* Sunday Night *
Remy took down the cameras inside of Astrid’s home Saturday, hating himself for going to such lengths. It pissed him off knowing she was with another man. That someone else touched her soft skin and kissed her bow lips. Making her smile, laugh, and orgasm. He royally screwed up by testing her limits. Why? Astrid came back to him a second time, only to do the exact thing that made her leave in the first place.
He was his own worse enemy.
Sunday night he stood across the street from her house, hidden under a neighboring elm tree. Astrid and Calder had arrived twenty minutes ago. The ache of loneliness grew fiercer the longer he went without hearing her honeyed voice. She had to realize Calder was a fraud after spending time with his family. He watched her frown when she exited Calder’s car. A sign the overnight trip hadn’t gone well, perhaps?
He sighed, rubbing his eyes. Why was he still spying on her? It wasn’t as if his behavior would miraculously make her want him again. Especially since she learned of his stalking tendencies.
He wanted to see her up close. Talk to her. For her to have faith in him once more. Remy was the man for her, whether she admitted it or not. Calder couldn’t possibly love someone who didn’t come from money. How long would that asshole keep leading her on? How long would Astrid pretend she didn’t miss him?
He heard shouting from inside Astrid’s, and a slight smile found its way onto his face. Lovers’ quarrel? His grin widened when Calder stormed out of the house. He looked towards the front door, seeing Astrid standing there with her arms folded across her bust. From his spot in the shadows, he couldn’t make out their soft back-and-forth hisses. She appeared anxious, and he seemed put out. Remy hoped they didn’t patch things up tonight or ever.
Then Calder exclaimed, “You need to stop doubting and listen to your heart. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Yes! He was leaving, even though she was clearly troubled. He’d never leave her upset. The fact she ditched him every time she had a problem, another matter altogether. Remy waited until Calder drove away, and Astrid hurried back inside before walking to his car. He sat for half an hour before calling her cell, hoping she answered.
He shot up in his seat when Astrid tapped on his window. He quickly tried to end the call, but too late. Her jean cutoff shorts made a chirping noise, and she gave him a somber look, pulling the phone out.
“What are you doing?” she harshly asked, after he scrambled out of the vehicle, looking as if she didn’t trust him enough to even stand in the road.
“I… I miss you,” he murmured, running a hand through his hair, “Sorry. I probably scared you, huh?”
She shrugged as if not in the least affected, “I’m surprised you’re here. Did you just call me?”
“Yeah,” she caught him unprepared but wouldn’t lie, “I said I miss you.”
“You did.” she shoved her phone back inside her pocket, “Look, I’m taking a walk. Do you want to come with me?”
He grinned, “Sure.”
They went to the sidewalk, falling into step side by side. She surprised him by asking him to tag along but knew this was his one chance to make shit right between them. She seemed upset, distant with preoccupied thoughts. He let the silence linger until Astrid was ready to speak.
After a few blocks she finally glanced at him in a cute, shy manner, and he recalled how sweet she truly was. Remy wanted to kiss her pink lips. Hold her close until she realized he would do anything to regain her trust and affection.
“How have you been?” she looked away, “Working?”
“I’m on vacation,” he winked when she peered up at him with a frown, “So, no. Lots of free time to stew over my mistakes.”
She tentatively smiled, then stared at her feet, “Remy, will you ever stop haunting me?”
“Nope,” he quickly responded with a chuckle at her choice of words, “You’ll need an exorcism, baby.”
She sighed, “Why? We started out good and all, but you wouldn’t listen to me when you should have.”
“I know,” Remy’s voice dripped with remorse, and he stepped ahead of her so she’d see his serious expression, “Please forgive me, Astrid. I screwed up. Big time. I pushed you into doing shit because I was angry, and it’s no excuse, but I’ll make it up to you. I swear.”
They reached a neighborhood park with a darkened basketball court, picnic tables, a small swing set, and merry-go-round. Astrid waved to one of the metal benches near a tree and he stood while she sat on top.
“I’m with Calder now,” she softly stated, placing shaky hands on her knees, “We argued tonight.”
Remy straddled the bench, gazing at her bewitching features, wishing he didn’t have to hear about Calder, but she needed to unload. He would discuss the health care system at this point as long as those doe brown eyes stayed focused on him. “Okay?”
She took a deep breath, surveying him as if deciding something, “He thinks you’re dangerous and I spoke to Julia. She claimed you call yourself Mike and requested legal advice.”
That fucking whore! “Yes, I did all of that, but I’m not dangerous, baby. Do you really think I’d hurt you after all I’ve done to get you back?”
“Back to what?” she cried, digging rose painted nails into her flesh, “Why do you insist having me as your girlfriend? I asked Calder the same! I have no job, no life outside of you two. It’s pathetic.”
It pissed him off to hear her talk so low about herself. Since the day they met, her self-esteem issues never failed to rear its ugly head. After realizing he loved her and no longer viewed her as expendable, he tried to sway her into believing how beautiful and intelligent she was. Her grandparents treated her like shit on their heels, so she turned to guys for attention and it fucked with her confidence after years of neglect. Calder could never end the cycle of faithlessness she carried like a bag of rocks on her back because his world revolved around ivy league educations and wealth.
