The Absence of Intellect – Twelve


For some reason, Hunter had the nagging feeling that he was going to come out of the airport and find that Emily was nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t sure why, since he was fairly certain that a woman who was about to disappear on him wouldn’t have given him such an enjoyable and prolonged view of her breasts. When he reached the baggage carousel, though, he was relieved to see Emily sitting in the chairs by the wall. She had one leg thrown over her knee and was reading something on her phone, and she looked just as good in jeans as she did in her pajamas. She glanced up and when she saw him she jumped out of her seat.

“Hunter, hi!” Emily walked toward him, tucking her phone into the bag over her shoulder as she did. As soon as she was in reach, he abandoned his suitcase, took her face in his hands and kissed her more passionately and deeply than he’d ever kissed anyone before. Emily responded by putting her arms around his neck and pressing herself to him. When he released her, she exhaled slowly. “What brought that on? Not that I’m complaining.”

“I’m just happy to see you,” Hunter said. He picked up the handle of his suitcase again and offered her his hand. Emily took it and led him toward the door that led to the parking garage. “Got any plans for the evening?”

“Did you have an idea?” Emily smirked up at him and he raised an eyebrow.

“Not that idea. I thought it would be nice if I took you to dinner.” The automatic door slid open to let them through and Emily tugged him toward the crosswalk.

“That would be nice,” she said. “Where were you thinking?”

“Bernoulli,” he said airily, as if he was suggesting White Castle. Emily stopped in the middle of the parking garage and looked up at him, her mouth hanging open.

“That place is ridiculously expensive,” she said. “The valet alone is fifty dollars!”

“So you’re going to need to stop and get something to wear, is that what I’m hearing?” He looked around. “I’d be concerned that I don’t remember where the car is parked, but I’m not the one who drove here.”

“I have clothes,” Emily said. “I just can’t believe you want to take me to the hottest restaurant in town. I’m not exactly the target demographic.”

“You’re a brilliant neurosurgeon who’s going to figure out a way to reverse the damage caused by Alzheimer’s,” he said as she caught up to him. “You make more than enough to go to Bernoulli any time you want but you use your money in a better way. That’s why I want to treat you whenever I can.” Emily kissed him on the cheek.

“I don’t know about brilliant, but you’re the best,” she said. “If we’re going someplace fancy, I want to take a shower and wash my hair.” She quickened her step and Hunter grinned and followed her to the car. “You want to drive home?”

“You go ahead,” he said, putting his suitcase in the backseat. “You’re probably going to do it better than I would.”

It felt a little strange being in the passenger seat, but as Emily drove them out to Forest Glen he couldn’t help noticing how relaxing it was. For months he’d been tense when he was driving because he had been afraid he would make a wrong turn and get himself lost or worse. Landing himself in the hospital due to dementia was the fastest way to lose his job, short of getting someone killed.

While Emily took her shower, Hunter unpacked his suitcase. Not wanting to bother with sorting the clothes he’d taken, he dumped them all into the hamper for Patricia to take care of the next time she came by. It was far easier for a man to get dressed for a night out, and by the time Emily was finished getting ready, he’d already shaved, put on his nicest suit sans tie, and put in a call to Ellen’s brother to pull the necessary strings to get them a table at Bernoulli on short notice. He was sitting on the couch drinking his last sports drink when Emily came down the stairs and stopped his heart.

She was wearing a button-up silk blouse in a very flattering shade of plum, whose neckline was deep enough to show a hint of cleavage, and a black pencil skirt that just brushed the tops of her knees with a pair of black heels. Her hair lay around her shoulders in thick curls, one side pulled back with a black clip. She’d looked good when he took her to dinner before, but this time she was stunning.

“Sorry to take so long,” she said. “I don’t put on evening makeup nearly often enough to do it quickly. I think it came out nice, though,” she said, opening her purse and looking into it. “I did make sure to put my lipstick in my bag though.” Hunter put a hand on her hip and kissed the side of her neck in reply. “Hunter, we have reservations. Don’t we?”

“I don’t care,” he said into her ear. “I want this more. Do you?”

“Of course I do,” Emily said. “I’ve wanted this since we had breakfast in your kitchen.” She pushed his jacket off his shoulders and he let go of her so he could shrug it off and toss it onto the chair beside the couch. Then he kissed her and leaned her back on the couch. Emily put her arms around him and pulled him closer, kissing him back as she rested her head on the throw pillow. Hunter planted a knee on the couch between her legs so he could lean over her and push up her shirt. Emily laughed and pulled away.

“My shirt has buttons, you know,” she said, and it took Hunter a moment to realize what she was talking about. “Some genius.” He laughed and took off his glasses, setting them on the coffee table, then unbuttoned the first two buttons of her shirt. He lowered himself so he could press his lips to the space between her breasts and she reached back to put her hand on the back of his head. Hunter moved down, kissing her as he unbuttoned another button and pulled her shirt open to reveal a pink and gray lacy bra.

