The Love Shack

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Chapter 10

As I helped Aaron inside to a leather armchair, my last words to Marissa bit my tongue, filling my mouth with the metallic aftertaste of regret. What had gotten into me? He slumped back while contending for power over his muggy jacket, and in an attempt to contain my irritation—which slowly but surely built its way up in my throat—I brought a hand to my forehead. This night wouldn’t end well.

He’d switched from fighting mode to some sort of standby mode that made everything around him appear as a potential threat; like me. After all, he’d left the gym on a loss, frustrated, unsatisfied. Thirsty for more blood, even though his barely crackled on his battered face.

“You can go, now,” he said with a dismissive wave, making me burn to leap at his throat and finish the job Grizzly had started.

Luckily, taking care of Isaac would be easy. He’d crashed in the vintage couch before we’d arrived, greeted by his legendary peep-like snoring.

“You’ve done enough. I’ll take it from here. Good night.”

Ignoring Aaron’s rudeness, I bent over and zoomed in on his face anyway to gauge the damages. I believed I could tend to most of his visible wounds, provided that he let me touch them. The scratches on his forehead and that swollen black eye would fade away in a few days, but I could bet that his no-more-turned-up nose was broken and that nasty cut in his right eyebrow needed stitches. Not to mention the few ribs on his left side that he kept pressuring through any movement. That would be an obstacle on the way to the Olympics.

“You should have a shower. Cold, preferably. Just rinse off the blood—whosever it is—and clean those cuts,” I advised casually, approaching a worried hand to his eyebrow, nonetheless. “I can’t see them clearly.”

He firmly gripped my wrist as his renegade eyes flashed a warning. I wouldn’t walk out of here unscathed if I stayed. That was a promise he didn’t need to speak. His fraught breathing hollered with menace. Oh, but he didn’t scare me the least. His eyes screamed, “Run!” when that industrial cozy loft cocoon he lived in whispered, “Stay.”

“Go home, Avery,” he ordered, and took a shot at getting up on his own. I not-so-inadvertently dropped the box of medical supplies on his feet, causing him to plop back down.

“What the—”

“Did you renovate this place yourself?” I asked, breathless.

My eyes amazedly darted between the faded brick walls, the wide factory windows, and the steel beams which ran along the high ceiling. One of them supported a rail and four vintage cinema spotlights, all riveted on us. Even my best fantasies couldn’t feature such a dreamy place.

“Yeah.”

His eyes shuffled about the room.

“How long have you lived here?”

“Fo—Five years.”

He sounded dubious, but I gave it no particular meaning. I was too worked up over those quintessential, tough-guy, straight-to-the-point answers to the crop of questions I’d carefully chosen. Like I said: Pulling up a fight was out of the question.

“How in the world can you afford this place?”

My feet sank into the cement floor as I indulged the fancy of trailing my fingers against the walls.

“I mean, no offense, but the second floor of a rare, historic building? In this area?”

He sneered, “You’d be surprised to hear how well coffee sells on campus,” and finally tore open the zipper of his jacket.

Yes, I would, actually. This apartment was a millionaire’s, not a coffee shop owner’s. Unless his family was stinking rich.

Talking about his business, this place was an exact replica—or maybe a more intimate extension—of his café; the reason why it always felt so authentically homey there. It was his home, partly.

The same wooden furniture—scarce and functional—reflected his sharp and pragmatic thinking, but it was balanced back at the shop with—Did he have a vegetation wall, here, too?

“But why live here if you have an apartment over the shop?”

“I did, when I opened it. Then, Isaac joined the team. He wanted independence from our parents when he turned eighteen; so, I moved out.”

He wiped the back of his hand over his bloody forehead and looked at it briefly before closing off. His mind drifted to a much darker place.

“Are you al—” He blinked back to the present.

“For the last time, go home!”

“Don’t be stupid. Where’s your bathroom?”

I offered him my arm for balance, which he stubbornly refused just as I thought he was opening up to me. Fight or no fight, that was my last straw.

