My head shot back against my chair, I stared at the ceiling, thinking or trying not to, despite all the paperwork I had to get through by the end of the day. I barely heard a light knock on the door. I didn’t even answer, but I heard it be opened and closed calmly, clear sign someone had just come in.
I didn’t even need to look. I’ve memorized her step ever since I started forcing myself to look away when she walked out of my office, just not to stare shamelessly at her ass. Just a precaution.
After that time she went out, and a new author I had to interview came in. God, the most embarrassing 30 minutes of my life, with me remaining stubbornly seated not to let him know I had a painful boner down there. Had it been a woman, I wouldn’t have minded, sure, she would have gotten the wrong idea, but it would have been flattering for her. A man? If he was straight, he’d have looked at me funny, if he was gay, he’d have been flattered. Either way, I’d have had a hard time explaining.
Then there was that time when this 20-years-old girl came to be interviewed for an internship ... that got interesting, though. I mean, she didn’t get the internship, but I did get some nice moments in my car in the parking lot, you know. Of course, I made sure she wasn’t suited for the job before engaging in such experience. I am supposed not to mingle with my employees, remember?
Duh. Like I’ve even ever respected that rule.
I mean, only last night I made the most intense love to my translator, I took her virginity. If that’s not mingling, then I don’t know what is.
The worst part is not having disobeyed my uncle, I do that on a regular basis, who the hell cares. The worst part was leaving her bed barely an hour later.
I’ve learned to tell her steps from the others, and I’ve also learned that she’ll keep her natural pace even though she’s pissed, same goes for her countenance. That’s why she looked perfectly calm when she slammed her papers onto my desk.
“Good morning, boss. Here’s the translation you asked, and the edited version of the original text.” Silvia informed me with a wide smile that brimmed with anger, to the point that she looked ... almost psychotic. I was kinda scared, can’t deny it.
I barely had time to nod as she filled me in on the things she’d changed in the text. Her voice was professional, and to someone that doesn’t know her it might have sounded just that, but I knew all too well that she was concealing a furious rage behind a mellifluous tone.
I squirmed in my seat, like a 5-year-old being told off and grounded for stealing his uncle’s clothes to give them to charity. Yeah, I did that. Mom grounded me for a whole week, uncle Keith wanted to blow my head off, but dad secretly laughed it off with me, confessing he used to do pranks to his brother, too.
The enraged angel with horns in front of me right now however, she was a whole different thing. Her face shifted from fake smile to murderous glare. “And this ...” She raised her voice while reaching for her back pocket. ”This is the wallet you left at my place when you so clumsily sneaked out my bed in the middle of the night.” She spelled and hissed almost every word at the same time, her face livid, as she indeed slammed my wallet onto my desk.
You know that feeling you get when you know you’ve done something wrong and you’ve just been busted? Yeah, I got that. I swear, I felt shivers down my spine. She looked like a bull that had just seen red, a hungry wolf about to devour her prey.
The funny thing is that she had that same look when she wrapped her pink lips around me last night. The difference is, yesterday it was sexy as hell, especially as she stared straight into my eyes the whole time while blowing me away, literally and figuratively.
This time, she was mentally blowing off my head, only to then stomp over it and crumple it like useless paper. I made her mad. Scratch that, I made her insanely furious at me. I felt like a little boy facing a crazy monster.
She’s got every right to be mad, I guess. Frank’s words came back to my mind: don’t sabotage yourself. Well, I did, didn’t I? I fucked up. As usual. But I’ve got a good reason, trust me.
I opened my mouth to say something, even though I didn’t quite know what to say, but Silvia did all the talking, her face morphed into blind rage as she pointed her black-polished index finger at me.
It crossed my mind for a moment that she’d only started polishing her nails after she broke up with her boyfriend, but I put it aside and listened to her furious rant: ” I am not a fucking doll you play with! I’m your girlfriend, Jake Watson! You do not treat me like one of those stupid bimbos you pick up at a fucking bar! You get it?! I am not one of your booty calls! You will not disrespect me like this, Jake Watson! You get it?!”