“Hey, you’re not defined by your job. I’d know. When I’m with you, all my previous trouble and shame disappear. I had a dream about what our life could be.”
She curiously tilted her head, “Tell me?”
He licked his lips, leaning an arm on the tabletop, resting his hand near her tense legs, “I save all my money, and it’s quite a bit. I’d throw you the fanciest wedding your heart desired and then knock you up. Have adorable brats with your sweet nature. God forbid they inherit my temperament. Sound nice?”
He smirked when she squeaked, “Um… am I supposed to answer that?”
“I never had a family and I believe you would treat our kids with kindness and patience and I’d let no one hurt you or them,” her eyes widened and when a small smile touched her lips added, “We’d start a business too. Live life how we want, without fear of rejection. Make our own rules, baby.”
Astrid regarded him how she used to before he broke her trust. Seeing tenderness in her expression once again made his heart thunder inside his chest. “Rejection?”
“From everyone or anything saying we can’t do things our way. I even imagine buying a big motor-home to travel the states in!” he chuckled, “When Calder came along I became angry. There’s room in hearts for more than one love, but you aren’t playing fair, running back and forth between us. Fuck, I can’t take back how I made you cry but didn’t expect you to rush into his arms because I wouldn’t explain my past.”
She sighed, “Remy, what happened to your ex-girlfriends really scared me. I mean, what am I to conclude from your sketchy behavior? You’re too rough during sex and Calder-”
“Wants me out of your life,” he sharply cut in, “He told you I killed them, right? So you’d suspect me and not give me a chance to defend myself.”
Astrid nodded, gazing over his shoulder while biting her lip. He struggled to calm down, so she’d keep communicating. Remy needed her to see how good they were together. Getting heated would only chase her away.
She took a deep breath then admitted, “I shouldn’t have assumed the worst, but for months you lied to me and you sleep with others while I’m expected to accept everything that falls out of your mouth. I waited every night for you to come around and you never once considered my feelings, wondering if you prefer your clients over me. Don’t bring up fairness, because I have you beat.”
He winced at the bitterness in her tone, “I fucked up, I get it.”
“Do you?” she demanded, “I love him… but I also miss our talks,” she blurted with a shy smile, “Calder and I don’t talk much. Not like we do.”
Remy just shrugged, providing her time to say more. She touched his hand, giving him chills. He silently begged through a look for Astrid to accept his apology. There wasn’t anything more important than making things right with her.
“I know you won’t move on,” she whispered, “And I tried to ignore you. Ignore the pull I feel when we’re together. I keep telling Calder you’ll never harm me. Sure, I got a little banged up during sex, but we were high. If you didn’t hurt those women…”
“I didn’t,” he snarled, curling his hands into fists, “I’ve spent years fearing for the safety of people in my life.”
“Then I can’t imagine the anxiety you’ve been through, and I only wish you would have told me before everything turned to shit.”
“It’s not something I go around announcing. I’m truly sorry for ever laying a finger on you, Astrid. It eats me up inside.”
She nodded and smiled so sweetly he couldn’t hold back the temptation to taste her. With their hands linked, he stood and kissed her lips chastely, relaxing when she didn’t panic or yell, fully prepared to take a kick to the dick if it meant she let bygones be bygones.
Remy pressed his mouth to hers again, remembering the many times they’d simply made out. Held each other as if nothing else mattered. He was an idiot for underestimating her. When he let up on the kiss, grinned as her eyes became wet with unshed tears. He faltered when she avoided his gaze. Had he pushed her too far again?
“What am I to do?” she moaned, clutching his shirt as if he had all the answers, “I’m crazy about Calder, but his lifestyle is so different. His future’s fixed, but his family’s horrible!”
“Shh,” Remy pulled her close, and she rested her cheek against his shoulder accepting comfort, “Sometimes love’s a waking dream. You’re immersed in a warm comforting cocoon, then when you rotate it’s a whole other universe and feelings get twisted. Like when you roll over in your sleep, hmm?”
Astrid giggled in response. He maneuvered between her parted legs, gently gripping her curvy waist. Remy never thought she’d be in his arms again and closed his eyes, savoring the moment, inhaling the scent of her hair which smelled of chlorine and cherries. He skated his palms up and down her back soothingly until she relaxed against his chest. Soon, his erection bulged uncomfortably the longer she remained in his embrace. Did this mean she forgave him? The sexual tension was palpable when she slid her small hands down to his belt.
She tilted her head, eyes half-mast, “I’m drawn to you. Relate to your unfortunate childhood. Calder will never understand us. Me… and how I can’t let you go.”
Remy grabbed her face, devouring her eager mouth until they needed to come up for air, silently throwing up a thankful prayer to whatever power above that made Astrid forgive his actions. “Don’t worry, baby. I’ll hold on for both of us. That’s a fucking promise.”