Twisted Fate

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Chapter 18

a/n: This chapter is lengthy. 2,520 words to be exact, but it’s full of Astrid and Arlo, so happy reading!

-Astrid-

His lustful demon eyes held my gaze as he fought back the urge to touch me underneath my clothing. His faltering breaths gave away his struggle. The dam of his patience was close to breaking, and I wanted to drown in all he had to offer me.

Not being able to contain himself, he leaned down to kiss my lips for what seemed like an eternity. We stayed kissing like that for some time until our lips were red and swollen. My wolf mentally groaned when he pulled back, seeming to be in control of himself again.

“Get up,” He demanded, keeping his tempted hands to himself.

“What?” I uttered, still under his sexual spell. He groaned under his breath, gripping me by the wrist and forcing me to sit up. My feet worked double-time to keep up with his long strides as he pulled me out of my studio. I thought he was finally going to leave me alone, but his tight hold never released.

“Let me go,” My feet were now being dragged from my resistance to follow him out the doors. We somehow managed to get past the guest without anyone noticing. He stopped at the exit doors and turned to me with a grim expression as I halted, refusing to leave with him.

“Tell your assistant to take over. You’re coming with me,” He muttered.

“No. I’m not going anywhere with you after what you just did to my friend,” I angrily pointed behind me. He rolled his eyes.

“If you don’t come willingly, then I’ll make a scene and throw you over my shoulder,” He said, inches away from my face. His crooked jaw was set, matching the seriousness in his eyes.

“Get off my property,” I snapped my head away, swatting him in the face with my long hair. Before I had the chance to walk away, he grabbed at my hips, keeping his promise. The people nearby were now starting to look at us oddly.

“Okay, fine!” I fiercely threw his hands off me, “You win. Now get out of here before you pull more attention to us.”

He looked me straight in the eyes as he warned me, “Come out within five minutes, or I’ll drag you out of this gallery in front of all these people,” The edge in his tone told me he was dead serious. I didn’t want to die of embarrassment when he dragged me out like a child.

Without another word, I turned to find Rachel. She was concerned about my departure because it wasn’t like me to leave an important event in a rush. My poker face assured her that everything was fine even though I wasn’t sure that was true. She stared at me briefly in search of any red flags. When she found none, she handed me my coat before I stepped out in the cold night.

My heartbeat sped up as I spotted the sleek black mustang across the street. I could see his silver eyes glued to me with each step I took closer to his car. He made sure to step out and open my door before I could get the chance.

Suddenly, Bryson’s crippled unconscious body flashed in my mind, “What about Bryson?” I asked, perturbed about my friend’s physical state. I didn’t expect anything less when he waved me off, “He’ll be alright. Unless you prefer, I go back and kill him?” He asked eagerly, earning a glare from me.

He stood at my door, looking down at me with an unreadable expression. I wasn’t sure what he was doing at first, but I instantly froze when he slowly reached down and buckled my seatbelt. His gaze lingered on my cleavage while he fiddled with the seatbelt. The closeness bringing my arousal back to life, and his nostrils flared. It didn’t take me long to realize he was taking his time on purpose.

“Where are we going?” I huffed when he got back in the car and sped off onto the road. His hand landed possessively on my thigh, making my heart skip a beat. He slightly smirked and spoke darkly, “I needed to get you out of there before I fucked you into the middle of next week,” His comment made me shut my mouth right away while my face flushed bright red.

The rest of the drive was silent after that. I fidgeted in the seat, hoping he’d take his hand off me, even though I secretly didn’t want him to. Reading my body language, he gave my thigh a good squeeze and held it tightly.

He’d glance at me now and then while I kept my eyes forward. I couldn’t look at him while I was a nervous mess under his touch. He knew very well his effect on me. My hand ached to slap the smirk plastered on his face.

The drive to goddess knows where took forever. Wherever he was taking me stretched outside the city limits. Panic slowly started to creep up my chest; the further my home appeared in the rear-view mirror.

