Chapter seven - Kyla
I tried to sleep, but it wasn’t happening. I had kissed Daniel. It had been a ploy to push Delilah back, to stop her from attempting to seduce my fake fiance and it had backfired in more ways than one.
I hadn’t given thought to how kissing Daniel might feel, I guess I’d always assumed it would feel all kinds of wrong. But surprisingly it didn’t feel wrong at all. For a moment I’d even forgotten it wasn’t real at all. His lips had fit against mine perfectly, his tongue…
I realised all too late, it had gone to far. I had gone to far. Daniel could kiss whomever he please, I on the other hand, had a real fiance back home.
I was still trying to process it the entire way home, so when I changed my mind and decided to have a nightcap after all only to be presented by Daniel and Delilah kissing, it almost felt like my world was crumbling. Like I was being cheated on, by someone I wasn’t really with.
This messed up situation had been doomed from the start and my ambition had blindly pushed passed every single hurdle. Ignoring it because I wanted this proposal to go through.
I should have left when I had the chance, but Daniel and his magic words had clawed me back and so I lay here, in the dark, next to my fake fiance staring up at the ceiling.
I drifted off at some point, waking early the next morning, before Daniel. I showered, desperate to wash the night before and that kiss off me. This was strictly business now. No more breaking my own rules. When I walked out, Daniel was awake, leaning over his suitcase topless. I cleared my throat and he stood up. I couldn’t look away. He was incredibly fit, he always had been and it seemed like he never really needed to do anything to maintain it. I felt a blush rush across my cheeks. His weekend escapades probably was the only work out he needed. The sunlight bounced of his broad shoulders, casting shadows across his sculpted chest. He ran his hand over his stomach and bent down again to grab a shirt.
“I’m famished.” He said, throwing the shirt over his body. “Should we head down?”
I went to speak, but I couldn’t. I wrapped my arms around myself and just nodded. Awkwardness could not come into any of this. It was business and tomorrow we’d be having the business meeting. The finish line was in sight. Soon I could forget we had done any of this.
“You okay?” Daniel asked, he sounded genuinely concerned, and I almost wanted to offload, but I didn’t. This was business.
“Yeah, just tired I guess.” I murmured in reply.
We walked from the room and went down stairs. Warren and Delilah were already down there, and it looked as though they had called in a breakfast spread. I avoided looking at Warren’s daughter. I wasn’t sure exactly what she was playing at. Whether she truly wanted Daniel, or whether she wanted to ruin any chance we had of doing business with Star family talent.
I also wasn’t sure which of the two scenarios annoyed me most.
“Morning you two. Sit down, help yourselves.” Warren smiled, gesturing to the food.
“Thanks Warren.” I smiled. “It looks delicious.”
“Coffee Babe?” Daniel murmured, his voice was merely a whisper, and it sent a shiver down my back. I was almost certain my reactions were due to the lack of intimacy in my real love life, because I didn’t think of Daniel like that.
“Yes please.” I whispered back.
Daniel picked up the coffee pot and filled my mug, and then his own.
“We’ve not got anything planned for the day, so if you guys want to see the sights again, I can organise a car.” Warren offered. “However we do have a dinner planned tonight. I thought I’d organise it as a chance for the rest of the Star family and associates to get to know our potential new business partners.”
“Sounds great.” Daniel said placing a bagel on his plate. “And yeah, I’ve got something I’d like to show Kyla, so a car would be wonderful as well.”
I turned to look at Daniel. I wasn’t sure what he meant, and perhaps he’d just said it to save face, but I was curious.
“Consider it done. Dinner will be at 6pm. I’ll have Harry drive you today, so he can bring you when it’s time.”
“Thank you.” I smiled.
I forced myself to eat some muesli, but my appetite was lacking. After breakfast Daniel and I went to meet Harry outside. Daniel slipped a piece of paper in his hand and then sat back into the seat next to me.
