didn’t want her to know where I was going.
“I just have to run an errand,” I said. “Nothing exciting.”
“I have to get to work on my first assignment,” she said. “Tim gave me this fun, heartwarming holiday story to do. I’m working on some of it today and interviewing my subject tomorrow.”
“That sounds great,” I said. “If you need any help, you know where to find me.”
“Thanks,” she said. She headed to her office and I left mine.
I walked out of the office and checked behind me. She didn’t follow me. I didn’t think she would have, but it was important that she didn’t see where I was going. I was heading to the jewelry store down the street. I wanted to get her something for Christmas.
“Good morning, sir,” the store clerk greeted me as I walked in.
“Good morning,” I returned the greeting. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I figured that I would know it when I saw it. I thought about earrings, but nothing really jumped out at me.
“Where are your necklaces?” I asked.
“Over here, sir,” the store clerk pointed to a glass case near the corner. I walked over and was surprised to see a wide variety of necklaces. As I bent down to look at them, the bell on the door dinged. Another man walked in, but he looked very out of place.
He was glistening with sweat and his cheeks were flushed. Based on his attire, I concluded that he had just gotten done working out at the gym. He was a big guy with huge arms. Most guys don’t intimidate me, but this one did. The gruff look on his face did him no favors, either.
“Good morning, sir,” the store clerk greeted him. Mr. Muscles looked at the store clerk but did not return the greeting. He began to look around the store aimlessly. I ignored him and went back to looking at the necklaces.
“I need something good for my girl,” Mr. Muscles spoke. His voice was as rough as his looks.