I almost screamed with relief when he finally pulled into the parking lot of a bar. We’d be in public so things wouldn’t get heated between us.

He took me by the hand and led me inside. The intense sparks almost had me pulling away, but I found myself wrapping my fingers around his as I heard the commotion inside.

“Arlo,” A tall man smoking a cigar greeted him with a nod before he opened the door for us. Arlo nodded back once, “Sup, Benny.”

The second we walked through the door, a swarm of people greeted Arlo. They shouted their greetings over the rock music playing in the background, and the bartenders were quick to attend to him. He had to weave our way through the groups, continually stopping to speak to him. He was the bright shining star in this old bar.

“Come here often,” It was more of a comment than a question, but he looked at me over his shoulder and nodded.

Smelling the strange scent of the drunks caught me off guard. I could sense that they were all wolves but not entirely. Something was off about everyone here. As I took my seat at the table in the back, a group of guys turned their heads to look at me. I equally stood out to them as well.

My body tensed being under the scrutiny of others, “You brought me to a hybrid bar?”

“Hope you weren’t expecting a normal bar. I don’t think your kind would’ve appreciated my presence so much,” He scoffed.

“I didn’t expect you to take me anywhere at all,” I retorted, nervously glancing over the crowd, “Especially not a hybrid bar of all places. I’m not welcome here.”

Mid-swig of his beer, he shot me a pointed look with his brows furrowed, “These people are harmless. They don’t care who you are or where you come from. Everyone is welcome here,” At this, the female bartender came to bring me a beer. Arlo smiled at her, “Isn’t that right, Blondie?”

A ting of jealousy sank in the pit of my stomach. I assumed it was just a cute nickname, but I leaned forward, catching a glimpse of her nametag that indeed read ‘blondie.’ Most likely a coverup for the desperate drunkards looking to get their dicks wet.

Blondie flashed a bright smile at me, “That’s right, Hun,” She then grimaced, playfully swatting Arlo on the arm, “Why are you bringing a pretty girl like her to a bar? Can’t say I blame her if she doesn’t agree to a second date,” She teased, obliterating my jealousy.

The two exchanged a friendly conversation while I quietly sipped my beer, the bitter taste calming my nerves. I was still cherry red from our intense make-out session, and it only worsened when different scenarios of the night played in my head. What did he really want from me?

An awkward silence fell upon us once Blondie went back to her work. We sipped out of our beers continuously. I watched the people around us while he watched me. His eyes hinted the wheels in his head were spinning, desperate to find the right words. Soon our bottles clinked on the table with emptiness—time to talk.

“Did you like the flowers?” He asked a bit eagerly. Realizing his vulnerability, he cleared his throat and signaled Blondie for another round.

“Yes, but a simple thank you would’ve done the trick.”

He disagreed, shaking his head, “I wanted to apologize for the other day.”

“Apologize?” I laughed once with my eyes throwing daggers at him, “Seems a little redundant after you stole me away from my event. My artists will be looking for me, and poor Rachel is probably running around like a headless chicken.”

“Roses were my mom’s favorite,” He deflected the subject, adding to my frustration. His face was blank, but the hurt in his voice was clear as day. Like the thorn of his mother’s favorite flower, guilt pricked my chest for the second time tonight. I was pissed at him, but I wasn’t a bitch.

“She had good taste. Lilacs are mine,” I shrugged, not knowing how to ease his pain. I’m sure no number of words could do the job either way.

He frowned. There was not one single lilac in the never-ending bouquets decorating my studio.

“I’ll make a mental note of that,” He nodded, tossing his empty bottles in the nearby trash can.

“So, you like painting? How long have you owned…The Grace?” He hesitated the latter with doubt. I answered him absently, explaining how the gallery was named after my mother. He looked displeased with my short responses.

He leaned his elbows on the table, focusing on only me. He asked, “What else do you like to do?” My patience snapped.

