She stared off listening intently to his words as he spoke. The shock of them weighing heavily on her lungs. It was like he was suffocating her. Not once did he take a break to see how he was affecting her. It was almost too much for her to take. She never expected something like this. She never thought it was possible. She never knew something so simple could be so heartbreaking.
“I’m getting married.” was all he had said, but in that moment she felt like her world had come crashing down. Waves upon waves of feeling she hadn’t even known existed washing over her one after the other pulling her down into its depth. She wanted to be happy for him, but how could she when all she wanted to do was cry. So much time wasted on a friendship that would amount to nothing. That would only end up meaningless.
It was an egregious occurence how much disgust filled her as she watched the two of them kiss. She wanted to interrogate. She wanted to viciously rip them apart and demand him as hers. Would raking her perfectly manicured hands down the porcelain dolls face mutilate more than the imposter sitting next to what was hers.
She tapped her nails against the marble table glaring them both down as they awaited her response. Taking her time to imagine the pretty brunette with honey pool eyes covered in deep claw marks each one spilling blood she smiled evilly. Quickly rubbing her lips together she stuck her tongue out to quickly lick them, tasting the blueberry flavoring of her favorite lip gloss she pasted on the fakest smile she could.
“That’s great.” she breathed trying to remain calm. Attacking the soon to be bride wouldn’t be good for business. “I’m guessing you’re here because you want me to plan it?” she asked hoping she was wrong. He used to be a monster, but even he wouldn’t go that far.
“Well Sweet Tart, you are the best in the business.” a smirk of his own was plastered on his face. Did he really think he’d won? Would he really allow his competitiveness to break this girl’s heart? She was only supposed to be another meaningless encounter. Things were not supposed to have gotten this far.
“Great. Let’s set up a date where we can start.” she smiled trying to remember to be professional and act as if she was addressing them both. “If this hadn’t been so last minute, I would’ve invited you two out to celebrate with us.″ Just as she spoke, he walked in.
A six foot five, dark chocolate, chiseled jaw god with sharp grey eyes and long flowing hair. He was the epitome of a girls’ wet dream come to life. Strong arms capable of lifting up just right to slowly side his well endowed shaft into your wet, awaiting canal. Well defined abs and strong pecs to lick the chocolate syrup off of. A voice so deep, rough and masculine that when he told you to shut up and bend over you did it with no questions asked. He was everything the man in front of her hated. He was also his best-friend. He was her boyfriend and he definitely was the final play putting her back in the winning seat.
With everything that Atticus Azaire was, it still wasn’t enough. Not when the other half of her heart still belongs to Dante Calisto.
If Atticus was her sexy dark chocolate, Dante was her mouth-watering caramel. The only difference between the two physically was their color.
“Well well well look what the devil blew in.” spoke Atticus, his tone filled with accusation as he stared between his girlfriend and his former best-friend. He never liked the relationship the two of them shared, but it wasn’t like he had any proof to do something about it. “Dante Calisto, in the flesh.” he smiled, white teeth nearly blinding.
“If it isn’t the fallen angel himself, Atticus Azaire. What’s up buddy?” The two shared an embrace even though either didn’t really wanted to, but presentation was everything. They knew she didn’t know what had truly gone down between them over her. The blows shared between them damaged perfect faces, but for her they would pretend everything was okay.
“Hey Spice. Why didn’t you tell the asshole was back in town?” he chided, coming over to kiss her on the cheek.
“The dickwad just showed up. No warning.” she tried to laugh to cover up the grimace trying to take over her features. “He showed up to ask me to plan his wedding. One that will take place in a couple of months.” The amount of anger and jealousy in her tone was easily picked up by the two guys. They knew her well.
“Damn Dante, that’s low even for you.” he spat, not bothering to try to hide his annoyance with the situation.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her.” he growled.
“Yeah because popping back in after years of disappearing, just to announce you’re getting married with no warning nor an invite. Yeah, that wouldn’t hurt her at all. She wouldn’t feel like you were stabbing her in the back. As if that wasn’t enough, you decided to twist it and ask her to plan it.”
“Atticus I think you’re overreacting.”