“Where are we going?” I asked softly, surprised by my genuine excitement.
“It’s a surprise. See I couldn’t sleep last night, and I got to thinking.” He replied. “Anyway, you’ll have to wait til we get there.”
I smiled and looked out the window. I knew Daniel was just trying to smooth things over after the day before, but it still warmed my heart. Once we were in town Harry let us out and gave us his number to call when we were ready to leave.
“Shopping? You’re bringing me shopping?” i smiled. Daniel clearly had the wrong idea about me. Retail therapy wasn’t my thing, it never had been.
Daniel shook his head and placed his hands on my shoulder. He turned me around and pointed to the store behind me.
“Durstin Gallery.” I said softly. It was an art gallery.
Daniel placed his hand on my back and led me toward the wooden doors. There was no one around to pretend in front of anymore, and yet I liked the contact all the same. Once we were inside Daniel showed me to a door marked exhibition.
“I remembered the paintings on the wall in your office. The ones of the funny little colorful people.”
I swallowed hard. The paintings had been my parents, there were four of them in total. Three were in my office and one was in my house.
“Yeah.” I replied, my voice had begun to crack.
“Well I found out who the artist was. Turns out this gallery is having a exhibition on them.”
“This is.” I stopped speaking, afraid I was going to burst into tears.
Daniel pushed the door open and the walls were adorned with artwork similar to the ones I had back home. My mother had loved Julian Jaquez art. She said it encompassed family and love, you just needed to know how to look at the pictures.
“This is beautiful.” I finally managed to say. “What made you think of this?”
“I hated seeing you stressed last night. I wanted to make it a little better for you.”
“You didn’t have to.” I replied. “But this, oh Daniel. Those paintings, my parents… they left them to me. Mom was a big art fanatic.”
I looked at him and smiled, holding back tears. “Thank you for this.”
Daniel’s eyes widened as if he realized just what he had done for me. “I didn’t know.”
“Of course you didn’t but I appreciate it all the same.”
I wore the dress I had worn to the dinner Jeff had bailed on. I hadn’t had an opportunity to wear it yet. I walked out of the bathroom and looked over at a suited up Daniel.
“You really do look amazing in that dress.” He smiled with approval.
“Thank you. You’re not too shabby yourself Daniel.” I replied, glancing over the dark grey suit he had decided to wear.
We left the house once Warren came to retrieve us. Once we were at the restaurant, he introduced us and just like that we seemed to be enveloped into the family. Everyone was so incredibly kind, that I felt more than a little bad about the story Daniel and I had spun, but Daniel was right, we’d come too far to turn back in fear.
Right after the main courses had been finished my phone bleeped with a message, I pulled it from my small black purse and looked at the lit up screen.
“It’s Jeff. Is it alright if I take this?” I whispered, leaning into Daniel. He placed his hand over mine and leaned in, I could feel his breath hit my ear and for the second time today he sent a chill down my spine.
“Yeah. I’ll say you went to the bathroom.” He said softly, I couldn’t help but hear a slight tension in his words, I wanted to ask about it. But it wasn’t the time or place.
I stood up and grabbed my purse before slipping out into the corridor and through to the front of the restaurant.
My heart raced, I hadn’t spoke to Jeff since before we left, I needed to hear his voice, if only to reassure me that we were okay. I walked across the pavement, my heels clipped along, in time with my errant heart. I sat down on a bench seat underneath a tree by the restaurant car park and pulled my phone out.
Jeff had never been a texter. He had said that speaking to a person always told him so much more. So when I’d seen it was a text, I had been surprised.
Finally I slid the screen open and opened the message.
I wasn’t prepared. Disbelief shocked me to the point of not being able to process the image. It was picture, of arms and legs askew, skin. I could see skin. I narrowed my eyes and tried to focus but I kept coming back to the same thing. It was Jeff, and he was with a woman, and they were both very very naked.
My fingers shook so much I almost dropped my phone. Why had he sent this to me?
