19 | Mixed Feelings
Green Gallows is a beautiful location to start with your white picket fence dream except there weren’t any picket fences, instead, tall copper metal gates dominate the outside lawn of the mansion, catching people’s eyes as they pass by.
The place was indeed splendid which slightly brightened my damp spirits even though after a few months, Jane and Nate will probably start their ‘happy family’ crap.
Huh! They might as well as fuck on the railings of the upper deck!
As soon as the thought pops inside my head, I quickly dismiss it and move my hands away from the railing over which they were previously resting as I stare at the seaside.
‘Oh c’mon Hun, not everyone’s as adventurous as Blaze’ my subconscious snorts at me and I immediately chortle at that thought.
Out of nowhere, my mind zones off to the time when Blaze bent me over his room’s balcony in Monaco before he fucked my brains out.
My southern region clenches deliciously at that thought and despite the breezy evening, my body warms up.
“Keep it under control Pheebs!” I chastise myself but unfortunately, like the idiot that I am, I end up saying it out loud.
“Keep what under control?” I hear an amused voice speak behind me and roll my eyes in annoyance.
Great! Absolutely just what I need – note the sarcasm
“Nothing actually. I can’t keep my admiration for this place under control” I say with a fake smile plastered over my place and seeing Nate’s expression. I’m not entirely sure if he bought it.
“Really? You liked it that much?” He says with an eyebrow raised and for some inexplicable reason, my cheeks heat at his somewhat flirty/mocking tone and I shift from foot to foot whilst eyeing the deck floor like it’s the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen.
“Well, it’s beautiful” I shrug and check my phone for any texts and instantly close my eyes in irritation when I see a few missed calls from Noah.
“Oh…” Nate’s voice gains my attention and turning towards him, I watch him holding two glasses of red wine in his hand.
Following my gaze, he offers, “Cabernet?”
“Umm, no thank you. I don’t drink during work hours” I politely decline and watch him frown uncomfortably at my rejection and feeling a tad bit guilty, I say “However…a glass of Perrier would be nice if you have it”
Hearing my words, his lips pull up into a gorgeous jaw-dropping smile and for a few seconds, I find myself seeing a small glimpse of the man who captured my heart years back.
But that lasts only for a few seconds because soon the thoughts of him saying Jane’s name when he was almost about to take my virginity hits me like a ton of bricks and instantly my jaw hardens with anger.
It’s just work-related, Phoebe. You are now with Blaze. Forget him!
And that was the last thought I have before a maid scurries inside and hands me a glass of sparkling water and I take a small sip of the faint citrusy liquid.
“Where’s Jane by the way?” I ask him curiously and watch his expression change from warm to arctic cold within seconds.
“She’s out with an old high school friend,” He tells the word ‘friend’ with utter disgust and I frown at his behavior.
“Oh ok. Anyways, I wanted to ask about the walls...” On cue, I move to the west side of the master bedroom and point at the rustic brick walls, “Like, do you want this place eco-friendly or do you want to keep that Mediterranean vibe and everything?”
His nose scrunches after he takes a good look at the brick walls and quickly shakes his head, “No, not all. I want this place to be as modern as possible”
I nod, bending over the bedside table to transcribe his opinions on the blueprint laid out on the bed which causes my hair to fall over my face, and with my right hand, I move the loose curls away to one side of my neck which exposes the other side.
Instantly, I hear the sound of a sharp-intake of breath and look up to see Nate with a hard look on his face which makes me frown with bewilderment.
At that exact moment, my gaze falls on the huge mirror opposite me and I cringe right away when I spot the red mark on my neck.
Ok, I didn’t see this mark when I was getting dressed inside my pastel pink blouse and white pencil skirt.
This is definitely from the time when Blaze and I made out on the backseat of his car with the privacy shields up.
Ugh…damn you, Blaze!
I quickly straighten up and pull my hair on both sides of my neck to cover up the spots while my face heats up with embarrassment.
He keeps on looking at me with the same cold look and wisely, I decide to ignore it.
It’s none of his business and he shouldn’t care either!
“Anything else you’d like to discuss?” I inquire with my professional tone and watch him slump down on the bed with a dejected expression.
“Uh, are you ok, Nate?” It felt weird to call him by his name after always acting so professional.
