Excerpt from Interior Designs

   
     "What kind of way is this for a woman to live?" he said sharply, jolting her out of her trance. "You're earning a good living, you could travel, enjoy life. Instead, you hide yourself away from the world and everything in it."
     "You're wrong," she said, feeling an anxious surge inside her, wondering if it was from anger at his curt questions or from something else. "The world and everything in it are at my fingertips, waiting to be shaped into beautiful places for people to live."
     "And in the meantime, the place where you live must be devoid of relationships, of people to make it real and warm and alive?"
     This was not the usual kind of man-woman conversation, thought Cathryn despairingly. She had expected him to be curious and appreciative, and she was hurt that he was neither. Why was he delving so deep inside her, wanting to know about her? Why didn't he just leave her alone?
     She didn't know what to say—this man made her nervous and unsure of herself, and she never knew what he was going to do next.
     "You're retreating from me now, aren't you?" he demanded. "I can see it. You let your defenses take over, and the message is 'Leave me alone.'"
     He knew. It was true, what he had said. She had always cloaked herself in a thin garb of reserve, letting few people penetrate it, and even the resulting loneliness was a kind of protection. But no one had ever had the audacity to comment on it.
     He stood before her, his hands on her shoulders. His hands felt heavy there and strong. Her shoulders seemed fragile beneath them, bending under the weight.
     She held her breath. She thought he would make his move, either invite himself into her bedroom or begin to impose upon her his considerable physical persuasion. But again, Drew Sedgwick surprised her.
     "I'm going to melt that icy facade," he said mildly, a hint of a smile on his lips. At her blank and surprised look he said, "Oh, yes, Cathryn, I want to make love with you. But when it happens, it's going to be a conscious decision on your part, not just a spur-of-the-moment romp in bed. And it'll have to be something long-term, because I won't be satisfied with anything else!"
     He dropped his hands from her shoulders, and she felt at once bereft. She didn't want him to go now, but he wheeled and walked to the door. She started to follow, but he turned and shook his head.
     "I'll let myself out," he said, stopping her in her tracks.
     She stood there staring at him. She felt caught in the frame of a movie that had just stopped inexplicably.
     "I think the ice is already melting," he said, his eyes glinting in the harsh overhead fluorescent light. "Careful, don't let it drip on your toes. I wouldn't want you to get cold feet." Then, with a wink, he was gone, leaving her staring down at her naked feet.
 
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