“For goodness’ sake, Aaron!” I screamed and lowered my voice to an aggressive whisper as Isaac shifted in his crib. “Grab the damn arm and show me the way to your bathroom. I’m not going anywhere, whether you like it or not. Last I noticed, you can’t stand up on your own, and Isaac will be wheezing the night out!”

I paused, waiting for silence to work its magic. But it didn’t. Aaron rolled his fucking eyes at me.

“You want me to go? Fine! But I’ll be calling 911 before I see myself out!”

He didn’t reply.

“I understand that I’m probably the last person in this city you want to see right now. Breaking news: That’s how I feel, too. But,” I sighed, “I’m not here to get back at you. I honestly just gave my word to your daughter, and I’d very much appreciate you letting me keep it.”

“Why the fuck are you doing this?” The words scuffed up his throat as he voiced them.

“I care about Isaac. And he cares about you.”

Letting him put two and two together, I looked away. His unwavering gaze chased after mine in search of a breach.

“Just let me help you.”

When I thought he’d laugh in my face again and insult me out of here, Aaron ran one hand through the red streaks of his messy hair and slowly nodded to a rusty-metal barn door behind me. He held my hand all the way there; and for a shining moment, there were no grudges between us. No tension. No bitterness. No anger. He was just the guy I used to fuck in my dreams again.


I pulled the door open to his bedroom, a bric-a-brac wonderland, and I was instantly stricken by the full moon streaming its light against the clouds’ will and pushing through the arched window to die out on the pillows of his king-size bed. I bet the stars were brighter on his side of the street.

Most of his furniture and décor were baubles he’d saved and upcycled, from his pallet wood headboard to the nineteenth-century skis which acted as hangers. What a handyman.

I left him at the dearly-hoped-for green wall which separated the sleeping area from his modern walk-in shower.

“If you need anything, just—I’ll be here.”

He acquiesced with a nod and slowly disappeared behind the cascade of leafy plants and out-of-season snowdrops. The peaceful atmosphere of his room led me to a delicate wrought-iron-framed mirror, the only feminine touch in this man-of-the-woods cabin.

“Achoo.” I wiggled my nose.

Maybe it was my reflection that made me sick. That contemptuous disgust which drove my hand around my face in the shallow hope of fixing what could be fixed.

I knitted my disheveled hair into a loose side braid. No, I didn’t resemble my mother, like Natalie had said. My mom was just as beautiful as Colleen, if not more. A gracious Frenchwoman with delicate limbs and a face as pure as that of an angel. I’d never be like them, because I’d made sure to never have that chance after she left, and that decision gnawed at me now. For Aaron was only a few feet away, and I’d never felt as ugly and undesirable as right now.

“Achoo.” Or maybe it was just my soggy hoodie.

I’d almost put my hood back on for warmth when Aaron’s clothes came flying across the room to the laundry basket next to me, whooshing away all gloomy thoughts. His T-shirt. His sweatpants. Then his boxers.

“Why so glum, Vee?” He teased.

I was taken by a sudden wave of warmth that melted the ice in all the coldest places of my body, not only because of the proscribed nickname he’d just used. In a corner of the mirror, Aaron stood naked in his bathroom, his sultry eyes daring mine to succumb to the temptation of sliding downward. Nobody had ever done that in front of me. For real.

“What are you doing?” I mumbled, gulping.

His gaze descended to my belly, where my hand laid still. He’d just been watching me.

“Showing you what you missed the other night.”

Clearly, he’d misunderstood my meaning of “anything”, but a little eye candy couldn’t hurt.

His skin harbored heroic bruises of all sizes and colors. So much that it was impossible to tell bruise from tattoo, from his left shoulder down to his lower abs. His packed-perfect abs. Gosh, that body would be the death of me.

For the first time, the V-shape of his obliques that framed his navel with a few blond hairs had a converging point. A large, and long one that stuck out swinging and bragging as he backed into the shower.

“What, you don’t like it?”