I hit the call button and waited for him to answer, I almost gave up, but then he picked up.
“Hey Honey. How’s London, look I’m really busy at work. Maybe I can call you in a couple of hours.” I could tell by the way his voice echoed around him he was most likely in a bathroom. Probably hiding from whomever he was in the picture with.
“London is wonderful.” I spoke slowly. He wasn’t going to brush me off with an excuse this time and I wasn’t going to buy anymore lies. “Enough bullshit though Jeff. Take a look at the picture you sent.”
“Picture?” He replied. “I didn’t…” His voice quietened as he pulled the phone away. A few seconds later, the tell tale “Fuck.” left his mouth.
“I trusted you Jeff.” I muttered. “I thought I loved you.” Except now that I sat here, presented with the evidence he had been unfaithful, the betrayal hurt, but my heart didn’t feel broken.
Tears rolled down my cheeks regardless, falling on to the red satin fabric, my tears bled into the fabric leaving darkened splotches.
“It isn’t what it looks like. It’s an old picture and old girlfriend, I’m a putz for not deleting it. Please. Kyla.” He pleaded, sound less like a high flying lawyer and more like a little boy on the verge of not getting his way.
“I can see the photo of us on your nightstand you idiot. We’re over. Don’t call, don’t visit. Don’t come near me. Ever.”
I hung up, without giving him another second of my time. He had already wasted a year of my life, acting like I was his one and only. I had been such a fool.
I couldn’t go back inside. The tears were incessant, and I was surprised to find it was less about Jeff’s betrayal and more about the loss of time, the investment I put into a relationship that was doomed to fail.
“Kyla.” Daniel’s voice broke through my sobs. He had come looking for me, I couldn’t let him of all people see me like this. I’d rubbed it in his face time and time again about having my love life together. I’d been so sure of myself and my relationship. Ha, look where I was now.
“I’m okay.” I replied, sitting up straight. I tried to stealthily wipe my tears away but it was no use. The evidence of my sadness was in the splotches of my expensive dress.
“You don’t need to bullshit me.” He murmured sliding on to the seat next to me. “What’s up?”
I bit my lip, unsure I could undress my emotions, unsure I could be as naked with my hurt as the grotesque picture had been.
“He’s been cheating on me.” I whispered, it was all I could say. I shoved my phone into Daniel’s hands and let him look at the offensive image. He swore under his breath.
“It’s okay, at least I know now right.” I replied, attempting to pretend to be okay with my real love life falling apart.
“You don’t need to pretend to be okay in front of me Kyla.”
“Yes, I do.” I replied. “You respect me because I’m strong. Because on a business level we’re on the same page. If I fall apart…” I stopped and took a deep breath. “Who will respect me then?”
“I respect you for a hundred reasons Kyla, and having emotions, being hurt, feeling vulnerable? That will never ever subtract any respect I have for you.”
I turned to look at him, aware my makeup was running, aware I looked like a hot mess. “You mean that? Even when I look like this?” I replied.
Daniel smiled and nodded. “Even then.”
I’m not sure why, but I began to cry again, Daniel’s smile faded and he pulled me into an embrace. “It’s going to be okay.” He soothed.
“I trusted him.” I mumbled. “Look where it got me. How can I be with someone I can’t trust.”
“He’s a tool.” Daniel whispered, his hand brushed over my hair. “But not all guys are. He wasn’t worthy of you. But someone will be.”
“If you say so.” I murmured sarcastically.
“I do say so.” He replied. “Come on, I’ll get Harry to take us back to the mansion, I’ll tell Warren you’re not feeling well.”
I breathed with relief. I didn’t want to go back in there, not with streaked makeup and splotches on my dress. “Thank you Daniel.”
“You don’t need to thank me.”
Daniel and I walked back to the restaurant. I waited by the door while he let Warren know what was happening. The tears had dried by the time we were in the car. Daniel kept his arm around me though, and I wasn’t sure if it was because he wanted to look like a dutiful fiancee in front of Harry, or because he wanted to… either way it felt nice.