Who was I kidding? He might’ve been a dick but he was once a good friend of mine too. Despite our age difference, we did spend a good time before he went off to college.
“No, I’m not” He asserts with a sulking face and after a lot of internal debate, I inch closer to his side and sit down on the bed. It felt really weird at first, to be honest, but eventually, it felt normal. My mind screamed at me for doing this because this isn’t where I belong but you can’t just let go of all your feelings just because you’ve met a man who understands you.
“What’s wrong?” I ask him gently and he rubs his face with frustration.
“I feel like I don’t know Jane anymore…”
Fucking great! The last thing I want is to hear Nate whining about his relationship with Jane…
Talk about remising good ol’ times.
“What do you mean?” I ask him politely, trying my best to mask my irritation with a thoughtful look.
“It’s just that – I feel like I don’t know her anymore” Oh for fuck’s sake, it’s been almost a fucking decade, move on!
But of course, I keep that thought to myself.
“Why don’t you tell her this yourself?”
“And watch her walk away from me again? No thanks,” He says with a snort and I want to scream at him saying, ‘Well it’s your funeral then. Just leave her if you’re so bloody sad’
But of course, I keep that thought to myself…again
“I met her in California last five months back, right before my trip to Monaco and she was vacating in Malibu with Carlos,” He says with venom lacing his voice and I wince when I detect the loathing in his tone.
Looks like their friendship is over…yet again
“Then...?” I urge him to say more and he sighs before continuing.
“I was so hurt to find out that she moved on with him whilst I was still struggling to get some normalcy in my life with her absence even after all these years. After returning from France, I met her at my parent's Gala and found out that she’s the senior manager of the company we recently merged with.
“I was so mad to know that I’d have to see her almost every day…at least for the next three months until the merger is completely dealt with. Being so close to her also made me realize exactly how much I never stopped loving her…”
As soon as I hear the words that express that he still loves her, it kills me.
I could almost feel my heart protesting against my chest, to break free from its walls. My eyes burn to let tears out and soon, my breath quickens.
Damn it, I should’ve taken the damn drink
It feels like I’m back to square one all over again.
All that pain
All that anger
All that shame
Shame at myself for feeling anything for this man who broke me into pieces, whose sister made my life hell, whose family my parents are still friends with.
I wanted to shout in his face, to tell him how I was kidnapped by some psychopath after watching him have sex with another woman right in my face. I wanted to scream to my family about how I witnessed him doing such a disgusting act.
No one knew a shit. Why? Because despite me being selfish, I couldn’t do that to everyone.
I couldn’t ruin my father’s friendship with Nate’s dad because his son banged some other woman in the same spot where he was about to take my virginity. I couldn’t tell Nate about how I was kidnapped and tortured by some psycho after witnessing him with someone else.
Life never felt this difficult until now
At that moment I realized that I needed Blaze. Despite all his fucked-upness, I needed him. Only he was capable of soothing my flaming soul.
“Phoebe, are you alright? You’re shaking” Nate’s voice brings me out of my trance and looking down at my lap, I notice that my nails were literally digging inside the flesh of my palms, causing vivid small red crescent-shaped marks to stand out.
“Phoebe” He calls out again and I angle my face to the right to look at him and subtly gasp when I see our close proximity.
When did he move this close?
His lips were just a breathe away from mine and watching this, his eyes fall over my nude pink painted lips and out of nowhere, he starts edging closer. I watch him moving closer almost as if my brain has stopped functioning.
Suddenly, alarm bells go off inside my head when his lips finally touch mine, and quickly, I dash away from him like I’ve been burned.
His face contorts with guilt and I can bet that my face resembled the same too.
'Shit Pheebs! How could you do this to Blaze?!' I could hear my subconscious tut with disapproval and instantly I panic.
How could I do this to Blaze again?
At first, it was Tyler, and now Nate?!
Ok, maybe I wasn’t Blaze’s girlfriend when I kissed Tyler but I am now! I have no right to be with Nate. Besides, he’s the one who kissed me! I didn’t!
“Shit, Phoebe! I’m-” Before he can finish that sentence, I scramble to pick up the blueprints whilst securing the strap of my bag on my left shoulder and when he rises from the bed to walk at me, I quickly dodge him and dash down the stairs like a bat out of hell.
What have I done?!
