I spent the entire night rolling around in my bed, my mind filled with too many thoughts to be able to relax enough to get some sleep. Their faces kept flashing in my mind. When I finally managed to slip into the world of unconsciousness, dreams and memories plagued me.
So maybe it wasn’t such a surprise that I was up at 5 in the morning, sketching a portrait I had been yearning to for ages now. I hadn’t allowed myself to think of my past life for these past few years in the pretense of growth but now that I had come face to face with my old fears, I knew I couldn’t just ignore the matter at hand. Life would just be so much easier if I could. The sketch I was making was of a breathless girl, leant back against a guy’s bare chest with his lips pressed against her neck and another pressed against her front, lips inches away from devouring hers. It was something that had refused to be forgotten, something that had been imprinted in my memory so clearly that even after 4 years, I still remembered the overwhelming emotions that had rushed through me by the sensation of their lips on me. It also reminded me that had I never crossed that boundary with them, I could still have been tucked in their arms every night and could have still maintained the beautiful friendship we had formed.
My lips quirked into an unconscious smile as I remembered Hunter’s awkward sense of humor and Hayden’s crude sexual remarks. With that, came a thousand more memories until I felt dizzy with the thought of them.
It made me realize that I had never truly gotten over them.
Elias’s words returned to the forefront of my mind. “Are you really going to tell your father you can’t do it? That you gave up because you couldn’t handle your past?”
I glanced at the clock and realized it was time for me to meet the devils again.
“So you decided to come anyway,” Hayden drawled, his lanky form leant against the door lazily as he peered down at me. “Realized you couldn’t stay away?” he asked cockily, even sporting a smirk on his face. He looked better than yesterday; his black eye had almost faded and his eyes gleamed brighter than they had.
“You can thank Elias for that,” I answered airily, hiding a smile when his lips pulled down into a scowl.
“And where exactly is the boyfriend?” he pressed, eyes scouring behind me almost victoriously when he didn’t find Elias.
“Sorting a few things out with my father,” I responded, moving past him into the penthouse. “He should be here shortly.”
“And how’s that going? Living with the man who never even bothered to check on his daughter?” he hounded, pulling the door shut and stalking towards me with big, hungry eyes. I seated myself on one of the cardboard boxes and took out a few sheets of paper holding my designs before turning to face him again.
“Frankly, Mr. Henderson, my personal life is none of your business. I would like to get started. Will your brother be joining us?”
His teeth gritted together at my formal tone and he shook his head mutely, causing a few locks of hair to fall onto his forehead. His hair had grown again, I noted. I wondered where Hunter was.
“Alright then. Is there anything in particular you want to add to the layout before I give my team the go signal to start with the furniture?”
He nodded but when I looked at him curiously, said nothing. Realizing that I was waiting for an actual answer, he sighed before standing up. Motioning for me to follow him, he rested a hand on the small of my back causing me to jerk in surprise as he led me out to the balcony. A 2 meter pool faced the sprawling city outside, leaving an empty space to the side where I could visualize sunbeds along with a towel stand.
“I want a bar there,” he said, gesturing towards the wall that was nearest the pool. “And this pool turned into a jacuzzi with those cool changing lights.”
A soft laugh escaped me before I could stop myself. “You certainly haven’t changed, have you? Let me guess. You’ll probably have the bar equipped with more food than drinks.”
He cracked a grin, the action of him slinging an arm around my waist going unnoticed by me. “You remember.”
I scoffed. “It’s only been 4 years—what else would you like to add?” After a moment’s pause, I added, “sir.”
His grin faded and I wanted to smack myself but refrained. Without thinking too much into it, I returned to the hall of the penthouse where I caught sight of a disheveled Hunter placing a box of...doughnuts?
He caught sight of me and froze. A second trickled by and then two before a wide grin split his face and he engulfed me in a tight bear hug.
“What are you—” I cut myself off as I wheezed, face pressed into his shoulder. “Hunt—Mr.Henderson, let go!”
He ignored my words and continued to embrace me, sighing as if that was all he had wanted to do.
“So he gets a hug but I get rejection?” A pissed off Hayden asked, wrenching Hunter away from me. He pulled me into his own arms and buried his face in my hair. I hadn’t even realized that he had untied it. “I’m not complaining but I think I prefer you with dark hair.”
I pushed him away firmly, gathering up my hair in a bun again when I realized that my rubber band was no longer there. Hayden flashed me an innocent smile. Scowling, I returned back to my seat, grabbing a few sketches that I had made.
“Look and tell me if you want to change anything,” I commanded, thrusting the plans of their room respectively in their hands. Hunter’s fingers brushed against mine and the contact sent thrills up my spine. I had designed the rooms according to their tastes as I knew them and if anything had changed in the last 4 years then now would be the time I would find out.