When we arrived back at Warren’s mansion, Harry left to go back to the restaurant. Daniel and I slowly made our way up to the bedroom.
“How about you have a shower and I’ll go make you a cup of tea.” Daniel offered.
“Cup of tea?” I repeated. “I think I need something a little stronger doctor.” I mused.
“Whiskey then?” He grinned.
“I can get on board with that.” I smiled.
Daniel nodded and left the room, while I reached around and unzipped the dress. The water was already running over my conditioner lathered hair when I realized I hadn’t brought my suitcase into the bathroom. I finished the shower and wrapped a towel around my torso. Daniel would be back now, but I needed clothes, so I was going to have to go out there.
I opened the door and walked out, just as Daniel walked in with two glasses, and a bottle of whiskey. He looked up at me, his eyes widened and he looked away quickly. “Sorry.” he murmured.
“It’s just skin Daniel.” I assured him, although, I felt naked despite the towel. “I just forgot my case.”
I slipped my fingers over the handle and dragged it along the carpet to the bathroom. Once I was dressed in my pajama shorts and a singlet I walked out of the bathroom again. Daniel had already poured two glasses of whiskey. He walked over and held one out to me.
“Are you okay?” He murmured.
“I will be.” I replied honestly. Truth be told, Jeff and I had been so distant lately that losing didn’t seem like the end of the world. I lifted the glass to my lips and tilted my head back, draining the drink in one gulp.
I walked over to the bed and sat down. “I don’t know if I’m upset about breaking up with Jeff.” I whispered. “Or the betrayal… I feel so stupid.”
“Well you’re not stupid.” Daniel replied. “You trusted someone you loved.”
“If I was truly in love, wouldn’t the thought of not seeing him ever again, hurt? Because it doesn’t.”
“Good. He’s not worth your heartbreak.”
I lay down on the bed and stared up at the roof. “At least I have my fake fiancee.”
“Always and forever.” Daniel replied.
Daniel sat down on the bed and the weight shifted. He poured himself another glass of whiskey, so I picked up my glass and held it out.
I drained the second glass and placed it down on the nightstand. “Maybe I should be more like you. Free to taste the buffet.” I laughed.
“No.” He said softly. “Don’t be like me.”
“Why?” I turned over to face him.
“Because you’re you.” He said simply. “Besides, I’m just a love cynic.”
“Because of Hana right?” I questioned.
Daniel shrugged, he placed his glass next to the bottle on the nightstand and slid down the bed. “I always thought she was my first love. Now I’m not so sure.”
“Because when we broke up, I wasn’t hurt at the thought of never seeing her again.” He smiled, mirroring my words.
“I am going to miss the intimacy.” I admitted. Even if it had been awhile, now I was truly on my own.
“Jeff always seemed like the kind of guy who wouldn’t be all that attentive in bed.” Daniel said, scowling. I frowned, Jeff and Daniel had only met a handful of times. I wasn’t sure how he could come to such a conclusion, given how little he knew him. He was right now. Sex with Jeff had always been just that, sex.
“He wasn’t.” I admitted. “But sometimes the warmth of an embrace was enough to make everything seem okay.”
“You were going to spend the rest of your life with someone who didn’t know how to please you.” Daniel sounded shocked, and I felt it… but only because he was so comfortable talking about it. We hadn’t spoken like this… ever.
“I thought it was love.” I whispered.
“Promise me you won’t settle again okay?”
Daniel turned and switched his nightstand lamp off. I turned over and done the same. “Thank you for tonight Daniel. I think I’d have been more of a mess without you.”
“No worries Kyla.” he replied.
I closed my eyes and tried to fall into the lull of sleep, but it was impossible. So much had changed in such a short time and it was too much for my mind to handle.