“If you had half the brain you think you have, Dante, you’d see I’m not. As always though, you never think.” he spat getting in his face. “How the fuck did you think she was going to act? One disagreement and you disappear. Now you come back asking her to plan your wedding like nothing ever happened. I never understood this competition the two of you have, but this… this is sickening. This isn’t how you win.” There was a pregnant pause as he tried to calm himself down. “The one part you aren’t seeming to comprehend, my friend, the fact that your bride to be is sitting there confused confirms one thing for her. You never even thought nor talked about us once while you were gone. Now if you will, get the fuck out so I can take my lady to dinner.” he fixed the jacket of his suit before turning his back on him and facing her. “You ready?”
She only nodded as she stood waiting for them to leave. The tension was building and she hated it.
“Sweet-Tart, Melanie, I never meant to hurt you.” with that he left. This wasn’t the reunion she’d hope for, but it was better than the one she thought she was going to get.
… … …
Melody waited until they had been driving for a moment before she spoke. This was not what she had signed up for.
“What the hell have you gotten me into Dante?” she snapped her tone an octave higher than usual. He glanced at her for a moment before continuing to ignore her. She had agreed to this, he hadn’t forced her to do a thing. “Motherfucker I know you heard me.” she seethed.
“Shut up.” he growled.
“Dante no. You only said that you needed help proving that a former friend had feelings for you. You said that you wanted to make her jealous. What I just witnessed was something else? What the fuck did I just agree too?” she ranted resisting the urge to hit him. She didn’t know if he was the type to swing back, but his height alone was enough to make her not want to take that chance.
“Shut the hell up Melody. You’ll still get your money. To make it sweeter, I’ll even add a few more zeros to the end and let you keep the engagement ring. I wonder how much a gold plated, ruby encrusted band with a 14 carat diamond stone sitting in the middle would run for?” he laughed as she narrowed her eyes at him. He knew she needed the money, but she still had her morals. He’d never understand what it was like to need the money, but he’d learn over time that someone desperate enough would do anything for it.
“I know you Dante, you wouldn’t sweeten the deal for nothing. What do you want?” her suspicions were justified and it only made him laugh harder. His plan was developing faster than he could manage it all. A truly tantalizing plan so deliciously conniving he found himself salivating at the thought. He was going to expose the one thing his best-friend never wanted anyone to know, even if it meant outing himself. All this time he’d been the dirty little secret.
“Call your brother. I need him for this to really work.”
“What are you thinking of doing Calisto?” she snapped, not liking how confused she was.
“Nothing, I’m just going to add a bit of seduction to the plan.” he laughed knowing that she still didn’t get it.
“I don’t think Melanie can be seduced and definitely not by my brother. Clearly, from looking at the two of you, she has a type.” he laughed again ignoring what she was implying.
“I won’t dignify that with a response, but clearly you’re missing my point. I don’t want Melanie seduced. Your brother is for Atticus.”
While Dante was busy planning the demise of his former best-friend, the pair he sought to destroy had finally sat down to enjoy a late night dinner. Well enjoy is a bit of a strong word compared to how the evening was really going. Although the tension was thick like a milkshake that can’t be drunk with a straw, the confusion was worse than anything frozen solid. It was nearly impenetrable and the only way to begin to thaw it out was to ask the questions neither one really wanted to ask.
It’s true what they say, eventually what’s done in the dark will come to the light; and secrets are meant to be spilled.
“Spice, what’s wrong?” sighed Atticus refusing to let his irritation get the better of him. He just wanted to enjoy his medium rare steak, garlic butter roasted asparagus with cheesy scalloped potatoes. His meal would have paired nicely with a sultry red wine, but the unexpected encounter from Dante had him craving a whiskey sour more than usual.
He was on his fourth and getting ready to order a fifth.
“Are you looking for a more specific answer besides how much you’re drinking right now?” she spat at him, unable to contain what she was feeling. Something was off about that moment in her office, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was exactly.
“Don’t start Mel. As I repeatedly tell you, one night of drinking every few months or so is not a problem. Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ve earned this one.” This was it, the opening she’d been waiting for. She hadn’t expected it to come so easily, but she wasn’t going to miss the chance to call him out on it.
“Speaking of, what was that back there? I thought you said the two of you left on good terms.” she inquisted.