God, is it insane that I was scared and turned on at the same time? I’ve never seen her so furious. I never knew she could be able to hiss so furiously that even the bravest man would be frightened, even while her countenance remains normal, better said, her eyes conveyed all the rage she was spitting out with her words.
“Uh ... Silvia, I ...” I started, kind of squirming underneath her burning gaze. And not in a positive way. Hell, I’ve never been scared of anything, yet the way she glared at me had my insides churn, cold sweat run down my spine, causing shivers. In short, I was kinda frightened.
Especially because I knew she hated me right now, and if that’s the look she has on when she hates, then goddamit, my heart can’t even take it. she’s been mad at me before, but this ... this is on a whole new level. It’s unexpected in a way, but not unpredictable.
She has a reason to be so pissed. I did sneak out of her bed. It was early morning and not the middle of the night, considering we went on for long, I mean, it was actually 4 am when I sneaked out, but it doesn’t change much, I guess. It would change if I told her the truth. If I could voice it, that is.
“Save it.” Silvia cut me off, waving her hand in dismissal, her stare still so hard that I felt as tiny as I never have. You could say I was frozen in my chair. Silvia clenched her jaw, making me truly sweat my guts, and I swallowed hard. Man, I thought Tess was a force of nature, but nothing beats Silvia when she’s so mad. And this comes from one like me that’s seen every level of shit in his life.
“You accused me of sabotaging us, yet you go and do something like that! You could have told me. You could have left a fucking note! You could have done many things, but leaving me alone with my nudities and the memory of what we did was not one of them!” She paced the office furiously, her hands digging in her hair, her jaw clenching tightly as she cursed me in every way she knew, her low heels clinking against the floor, her blouse not entirely buttoned showing just that tad bit of skin that was enough to give me a mind’s eye of what we did last night.
Maybe I’m a sex fiend, because I was both frightened and turned on, and my sick mind already gave me images of us playing mistress and submissive, which is absurd, because I’ve never been into that kinky shit, better said, I have done it, but playing the dominant role, not vice versa, because I’m not good with following orders. But now ... now I saw Silvia so enraged, it made me think of all the kinky things we could do here in my office.
I blinked my eyes, recoiling, when she slammed her hand onto my desk, a deadly stare meant to incinerate me, and I would have sworn she was a mere inch away from getting violent when she hissed: “Are you even listening to me?!”
“Um ... yeah?” God, I felt like a little boy in deep, deep trouble. I felt hot all over, and not for a good reason, but I also loosened my shirt, feeling like only her burning gaze was suffocating me. I never thought I’d be afraid of a woman, better said, I always thought the only woman I could ever fear was my mom when she got mad, but ... well, turns out I was wrong.
Silvia yelled curses I didn’t understand, I suppose she used Italian, or maybe a mix of her mother tongue and English, plus something that sounded like German ... the trouble with multilingual people, when they get mad they’re gonna throw in all their languages while you sit there awkwardly, having no idea what the hell are they saying.
She went on rambling about how I was a selfish prick that doesn’t give a damn about anybody, that does whatever he wants without a care in the world, no matter the price ...
“Hey, come on, it’s not like I killed someone!” Mmh, wait a minute. “I mean, yeah, I did, but-” I shut up because her eyes, I swear, turned red as her nose flared. She slammed her first against my desk, and I’m pretty sure by now people outside were all ears.
“You, Jake Watson, you are an egoistic asshole. That’s all.” Silvia pulled back, seemingly about to calm down, but then she started rambling in Italian, and I only got half words, but what had my heart truly sink was a phrase I caught ... I’ve spent a semester in Italy, I can’t truly speak the language, but I can understand a few words, also Silvia taught me a couple of things.
There was a phrase that cut deeper than anything else, especially because of how it was spat out: ”Vorrei non averti mai incontrato.” I wish I’d never met you. Yeah, that’s what she just told me. I wish I’d never met you. That stung, damnit. It fucking hurt. More than any slap she could have given me.
I swallowed the pang in my heart, my voice a mere whisper as I murmured: “You don’t ... mean that.” It was said more to myself than her, to be sure she didn’t just say she’d rather I’d never entered her life. It might seem nothing, but try having the one person you love more than anything tell you she’d rather she’d never met you, then you’ll tell me how much it hurts.