It’s almost like someone has wired my brain on auto-pilot mode because the next thing I know, I’m marching towards my Audi that’s parked on the stone porch of the mansion and by the time my hand lands on the door handle, I feel a presence behind me and squeeze my eyes shut in mortification.
“Phoebe, please. Let me explain…” I abruptly shake my hand to avoid his pained voice.
“It’s too late, Nate. I’m with Blaze and I can’t do this to him” I say with my voice barren of all emotions and I could almost hear his heart crumble in pieces.
Taking one last deep breath, I turn around and watch his face bent with sadness. He opens and closes his mouth trying to get words out but I don’t stick around for him to say it.
Shaking my head, I embark on my car and start the ignition as the rain starts to pour. The loud sound of water droplets hitting the metal body of my car distracts me away from the pathetic reality that is my life.
My vision starts growing blurry and not wanting history to repeat itself, I look around for a spot to park on the sidewalk, and after finally spotting one, I reverse my car and park beside the tall lamp-post. As soon as I do that, I scream.
I scream all my anger out
Why does it always happen to me?
What’s wrong with me?
Deep down I know that I don’t owe Blaze a shit. After all, I’ve loved Nate for over a decade. I spent half of my life loving him, fantasizing about my days with him.
Everything in my life revolved around him!
And suddenly, everything flew out of the damn roof when Blaze stepped inside my life. He brought out the real side of me. He liked me for who I am.
As soon as I think that, I shake my head with a laugh of disbelief escaping my throat.
He doesn’t know me!
He doesn’t know anything about the monster that lurks inside me.
He doesn’t know about the killer who took away a person’s life!
I pull my feet up the passenger seat and cry my heart out whilst Justin Timberlake’s ’What Goes Around Comes Around’ keeps playing in the background.
I was angry at the world
I was angry at everything
But I was scared too because I knew why I pushed away Nate. It wasn’t because I have a boyfriend. I’ve gone behind my past boyfriend's back too.
My heart was beating loudly – something which I considered impossible for years.
It was beating like this because I know that I’ve fallen for him.
It was crying because I’ve fallen for Blaze Hunter
I can’t even bring myself to say the four-letter word out loud, let alone admit it.
Curling up into a ball, I cry my heart out on the seat of my car.
I felt like a robot, functioning like one the entire remainder of the day.
By the time, 6’oclock rolled in, I was exhausted.
Both emotionally and physically.
As time kept on rolling, my nerves started itching with fear. The worst thing about Blaze was, he can read me like an open book and he knows my body like the back of his hand. Every reaction was very much known to him, this pushed me towards the edge even further.
Oh for fuck’s sake. Your lips just touched, you didn’t respond! You don’t have to tell him!
As unreasonable as it sounded, it was true. I couldn’t say it to him. I wasn’t stupid to ruin the only good thing that happened to me after Nate.
With that thought, I exit the steel confines of the elevator and stride my way inside the glass edifice that’s my firm building’s lobby.
With one hand holding my black Chanel bag and with the other holding my phone, I text Blaze that I’m in my lobby to which he responds me with the information that his car is parked outside.
Out of all the days, he had to pick me up from work today. He said that he wanted to discuss something with me over dinner at his place which made me slightly terrified thinking that he knows what went down earlier this evening inside Nate’s mansion.
Then I shook away that thought thinking that it’s ridiculous because I didn’t tell him that I’m working for Nate for his Mansion at Green Gallows.
Sighing one last time, I start walking again and my front collides with a hard back which has me flying backward only to be captured by a pair of strong arms.
What is with me colliding with people these days?
I groan with pain upon the harsh contact of the arms, almost digging into my flesh trying to make me stay upright.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry Ms. Carter” A small feeble voice speaks up and I glare at the man in front of me.
He looked like he was a few years younger than me with curly bleached blond hair and twinkling hazel green eyes. I recognize him.
Before I can apologize to him for not looking properly either, I feel a pair of eyes burning holes into my being and turn at the building’s entrance to see Blaze watching me with a furious expression plastered on his face.
At first, confusion sweeps over me but later on, I realize that I’m still inside the blond dude's arm and my eyes widen with fear.
Fuck! What did I do now?
A/N - Any guesses on what Blaze might be mad about? Also, what do you think about Phoebe's reaction towards Nate?
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