Hunter’s room consisted of a fully-shelved wall with space for a TV in the middle and all those posters he liked to put up as well as all his gaming equipment. Opposite to that would be a large king-sized bed with two bedside tables on each side and a computer table with an armchair. Beside the wall with the bed was the ceiling-to-floor glass windows offering him a splendid view from the height he was at. And the remaining wall would hold his walk-in closet and en-suite bathroom.
Hayden’s was a little more complicated. You wouldn’t expect him to with one look but Hayden liked to read and he loved the feeling of a library, I knew from personal experience. So to suit his tastes, I had designed a two floor room with the first floor comprising of his bed, TV, walk-in closet, en-suite bathroom and work area while the top floor was modified into a mini library where the ceiling to floor glass wall stretched out and the other two walls were stacked with shelves containing books. Connecting the two floors was an open spiral staircase. I had drawn beanbags strewn over the top floor and even added a fireplace as an afterthought.
“Wow. I don’t think we could have imagined any better,” Hunter said, jaw agape and his expression flabbergasted. I hid a smile. “This is perfect, Katerina.”
I didn’t bother to correct him about my name.
“Good. Now if that’s settled, then I’ll get started with the furnishings. You’ll probably be able to move in by the end of next week at most.”
“Well, I got you something,” Hunter started just as the door swung open, revealing Elias and the furnishing team.
“Hey,” Elias greeted, ruffling my hair playfully as he appeared by my side. “Everything go okay?”
“Yep. It’s finalized. These are the plans,” I yipped, handing him the plans. He briefly looked it over before passing it to the team.
“You really weren’t kidding when you said you knew them,” he joked before his eyes flickered to the twins who I had honestly forgotten were still standing beside me.
“Oh, sorry, you were saying?” I asked Hunter as I turned back to him only to watch him turn his back on me and storm away.
“Well, that wasn’t very nice, KitKat,” Hayden chided, winding an arm around my waist to pull me to his side. “See, he got you doughnuts. Your favorite ones.”
My eyes widened and I immediately lunged towards it, forgetting who I was and where I was at the moment. But Hayden’s arm pulled me back and he grinned diabolically.
“Tsk. Not so soon, little one. I need you to do something for me first.”
“You didn’t buy them,” I pointed out, crossing my arms across my chest.
He shrugged. “Hunter won’t have a problem with what I’ll ask of you.”
“I’m not sleeping with you.”
His eyes widened comically and he dramatically placed a hand over his chest. “What do you think of me, woman?” But then he paused, “you know, now that you mention it...”
I rolled my eyes and smacked the back of his head lightly, smiling fondly when he wailed like a big baby.
Elias had busied himself with rechecking everything and making sure the team was doing the work okay in the upper hallway and also effectively leaving me down here with only Hayden for company.
“Ask me what I want,” he prompted, eyebrows wiggling. I stared at him suspiciously for a minute before giving in.
“Fine. What do you want?”
“Have coffee with us tomorrow.”
I blinked. “That’s it?”
“Where we don’t pretend to be strangers and go back to how we were,” he added slowly, testing the waters, I realized.
Can I afford to go back? With them?
If I did, then to them, it would be the first step towards forgiveness and I knew they wouldn’t stop hounding me. And if I did, then all the growth I had developed over the years would be for nothing and I would be back to square 1.
“I’ll buy myself a doughnut some other time,” I decided, swallowing hard when his face fell. I quickly turned away to busy myself in work and came face to face with the devil’s brother.
“Why not?” he asked hotly, hands grabbing my arms. “We made a mistake and we are trying to make up for it, why won’t you let us!?” His hair was disheveled like he had run his hands through it multiple times and his eyes burned with a feral gleam. It made me realize how much they really had changed.
“Because I don’t owe you my forgiveness,” I responded as amicably as I could, prising his fingers from my skin. “Maybe you should consider the fact that I’m not ready to forgive you or let you in my life again.”
“10 years of friendship,” Hayden spoke so quietly behind me that his voice was barely a whisper. “Are we really going to throw it all away?”
A humorless, melancholy smile tugged at my lips. “Maybe that was the problem. I should have never crossed that line with you the other day. Maybe then your words wouldn’t have hurt as much.”
“We didn’t mean them,” Hunter’s voice pulled my attention back to him. “We didn’t mean any of it. I have spent the past four years in agony at what I had done. Please let me make it up to you.”
His pleading voice pulled at my heartstrings and I realized never had I seen both of them so vulnerable. Hayden’s fingers ghosted over the side of my neck, making me shiver as his voice came to whisper in my ear.
“I love you.”