He wasn’t embarrassed at all. Actually, his dimples dug deeper on each side of his overbold, winning smile as I flushed a whole ocean of wetness down my thighs at the sight of his majestic, Barberini Faun-like attributes.

“Not even close,” I lied.

Once the shower raged on, spurts of bloody water crashed against the shower glass, hiding his appetizing beast away. I wasn’t turned on; I was in heat. My clit bounced in and out of my lips and my heart flipped around my stomach. I pinched myself. This wasn’t one of my crazy dreams. It was real. I was at Aaron’s, in his bedroom, completely wet—every which way—while he rubbed himself clean in the shower.

I needed a release. Now. Before he was done showering. A quick, forbidden release. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye and patch his brow without flinching, and I’d have to leave—just like he wanted me to. Oh, Jerk. Fucking—but smart—jerk.

Family.

He was playing me again.

Family.

Or he liked me, too.

Family.

Impossible.

Family.

The only way to lift a festering cold is with the hottest medicine.

Just this once.

Keeping a hand on my belly, I plunged the other in my leggings and under the string of my underwear. It took me no time to coat my fingers with my flowing juices. They eagerly rubbed around my clit, drawing wide circles as I peeked at Aaron’s blurry body through the mirror.

It felt so good. So fucking good.

My breathing hardened and my emotions, or pleasure—I couldn’t dissociate one from the other any longer—spiraled up into a frenzy. Finally. The body I’d spent so many nights dreaming about. He was just like I’d picture him to be: Raw and animal. And his back…Shoot, I hadn’t seen his back.

So, I did what I did best: I closed my eyes, imagining the canyon of heavy muscles and bones which burst the banks of a straight, narrow river of nerves, down to his supposedly perfect wrestler’s ass, hollowed out on the sides of his brawny butt cheeks.

I was getting there. Fuck. I could feel them. The tickles in my belly. Warning me to ready myself for takeoff. Aaron would be done any second now, and the dangerous game I was playing was even more exciting than any filthy dream. It was risky.

I hastily slipped two fingers inside me, and pumped in and out, and in and out. I could feel the edge coming, now.

But I didn’t cum. When I opened my eyes to finish myself off with one last stolen glimpse at Aaron, I gasped. He wasn’t in the corner of the mirror anymore. The shower was empty.

He was there.

Right. Behind. Me.

Breathing down my neck.

Staring at me.

My whole body petrified, and my eyes shut closed as he inhaled the lingering smell of my guilty pussy. His naked, dripping curves threateningly contoured mine in the mirror, and when he took a step closer, my clothes sucked up his rain like I swallowed my blatant demise. Hard.

I was about to pull my hand out when he said, “What are you doing?” his voice threatening. It kept me edging and the temperature rising within.

“Don’t stop for me. I wouldn’t dream of being the one who prevented you from a win, tonight. Would I?”

Fuming, I skinned my hoodie off my shoulders and, this time, shoved both hands inside my panties, causing his cock to buckle hard against my ass as he bit my ear.

“I’m not in my best shape tonight for anything wild, but…would you like me to give you a hand, Vee?”

I nodded.

In one slight push of his hand, he bent me forward on his dresser, slowly rubbing his cock against my slit. With two fingers, I parted my lips while the other hand shook my clit to euphoria. My all-time favorite orgasm dispenser.

“What do you say?”

“Shit,” I whined.

For all it took him to chuck me off the edge was the brush of his hand up and down my braless spine.

Wave after wave of pure extasy pulsed out of me, and I savored each and every one of them, moaning and kicking, until I was drained out, cold cheek against the wood. Aaron’s hand leaped off me, as though remembering its doleful punishment for touching me last time.

I eventually gathered my senses, and time came to face my sentence. Like a red-handed criminal, I hesitantly spun on my heels to face him and discovered that his hand had only deserted me so brutally to kindly prevent the result of his eruption on my back. He’d had the decency to throw his towel between us right on time.