But what was affecting me most, what was confusing my entire psyche was Daniel, and how his support had balanced me. How just being around him made me feel like I was going to be okay. Daniel, the boy in high school I had despised had become a man I respected… more than respected. I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated him, how safe he made me feel, but I was scared he would run away, tear his friendship from me and I would never see him again.
Although I knew he wouldn’t because we ran a business together, the thought still terrified me.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Daniel whispered through the darkness.
“Yes, why?” I lied. I wasn’t okay, being around Daniel made me happy, and it was a revelation I didn’t quite understand. In a few days this would all be over, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that anymore.
“You’re restless.” He murmured. He moved closer. “I’m going to hug you. The warmth of an embrace and all that.”
I sucked in a breath, and nodded even though he couldn’t see it. His left arm moved over my waist as his body aligned with mine. I could feel his breath hit the back of my neck, rhythmically. His fingers rest against the hem of my singlet, and his little finger lay on my skin, and the contact was just enough to distract me.
“Better?” he whispered.
I couldn’t speak, I nodded again. I moved my hand down, grazing the top of his, brushing my fingers over the top of his. He let out a long slow breath and interlocked his fingers with mine.
Something deep in my belly turned, a feeling of want grew. I closed my eyes and used Daniels hand to push up the hem of my shirt, until our hands were underneath it entirely, just below the rise of my breast.
“Kyla.” Daniel whispered.
“Don’t speak.” I murmured. “Just be here.”
Daniel pulled me tighter, until I was cocooned inside his embrace. I turned over, and looked up at him, still cocooned, but now face to face the want within me exploded. I pulled my hand from his, and rest it against the sandpaper like surface of his jawline. He looked down at me, his eye glistening in the dull light of the room, a small smile crossed his face. He wanted this too.
I’d read signals wrong before, misunderstood complicated things like boys and feelings before. But this was intrinsic, necessary, needed.
Unlike the moment all those years beforehand Daniel didn’t turn his head as our faces neared and then, like magnetic synergy our lips touched. It melted me the way the kiss in the karaoke bar had, only this time I allowed the feeling to consume me. I didn’t push him back this time.
There was no one around to see us, no ulterior motive for this connection, just pure want. I knew come morning I would be another notch on Daniel’s belt, but right now it didn’t matter. Daniel’s lips left mine, trailing kisses along my jaw and down the curve of my neck. I arched beneath him, in to him, which in turn made him groan.
He grabbed the hem of my singlet with his free hand, and hooked it up over my head in quick move. His hand rest against my breast and he gently pinched my pebbling nipple between his thumb and forefinger. He stopped kissing my neck and looked up at me.
“You sure about this.” He whispered.
“I told you not to speak.” I teased, nodding.
He swallowed hard then pressed his lips against my collarbone, peppering my skin with soft and stubbly kisses. I wasn’t expecting the rush that radiated through me as his lips closed around my hardened right nipple. I arched again, and felt his hardness rub against my leg through the thin material of his pants.
I reached out, desperate to feel his skin like he was feeling mine. I unbuttoned his shirt with one hand, and for a moment he stopped, causing me to moan in sadness. He removed the shirt and closed the distance between us once more.
“Relax baby.” He soothed. “I’m not going anywhere until you’ve screamed my name so loud your throat is raw.”
I gulped and closed my eyes. I’d never had sex that satisfying, it had never been anything special before, and I figured that was how it was meant to be. Not anymore.
Daniel had me, like putty in his hands and as much as I knew I should end, whatever this was. I couldn’t.
“Please.” I whispered, opening my eyes again, locking my gaze with his.
He smiled and kissed me, and any hesitance that might have been hanging around simply evaporated into thin air.
I let my hands graze over Daniel’s bare back, dragging my fingernails slowly down. He let out a deep guttural moan and buried his head in my neck.
Daniel’s hands wandered, over my breasts, down over my stomach and to the edge of my pajama shorts. I tensed as he slipped a hand beneath the thin cotton material, my centre twitched and pulled at the thought of his touch, and it took all the restraint I had not to lift my body to greet his hand. It had been too long, I didn’t even want to think about the last time. Not after tonight’s revelations.
