Disguise

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Crocodiles that Bite

“Shit.” I swore to myself but I had no doubt that he heard me.

Reece’s eyes narrowed in the slightest before moving towards me again, but this time my senses kicked in.

I knew I couldn’t outrun him, so I tried the next best thing.

“Stop! D-Don’t come any closer!” Dammit stupid break in my voice!

Miraculously, he listened. He was two steps away from me, standing just at the rear view mirror of the red car, but he held his position.

I could tell that it was taking a great amount of restraint on his part. His eyes were indecisive, wavering.

“Flora-”

“You can’t fix this.” My voice was filled with as much hatred as I could muster (which at that point wasn’t much.)

“Flora-”

“I said no!”

He clenched his fists, and I was positive that any second now he’d be on me. Reece knew that his touch was my Kryptonite, and he wasn’t afraid to use it.

“You don’t understand-”

“Well, I don’t want to.” I replied instantly. “I am not getting into this again.”

He looked like he wanted to say something, but then he stopped. For some utterly stupid reason I waited for his response. Reece took a deep breath, his well defined chest rising and falling heavily, distracting me.

“You’re lying.” He spoke with no malice. Just a fact.

My cheeks reddened at the accurate accusation. A large part of me wanted to jump into his arms and forgive him right there. It was impossible to resist Reece, he just owned me. And for a while it felt like I owned him too.

But that illusion shattered along with the trust on my instincts.

That’s why I had decided, this part of me took decisions no longer. I repeated, “I’m not getting into this again.” Firmly, like a mantra. But why did it feel like I said it more for my benefit than his?

“But you want to.” Why was he so spot on?

No. I have to stop caring.

“You can’t stop caring, can you?” My head whipped up to him at his words.

Did he just read my mind?!

“I know how confusing this must have been for you. I was supposed to make it clearer, easier and look at what I’ve done.” I didn’t think he was speaking to me anymore.

Maybe I could leave him contemplating his life decisions and sneak out.

Hah. Fat chance of that happening.

“You’re angry, I know that. But I know that deep down you still care.”

Ex boyfriend say what?

“Shut the fuck up!”

“Flora it’s not safe for you anywhere now! I need to protect you!” He was losing control, I knew that. His eyes were getting darker again like they had been last night.

Over the one year we had dated I’d figured out such little things about him - hints that his body could give me about his mind.

“I’m safe exactly where I am, thank you very much.” I yelled back even though he was just a few feet away.

I knew I shouldn’t bait him. If I threw him over the edge I didn’t know what could happen.

“You’re lying, you care. If you didn’t then you wouldn’t have cried. It wouldn’t matter to you at all whether you’re in the clear or not.”

Stupid, treacherous tears! I knew those crocodiles would come back to bite me.

“Look, you don’t know anything about me so-”

“I know you can’t sleep well, and I also know that you haven’t seen anyone else in all this time. I know that you can’t get close to any man, because it hurts to - OH GOD.” A horrified expression came across features. “I can’t even think about the pain you’ve gone through.” He shook his head in rigid denial as if trying to force the thoughts out of his mind.

By this point I could only see red.

H-How could he possibly...?

Two years of repressed despair and anger began to build up again. But this time it was anger at myself.

He was right; I couldn’t. I had tried and tried but the feelings hardly declined. If anything they seemed to get worse. Yet, I lied.

“You know nothing.” I spoke coldly, my eyes never leaving his.

He studied me carefully, as if I was a specimen on display, and then let out a frustrated growl.

Yeesh. What an animal.

“I haven’t handled this well.” He whispered to himself and I let out a derisive laugh.

“Now you will stay away from me. Is that understood? Or I will call the cops or-”

And then suddenly I couldn’t speak anymore. Because the devilishly handsome man I was yelling at two seconds ago now stood in my face, our lips only inches apart.

He’d appeared so suddenly that despite having space to move away, I hadn’t had the time.

I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t think. It was a miracle that I could still breathe.

His eyes bore into mine with such intensity that I couldn’t look away.

They weren’t threatening in the least, but what they were, was much worse.

Because in his eyes I could see only one thing clearly and that was determination.

He then leaned forward, his arms snaking around my waist and pulling me closer, almost lifting me off the ground. Our faces were millimeters apart, but instead of kissing me like I thought he might, his lips went to the crook of my neck.

And then he took a long, deep breath.

If I found it weird, I didn’t have the headspace to make it known. I stood there on my tip toes and just let his breath tickle my neck as I struggled to remain standing. I couldn’t understand anything, and I couldn’t do anything about that either. As if some magical, preternatural situation was unfolding and it had shut me down. In fact, I felt myself slightly lean into him..

“REECE!” Grey’s loud cry broke us apart and suddenly Reece was standing forty feet away from me.

What just happened..?

I stumbled back in a daze as his support left me. My thoughts were barely coherent. How did he get there so fast?

His back was turned towards me, but I could see his upper body move with his rapid breathing.

Grey came running towards me, it felt deliberately slow, and before I could tell him to stand back as well, his hands were on my shoulder and chin, trying to hold them apart gently.

He was examining my neck.

“Are you okay? Did he do anything?” He asked me hurriedly, scanning my face for my answer and I wordlessly shook my head. I was slightly dizzy and Grey had to support me till I got my sense of balance back.

What was happening to my universe?

Did Grey actually think he’d hurt me?

“What’s going on?” I whispered only to Grey but his attention was now on Reece. By this point my vexation with them was at the back, and my curiosity took lead.