What was he going to do to me? I had no idea. He was an injured, encaged lion. Excited. Ready to pounce. Unpredictable. It made me shake to the bone. Part of me wanted him to fuck me right here, right now. The other had left the premises the second I’d decided to touch myself in his bedroom.

“Aaron,”

“Let’s say this was my gift to you.” He tilted my head to meet his eyes. “For all the times your dreams led you to my bed.”

I gulped, trying to prevent my heart from leaping out of my throat. I wasn’t really in the mood anymore.

“Your shoulder,” I widened my eyes at the swollen bone. It was out of place, and by the looks of it, it had to be pulled back into its socket. Fast.

“And when they do again, think of my hand on your back.”

That explained why he did everything with one hand tonight.

“Does it hurt?”

He shook his head, “Not as much as the rest,” and smirked as we both peeked at his capricious member. His hand then tugged on the hem of my top, giving in to his body’s cries, and pulled it up a little, just enough for me to jerk back into the dresser, head spinning. His hand fled to his side. Fuck. I was back at the sauna all over again.

“You’re scared of me.” He frowned.

“No.”

“But you’re shivering.”

For a moment, I thought I’d pass out, too.

“I’m just cold.”

He clucked his tongue, sensing somehow that I was lying, and covered the inch of skin he’d seen without further ado.

As fast as he pulled the drawer open behind me, something broke in his eyes, like I’d just stolen the cherry from the top of his cake. It sent me crashing into his chest, and a deep, ethereal sensation sparkled through me when I impulsively pressed myself against the soft valley of skin between his pectorals. He was tailored to my hand.

“There,” he said, disappointment smearing his voice, “Take anything you want.”

In a snap of my fingers, his face contorted as though he was fighting off the need to seclude himself from the world. From me. It pained me, after the major effort I’d made to make him trust me, but I couldn’t just give him what he wanted.

It became clear now that he was my deal breaker. Your belly’s weak. His demeaning voice haunted me every time somebody touched my belly. Neither could I forget that he had a girlfriend whose picture was—strangely—nowhere to be found. It just wasn’t me. I wasn’t one to meddle, and I wouldn’t change for anybody. Not even for sex. Period.

“Aaron, I think we should ta—”

“Don’t even start.”

After letting me roll the towel around his waist, just to make sure I wouldn’t have any remorse, he cracked a slight, unusually genuine smile, “I’ll give you some privacy to change,” and started back to the living room, holding his ribs.

“By the way,” he turned around to nod at my belly. “I get it.”

What the fuck was that supposed to mean? We were so having the talk tonight.


By the time I joined him in his living room, wearing one of his alluringly comfortable hoodies and sweatpants, Aaron was patiently sitting in his armchair and sipping on a bottle of rum—which I confiscated, pronto.

Not that I didn’t want him to drown his sexual frustration in booze. I snatched it to silence my own fucked-up mind. Either I was having a sip now or I’d be raiding the fridge at home and put it on his account.

As though no words were needed to communicate our embarrassment, we both took a drink at each new cotton ball and bruise, probably hoping to forget what had just happened, to fool ourselves into fulfilling promises, or perhaps just to make the utter silence between us more livable. Until the booze started speaking for us.

“That used to complete Elena’s pretty well,” I said, nostalgic, as I hopped at Isaac’s off-tune performance.

“That’s how I know he’s alright.” Aaron’s voice was hoarse.

“You two have a weird relationship. You keep that perfect façade at the shop, but outside, it’s just hard to believe you like each other. Especially on the mat.”

I winced at him and aimed the spray at his brow.

“I don’t have siblings, but it’s obvious that it’s not a…healthy relationship.” Aaron’s head sank into his shoulders as the antiseptic spread all over his face, taking in the pain of the general stinging.

Enthralled at how I stuck my tongue out in the laborious process of collaging his Red Sea closed as one with fucking tiny straps, Big James found himself inclined to share more than I’d ever wished for.

“There are things we don’t talk about—we can’t, we’re too different—especially when there’s too many emotions involved. But that’s just who we are in the family. We feel.”

