Distractions

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With two days remaining before Riley had to return to work, she spent as much time as she could with Ashe. He would soon have to leave for the Asian leg of his promotional tour for Sentience. This time, instead of sharing the tour with Isobel and Gareth, Ashe was on his own. He didn't mind it at all, he said. In fact, he preferred it to having so many people around herding them as if they were sheep.

His schedule was packed with radio and phone interviews in each city he went to, TV appearances, and even a Q&A at a sold-out venue—all in a span of five days. His day began at six in the morning and often didn't end till nine or ten at night, not including the private parties that he was expected to attend. With only one day allotted for him to recover from jet lag, Riley wondered how he would fare.

Compared to Ashe's busy schedule, Isobel and Gareth were remaining stateside, doing only a minimal number of promotions. Riley had many questions but didn't ask them, as Ashe didn't seem to mind the scale of his responsibilities. His schedule was already set up for him and all he had to do, he said, was show up, smile and answer questions. And smile some more.

That Sunday, after they'd recovered from their night of dancing and sex with plenty of food and rest, Ashe took her with him to the yoga studio he recently discovered since moving to New York. Riley had only tried yoga by using the apps on her computer and found it a nice change to be around other people this time, sweating and trying to look as well-groomed as they had when they'd first walked in. Why they had to do yoga in such a hot room, she couldn't understand, but when it was over, Ashe told her that she excelled in savasana, the corpse pose. That was only because she had fallen asleep on her mat and would have snored had Ashe not woken her up.

They spent that evening at his condo in Waverly Place. Riley discovered that because he was traveling so much, half of his things were still in boxes. So although they had originally planned on visiting some vintage shops, Riley helped Ashe move everything out of the boxes, loving how he asked for her opinion regarding the best place for this or that piece. By the time they were done, all the boxes were emptied, and the place looked like a real home. Best of all, Riley got to see Ashe's collection of books that he'd brought with him from London, as well as his vinyl record collection. Then they wasted no time playing the Beatles, David Bowie and the Sex Pistols in all their analog glory.

The next day, Riley took Ashe on a tour of her version of New York. With Ashe wearing what he called his 'armor' which consisted of a baker-boy cap and thick-rimmed glasses, she began with a trip to the Cloisters, along the northern tip of the city. Ashe surprised her by bringing along a lunch that he'd made himself—ham and mustard sandwiches with cucumber slices and salmon, and a thermos of tea with two matching cups—and saucers. It was so English that Riley smiled the whole time till her cheeks hurt.

They spent the afternoon at the public library, where Riley led Ashe into the Rose Main Reading Room. They sat across from each other between one of the original Carre-and-Hastings lamps that graced each desk, Ashe reading a script he needed to review and Riley reading one of her mother's favorite books, Ariel by Sylvia Plath. Not that much reading was done, as they spent most of that time sparring with their legs underneath the table till a library representative approached them and asked if they'd be interested in a tour of the library's private collection. One of the staff members had recognized him after all.

Riley couldn't remember the last time she had felt like this, giddy as a schoolgirl as they were ushered into private halls and given the opportunity to view exhibits not currently open to the public. And the whole time, Ashe held her hand, or had his arm over her shoulder, always having her close to him. There were brief glances followed by soft kisses and hugs, all of which left her a quivering mess that reminded her of being back in high school. It both scared and excited her at the same time. But then it saddened her to know that in a few days he'd be halfway around the world, and she'd be alone again.

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