Without realizing I tensed again and Daniel picked up on it. Much to my dismay his hand retreated and he pulled back. “You change your mind?” He asked with an understanding smile.
“No, I want this.” I replied adamantly, surprising myself with how open I was being.
“You tensed up. Not in a good way.”
“I just thought of how long it’s been.” I said softly. “It made me think of..” I stopped.
Daniel smiled sadly and leaned in to kiss my forehead. “If you’re thinking of your scumbag ex when I’m supposed to be making you forget your own name, then I”m not doing my job right.” He murmured.
“You think highly of yourself.” I teased.
“Don’t worry, I’ll forget my name too. I’m struggling not to rip these tiny little shorts off with my teeth Kys.”
I smiled, and took a deep excitable breath. He wanted this just as bad as I did, he’d confirmed it. My center twitched again and I yearned for his touch.
“Do it then.” I replied.
“But you’re just out of a relationship. Maybe we shouldn’t. Not here. Not like this?”
“My relationship was over a while ago. I just hadn’t accepted it. He checked out and so did I. I want this.” I whispered. “I want you.”
And I was beginning to think I had for a while.
Daniel didn’t hesitate again, he kissed me and set about raining kisses over my body. Moving from my neck to my breasts, tracing the line his fingers had with his mouth. He hooked his fingers over the waistband of my shorts and pulled, slowly removing them. His lips pressed against my hip bone and across my navel to the other, while still removing the shorts, painfully slowly. My body ached to the point where insanity was possible and I wondered if chinese water torture might actually be less traumatic. Eventually he moved the fabric over my ankles, tossing them to the floor.
“You’re beautiful.” Daniel murmured, kissing the inside of my thigh. I shivered, unable to make legible conversation. It had been an age since I’d made love, or at least it seemed that way, but Daniel was on the verge of taking a first from me, giving me something that no man ever had.
“You’re shaking.” He whispered. “I haven’t even tasted you yet.”
His words, that would have once made me recoil in disgust due to the vulgarity now sent shockwaves of pleasure through me. He had never been afraid of sex, of what was involved, of the pure joy of it. Now I understood just how freeing it was.
Daniel didn’t wait for answer to his statement. He hooked his arms around my thighs, spreading them to allow him better access, and then, while look at me, he rest his head between my legs, flicking his tongue over my most sensitive spot. I bucked, my body not akin to such touch. He held me with his strength, and once again lapped at the spot. I bucked again, but he kept me centered to the spot.
Like a safe he unlocked me, and it was like he knew exactly what to do, to please me. I knew he’d had plenty of experience, but that didn’t matter. His attentions now, in the moment were tailor made for me… and me only.
He increased his tempo, leaving me incapable of thought. If it had of been possible to melt into a puddle I had every expectation that I would. I tensed again, but this time it was due to the electric vibrations beginning to explode from me, My feet turned in, my fists balled the sheet between my fingers and just as I felt apart like I never had before he slipped his fingers inside me, causing me to clench around him in pure unadulterated ecstasy as I called out his name.
Daniel pulled himself up the bed and pressed his lips to mine. “You taste sweet.” He murmured. “I could have stayed there all night.”
I let out a girlish giggle, which in turn made Daniel grin. One day I’d tell he was the first to ever do that for me, but not tonight.
“I need to be inside you.” daniel mumbled, leaning his head against mine. “I don’t have any rubbers.” He sighed, sounding frustrated.
“I’m on the pill.” Desperate to get the logistics out of the way. “And clean, I had a test last month.” After the last time with him. It had been an annual check up I had wanted to put off, but now I was glad I didn’t.
“I am too, I never do it without a rubber.” He murmured. “At least I haven’t.”
He swallowed hard. “But I want to, with you.”
“Please.” I breathed out