Man, I could only relate to that. I turned his face softly into the light, generously granted by a garland on the wall, and checked his puffy eye, but his lips had another agenda. They hovered too close to mine.

“Deeply.”

“You need ice,” I pointed.

He didn’t flinch.

“That’s why our parents signed us up at the wrestling club when we were kids. So, whatever problem we need to resolve, we take it to the mat. Even if, sometimes, it’s just not enough.”

I backed away, faking surprise, and gave him the bottle for a well-deserved liquid reward. It also gave me enough space and time to process the fact that he’d just tried to drunk-kiss me. It took longer than expected.

“So, that’s why you lashed out on the Edmonton grizzly bear, back there?”

He huffed, “You know him.”

“No, I don’t he—”

“Of course, you know Sasha. You’re from Edmonton, too, like El—”

“I don’t know him, and Edmonton’s a big city.”

“But you know who I’m referring to. You talked to him.” He said, implying that he’d seen us.

“What did he want?”

I stood up, “He tried to make conversation with me, that’s all.”

“Conversation my ass,” I heard him mumble, but I didn’t say a thing. It was hard enough for me to open up to the idea that a man could be protective of me. It had simply never happened before.

Besides, if there was one thing not to tell Aaron James tonight, it was definitely that his Sasha-Grizzly-Bear-Edmonton foe had creeped me out with his dangerous eyes.

“Do you have any packed ice around here?”

His modern kitchen was so clean that one could literally eat from the countertop. The only funny part was its island, entirely made of empty protein powder containers. Either he only cooked at the shop or he only fed on protein shakes. And judging by his muscles, the latter was more likely.

“Yeah, freezer’s on the left.”

I tried to open it, but the door wouldn’t come off. What the hell? It took me a long moment to suss out that he was left-handed.

“What’s the deal with those guys, anyway?” I asked, two packs of ice in hand, and sipped on some more rum. Suddenly, his hands rolled into fists.

“Old competition.”

“Really? So, you keep an entire box of bandages and antiseptic hidden in Billy’s office just in case the competition’s…fierce?”

Avery, one point. Aaron, zero.

He snatched the ice from my hand and brought it to his left eye in a cute childish sulk, making me think that, if only he apologized, we’d probably get on well. As friends.

That was why I guzzled the rest of the bottle. We were having it now.

The talk.

“So, um, can we talk about what happened last week—”

“There’s nothing to talk about.” He cut off, avoiding my demanding eyes.

“Maybe you don’t have anything to say, but I do.”

I picked up a tube of arnica and applied a good dose on his mutilated knuckles.

“Isaac stopped by on Friday. He said you liked to test people before letting them into your life. Why testing me, then, if you know me so well?”

He drew his hand out of mine. “I’m not going down that road.”

“You certainly have a habit of pushing people away, even those who mean you no harm.”

I tightened my grasp around it and wrapped it with the worst bandage I could find in the box: A red one with giant candy-canes all over. That would teach him a lesson.

“My name. The weights I can pull. My…dreams. Aaron, you know more than most people around me. Elena doesn’t even—”

“I don’t know you that well, okay? I just guessed the weights—quite good, by the way—but come on, I didn’t even know you lived across the street.” He sounded like somebody who needed to convince himself more than me, but I left that weird feeling aside, figuring it didn’t really matter that he did or didn’t know.

“Lie down on the floor, please. We’re almost done.”

Aaron complied hesitantly. He could see that I knew what I was doing, but his Adam’s apple bobbed down in distress. Sitting next to him, I placed my feet against his torso for leverage and both hands firmly around his wrist as I lifted his arm to me at a ninety-degree angle.

“My name?” I asked, pulling slightly. He turned his head to me in an instant, pupils invading their decorative blue ring, and bit on his lower lip.

“You’re my brother’s friend, Avery. Chill.” A crack followed his answer. He went on, “And the dreams—Ugh, shit!” His humerus slid back under his shoulder blade and into its socket.

“I know. That was my fault,” I conceded, and helped him back up.