“Good terms or not Spice, he left for four years and suddenly he pops back up engaged and with no warning at all. Not even a hello. So excuse me for needing a drink or five. I thought we were closer than that.”
“Atticus, calm down for a second. I’m not attacking you here, I’m genuinely curious. What happened four years ago?” there it was. The question to bring back all the memories he’d tried so hard to keep buried. The stolen kisses. The sneaky caresses. The late nights he hoped she never found out about. It wasn’t something that he wanted to tell her, not because he was ashamed; he just didn’t want her feeling left out. How do you explain to your girlfriend of eight years that at some point you fell for your mutual best-friend?
“The only thing that happened four years ago is that I lost my best-friend. The same way he didn’t bother to say hello, he never bothered to say good-bye either.” she slumped, not getting the kind of answer she wanted, but didn’t want to stress it any further. Whatever happened between them couldn’t be as bad as him kissing her. How was she going to explain to her boyfriend of eight years that four years ago his best-friend kissed her and now she wanted to experience something more? It was an impossible situation with an impossible solution.
Without another word she went back to her barely eaten baked spicy tilapia, slow roasted potatoes and broccoli with cheese. Tonight would just be one of those nights where they barely talked at dinner again. It was quickly becoming the new normal.
Throughout the rest of dinner, there were a few things Atticus just couldn’t shake off. He knew there was a bigger picture here that he was missing and it was bothering him something fierce. His stomach felt like it was in knots as he struggled bite after bite to finish his meal. Dessert was damn near impossible to complete, but he had to put on a brave face. He didn’t need the one woman he loved from the depth of his soul to start asking questions, but he couldn’t just get over all that had happened.
He may not be able to admit it aloud,but he knew Melanie was right. If Dante was back he had his reasonings. Dante liked his games. Loved to see his pawns stirring. Atticus knew it was only one thing he could do, but he was tempted not to. Doing it just felt like another excuse. He knew he would get no real answer from interrogating his former best-friend. He knew that wasn’t all they were.
Still, he had to go see him. He had to get some kind of answers to the questions plaguing his mind.
Why was he back? Who was the girl clinging on to him? When did they meet? How did they meet? How come he never called or even attempted to accept the chances to make amends? Why did he ignore all of his pleas to see him just one more time? Atticus was a big man and had big feelings to match, but when Dante had said those words to him, he just couldn’t bring himself to respond. Too many feelings had risen to the top and he was unable to grasp a hold of either of them.
He regretted not answering Dante when he had the chance, but he couldn’t lie to himself thinking that he knew what he would’ve said. He once believed that he’d know the right words to say whenever Dante came back and they’d pick up like their break never happened, but clearly he had been wrong. As much as Atticus knew about Dante, he could say for certain that the man he had seen was no longer the man he once knew.
“I’m sorry.” sighed Melanie speaking for the first time in what felt like forever. They’d spent the rest of dinner in silence and the drive home wasn’t any different. A part of him did wonder what the issue was, but a much bigger part just wanted to get the night over with. He was sure she wanted the same, but as soon as he parked in the driveway and turned the car off he was proven wrong. “Atticus really. I am sorry. Dante just popping up and you two arguing like that threw me off. I felt so out of the loop and I don’t know why.”
“You got feelings for him Mel.” he sighed as tears came to her eyes. It was a truth neither wanted to admit aloud, but it had been spoken.
“I-I...Atticus-” she stuttered trying to find the right words to say. He just laughed sadly to himself as he grabbed her kissing the back of it.
“It’s okay Spice, I’ve always noticed. I never said anything because I wasn’t sure if you knew it yourself. The way we all were back then, I’d be surprised if you didn’t. It’s okay to love him. You don’t have to protect me and my feelings.” she was shocked to see that he really meant what he was saying.
“I love you more though Atticus. You are every bit of my dream guy and more.”
“I never doubted that Spice. Never.” They found themselves in a comfortable silence just staring into each other’s eyes. There was so much more that needed to be talked about, but they preferred to just enjoy their moment. That was until it was ruined by someone pounding on the car window.
“Get out of the car. We need to talk.” he grunted angrily. Atticus groaned. He should’ve known that Dante hadn’t changed that much.