I’m starting to think I get oversensitive when it comes to her. every word, every glance, every gesture is nothing, coming from anyone else, but when it comes from her, it’s as heavy the world. It’s like Wonder Woman raising the godkiller to slay Ares.
Silvia ceased her pacing, and snapped to me, expression still hard, but a little less, and she fell back onto the chair in front of my desk, raking a hand through her hair. “Do you even have an idea the effect you have on people, Jake?” She asked, seemingly calm, ignoring my half plead.
I was about to reply, even if I didn’t quite know what to say, but she prevented me, looking up at me, giving me one more blow when disappointment replaced anger in her eyes and voice. Christ, be mad, not disappointed. I can handle anger, but disappointment means failure, means I failed you.
“Do you ever stop to consider that you’ve got an impact on people’s life? That maybe you should be more careful? That not everybody has your immunity system?” She sighed, dropping her head back.
I was speechless, mostly hurt because of her words but also guilty and angry at myself for always screwing up everything. She’s right, I could have left a note or something, but I didn’t even think of it.
I just slipped out of her bed barely an hour after we’d had sex, same as I do with my usual flings. It’s like I labeled her as the umpteenth one-night-stand, nothing more than that. I can understand how she felt, and I’m kinda starting to think my reason was a little crappy.
Silence reigned for a few moments. I expected her to erupt any moment now, but Silvia remained there, staring at the ceiling, though covering her eyes with her arm, as if repairing them from the neon light. She looked exhausted, as if yelling all that, taking out all that anger, had physically worn her out.
In the end I cleared my throat, attempting to say something: “Silvia, I ...”
“I felt used, Jake.” She cut me off, looking back at me, that vein of disappointment in her eyes stabbing my heart. “We had a great night, you promised me all that ... then I woke up to an empty bed. I felt used. I felt like I was just the umpteenth booty call for you. It hurt.”
She sighed, leaning over my desk, hands clasped together, hazel eyes piercing through my soul, even behind her black rimmed glasses she wears when she’s working. “It hurt because I felt like one in the number. Just ... a worthless fling you easily forgot as soon as you were done.”
“Silvia, you know you’re much more than that, you’re my girlfriend, I –”
“Then why did you leave?”
I sighed, leaning back against my chair, already exhausted. The way she drains out my strength emotionally, nobody ever could. The way her every word affects me, I should feel weak, but it’s like it’s her only right to have me at her mercy.
I’ve got a reason for leaving, I’ve got a big reason, but I’m not sure she should know about it. If there is one hope for us, I want and need to cherish it, I can’t let my demons get in the way. She knows snippets of my past, but not everything. We’ve never even talked about my mom, even she knows what I did. And to be honest, I’m afraid to tell her.
One thing is being a passive actor of the drama where your schizophrenic brother commits suicide at the age of 11, the other is being responsible for your mother’s death, not doing anything when you could have saved your father, and even beating someone nearly to death, not to mention the corpses you’ve had around you for years, and the ones you went only a mere inch away from causing with your own hands.
Last time I dared mention something like this, I was torn apart. I know she didn’t mean to, but that word, murderer, coming from her lips, it echoed through my skull for months, and I still can’t forget it.
The thing about Silvia, she’s often careless. She’s so wrapped up in her unfeeling cold world, that she often forgets the rest of the human beings don’t have her same countermeasures. She just accused me of not seeing that not everybody has my immunity system. She fails to realize that she is just the same as I.
We’re a disaster, let’s be honest. We keep on hurting people, even if we try not to, it’s just stronger than us.
All these months, I thought I couldn’t put her through this, I couldn’t ask her to share my demons, because I would only hurt her. All I ever do is fuck up things, everybody that gets sucked into my life sooner or later winds up getting hurt. Even the guys, they’ve been hurt a few times for my fault, but they never left me, because of some idiotic idea of loyalty they have. I never wanted Silvia to have the same fate, but then ...