For once, Aaron seemed lost as I scoured the room for a sling, or anything that could be used as such.

“Where did you learn to do all that?” he asked, wincing.

I set my eyes on my damp but elastic pair of leggings on the table. That would do the trick.

“Horses.”

With precaution, I slid his right arm in one leg under his quizzical eyes.

“What, do you do that on horses or...”

“Let’s say you just pick up a thing or two when you grow up surrounded by fearless bull riders.”

“You’re a bull rider?” His eyes widened.

I pulled on the other leg and firmly laced it around his torso and opposite shoulder, letting my frustration run through my hands.

“Barrel racing! Why all those questions? Fuck! Stop acting like you’re interested in me when all you’re trying to do is avoid having the talk!” I stiffened on my feet, letting all my anger out. I had nothing to lose.

“Why did you test me, Aaron? I don’t get it! Tell me!”

“Because that’s who I am, okay? You’re the one who started playing with my bottle. You brought up my office. Oh, and my forearm which—”

At each bullet point of his list, he took a step closer, using his sanguine eyes as an intimidation tool. At that moment, I had no idea that waiting for him to crawl under the pressure of a heavy silence would earn me my apology. But I cracked first.

“Okay, I get it! I’m sorry, Aaron!” I cried. “I shouldn’t have played with your nerves. But guess what?” I marched up to him, gnashing my teeth.

“You got what you deserved.”

Unexpected tears welled up in my eyes and my hands started to shake. I had no idea of the amount of stress I’d put myself under with that fucking thesis. And his despising expression told another story. He wouldn’t apologize. Ever. My cheeks suddenly felt cold and damp, and the sleeve of his hoodie confirmed my suspicions.

“Because you’re the reason I won’t graduate.” I turned around to dry more tears, finally understanding and processing the heart-wrenching news: I wouldn’t graduate. After five years.

“What was I supposed to do, huh? You wouldn’t have let me film anyway. Three filmmakers, for God’s sake. I’m not a fool, I knew I wouldn’t have lasted a day! Why won’t you let me sh—”

“Because,” he said, plainly.

“Because what? Your multidimensional ego can’t take the turn down on your adulterous sex offer back in your office? Or tonight?”

He frowned, puzzled, “Adulterous?” and raised his voice, “Are you for real? Do you think this has anything to do with sex? Sorry to break it to you, Avery, but sex is just sex!” He sprang up to his feet with pure rage and kicked into the coffee table, toppling it over.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought. “Fuck you!” I screamed, poking my middle finger into his chest. “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!”

Never would I have believed that with a dislocated shoulder—among other wounds, Aaron could find the strength to shove me, belly first against the wall and hands behind my back. I knew he didn’t mean any harm. I’d read about it in one of those stupid books. He was a wrestler; he knew how to immobilize his opponent before he went all crazy on him. Me. And I was losing it.

“You crossed a line you can’t come back t—”

“Avery, you’re drun—”

“What the fuck is going on?”

Isaac’s voice roared through the room and put a stop to my craze—to our craze—and we both let go of our weapons. Aaron, his protective instinct, and I, my sharp tongue.

Turning around, I crouched against the wall and sniffled.

“I had a crush on you for four years.” I spoke, nothing but void in my heart.

“Ave, you don’t have to—” Isaac started from the couch, but I hushed him with a wave. Aaron stood there in front of me as his gaze dug under his feet. It was time to get it all out.

“You never gave a damn about me. Never even saw me. For four fucking years , I drank my morning coffee at my kitchen window, just so I could see you ride your bike to work. Because I believed you to be a good—mysterious, but kind—guy. And at some point, for whatever reason, in your fucking twisted mind, you decided that I was yours to play with. To corner into your office. To pin at the wrestling club. To stitch up and break to the bone.” At the mention of breaking, Aaron found an ounce of courage some miles below ground.

“Vee,”

“Don’t call me Vee!” I brandished a finger at him. “Nobody gets to call me Vee. Especially not you.”

“It didn’t look like you hated it back in my room,” Aaron mumbled, and his brother cleared his throat, loudly.