“When did you get this?”

“Does it matter?” Before he could answer, she reached down and unbuttoned his pants. “I bought the set, though.” Hunter kissed her again as she started to unzip his pants, and he put his hand on her thigh to push up her skirt. He had it halfway up her legs, fully intending to take off his pants and make love to her, when the front door opened.

“Dad? Are you home?” Robin’s voice filled the front hall and Hunter froze. The last thing he needed was for his daughter to see him having sex on the couch, and he sat up just as she came into the living room. Thankfully she was on the opposite side of the couch so she couldn’t see Emily pulling down her skirt, her face bright red. Robin beamed at him and he hurriedly buttoned his pants.

“Hi, sweetheart,” he said, reaching for his glasses. “I didn’t know you were coming home.” He smiled at her and Robin frowned.

“What are you doing on the couch?” She was unfortunately as intelligent as her father and Hunter looked down at Emily, who shrugged as she buttoned her shirt. “Is there someone over there with you?” In response, Emily sat up and smiled. Her hair was coming down from its clip and her cheeks bright red, and in spite of the awkward situation he couldn’t help thinking how beautiful she was.

“Sweetheart, this is Dr. Emily Ashton from Apogee Labs. Emily, this is my daughter Robin,” Hunter said, and she waved a little.

“Hi,” Emily said, and Robin put her hands on her hips and looked at her father.

“On the couch, Dad? You’re not sixteen anymore.”

“What exactly were you doing on the couch when you were sixteen?” He stood up, relieved somewhat that his daughter’s sudden presence had made it possible to stand up without embarrassing himself. Emily stood up, taking the clip out of her hair so it would look more presentable. Hunter had a feeling his own hair looked just as bad and he ran a hand through it. “Emily and I were just about to go out to dinner. You can join us if you like.”

“No thanks,” Robin said. “You two look like you need some alone time.”

“It’s fine,” Hunter said. “You came all the way here, I want to spend some time with you.” He looked at Emily, who nodded.

“Go on,” she said. “I’ll go over to Apogee Labs and get some work done. I need to work on a couple of things, and I can check on my samples again.” She gave him a rather disappointingly chaste on the cheek. “I’m going to go up and change clothes.” Emily started toward the stairs and Robin shook her head firmly.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Robin said. “You and Dad go out, I’ll get something out of the refrigerator. I don’t want to ruin your dinner plans.”

“How about we order something? Thai food sounds good, and you always did like that tea.” Hunter looked at his daughter, whose blue eyes were almost exactly like his own, and knew that she was about to dig in. She was as stubborn as her mother and him combined. “I just got back from out of town and I’d like you to get to know Emily.”

“You were out of town? Why?” Robin sighed. “Of course you’re not going to tell me, I’m just your daughter who constantly worries about you.” Hunter took his phone out of his pocket, not bothering to respond to that particular snipe. She turned to Emily. “It’s great to meet you,” she said, offering her hand.

“It’s nice to meet you as well,” Emily said, shaking it. “I’ve seen pictures of you and I was hoping I’d get to see you in person.”

“I swear, Dad never tells me anything. I’m so glad he’s finally dating again, though. It only took him fifteen years.” Hunter ignored this too, dialing the Thai restaurant instead. “Have you worked together long?”

“About three years,” Emily said. “We’ve only started, um, going out recently.” Her eyes flicked to Hunter, who smiled and covered the bottom of his phone.

“Less gossiping, more ordering,” he said. “What do you two want?”

“Green curry,” Robin said. “Go ahead and get me a Thai tea too. I’m going upstairs to change. I hope neither of you mind if I wear my pajamas to dinner.”

“That actually sounds like a great idea,” Emily said. She looked at Hunter. “Pad khing for me, please, and I’ll have a Thai tea too. I love those.”

“You’re going to love this one,” Robin said. “They have my favorite in the city.” She waited for Emily to join her on the stairs, and the two women went up together talking about food. Just before they disappeared she heard Emily mention that she’d worn Robin’s pajamas the first night she stayed at Hunter’s house, and he smiled.

He’d known as soon as he spent time with Emily that she would get along with his daughter if they ever got the chance to meet. They were more alike than her mother had been, even though Emily was close to the age Ellen would have been if she was still alive. He didn’t have a chance to think about it much more before the Thai restaurant picked up the phone and Hunter realized that what his daughter and Emily wanted had completely disappeared from his mind. He just about ran up the stairs to the second floor and covered his phone.

“Emily, Robin? What was it you two wanted again?” They shouted their answer at the same time and he rubbed his forehead as he went toward Robin’s room to get her order again.

If this treatment didn’t work, he was definitely going to have to stock up on notepads.


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