I’ve come to a limit, I always thought I could cope, because I’ve seen all the levels of shit in my life, there was nothing that could bring me to my knees, if I’ve survived to my past life without going nuts, then I could cope with everything else.
How wrong I was. I underestimated the power of love. I underestimated the power I gave my angel with horns. I’d come to a limit, I was bleeding out, the more time I spent without having her, the more it hurt, so when a glimmer of hope lit up in front of me, I had to take it, without even thinking twice. The result was, obviously, hurting the one person I’ve been trying to protect from myself.
I stayed when she was so clearly happy with her boyfriend because I thought I could endure being around her, to help her get rid of her own demons, but being a friend has never hurt so badly.
And worse is that Silvia, even while being so attentive to words, sometimes she just doesn’t think it through before speaking, so that those times when she so gleefully talked about her boyfriend with Tess in front of me, she didn’t even consider how much my heart was bleeding, or just a few moments ago, when out of rage she said she wished she’d never met me ...
Sometimes she can be so oblivious, doesn’t even realize that it’s not true that only sticks and stones break my bones but words will never harm me, because, trust me, having all your bones broken doesn’t hurt even a half as much as it does having your one and only love tell you she’d rather you’d never even entered her life.
I know she was only angry, maybe she didn’t mean, I really hope she didn’t, but it still hurts nevertheless. She asked me whether I ever stop to consider that I have an impact on people’s lives, but does she? Does she ever consider that getting attached to her hurts?
“Jake, why did you leave?” Silvia asked me again, still staring at me.
“Do you ever stop to consider the impact you have on people’s lives?” I asked back, repeating her same words.
She gave me a dirty look, leaning back, shaking her head. “Oh, no. No, no. You’re not blaming it on me, no.”
I leaned over my desk, kinda trying to be a bit closer to her, but also knowing that we gotta fix this once for all. There have been too many misunderstandings between us.
I took advantage of her hands being clasped over my desk to grip them tightly, looking straight into her hazel eyes that never show a single emotion, aside from when she can’t avoid it, and I’m lucky to have been one of the few, if not the only one, to have seen them behind her deadpanned mask.
“I love you, Silvia.” I repeated for the thousandth time. “I love you with my whole being. I’ve never thought I’d fall in love, but I have, and it was with you. From the very first moment I set my eyes on you.”
I inhaled deeply, maybe giving her time to take in my words. “But sometimes you’re really heartless.” I went to stand in front of her, beside my desk. “You work with words, Silvia, you gotta know they can do a whole of a lot more damage than punches. You gotta know that when you say you’d rather you’d never me, it fucking hurts like hell.” I leaned against the desk, exhausted, my heart thumping furiously in my chest.
“You know it was only an enraged rant. I was just mad.” She murmured, a bit flustered, I’d say.
I looked over to her, stuffing my hands in my pockets, actually damn needing to smoke, but of course, I quit. “That’s great, but it still hurts.”
“I’ve been an asshole, I know. I could have left a note or anything. I’m sorry.”
She sighed, then stood up to come lean against the desk beside me, her arms crossed over her chest. “Why is it so hard between us? Why do we always fight?”
It almost made me smile, even if bitterly. “We don’t fight. We just ... argue.” I mended, she scoffed.
I let silence reign for a few moments, wondering whether I could gather the courage to unburden myself with her. I would want to, that’s the thing. But I know she won’t look at me the same way. I cannot fathom how would it be to have her lock me out of her life for good. In truth, it’s what she should do, it’s what I’ve told myself since the beginning, but you can’t reason with a lovesick heart, can you?
“Jake, why did you leave?” Silvia asked for the third time. I could feel her penetrating gaze on me. I pursed my lips, lowering my glance, feeling both flustered and guilty. “I believe you when you say I mean much more than a fling for you, and I believe you when you say you love me, but you still left me there all alone after the night we had. Why?”
“I had a good reason.” I murmured, even if unwillingly.
“And what is it?” She asked. I sighed. It shouldn’t be so hard, right? She’ll understand if I say I’ve got nightmares, but ... I never talked to anybody about it.