“Nothing, Flora. I think you should go up though, it’s not safe right now.” He gritted his teeth, his hands on my shoulder pushing me in the direction he just came from.

“How did he get there so fast?!” I continued as if he hadn’t said anything. Grey prodded me further and I looked away from Reece towards him, “I’m not going till I get some answers!”

“I thought you didn’t care about them.” Reece’s dark tone was right beside my ear.

I flinched as I saw him standing next to me again.

What the...I took my eyes off of him for only a second!

“How did you just..?”

“What?” Reece replied with a hint of amusement.

Could it be that I was mistaken? Surely such speed was impossible right?

“Reece.” Grey’s tone held a warning.

My head was spinning now. Not only was I completely out of my league here, but I was also hallucinating.

Maybe because I skipped lunch?

Focus, Flo.

Both men were looking at me expectantly and I realized that I’d missed a question.

I couldn’t even muster the energy to tell them to shove it.

For some reason, I felt really exhausted. Even though I’d slept like a baby until so late, it hadn’t increased my strength.

I just really wanted to curl up in my blanket and ignore the world.

Now the big question was if they’d let me do that.

“She looks like she’s going to black out.” Grey commented and I threw him an incredulous glance even though he was correct. I swerved a little, it was hard to maintain balance.

Reece immediately came closer, putting one of his arms around my waist for support, and I tried to get out of his hold.

“Stop struggling, you can barely stand.” He was didactic but I could also detect the worry in his tone.

Grey flashed me a small smile of support that did nothing to help me out of his arms.

But I was dizzy, there was no denying that without his arms, I would probably hit my head on the concrete parking floor. “I’m just going to head to my room.” I said weakly and they both looked at each other. It felt like a mental conversation that I wasn’t privy to.

“Okay, I’ll take you there.” He left no room for argument and so when I opened my mouth to oppose the idea, I was immediately picked up, bridal style.

“REECE! What are you doing?! Let me down!” I screamed with renewed energy but he was already on the move. My hands had automatically made their way around his neck in an effort to keep myself upright.

A small, practical part of me was worried about my health. Such fainting spells were never a good sign. What was happening? I’d have to visit a doctor soon if they didn’t reduce.

“Don’t waste your energy Flo, you’re barely strong enough right now.” Was all he said.

We crossed three rows of parked cars before we reached the exit.

I didn’t even try to get out of his hold after that, god knows that would never happen, and on the off chance that it did, I’d end up falling.

Grey was following us at a distance and I could hear him chuckle at this, making me frown.

All the anger from earlier just dissipated so easily. I couldn’t have him thinking that everything would be forgiven from my side, even if he’d apologized.

It just wasn’t okay.

But for now I couldn’t do much, I just wanted to get to my room.

I turned my head to look at Reece, who was looking straight ahead, worry lines marring his face.

Ever so often I’d feel a light squeeze from him and he’d smile in the slightest. We’d reached the elevator and stepped inside; by this point my body had given up.

“Why am I dizzy?” I murmured softly, in a haze and Reece looked crestfallen.

“It’ll all go away soon, I promise.” He spoke with sincerity and pain.

How would he know? He moved his hand a little so that his skin touched mine, and the predictable sparks followed.

“Stop thinking of anything, just try to relax.” Grey urged. I could have not listened to him as well, in an act of defiance, but I knew that Grey meant me no harm.

He’d been an avid supporter from the start and till the end. I don’t know what happened when I left, they were a confusing bunch of friends, but I had a feeling that Grey fought for my innocence the longest before giving in.

Because if he didn’t it’d be pretty hard to face me right now.

So I took a deep breath and cleared my mind of everyone. I focused my thoughts on a particular memory of Xena and me on her twentieth birthday. We’d had so much fun that day, taking a day trip to the nearby park for a trek. Nature calmed me, and people like Xena calmed me. Immediately I felt some of my strength return back to me.

“There you go!” Reece said with enthusiasm and I let out a sigh of relief. Then I wiggled out of his hold, and he let me. We ended up awkwardly standing in the elevator all the way up till the thirtieth floor. I just wanted to get out of there. I considered pushing a lower button and climbing the remaining way but I didn’t want to take the risk of exerting myself.

However, when we did reach the top, to my horror, Reece stepped right out with me! And to add to the tension, Grey quickly pressed the button to close the doors and left us both standing alone in the deserted hallway!

“You don’t need to be here.” I grit out but my obvious distaste didn’t seem to deter him. “I’m aware,” was all he said to me. For some reason, I wasn’t scared of him anymore.

Huh. His mind was on something else.

I turned mid stride to face him and he immediately stopped in his tracks. “Allow me to clarify. You’re not wanted here.” He didn’t so much as respond to the insult. Instead, he simply walked past me, towards my door.

That shut me up. Was I being too cruel? He had apologized...and at this point what more could he do? He couldn’t turn back time..

“You’re lying to yourself if you think this is the end of it.” He said quite suddenly and I felt fear course through me. I spun around to face him, wondering how he was reading my mind so easily. He opened the door for me, letting me walk in before him in stunned silence. I turned around to face him, he was still standing at my door.

“Reece-”

“I’ll be back soon. And Flo? I’m never giving up.” His words set something loose in me. I felt a rush, and much to my horror a part of me was actually looking forward to it.

No. No no no no. I cannot get into this again! Last time it nearly destroyed me!

“Try to get some rest.”

He left me standing in the middle of my room, my mouth hanging open and motionless.

You know what you have to do.

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