“Arlo, why am I here?” I demanded, throwing my hands up. He couldn’t abduct me whenever he wanted a drinking partner and expect me to be calm about it.

“What you don’t like the bar?” He acted, clueless.

“Don’t play dumb with me! I have more important things to do than sit around and talk about my interests” I stood up from the table ready to call a cab because I was done playing his games.

He quickly grabbed my wrist before I could walk away and spoke sternly, “I brought you here because we need to talk,” He said, drifting his gaze down to our contact. The sparks were a red flashing indicator of our next topic.

I held his grave expression as he motioned me back to the chair. As if the seat were made of needles, I sat back down slowly. My palms heavy on the table, prepared to retreat, “About?” I mumbled breathlessly.

“Now who’s playing dumb?” He scoffed. Checking his surroundings for listeners, he leaned in close and said, “I’ve tried to understand why this has happened, but I can’t. We aren’t meant to be together.”

“It wasn’t supposed to happen,” I corrected, “I think the moon goddess might have gotten a little too tipsy in the clouds when she accidentally paired us,” He didn’t bother cracking a smile at my stupid joke.

“This is serious, Astrid. Do you understand how dangerous this is for you? The council wouldn’t think twice to come looking for you if they find out we’re mates,” He emphasized the severity of his words by tapping a finger on the table.

His words made no sense to me given his reckless actions, “You came looking for me at the gallery,” I reminded him, “You showed up in front of my guests and demanded me to come out with you.”

You kissed me,” I whispered, the freshness of his kiss still lingering on my tastebuds. Just the thought of it had me yearning for more.

“But now you’re so worried about my safety?” I scoffed.

He hung his head low, the guilt evident on his face, “I know, and I’m sorry for that. This is a lot harder for me because I am a hybrid. It’s not an excuse for my behavior, but I needed to get you alone to talk about this.”

To my relief, a few men entering the bar came over to speak to Arlo. My stomach was in knots from the rapid butterflies he caused me.

I took advantage of the breather and ordered another round. I needed ten more rounds the way this conversation was headed. He sent the men away soon and turned his attention solely on me.

An awkward silence stretched before he broke it, “I shouldn’t have kissed you,” He mused. My heart ached, and my wolf was already whining in pain. His mood swings were getting on my nerves slowly. To top it off, he added sternly, “We can’t be together, Astrid. I hope I didn’t feed you false hope.”

“Nope,” I lied through the pain, “So now that we’re on the same page, how do you suggest we do this?”

“I accept your rejection,” He stated confidently, piercing my heart even more, “When are you going to do it?”

I leaned back in my chair, appalled, “Why do I have to be the bad guy? You can reject me,” I encouraged him to shatter my heart.

“No,” He growled lowly, a look of distress crossing his face, “I was minding my own business before you came along. You should be the one to break the bond.”

“So now this is all my fault?”

“Might as well be,” He shrugged.

“I’m not going to put my wolf through that excruciating pain,” I said adamantly, “Forget it!”

“You have no choice,” He sighed in frustration. No matter how we went about this, both of us would get hurt at the end of the day. It was a lose-lose situation.

We continued to go back and forth about the decision, but nothing good came out of it. The crowd was getting smaller, and he was running out of patience. He tried to convince me to reject him, but I wouldn’t budge. My wolf didn’t deserve that kind of pain and suffering.

He paid our tab and got up from his seat all of a sudden. With a defeated sigh, he said, “I’ll take you back for now, but we need to figure this out soon.”

In the car, he kept his hands to himself, and I was relieved. I didn’t feel like being under his touch after that heated discussion. I was too angry to deal with him any longer, but as he dropped me off, I couldn’t help but glance at his car one last time. He didn’t speak to me the whole drive home.

Outside my gallery, Nicole was waiting for me with her arms crossed. I ran to her with open arms, and she gladly took in my embrace, understanding my wordless cries for comfort.

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