In school there were tales about my parents having died in a car wreck, while my brother, they didn’t even know he existed, is was just natural that Serene and I lived with our uncle, that he adopted us, even though he was practically never at home. He did such a great job at hiding the mess, that people started forgetting my parents were ever there.
Though I think it was uncle Keith to spread news about the car wreck ever since his brother committed suicide when I was 13 and his sister-in-law got hospitalized. It was easier to tell people that my parents died in a car accident. It happens every day, doesn’t it? And it’s so cliché. Too bad the truth is much more complicated than that.
“Promise you won’t judge me.” I murmured, eyes closed, head lowered. Silvia gulped beside me, I bet sensing I was about to tell her something big.
And I was. I thought, to hell with everything, I’m gonna tell her. If she’ll ignore me from now on, I’ll just have to beg my uncle for mercy and have him move me to another department. I’d do even the janitor, just to back away from the pain of a life that doesn’t involve my angel with horns.
She’ll never realize it, but the power she has over me, she could destroy me with a word. And she has. I never thought love could bring me to my knees like this, but the truth is, I could never live if I lost her. My mom couldn’t live with the pain of having lost the love of her life, if I lost Silvia, I’d be the same as her. That’s why I always thought I ought to keep away from Silvia, so that she could live her life in peace, without me causing havoc. But of course, things never go as they should.
Right now I can only think I need her in my life, no matter what. And maybe she should know everything first of all, so that she’ll be able to decide whether she wants me or not. I guess that’s it.
I kinda flinched when Silvia grabbed my hand, and entangled our fingers together, leaning her head on my shoulder. I guess she’s right, things seem always so complicated between us. I wonder why.
“I’ll never judge you, Jake. You know you can tell me anything you need to.” Her statement made me smile, can’t deny it, and I looked down to meet her face. She gave me a half smile, one of hers that always have my heart race like a fool.
“I wonder what did you do to me, you little witch.” I scoffed playfully, a smirk on my face.
She smirked as well. “I spiked your coffee with a love potion maybe.”
“Ah, I should have thought of that. Why didn’t I?”
She laughed, making my heart flutter. I love it when she laughs, she already smiles so little, it seems like only Tess was ever able to get a smile out of her. Of course, then Ryan came in, and she was all smiles and giggles every time she looked at her phone. But now that he’s not in the way anymore ...
I turned, and brought our entangled hands to my mouth to kiss hers, eyes on hers. “I know I’m a complete and utter mess, with many flaws, and my life ... well, as soon as you’ll know about it, you’ll want to flee. I will give you hell, we both know that, as much as we both know I’ll hurt you. But I also believe I could make you happy. At any rate, I would very much like the chance to try.”
We’ve gone through so much in these months. First there was my own stubbornness, then there was her English boyfriend, and then, finally, the fatal doom, Ryan.
He stole her from me without me even trying to impede it. I know that if I hadn’t been so adamant on keeping our bond not too deep, if I had made a more determined move, he would have never had a chance. He would have never happened at all.
If only I had confessed my feelings from the start, pushed her into giving me a real chance, said screw conflict of interest ... if I had been a real man and claimed her since the beginning, she wouldn’t have had time nor motive to give up her heart to Ryan. But most of all, hadn’t we been so awfully stubborn, we would have saved each other a lot of hurt.
So now we fight. Because this is not going to end, not if we can help it. However, it’s going to need a lot of work, and it gotta start from our mutual efforts. She did part of the job, I suppose it’s my turn now.
Taking a deep breath, I squeezed her hands in mine, pulling her into me. Good thing work hours were mostly done, in ten minutes everybody would leave. “The truth is, I have nightmares.” I admitted. “Heavy nightmares. The ... aggressive, violent type of nightmares.” I sighed, leaving my forehead against hers, her hand against my heart. Aside from my therapist, she’s the first one to hear all this. “I didn’t wanna risk hurting you ... I didn’t wanna risk waking up to you hurt because of me. I just ... I thought it was the best choice, to get up before falling asleep. I didn’t consider it would hurt you so bad.”
There, I said it.
Silvia gaped at me, taken off guard. She seemed to be barely breathing. Or maybe that was me. I could barely breathe, because I knew the time had to come. To tell her everything.