Without wasting any more time on him, I grabbed my phone and keys from under his broken coffee table and headed to the front door.

“Avery don’t go, I didn’t mean—”

“Avery wait for me!” Isaac jumped in his sneakers and addressed his brother, “You, stupid caveman!”

Aaron sighed, “Thank you. For your help.”

“I wish I could say the same to you,” I snapped, and slammed it closed before Isaac could follow me out.


My phone buzzed when I crossed our murky west-tenth street in the tickling rain, reflecting on the promise that I’d deliberately chosen to break. I hadn’t taken care of Marissa’s dad, I’d willingly hurt him.

New message from: Unknown.

I’m not good at apologies. You deserve a good one, though. Text Isaac when you’re home. He’s concerned.

One text was all I needed to guess the sender’s identity and know that he was a freaking coward. Because Isaac never needed me to text him. He believed I could cross a fucking street on my own.

In the heat of the moment, I typed, Then, what are you waiting for? But resumed my walking before I could press “send” and stormed into my room.

Not good at apologies. Not good at apologies. I paced around my bed, feeling like I’d missed something about Aaron. Something that would explain why he kept his version of events to himself. And then it came crashing down on me. Of course. His ten-days rule. How stupid of me. That was it. I texted back,

HOME. I know about your fucking rule. Reflect for nine days and apologize on the tenth. Right?

He replied, Maybe.

I wondered what damage his life could have undergone and already regretted the point of almost no-return things had escalated to. So he had planned to apologize to me. Could I find it in my heart to forgive him?

Maybe he was just broken. Or misunderstood. Either way, he had a lot of unresolved problems which I wanted no part into. I just wanted to graduate. Just graduate.

Alright. I’ll hold you to it. Brings us to Tuesday. Real and sincere apology. And there’d better be a mountain of whipped cream on my cappuccino when I walk through that door. Be careful with the words you use. Some words you can’t take back.

I looked down at my screen, awaiting his response like a teenage girl. Literally.

Why?

It was a good question. Why? After turning the other cheek, saving his ass, driving away from the police, stealing an intense orgasm, sipping a bottle of rum, tending to a lot of wounds and fighting like a boxer, I had no real reason to let him into my life, ever again.

Because of my promise, maybe? No. Breaking promises was a nasty habit of mine. I’d just broken Marissa’s promise like I’d broken Philippe’s two days ago—and my mother’s the day she died. But in this case, the reason was obvious.

Everybody deserves a second chance, I guess. Good night.

I went to bed, lighthearted. Almost glad I’d told him the truth about my old feelings for him. Time would tell what the future had in store for me. My Master’s thesis. The Love Shack.

Hopefully, Aaron would announce me by Tuesday that I could barge into his apartment again with a camera on my shoulder. Fingers crossed.

It's the thing about promises, isn't it? Some of them are meant to be broken, so they can be honored at the right time. These promises usually don’t make a lot of hassle. You’re just postponing something you know you’ll do in a certain future.

The ones that do harm if not honored from the moment they're spoken, though, are the ones we make to ourselves. Like the vow of forgetting Aaron I’d made to my broken-hearted self two weeks ago.

Just thought you should know, Vee. I don’t have a daughter. Colleen’s our big sister. Marissa’s my four-year-old niece. I've never proposed to have 'adulterous' sex with you. And I didn't play you in my office. Sweet dreams.

We make these promises to protect ourselves, to sustain change in our lives. Broken, they just open the doors to the dark path of a painful past.

The question then isn’t if you’ll resist the temptation to break your promise to yourself. It didn’t matter that I would or wouldn’t forget Aaron James and move on, really.

The real question is: Do you have enough light in you to make it through the journey?

Did I?


A/N : So, what did you think of this long chapter?

I'd love to know : If you were Avery, would you forgive Aaron, now? Why / Why not? :)

Thank you ! Don't forget to let me know your thoughts or comments, I'll be happy to read them ! xx,

--Alex.

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